Tag Archives: Jon Stewart

Blackbeard It Is Not


From a New York Times media blog, picture is a link to the blog.

More like whitebeard. Last night, Jon Stewart rocked the known universe when he appeared with facial hair when he returned from a Daily Show break.

Not a moment too soon—his coming back, I mean. I wanted a bit of a Daily Show take on the Shirley Sherrod affair, and he did not disappoint. Yes, the NAACP should feel ashamed at being “snookered,” especially when the maligned speech took place at an NAACP event.

But I’ve written about that before—now the question of the beard.

Alexander's beard in 1970. Sadly, by 1975, I had the same style of beard for about a year. Was a bad idea. Beard was "normal" by the time I graduated high school, by the way. And I was 17 when I graduated; I grew this style of beard when I was 16. Sheller men run to the hairy, a bit.

I’ve had one for most of my adult life. My first beard appeared while I was a junior in high school, and it was rather ridiculous, a Alexander Solzhenitsyn 1970s style where the sideburns met and merged under my chin. Later in life, Al grew his ‘stach, and I’m glad to say I learned to do the same, too.

I shaved for my wedding in 1982, a move that angered the bride-to-be. For the next two decades I maintained by chin whiskers, until two years ago, when I shaved for a Mount Mercy beard-growing contest.

Again, the spouse said never again. And I think I should listen. Sheller men are not graced with strong chins, and even my daddy sported a beard later in his life.

Jon, way to go. You’ve become a member of the beard brotherhood. One commenter on the Huffington Post story stated that you look like an evil college professor—as an evil college professor, I say, “bravo.”

Blackbeard, a pirate pictured with rather elaborately curled beard. My hair on top of my head naturally curls, but not my beard, which is OK with me.

But, really. There are beards and there are beards. White hair? OK. As you can see, my beard hair isn’t very dark—my naturally dark brown hair started to grey even before I said “I do” sans beard, so I can’t blame that trend on Audrey. By the time I was 40, the transition was pretty much complete, and now, more than a decade later, using Grecian Formula would seem like a ridiculous idea.

But, I’m not that fond of Jon’s beard. I like a beard that joins with hair, not an isolated island of hair strictly around the chin. I do keep my beard trimmed, a task make much easier last year when my daughter Katy gave me an electric beard trimmer. I suppose some men look OK in goatees, but Jon, I’m not sure you’re one of them.

Well, beard or not, it’s nice to have you (and Stephen) back on the air.

Me, not terribly long ago. Trust me, the beard is a good idea, even it if helps make me look like a pirate or an evil college professor. Truth in advertising!

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The Real Evil Is Not Progressivism


So, Glenn Beck has discovered “social justice” and pronounced it evil.

I would laugh, but it hurts too much. Beck is, pure and simple, a crazy man, as was reported by the BBC.

I have not seen the full programs, but the BBC commentator Charlie Brooker has done good work in describing the nature of modern media, notably the contrasts between British and American media. He has had two shows “mediawipe” and “newswipe,” both on BBC networks. I suspect I might not like him as well if I saw the full programs—British humor is a bit blunt for American tastes and the authoritative repository of all human knowledge (Wikipedia) calls his humor “savage.”

The Brooker snippets I’ve seen, however, are brilliant.

See the link. I agree with Brooker—the anchors of Fox News seems like they were cast for a bad 1980s frat boy comedy. A fake looking blonde or crazy brunette ex-governor from some large but under-populated state will occasionally be thrown in to change the mix, but overall Fox looks like a country club reunion in a particularly small-minded little town where the “good” white men folk still rule the world.

I’ve seen three of Brooker’s clips that I really enjoy: Even better than his analysis of American news personalities, in which he compared Glenn Beck to Peter Finch’s crazy anchor movie character and correctly notes that Beck seems loonier, is his faux news report. Although it dissects the conventions of BBC news, the practices he cites are universal enough in American TV that we recognize the same genre.

“And now, a lighthouse keeper being beheaded by a laser beam.” Watch the clip, it will make sense. Or not, which is the point.

A bit slower, but still clever, is Brooker’s fake “reality” TV show. There is no such thing as “reality” TV if it’s not live, and Brooker illustrates how editing twists the narrative however the editors want it changed.

As much as I enjoyed the Brooker clips that I’ve seen, though, I was pretty much knocked for a pleasurable loop by the March 18 episode of “The Daily Show.”

Jon Stewart opens the show aping the mannerisms of Glenn Beck. I am not sure of the point of the Calvin Klein joke (Questioning Beck’s sexual orientation?), and the “masturbation” humor threatens to degenerate the routine into a bad SNL level. But then, Stewart starts playing with the blackboard. And, as it goes on, even before the letter E becomes Hitler’s mustache, the routine had both Ben and I almost crying with laughter.

As a bearded man, I sense our worldwide theocracy conspiracy has been uncovered by Stewart, who must now be eliminated—shot, to paraphrase Glenn Beck, on the battlefield.

The Daily Show

Stewart took on Beck in 13-minute monologue. It starts a bit slow, but gets better and better as it goes along. Don't believe me? Ask Bert.

Now there is a paragraph, if taken out of context, Brooker style, would totally misrepresent my point of view.

Anyway, copy this URL or click on it  to see the clip :

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-march-18-2010/conservative-libertarian

I am a liberal, so it’s easy for me to enjoy Stewart’s performance. But I’m not an automatic liberal on all issues. I prefer fiscal conservatism, and want government to take a fairly libertarian attitudes towards its citizens personal behavior, for example. I think of myself as a political moderate who has some liberal tendencies—and frankly, to be honest, I am not ashamed that I started my political adulthood as a Republican.

That was back in the days when there was some diversity in the Republican Party. I know the Will Rogers line is trite, but it still rings true. I don’t believe in organized politics. That’s why I’m a Democrat.

Anyway, a professor I know at Simpson College posted a Facebook link to Stewart’s brilliant parody of Beck. He got some longish comments, one of them from a person in the “a pox on both your houses” point of view—noting how tired she was of the left and right sniping at each other.

I absolutely will agree there are loonies on the left. But I don’t think there is a balance here. The popularity of Fox News is a somewhat frightening phenomenon, because as a “news” organization it violates so many precepts of the business. It constantly shouts “fair and balanced” because it is so un both.

And the fact that Glenn Beck has an audience is a scary indictment of the ease with which a new “know-nothing” conservatism will accept irrational prattle as long as it’s “our” irrational prattle.

Glenn Beck

The man himself. History prof down the hall says she's an expert on rugs and he wears one, but I don't know if that is true. If it is, there's something really scary under the rug ....

A few years ago, Stewart appeared on “Crossfire” and had such an impact that the show was cancelled. Of course, that was CNN, not Fox. The fact that one of its stars appears to be a raving lunatic probably doesn’t bother Fox. This is the network where, after all, Sarah Palin feels at home.

And almost, by comparison, seems a little sane.

Folks, there is a serious point to be made. When Bush the elder was elected way back in 1988, I knew someone who seriously considered leaving the country because she said that, as an ex-CIA chief, he would probably bring a right-wing tyranny.

He didn’t. In fact, his son gave that idea a much better shot.

But I didn’t plan to leave America when either Bush was in the White House. Tea Party talk of “revolution” ignores the key point that, in our country, we have maintained the world’s oldest democracy precisely because the losers in elections are willing to be governed by the winners until the next election, when we agree we can throw the rascals out if we want to.

Like Glenn Beck, I fear for my country. But in my case, it’s not when I look at our current President. Beck, it’s you—your 9/12 nutty club, your ovals to China, your shoot on the battle field bravado, your wacky commentary that causes me fear. Or more precisely, that you have a willing audience.

The real danger? Not Obama. Not socialism. Not the cancer of progressivism.

The real danger? There’s a Fox in the hen house.

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Run, Sarah, Run!


The hero of Nashville. Not really my cup of tea, however ....

OK, I’ve decided to quit messing around and pretending to be a liberal Democrat. I’m going back to my political roots (in 1976 I was a Republican delegate to the Iowa state convention. Granted, I was a Ford delegate, not a Reagan one, but I wasn’t in the Muslim-Socialist Party then, either).

What tipped the scales? Sarah’s masterful performance at the Nashville Tea Party gathering.

What deep thought. What profound eloquence. What great analysis of where America needs to go.

Sigh.

Can’t do it. Can’t keep up the façade, even in the interest of parody. What I really meant to write was: What deep thought? What profound eloquence? What great analysis of where America needs to go? What do the nuts in Nashville see in this obviously empty, cheap, platitude machine? (Sarah, don’t come after me with a moose gun, I’m not calling you a cheap woman, I meant that you spout cheap platitudes.)

Self disclosure: I’m a son of Tennessee myself. Granted, with my formative years in California and Iowa, I’m not much of a representative of southern manhood, and I am from the mountainous area of east Tennessee which was infested with Union sentiment during the war between the states, but by birth, I am from “real” America, the southern heartland of all that is good and kind.

Not unfair for her to use notes, even ones Sharpied into her left paw. But in the same breath as she lashes out at Obama for using a telepromter? Umm. Sarah? Don't you sometimes use a teleprompter? Somehow, consistent thought doesn't seem to come from SP ...

But the crazy babe of Nashville? Why does anybody take Sarah Palin seriously? “We don’t need a law professor, we need a commander in chief?” You are aware, aren’t you, that the other President from Illinois, while not a law professor, was a relatively inexperienced lawyer who was a cheap political hack named Abraham Lincoln. (And yes, he was a Republican, but that label is pretty meaningless compared to what the GOP seems to stand for today.)

No, I’m not saying Obama is another Lincoln. I’m not saying he’s not, either—history has to make that kind of grand judgment and the jury is out right now. But when Lincoln was President he was almost universally vilified and unpopular, too.

I got to say, (yeah I know, it should be “I have to” or “I have got to,” I’m trying a Sarahey talkey informally babbley thingy) though, Lincoln was a great commander in chief. And a writer. And a lawyer. And so (a writer, lawyer and great commander in chief) is Barack Obama.

As a professor, the “we don’t need a law professor” line is not only a cheap shot, it highlights that Obama is a highly intelligent, well educated individual. Very unlike you, Sarah.

And as commander in chiefs go, I’ll take Barack Hussein Obama over the former mayor of Wasilla any day.

So why do I entitle this blog “run, Sarah, run?”

Can’t think of a sillier candidate for the Republicans or the True Americans or the Tea Party or the Neanderthal Ninnies Who Criticize Teleprompters While Scribbling Notes on Their Palms can nominate in 2012.

She makes Joe Biden look deep. She makes Mikey Mouse look deep. She makes Taylor Swift look deep. She makes random drunk people sleeping in the alleys of Chicago look deep.

I know. That’s hyperbole. She doesn’t make drunk people look deep.

But boy, how shallow, how unimaginative, how 1964 she sounds. Please, Sarah, from a former Republican and son of the South, heed my pleas.

Run. Run Sarah. Run hard. I’ll be part of the wall you run smack into.

Stewart did it even better:  http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-february-8-2010/amerigasm

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