A new respect for Russell Brand

After the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Russell Brand wrote a column for The Guardian.

Please read it.

http://gu.com/p/3mgbz

In honor of the Sunday news shows…

…and of the fact that #NSAPickupLines is trending (hilariously!) on Twitter, I thought I’d share this that I found on Twitter but is most definitely not mine. My thoughts, but sadly not my creation.

BSfMg-xCQAE4vNS

Like I said, I claim no credit for this. If you do and you don’t want it here, I’ll take it down the moment you say the word.

Mixed up priorities…

If you were a news editor for a print (screen or paper) publication or a producer of a news program and you were presented with this list of topics to cover for the day…

  • NSA collects data on every American’s phone calls, even when they deny doing it
  • Senators call person who leaked the story a traitor and deem him guilty of treason
  • Police in Turkey set anti-government protesters on fire and arrest lawyers after weeks of protest there
  • Dozens of people killed in bombings in Iraq
  • Tim Tebow signs with the New England Patriots

…how would you order them by priority and importance of story?

I don’t understand how ‘the powers that be’ think because, if you ask me, Tim Tebow should never, ever be mentioned when those other four things are going on. Just no, never. That’s neither important nor meaningful if you claim to be a distributor of “news”.

So Beyonce lip-synched the Star-Spangled Banner…

…and she admitted it!

The shock! The horror!

Oh wait, everyone already knew that.

To catch you up, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last two weeks or so, Beyonce “performed” the Star-Spangled Banner at Barack Obama’s inauguration. I say “performed” because it quickly came out (straight from named sources in the Marine Corps Band) that she did not perform live.

The weather seemed like the most legitimate excuse. The least legitimate that she was too busy preparing for her Super Bowl performance to practice with the Marine Corps Band and, more importantly, be able to sing live without screwing it up.

I get the fear of screwing up the National Anthem. Lots of stars have done it and have yet to completely live it down.

What I don’t get is this: if the Super Bowl halftime show had anything to do with why Beyonce couldn’t perform live, why did she agree to sing at the inauguration? Wouldn’t it have been more respectful to politely decline, saying that she couldn’t give her best to such an august occasion?

I say yes.

Consider, if you will, Kelly Clarkson’s rendition of My Country ‘Tis of Thee at the same inauguration; she practiced for almost a week with the Marine Corps Band, figured out the best way to sing the complicated song, and sang it live.

It’s too bad Kelly Clarkson didn’t sing both songs, or the National Anthem, or they didn’t have someone who cared enough to sing it live.

In full disclosure, I’m not a Beyonce fan. I think it was tacky that she sang (not well, in my humble opinion) the Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl press conference and offered a laundry list of excuses as to why she lip-synched. Friend of the Obamas or not, she should have done things differently on January 21 … or not done them at all.

“Frankenstorm”

As a society, are we really so shallow and inattentive that we need to give massive storms cute, holiday related names like Frankenstorm? It would appear so, wouldn’t it?

Frankenstorm, in case you haven’t heard, will occur when Hurricane Sandy meets a nor’easter and then a blast of arctic air. The results will be, well, a hurricane and a nor’easter and a blast of arctic air. But it’s apparently been decided that we won’t pay attention to words like nor’easter and that we’ll only take things seriously if it’s called something simple and more relatable … like Frankenstorm.

Maybe this is true, and maybe it isn’t either. If it is, that’s not good, people.

And I think it is true. Consider that The Weather Channel has decided that it will name winter storms for the first time ever, just as hurricanes are name. I suppose it’s a good thing that the potentially deadly storms will have names so we can, hopefully, stop calling them ridiculous things like Frankenstorm, Snowmageddon, and Snowtober. Perhaps it is true, as The Weather Channel says, that, “Naming a storm raises awareness. … A storm with a name takes on a personality all its own, which adds to awareness.”

That we need names, and catchy ones, to pay attention says something about us as a society.

Then again, maybe we’re just behind because Europe has named winter storms for some time now.

In any case, get ready for some powerful winter storms in the coming months – powerfully named anyway: Athena, Brutus, Caesar, Draco, Euclid, Freyr, Gandolf, etc.

And if you’re in the path of Frankenstorm, stay safe!

Presidential Debates

You haven’t been living under a rock, have you? No? Excellent. So you know that there’s an election coming up here in the United States. Barack Obama or Mitt Romney for President is the most important race. But I’m not here to say one way or the other where I fall on things – of course, you might be able to guess from what I say … we’ll see. What I’m here to talk about is the concept of presidential debates; what’s right about them and what’s wrong about them, and maybe even how I’d fix them.

What’s Right

  • That there are debates at all is right.
  • That candidates occasionally challenge each other is right, if only because it’s a break from recitation of the stump speeches they’ve been giving for months.
  • That there are separate debates on separate topics is right.
  • That CSPAN covers the debates with only callers as the post-debate analysts is right.

What’s Wrong

  • That there are ridiculously specific rules about the length of speaking turns and there isn’t a single person in the room who follows the rules is wrong.
  • That candidates recite paragraphs of their stump speeches in answer to specific questions is wrong, if only because it’s an insult to the intelligence of the people they want to vote for them.
  • That there are only three debates is wrong. “Foreign Policy” and “Domestic Policy” are too broad and don’t cover enough.
  • That anyone from MSNBC or FOXNews thinks they can tell me what I just heard, because maybe I’m too stupid to understand, and tell me who won and who didn’t is, a thousand times over, wrong.

How I Would Run Them

  • The minute the clock hit the end of someone’s time, their mic would be switched off. No questions, no protests. Unless someone is willing to run across the stage and shout into his opponent’s mic, they’d be done.
  • I wouldn’t have moderators, they just muddy the issues. All questions would be submitted by the audience and the candidates would randomly pull slips of paper out of a ball.
  • There would be separate debates for each issue; taxes, job creation, climate change, energy, education, war, foreign aid, etc.
  • All networks that cover the debate would need to run an infomercial for half an hour before they start post-debate coverage, in which they can then tell me what to think.

So, that’s what I think about presidential debates. What do you think? Do they work perfectly as they are? What would you change? Or keep the same?