Thursday, May 31

My predicament.

So I was at Costco with my sister earlier this evening, making one of our monthly stock-up-like-there-was-a-hurricane-coming grocery runs, and while we were nosing around the DVD pile I saw a girl who bore a striking resemblance to official hottie of Hey Jenny Slater and future ex-wife Melissa Theuriau. Striking enough to inspire a split-second of oh-my-God-is-that-her-without-makeup-and-if-so-what-the-fuck-is-she-doing-at-the-Hoover-Costco, at least. So here are my questions:

1. Should I have gone up to her and tried to somehow start a conversation? It looked like she was there with her mom or older sister or somebody, which kind of complicated things.

2. What would I say to her in a situation like that? I'm guessing "Wow, you really look like this French anchorwoman I think is really hot" would probably be a non-starter.

In case you're wondering what I actually did, the answer to those two questions is 1) nothing, and 2) nothing. But still, I'm curious as to what your suggestions would be in a scenario such as this, so that in the getting-hit-by-lightning-whilst-holding-a-winning-Mega-Millions-ticket minuscule chance that this ever happens again, I'll know what to do.

Tuesday, May 29

Where is your god now, Maxim?!?

I don't want to beat a dead horse here, but just to recap:

This is the woman Maxim magazine thought was hotter than


her, or


. . . And for once, I have nothing to add.

Friday, May 25

Friday Not-So-Random Ten, Most Boring Three-Day Weekend Ever Edition.

So where's everybody going for Memorial Day weekend? The beach? The lake? Maybe just taking a day trip to someplace cool? Hey, that's great. I will be spending the weekend sitting on my ass watching TV, considering that I have maybe fifty bucks in my bank account that has to last another week, which at current gas prices might not be enough to get me across town, much less to Panama City or wherever the hell else.

But still, anyway, enjoy yourselves! Assholes.

The Not-So-Random Ten:

1. Blur, "Bank Holiday"
2. Fatboy Slim, "The Weekend Starts Here"
3. Pharcyde, "Hard Times"
4. Johnny Cash, "Busted"
5. Beck, "No Money No Honey"
6. Dead Milkmen, "Everybody's Got Nice Stuff But Me"
7. David Holmes, "Living Room"
8. Pet Shop Boys, "Left to My Own Devices"
9. The Streets, "Geezers Need Excitement"
10. Avenue Q cast, "There Is Life Outside Your Apartment"

Put your own weekend plans, by which I mean movies you plan to rent because you're too poor to do anything else, along with your random or not-so-random Tens, in the comments.

Wednesday, May 23

Wednesday Mystery Meat, smoked for extra flavor.

· This photo probably isn't as dramatic as what I actually saw when I walked out my door first thing this morning, but that usually conspicuous object sitting amidst a thick cloud of smog is Birmingham's Vulcan statue. Apparently the smoke from the forest fires in south Georgia and Florida is blowing all the way up to the B-hizzy, which explains why the whole city smells like a brush fire and I had to put on a painter's mask just to take Jenna out to poop. I don't like to condemn entire states all at once, but for letting your secondhand smoke blow all the way over here and ruin my morning, Georgia and Florida, you guys are a couple of assholes, all right?

· Speaking of which, I don't go seeking this stuff out (honest!), but in the course of my usual Web-surfing I've come across a few more mentions of Eric Dondero, last seen on this blog positioning himself as the ADD-afflicted Brutus to Ron Paul's Caesar. Today, f'rinstance, I found out that Dondero wrote his own Wikipedia page, a fact I learned from this Hit & Run thread in which he compared a commenter to Hitler and left four comments in a row at one point. On this Liberty Papers thread he leaves six comments in a row, among others, all in the service of calling people fascists for daring to oppose Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid, and he also openly states that while his big issues are legalized drugs and prostitution and the elimination of seat-belt laws, he thinks that warantless searches and wiretapping are a "non-issue."

What the . . . ? I think this kind of bizarre political doctrine deserves a name of its own, and I'm taking my opportunity right now: Dondero is a Bread-and-Circuses Neoconservative, someone who claims to be a libertarian but who will cheerlead every last intrusive, liberty-eroding, authoritarian impulse on the part of the Bush administration as long as he can smoke pot and not wear a seatbelt. See also Neal Boortz, Glenn Reynolds, Dennis Miller, et al. The sad thing is, I wouldn't have to come up with a name for them if there weren't so many of them.

· As long as I'm piling on ol' Eric, let me go ahead and also pile on Paul Wolfowitz. The guy scores a 160-something-thousand-dollar do-nothing job at the World Bank for his girlfriend -- hey, don't lie, you wouldn't touch Paul Wolfowitz's dick for anything under $160K either -- and the resulting controversy forces him to resign; now said girlfriend has dumped him. I'm sorry if this makes me a bad person, but I laughed so hard when I read that this morning that a few of my co-workers came into my cubicle to see what was going on. That arrogant prick deserves every embarrassment that's been dumped on him in the last few months and then some; my only regret is that this didn't happen a couple months earlier, so that Bush could've tapped an unemployed Wolfowitz for the newly created position of Iraq War scapegoat "war czar."

· On the subject of actual pimps, let us now (again) praise Bob Barker, who gave the commencement address at Drury University earlier this month, thus earning Drury the title of Most Awesome Commencement Address Ever. Yes, even beating out Jon Stewart's 2004 address to William & Mary, although Stewart might still have him beat on actual content. I don't know. I'm content to call it a draw.

· Britney Spears still just doesn't appear to have this undergarments thing all figured out yet. She goes on stage wearing a bra and nothing over it, then she goes out in public with a shirt but missing the bra. We've already inferred, of course, that her standard attire for religious observance is nothing above the waist at all. Dear Lord, can't somebody have a talk with this girl?

· I will say this for the Bush administration: They may be a bunch of dishonest, power-hungry Macchiavellis who do nothing but stretch the truth until it hangs to the ground, but some of them do look awfully good doing it.

And when you get that fearful, hung-over "Did we sleep together" call the next morning, you can simply say, "I have no recollection of that."

· Georgia won another national title in men's tennis yesterday. (Link via Westerdawg.) I won't bother telling you who won the women's title.

· And finally: Why, God, why?

Monday, May 21

An open letter to Eric Dondero.
(Updated with even more Donder-riffic lunacy!)

Recap: Eric Dondero is the former Ron Paul campaign manager who left this comment to my post on Paul and the Republicans over the weekend. The following is the e-mail I sent him today in response.


Normally I try to stay pretty current with the comments that are left on my blog, Hey Jenny Slater, so I was surprised to find this morning that I'd somehow completely overlooked the one you'd left to my post about Ron Paul and the Republican Party. I was pretty amazed by what I read.

I would expect to see false, hyperbolic ad hominems such as "hate America," "support Islamo-Fascism," and "Leftist slime" from far-right blowhards such as Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, or any number of right-wing bloggers who spew their rage into the blogosphere on a daily basis. But I would have expected a more temperate, reasoned attitude from someone charged with the task of actually winning elections, either on someone else's behalf or on his own. Evidently I was mistaken.

I can infer from your comments that anyone who opposes President Bush or our current policy in Iraq leaves themselves vulnerable to your accusations of "hating America." Look around, Eric -- right now as many as two-thirds of the voting public disapprove of the job Bush is doing as president, and nearly that many think the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Are you prepared to write every single one of them off as America-hating Islamo-fascists? You can if you want, but that doesn't seem like a very good strategy to me. I suppose that appealing only to the few remaining Bush loyalists and angrily condemning the rest might win you races in a few of the most conservative districts in the country, but it's no way to retain control of Congress -- as 2006 should've demonstrated to you -- and it certainly doesn't seem like any way to retain the White House.

And I should know, because as a campaign worker for John Kerry in Alabama two years ago -- a thankless task, I can confirm -- I found myself having to spend an inordinate amount of my time defending my candidate and my campaign from overzealous lefties in other parts of the country who were perfectly willing to write off all of Red America as a bunch of ignorant rednecks. As a Democrat, I resented them for making my job harder; as a lifelong Southerner, I resented them for insulting my upbringing. But at least they only called me stupid; you're calling me a traitor. Whether you want to admit it or not, there are a whole lot of people out there who are disillusioned with Bush and the Republican Party in general; is this how you propose to entice them back?

You called my efforts to drive a wedge between libertarians and the GOP "a project with no chance of any success," but I tell you what, Eric -- I'll keep working on that libertarian-GOP wedge, and you keep working on winning elections after writing off two-thirds of the vote, and we'll see which one of us gets more accomplished. If recent trends are any indication, I'm winning that one so far.

Now, don't take this as an indication of any overconfidence on my part regarding 2008; I know we face an uphill climb regardless of what happened last fall. But I'm prepared to do the heavy lifting necessary to win through honest ideas and rational, good-faith debate as opposed to hate, condemnation, and fearmongering. Are you?

Doug Gillett
Founder, Hey Jenny Slater
Current candidate, nothing

UPDATE 5/22: Whoo! Looks like I touched a nerve, because Dondero responded to this with not one but two overcaffeinated e-mails, both of which you may read below. The first:

Gimme a fucking break.

Hell, I would answer a pollster's question that "I oppose Bush's War in Iraq" precisely cause Bush is being a mother-fucking wimp in this War. He ain't fighting it hard enough. He's essentially a liberal softee PC type.

This is the worst of all examples of liberal spin of the media. They claim that "70% of all Americans oppose the War in Iraq." What the never tell you is that half of that 70% are people like me who oppose the War because we aren't fighting hard enough. They just leave the impression that 70% of Americans are Pacifists who hate all War and wish to surrender.

. . . Followed three minutes later by this:

Yup. You're right on one thing. There are a heluva lot of people out there who are illusioned with George Bush. But they're mostly disillusioned with him, because HE'S BECOME A FUCKING LIBERAL!!

Where's my second tax cut you promised me George?

Where are the spending cuts you said we were going to have during your term?

Where's the privatization of Social Security you promised us?

These days, there's little if any difference between Bush and the Democrats. They are both Big Government types. Only Bush wants to grow government slightly less than outright Socialists like Hillary Clinton and Fascists like Burak HUSSEIN Obama.

I know I promised not to be overconfident in the e-mail I posted above, but good Lord -- if this is the level of intellectual maturity we "liberal softees" can expect to go up against over the next 18 months, 2008's in the bag, folks.

Sunday, May 20

Weekend Bostonblogging: Do Dah Day.

Yesterday was Do Dah Day here in Birmingham, which is the social event of the year for the area's canines. It's a big outdoor festival that spreads across two parks in the Southside area, and it benefits Jefferson County's animal shelters; it is an event that Jenna and I make it a point not to miss.

One of the first dogs we met on our way to Rhodes Park was this English bulldog, who wore a Georgia T-shirt and answered to Dooley. According to his owner, Dooley descends from the Uga IV lineage.

Each year the event kicks off with a parade down Highland Avenue. One of the highlights of the parade is people dressing up their dogs in various costumes; some people without dogs choose to save the costumes for themselves.

Here's more from the parade, and you can't really tell from this picture but with a little extra decoration, it's pretty easy to make one of the Geek Squad Volkswagens, with their black fenders, white hoods, and big round headlights, look like a Boston terrier. (An actual Boston terrier was helpfully provided at the passenger's-side window for comparison.)

Looking toward the main stage in Caldwell Park.

We saw this little guy walking by as we were sitting in the grass in front of my friend Tom's townhouse. I've only seen one or two other Bostons that had as much white on its face as Jenna does, and this was easily the smallest. They said he was eight weeks old, which would be just a little bit younger than Jenna was when I first got her.

Jenna loves monkey grass, and that was naturally where she decided to kick back at the end of the day when she got tired.

Photos from previous years here, here, and here.

Friday, May 18

Killing the infidel.

In the past I have taken some tentative steps to drive a wedge between actual libertarians and the so-called Republicans who only pay lip service to the idea of smaller government and less government intrusion into one's day-to-day life. But it looks like I won't have to do the heavy lifting for much longer, because the Republican Party itself is taking care of that for me.

You may know Ron Paul as a current Republican candidate for president, but Paul has some very strong sympathies with the Libertarian Party -- he was their candidate for president in 1988 and he formally addressed their national convention as recently as 2004; the Republican Party actually tried to defeat him as he embarked on his most recent stint in Congress in 1996, but after he defeated the "chosen" GOP candidate in the '98 primary, the national party agreed to a compromise whereby Paul would vote the GOP party line on procedural matters in exchange for the committee assignments his seniority would traditionally afford him. Paul votes "no" on any bill he feels gives Congress more power than the Constitution says it should have, from tax increases on down to ceremonial namings of things; he's such a believer in minimal government spending that he hasn't even signed up for the government pension all Congressmen are offered.

Naturally, as a lefty Democrat, when I first heard about Ron Paul years ago I thought he was crazy as a loon. But over the years, as I got more and more exposed to just how fatuous the GOP's claims of being "the party of small government" were -- and as right-wingers like Pat Robertson and James Dobson showed me what crazy really was -- his positions started to make a lot more sense. I still don't agree with him on much, but I can at least respect him for his honesty and integrity and for walking the walk when it comes to his stated positions -- something I have no inclination to do toward any of the other nine GOP presidential candidates.

All this, of course, means that the "mainstream" Republican Party has to spike Ron Paul tout suite. Ever since the galvanizing May 15 Republican debate, in which Rudy Giuliani falsely accused Paul of saying the United States "invited" the 9/11 attacks, Andrew Sullivan has been tallying up the legions of mainstream "conservatives" campaigning to excommunicate Paul from the GOP. Hugh Hewitt and Bill Bennett both want Paul bounced from future GOP debates, as does the chair of the Michigan GOP; Hewitt's co-blogger, Dean Barnett, dismisses Paul as "cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs"; one of Paul's own former senior aides, current RedState blogger Eric Dondero, is threatening to challenge Paul for his House seat next year. Over at National Review, Larry Kudlow obediently chimed in with a judgment of Paul as a member of the "I hate America" camp. And all because Paul suggested that unchecked interventionism in the Middle East was a foreign policy that encouraged greater animosity toward the United States.

Kind of tells you where the "mainstream" Republican Party is at these days, doesn't it? You have to be in favor of continued intervention in the Middle East, an indefinite military commitment in Iraq, and oh yeah, torture of detainees to pass muster as an official GOP candidate these days. If you don't, it doesn't matter how many taxes you want to cut or government programs you want to scale back, you're still a heretic.

I'll tell you this: Obviously I still disagree with Ron Paul on some very fundamental things, but of the current Republican presidential stable, he's the only one I'd even consider voting for in the next million years. Clearly Paul isn't going to win the Republican nomination, but I would love it if the mainstream GOP's barely disguised contempt got him just angry enough that he decided to run as the Libertarian nominee anyway. Again, I'm at odds with libertarians on a number of things, but they at least present some ideological contrast to the Democrats -- which, despite being a Democrat, I think is a good, healthy, and necessary thing. As far as I can tell, the current Republican Party's only divergence from the Democrats is their desire to relegate gay people to second-class citizens and invade any foreign country that looks at them sideways. In short, they're a party that is outliving its usefulness. Ron Paul may not be telling people what they want to hear, but at least he's telling the truth -- and I don't care who you are, that's more than Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney is bothering to do.

ADDED: It's getting worse. Using a line of "logic" that remains a complete mystery to me, Fox News's John Gibson and Michelle Malkin go so far as to lump Ron Paul in with the "Bush knew about 9/11 before it happened" crowd. Not at all surprising from a guy who says that the left wing is actually "cheering terrorist victories" and a woman who tried to push the falsehood that John Kerry shot himself to get out of Vietnam, but still, yikes -- the GOP really is out to get this guy.

Paul's supporters fire back at Saint Rudy and the purge-Paul crowd here.

Friday Random Ten.

But first, a shout-out. Somebody on the production staff of Headline News's "Robin and Company," which I watch every morning whilst pouring coffee down my gullet, is a Pet Shop Boys fan, because just in the past couple weeks I've heard them play "Single," "I'm With Stupid," "Home and Dry," and (I think) "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More" in the little bumper/teaser segments they use to segue to commercial and back. Who is this mysterious music lover? Do I dare hope that Robin Meade, one of the top five hottest news anchors ever, is a Pets fan? Whoever you are, I salute you, sir/ma'am. You're doing a service for humanity.

Anyway, the Ten:

1. Passengers, "Plot 180"
2. Smashing Pumpkins, "Bullet With Butterfly Wings"
3. Air, "Kelly Watch the Stars" (Moog Cookbook mix)
4. The Isley Brothers, "It's Your Thing"
5. DJ Shadow, "Mutual Slump"
6. Frank Sinatra, "The Very Thought of You"
7. Cee-Lo, "Childz Play"
8. The Beach Boys, "God Only Knows"
9. Pet Shop Boys, "Shopping"
10. DJ Shadow, "The Number Song"

As always, your Ten(s) are welcome in the comments.

Thursday, May 17

A little cold water on your macho parade.

In the wake of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech last month, two common refrains were that 1) the VT students' failure to fight back against the shooter proves that our kids' generation has been pussified, and 2) if they'd just allowed guns on campus, somebody could've capped the shooter and prevented the massacre from being as bad as it was.

Now, I doubt very few people outside the Birmingham area paid much attention to this, but a series of events occurred Monday that kind of stuck a pin in both of those balloons, particularly the second one. That morning, an armed robber walked into a Wachovia branch in Bessemer, a suburb directly west of Birmingham, and killed two tellers and wounded a third before trying to walk out of the bank with cash and a hostage. The thing is, there was a customer in the bank with a handgun, and yesterday the Birmingham News wrote a whole big long story about him. Here's what the "good Samaritan" did when the bullets started flying:

Amid the rampage, Chappell and at least one other customer fled the bank.

Chappell was carrying his own gun, for which he has a concealed weapon permit. He took cover by his sport utility vehicle just outside the front doors, drew his weapon and waited.

Now, it probably sounds like I'm trying to call this guy out for being a coward, which is not my intent at all. This guy reacted in a way that isn't any different from the way you or I might, and that's the whole point. He may have had any number of reasons for not shooting the robber when he had the chance -- maybe he was worried that if he didn't kill the robber with the first shot, he'd only have drawn attention to himself and put himself in the line of fire. Maybe he simply came to the realization that putting a bullet in a human being, even a despicable one, is a lot harder than putting one in a target. But for whatever reason, the presence of a legal firearm in the bank didn't end up changing very much about the incident.

I'm not using this as an opportunity to call for more gun control; in the case of the Virginia Tech rampage, for instance, I can't think of any additional gun restrictions that might've prevented it. But the near-immediate response from the right after that incident was that more guns on campus or in the classroom building might've stopped the shooter, and stuff like this Bessemer robbery proves that that ain't automatically so.

Not to mention it makes the macho muscle-flexin' hordes of right-wingers, those who were falling all over each other last month to be the first to condemn the Virginia Tech student body for being soft, look even dumber than they already did. Remember National Review's John Derbyshire and his laughable claim that he'd "at least take a run at the guy"? Just to recap, in Derbyshire's hypothetical, Derb himself is unarmed and the shooter has two guns. But in the Bessemer robbery, the customer had a gun, the robber had just one gun, and the pistol-packing customer still didn't fire off a single shot when he had the chance.

I think the pro-gun folks out there need to take a closer look at a critical part of their "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" slogan -- the "people kill people" part. Yes, guns don't pull triggers themselves, people do -- flawed, human people, people who may not be inclined to take a life, or even injure somebody, even when they have every justification for doing so. A lot of gun proponents out there seem to have this idea that gun ownership makes you this special breed of human being, someone with a higher level of steely-eyed courage who is undaunted from taking out anyone who threatens his life or the life of someone he loves. But it doesn't: All it does is make you a flawed human being who just happens to have a gun. As someone who's fired numerous types of guns, I can tell you that just popping off a round at a target is a lot harder than it looks, to say nothing of a human being, and if you're not the type of person who can potentially take another person's life without a gun, merely having a gun isn't going to suddenly make you one. Just something to remember the next time someone suggests that more average Joes and Josephines walking around with firearms is the solution to all our crime problems.

ADDED: Fixed link to the Birmingham News story.

Blessed are the topless, for they shall inherit the earth.

Britney Spears has posted a message to her fans on her Web site thanking them all (both?) for their continued support during her divorce, head-shaving, revolving-door rehab stints, and whatever else has been going on in her life lately. "We are all lights of the world and we all need to continuously inspire others and look to the higher power," the former Mrs. Federline writes. "You are all in my prayers. Godspeed."

Touching, no? Here's a screenshot of this heartfelt message:

My question is, is Britney always topless when she looks to her higher power? Does that get your prayers answered faster? I can't speak for God, who I'm sure is far more morally upstanding and far less susceptible to cheap come-ons than I, but all other things being equal, if two girls ask me for the same thing and one of them has her tits out and the other doesn't, I'm filling the topless girl's request first.

Then again, at least she appears to be making some attempt at covering up. Maybe God caught her at an awkward moment. "Oh! The Lord almighty! Sorry, I was just in here trying on gloves. But as long as You're here, would You mind if I prayed for all my fans?"

Tuesday, May 15

Skanks for nothing.

Now joining Time magazine and its "100 Most Influential" list in the barrel: Maxim magazine -- which, yes, I used to subscribe to way back when -- and their "Hot 100" list for 2007, which features Lindsay Lohan at #1.

Lindsay Lohan. Lazy-ass, cooter-flashing, borderline-illiterate cokehead Lindsay Lohan. Not this Lindsay Lohan from three years ago, the fresh-faced ingenue prepared to take Hollywood by storm; this Lindsay Lohan, who looks like she'd be more at home flashing her tits for Mardi Gras beads in the infield at Talladega.

Conspicuously not chosen for #1: Jessica Alba, who had to settle for #2; Angelina Jolie, apparently not even considered top-10-worth at #12; Elisha Cuthbert, stuck back at #25; Alessandra Ambrosio, even further back at #51; Joanna Krupa, #66.

Not appearing on the list at all: Erin Andrews; Jill Wagner; and yes, Melissa Theuriau.

In graphic terms, we're meant to believe that this

is hotter than this, this, or this:

Uh-huh. When future media historians look back and try to peg the date when Maxim officially and irrevocably jumped the shark, May 15, 2007 will be it. I have a feeling Esquire subscriptions are about to spike in a big way.

Thursday, May 10

Hey Jenny Slater creative writing contest!

I do plenty of ranting and bloviating on this site, but now it's your turn!

First, read this article about a cancelled Rudy Giuliani campaign event in Iowa (hat tip to Andrew Sullivan):

OLIN -- Last weekend Deb and Jerry VonSprecken of Olin received a call from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's campaign office asking them if they would be interested in holding a campaign rally on May 4, after she had donated to his campaign.

"We thought it would be an honor and agreed," said Jerry.

The campaign office continued to contact the VonSpreckens throughout last weekend and were told a security check would be needed. The couple passed the security check and began putting plans in place.

"We started making phone calls. We got the sheriff and fire department and Olin school was going to let out early. We were also expecting kids from the Anamosa school," Jerry explained. "Deb even went around and personally invited people."

On Tuesday Deb received a call from Giuliani's Des Monies office and was asked to call New York.

"They wanted to know our assets," she revealed, and added that she and Jerry have a modest 80 acre farm and raise cattle.

Later she received a call from Tony Delgado at the Des Monies location.

"Tony said, 'I'm sorry, you aren't worth a million dollars and he is campaigning on the Death Tax right now.' then he said they weren't going to be able to come," Deb continued.

The Death Tax is a federal version of the Iowa Inheritance Tax.

The VonSpreckens then called Delgado back and told him how upset they were that the event had been cancelled, how much work they had done and that they had been expecting 75-100 people at their farm.

"I invited him into my home," Deb said of Giuliani, fighting back tears.

Done? OK. Now, I want you to write a short piece for the comments thread in the manner of a right-wing commentator responding to this incident if it had been Hillary Clinton cancelling the campaign event.

You can be Bill O'Reilly ranting about what an elitist Hillary is. You can be Chuckie Krauthammer writing a smug column about how the Democrats are never going to recapture the White House with this kind of out-of-touch attitude. You can be Ann Coulter writing about how this is typical for a Godless liberal slut who peforms abortions in her spare time and probably killed Vince Foster (you do, of course, have to make some kind of reference to Bill's cock at some point). You can even be a rightie blogger like Instapundit or Michelle Malkin! Just throw me a couple hundred words or so in the comments doing your best written impersonation.

The best part is there won't be any judging involved! If you enter, you automatically win! There's just one catch -- if the right-winger you're impersonating so much as mentions this story in a public forum, you're disqualified.

Now go to it!

The Selleck returns.

Guess what just became the coolest show on television:

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Tom Selleck, who reigned in Hawaii as "Magnum, P.I.," is getting ready to take over "Las Vegas."

Selleck will join the cast of the NBC drama next season, playing a billionaire with a mysterious past who becomes the new owner of the show's centerpiece hotel, the Montecito Resort & Casino, the network said Wednesday.

Excellent. And you know what needs to be the first scene of the season premiere this fall? Two white-jacket-clad valets are standing out in the front portico of the Montecito chatting idly about who the new owner of the casino will be, when all of a sudden a rosso corsa Ferrari F430 Spider flies up the driveway and shrieks to a halt right in front of where the valets are standing. Selleck gets out of the car and flips the keys to one of the awestruck valets and says, "Take good care of it." As he strides into the lobby, one of the valets whispers to the other, "Who's that guy?" Cut to Selleck, about to walk through the revolving door, who turns and gives his patented Magnum, P.I. eyebrow-pop to the camera. Roll credits.

Anyway, I hereby issue my early nomination of Tom Selleck to Time's list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World," 2008. Certainly I'd rather have him on there than Rosie O'Donnell.

You're that hard up for something to do? Then come clean my apartment, jackass.

Got anything else in your wardrobe that's that color? 'Cause you might want to hang on to it.

Lord knows I hate to come across as judgmental, but if you sign this petition

In a message that went up Monday on her MySpace page and reported in the New York Post, the hotel heiress writes (in her own spelling): "My friend Joshua started this petition, please help and sihn it. i LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!"

The petition, directed to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, asks that Hilton be pardoned from her sentence of 45 days in jail for violating the terms of her probation by driving with a suspended license. The punishment was handed down in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday. An appeal has been filed.

"I urge all fans and supporters and all that are outraged by injustice to sign this petition," writes Hilton.

. . . you are a moron. A total, complete, drooling fucking moron.

The story says that the petition got all of 900 signatures the first day it was posted (I actually dared to venture over to Hilton's MySpace page and for some reason it isn't posted there now). My guess is that at least half of those signatures are joke names like I.P. Freeley and Turd Ferguson, not that we'll ever get to see them; of the other half, I'm betting that fully two-thirds of those are from lonely, pathetic single guys in their late 20s to early 30s who are hoping against hope that Paris will see their sigs on the petition and be so overwhelmed by their courage and chivalry that she just has to go to their houses and fuck them right then and there.

Actually, given where Paris's cooch has been, maybe that's not such an outlandish thing to hope for.

Yesterday on the news they quoted one of Hilton's spokespeople or something like that who was complaining about what a terrible loss of dignity it would be for Paris to get carted off to jail and have to submit to stripping down and having a delousing and a full-body-cavity search or whatever. Right, because Paris absolutely hates it when random people get an eyeful of her ladybits. Ever since this jail-sentence thing broke, people have been asking me, "Doug, as a frequent commenter on pop culture, if you could sum up Paris Hilton in one word, what would it be?" and the one word I keep coming back to is "modesty."

(Can't trust a big butt and a smile)
That girl is Moooor-moooon . . .

Al Sharpton is in trouble. I'll give you a moment to catch your breath from the shock.

During a debate on Monday with Christopher Hitchens, Sharpton said in reference to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that "As for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don't worry about that. That's a temporary situation." Cue headlines.

Now, this is obviously not intended as a defense of Sharpton, as none of the Mormons I've ever known ever gave me reason to believe they didn't actually believe in God. But consider:

· Back in the summer of 1998, the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, a state the organization called "a stronghold of Satan" specifically because of the high Mormon presence there.

· Just three years ago, Mormons were specifically excluded from the "National Day of Prayer" event organized by James Dobson's wife Shirley.

· Earlier this year, a manager of the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Missions Board said that Mormonism was inconsistent with Christian teaching and that "Our concern is that they don't really know the God of the Bible. So we're concerned for their salvation."

· Also earlier this year, evangelical radio host Charles Colson told his listeners that "while Mormons share some beliefs with Christians, they are not Christians."

So while Sharpton's comment was crude and impolitic, let's not act like he's the first person who ever cast aspersions on the true Christianity of the Mormon church. This is a divide that's existed for a long time and that has manifested itself in some rather ugly ways. And there's probably a real news story here about whether evangelical Christians will accept or vote for a Mormon for president, but that issue isn't going to get addressed if the news media are only looking for easy ways to get Al Sharpton in front of a TV camera again. (And you know that Sharpton just hates being thrown in that briar patch to begin with.)

Monday, May 7

Laugh, dammit!

Somehow got into a discussion over the weekend that touched on either alcohol or "The Kids in the Hall," and wherever those two subjects intersect, a mention must be made of the KITH sketch called "Girl Drink Drunk," one of the funniest skits that show ever produced. And praise the Lord, it's one of the few Kids sketches that hasn't been yanked off YouTube over some copyright dispute or something. Herewith, "Girl Drink Drunk."

Coincidentally, the Kids made it onto an Onion A.V. Club "Inventory" this past week of "9 TV sketch-comedy bits that should have inspired recurring characters." They were mentioned for the "Dipping Areas" sketch from season five. But the real reason I mention this is that in the comments to that article, I was reminded of an Upright Citizens Brigade sketch that may be the funniest thing ever aired on TV, ever. If you don't remember UCB, that's too bad; if you do remember them, you surely remember what I'm about to show you here.

Ladies and gentlemen: "Ass Pennies."

When you play this -- particularly if you're at work -- make sure you have the volume turned up to a point where everyone in the immediate vicinity can hear it. No, no -- you don't have to thank me.

(By the way, does anybody know where I can find the video, or even just the audio, of the "Terrier Song" from the third season of KITH?)

Saturday, May 5

Time out.

If you remember this and this, then you probably already know what I think about Time magazine's "100 Most Influential" list. Time, I'm going to give you the same advice I gave a friend of mine in college back when he decided it would be a good idea to drink an entire six-pack and smoke a bowl before he went on a date: I know you think this is an interesting idea that will spur lots of talk and analysis, but all you're going to do is make people laugh at you. Seriously, don't ever do this again.

In case you haven't had time to peruse the whole list, here are some people Time thinks are among the world's 100 Most Influential:

· Tina Fey. Look, I love Tina Fey. I've gone on record as saying that "30 Rock" is the funniest show on TV right now, and if she weren't married I probably would've spent most of my trip to New York in March waiting outside Rockefeller Center with a dozen red roses and a diamond ring. But one of the 100 most influential people in the world? Has "30 Rock" made it over to Russia or China yet? And if it did, would they even get how funny "The Rural Juror" is?

· Kate Moss. Tell me one important or influential thing she's done in the past 12 months other than getting photographed in public with coke on her pants.

· Rosie O'Donnell. Right, because her feud with Donald Trump is shaping up to be one of the great cultural schisms of our time. (Oh, and notice that the piece on her was written by Barbara Walters -- what, they couldn't get Kelli Carpenter?)

· Wesley Autrey. Great guy, and one of a very small percentage of people in this country who can truly be called a "hero," but do you even recognize his name right off the top of your head? He's the guy who jumped onto the New York subway tracks last year and saved a guy who had fallen off the platform due to some kind of seizure, thus . . . triggering a nationwide wave of subway-platform-life-savings? Again, a sterling example of humanity, but I'm not convinced he really qualifies as "influential" on a global (or even national) scale.

Meanwhile, here are some folks conspicuous by their absence:

· George W. Bush and/or Dick Cheney. No, I don't like them, and I am about 90-percent sure that we can already call them two of the most inept and destructive leaders in American history. But like them or not, you gotta admit they have a powerful effect on things, even if it's mostly negative. Andrew Sullivan sums it up pretty well: "I don't think Bush has ever been as influential as he is now. If he supports something, vast numbers of people around the world -- and a majority of Americans -- will automatically oppose it. Whatever else that is, it's influence."

· Rudy Giuliani. Again, you don't have to like him, and I pretty much don't, but how can you have Michael Bloomberg on here and not him? Yeah, Bloomberg's the current mayor, but what accomplishment of his can you name besides banning smoking in all the bars? Doesn't Giuliani's arguable position as the Republican frontrunner for 2008 (though certainly less dominantly so after Thursday night's debate) count for something?

· Bill Gates. I'm posting this using Internet Explorer on a computer running Windows XP, so there you go.

· Louis Gallois. No, you don't know him, but he's the current CEO of Airbus Industrie, the international consortium that builds the one-half of commercial airliners worldwide that aren't built by Boeing and that is currently attempting to revolutionize air travel with the A380 superjumbo. And even if the A380 turns out to be a financial disaster for the company -- which might yet happen -- it deserves credit for lighting a fire under Boeing's ass and inspiring the turnaround of an industry giant that had been on the ropes for a better part of a decade. Without the shadow of the A380 looming over them, it's doubtful Boeing would have made their own attempt at revolutionizing air travel with the 787, either.

· George Bodenheimer. Otherwise known as the current president of ESPN, which, for better or for worse, pretty much dictates the ways in which sporting events are broadcast and analyzed not just in the U.S. but all over the world.

· Melissa Theuriau. Oh, I'm sorry, maybe you think being the most beautiful newscaster in the world is no big deal.

Oh and hey, now that I think about it, where the hell is my name on this list? I was Time's fucking Man of the Year for crying out loud! Back in December I was #1 in the world, and a mere five months later I can't even crack the top 100? What a bunch of Judases. Is it because they're still mad at me for not renewing my subscription?

I know that lists like this are extremely subjective in a lot of ways, and if you asked 100 people to write down their lists, not only would you get 100 different lists, there probably wouldn't be more than a dozen people who even appeared on the majority of them, much less who were unanimous choices. But man oh man I wish Time would dial their Artificial Gravitas Machine down from 11 and instead pitch these lists for what they really are -- "We Get 100 Famous People To Write About Other People They Like."

Then again, I guess I should just be content that Ann Coulter wasn't on there this year. You take your victories where you can get them, I suppose.

Friday, May 4

Friday Not-So-Random Ten: Goin' to the candidates' debate.

Last night was the first Republican cadidates' debate of the 2008 campaign. I have to confess that I eschewed it in favor of something a little more substantial ("The Good Shepherd," which was amazing, even though I think I may have to watch it again to make sure I caught everything), but I read up on it and watched what bits and pieces I could on the Internet, and I've got a very special Not-So-Random Ten for this field: ten songs for ten candidates. w00t!

1. Sam Brownback: Depeche Mode, "Personal Jesus"
2. Jim Gilmore: Pet Shop Boys, "Being Boring"
3. Rudy Giuliani: James Brown, "Talking Loud and Saying Nothing"
4. Mike Huckabee: Fugazi, "Do You Like Me"
5. Duncan Hunter: Morrissey, "First of the Gang to Die"
6. John McCain: The Streets, "It Was Supposed To Be So Easy"
7. Ron Paul: Ben Folds Five, "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces"
8. Mitt Romney: Del tha Funkee Homosapien, "Fake as Fuck"
9. Tom Tancredo: The Januaries, "The Girl's Insane"
10. Tommy Thompson: Gnarls Barkley, "Who Cares"

What's interesting, as Atrios points out, is just how negatively people are responding to these folks (on the MSNBC Web site, at least). Ron Paul is the only one of the ten who seems to have attracted anything even remotely resembling actual like; other than maybe Romney, everyone else is getting absolutely destroyed.

Hoenstly, other than maybe Paul, I thought Jim Gilmore, the former Virginia governor, had the most to say that actually meant something. (Hint to Republicans: That's not something to brag about.)

Your own thoughts on the GOP field, and your Tens, Random or Not-So-Random, in the comments.

Thursday, May 3

Thursday Mystery Meat: The stupid, it burns!

· Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, last seen impersonating Robert McNamara on an even grander scale, is receiving the Claremont Institute's "2007 Statesmanship Award" at their . . . wait for it . . . Churchill Dinner. As in Winston Churchill. Go ahead, wrap your brain around that; I'll give you a second. You may even need to have a Gatorade when you're done.

· Done? OK, now wrap your head around this: a story headlined "Lohan Plans Big 21st-Birthday Bash." OK, this is a girl who's an empirically verified drunk skank, and has spent the better part of the past year sashaying in and out of rehab like it was a changing room at Banana Republic. Why, exactly, should we give 0.001% of a shit that she's turning 21? Doesn't it seem like she's kind of been unofficially celebrating that milestone for a while now?

· Speaking of young ladies apparently in desperate need of attention, any of y'all heard about recently divorced Philadelphia news anchor Alycia Lane and the risqué photographs she sent to Rich Eisen, formerly of "SportsCenter" and currently of the NFL Network? Apparently this is far from the first time Lane decided to, uh, put herself out there for the attention of a potential suitor, though there was just one problem this time around -- Eisen is quite married, and to a real firecracker it sounds like, if his wife's reponse to Lane's e-mail is any indication. I'm glad Eisen, who's always come across as a pretty stand-up guy, didn't get drawn into any of this; as for Lane, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before her photos show up on Deadspin or The Smoking Gun or something. Not that I'm, uh, looking forward to that or anything.

All together now: You're with me, leather.

· There's a lot about this interview with "military historian" Victor Davis Hanson that should inspire eye-rolling and the making of the jerk-off gesture, but this bit is really what gets me:

All these Democrats now, for three or four years, have not just opposed George Bush, and not just opposed neoconservative idealism, but they've demonized it to such a degree that they've almost made Bush the equivalent of the enemy.

OK, let me get this straight.

For four years now -- more than four years really, if you count the run-up to the war -- anti-war liberals like myself have been insulted and condemned by people on the right. Some have merely said we're hurting the country by criticizing the incompetence of the Bush administration; some of them continue to go so far as to accuse us of colluding with the enemy because we have expressed outrage at the government's conduct in scandals such as Abu Ghraib and are calling for an end to the Iraq war. But now Victor Davis Tecumseh Bonaparte Hanson wants to complain about his side being "demonized" into "the equivalent of the enemy"? All I can say is that if "neoconservative idealism" is now regarded with the same derision as the flat-earth theory and the geocentric view of the universe, you might first want to start with the practitioners of said philosophy to see why it's become such a joke.

Tiny-violin virtuoso Rei Takahama plays a haunting solo just for Victor Davis Carmina Burana John Jacob Jingleheimer Hanson.

· On a related note, we have breaking news out of Washington, where George W. Bush has made a shocking announcement in a speech to the Associated General Contractors of America:

By the way, in the report it said, it is -- the government may have to put in more troops to be able to get to that position. And that's what we do. We put in more troops to get to a position where we can be in some other place. The question is, who ought to make that decision? The Congress or the commanders? And as you know, my position is clear -- I'm the commander guy.

What does this mean? Is Bush both the "commander guy" and the decider, who decides what is best? Or is he relinquishing his decider duties to focus on being the commander guy? If so, will he be naming an Interim Decider until an official nominee can be selected for confirmation? Or is that just going to fall to Dick Cheney by default?

· Question #1 for you readers: What do y'all think of Delta's new colors? Honestly I think they're kind of boring, but at least the airline's out of bankruptcy and hasn't gotten bought up by someone who wants to move the headquarters across the country. Given the choice between a boring color scheme and half the population of Clayton County being unemployed, I'll take the former.

· Question #2: What if the managers of all 29 major-league baseball teams who aren't the San Francisco Giants got together and agreed to intentionally walk Barry Bonds every time he came up to bat, thus depriving him of the chance to break Hank Aaron's career home-run record? Tell me, People Who Know More About Baseball Than I Do (Which Is Just About Everyone), is there a rule against that? Would they be in violation of some kind of conspiracy or anti-trust legislation?

At the very least, I think it's something that should be looked into.

Wednesday, May 2

Coup coup ka-choo.

A quote from cranky old right-winger and Hoover Institution fellow Thomas Sowell, courtesy of Washington Monthly:

When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can't help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup.

Now, if a dirty pinko liberal like me had said that, how long do you think it would take for a hundred right-wingers to line up and call me an unhinged, democracy-hating traitor?

How come Sowell gets a pass?

Oh, and another thing.

Throughout the debate over Congress's troop-funding bill, one of the most oft-repeated talking points from Bush and his remaining allies is that they don't want to set "artificial timetables" for the troops or for the Iraqi government's progress in meeting its various goals. But isn't "artificial timetable" kind of redundant? And doesn't the fact that Bush would use such a redundancy kind of indicate how he still just doesn't get it?

I mean, the whole point of a timetable or a deadline is to give someone a date for doing something that they wouldn't meet if left to their own devices. If my boss drops a stack of manuscripts on my desk and doesn't give me any instruction other than to copy-edit them, I might get it done in, say, two weeks, depending on how much I allow factors to intrude (such as other projects, meetings, the degree to which I scrutinize and chop up the words on the page, or my general scatterbrainedness). But if she has to have it in one week, then she'll tell me so. Obviously one week isn't necessarily the amount of time I'd give myself if I had the choice, but that's when my boss needs it, so I don't have a choice.

Or, to look at it another way, what would constitute a non-artificial timetable? I guess the only way would be for my boss to somehow intuitively divine that, based on my existing workload and editing M.O., I would "naturally" get through the stack of manuscripts in two weeks -- and then tell me I could take two weeks to do it. In which case there was no point in setting a deadline to begin with.

What Bush wants to do in this situation is drop the manuscripts on Maliki's desk and give him the "whenever you get around to it" instruction -- in other words, the exact same thing he's been doing for four years. He doesn't have the guts to hold anybody to anything more than that, and this "artificial timetables" complaint is just to cover up for the fact that he doesn't want to set any deadlines or timetables period. The Democrats' funding bill, on the other hand, aims to make him. And that's what this debate really boils down to -- "You need to get this done" versus "Hey, we'll stay here until you get around to it." Again, a deadline is a date you set for someone that they probably wouldn't meet if it was just left up to them -- thus without a deadline, "just leave it up to them" is more or less Bush's official policy. Is that something you feel comfortable with?