Monday, February 28, 2011

Secret CBS Plan to Replace Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men

Who says things like this and expects to keep their job:

"I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen. It's not available because if you try it you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body."

"I'm tired of pretending I'm not special. I'm tired of pretending I'm not a total bitchin' rock star from Mars."

"I'm supposed to be out there all humble and asking for my job. No, I don't do that. I don't understand what I did wrong except live a life that everyone is jealous of."

"Come Wednesday morning, they're going to rename it Charlie Bros., not Warner Bros."
I've been talking to some friends in Hollywood, and here's the secret plan being developed to replace Charlie Sheen in the role of Charlie Harper on the CBS show Two and a Half Men:

Rose, the crazy stalker neighbor, kidnaps Charlie Harper and holds him captive in her basement with a bag over his head. You never see Charlie, and his voice is muffled, so he can be played by anyone.

An extra working for scale would cost almost nothing. Charlie Sheen was getting $2 million per episode and wants $3 million now that he's suffered the indignity of pretending to go to rehab for the show. That's a savings of $50 million to $70 million over a 24 episode season.

Rose makes it look like Charlie disappeared in the surf outside his beach house and may be dead. Other characters speculate Charlie ran off with another woman or to avoid one of his ex-girlfriends.

Rose spends several episodes torturing Charlie. The extra playing Charlie would make wimpering sounds. The extra roll playing Charlie could be farmed out to various network executives, producers, and maybe even fellow actors willing to pay for the privilege of whimpering, crying, and begging for mercy.

Eventually, Charlie's brother Alan finds out. But Charlie mistakenly thinks Alan was in on it from the beginning and threatens to kick Alan out of his house when he is freed. So Alan joins Rose in the conspiracy.

To cover her crime, Rose hires a plastic surgeon to change Charlie's appearance. The bag over his head is replaced with bandages. When the bandages finally come off, a new actor is playing Charlie Harper.

To keep up the charade, Rose and Alan start calling him Manny Quinn, the name of her pretend husband. They tell people Manny has gone crazy and thinks he is the long-missing Charlie.

Charlie and Alan's mother Evelyn eventually figures out what is going on. But she also discovers she would inherit Charlie's money as Charlie's next of kin. So she plays along, and tries to have Charlie legally declared dead.

In one series finale being considered, Manny is suspected of killing Charlie out of jealousy over Rose. Manny gets indicted, tried, convicted, and executed by lethal injection. In an art-imitates-life twist, his face melts and his body explodes.

I'll bet CBS can keep the series going on that track for several seasons. They could get one or two seasons out of the trial alone. I'd even start watching again.

February is Just Too Short and All Alone

February is just too short. January and March should each give February a day. We'll have to rewrite the old rhyme:

Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November;
February has twenty eight alone
All the rest have thirty-one
Except in Leap Year, that's the time
When February's Days are twenty-nine
Then February would have thirty or thirty-one days, and won't have to go through life alone.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscar Cohost James Franco Dreams of Sawing Off His Other Arm

The big story of Oscar night was the strikeout by cohost Anne Hathaway. Her comedic delivery so painful that her cohost James Franco looked like he would have sawed off his other arm if the Oscar show had run any longer. I would rather have watched 127 Hours. And the Oscars inexplicably left Whoopi Goldberg out of the memorial tribute.

Most of my predictions were wrong. You can get the rest of the Oscar winners at the official website.

CategoryPredictionWinnerRemarks
Best ActorColin Firth
The King's Speech
Colin Firth
The King's Speech
No suprise, gave his acceptance speech without stuttering.
Best ActressJennifer Lawrence
Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman
Black Swan
Black Swan had to win one major Oscar.
Best Supporting ActorChristian Bale
The Fighter
Christian Bale
The Fighter
Boxing with Batman.
Best Supporting ActressAmy Adams
The Fighter
Melissa Leo
The Fighter
Looks like I picked the wrong fighter.
Best Adapted ScreenplayAaron Sorkin
The Social Network
Aaron Sorkin
The Social Network
Best hack award for best hatchet job.
Best Original ScreenplayLisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
The Kids Are All Right
David Seidler
The King's Speech
Royalty fawning and Winston Churchill bashing trumps dysfunctional lesbians.
Best Feature DocumentaryExit through the Gift ShopInside JobI guess Hollywood didn't want to meet Banksy, again I am not Banksy.
Best Animated FeatureThe IllusionistToy Story 3A sequel, really? I think this Oscar is meant as a Toy Story 4 stopper.
Best DirectorDarren Aronofsky
Black Swan
Tom Hooper
The King's Speech
Could be a coronation.
Best Art Direction-Robert Stromberg
Karen O'Hara
Alice in Wonderland
See below.
Best Cinematography-Wally Pfister
Inception
See below.
Best PictureThe Social NetworkThe King's SpeechYes, it's a coronation.

The Oscars made a big deal in the intro about films that have won the trifecta of Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Picture. Then three different movies won those awards. I guess they really don't open the envelopes in advance of the presentation.

Still, The King's Speech won four major Oscars, which if not a trifecta is a home run. Inception also hit a home run with four Oscars. The Social Network won three Oscars. The Fighter and Alice in Wonderland won two.

My big prediction was that the Joel and Ethan Coen brothers' movie True Grit wouldn't win any major awards despite ten nominations overall. It not only didn't win any of the major awards, it didn't win any. Shut out.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Jon Stewart Sips Lemonade After Gay Sexing Don Rumsfeld

OK, I wasn't in the studio when Jon Stewart interviewed Don Rumsfeld this week, so maybe the headline falls in the unknown unknowns category, but:

Jon: "Did you guys know intelligence was never perfect?"

Don: "Oh my goodness yes."

Jon: "I feel like we're just sitting on a porch now sipping lemonade."

Don: "I said what I shouldn't have said, 'oh my goodness.' ... He makes fun of that, but there are a lot of people in the heartland of America who talk like I do. They may not on the coasts, but in the heartland they do."

Jon: "Yes, on the coast, we just curse and have gay sex. That's all we do, just run around cursing and gay sexing each other."
Many on the left have always admired Rumsfeld even as they pretend to dislike him, because he is cut from the same Marxist cloth that they are, though Rumsfeld wears his Marxism in the neocon style.

How else can you explain Jon Stewart conducting an interview with George W. Bush's Secretary of Defense without pinning him down on the Iraq WMD question? Failing that, Stewart might have asked Rumsfeld what he thinks about gays serving in the military or the revolutionary protests going on across the Middle East. No, the interview was all don't ask, don't tell:





The hallmark of Marxism is the big lie, and in Rumsfeld's case the big lie is the WMD story told to the American public in the run up to the Iraq War. Rumsfeld's defense of reputation rests on the "Parade of Horribles" memorandum that he submitted on October 15, 2002, the day before President Bush signed the Iraq War authorization resolution and three days after the resolution had passed Congress.

This memorandum offered up an "illustrative list of the types of problems that could result from a conflict with Iraq" containing 29 items. More than a few of those items might have been of interest to the American public when Congress voted three days earlier and when the public itself voted in the Congressional election three weeks later:

1. If US seeks UN approval, it could fail; and without a UN mandate, potential coalition partners may be unwilling to participate.

13. US could fail to find WMD on the ground in Iraq and be unpersuasive to
the world.

19. Rather than having the post-Saddam effort require 2 to 4 years, it could take 8 to 10 years, thereby absorbing US leadership, military and financial resources.

20. US alienation from countries in the EU and the UN could grow to levels
sufficient to make our historic post World War Il relationships
irretrievable, with the charge of US unilateralism becoming so embedded
in the world's mind that it leads to a diminution of U.S. influence in the
world.
Now before you congratulate Secretary Rumsfeld on his prescience in this memorandum, consider the observation of Secretary of State Dean Acheson:

"A memorandum is not written to inform the reader but to protect the writer".
Rumsfeld's job as Secretary of Defense, however, was to protect the United States of America. I'd say Rumsfeld's Parade of Horribles memo doesn't cover his ass so much as expose the extent of his hubris.

You can read this and other official documents over at Rumsfeld.com, a website Rumsfeld created to promote his new book, Known and Unknown. He calls his website "The Rumsfeld Papers" an obvious joke on the Pentagon Papers which were published during the Vietnam War. Many of the documents are marked Top Secret, Secret, Confidential, and For Official Use Only so this website is his own personal WikiLeaks. All perfectly legal, we're assured.

Hat tip to Smitty over at the Other McCain:

"We The People really need to re-consider the post-WWII Team America World Police regime. Sure, the Cold War was preferable to a WWIII, and terrorism ain't beanbag. A lack of reflection on what the US is trying to accomplish internationally, however, is going to lead both to more Iraqi WTF the WMD moments, as well as jumbo DOD budgets moving forward."
Another hat tip to Wallace Shawn as Vizzini in The Princess Bride (note to Wally: Rumsfeld is a Princeton man, not a Harvard man):

"I've hired you to help me start a war. It's an prestigious line of work, with a long and glorious tradition."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Inconceivable? Blame America First Becomes Blame Harvard First

There's a profile in the March-April 2011 issue of Harvard Magazine on actor and playwright Wallace Shawn. You will remember him as Vizzini, the Sicilian criminal mastermind who kidnaps Princess Buttercup in The Princess Bride (1987). You don't remember? Inconceivable!

Wally is the son of William Shawn, the editor of The New Yorker during its golden age. You may also remember him from My Dinner with Andre (1981). He voiced Rex in the Toy Story movies. In total, the movies he has been in have racked up more than $2 billion in the U.S. and $4 billion worldwide.

America has been very good to Wallace Shawn, so it's likely he will take some criticism for what appears at first reading to be a very clear statement of Blame America First:

"There was a point when I crossed over from being a regular liberal supporter of the Democratic Party to being a leftist, becoming less in the Arthur Schlesinger Jr. category and more in the Noam Chomsky category. It had to do with understanding that I and the people I knew were actually involved in the story. There are certain writers who specialize in saying, 'Oh, my God, the terrible things people do to each other in South America! It's absolutely shocking!' At a certain point I was able to face the fact that — Wow, it was the U.S. Army who did that, and: a) it was my taxes that paid for them to do it; and b) they did it to preserve the status quo in which I am leading a very pleasant life. These things are happening every day because of me and my friends, and we're not doing anything about it. You have murder and torture going on—so, what does that make us?

"I happen to believe that the American elite has been a marauding monstrosity on the world scene in my lifetime. It has been unimaginably brutal in trying to preserve the status quo and unimaginably greedy in trying to bring the world's resources onto our continent. And unintentionally contributing to the possibility of destroying life on Earth, due to the damage that has been done to the environment by our way of doing business. Harvard's role is mostly to service and to perpetuate and to create that elite, even though many, many wonderful people, and people who have fought the status quo, have come through Harvard."
In The Princess Bride he has a more succinct statement of this philosophy, which doesn't blame America at all:

"I've hired you to help me start a war. It's an prestigious line of work, with a long and glorious tradition."
But Wallace Shawn doesn't really blame America, if you reread his remarks. He blames American elites and liberal Harvard for creating those elites.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wall Street Lawyers Now Billing $1250 an Hour

This is what it has come to, the top Wall Street lawyers are now billing at more than $1000 an hour, some as much as $1250 an hour. At that rate, $20 buys you a minute, $50,000 buys you a week, and $2.5 million buys you a year.

Only the top partners get that rate."The underlying principle is if you can get it, get it," is how the Wall Street Journal quotes a bankruptcy partner at New York law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

Now don't go killing all the lawyers over these high rates. The average big law firm partner is lucky to charge half that. And the funny thing is that the WSJ says these big law firms pay their top stars as much as $4 million a year, more than that star would take in billings. The idea is to lose a little on the top partners, and make it up in volume on the young associates lawyers.

And $4 million a year is not even great money on Wall Street where hedge fund managers and CEOs can earn hundreds of millions or even billions a year. To earn the really big money, lawyers have to leave the law firm pond and get in the big game. It's easy to envy lawyers, but they are still small fish.

Perhaps we should thank all those well paid lawyers for supporting our way of life. And not for defending our system of laws, they do that for their clients not for us. I mean for paying the taxes that support our government. Studies indicate the top 5% of taxpayers in the U.S. pay more than 50% of taxes. With more than 1 million lawyers in the United States, they undoubtedly make up a very large portion of that 5%.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Waiting for Superman in Wisconsin

I watched the documentary Waiting for Superman tonight, and was struck by the parallels to the political fight going on in Wisconsin.

Waiting for Superman tells the tales of five students trying to get out of their failing urban or suburban schools and into charter or private schools alongside a scathing indictment of the increasing cost and declining or stagnant quality of public school education in America.

Who's to blame for the failing system? Well the film points a lot of fingers, and many come back to union contract rules that prevent bad teachers from being fired and good teachers from being rewarded. The film's best line:
"It's very, very important to hold two contradictory ideas in your head at the same time. Teachers are great, a national treasure. Teachers' unions are, generally speaking, a menace and an impediment to reform."
Unions are a menace. No, that wasn't said by Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin, like you might be thinking. It came from Jonathan Alter, the progressive journalist at Newsweek and NBC. And in case you still don't think there is necessarily any criticism of Democratic politics, here's what Alter has to say on the film's website:
"When I was researching my book, The Promise, about President Obama, I learned of a meeting between President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan..." In the meeting, Alter says, Obama described his two education policy principles: Do what helps children, not adult interest groups, and don't put a stick in anybody's eye. "I think if you're motivated by the film to take action, abide by the first principle and ignore the second. Don't refrain from some very tough but necessary confrontations."
So ignore President Obama and put a stick in the eye of those "adult interest groups," if that's what needs to be done. Waiting for Superman director Davis Guggenheim also takes no prisoners:
"I'm tough on the Democratic Party. I'm tough on the centralized system of bureaucrats. And the lip service you get from all politicians. And I'm tough on the unions."
This was said in a Los Angeles Times interview, after describing how he drives past three public schools on the way to his children's private school. Who is Davis Guggenheim? He made Al Gore global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth. He won an Oscar for that film.

It's curious he's not up for another Oscar, but all Hollywood drives by those failing public schools, so maybe that would have been inconvenient. And his film has identified this as another inconvenient truth:
"While it used to be common for failing schools to be blamed on failing neighborhoods, people are now waking up to the fact that it may be the other way around. Schools fail first, and then neighborhoods follow."
Davis Guggenheim also made the Barack Obama bio that was shown during the Democratic National Convention in August 2008, and the Barack Obama campaign infomercial that was shown in October 2008. You don't get better progressive credentials than that.

U.S. public schools do not fail across the board, there are some very good schools as well as some very bad ones. So if you can get a good education for yourself and your children, why worry about other people's children? Where the film really lays it on the line is in talking about education as a competitive problem in the global economy:
"At the end of 2009, the unemployment rate was almost ten percent, but the high-tech industry could not find enough qualified people to fill their jobs. Instead, they had to go halfway around the world to recruit the engineers and programmers they needed."
The film leaves the last word on competitiveness to Bill Gates:
"The only really proven thing to make an economy work well is to have a well-educated workforce. And people get panicked about the economic success of this country. Well, there’s one thing that will determine that."
That brings us to Wisconsin. Republican Governor Scott Walker has ignited a firestorm of protest by proposing to take away collective bargain rights and require higher contributions to health and pension benefits from teachers and other public employees. The Wisconsin Capitol is overrun with protesting teachers and counter-protesting tea-partiers. Democratic legislators have skedaddled to deprive the Republicans who control the state legislature the quorum they need to pass the legislation.

If you watch Fox News or MSNBC, this is an existential fight for the future of the Democratic Party. But if you watch Waiting for Superman, you can't help wondering if the Republicans might be doing the dirty work for progressives who want to reign in the teacher unions. Wisconsin Republicans have certainly put a stick in the eye of the unions.

So is Governor Walker the Superman we've been waiting for to fix our public schools? We'll see. Walker's talk has been addressed more to the state budget than to education, and if he gets all or some of the financial concessions he is seeking he could let the teacher's union keep their collective bargaining rights and tenure.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Borders Opens the Book to Chapter 11

The rivalry between Borders and Barnes and Noble was one of the epic business rivalries of the 1990s. Wall Street cheered as they each built mega-stores across the country. Then in the late 1990s, Amazon.com entered the race as an online bookseller.

I remember Borders as a family run bookstore catering to a colege town on State Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the 1980s. They had a great selection, and helpful, knowledgeable staff. When they went nationwide, they added music CDs, and what distinguished Borders was that it was place you could go for books and music.

Borders was worth over $3 billion in 1998, but went downhill from there and fell off the cliff in 2008. The problems were clear to anyone who shopped at a Borders store in recent years, with Christmas shoppers greeted with half empty shelves filled with disorganized inventory manned by a skeleton staff.

I remember particularly the Borders on Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hill, Michigan. It was just around the corner from my grandmother's house. I remember stopping by with her in fall 1997 and explaining to my grandmother what a CD was.

And there's the rub on Borders. Kids don't buy CDs anymore. And now it looks like printed books and brick and mortar bookstores are gong the same direction. Borders may come out of bankruptcy, they say they will close 200 to 275 of their 642 remaining stores, but will never be the same.

Here's that Farmington Hills store in happier times:



And here's that stored after it was closed in January and stripped of the Borders signage:



If you go to the store locator on Borders.com, it says "Sorry, this store is closed." There is still a welcome from Dan Rhen, General Manager:

Welcome to Borders in Farmington Hills. If you don't know the name of the title you have been looking for ask for Gary! Gary has been with this store for 8 years and in the book business for many more. He will gladly help you find the title you cannot remember, and he may even recommend a few more. If you're looking for a special children's title, Dee can help you out. A self-described bookaholic, Dee is well-versed in children's authors both past and present.
That's the old Borders spirit! Good luck to Dan, Gary, and Dee.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

10,000 Mennonites at Harvard


This video I shot in June 2009 of the Mendon Mennonite Church Choir singing in Harvard Square has reached 10,000 views on YouTube.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Are We About to See the End of the Bookstore?

Yes, when you walk into any Barnes and Noble these days, the first thing they want to sell you is a Nook, which will enable you to buy all future books online. And Amazon.com is touting the Kindle as their best selling product. It makes you wonder if anyone will still be printing books in a couple of years.



But a walk through Powell's Books in Portland Oregon found a lot of people shopping for books the old-fashioned way. And since many of the books Powell's sells are used, they could maintain this business model as long as customers keep coming to the store, even if publishers stop printing new books.

That's a worry in bookselling these days. Powell's did just announce it is laying off 31 employees, citing "market conditions, including an industry-wide decline in new book sales, rising health care costs and the economy."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Google Marketeer Started Egyptian Revolution on Facebook

If I have this story straight, the new hero of the Egyptian protests in Tahrir Square is Wael Ghonim, who anonymously created a Facebook page that became the rallying point for outrage over the police beating death of Khaled Said, a 28-year-old businessman in Alexandria.

The irony is that Ghonim works in marketing for Google, where he markets Google products in the Middle East and Africa. That's right, the Google guy used Facebook.

By starting a revolution using a rival company's social media product, he must have missed at least one of the 4 P's of Marketing. Product, Price, Promotion - those seem to have gone over reasonably well. It must be Place, that forced-fitting P word that has been tripping up marketing students for generations. A good company man would have looked to distribute his revolution on Blogger or YouTube.

Oh, he also used Twitter. This was tweeted on his Twitter account on January 27, the day he was arrested by Egypt's security forces:
"Pray for #Egypt. Very worried as it seems that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people. We are all ready to die."
Maybe he needs to do some more work on Price too, "ready to die" seems awfully steep. Still, the Product and Promotion are going very well.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Responsible Procreation and the Nefarious Agenda in Iowa

The Iowa legislature has been debating a constitutional amendment to overturn the Iowa Supreme Court decision recognizing gay marriage:
Marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only legal union valid or recognized in this state.
Richard Anderson of Clarinda, Republican chairman of the Iowa House Judiciary Committee, explained his vote for the amendment:

The reason we try to protect marriage is because we want to protect something called responsible procreation. We want to drive procreation into a stable relationship and procreation only happens between a male and a female. See a male and a female can do something that a homosexual couple cannot: They can create children accidentally. That's the issue. It's not about love. It's not about romance. It's about driving state policy toward responsible procreation.
This picture of marriage without love or romance is rather bleak. It just makes you want to hum "Love and Marriage" and put on some old episodes of the hit Fox show Married with Children with Al and Peggy Bundy.

Another Republican, former State Senator Jeff Angelo of Creston, argued against the amendment:
Each day, Iowans worship with, work with, live with, and love people who are gay. This debate centers around the devaluation of the lives of a select group of people. At its worst, we are being asked to believe that our gay friends and neighbors are involved in a nefarious agenda. The outcome of which, supposedly, is the unraveling of society itself.

My friends, Iowans are discomforted by this debate. We know it not to be true.
What is the nefarious agenda, to make a mockery of marriage?

In real life, Married with Children supporting actress Amanda Bearse, who played the next door neighbor Marcy D'Arcy, married her longtime partner Carrie Schenken in 2010. They have two daughters.

Then there is conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh who has no children, despite being married four times. His third marriage was performed by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, but that one didn't take. He sanctified his fourth marriage by hiring openly gay singer Elton John to perform at his reception. Maybe the fourth time is the charm.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney supports gay marriage, but then again his daughter Mary is gay. And so does former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Barbara Bush. That is, they both have announced their support for gay marriage.

Democrats in the Iowa Senate are promising to bottle up the constitutional amendment, which has to pass both the House and Senate in two sessions before it can be placed on the ballot. But it's hard to say what would happen in Iowa if the constitutional amendment comes before the voters.

Yes, they did vote three Iowa Supreme Court Judges out of office this past November in reaction to the decision to allow gay marriage. Some voters may be satisfied with punishing those judges, and may not vote for a constitutional amendment.
 
Proponents of a constitutional amendment did have a chance this past November to have voters call a constitutional convention to bypass the legislature. While Iowans did vote narrowly to kick the three judges out of office, they also voted overwhelmingly against the constitutional convention.

Of course, if you let a bunch of politicians get together in a room and rewrite your state constitution, who knows what nefarious agendas they might have to write in all manner of other things. That would not be responsible procreation.

The Huffington Post Sells Out

The big news on the internet is that AOL is buying the Huffington Post for $315 million. And $300 million of that is cash, not pretend internet money like you were thinking.

Some bloggers, such as Stacy McCain over the Other McCain, are eyeing the $315 million valuation as suspiciously high. AOL stock dropped 3.4% in trading today, a loss of $80 million in market value. That suggests the Huffington Post got no more than a 25% premium over its true value to AOL.

AOL stopped being hip 12 to 15 years ago, as internet users began moving from dial-up to broadband. Indeed, speculation is that most of AOL's profits today come from older users who are still paying the monthly AOL fee even if they are no longer using the service.

In some people's minds, the ill-fated AOL merger with Time Warner in January 2000 triggered the dotcom bust. At the height of the dotcom bubble, the stock market valued AOL at $163 billion. Now AOL has been spun off from Time Warner and has a market value of $2.34 billion.

Judged by traffic, it appears the Huffington Post would add about 37% to the traffic at AOL.com. The Huffington Post has 40,775 sites linking in, as compared to only 17,644 for AOL.com. AOL is paying $12.60 per unique visitor for 25 million unique visitors per month for a more engaged audience.

And they have similar demographics, as judged by Alexa.com:

"Huffingtonpost.com's audience tends to be Caucasian; it also appeals more to moderately educated, childless women earning over $60,000 who browse from work."
"Aol.com's users are disproportionately Caucasian, and they are disproportionately moderately educated, higher-income, childless women over the age of 45."
As a value play, acquiring The Huffington Post run by 60-year-old Arianna Huffington may prove to be a shrewd move for AOL. But how much value will be created? Arianna Huffington says she and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong have big plans:

"the blending will have a multiplier effect. Or, as Tim and I have been saying over the last couple of weeks: 1 + 1 = 11."
Can Arianna pump Tim's stock price up eleven-fold from $21 $231? I don't think so. That's a lot of air.

Note: At these prices you could buy Left Bank of the Charles for $7,000. That's a humbling amount. But if you want to make an offer ...

Monday, February 7, 2011

84 Million Super Bowl Fans Flee Glee

Two interesting statistics from Super Bowl Sunday:

111 million viewers watched the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl LXV, a new record total number of U.S. viewers for any television show, ever.

26.8 million viewers kept their televisions on for a special episode of Glee, which immediately followed the Super Bowl.

The Glee episode was the most watched scripted television show (excluding sports, reality shows, and news) in the last three years. But these statistics also mean that 75% of the Super Bowl audience or 84 million viewers changed the channel or turned their TVs off instead of watching Glee.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ronald Reagan at 100: Let's Do the Time Warp Again


"Why Obama Hearts Reagan" coos the cover of this week's Time Magazine. Just in time for Ronald Reagan's 100th Birthday, the Time lovefest for Reagan will be over long before Valentine's Day.

It's just a jump to the left.
And then a step to the right.
Put your hands on your hips.
You bring your knees in tight.
But it's the pelvic thrust
That really drives you insane.
Let's do the time warp again

Thursday, February 3, 2011

More Parking Wisdom for Happy Neighbors

Earlier this week I got some unsolicited parking wisdom for happy neighbors. Let's see how I did on shoveling my vehicle out of the snow after the latest storm this week.

Before shoveling:


After shoveling:


OK, you can't call it shoveling if you only use a broom.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Barbara Bush Recruits Fellow New Yorkers for Gay Marriage

No, not the Barbara Bush who was married to the first President Bush. It's her granddaughter who is one of the two twin daughters of the second President Bush. Barbara joins her mother Laura in bucking her father by endorsing gay marriage.



I will point out that Barbara becomes eligible to run for President in 2016. I had my money on Jenna, the other Bush twin, who picked an African-American minister from Houston to perform her marriage in 2008. Maybe both are positioning themselves to vie for the Democratic nomination in 2016 to succeed Barack Obama. Or maybe they have in mind remaking the Republican Party.

My theory. Barbara Bush just wanted to get into the six degrees of Kevin Bacon:



It's kind of voyeuristic to read the vile comments posted in response on YouTube. The lefties who still hate President Bush and the righties who can't stand gay marriage need to get a room. Oh, wait, they found one on the internet.

Coyote Rescued from Icy Charles River

Here's the story and video from WCVB Boston. The coyote was stranded on an ice floe in the middle of the Charles River. The approach of rescuers prompted the coyote to swim the icy water to shore. The wily coyote was ultimately caputured on land and taken to the Tufts wildlife clinic.

No reports on whether The Road Runner was at the scene. Beep. Beep.

Parking Wisdom for Happy Neighbors

When I walked home from work last night, I found a flyer with this message, which I saw had been tucked under the windshield wipers of all the cars on my street:

Parking wisdom for happy neighbors

After a big snow, please consider shoveling at least one street parking space in its entirety for each car you hope to park when you return.

It may take a few extra minutes, but shoveling in front, behind, and yes, under your car will help ensure we all have places to park. Making sure the snow ends up off the street and away from sidewalks is also appreciated. Even better, shovel a little extra. It will make you neighbors happy.

Posted 1/30/2011
The problem is there's no reciprocity in this for me.

I have a vehicle with four wheel drive so I usually don't need to shovel out. I like to leave it parked for a few days after a big snow storm. I can't shovel under my vehicle unless I move it and I'm not going to move it until I have to. So already I can see I'm not going to make my neighbors happy.

When I do drive it, it's usually just across town and back, such as going to the grocery store. When I get back, I can just pull back in even though I didn't shovel. If someone has taken the space I was in, and the only other space on the street has not been dug out, that is not a problem for me.

And there's more to this than having clean parking spaces. We are running out of places in the neighborhood to pile the snow. Leaving some snow on the street to melt naturally actually helps. And scooping up the salt-infused snow on the street and throwing it in someone's yard is not exactluy green. Will my grass, flowers, and bushes grow come spring or will they salt kill?

The wisdom of putting this flyer under my driver's side windshield wiper? We are expecting snow followed by freezing rain later in the week. If the flyer gets wet, sticks to my windshield, and freezes, I have a very annoying problem. Fortunately, I happened to see this flyer before the storm but it could just as easily have been afterwards.

I'd be happy to explain this all to the person who wrote this note. But did they observe the simple courtesy of including an email address or phone number? No.