Wednesday, February 29, 2012

AT LARGE Fake News Wednesday: Donald Trump Helps Plan Mitt Romney's Day Off

CHICAGO (CAP) - In an unusual move, it appears that former presidential contender and current Mitt Romney backer Donald Trump has pulled Romney from the campaign trail so the embattled candidate can relax for a day.

"If anyone needs a day off, it's Romney," said Trump. "He has a lot of things to sort out ... can't be wound up this tight and become president, his VP will kill him."

Trump endorsed Romney several weeks ago, and said today he was spending the day escorting Romney - who spent his last day off under a desk - through the streets of Chicago.

The pair was expected to attend a game at Wrigley Field and visit the Sears Tower, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and take part in the Von Steuben Day Parade. Trump says the day off will be key to turning around Romney's flagging campaign, which he says is vital if he's going to secure the GOP nomination.

"If things don't change for him, he's gonna marry the first girl he lays, and she's gonna treat him like s--," Trump said. "She won't respect him, 'cause you can't respect somebody who kisses your ass. It just doesn't work."

Told that Romney actually did marry the first girl he'd slept with some 42 years ago, Trump said, "See?"

Romney, who is facing an uphill battle against a surging Rick Santorum in Michigan, reportedly resisted the suggestion at first, prompting Trump to respond, "If you're not over here in 15 minutes, you can find a new best friend."

Sources close to the Romney campaign said that Romney spent a full half-hour getting in and out of his car before going to meet Trump, muttering to himself, "He'll keep calling me. He'll keep calling me until I come over. He'll make me feel guilty. This is ridiculous, OK, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go."

Fellow GOP candidate Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, reportedly caught wind of the outing while preparing for his moon launch, and has spent the day trying to prove that Romney was not "home sick," contrary to what the former Massachusetts governor told his campaign workers before not showing up for the day.

"I did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind," said Gingrich, right before falling in the mud and being attacked by a dog.

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Column: Something's wrong with my radio

One interesting aspect (and there are many) of having a daughter rapidly approaching her teenage years is that I get a firsthand glimpse into what music “the kids are listening to.” That way when I saw a possessed Nicki Minaj grinding against fake monks and priests on the Grammys I was only mildly traumatized, as opposed to some other people over 35, who are still curled up in the corner of their divans, muttering to themselves.

We spend a lot of time in the car listening to top 40 radio, although I’m not sure what makes a song “top 40” these days. (Number of downloads? Most views on YouTube? Ryan Seacrest breathing on them? It could be anything.) I should mention that I had planned to be one of those parents who were hip to their kids’ music, until I heard it and my eardrums shriveled up like snails in beer.

For one thing, none of today’s music seems to have any guitars in it, or if it does you can’t hear it over all the drumbeats and synthesizers and the rapper who comes in after the second verse. It’s perplexing — without guitars, how do aspiring musicians expect to impress girls? By talking into the Auto-Tune app on their iPhones? For crying out loud, I could do that.

But when I thought closely about my critiques, I realized a few things:

1) I’m this close to turning into Grandpa Simpson, muttering on about my pills and how I used to wear an onion on my belt.

2) Our music was pretty bad, too.

Not all of it, mind you — not Bruce Springsteen or Dire Straits or anything from the “Back to the Future” soundtrack — but some of it was just as inane as anything you hear on the radio today, and yes, I’m talking to you, Captain and (to a slightly lesser extent) Tennille.

Of course, I was fortunate to have grown up in an era when radio stations played more than one style at a time, which would explain why when I think about my childhood it has “American Pie,” “Rubber Band Man,” “I Will Survive” and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” playing in the background. Between that and the pants my mother put me in it’s no wonder I still wake up sweating.

Jukebox heroes

But I don’t think I felt the full impact of modern music until someone thought it would be a good idea to install a jukebox in the middle school cafeteria. I can only presume this was done to raise money and not to introduce us to the collected works of Shalamar, but apparently the PTA couldn’t see far enough past all those shiny new quarters to anticipate the obvious: that it would take the sixth grade about 12 minutes to figure out which songs were the most suggestive, and then play them constantly until the end of time.

There were a few options that made it into heavy rotation — “Makin’ It,” “Le Freak” (it was French — it had to be dirty) and pretty much everything by Blondie, who was clearly a wanton woman, even though as it turns out she wasn’t a she but actually a band. But as the eventual non-stop, play-on-repeat favorite, the sixth grade finally settled on “Good Girls Don’t” by The Knack, which included the popular refrain: “Good girls don’t … but I do.”

Don’t what? Do what? We had no idea, other than that it had to be something inappropriate for consumption in a middle school cafeteria. More quarters!

The jukebox didn’t even come close to lasting the whole year, although we never found out who was behind its removal. (I always suspected the math teacher, Mr. Rose, who was apoplectic over the fact that we couldn’t seem to understand “We don’t need no education” was supposed to be ironic.) But not before I got to hear all sorts of music, some of it good (Queen, Pretenders, Tom Petty), some of it bad (Leif Garrett, Anne Murray, whoever sang “Biggest Part of Me”), but all of it mine. Well, ours, if you include all the other sixth-graders who had no idea what Kool and the Gang meant by “Ooh La La.”

Musical mish-mosh

And so now, my daughter has music that’s hers. Some of it, like Adele and Lady Gaga, I can appreciate. Some of it, like Rihanna and Lil’ Wayne, sets off my built-in parenting alarms and sends my hand screaming toward the station dial. And some of it, like any song sung by a child whose day job is acting on the Disney Channel, strikes me as what I imagine a carbon monoxide alarm must sound like to a Sheltie.

But as mine did, my daughter’s tastes will mature over time (I’m hoping in a direction that has guitars in it), and for better or for worse, these songs by LMFAO and Drake and Katy Perry will someday make up the soundtrack of her adolescence. And like me with my mish-mosh of teen music memories, she’ll look back on them fondly, no matter how bad they may be.

No offense, Captain.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

AT LARGE Fake News Wednesday: McCartney Album Feared To Promote Bottom-Kissing

LONDON (CAP) - In the wake of criticism from country star Brad Paisley, detractors are now coming out of the woodwork to express concern about former Beatle Paul McCartney's new album, Kisses On The Bottom.

"It's only February, but Sir Paul is an absolute lock for worst album title of the year," wrote Paisley on Twitter, who took pains to point out that, like most country artists, he is typically both pro-kisses and pro-bottoms. "Just not together," he tweeted.

Sources close to McCartney said they tried to steer him away from the controversial album title, but it was apparently the least offensive of several options McCartney was considering, including Pecks On The Rump, Busses On The Buttocks and More Silly Love Songs.

That fact seems to be small consolation to McCartney's critics, including the watchdog group One Million Moms, who recently chastised Ellen DeGeneres for turning its members gay.

"Funny that Paul McCartney thinks that giving his album a lewd and inappropriate title will spur sales when most of his listeners come from traditional families, whatever that means," said One Million Moms president Karen Grabower. "In our organization, many of our members who enjoy music barely even have bottoms, and certainly don't kiss them if we do."

And Tipper Gore, former wife to onetime Vice President Al Gore, has even revived her Parents Music Resource Center in an attempt to stem the tide of bottom-kissing she's sure McCartney's album will cause.

"We're not looking to stifle Mr. McCartney's creative freedom - we just want to protect the young people," she said. In response, the world's young people texted "WTF is a Paul McCartney?"

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Monday, February 13, 2012

AT LARGE Fake News Monday: Ellen Accused Of Turning One Million Moms Gay

TUPELO (CAP) - The parents watchdog group One Million Moms said that new JC Penney spokesperson Ellen DeGeneres is responsible for turning large numbers of its members into lesbians against their will.

"It's bad enough that JC Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business," said One Million Moms in a statement released yesterday. "But now her direct influence is causing otherwise traditional and conservative mothers to partake in immoral homosexual acts. It's reprehensible."

Asked to elaborate by CAP News, the group's president Karen Grabower explained that she walked into the kitchen while cleaning up after a One Million Moms meeting at the Whitehaven Community Center in Horn Lake, Miss., and found two members engaged in what she would only describe as "highly inappropriate lip-to-lip contact."

Apparently when Grabower confronted the women, there was a long silence, and then one of them blurted out, "It was Ellen!"

"Yes, Ellen made us do it!" said the other woman. "And then they both dropped to their knees and started praying," recalled Grabower. "It makes sense, because they were both big JC Penney shoppers, as you could tell by their St. John's Bay argyle sweaters."

According to Grabower, the only possible explanation for the behavior is that Ellen had "infected what was once a wholesome, traditional department store and its shoppers with her immoral ways." Grabower said she found out some of the women engaged in the activities even met for the first time in JC Penney dressing rooms.

Interestingly, the controversy has actually caused a rift among several prominent mothers groups. Mothers Against Everything (MAE) - which, ironically, has close to a million members, in contrast to One Million Moms' membership of approximately 200 women - came out to support Ellen.

"She's so funny and perky and she's such a good dancer, and she has such nice taste in slacks," said MAE spokesperson Darlene Fortenski. "I just think the One Million Moms should make some better choices about their protests. There are so many things that are much more harmful to children, such as letting them wrestle lions to the death."

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Column: Newspaper flicks worth stopping the presses for

You may have heard the old joke about the guy who cleaned up after the elephants in the circus and complained to his friend about the long hours, the low pay and the dirty work. When his friend asked him why he didn’t just quit, the guy responded, “What, and leave show business?”

Substitute “newspapers” for “show business” and you’ve basically got the life of a print journalist. You’ll notice I didn’t have you substitute anything for “clean up after the elephants.”

But that’s not the only connection between newspaper work and show biz. Reporters and editors have been characters in movies for as long as there have been movies, and for a good reason: because most screenwriters are disgruntled former reporters. Still, the fact that we’re in a profession that could actually be the subject of an entire feature film (like detectives! and spies! and Batman!) may, on some days, be the only thing keeping us here. (Not me. Other people.)

Personally, I can’t overstate how happy I was to find my favorite old newspaper movie, Richard Brooks’ “Deadline USA” (1952), pop up on cable recently. This is the film where the editor is played by Humphrey Bogart — Humphrey Bogart! — in a natty fedora, bow tie and overcoat. He stands up to mobsters, decries the rise of tabloid journalism and is forced to watch as his paper is shut down due to shrinking revenues. So it’s at least one-third realistic.

The flip side of the Bogart coin when it comes to cinematic editors is of course Cary Grant in Howard Hawks’ “His Girl Friday” (1940) — for Grant’s Walter Burns, journalistic ethics aren’t important so much as getting the story, selling papers, engaging in rapid-fire, whip-smart repartee with Rosalind Russell as reporter Hildy Johnson and being, well, Cary Grant. It’s worth noting that “Friday” was an update of that other newspaper classic “The Front Page,” a play that was made into several films featuring a male Hildy Johnson, none of whom could rock a pencil skirt and high heels like Russell. (Well, except maybe for Jack Lemmon.)

Even Jimmy Stewart (arguably the third member of the classic leading-man triumvirate with Bogart and Grant) donned the reporter’s cap in Henry Hathaway’s “Call Northside 777” (1948). Unfortunately it’s a little too sincere for its own good — it’s hard not to prefer Stewart’s slightly less straight-and-narrow reporter (for “Spy magazine,” yet) in George Cukor’s “The Philadelphia Story” (1940), which introduced the journalistic truism that socialites love reporters. It’s true, they do.

Sometime between the black-and-white era and modern day, though, newspaper journalists in the movies lost some of their leading-man sheen — the exception of course being Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in Alan J. Pakula’s “All The President’s Men” (1974). This was mainly because they were playing real-life journalistic heroes Woodward and Bernstein, and they were Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.

Not that newsmen weren’t still cool — was there ever a reporter who wouldn’t want to be Chevy Chase’s Irwin M. Fletcher from Michael Ritchie’s “Fletch” (1985)? He gets to hang out at the beach, pretend to be other people, like Ted Nugent and John Cocktosten, order a steak sandwich (and a steak sandwich) and put it on the Underhills’ bill, and, most importantly, doesn’t take notes.

Most people who actually work in newspapers point to Ron Howard’s “The Paper” (1994) as the best modern newspaper flick, and it’s hard to argue — I’m pretty sure the Randy Quaid character has been about two desks away from me for the last 20 years. But two of my favorite portrayals of newspaper reporters are slightly less grounded in reality, and yet somehow make complete sense.

The first is the team of Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo (talk about classic triumvirates) in Jim Henson’s “The Great Muppet Caper” (1981) — Kermit and Fozzie play twin brothers who happen to be “crack investigative reporters for The Daily Chronicle” and Gonzo is their intrepid photographer, who takes a picture of a chicken instead of a jewel heist in progress. That sound you just heard is thousands of journalists nodding their heads in recognition.

But my new favorite movie newspaper man (boy?) has got to be Tintin from Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin” (2011). Have you seen it? He travels the world, never seems to have a deadline or an editor or even see the inside of a newsroom, and doesn’t hesitate to, in a pinch, shoot at people.

Sure beats cleaning up after the elephants.