Thursday, October 18, 2018


I get a headache just looking at this picture.
Much emotion was felt and many tears shed when Meghan McCain returned to work 10 days ago. It was her first appearance as Yenta #6 on The View since the death of her father, Sen. John McCain, on August 25. Fans and co-workers described her as "tough" an "brave" upon her reappearance.

While even a curmudgeon like me passes along his condolences and best wishes -- for losing a parent can be a pretty tough thing at any age -- let's look at it another way. 

McCain -- net worth estimated at $4-million -- hit the jackpot when she was born to a famous politician -- net worth estimated at $200-million at the time of his death -- which allowed her get a series of TV jobs on different networks where she's done nothing more stressful than mouth off. 

Not for long, buddy.
And while the rest of the 99% are lucky to get three days to adjust after a family death before being expected at the desk, cash register or gas pump, we're supposed to commend a millionaire for coming back to the job -- which, again, consists of giving your opinion for an hour, five days a week -- after over a month. 

This is tough? This is brave?

No, this is rich.

My dad timed it right when he died very early on a Friday morning. That gave me a weekend right there, allowing me to return on Wednesday, for a total of five days. Was I ready? Got me. All I know was that the rulebook said three paid workdays off. Anything else was on my dime. 

Did ABC take Meghan McCain off the payroll after the first three days? What do you think?

I'm not mocking her. It's pretty clear from what McCain has said that she was very close to her dad. But who deserves the accolades: the working parent who's got 72 hours to process the death of a loved one before punching the clock -- or the multimillionaire who could take the rest of her life off without feeling the pinch?

Y'know, for a second I thought it was
Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.
It doesn't take a death to keep you from work, either. It could be something as simple as breaking up with your "soul mate". You may have heard (whether you wanted to or not) about the relationship of pop tart Ariana Grande, 25 (but looking 12), and Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson, 24 (but looking 35). 

It was the stuff of Shakespeare. Disney starlet-turned-singer, who just broke up with a drug addicted rapper with bipolar disease, meets drug-addicted comedian with borderline personality disorder

Ariana and Pete fall in love on day one, and immediately start getting matching tattoos. In Pete's case, they covered up the tattoos of the woman he had just broken up with after two years.

Whenever you see FOREVER tattooed, you know
it's not gonna last.
Three weeks later, Pete gives her a $93,000 engagement ring, and moves into her new $16-million condo. A few weeks after that, Ariana's ex fatally overdoses. Following a month of very public mourning, she dumps Pete. 

And it all seemed so solid!

You can guess what happens next. Ariana and Pete cancel personal appearances because they need their privacy after blasting their personal lives all over Facebook and Instagram every day. In fact, Ariana cancelled her performance on SNL's season premiere after her ex died, which probably made Pete a little nervous. Uh, honey -- we're engaged, remember?...

And what is their fans' reaction? Give them their space! Let them take time off! I really want those people to try that at work. I gather it would go something like this:

FAN: Sorry, boss, I gotta take some time off. I broke up with my boyfriend.
BOSS: Take all the time you need. You're fired.

Breaking news tonight: woman dates ugly guy
with money.
Here in New York, WCBS-TV news anchor Dana Tyler took three months off when her boyfriend returned to his ex-wife. Mitigating circumstances: she and the bf had been a couple for ten years, and his name was Phil Collins. 

Yes, that Phil Collins, whose endless stream of grating music infected the airwaves during the 1980s like a measles epidemic in anti-vaccine Montessori school.

Still --three months because you were no longer getting laid by a human Hobbit? Again, let's go to the real-world videotape:

YOU:  Sorry, boss, my boyfriend dumped me, so I'm taking the next quarter off.
BOSS: Not a problem. I'll put in a good word for you at the unemployment office.

For Matthew Perry, being rich made
him look poor.
If I had taken time off every time a relationship went south, I would have been fired more often than Billy Martin.

But celebrities? They just can't handle the pressure of real life. That's why Matthew Perry gets prescribed Vicodin after getting his wisdom tooth extracted, which leads to a years-long addiction to painkillers and vodka.

Meanwhile, after your surgery, the dentist tells you to take a Tylenol and pay the receptionist on the way out.

Moral: money makes you richer, but it doesn't make you stronger. Now get back to work!


Wednesday, October 17, 2018


Trump refuses to let Lesley Stahl get any closer unless she
provides sexual favors.
If you were paying attention to the 60 Minutes interview with Donald Trump last Sunday, you may have noticed a vulgar painting featuring what looked like our sleazy president hanging out at one of his gaudy country clubs.

And you would have been correct regarding two out of those three counts. For the locale of this art de merde was some fantasyland featuring what the GOP might consider its greatest hits:

Behold The Republican Club by Andy Thomas. Lest you think Thomas is partisan, he's also responsible for another painting featuring Democratic presidents shooting pool. The latter is available via the misnamed site Touch of Class. It originally went for $420, but has been since marked down to $239.99. I guess they don't see a blue wave coming. 

Il Douche.
Despite what George Takei claimed on his Twitter page, Trump didn't commission Thomas for this... thing. (Trump associates the word "commission" with paying people, which is the last thing he wants to do.) 

Rather, it was a gift from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). Issa, currently (and mysteriously) being deposed in the divorce of fellow GOP congressman Mike Turner, is best known for being such a coward that he once addressed his constituents from the roof of his district office building in order to avoid protesters. I keep hearing about California libtards, but they're clearly not voting in great masses.

Trump fans are undoubtedly ordering their copies of The Republican Club by the (elephant) trunkful. They ought to think twice, however. Theoretically, they must love the idea of their manumitter being welcomed by his predecessors. But they may wish to reconsider. There's more to these fellows than meets the eye. In chronological order:

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: Went to war against states-rights activists who wanted to keep an overreaching federal government to mind its own damn business. Plus, he freed the blacks. What the H was that all about?

THEODORE ROOSEVELT: Wasted tax dollars on conserving hundreds of millions of acres of land for national parks and forests. Broke corporate monopolies. Endorsed immigration. Created the Interstate Commerce Act, yet another act of overreaching regulation of private business.  Pro-science. Pro-consumer. The first president to invite a black man, Booker T. Washington, to the White House for dinner. Again with the blacks!

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER: Wasted tax dollars on creating the government-run, socialist Interstate Highway System. Warned against the military industrial complex.  Responsible for NASA, yet another bloated federal bureaucracy. Eisenhower also defeated Hitler (a duly-elected president) in a war we had no business fighting, but had no trouble leaving half of Korea to the Communists. The first supreme commander of the waste of money entity known as NATO. Signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, one more piece of federal overreach against states rights. What is it about these Republicans and the blacks?

RICHARD NIXON: Holy smokes, talk about government overreach! Nixon was responsible for the Environmental Protection Agency, Title IX (gender equality in education), lowering the voting age to 18, and ending the Draft. As for what he wanted to do but couldn't accomplish: a guaranteed income for all Americans with children (thank God the other Republicans nixed that idea!), and guaranteed healthcare for everybody (good thing the Dumbocrats decided it didn't go far enough!) Oh, and Nixon also personally traveled to the South to end the remnants of segregation. The blacks get everything with these guys!

GERALD FORD: Just look at the photo. Need I say more?

RONALD REAGAN: Some Republican this joker was. In the 1940s, he was a union leader (Screen Actors Guild) in Hollyweird, of all places. When Governor of California, liberalized abortion laws, making him responsible for three million dead babies. As president, he expanded the federal government and raised taxes 11 times, yet tripled the deficit. Created the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (let them take care of their own affairs!). And -- hold on to your MAGA hats -- in 1982 signed into law a bill that gave amnesty to three million illegal immigrants! And you just know none of them were white.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: After leaving office, became friends with notorious gun-runner, drug-pushing Bill Clinton -- who, in turn, was popular with the blacks. Close enough!

GEORGE W. BUSH: Government overreach, anybody? Extended federal benefits to same-sex couples, and banned federal racial profiling. As for those goddamn invaders: favored the speedy naturalization of illegal immigrants, and accepted a record number of refugees and asylum-seekers (not from Western Europe, you can count on that!). Oh, and here's a shocker: integrated the executive branch of government for the first time. Also became friends with Bill Clinton... and Michelle Obama! These guys just can't help themselves, can they?

This is who you Trumpians want your guy to be bending an elbow with? Hoo boy! You might as well start shooting pool with Obama and Clinton. Otherwise, that painting is going to make you grate again.


Monday, October 15, 2018


Usually, I find myself in one of the boroughs when working. Once in a while I get lucky, and get to walk nearby, as was the case with Madam Secretary last summer. Not only did I enjoy a delightful 25-minute stroll on the Upper East Side on a sunny July morning, it was the quickest trip to Warsaw, Poland I would ever experience.

OK, so maybe it wasn't really Warsaw. But East 91st off Central Park was good enough -- and no jet lag, either.

The James A. Burden House -- house, hell, it's a mansion, baby -- would be standing in for a Polish government building. Perhaps the presidential residence or the US embassy, I dunno. I'm an extra, not a federal worker. And this day, I was going to be a member of the press, a role I've played so often that I ought to be carrying credentials. 

The entryway of the Burden House. It's all uphill
from there.
Some background: despite its name, the James A. Burden House was built in 1905 by William D. Sloane as a wedding gift for his daughter Adele and her husband James A. Burden II. 

In other words, the name of the guy who marries into the family is slapped on the house he didn't have anything to do with. And it was a wedding gift! I hope my kid's taste is a little more humble when she gets married.

The Burden House was purchased by the Convent of the Sacred Heart (located next door) in 1940, and is now used as -- get this -- its lower school. What the hell does its higher school look like?

I'm pretty sure this was where we filmed the scene.
Once you've seen one grand ballroom,
you've seen them all.
The Convent's basement served as our holding area until it was time to go to set. As I walked up the mansion's winding staircase and through its ornate halls, I tried to get an idea of what it must have been like to live there over a century ago. All I could think was, Man, they must have gone through a carton of Turtle Wax a week!

We were ushered into one of the rooms and took a seat. I always enjoy playing a reporter, because I get to wear a nice blazer (or suit) and tie. I find that I carry myself differently when dressed that way, rather than my usual doofus self. 

The scene featured the M.S. with the President of Poland. No, not the real one; the SAG member. They're holding a press conference to announce the finalization of a military deal to strengthen our friendship. The way I strengthen friendships is with a cold six-pack.

I was seen in three different shots. In each one, I'm holding one of those pocket-sized cassette recorders you occasionally see reporters hold in the Senate hallways during the press scrums. (Press scrum -- see, I'm already using the lingo!) 

In the first shot, I'm on the left side of the screen, filmed from behind, allowing my head to resemble the aftermath of a forest fire.

The second shot is more flattering. Right side, looking like the noble protector-of-the-people journalist that I am  pretend to be. 

Check out that profile! As Curly Howard said in Movie Maniacs, "Look at me -- ain't I a regular Barrymore?" And I'm not talking Lionel, Ethel or Drew.

The third was the money shot, allowing me to act -- that is, move my head one way to another when another reporter asks an impertinent question. I had my own impertinent question: why is that CBS eye always plastered over me?

From call time to wrap was a little over five-and-a-half hours, although the scene itself didn't take more than 90 minutes to shoot. I haven't returned to the James A. Burden House since. But if you ever want to rent the place after school hours, give me a ring. I'd like to slide down the spiral railing while I still have it in me to do so.

Ninety minutes of work packed down to 44 seconds:

Sunday, October 7, 2018

BREAKING NEWS: 10/7/2018

As a painting by renegade British artist Banksy sold for $1.4 million at auction, it self-destructed in a shredder hidden in its frame.

Pres. Trump is currently figuring out how to do the same with the Constitution.

Cogent Social Sciences, a website devoted to publishing the works of scientific researchers, discovered that one of its papers, "The Conceptual Penis as Social Construct", was in fact a hoax.

However, many husbands married more than 10 years have confirmed the penis is indeed strictly a concept.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded to know the truth regarding the whereabouts of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Rumors have it that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday.

Erdogan added, "If this is true, it is an outrage. Only I'm allowed to kill journalists in this country."

In California, one condemned inmate killed another on San Quentin's death row, the first such event in over 20 years.

Asked how such an event could happen, a prison spokesman said, "Uh, hello! Death row, remember?"

After a bitter nationwide debate, the Senate voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

After Pres. Trump called with his congratulations, Kavanaugh hugged his family, gave thanks to God, and proceeded to get totally shitfaced before throwing up in somebody else's car.


Friday, September 28, 2018


Similar to the sound crickets make, if you take the combined ages of Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein, and subtract 20, you get the temperature of Equatorial Guinea.

Republicans are so tough that they had to hide behind a woman who did their job for them.

Democrats really hate sexual misconduct towards women, unless it can help their presidential aspirations.

Republicans are more interested in knowing who paid for Christine Blasey Ford's polygraph test than putting Mark Judge under oath.

The only thing Democrats are more interested in than hearing a woman tell of her alleged sexual assault is hearing themselves talk about how interested they are in hearing it.

Death threats are the new angry letter to the editor.

Brett Kavanaugh gets really choked up about his father's calendar; really, really likes beer; and really, really, really hates the idea of the FBI getting involved.

Whatever Donald Trump has on Lindsey Graham must be a combination of Suddenly Last Summer, Brokeback Mountain, and Salo: 120 Days of Sodom.

Brett Kavanaugh appears to have been auditioning for taking over the lead on Better Call Saul.

Not one Democrat thought to ask Kavanaugh, "In 2015, you said in a speech at Catholic University of America, 'We had a good saying that we've held firm to, to this day: What happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep. I think that's been a good thing for all of us.' Considering that, up until today, you've stated that when you weren't studying, you were praying, and maybe shooting hoops on weekends, what exactly is there to hide?"

Either a distinguished college professor/
researcher/psychologist with a masters degree and PhD is seriously, criminally delusional, or a well-respected federal judge is willing to commit perjury for a job promotion.

There's an excellent chance we're going through this shit again within a year.

America is utterly and inexorably fucked.


Watch Brett Kavanaugh's wife on the left side of the screen. What do you suppose she's mumbling at the 22-second mark?

1) "My asshole husband is talking on live TV about how he vomits." 
2) "I knew I should have married that French waiter instead of this creep."
3) "Once this is over, I'm going to soak him for everything he's got."

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


My ancestors.
If you have cable or satellite connection, you're guaranteed to see daily -- nay, hourly -- commercials for companies ready and willing to examine your spit so you can find out your genealogical history.

You know the spots. The idiot who thought he was German until he learning he was Scottish. Or the black woman who "discovered" her African history -- as if expecting to trace her family heritage back to Greenland.

Not even Rachel wears the
Rachel Haircut anymore.

I can't understand this sudden rush to find out who your forebears were, other than jumping on the latest fad. Remember Gigapets, Oxygen Bars, or the Rachel Haircut? No? There's a reason.

It could be I'm one of the few people trying to escape my family heritage -- like, to the Marshall Islands, if possible. But last year, my wife was delighted to find her own Ancestry spit kit under the Christmas tree.

It two months to get the results. And, other than realizing her Native American background was humbug, my wife didn't learn anything she didn't know already. She would have asked for her money back, but it was my 99 bucks.

I would be so cool with finding this guy in my background.
Oh, you can find out more details -- names, immigration records, criminal mugshots -- you know, the good stuff. But that'll cost you extra. A lot extra. I bet if you looked into the family background of the owners of these companies, you'd find con men and carnival barkers. See your great-great-grandfather's log cabin! Only $300!

And now they've come up with another way for you to part with your dough. Ancestry has teamed with Spotify to create a music playlist based on your DNA. Yes, for 99 more dollars, they'll throw together some music that, with five minutes of research, you could stream free yourself.

Take a look at your music collection. Or, better yet, my music collection. It's a mash-up of obscure 60s and '70s psych-pop, contemporary indie bands my daughter has turned me onto, soft instrumentals, loud rock & roll, "sunshine" pop -- along with Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, Frank Sinatra, and some guy name Sviridov. And that's only part of the 10 continuous days worth of music on my laptop.

But if I allowed Ancestry/Spotify to create a playlist based on my background, this is what they'd come up with:

When's the next military plane to the Marshall Islands?


Remember my passing reference to Sviridov? Here's the composition, "Time Forward!", from the 1965 Soviet movie of the same name. It's still the opening theme to one of the Russian evening newscasts. Imagine settling into your couch to find out the day's events, and hearing this: