Archives: 2010 April

Archive for April, 2010

Double Down: Bill Bids Farewell

Watching Bill Moyers Journal is much like attending a college lecture from the best professor you ever had. His hour-long program is chock full of compelling and indispensable information that speaks to the fabric of this little project we’re all working on. Though some folks beholden to rigid political ideology consider Moyers nothing more than a loopy liberal, watching his show reveals that the man is just a devout populist hungry for better government and honest discussion.

Though a lot of people bidding farewell to Bill tonight have watched him for decades, I only came to know his show in 2007 (forever grateful, Father). I was incredulous at the conversations he would have every Friday night — conversations being the operative word. There’s not much yelling on public broadcasting, but Moyers goes even further. His discussions with guests make the solutions to all of the great ills of society seem simple.

Moyers is our staunchest advocate — steadfastly independent of the mainstream media and inexorably devoted to addressing the root causes of what’s ailing our country. I imagine if Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert weren’t allowed to crack wise, their shows would end up looking something like Moyers’ broadcast. Watching Bill talk to Jon, it was evident that the two commentators were cut of the same cloth:

We’re about to lose one of our great thinkers — one who was driven by obligation, not ambition. He turned down high-ranking positions in presidents’ cabinets, laughed at requests to run for office, and came out of retirement to present the arguments that weren’t being made. But, at 76, you have to respect the man’s desire to fulfill obligations outside of the industry he had a hand in forming. No longer will we have protracted discussions about man and his myth. No longer will there be a voice of reason sitting at the table on a Friday night. In a piece semi-eulogizing Bill in the Los Angeles Times, Neil Gabler bemoaned the gaping hole that will be left on television after tonight, arguing “There is no shortage of loudmouths on television. There is, however, a very short supply of soft-spoken moralists — exactly one.”

He continued,

Moyers has always sought the most interesting thinkers, people who would never otherwise be on television, and then discussed their ideas in search of timeless truths. In the last two months alone, he has interviewed naturalist Jane Goodall, playwright Anna Deavere Smith, economist James K. Galbraith and U.N. human rights investigator Richard Goldstone — a disparate group, none of them exactly headliners. In a sense, then, the title of one of his series, “Now,” was a misnomer. Moyers has never been about now. He has always been about something beyond the moment. Or put another way, while everyone else in the media has been exploring topography, Moyers has been exploring geology. This belief in the efficacy of ideas in the service of good is also what has made him such an extraordinary interviewer.

Do your best to catch the last episode of the Journal tonight at 9 on your local PBS affiliate. We all know Boots will:

Salute to Ghosts

Ghosts. Can’t live with them, can’t prove they exist.

Today is Apparition Appreciation Day (or it should be anyway) so we’ve compiled a short salute to our spectral friends. Join us, won’t you?


No single figure had more of an impact on my young adult life than the one they called, Beetlejuice. His outlandish fashion sense and good-natured lechery made me laugh. The cartoon spin-off was a staple in our home and for years, I too, feared the dreaded Sandworm.

Boo Berry:

The other kids said you were just a tired Peter Lorre homage in a porkpie hat, but you were so much more. You were also the mascot for a cereal I never actually ate.


When I saw you in Ghostbusters I was an instant fan. Your in-your-face attitude and casual concern for social norms made me want to emulate you. Why else would I drink something that despite its orange flavor, turned my tongue green?

Your prodigious sliming was second to none.

and finally… Swayze:

Seeing Ghost for the first time at the ripe age of 4, little did I appreciate the emotional and sensual undertones in this classic film about pottery. Until you Patrick, ghosts were unfairly portrayed in film as frightening, malevolent figures. You changed all that.

Did You Ever Know That You're My SpongeBob?

A 12-year-old in Long Island saved her best friend’s life last Tuesday with a good old fashioned Heimlich. I would be remiss to not immediately share a smattering of Google image results for the Heimlich Maneuver:

Now 12-year-olds may be saving lives every day. I don’t know. I’m a gracefully aging twenty-something. What’s exceptional about this story is that the old adage “You’ll never learn anything useful from a talking sponge” has once again been proven erroneous. Turns out, seventh-grader Miriam Starobin picked-up the procedure from everyone’s favorite Bikini Bottom resident, one SpongeBob SquarePants.

According to the Long Island heroine, after a riotous laugh during an ambitious gum chewing, friend and fellow music class seat-warmer Allyson Golden had taken to the ground and begun flailing her legs wildly in panic. At that point, with the adrenaline pumping, Starobin knew whose pants she had to wear (courtesy of the New York Post):

“It was like a flash right in my eyes. I saw in my head Squidward with his clarinet lodged in his throat and then SpongeBob does the Heimlich maneuver and the clarinet comes flying out of his mouth,” she said.

“I had no clue what I was doing until it was done.”

Luckily, Ms. Starobin is not one to passively watch television. She sits there and soaks it all up like a… fresh patch of sod.

The Na'vi-System

Thanks to DCist and Aziz for bringing this gem to the Internets. Na’vi riding the subway home from Sunday’s Earth Day Climate Rally:


I guess he hasn’t tamed him a Toruk yet.

Going Back to Vulcan

The people of Vulcan, Alberta live long and prosper. They have done so since 1915, when a surveyor for Canadian Pacific Railway named the town after the Roman God of Fire. Of course, a spate of prosperity has come to Vulcan by way of Trekkies descending on the town to appreciate its nominal relation to the planet of origin of one of Star Trek’s most revered characters, Mr. Spock. Instead of shunning the attention, the township quite logically embraced it:

National Post

Vulcan holds an annual Star Trek convention, unsuccessfully attempted to land the latest Star Trek installment’s premiere, and has for years called on Leonard “Real Deal Spock” Nimoy to pay a visit. Last Friday, he boldly went where Spock had gone before. “I’ve been a Vulcan for 44 years. It’s about time I came home,” Nimoy told the rapturous town. Local Trekkie Christine Desjardins voiced her excitement to the CBC, proclaiming “[I] think he’s the sexiest man on television, ever. Then and now. Can’t beat him.” Kiefer Sutherland reportedly cried as Nimoy unveiled his bronze bust to cheers and applause.


The visit was the penultimate stop on Nimoy’s final bow in the biz. The thespian recently announced he would be retiring to a galaxy far, far away. Wait… uh… Spaceballs.

Kal Returns to Kumar, Escape from Guantanamo Bay

As promised, I put on my Sunday best and trotted down to 1600 Pennsylvania today in an attempt to secure Kal Penn’s (a.k.a. Kalpen Modi) recently vacated post as one of Obama’s Associate Directors in the White House’s Office of Public Engagement. I haven’t landed the job yet, but the White House crowd definitely appreciated the signage:

My gussied up recycled cardboard was surprisingly enjoyed by young and old alike. From the Secret Service Police, to the ever-enamored tourist crowd, to real-life White House staffers, those in the know stopped a spot to appreciate a little abnormal picketing. I wouldn’t go so far as to qualify it as that, but the Secret Service 5-0 definitely did. The second I approached the fencing I was politely informed by uniformed security that I would not be able to just loiter with the sign — I’d have to walk it.

Four hours later, I was tuckered out, but not in vain — I had made some tangible gains in my mission to replace Mr. Modi as Obama’s liaison to Asian community groups. A retiree from Rochester pledged his support in exchange for a posed photo, a foreign journalist considered my shenanigans relevant to his tribe, and several White House staffers requested my resume.

Considering that giving out a resume in this town carries about the same weight as a handshake, I will further opine here, on the Internet, as Science intended:

*She said it was okay.

I’d say it’s clear that I should have the job, but I also think “2 Become 1” is wicked profound. I’m glad that slews of passers-by were amused, if not perplexed (“Who’s Kal?” was the most frequent response), by the sign. I’m glad to be considered for a job Kal was probably better suited to. And I’m glad that the Washington crime syndicate didn’t actually harm our man Modi before he put Harold & Kumar 3 down to celluloid.

Miracle on Carpet

In the case you haven’t seen this 4-year-old ace Herb Brooks’ revered speech from the 1980 Winter Olympics men’s hockey final:

Double-Down Friday: Al-Jazzy-Era

Music has long been a bridge between peoples and cultures and in the modern era, this is increasingly true. (Remember that movie where the Egyptian police band gets stranded in Israel? Or that movie where the camel weeps to the soft ‘hoos’ of musicians?)

Today, music is more globally accessible, and therefore more relatable to seemingly disparate peoples and places. As an American, this is especially evident in the middle and near east.

When journalist Gregory Warner (GlobalPost) brought his accordian to Afghanistan, he probably didn’t expect it to be such a powerful instrument of good. Watch:

But it isn’t just the Man In Black who transcends geographic and cultural borders. Counter-culture, of all things, seems to trump accepted culture in its ability to cross the divide between peoples. Take a look at these two photos:

I spy a Rancid shirt.

One of these photos was taken in Casablanca, Morocco. The other, well, wasn’t. If you can’t tell (I don’t really blame you) click to find out which is which and read about a recent heavy metal festival that took place in the North African nation.

So, what can be made of these musical connections we share with foreign peoples? Well, maybe music needs to play a greater role in popular diplomacy. Maybe we need to know how many other foreign leaders listen to Pink Floyd. And maybe, just maybe, Bono does deserve to be a U.N. goodwill ambassador.

(Credit: Gert Van Langendonck / For the LA Times).

Questions for Goodosphere III

Canadians are clearly wondering about what in Sam Hill is going through his head. That and the genesis of Donkey Kong’s name:

Chatroulette Still at It after All These… Days

They may have pulled the piano man off YouTube, but there are still courageous heroes out there making Chatroulette a better place to be. Click the image for The Big Bad Bat?