Thursday, April 16, 2015

SORRY EXCUSES

No. Now lie down in front of
a speeding train.
We're taught it as children: Say you're sorry. The problem is, the apology often sounds insincere because it is. It's sometimes better when no apology is offered. For instance, when Hillary Clinton declaims that big money is corrupting politics just days after her campaign folks brag about their goal of running a billion-dollar campaign, no amount of "I'm sorry for my blatant hypocrisy" will wipe that slate clean.

Give Jeb Bush credit -- he offered no apologies for offering donors the chance to join his "national executive committee" if they each raised $500,000 by March 31. He likes the corrupting influence of money: I want all your dough, and all your friends' dough, too, because I can, that's why.

"I saved this dog by blocking the
vet's needle with my thigh, which,
by the way, took shrapnel in Iraq."
It's not just fat-cat politicians. It's also fat-cat news anchors.  Brian Williams' first apology was so bad a second and a third were required, to diminishing returns. According to a recent Vanity Fair piece, he even tried to explain away his numerous fabrications with the theory that they might have been brought about by a brain tumor. Just shut up and walk your dog, Brian. And by the way, you were getting $10-million a year -- can't you buy your wife pants that don't have holes?



No one said it was cheap being a cop.
The most recent egregious use of an apology was from Tulsa's pretend policeman Robert Bates, who responded to shooting a suspect with a gun instead of a Taser with a weak "I'm sorry." 

"I'm sorry"? That's what you say when drop a glass of milk or accidentally destroy your wife's rose bush with the mower. You shoot me and immediately say "I'm sorry," I'm not going to be in a particularly Christian frame of mind.

Like I said, there are times when an apology just doesn't cut it. Had Bates been just a little more honest, there were any number of statements he could have made after pulling the trigger:
  • "Holy shit, what the fuck did I just do?"
  • "Well, hell, what do you expect from a 73 year-old lawyer?"
  • "Now this is why we shouldn't have body-cams."
  • "He was gonna die eventually." 
  • "You mean this thing was loaded?"
  • "Damn, that's three cars and 25-grand down the toilet."
  • "Well, son, that's what you get for dealing with someone who has no idea what he's doing."
  • "I never was that good at telling my left from my right."
  • "Weapons all look the same to me."
  • "He was black, isn't that what we're supposed to do?"
                                                **********************************

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

BETTER THAN THE MOVIE, PART 2

Uh... could you repeat that, please?
A while back, I wrote a way-too self-congratulatory piece about my movie poster collection. Since that time, I've relieved myself of many I no longer had any emotional connection to. By and large, those that remained were too dear to my heart to let go of.

But that was before I received an email from Bonhams Gallery in Los Angeles requesting consignments for their upcoming movie memorabilia auction. Suddenly, I decided that very few of those posters really tugged at my heartstrings after all. Rubber Racketeers, I Ring Doorbells and others of that ilk were mine 'til the day I died. But the rest, well, they could find a better home elsewhere.

So one morning last week, I plowed through the collection, inhaling the cancer-causing microbes drifting off the paper, and started photographing the ones I was ready to sell to another goofball collector.

Yeah -- right into the
memory hole.
While many of them had a certain je ne sais quoi, I had bought others simply because I had trekked downtown to an auction or "paper show" and didn't feel like returning empty-handed. What other reason was there to buy a poster for the utterly unknown 1941 release We Go Fast? That one, featuring an image of a surly cop (or is it cabdriver?) and even surlier nurse (or is it waitress?) giving each other the stink-eye, probably set me back a sawbuck. I remember it briefly hanging up at one of my apartments, but only because I needed to do something with it now that I owned it.



And leave a good-looking
poster.
I come to ridicule
Caesar, not praise him.
Then there were the juvenile delinquent/beatnik pictures from the '50s. Those were the genres I originally collected, and my walls were covered with them. No matter the movies' storylines, they all seemed to feature a "teenage" girl around 26 years old in formfitting clothes. Typically, these posters simultaneously warned and enticed audiences of the dangers the younger generation faced. The beatnik dangers never seemed to include bad poetry, fey goatees or sludgy coffee.


And under-produced.
Other '40s and '50s B- movie genres that appealed to me involved crime -- any poster with the word RACKET in the tagline, basically -- or sleazy sexpots. Over-Exposed (1956) managed to combine the two to splendid effect. The dames-in-prison pictures were  also automatic winners, too. Those posters always promised some good hair-pulling scuffles, while hinting at "forbidden" love. By the '40s, the latter angle got toned down to the point of being nearly subliminal. But in the pre-code days, when you saw a cigar-smoking woman with short greasy hair and a monocle, you knew she wasn't looking for a husband in the traditional sense.



Note the subtle use of the word "stacked."
Friends and family understood my hobby. One of them even went so far as to arrange a telephone interview with someone writing a piece on movie memorabilia collectors. Expecting a straight-ahead reporter, I found myself instead talking to a woman with an agenda. The more she asked about these posters, the more she made it clear that she thought I was some kind of predatory sexist, and demanded the real reason behind my collection. I urged her to talk to my wife and woman friends to see that I was a nice, normal guy, but the interview ended rather abruptly. I don't know if the piece ever ran, but if it did, I'm sure it had a very personal angle. Sex Criminal Gets His Kicks from Demeaning Movie Posters!

I thought Adam Sandler was the human bomb.
None of these movies were classics, but I figured that a few, especially the three-sheet for The Atomic Man (1955) or the half-sheet for the Crosby/Hope picture Road to Bali would cause some auction attendees to raise their paddles. 

I'd never find out. About 20 minutes after I emailed the photos to Bonhams, I received a terse reply informing me that they didn't reach the minimum value required for consignment. Go ahead and say it -- they're too cheap for you fancy-pants auctioneers!  

And so the rejected posters were returned to the box and tucked away for another day, most likely my death. Maybe I should have gotten that Citizen Kane half-sheet for $200 when I had the chance. A quick online perusal tells me it now goes for over $9,000.

From Fire Crackers
to
Cracked Ice
to
Duck Soup -- it's very logical if you
think about it.


Ironically, the Bonhams' representative who broke the bad news to me was the same one who, last year, was willing to take on my most prized keepsake, the original typewritten treatment for the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup. Almost everything from the story to the characters' names to the title are different from the final version. 

I paid 25 bucks for it roughly 20 years ago. Bonhams thought it would get between $2,000 to $3,000 at auction. After giving it some thought, I decided to keep it. My emotional attachment doesn't come that cheap. At least not now.

       **************************                            
To read the first part of this essay, go here.                        


                                                 

Monday, April 13, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: 4/13/15

Harvey Weinstein will not face criminal charges stemming from an Italian model’s claim that he molested her last month, the Manhattan DA said Friday.

After the announcement, Weinstein was seen leaving the DA's office looking one million dollars lighter.


Kim Kardashian visited her ancestors' homeland of Armenia. She wrote on her Instagram account, "We have not forgotten our roots!"

"How could we," she added, "when we see them in the mirror every day?"



Gwyneth Paltrow will participate in the #FoodBankNYCChallenge. For one week, Paltrow will eat on a Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program budget of $29 a week.

"I never realized how difficult it was," Paltrow tweeted. "It barely gives me enough food to throw up after eating."





Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who is expected to announce he is running for president today, is calling for "A New American Century."

At a rally in Florida, Rubio told supporters, "If elected, I'm going sign an executive order making this the 22nd-century. I can do that, can't I?"


A study run by researchers in the U.S., Canada and Germany states that, if given the chance, men were more likely than women to go back in time to kill Adolf Hitler.

However, an overwhelming number of women would go back in order to nag him "to give the kids a chance on the sled for a change. And while we're on the subject, would you please just either grow out or shave that stupid mustache of yours?"

                           

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Friday, April 10, 2015

NON-ROLE MODEL

Empowerment! That's the word every girl needs to learn at a young age, right after "contraception." People love empowered women (or at least the idea of empowered women) -- strong, self-confident, taking no BS from anyone. That's why girls need to have those role models starting at a young age, whether real or animated, as this news flash from Deadline Hollywood reports:


Meet the new Hello Kitty.
Yes, who else better exemplifies an empowered woman than an alcoholic, depressed, drug-addicted movie star whose version of "Nice to meet you" to men consisted of sleeping with them, and allowed herself to be used as a courtesan for a certain president and his attorney-general brother? One who never knew the meaning of "learn your lines and show up on time" and whose death is best described as suspicious?

Welcome to the new world of empowerment, where "taking risks" means mixing Stolichnaya with Nembutals, "confidence" is unprotected sex with Milton Berle, and "reaching for dreams" leads death at age 36. Line up, girls, and take a ticket.

And she had excellent posture.
I know it's too much to ask for, say, Marie Curie, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sandra Day O'Connor, or Margaret Mead to be considered as role models -- you know, non-movie stars. So if it has to be an actress, I'd prefer my daughter to emulate Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster, Angela Bassett, Lily Tomlin, Alfre Woodard, Sandra Bullock, Helen Mirren, Emma Thompson -- hey, I'd settle for ZaSu Pitts. She could do drama and comedy!

Because women who emulate Marilyn Monroe are not only pale imitations -- for, to give her credit, she was an original -- they also wind up jumping the rails at a young age. Jayne Mansfield (dead at 34), Marilyn Maxwell (dead at 51), Barbara Payton (dead at 40), Anna Nicole Smith (dead at 39)... 

Hey Madonna, the only thing shocking about this
is that you think this shit is sexy at 56.
And those who haven't died -- Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Madonna, Mamie van Doren (84 this year!) -- become washed-up or irrelevant or self-parodies -- or washed-up, irrelevant self-parodies -- because all they have to sell is alleged sex appeal. In fact, I would say that right now, pretty much every woman reading this piece is more empowered and would be a better role model than Marilyn Monroe. 

Call me out of touch, but I can't figure out why a pathetic movie star, dead over half a century, whose behavior led the studio to suspend her just before her death, and whose shtick appears more passe as time goes on, is somehow held up as something for little girls to admire. Parents instead should hang up a flashing sign in their daughters' rooms:

WARNING: IMITATING MARILYN MONROE CAN BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH, SELF-ESTEEM, SELF-CONFIDENCE, AND CAN LEAD TO SLEEPING WITH PRESIDENTS THEIR BROTHERS, FOLLOWED BY AN EARLY DEATH
 
                                                 ************************************

Thursday, April 9, 2015

TOTAL BODY MAKE-OVER

"But otherwise, I haven't aged
a day!"
In the 1968 anti-classic They Saved Hitler's Brain, the titular Fuehrer's head is electronically kept alive in a jar until such time he can rule the world. If only he had lived another 50 or so years, he could have taken it one goosestep further:


 
Well no, of course not, it isn't your mind you're planning to change. By the way, can a body be described as "healthy" when it's, er, dead?


"I will now transplant the point of this pencil
onto a Bic pen. And nobody can stop me!"


Dr. Canavero must be taken seriously because he's given at least one TED Talk. But don't tell that to his colleagues. The medical ethics director NYU's Langone Medical center, Arthur Caplan, uses the scientific term "nuts" to describe Dr. Canavero. Hah! That's what they said about the guys who saved Hitler's brain.



See how easy it is?
Dr. Canavero is basing his procedure on a monkey head transplant performed in 1970. According to Wikipedia, The animal survived sometime after the operation, even at times attempting to bite the staff. Do you blame him?

For all its bizarre sci-fi vibe, how many overweight, Fanta-chugging, Hershey-munching Americans are going to read about this and think, "Cool! I don't have to worry about exercising! All I gotta do is get a head transplant!" But as with pedicures, voodoo spells and hookers, head transplants aren't currently covered by Farmers Insurance.
Something with a clog-proof top,
however, has its advantages.




That's a shame, considering the cost of the 36-hour surgery is in the $11,000,000 range. But look what you get for your money. After the patient's head is severed, it's then attached to the other body with polyethylene glycol -- or what Dr. Canavero seriously refers to as "my magic ingredient."  Magic ingredients never come cheap.

What Dr. Canavero doesn't explain is exactly where they're going to get a healthy, albeit brain dead, body. Unless your "body parts donation" card includes everything from the neck down, I don't see how anyone brain-dead could give the thumbs-up to such an operation. 

On the other hand, what with the rising costs of funerals and cemetery plots, the surviving family members might consider such a move. And with organ transplants already semi-common, you could theoretically keep the body alive indefinitely, moving it from head to head like a Barbie doll. "Look, here's a picture of Uncle Tommy in Russia... and Paris... and Milwaukee... Gee, he's looking better than ever!"

If nothing else, it would make for
a funny finish.
Or you can take the easy way out, and avoid surgery altogether by simply exchanging personalities with someone else via a blood transfusion gone wrong. It worked for Laurel & Hardy once -- and no magic ingredients required! 

There are plenty of times when I'd gladly participate in such a scheme. Unfortunately, I can't think of a single person who would willingly want to have my personality. And if you knew me, you'd understand.

Looks like I've got to stick to the body transplant. Anyone know if Bradley Cooper is available yet?

                                                        ***************************

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: WALTER L. SCOTT EDITION

A white police officer, Michael T. Slager, 33, was charged with murder on Tuesday after a video surfaced showing him shooting in the back and killing an apparently unarmed black man, Walter L. Scott, 50. Officer Slager said he had feared for his life because Mr. Scott had taken his stun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop over a broken taillight. A video, however, shows the officer firing eight times as Mr.  Scott fled, then apparently dropping the stun gun next to the body. 

Officer Slager's lawyer, Jimmy McGill, told reporters that the video doesn't tell the whole story. "First of all, this whole thing about Mr. Scott being unarmed is nonsense. You saw the video -- that guy had two arms on him. Two. And they were big. He could've choked a horse. And for all we know, maybe he did. That guy was no boy scout."

As for the stun gun, Mr. McGill said, "That's another thing the video doesn't tell you. During the scuffle, Mr. Scott whispered to Officer Slager, 'I'm going to take that stun gun and stun you!' So the only way to prove that Mr. Scott threatened him was for Officer Slager to drop the stun gun next to him."

Responding to a reporter's comment that a broken taillight shouldn't have been cause to eventually cause Mr. Scott's death, McGill explained, "Broken taillights can kill, period. Mr. Scott's car was a walking -- make that riding car bomb. Who knows how many more people would have died otherwise?"

Asked why Officer Slager felt the need to cuff Mr. Scott behind his back after shooting at him eight times, Mr. McGill said, "It's pretty easy to Monday morning quarterback when you're not a cop. Why don't you fire a gun at someone eight times, see how brave you are afterwards? Oh, and let's remember that only five of those bullets hit Mr. Scott. So let's not make a tragic situation worse."

Wrapping up the press conference, Mr. McGill said, "Bottom line, Officer McGill followed protocol: When in doubt, kill the black guy."

                                                  *************************

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO SCREAM

You want to talk about oppressed minorities? You're looking at candidate number one, amigo. A few years ago I was diagnosed with renal cancer, which has a lifetime risk of 1.6% of happening to anybody. I've looked up the statistics, and there's a better chance of you, right now, being a Buddhist. So consider me taking one for the team. You're welcome.

But you want to know how really lucky I am? I get to experience another rare condition, albeit on an infrequent basis. The Daily Mail reports:


A CNN recreation of me
falling asleep.
Exploding Head Syndrome! How cool is that? It evokes memories of David Croneberg's 1981 sci-fi shocker Scanners. Only my exploding head isn't the product of special effects wizards. And despite the outlandish name, there's a logical explanation for EHS:

When the brain goes to sleep, it's like a computer shutting down, with motor, sound and visual brain cells turning off in stages.
But instead of shutting down properly, the brain cells responsible for sound are thought to fire all at once, creating a blast of energy that the brain interprets as a loud noise.

But you know what's really fun? When I experience EHS, it's often accompanied by a dream where something is inevitably flying straight at my face -- a baseball, say, or somebody's fist. I love that. But wait, there's more!

An attack may cause temporary tachycardia - a faster heart rate than normal - and palpitations. In the longer term, it can also lead to panic disorder, depression and catastrophising, where patients misinterpret symptoms as signs of more serious conditions, such as a stroke. 


I'm an old hand at catastrophising, which I never even knew was a word until now. By the way, since preparing for the 40-mile, 5-Boro Bike Ride next month, I've been experiencing all the above symptoms, so I should be a real pip when I finally take part.

Oh, I dunno. What about the idea of
President Mike Huckabee?

And don't get me started about hypnagogia, or sleep paralysis, which plagued me as a child. I'd wake up in the middle of the night, filled with fear, unable to move or cry out for help, while a piercing sound -- similar to what accompanies those "This is only a test" civil defense warnings on radio and TV -- rang through my ears while my skull went numb. Many years later, women tended to experience the same thing when they woke up next to me. 

While EHS may kind of be considered a psychological condition, it's no more outlandish than Joni Mitchell claiming she has creatures crawling under her skin. And, too, it might be unusual enough to pull out the stops at an unscheduled visit to my medico.

ME: Hi, I need to see a doctor.
RECEPTIONIST: Do you have an appointment?
ME: Uh, no, not really. 
RECEPTIONIST: I'm sorry, everybody's busy with other patients.
ME: But I have Exploding Head Syndrome.
RECEPTIONIST: (gasp) Why didn't you say so? (into PA system) Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard! Exploding Head Syndrome at reception, stat! 

That should be worth the $50 co-pay.

                                               *****************************

Monday, April 6, 2015

WORLD NEWS ROUND-UP: 4/6/15

Rolling Stone magazine retracted its article about a brutal gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity after the release of a report on Sunday that concluded the widely discredited piece was the result of failures at every stage of the process.

In light of this development, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner announced that his editors will take a look at recent articles the magazine has published in order to verify their veracity. Those pieces include "ISIS Shmisis", "The Boston Bombing: Eh, Not So Bad If You Really Think About It", and "America's Greatest Love Story: Inside the Clinton Marriage."


Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) says she has accepted the resignation of her state director, David Wihby, who was arrested for solicitation of prostitutes.

"I'm very disappointed in David," Sen. Ayotte said in a press release. "He should have known that he could have had has pick here in the Senate."



In his appearance on Meet the Press yesterday, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) said that he feels Christian businesses in Indiana were facing discrimination in the debate over the state's "religious freedom" law. 

When told of Gov. Jindal's comment, Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-IN), co-author of the law, said, "I appreciate the Governor's support. Now I wish that curry-munching dot-head would go back where he came from."


The New York Daily News is reporting that Harvey Weinstein's fashionista wife Georgina Chapman is outraged and humiliated by the allegation he groped one-time Miss Italy contestant Ambra Battilana. 

Ms. Chapman told Daily News sources, "Harvey promised that I was the only thin, beautiful, sexy woman with dollar signs in her eyes that he would ever touch!"


John Oliver, the host of HBO's Last Week Tonight, surprised viewers and journalists alike by airing what was probably the most hard-hitting interview with Edward Snowden ever conducted.

When asked how Oliver managed to score the kind of journalistic coup most reporters can only dream of, Matt Lauer said, "Oliver has an advantage over us. He's a comedian pretending to be a journalist. We, on the other hand, are hacks, human Barbie dolls, and political suck-ups who don't want to do anything remotely serious that would cause us to jeopardize our ten million-dollar salaries. How are we expected to compete with him?"

                                                 **********************

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

WORLD NEWS ROUND-UP: 4/1/15

Singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell is in intensive care after being found unconscious at her Los Angeles home. In December she told Billboard magazine that she had Morgellons disease, characterized by crawling and stinging sensations under the skin.

In a related development, 95% of Americans report that Joni Mitchell's voice makes their skin crawl as well.
 


Appearing on today's episode of Morning Joe, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) talked about her efforts to curb the federal government collecting interest on student loans. From 2007 to 2012, the interest amounted to $66-billion.

When asked for a comment, a government spokesman told reporters, "This proves that a college education really does equal more money."


Amid intense criticism of Indiana’s religious liberties law, Arkansas lawmakers on Tuesday passed their own religious freedom bill. State Rep. Bob Ballinger, a Republican who sponsored the bill, said “This legislation doesn’t allow anybody to discriminate against anybody.”

Upon hearing Rep. Ballinger, fellow Republican lawmaker Brad Lanes said, "So what the hell is the point?"
 


Cooper confided in friends that he couldn't understand why she wanted to spend time with people her own age rather than a middle-aged man who dresses like her creepy stepfather.



Other people who would find luminous tampons useful in finding undetected pathways include Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Ryan Seacrest.
                           

                                    ****************************

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: JAMES DOLAN EDITION

Reuters is reporting that Cablevision is planning to make an offer for the New York Daily News as early as this week, valuing the troubled tabloid at just $1. Cablevision is also the owner of Madison Square Garden and the New York Knicks.

James Dolan, president of Cablevision, told reporters, "We're going to run the Daily News like we do the Knicks and Cablevision. First, we're going to pay top dollar for second-rate talent. Then, in order to cover our costs, we're going to raise the price of the News on a regular basis, while giving our customers increasingly poor journalism."

Taking a moment to wipe the spittle of from his capped teeth, Dolan boasted, "As you know, the Knicks just lost their 60th game of the season. They are, in fact, the worst Knicks team ever. Cablevision is routinely considered the most-hated company in the U.S., with the worst service providers. We figure ourselves to be a perfect match for the Daily News, which is currently losing $30-million a year. With just a one-dollar investment, we'll have newspaper fans just as angry and frustrated as their sports and TV brethren. What's the use of running a business if you don't get a reaction from your customers?"

                                               ************************** 

Monday, March 30, 2015

WORLD NEWS ROUND-UP: 3/30/15

The New York Daily News is reporting an Italian woman has told police that movie producer Harvey Weinstein groped her breasts and private parts.

Weinstein denied the charges, claiming that his chin accidentally bumped into her.


Republican Governor Mike Pence claims that Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act law was not written just to allow businesses to discriminate against gays. 

"In fact," Pence told reporters, "businesses are encouraged to discriminate against the Jews, rag-heads and coloreds, too."


Former airline captain Tom Bunn wrote an essay for Time magazine urging flyers not to lose faith in pilots.

"Otherwise," he said, "they'll get pissed off and crash the plane into a mountain."  


A man in St. Paul, MN, is accused of using his pizza restaurant as a front to move massive amounts of marijuana.

Police became suspicious after noticing slices were being sold by the kilo.


During a debate on a gun bill and concealed weapons permits, Arizona Republican Senator Sylvia Allen -- who has stated that the earth is only 6,000 years old -- suggested it might be better if she and her colleagues debated the idea of making church attendance mandatory instead.

Lawmakers in neighboring states suggested that psychiatric treatment be made mandatory for Arizona voters.



WebMD reports that fecal transplants, using stool from a donor, have been successful at treating a serious gut infection.

The first patient is now considered the only person more full of shit than Donald Trump.

                                          
                                                   *************************

Friday, March 27, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: HILLARY CLINTON EDITION, 3/27/15

The New York Times is reporting that Hillary Rodham Clinton is ready to embark on a "listening tour" to prepare for her expected presidential run.

The people she'll be listening to are Thomas K. Montag (CEO, Merrill Lynch), Lloyd Blankfein (CEO, Goldman Sachs), and James Dimon (CEO, JPMorgan Chase)


                                               *****************************

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

LIFE ON THE SLOW SCREEN

Forget about Sgt. Pepper. The Beatles revolutionized culture when they recorded "Slow Down." Only it took over 50 years for the Travel Channel to catch up:



Twelve hours of reality in real time. Don't we all experience this every day of our lives? Do we need to see it on TV to prove that it's real? Hell, 20 minutes of C-SPAN makes me reach for the psiloscybin. Now you want me to watch a 12-hour goddamn road-trip?

My wife, daughter and I once drove to Niagara Falls, which took something like eight hours. Two years ago, we drove seven hours to Syracuse so our daughter could visit its beautiful, impressively-overpriced university. In neither case did the thought occur to me, Boy, this sure would make for some great television! In fact, I think both trips would have the same effect on TV audiences as it did on my wife and daughter, which was put them to sleep.

"I can't miss a minute!"
Like reality TV, slow TV originated in Europe. In 2013, almost a quarter of Norway's population tuned in to watch a 12-hour program devoted to knitting: four hours of discussion, followed by eight hours of doing.

Let me repeat that: twelve straight television hours of knitting. Wasn't the Nazi invasion enough torture for Norwegians? Or did they collectively think, Gee, how can we become even more boring than we already are?

Just how boring is Norway? Opening a can of fish is cause for fear, as the BBC reported last year:


If slow television catches on in the US the way other imports like Big Brother and Survivor have, I'm going to start a local station -- WHOA-TV -- devoted to it. Because even though tourists come to New York for its hustle & bustle, we who live here know that's just a myth. You want slow TV? This would be a selection of a typical broadcasting day:
  • Commuting on the George Washington Bridge at rush hour.
  • Finding a parking space within 20 blocks of your home.
  • Trying to get the bartender's attention on a Saturday night.
  • Waiting for the cable guy to arrive.
  • Standing in line at the post office. 
  • Going though the TSA checkpoint at Kennedy Airport.
  • Watching me toss and turn in the middle of the night as I analyze what a pig's dinner I've made of my life.
Thanks to our European friends, that old cliche about watching paint dry will soon be known as watching Norwegian wood -- and you'll play Comcast for the privilege.

                                                   ***********************

Monday, March 23, 2015

A PHARMACEUTICAL COMMERCIAL

Soft yet dramatic music on the soundtrack. C.U. of WOMAN looking at the camera.

WOMAN: It happened so suddenly. I had gone from being interested in the world, to becoming listless and bored.

INT. LIVING ROOM -- The same WOMAN is on the couch, watching TV with a mixture of depression and dread.

WOMAN (V.O.): Day after day, always at the same time -- I felt like giving up on life.

C.U. of her TV: A grim-looking Hillary Clinton is giving a speech.

WOMAN: (V.O.): All I could think of was, "When will this all end?"

INT. DOCTOR'S OFFICE -- The WOMAN is sitting on the examination table as the DOCTOR wraps up the physical.

WOMAN: (V.O.): I described the symptoms to my doctor, who gave me the diagnosis.

C.U. of DOCTOR of the doctor looking at the camera

DOCTOR: Marsha had all the warning signs of suffering from Clinton Fatigue. Fortunately, I was able to prescribe Hillraxia.

Music becomes more upbeat. CUT TO: DOCTOR at his desk, sitting opposite WOMAN. We see him talking to her while she nods.

NARRATOR (V.O.): If you're a political junkie, you may be at increased risk of Clinton Fatigue. Only your doctor can prescribe Hillraxia. Hillraxia is not for everyone. Do not take Hillraxia when using emails, dealing with the press, or enjoying moments of self-respect. Possible side effects include paranoia, megalomania, and cynically putting up with your spouse's sexual shenanigans for the sake of political gain. If you can't afford it, you may qualify for a government subsidy to purchase Hillraxia for up to two terms.

C.U. of TV -- Hillary is now laughing and pointing at someone in her audience.

WOMAN (V.O.): Thanks to Hillraxia, I can enjoy watching the news again.


The same WOMAN is on the couch, watching TV, only now appearing really, really happy at what she sees. She turns to look at the camera.

WOMAN: Talk to your doctor, and see if Hillraxia is right for you. 

C.U. of Hillraxia bottle.

NARRATOR (CONT.): If you're ready for Hillraxia, you're ready for just about anything.

                                                 *******************************