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Trading Places: BRIAN WILLIAMS and JON STEWART Switch Jobs? by Elizabeth Searle

jsmagesI feel bad about Brian Williams. Not that he didn’t seriously screw up.  But having seen him perform a genial professional-level Stand-Up Comedy routine at the Nantucket Film Festival, I understand why the natural-born raconteur with the movie-star looks has privately pined to replace Jay Leno.

fcmagesSo why not replace Jon Stewart instead? I feel bad about Jon Stewart too. No one can truly replace the comic genius who has in fact become the ‘most trusted’ and truthiest name in news. But Stewart in recent years has seemed to pine for a more ‘serious’ role in policy debate, delivering earnest speeches and directing the solemn documentary ROSEWATER.

In terms of actual interest in and passion for the News, Jon Stewart seems to me to possess more gravitas than starstruck Brian Williams. And Williams– who did stumble his stand-up act onto sacred ground when he puffed up his own role in a real military mission– has always had stars in his eyes.bwages-1

He climbed up the network news ladder partly on the strength of looks and charm rather than the kind of hard-won reporters’ chops that once elevated Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite– seasoned reporters with less glamor but more gravitas than boyish Williams– into anchor chairs.

On a practical note, NBC ratings would soar if Jon Stewart took the lead anchor chair. Brian Williams might fare less well in Stewart’s ‘hot seat’– but that’s Show Biz.

(photos: adage.com, Salon.com, fcm images; GoogleImages)

What a game– I am not even a football fan but this year’s Superbowl was a thriller. A great game like Superbowl 49 captures the caprices of life itself.16912792-mmmain

Tom Brady– triumphing at age 37 after a tough season– showed the seasoned strength of a true and unflappable pro. As the HuffPost noted:
“It didn’t matter how much air was in the balls, Brady was unstoppable when the pressure was strongest.”

Yet the game was won by bold young rookie Malcolm Butler and his brilliant last-minute interception. As the Boston Globe put it:
“The final addition to the Patriots’ season-long turnover bag should be bronzed and preserved in a prominent place for all eternity. That’s if the ball can ever be pried from Malcolm Butler’s heroic hands, of course.”

Only minutes before, however, 25 year-old Butler seemed doomed to be blamed for a ‘miracle catch’ that nearly sealed the deal for the SeaHawks.BUT474917

Such are the sudden reversals of fortune in football as in life. Dazed and grass-stained, Butler pointed to the heavens shortly after his life changed in an instant.

But with all due respect to divine intervention, this divine interception involved more than grace and luck.

Once he’d calmed down enough to explain, Malcolm Butler noted that he’d quickly deduced from the Seahawk’s formation and from the way the quarterback held his head ‘still’ that they were going to throw.

So young Butler kept his eye on the ball and side-stepped into sports history.

(photos: boston.com, patriots.com, GoogleImages)

THANKS to star GuestPost author Luis for tackling the Year in Disgrace.  Comments welcome; happy 2015! 

Luque PhotoLuis M. Luque is still struggling to finish his first novel. He served as a U.S. Navy mass communications specialist for 20 years and now works as a writer-editor. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stonecoast MFA program. He and his wife, Vera, live in Newnan, Georgia.

2014, Year of Illusions by Luis M. Luque

Since the first time a false prophet persuaded a gullible cozagespal to believe his lies, image management has dominated show business. The entertainment industry has always perpetrated one enormous lie after another. Magicians have never performed actual magic. Peddlers of life-saving elixers by necessity have always been fleet of foot and mendacious of mouth (not to mention good at math).
images-1Actors, pop stars, politicians, televangelists, lawyers, agents, and advertisers are no different—con artists one and all. And yet, somewhere inside us, since the day we figured out the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, we have always known they are con artists, but we have never cared.

We always knew Michael Jackson’s relationships with women were as orchestrated as the New York Philharmonic. We knew Elizabeth Taylor was unfaithful, that wrestling was fake, the space ship wasn’t real, the angry stare before the boxing match was an act, “I don’t recall” and “mistakes were made” were ways to avoid responsibility, and “I won’t dignify that with a response” and “my private life is none of your business” were admissions. Still, we played along. The truth was we preferred the lie. We needed the lie. We want to believe in truth, beauty, integrity, selflessness, loyalty, intelligence, patriotism, justice, privacy, decency, compassion, and effortless grace.images-2 We want fiction. We don’t want to know about plastic surgery, Auto-Tune, green screens, PhotoShop, publicity stunts, rehearsals, memorization, study, staging, contracts, and nondisclosure agreements. We don’t want to hear that Britney Spears constantly lip synchs and really can’t sing in tune. She looks great, after all (under all the makeup and hair extensions). We don’t want to know that Renee Zellweger was getting so desperate for roles that she made her face unrecognizable. We don’t want to know that manic comic Robin Williams actually struggled with depression for decades.images We don’t want to know that Philip Seymour Hoffman was found on the floor of his bathroom with a needle in his arm and heroin at the scene. We don’t want to know about black sites and torture and leaders who approve of monstrous behavior. The truth hurts. The truth is no fun. The truth is ugly. Give us the lie, the beautiful illusion. We want to smile, to laugh, to believe.

liages-3The problem is, these days, believing is getting harder. Every day we are confronted with leaked photos, leaked conversations, leaked videotapes, leaked documents, and a slew of nasty allegations. We want to believe the cops are there to protect and serve, but then we see them choke a man to death on a public sidewalk or shoot a boy playing in a public park. We want to believe Bill Cosby and Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable are the same person, that the lovable father and the hilarious stand-up comedian are incapable of doing anyone harm. We want to believe that no one would dare lie to a national magazine reporter about being gang-raped. Such a harrowing tale has to be true!

So, because I care about your mental health, dear reader, instead of the truth, I give you what you want, the Illusions of the Year: Continue Reading »

It’s time again to consider THE YEAR IN ‘DISGRACE.’  As always, I welcome readers’ thoughts about Disgraced Celebrity of 2014.  Post any nominees in COMMENTS here or on other posts on the blog.

ElizabethWarren

I was proud to stand with Warren at her Election victory party and I have never been more proud of her than I am now!

But first a few words about a TRUE DISGRACE of our times and about my favorite brave Senator– Elizabeth Warren laid it all out in her speech on the Senate floor, cutting Citigroup into pieces.

To me, the way Wall Street and the One Percent own Washington is THE key issue of our times and the root of so many other problems. No politician knows this issue better than Warren, who’s spent her whole brilliant career studying it. Though the bill will go through and this particular battle may be lost, Warren’s voice is being heard:

LISTEN TO HER HERE.

This whole speech is worth a watch: Warren reels off damning specifics and talks about slicing up Citicorp like she means business.  In the end, she quotes Republican Teddy Roosevelt about how it’s not just that there is too much financial power with these bloated banks, it’s too much political power and it threatens our Democracy. Stirring words.  This battle may be lost but the war goes on, with our own Senator Elizabeth Warren of MA leading the charge.

My teenage son said it best.  After he and I attended a debate between Warren and Scott Brown, I mentioned to my son that Warren never raised her voice.  He replied: “Yes, but she’s fierce.”

(photo courtesy of the author; taken on Warren’s election night shortly after her Victory speech)

IMG_1535Steven Brykman left medical school to pursue a career writing jokes as Managing Editor of National Lampoon. As a writing fellow at the University of Massachusetts, his fiction was awarded the Harvey Swados prize. His work has appeared in Playboy.comCrackedNerve, and the New Yorker, where he was featured in Talk of the Town. The kind folks at Prairie Home Companion once sent him a check in exchange for some jokes. He has written for/appeared on a bunch of TV shows nobody watched or remembers.  He has been thrown out of the Smithsonian Museum and the 2000 Democratic National Convention and has on more than one occasion performed standup comedy naked.

We welcome back star contributor Steve Brykman with this not-so-fond farewell to a true dining disgrace…

A Friendly’s Farewell by Steve Brykman

On the eve of Friendly’s announcing they are filing for bankruptcy and closing stores in Massachusetts, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, let me offer them a little thanks…for nothing! Along with my deepest condolences to all who ever ate there, and my regrets this hadn’t happened a whole lot sooner.

nametag-1

I worked at Friendly’s as a “cook” back in the mid ’80’s, in high school—the one in Lexington across from the Wal-lex bowling alley (now Staples). The level of prolonged disgust I experienced in that kitchen was rivaled only by my first year of medical school, in which I dissected a cadaver and witnessed an autopsy. Not to mention the inexplicable rage we were subjected to on a semi-regular basis, depending on which oversized troll was managing. The place was run by one man, one woman, whose names thankfully escape me now. They were nearly indistinguishable, identifiable only by their name tags. I assumed they were related in some way, though I never figured out exactly how—perhaps brother and sister, or romantically involved, or both.

The seemingly innocuous summer job quickly devolved into an interminable sequence of horrifying moments. Continue Reading »

DARYL HANNAH: One Year Later; A New Face for Autsim Awareness by Scott Lentine, with Elizabeth Searle

One year ago, Daryl Hannah boldly became a public face for Autism.  Author and Autism activist Scott Lentine had this update to add to his comments a year ago:

Singing Star SUSAN BOYLE

Singing Star SUSAN BOYLE

” Within the past year, numerous celebrities have forward with their diagnoses of autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. In September 2013, Daryl Hannah revealed her diagnosis to People Magazine after years of much speculation by the press.

Not long after Daryl Hannah’s interview, Scottish singer Susan Boyle disclosed her diagnosis of Asperger’s to the public. Having these stars come out of their inner shells about their status on the autism spectrum will help bring autism issues to the forefront of the public in the coming years.”

Thanks to SCOTT LENTINE for the update and for his words below, from September of 2013:

Because I taught autistic students for several years as a Special Ed. aide, I was moved by Daryl Hannah’s recent announcement that she has struggled with Autism.

I decided to ask fellow writer and Autism activist Scott Lentine for his reaction.dhUnknown

Scott had this to say:

I posted that link on my wall since Daryl Hannah is perhaps the noteworthy Hollywood celebrity on the spectrum. I know for a few years that she was somewhere on the higher end of the spectrum. As a person with high-functioning autism, this announcement from Daryl H. mean a lot to me since Hollywood hasn’t always accurately pictured autism in the movies, with “Rain Man” and “Temple Grandin” so far being the best movies about autism. In general, Hollywood is still lagging behind on autism compared to the other social issues they have tackled over the century. Personally, from Daryl, I have enjoyed Splash, Wall Street, Roxanne, Blade Runner, and the Kill Bill movies. Perhaps, someday, Daryl Hannah could get invited to autism functions across the U.S., including at AANE in Watertown.”

Hope that Daryl Hannah hears Scott and other voices in the Autism community urging her to keep speaking out and stepping out as a new and beautiful face  in the forefront of Autsim awareness.

Cheers and thanks to Scott Lentine, who blogs at:

http://scottlentine.wordpress.com/about/

(photo: Independent.com via GoogleImages)

THE SNOWDEN TEN by Litotes

ap_edward_snowden_dm_130610_wg

SEPT. 8, 2014: In honor of today’s International Day of Readings for Edward Snowden, I re-post:

THE SNOWDEN TEN

by Litotes

~Should we expect our public servants not to lie about what they’re doing in our name?
~Should we expect our public servants to stop doing something if we tell them to?  (As opposed to simply renaming the program and carrying on?)
~If whistleblowers are supposed to tell their bosses, and Snowden did that, what was he supposed to do next?
~Why did the US government feel it necessary to reassure the world it wasn’t going to torture Snowden?
~What would it take to get someone to leave a pole-dancing girlfriend and a cushy six-figure job in Hawaii?
~If the bad guys already know they are being watched, exactly what did Snowden leak that would prevent the NSA from doing its job?
~Is there anything in the “we need a haystack for our needle” argument beyond – duh – “if we knew everything we could catch every bad guy”?  That justifies hoovering how, exactly?
nsaimages~How do we know the NSA doesn’t classify some things, not because they need to be secret, but only because they’re embarrassing?
~If Obama came into office wanting more government transparency, exactly how did the NSA change his mind?
~If the Internet is compromised, what does the NSA use instead when it wants to do secret stuff?
Litotes
(photos: GoogleImages, AP.com, businessinsider.com)
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