About Charlie Hebdo, Briefly

If an American magazine made similar ‘jokes’ about Jews or Christians or black people we’d be up in arms. However, in a free society we allow people to say stupid and hurtful things. I like it that way.

charlie-hebdo-s-est-deja-attire-les-foudresWhat a godawful tragedy in Paris. Horrible.

And to justify murder by saying you’re defending God? Seriously, isn’t God capable of dealing with this on her own?

Charlie Hedbo has been called a satire magazine. Maybe so. One man’s satire is another man’s hate speech. Some of their cartoons were definitely hateful, others patently racist.

If an American magazine made similar ‘jokes’ about Jews or Christians or black people we’d be up in arms. However, in a free society we allow people to say stupid and hurtful things. I like it that way.

Free speech has limits. You can’t yell “Fire” in a crowded movie theater. Most everything else is OK.

I wish Charlie Hebdo hadn’t tweaked the Muslim community as they did. Some of their satire was mean spirited. That was their choice. It is a right afforded to all in France, as it is in the US. It doesn’t come close to justifying what happened in Paris yesterday.

To radical Islamists, non-believers are infidels. Asking them to respect the beliefs of others is a non-starter. Reasoning isn’t an effective strategy. I don’t know what is.

Free speech isn’t needed to protect popular ideas. Free speech is there for the outliers. Even if I found some of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons offensive (and I did), I still defend their right to publish them.

This is all so senseless. What has been accomplished? When will it end?

Je suis Charlie.

The Map Adjacent To These Words Is Absolutely, Positively False!

If you’re here because someone snookered you with this phoney map, please consider sharing my post of Facebook or Twitter to let your friends know too.


Someone posted the map at the top of this entry to my Facebook page. It’s bull. There’s no truth to it.

It was published by Empire News. Click a little farther and you learn what Empire News is.

Empire News is a satirical and entertainment website. We only use invented names in all our stories, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental.

But that’s not how it’s presented. Each story is a series of lies, but without the irony or other elements normally associated with satire.

In the Onion, for instance, there’s a certain point in every story when you say, “I get it.” There’s no “I get it” moment at Empire News. There is no clever.

It’s awful because this is actionable information presented as if it was a fact. This is just sport lying. It’s quite legal, protected by our constitution, but it’s wrong.

There are ways to earn a living I’d never consider because they’re so distasteful. Empire News is an example.

Robin Williams

It was a shock it happened now. It wasn’t a shock it happened. Robin Williams adult life has been a public struggle.

Robin_WilliamsStef called this afternoon. Had I heard about Robin Williams? He killed himself.

It was a shock it happened now. It wasn’t a shock it happened. Robin Williams adult life has been a public struggle.

It seems awful his massive success couldn’t also bring happiness. Even more sadly, was the deranged quirkiness we watched just another symptom of his depression?

I remember when he came up on Mork and Mindy. Instant iconic star! The buzz moved quickly, especially considering the pre-Internet world.

Gary Marshall, maybe the most under appreciated comedic genius of our time, cast Williams as a lead. It was his first pro job! Here’s the story of how it happened. Somehow, it’s only been viewed around 400 times until now.

On Mickey Rooney

472px-Mickey_Rooney_stillMickey Rooney died this weekend. He was a big deal from my parents generation, one of the last few surviving Hollywood movie stars.

Rooney was a member of a very small club. He could do nearly anything in show business. He sang, he danced, he acted. He played the drums. He did Broadway. He toured. He was a frequent talk show guest in the 60s and 70s.

The more people got to know him, the less starstruck they were. Make no mistake, he was exceptionally talented. He was just more talented than popular. It happens.

Mickey Rooney was best known for the Andy Hardy movies. They made 16.

Andy lived in small town America where everything was tidy and everyone was white. His father was a wise, yet warm, judge.

The Andy Hardy movies were often on daytime TV when I was a kid. These were lighthearted morality plays where the good guy triumphs in the end–always. I watched, but it was no childhood I recognized.

Rooney also did a bunch of successful musicals with Judy Garland. Later in his career he transitioned to character roles.

People were surprised to see he was only 5′ 2″.

He was married eight times. After three or four shouldn’t you understand marriage isn’t for you?

I’m trying to think if anyone’s ever been in the public consciousness longer than Mickey Rooney? Maybe not. He was a star nearly 80 years. That’s an incredible accomplishment.

Even 93 years isn’t enough, is it?

David Letterman Is Retiring

David Letterman autographed photoSome presents are meant to be remembered. While we were dating, Helaine got me an autographed photo of David Letterman. This was at the beginning of the morning show era. He was my hero.

What a caring gift. Thank you again, baby.

David Letterman has done some of the funniest off-the-wall material seen on TV. Not recently.

Since the heart attack? Since his affair? Since the birth of Harry? At some point his TV spark went away.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d see him tomorrow. I’m still a huge fan. He is not doing his best work today.

letterman-ticketWith Leno gone and Jimmy Fallon very strong out of the gate, it’s time. He said so a few nights ago.

So, who? The NY Post says CBS likes Colbert.

Are they talking the character he currently plays or legit Stephen Colbert? Is either a good choice? With the real Stephen, you risk fans who might not like his actual persona as much as his alter ego and feel cheated.

I like Jon Stewart a lot. That choice would make me happy and I think he could be a force.

letterman-studioHoward Stern is a good choice too. He’s intellectually curious and a great interviewer. Does he play close to the line a little too often for CBS? Maybe.

Stern had major public battles with Les Moonves who runs the network and its attendant empire. It got very nasty.

Does money trump personal animosity? Here? In SoCal? In show biz? Survey says, yes!

CBS needs to hit a home run. Late night is fabulously profitable in an era of pinched bottom lines. They will suffer greatly without the revenue Letterman brought.

This will be interesting to watch. Dave said his run ends in 2015.

Disney Day

IMG_6343all of us

Trudi and Jeff, my sister and brother-in-law are visiting from Wisconsin. We’re trying to show them a good time. It seems to be working!

We went to Disneyland today. It’s a school holiday in many cities and the park was jammed.

We did a lot of walking in both the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s California Adventure. It’s as much fun to walk around and look at people as it is to ride rides… well, almost. Every shape, size, shade of person was represented.

We saw the Captain Eo Tribute. The color is washed out. The film techniques look dated. Time to ditch it.

Jeff and I discussed the amazing cleanliness of the parks. There was nothing on the pavement. The place is spotless.

We came home and had dinner out with the Irvine Foxes.

It good to get the family together. It doesn’t happen often enough.

They Play Poker Here

hawaiian-gardens-poker-tableCard rooms are legal in parts of SoCal. They are mostly poker rooms. Other table games are played, but with lesser odds than ‘real’ casinos. Poker dominates.

The nearest rooms are in the south end of Los Angeles County, less than a half hour from here. I’ve been to Commerce Casino in… wait for it… The City of Commerce. The largest card room in the world. It’s like a bus terminal!

If you’ve been to beautiful casinos, like in Vegas or Connecticut, you’re in for a letdown. Commerce doesn’t seem to be the exception. I’m told none of the card rooms are showplaces.

This afternoon Helaine and I drove to Hawaiian Gardens Casino in… wait for it… Hawaiian Gardens, CA. There’s a little more room between tables than Commerce, but it too borders on bus terminal.

The casino occupies what looks to be two huge tents! Surfboards hang from the ceiling marking the different poker games dealt. It’s like a United Nations get-together.

wider-shot-poker-roomWe go to Hawaiian Gardens because of the food. Oh my God!

You order from a roving waitstaff with red shirts. Just like the deck of an aircraft carrier, everyone working at the Gardens wears a shirt colorcoded to describe their specific job.

The menu is wondrous. It’s a spiral bound, plastic encased affair with at least ten pages. Along with breakfasts and dinners are pages for Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean food.

The food comes hot. The portions are large. The taste is incredible.

Helaine had a shrimp and asparagus dinner. I had their Thursday night lamb chop special. We both had large Diet Cokes.

I gave the waiter a twenty for both of us, which included a nearly 25% tip. I’m not sure we can eat home for that price?

As for poker, one of us won twice what the other one lost. A fun adventure for us while Doppler kept guard at home.

A New Respect For Wrestling

Our cousins asked if Helaine and I would go with them to their son Max’s match this evening. Max is a sophomore at Beckman High School&#185. He wrestles!

My knowledge of wrestling is limited. I watched wrestling on TV as a kid. When I worked in Charlotte, we actually taped wrestling in the studio!

One evening I walked past a guy wearing a wrestling singlet, reading the Associated Press wire. It was a surreal moment.

What I experienced was meaningless. That’s not wrestling. What I saw tonight was and it opened my eyes.

What a crazy, brutal sport.

Beckman was visiting Northwood High School, also in Irvine. Think nice campus for a small liberal arts college and you’ve got Northwood.

The wrestlers are divided into weight classes. The idea is to pin your like sized opponent, though there are other ways to score points.

Wrestling on TV is violent, but it’s fake. This wrestling is violent too. No chairs are being thrown, this is much more controlled.

“Do people get hurt,” I asked? Max proceeded to explain they do and it was surprising there was no blood tonight!

It’s obvious while you watch, all the participants are deep in the zone. Everyone is pumping out maximum strength. Some, in pain and obviously losing, had an “I wish I was anywhere else” look on their face as their matches progressed.

Max won his contest. The Beckman Patriots won the meet. No one questioned my lying on my belly like a reptile to shoot 399 photos. It was a good night.

&#185 – As it turns out the Beckman High School wrestling team has a website designed by me.

Steve Landesberg Has Died

I saw him in one of the most disappointing live shows I’d ever witnessed! He was just awful. I was still a fan.

Steve Landesberg died this weekend. He was a comedian and comedic actor. I saw him in one of the most disappointing live shows I’d ever witnessed! He was just awful. I was still a fan.

Steve Landesberg first came into view for me as a stand-up performing on TV. He did dialects.

His signature bit was about a southern sheriff whom he did in a deep southern drawl. The sheriff was talking about hippies and war protesters and one particular guy who was singing a folk song, “Stomping on the Flag.” Finally at the end the sheriff says,

“Stomping on the flag? Stomping on the flag? It had a catchy beat.”

In the mid-70s Landesberg appeared on a forgotten piece of the CBS killer Saturday lineup (Bob Newhart, Mary Tyler Moore) “Paul Sands in Friends and Lovers.” It was a comedy built around players in a symphony orchestra. Landesberg played an Austrian violinist, Fred Meyerbach.

I loved that show, but was obviously in a small minority. It was gone quickly. There isn’t even a YouTube clip available!

Steve Landesberg’s accent was so good that when Barney Miller was being cast Landesberg was originally turned down without an audition. The producer couldn’t imagine a New York City detective with an Austrian accent!

“He was acting,” his agent finally pleaded. He got the gig playing Detective Dietrich.

It’s been a long time since I saw Steve Landesberg perform. I know he made “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” which I didn’t see (but which many people liked) and a few obscure TV series including one on Starz. Earlier he’d done commercials, always in a deadpan.

Back in the day I just assumed he’d be a bigger star.

Steve Landesberg was 65.

Peter Graves: Have You Ever Seen A Grown Man Naked?

The part Peter Graves is probably best known for is the one he played against type: Captain Clarence Oveur in the 1980 movie Airplane.

The sad news came tonight Peter Graves has died.

An actor with a reasonably distinguished career he is remembered for his roles as the German plant in “Stalag 17” and the leader of the Impossible Mission Force in TV’s “Mission Impossible.” With a beautifully deep voice he was often used as a narrator including A&E’s signature Biography.

The part Peter Graves is probably best known for is one he played against type: Captain Clarence Oveur in the 1980 movie Airplane.

From Airplane: Captain Oveur and crew welcome a young visitor to the cockpit.

(After this was posted Paramount requested YouTube take down the video… and so they did – Geoff 3/23/10)


Desi Does Chromakey!

Desiree Fontaine normally isn’t around when I am. Usually, in the evening, I’m the only person ‘working’ the chromakey at the TV station. With tonight’s slippery roads Desi was here and I got a chance to shoot some video so you can see how the chromakey works.