Monthly Archives: October 2010

Ted Sorensen, R.I.P.

Ted Sorensen, who was JFK’s right hand man and primary speechwriter, has died at the age of 82. I met Mr. Sorensen once and found him to be a charming and courteous gentleman. He also laughed at my jokes, which was truly endearing…

The Rally Pumpkin Meets Sister Madly

Happy Halloween from all of us here at First Draft. First, a picture of a San Francisco Giants fan ready for this holiday:


Second, a Halloween classic, Boo from Crowded House:

Powdered Wig Mudslinging

Or is that silk stocking mudslinging? Anyway, ever wondered what sort of negative ads Thomas Jefferson and John Adams would have run? If you have, this video is for you:

What? No “Dusky Sally” references?

Hat Tip: Ray Ward @ Minor Wisdom.

Weekend Question Thread

As an antidote to all the political despair of late:

Who are you the most proud of voting for in your voting history? Local, presidential, etc.

Me? My eternal political boyfriend, John Kerry.


Saturday Blogwhoring Thread


Kitteh and fox are friends.

So post away.


Stupid Thing

Dr. A and I don’t like our next door neighbors. That’s an understatement: we call them Mr. and Mrs Moron, which is not an understatement. I’m not sure what the over, under is on this but thinking about their annual Halloween conclave of knuckledraggers gave me an Aimee Mann earworm. Not a bad thing:

Meow. I am a nasty man sometimes but these people are malakas. Here’s only one example: they’ve lived next door to us for 8 years and I’ve only seen them walk their basset hounds once. Bad dog people, bad dog people..

Welcome to wherever you are

“You’re lucky,” a guy I knew pretty well told me today when we hooked up at a national media convention. “You didn’t get the job with us.”

Two years ago at this time, I was trying anything to get out of wherever I was and into something I thought I should be getting into. I applied for a job at Big Name School, which would have pushed me into a higher-level job at a better-known university doing “more important” things.

I got the call, made the visit and was cripplingly disappointed in the school, the faculty, the attitude and more. Making it worse, I never got the call back. Come to find out, the person responsible for talking to those of us who had been recruited had quit or was fired, so none of the candidates knew that they decided not to fill the position.

“We got a new dean,” he continued. “We don’t have majors or departments or chairs or deans or anything anymore. We have “working areas.” It’s kind of surreal.”

Instead, I have a student newspaper filled with kids who were excited to go to Kentucky.

I have staffers who feel blessed to meet people I’ve known for years and get criticized by these folks.

I have a boss who was fine with me essentially killing a week of class to come out here and a university that thought this was a great idea.

I have colleagues who are apparently starting to modulate their own lithium and are more decent to one another.

I’ve also got a provost who didn’t try to kill me as an example to all others when the kids ran a column they shouldn’t have run.

I have people who came to this convention with the hopes of seeing me. I have advisers who argue with each other to get my time slot for the paper critiques. “He’s mine this year,” I heard one say. “You got him last time.”

I have people who want me to do things that I want to do. I have more dinner requests than I have dinners while I’m here. I have hugs from people I see twice a year because they really do miss me.

On the way to becoming what I thought I should be, I became what I was supposed to be. I found that sometimes what you think and what you want and what needs to be are all very different things.

So I sit here on the banks of the Ohio river in a hotel room more than a dozen stories in the air, squirreling away a half hour to write something because Friday is blog day and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I think about all the things that come with not being somewhere else. I wonder if for all my attempts to go somewhere else and do something else that a larger force or a bit of fate had held me where I need to be.

I told a former student a few weeks ago that I finally figured out that running a student paper, yelling at kids and living in a bunker-like newsroom was apparently my calling in life.

“It took you that long to figure this out?” she asked. “I knew that the first time I met you.”

Perhaps it’s better late than never, but I finally realized it.

I am one lucky son-of-a-bitch.

Malaka Of The Week: Gawker

It’s time for the insomniac edition of the malaka of the week, which means it’s gonna be short. I was wired from the Giants taking a 2-0 lead in the World Series and watching Charlie Melancon trounce Bitter Vitter in a debate. It’s just a pity he didn’t grow a pair earlier: he won the battle but is going to lose the war.

Now where was I? Oh yeah, malakatude. There’s a lot to choose from this week but I’m tired of kicking teabagger ass so I turned my attention to the trulyhorrendous story at Gawker about some dude’s alleged tryst with Christine O’Donnell.It reads like a crappy, cheesy-n-cheap soft core porn novel. The one detail I enjoyed was the image of O’Donnell in a lady bug costume.

The whole thing made my skin crawl, which is malakatude by definition. I’m also a bit skeptical about the story: it actually mademe feel sorry for a past MOW “winner” whom I love to mock.Several people I follow on the Tweeter Tube are wondering if it’s for real and, if not, who planted it: the O’Donnell camp so we feel sorry for her? Did Gawker make it up themselves or were they hoaxed? It is, of course, silly enough to be a true tale of the wingnut cupcake from Delaware. BUT the mere fact that I’m so dubious of the whole thing is enough to make the gossipy and sleazy folks at Gawker, malaka (malakas?) of the week.

Next Week


Crack Van on Tuesday for election results, cats and kittens, starting around probably 5 or so. I have to work the early evening, but I’m pretty sure I can trust you guys to take turns driving until I get home around 7. Remember: friends don’t let friends watch Hardball unmedicated.


This Man Has a Major Newspaper Column


I will listen to wank about civility and decency and gatekeeping in traditional journalism after he is fired. Until then, seriously, cool it about how the Internet says fuck a lot.

I swear, every once in a while it bothers me, that of all the things I’ve said in this space that have been objectionable to lots of people, I’ve never called for anyone’s murder and yet baby up there is famous and I’m begging people to return my calls. Every once in a while, it gets very, very discouraging.


Friday Ferretblogging: Movin’ On Up Edition

The ferrets are caged when we’re not here, mostly for their safety because they get into EVERYTHING RIOT GET OUT OF MY BAG, and lately, we’ve been not here a lot. The magnificent ferret condo we bought for the late Fox seven years ago was really too small for three ferrets, even if Claire is secretly a hamster, and when we leave for the weekend I always feel guilty about cooping them up for 24 hours straight. It’s been time to upgrade for a while. So this week we did:


The dingos now live in the ferret equivalent of a McMansion with a four-car garage. The whole thing is one cage, but can be divided into two with this locking ramp thing so in case one ferret gets sick and needs recuperating time, no more borrowing a travel cage from someone for that. AND it’s on wheels, making cleaning under and around it so much easier.

They love it. They can play in it, chase each other up and down the ramps, have sleeping spots separately or together. They’re not entirely used to it yet, as they’re still convinced they can find a way to get out of it if they just lick the bars enough:


It actually looks pretty empty with just the three of them in it. I think we may need a couple more ferrets to really fill it out.


Friday Catblogging: Attitude Redux

Dr. A calls this picture, “Ya lookin’ at me?” That sums it up. We live in a Dellacentric world and we’re only here to serve Della Street. That makes us typical cat people…


Our Stupid Election Cycle

Seriously, when the kids come to you with the history books open, how on earth are you gonna explain this one:

During the interview Tuesday on WDEL-AM, O’Donnell snapped her fingers and beckoned a spokesman to her side after the host of “The Rick Jensen Show” pressed her on how she would have handled the New Castle County budget differently from her Democratic opponent Chris Coons, who is the executive of the state’s largest county.

Jensen told The Associated Press that O’Donnell said after the interview that she would sue if the video was released. O’Donnell campaign manager Matt Moran then called WDEL general manager Michael Reath, demanded that the station turn over the video and threatened to “crush” the station with a lawsuit if it did not comply, Reath said.


“This is another example of the liberal media shamelessly attacking Christine O’Donnell to boost their ratings,” Moran said in the statement, even though Jensen, the host of the show in question, is a well-known conservative.

First of all, as usual, the defensive freakout is worse than the actual thing. So you need to beckon an underling over for assistance on an answer. Who hasn’t done that? I mean, what are underlings for? I’ve been an underling and half my job during that time was to pass a note over to the overling saying something like, “You just called him Bob, his name’s really Bill, and by the way your hair looks good.” It happens. But flipping the fuck out about it just makes you look paranoid and weak.

Second of all, I don’t think the race is still in question.

Third of all, God, please let this person go away after it’s over. Is anybody else just exhausted by this nonsense? I think it’s actually a really smart strategy, on the part of Republicans: Create this Tea Party thing, prop up a bunch of lunatic candidates to say such a sheer volume of stupid shit that the electorate can’t even hear it anymore. It’s like Charlie Brown’s teacher warbling. Blah blah blah America flag conservativecakes blah. Flap. Blargle.


Life Imitates Mad Men

According to the Guardian, Roger Sterling’s fictional memoir will be published in what we laughingly call the real world:

Hard-drinking, philandering but charismatic advertising chief Roger Sterling from the hit American TV dramaMad Men is to have his fictional autobiography – which features in series four of the fictional series – converted into reality next month.

USpublishing house Grove/Atlantic has spotted an opportunity and will bring out Sterling’s Gold: Wit and Wisdom of an Ad Man by Roger Sterling Jr in time for the Christmas stockings of the many fans of the series.

Mad Men, which is set in the New York advertising world of the 1960s, has won widespread acclaim including 13 Emmys, and made a celebrity out of its curvaceous star Christina Hendricks. Actor John Slattery plays the character of Sterling, the womanising founding partner at the firm of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, who has used his charm on many conquests, including secretary Joan Harris whom Hendricks plays.

Sterling has “acquired quite a reputation among his colleagues for his quips, barbs, and witticisms”, says Grove/Atlantic, promising the character’s “pithy comments and observations amount to a unique window on the advertising world as well as a commentary on life in New York City in the middle of the 20th century.”

Grove publisher Morgan Entrekin is a friend of Keith Addis, who manages Mad Men creator Matt Weiner. Even before series four was broadcast, Addis told Entrekin that the then-fictional book would be featuring prominently in the upcoming drama. Entrekin pounced, getting Weiner himself to write the preface for the book, in the voice of his character.

Typical one-liners you’ll find in Sterling’s Gold include: “Remember, when God closes a door, he opens a dress” and, “Being with a client is like being in a marriage. Sometimes you get into it for the wrong reasons and eventually they hit you in the face.”

The Obama Charm Offensive

Obama on the Daily Show:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Pt. 1
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

Obama with The Important Bloggers of Our Time:

I think that there may be additional ideas that traditionally have garnered some bipartisan support that we can move forward on. But the point that you’re making I think is really important. Yes, people are concerned about debt and deficit. But the single thing people are most concerned about are jobs. And those jobs are going to come from the private sector. We’re not going to be able to fill the hole of 8 million jobs that were lost as a consequence of the economic crisis just through government spending, but we can strategically help jumpstart industries. We can make a difference on clean energy. We can make a difference on getting businesses to invest in 2011 as opposed to deferring until 2012 or ‘13 or ‘14.

And my only real question: WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN ALL THIS TIME?

I keep thinking about this election cycle and remembering the half-hour campaign commercial. Remember that thing? It was like watching a Mack truck hit Bambi, watching that thing steamroll the McCain campaign. It was like a knockout punch when the guy’s already on the ground unconscious with, like, three of four limbs missing. It was AWESOME in its unnecessary ferocity.

And since that time, it’s been like … giant black hole. We are FUCKED out here. Fucked. No jobs, no incomes, very little help. And if we’re not going to get a pony under the tree, at the very least we need a guy we like telling us why the pony isn’t there, and how we can go to a pony farm and visit other ponies and it’s going to be awesome in its own way. Instead for six months we’ve had pissy complaining from the press room pulpit that we’re all not happy enough.

As to why that is, I think Res Ipsa’sRussian friend is right on.

Actually, he is very good president. Lots of legislation to help middle class. His problem is he wants to be statesman, not politician.

He’s trying to do stuff. He’s trying to get stuff done. And he is getting stuff done. I personally think we should stop fetishizing the middle class and start helping the poor, but look. He’s not wrong when he talks about accomplishments, but people don’t come to the conclusion they like your shit because your shit’s just good. What do we talk about when we talk about newspapers here? Marketing and distribution. Marketing and distro, cats and kittens. And ain’t nobody, until this past week or so, been marketing those accomplishments to us.

Those rallies have to be CONSTANT. They can’t just be right before election night. It’s too late then. You don’t just market when you’ve got something big going on. You market all the time. There’s a reason there are Coke commericals on the air when, and I don’t think anyone would argue, plenty of people are drinking Coke and people in space are aware it exists. Because people are busy. More than that, people aretrying to keep their heads above the rising flood here. Not everyone lives jacked into the matrix like you and I do. They need it shoved in their faces, information about what’s going on.

We bitch a lot, and politicians bitch more, that the election cycle’s never over, and blah blah blah 24-hour news cycle cakes, but nobody seems to connect that that means the election cycle’s never over. Don’t just complain about it. Act like you understand it and campaign accordingly, because ain’t nobody out here sympathetic to your problems. Obama should have been doing the Daily Show every goddamn night.


Yet Another Example


…of how this election cycle isn’t left versus right, but reason versus ignorance and superstition(aka the world according to Fox.)


I’m old enough to have voted for Jerry Brown for Governor in 1978. In 2010, he’s one of the bright spots in a rather bleak landscape for Democrats. The Brown camp took a lot of criticism for not going on the air earier but their strategy of letting voters get sick of Meg Whitman seems to be working. Well done, y’all.

Here’s another clever commercial from the Brown campaign that twins Whitman with outgoing and very unpopular Governor Ahnuld:

It also reminds us of the putrid “comedy” with Ahnuld and Danny DeVito as Twins. Louie DePalma would have mopped the floor with those bozos.

A cautionary tale

Yesterday, as I was farting around on the internetz, like I do, looking for more about the filmTrigger, which I really, really, really wish I could see but apparently will have to move to Canada before I can, I stumbled across this old episode ofTwitch City.

I fell in love with this show years ago. I haven’t thought about in a while but back when Bravo picked it up, my ex was working night shifts and I was watching a lot of late night television. A lot. I’m pretty sure this show was the first time I sort of lost it for Molly Parker.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must for … well, anyone who watches television.

And if you can seriously look at the Internet and NOT think cats are taking over, then you, my friend, are in deep denial. They rebelled. They are evolving. And they totally have a plan, people!

Parts2 and3.

FYI, Twitch City featured everyone who is also in, and created, Trigger, including the late Tracy Wright, who is hysterical in this episode.


Time for some comic relief.Cherie Blair was discovered trying to auction husband Tony’s autograph on eBay for a mere ten quid.

Those disappointed whenTony Blairhad to cancel a book-signing due to protests last month will be pleased to learn they can now buy the former prime minister’s signature – from his wife, Cherie.

Cherie Blair, a barrister who together with her husband has amassed a large fortune, sold a signed “bookplate” oneBay for £10, it has emerged.

The enterprising former Downing Street resident offered the item – designed to fit into copies of Tony Blair’s autobiography A Journey – at £25 on the auction site last week.

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Dispatches from the war on fat

So day before yesterday, over at that esteemed bastion of critical thinking, Marie Claire magazine, this happened:

The other day, my editor asked me, “Do you really think people feel uncomfortable when they see overweight people making out on television?” … Yes, I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything.

It wasn’t just the one excerpt that was jaw-dropping. Writer Maura Kelly went blithely on (and on) about the ickiness of just having to exist in the same world with fat people,

To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine [sic] addict slumping in a chair.

not to mention seeing them on her teevee, validating their right to exist and all.

My initial response was: Hmm, being overweight is one thing — those people are downright obese! And while I think our country’s obsession with physical perfection is unhealthy, I also think it’s at least equally crazy, albeit in the other direction, to be implicitly promoting obesity! Yes, anorexia is sick, but at least some slim models are simply naturally skinny.

She even dispensed some nutrition advice because everyone knows fat people really do have “a ton of control” over their issues, if they would just put their mind to it.

But hey, don’t get the wrong impression of her!

I have a few friends who could be called plump. I’m not some size-ist jerk.

All of which unleashed a (justified) shitstorm and not just the 900+ comments on the post buthere andhere andall over.

Apparently gobsmacked at the reaction, Kelly apologized — hey she really thinks it’s totally cool to have all shapes and sizes of people in magazines and TV as long as they’re not, you know, obese — and also copped to having some underlying body image issues and a history of anorexia. Which, just maybe, might have influenced what she wrote. To her credit, the apology seems heartfelt and honest, if stillway clueless, and in no way does she deserve the more extreme responses, like having her address and phone number made public. That shit is not cool, nor is it remotely “understandable.”

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