Assisted Career Suicide

So Kathy Griffin posted a picture of herself holding up a bloody severed Trump head and I had one thought, and one thought only when I first saw it.


I wasn’t shocked, I wasn’t appalled. I work in gallows humour. You have to go a hundred times darker than that before I even notice things are getting a tad morbid. The real sin of the photo, to my mind, was that it wasn’t funny. All it seemed to say was, “I hate Trump. I wish him dead.” Well, no shit. You’ve long since made that clear. Posing for a picture that looks like a publicity still from a low-rent 1970s giallo horror film doesn’t add anything to that narrative. I might have hoped for something biting, satirical, viciously sardonic. Instead, Kathy Griffin throws out something half-assed, spur-of-the-moment, ill-conceived, and witless. That’s kind of her shtick, I know. I (used to) watch her do CNN’s trainwreck New Year’s show with Anderson Cooper every year, and wonder when she would cross a line that would get her fired. Pretending to blow Cooper on live television didn’t do it. Screaming vulgarities at Ryan Seacrest didn’t work. Swearing at hecklers over the air failed. It seemed to be an unshakable gig. She could do no wrong—or at least could do nothing wrong enough to get her ousted.

I turned the virtual page and moved on, with a vague parting notion, “Some people are really going to hate this.”

And then everything blew up. Twenty-four hours later, the CNN gig was gone, standup appearances were cancelled, endorsements were dropped. Plus the Secret Service, which is obliged to take any perceived threat to the president deadly serious, was looking into it. The family Trump, prone to announcing any fleeting notion or passing of wind, took to social media to express their displeasure. All to be expected, really. I mean, after all, what did she think was going to happen?

A video apology followed. Griffin made one of her infrequent appearances without a ton of makeup, probably judiciously trying to appear more vulnerable and sincere by doing it au naturel, without the usual war paint. It wasn’t an apology to Trump himself, but it was an apology to people who were offended. And it seemed pretty sincere. It seemed to work.

And then, like manna from heaven, Kathy Griffin was given the greatest gift a foot-in-mouth celebrity could ever hope for. Covfefe happened, and the whole world collectively decided they’d rather make jokes about that than futilely try to find the funny in Griffin’s gory photo shoot.

Give it the weekend, and it would have all blown over nicely. Sure, a lot of paying work would have dried up, but Kathy Griffin would have been in the clear. On the heels of the vitally important political covfefe event, something else would have inevitably happened in the world, and by this time next week no one would remember or care about bloody head props. Griffin could then safely slink back to the ranks of the D-list.

But, alas, no.

She made two colossal mistakes. First: Kathy Griffin employed the services of Lisa Bloom, daughter of Gloria Allred and every bit the media-circus bottomfeeder her mother is. Second: she called a press conference to dredge it all up again. And not just any press conference. The single worst clusterfuck of a press conference I’ve ever witnessed. There were tears, there was laughter (forced and performed by mouthpiece Bloom), there was indignation, there were more insults for Trump and his family, and there were cries of victimhood.

You can try to sit through it if, like me, you’re a sucker for punishment.

At this point, the real villain here is no long Kathy Griffin, or Donald Trump, or the vulture media, or the skittish sponsors, or CNN, the worst media outlet in America today. It’s Lisa Bloom. Any lawyer worth a shit would have advised her client to lay low, take the hit, let the apology sink in, let the public move on, and let Trump get distracted by something new. I mean, hell, he’s the goddamn President of the United States. He may be petty and vindictive, but he’s got other stuff on his plate.

But that’s not what happened. Because Lisa Bloom is a terrible terrible hack lawyer who wanted to get her face front and centre and ride this celebrity shitstorm into the next stratosphere of her gruesome parasitical poisonous career. Rather than do her job properly, she let her client summon the media for an announcement and a Q&A. She may have even suggested it. And in the process, she let Kathy Griffin keep digging that grave for her career.

Give Griffin a lean year, and I thought she might have been able to bounce back from this unscathed. The story would have flared up briefly on New Year’s Eve as those few who still watch CNN asked, “Where’s Kathy?” There would be a reminder of what went down last spring, and then they’d cut away to a drunken Don Lemon talking about getting a Trump tattoo on his dick—again. Same old, same old. Before you knew it, she’d crop up in some supporting role on a sitcom, or a bit part in a movie. You’d hear she was doing standup in casinos and dive bars once more, and by the time Trump was running for re-election, she’d be back doing her ginger Joan Rivers act, and would even be getting away with a new round of jabs at The Donald’s expense.

But after this? It’s going to be a long hard road back. Michael Richards hard. And for what? She shot off her own foot and it did no damage to Trump. It gave him a boost.

Some people have come out trying to defend that decapitation photo as art. Provocative art, but art. And maybe is it. But it’s bad art. The difference between good art and bad art is that good art stays on message and accomplishes a goal. Bad art gets tossed off, lets the chips fall where they may, and has no clear message or intent. Like a grenade tossed into a room with the pin out. That’ll sure provoke a reaction, but mostly it will make a mess.

Try not to be standing in the blast radius when it goes off.

NB: If you’re a B, C, or D-list celebrity who has just committed career suicide, DO NOT call Gloria Allred or Lisa Bloom to help salvage something from the ruins of your life. Call someone who knows a thing or two about scandal damage control. Call me. I might even know what I’m talking about, and I work cheap.

Breaking Brutal

Unsurprisingly, I’m now officially a terrorist. Oh sure, the NSA and various other American alphabet-soup agencies are quick to label everyone a terrorist for anything these days. Left the toilet seat up? Terrorist. Didn’t replace the bog roll after using the last strip? Terrorist. Didn’t wash your hands after going to the bathroom? Terrorist (this one I agree with).

But now it’s Scotland Yard that’s designated me a terrorist. Why? Because I watched the James Foley beheading video recently released by ISIS as a warning against American military intervention in Syria. According to The Yard, merely watching this video can be considered an arrestable act of terrorism. I wish they’d tipped me off in advance, because I only found out about this decree five minutes too late when doing further research on the incident. Oopsie.

So why, exactly, did I go have a look at this horrible, brutal execution that’s so readily available on the Internet? I mean, other than the fact that I’m a morbid, twisted, sick fuck (obviously). Well, it seems I don’t like major media outlets offering me the latest justification for war while refusing to show me the specifics because it might offend my delicate sensibilities. I also don’t like governments telling me to avert my eyes and take their word for it when they try to sell me on a new war on a new front. They always place the ugly specifics of executions and war crimes on a need-to-know basis. Well, as it turns out, I’m a taxpayer in a democracy. So I need to know. I also need to not be patronized, condescended to, or subjected to state propaganda. But they do a lot of that just the same.

As I’ve mentioned via social media in the past, I have a checkered past with the Four Word Film Review site. They turned down some of the very best material I wrote for them. But I still like the format. Four words can convey a lot about a film. Here’s my four-word film review of the James Foley decapitation video:

Overproduced. Anticlimactic money shot.

Am I making light of the murder of a journalist? Nope. I wish the western news media would pay more attention to real journalists, out in the field, in war zones, getting killed in the line of duty. But they’re too busy pointing the camera at themselves in nice safe studios. You know them, these pretenders who aren’t real journalists, but play ones on TV. Posers like Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer and anyone who’s ever appeared on Fox News in any capacity whatsoever.

Look around on the Internet and you can find some truly horrific stuff to watch. I’ve written about it in past blog posts, and have already offered the various Islamic extremist groups my critique on their methods when it comes to documenting their own war crimes. I’ve offered no criticism about how they actually execute their fight against The Great Satan because I don’t know shit about IEDs. But I know a lot about film, so once again I have to speak my mind and explain to them, as patiently as I can, why their latest snuff film left me cold.

Okay, jihadists, listen up. I appreciate that you took some of my last round of notes on your decapitation videos seriously. I see a real effort to improve here. You got yourself a better camera. You bought a tripod. The video quality is very nice. So is the lighting (although, let’s face it, it’s the desert, so natural light is kinda plentiful). The audio is crisp, clear. Even the subtitles are well done and spelled correctly (Hong Kong film studios, take note!) But, sorry to say, you didn’t quite nail it this time. I know you thought you hit it out of the park, but this is only a second draft. And I have more notes.

First off, we’re not watching your snuff film to see a recap of Obama speeches. Admittedly, I find presidential speeches pretty scary. I see one, and I immediately flashback to the ‘80s when Ronald Reagan used to pre-empt The A-Team damn near every week with more bullshit. Troubling times. But most political speeches amount to little more than a talking head. We’re here to see heads roll, not talk.

And therein lies my most important note. The beheading. All this build-up and you tastefully cut away from the actual act. Tastefully cut away? For fucksake, you’re ISIS! You’re the guys al-Qaeda thinks are over the top! And you cut away from the deed like it’s a fade-out from a 1948 Hollywood love scene? Look, I would expect you to cut away from a love scene because sex and nudity and love aren’t exactly your cup of tea. But the execution of an infidel? You own that shit. It’s your thing.

I thought the point of this video was to warn America, to threaten all Americans everywhere, to strike fear into their hearts. Trust me on this one, if you’re going to shock America, you have to come up with something more gruesome than, say, any given episode of Game of Thrones. You know, like the one with the duel? And the teeth? And the squishy-squashy skull? That was AWESOME! This…this was not awesome.

Here’s your other problem: Because you didn’t show it, everybody in the conspiracy community thinks you faked it. They’ve gone through your video, bloodless frame by bloodless frame, and they’re calling bullshit. This is not your desired response, I’m sure. You want their reaction to be along the lines of one alternative news-media reporter who referred to the victim being “killed in the most brutal way imaginable.” Okay, clearly he either doesn’t have much imagination or he’s never read any history. He should look up scaphism some time (AKA The boats). Now that’s brutal. And another means of execution from your neck of the desert, I believe. See? You’ve excelled at brutality for thousands of years, so what’s with the no-budget found-footage mockumentary editing? I just don’t get it. Unless the conspiracy community is right and this is some false-flag op meant to escalate tension in the middle east and push for more conflict and military engagement, thereby diverting public attention from an impending global economic collapse.

Nah. I think you just fucked it up. I wouldn’t want to go believing the conspiracy theorists, because the fake reporters on CNN and Fox keep assuring me those people are CRAZY. And the mainstream media triple checks all of their facts and never lies about anything.

Also something in the news I just HAD to mention. Did you hear the one about the high-school student who got arrested for turning in a creative-writing class assignment with a fantastical reference to shooting a dinosaur with a gun? Obviously, everybody is required to lose their shit when any student mentions guns or shooting them. Because, well, think of the poor dinosaurs! That’s probably how they went extinct. I think I heard something about Noah shooting them and dumping them overboard when the last two dinosaurs made a light snack of the last two dodo birds. Something like that. I’ll have to double check my text book from that old Intelligent Design 101 class I sat in on.

If a teenager can get busted by the cops for writing something this innocuous as a school assignment, I’d hate to think what they would have done to me in grade three. I used to write some seriously hardboiled shit back when I was eight – gruesome detective fiction full of tawdry murders and crimes of passion. Then, for art class, I’d draw some mermaids with exposed breasts and my big black dog with an anatomically correct big red penis.

They’d probably sentence me to death by lethal injection – which, depending on which state is botching your execution, could be more brutal than most beheadings. Keep at it Oklahoma, and some day you might get your “humane” executions to last as long as the good old days of scaphism.

All the News That’s Unfit to Air

I don’t watch CNN anymore. I can’t.

I try sometimes. I flip channels to get a sense of what’s on regular old television (which I barely watch anymore either). I check CTV News to see if Rob Ford fell down today, I swing by History Television to see if there’s any history-related programming on (there never is). Then I stop on CNN and wait to hear some bit of news, some headline that might grab my attention or inform me as to what’s going on in the world. About thirty seconds later, I turn the channel is disgust and acute irritation. CNN doesn’t do news anymore. Journalism? Reporting? Investigation? Please! That’s so 20th Century. This is the age of infotainment. And CNN, always on the cutting edge, has taken the next logical step past infotainment, refining it to the point that it no long contains any trace elements of information or entertainment. The only possible way CNN could be less insightful is to broadcast a test pattern 24 hours a day. And that might actually be a step up. At least a test pattern informs you that your television is on and working. CNN, as it now stands, can’t even assure me of that.

Is this thing on? It is? Oh, good. Thanks, CNN.

Is this thing on? It is? Oh, good. Thanks, CNN.

As an experiment, for the first time in a very long while, I made an effort to watch an entire hour of unabridged, uninterrupted, un-channel-surfed CNN, and see what it had to offer. I wanted to give it every chance to prove that my random 30-second samplings were merely ill-timed, and that if I put the time in I would be treated to some proper news, researched by proper journalists.

I sat down a few days ago, in the late afternoon, and this is what I learned watching sixty full minutes of headline news on CNN. I’m not leaving anything out. This was every story covered.

1. The Duck Dynasty douchebag said some more stupid shit. This was the “political lead.”

2. Netflix is adding 26 movie titles to their roster, including Good Burger (no mention of the many other titles they’re dropping, including a great many classics).

3. A fired NFL player is having issues with his ex-coach over homophobic remarks.

4. A lottery winner just remembered he had a winning ticket lying around somewhere.

5. It’s cold and snowy out. Bad weather in winter? Stop the presses!

6. It’s so cold, you might not want to sit out in a sports stadium. Because, brrrr!

7. The new, improved pope is packing in tourists at the Vatican.

8. Clay Aiken might go into politics. Maybe.

9. Car sales are up (no mention that this might be because even potted plants and single-celled organisms are being offered car loans these days).

And although it was only a promo, this was probably the most compelling bit of information offered:

10. CNN will be running March of the Penguins in prime time – which should offer them a 90-minute break from running more non-news the evening it airs.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Fukushima is in the process of becoming the single greatest disaster in human history (and will continue to be a globally damaging disaster for the next ten thousand years or so). The world economy is poised to collapse like a house of cards in a hurricane. The United States has descended into a war-mongering police state, with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights currently in flames. Japan and China are considering going to war over a few pimple-sized islands that happen to have oil. Saudi Arabia has been trying to provoke more war in the Middle East because you can never have enough. And all those depleted uranium shells the U.S. shot at everyone throughout the last couple of Middle-Eastern wars are causing horrific birth defects and promise to be radioactive for millions of years longer than Fukushima could ever dream of.

Of course CNN won’t cover these stories because there’s no sexy car-chase video to go with them, no celebrities twerking and, let’s face it, as news stories they’re all kinda bummers. Depressing news doesn’t get good ratings and, believe me, if there’s one thing CNN knows plenty about, it’s bad ratings.

I had high hopes for CNN just a few short years ago. It seemed like they were taking some of the criticism to heart. They dumped Rick Sanchez for being a moron, Lou Dobbs for being an asshole, and cancelled Crossfire for being terrible. Unfortunately, the purge didn’t end there, and they also unloaded every investigative journalist they ever worked with, including real deals like Michael Ware and Amber Lyon, as well as all the behind-the-scenes staff that did petty busywork – like fact checking and research. You know, boring crap.

Oh, but they made sure to retain the big names that best define what CNN is all about. Familiar faces like Wolf Blitzer, owner of the great American beard that grows out of his slack jaw, Anderson Cooper, the silver-haired silver-spooned rich kid who grew up interning with the CIA (no conflict of interest there, and we assure you he is no longer a CIA asset in any way shape or form) and, of course, Richard Quest – a guy so classy, he got busted in Central Park for trying to be a pickup artist with a rope tied around his neck and cock, armed with a sex toy and a pocket full of crystal meth. Really, that happened. But you wouldn’t know it if you get your news from CNN. Surprisingly, they didn’t cover it.

CNN, you never cease to disappoint. At least Jon Stewart managed to get rid of Crossfire after that notorious interview where he successfully articulated what a vulgar sham the whole pseudo-debate show was. He buried that piece of crap good and deep…

Wait, what? Oh, I see. Crossfire is back on the air, with a whole new cast of idiots, worse than ever.


Because Their Lips Are Moving

My international readers may be perplexed. The Great Canuck Scandal continues to unfold on a daily basis, but I have steadfastly refused to stand up and try to explain it to them. And really, you do need a local guide to explain the phenomenon that is Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford. I’m a Montrealer, so like the rest of Canada and the rest of the world, I can watch this gruesome road accident with a sense of bemused detachment. Because really, this is all on Toronto, not Canada. And where it concerns the rest of Canada, the attitude, quite correctly, is “Fuck Toronto.”

Ultimately, this whole mess can be explained by simple math. Rob Ford happens when you create a mega-city that results in the sprawling suburban wilderness of banjo-pickin’ hosers having the majority of the vote. When that happens, it no longer matters what all those people in the densely packed city ridings want, it’s the sparse, remote ridings, legion in number, that get to decide the important stuff. Like who gets to be mayor. Democracy, they say, is two wolves and sheep voting on what to have for dinner. Witness democracy in action. And Rob Ford likes his mutton.

Alas, I was really trying to avoid comment on the whole Rob Ford affair. For comedic purposes, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel with a howitzer. I prefer a bit of a challenge. I don’t feel like I must go after the low-hanging fruit all the time. I’m a reasonably tall man. I can reach the mid-level fruit just fine.

Rob Ford has been nothing if not an embarrassing wealth of riches, and not just because he’s a spoiled rich kid who has politically managed to pass himself off as some sort of regular-joe common man. Every damn day, literally, there’s a new video or quote that surfaces that could scupper any normal political career. But you can’t squash this cockroach. Mostly because he’s too gigantic to squash – both in size and ego.

The honourable Major of Toronto, Robert Bruce Ford. He ain’t leavin’.

The honourable Major of Toronto, Robert Bruce Ford. He ain’t leavin’.

Weathering the crack smoking, the binge drinking, the drunken stupors, the gangsterism, the murder allegations, and the pussy-eating has been a noble task that deserves respect. I don’t mean Rob Ford, I’m talking about myself. I sat through all that and barely even cracked a joke on Facebook. This, my friends, is discipline.

But now the scandal machine has entered the theatre of television production and I feel a line has been crossed. I simply must comment on the recent cancellation of the Sun News Network show, Ford Nation, after only one episode that brought in the single highest ratings the SNN has ever seen in its existence.

The excuse for the abrupt death of what was to be a weekly commentary show was that it was too costly to produce. At five hours to shoot, eight hours to edit, it simply wasn’t feasible to move forward, so they dumped the Fords and the ratings bonanza they brought with them.

Lies, all lies. Big fat stupid lies.

So how do I know these television suits are lying?

Well, aside from the fact that they never stop lying, none of what they said makes any sense. A five-hour shoot and an eight-hour edit for a one-hour show that only airs once a week is NOTHING. Especially for a pilot. A new show is going to take a while to iron out. The machine needs time to get up to speed. Thirteen hours of shooting and cutting your debut episode is actually a brisk pace, and that length will only get shorter with experience. Claiming a talking-head format is too expensive after one episode is ludicrous. First of all, they already had a budget, so they knew what sort of money they were talking about. Maybe they had to pay a bit of overtime to the crew while the Fords got acquainted with how production works, but that would taper off in time. Most importantly, the show brought in the numbers they were expecting – or more. It was their highest rated show! EVER. You simply don’t walk away from that.

What can be read between-the-lines is transparently obvious. The Fords are a pair of globally embarrassing fuck-ups. Just because the eyes of the whole world are on their antics right now isn’t an excuse to give these guys yet another platform to say stupid shit. Sun News Network got hammered with criticism when they cut this deal earlier this month, and the backlash was waiting to strike with even more intensity after the premiere. The decision to cancel was probably made before a single foot of tape rolled. The fact that a first episode was shot and aired at all probably had more to do with contractual obligations than any actual desire to go through with this shameful train wreck.

So knowing the truth that lies just below an easily scratched surface, what have we learned? Well, the lesson I take away from this is that no matter how obscure the footnote or rare the circumstances, history repeats itself. Even television history.

Rob and Doug Ford opine about The Great White North. Does this look expensive to you?

Rob and Doug Ford opine about The Great White North. Does this look expensive to you?

The last time a top-rated show got cancelled because a network executive had a crisis of conscience and decided it was too stupid to air was Gilligan’s Island in 1967. That’s because, under any normal circumstances, THIS NEVER HAPPENS. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is still running. These people have no shame. They will broadcast absolutely anything if they can get it past federal regulatory standards and enough morons tune in to watch.

But the SNN can’t cop to the truth and admit a mistake, even if that’s the best possible out and apologizing is the Canadian national sport (narrowly edging out hockey). So when the Fords got pulled, excuses had to be made. Sun simply saying they dropped the show because it was the right thing to do and it was a terrible mistake to ever give these two blithering assholes a forum would have been too honest.

And honesty is poison in the TV biz.

Holy Giant Props, Batman!

Just when you thought the mainstream news media couldn’t get any more lame, Fox News ups the ante with something that might even trump CNN’s abortive use of hologram reporting. Seriously, hologram reporting. They did that shit once. They beamed the image of their reporters into the studio so it looked like they were actually standing there, next to other reporters who were just standing there for real. This technological leap forward accomplished what journalists scarcely dared dream of for decades – filing a remote report in front of a hologram camera instead of a video camera. Pure genius. Sadly, the experiment failed when every hologram-projection filed proved to be a plea to somebody named Obi-Wan, who was, the reporters assured us, their only hope.

Not to be outdone, Fox News has now given us a studio full of prop-people diligently slaving away at prop-touchscreens. But they aren’t just any touchscreen tablets. No, they’re GIGANTIC touchscreen tablets. Looking akin to King Kong’s iPhone, they fill the set with superfluous techno-bling by the dozen. And the sight is indeed impressive – impressively stupid, instantly dated, and dumb in ways I can’t explain. So I won’t. I’ll let Fox News stooge Shepard Smith explain it himself.

Shepard – Shep to his friends, but he has no friends, so everyone calls him Shemp behind his back – makes a valiant effort to justify the unjustifiable. Apparently Fox hasn’t realized that making their reporting bigger doesn’t make their bullshit any more true than when they tried making it louder.

But what really grabs me about this new set is how much it looks like the modern equivalent of a set from the old Adam West Batman show. Giant props will do that. All they need to do now is shoot it at a slightly askew angle and Shep will instantly be promoted to the level of Batman villain, joining the ranks of The Joker, The Riddler and The Penguin. We just need to give him a better villain name. How about The Stupifier? His nefarious plan is to broadcast disinformation to the world at large, making anyone who watches dumber by the moment. Batman will obviously have to produce some sort of filtering lens from his utility belt in order to combat this devious plot or risk having his reading level lowered to that of a chimpanzee in the “special” third-grader class for slow learners. You know, like regular Fox News viewers.

And speaking of The Dark Knight of Gotham City…

There are no Adam West-era giant props in the new Batman video game, Arkham Origins, but there are villains galore. The premise of this free-range sandbox game is that it’s two years into the bat’s crusade against crime when suddenly, one Christmas Eve, a host of new villains start to come out of the woodwork to replace all those standard-issue mobsters he’s already thwarted.

According to the continuity of this prequel to the two previous Arkham games, we’re to believe that all in one night, Batman has his very first encounter with headliners like Killer Croc, The Penguin, The Riddler, The Mad Hatter, The Joker and at least a dozen other lesser, but still well-established members of his personal rogue’s gallery. Yeah yeah, it’s a video game, but c’mon…plausibility? Just a smidge? I’m sixteen hours into the game and I’m having a hard time suspending my disbelief that this is all supposed to be happening in one night. I know as a kid Christmas Eve seemed to go on forever and Christmas morning was painfully slow in coming, but even last-minute shoppers aren’t this rushed and busy on the 24th.

This game also marks the retirement of the definitive Joker. No, not Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson or Cesar Romero. I’m talking Mark “Luke Skywalker” Hamill who has been voicing the character for various video game and animation projects for decades. Apparently he took the job to carry him through to his next Star Wars gig. Now that that’s finally in the offing, he’s stepped down as the Clown Prince of Crime and passed the job on to Troy Baker, who doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel. Following Hamill’s cue, he’s doing effectively the same voice rather than something entirely new – like Ledger’s weird gravelly Boston-tinged Joker. Given that Hamill so defined what the Joker is supposed to sound like over the past twenty-one years, it’s probably a good decision, if only for continuity purposes.

In other video game news, I’m compelled to mention my Halloween gift came early this year with the October 31 release of the “Blood & Gore” DLC for Total War: Rome II. Total War has long-since become my favourite video game franchise, and I’ve enjoyed every single incarnation of it since the release of Shogun in 2000. It was only with the arrival of Shogun 2 in 2011 that any attention was paid to depicting the bloody mess that was medieval and ancient warfare. Sure, modern warfare is also a bloody mess, but the Total War series has always spared us any forays into that boring mechanized button-pushing morass. Other game series have it well covered. Total War sticks to the swords and arrows and halberds, and long may it continue to do so.

Let us not pretend that getting a pilum in the face circa 100 BCE was a tidy affair.

Let us not pretend that getting a pilum in the face circa 100 BCE was a tidy affair.

Oddly, in a series so devoted to realistic ancient battle and tactics, it wasn’t until the Blood Pack DLC of Shogun 2 that they dared show us all the rolling heads and spurting arteries one might expect from hand-to-hand combat. Despite my notorious penchant for gory movies, I’m not as bloodthirsty as some might think. The pleasure I derive from seeing this much blood splashed across my monitor as virtual armies clash isn’t due to sadism, it comes from a desire for more realistic displays of violence in media. War isn’t a clean business. And perhaps if more people got a look at the blood and suffering it entails, particularly in our sanitized news media, there’d be a lot less of it.

Just don’t show it to us on those stupid giant tablets or I might get the giggles.

Where Nobody Knows Your Name

It’s Halloween, the happiest holiday of the year. For ghouls like me, at least. But when it comes to my traditional gorging on horror movies, I’m going to have dip into my own personal collection. Again. The seasonal offerings at theatres are sparse and lame. Ever since the Saw franchise packed it in, we can’t even count on one of those showing up every October like clockwork.

One of the only genre releases in the offing is just another damn remake. And even for a remake, it already feels old. “You Will Know Her Name,” declared all the posters in the ad campaign that started before the glut of summer movies began months ago. I would look at those posters, some of them damn near ten feet long, dangling from the rafters of the local multiplex, and think, “No, actually. No they won’t.”

I'm sorry, I don't think we've met. And you are...?

I’m sorry, I don’t think we’ve met. And you are…?

I knew the film in question was yet another version of Carrie, not some more intriguingly titled terror called You Will Know Her Name (I might have gone to see THAT). But I, unlike, it seems, Hollywood, also knew that the target demographic hasn’t even heard of the original 1976 movie starring Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie. They probably haven’t even heard of the 2002 television remake, since they would have been infants at the time and nobody was watching NBC back then either.

But they went ahead with their ill-advised ad campaign regardless. And if anybody knows Carrie White’s name now, it’s because they saw it etched on her box-office tombstone. Not a twist ending by anyone’s reckoning. From what I hear, it’s a bland, uninspired and incorrectly cast remake. At least the TV remake had Angela Bettis and Patricia Clarkson, who are both odd enough to bring the creepy. And it had my brother-in-law, Jeremy, as editor. Even at a whopping 132 minutes, it worked, the performances were solid, and the key massacre scene took advantage of what modern special effects could offer. I still fondly remember the high angle shot of the water on the floor rippling away from Carrie’s feet before she proceeded to electrocute everyone. Nice touch.

For the record, I begged (BEGGED) Jeremy to cut that awful coda that had Carrie survive her confrontation with Mother and go on the lam with her buddy, presumable to have a series of Incredible-Hulkesque adventures as they travelled from town to town getting into wacky misadventures due to Carrie’s unfortunate tendency to wig out and commit mass telekinetic murder. But it wasn’t his call. Obviously, somebody had the delusional idea that this TV movie might serve as a pilot for a regular show. The Nielsen people quashed that dream in a hurry.

Start the counter, because eventually we’ll have to endure yet another remake (or bad-idea sequel) of the classic Stephen King story. Carrie is still a marketable name, provided you actually mention that name a few times when you’re trying to build hype for your movie. Seriously, ad-campaign monkeys, if you need me to tell you how to do your job, drop me a line. I’m here to help.

Being of unsound mind and sick sensibilities, I like to follow weird crime stories. Not the kind of boring hot-blonde-chick-goes-missing-in-tropical-paradise crap that CNN likes to beat to death over the course of weeks and months of non-stop coverage. I’m intrigued by the seriously what-the-fuck cases out there. And if it has a Canadian connection, all the better.

Witness all those single running-shoe-clad feet that have been washing up on shore in the Vancouver region for years. That case is awesome! Less so if you’re the owner of one of those wayward unidentified and unmatched feet, but otherwise it ranks a solid ten on the intrigue-o-metre.

Then there’s the truly creepy story of Elisa Lam, the 21-year-old student from Vancouver (yeah, that place again). When the story first broke in February of this year, the news media picked it up and showed some of the footage of her acting strange in an elevator, just a matter of minutes before she would wind up drowned in a rooftop water tower of the infamous Cecil Hotel in L.A. Read more about the Cecil Hotel if you have any doubt that some places seem to naturally draw evil bizarro shit like a magnet. More recently, the whole video has been released, but don’t expect the nightly news to show it to you. Four minutes is too much time to take out of their nightly schedule. It might interfere with the sports-highlights reel.

Elisa was only discovered weeks later when tenants of the hotel complained that the water was an odd colour and tasted funny. Setting the inadvertent liquid-cannibalism aside and ignoring the fact that it was effectively impossible for her body to wind up where it did, least of all if it was a suicide, the creepiness factor rises exponentially when you look at the unexpurgated security cam footage. Way outdoing any of the “found footage” horror movies that have infested the genre since Blair Witch in 1999, knowing where this unsettling video ultimate leads makes it absolutely spine chilling.

Unsurprisingly, the L.A.P.D. didn’t bother to come up with any sort of satisfying or logical conclusion and they’ll never solve the case, just file it away. Morbid armchair detectives will continue to mull over the clues for a long time to come, adding it to the list of horrors that have revolved around the Cecil.

Yeah yeah, I know Halloween is supposed by be about fun frights and silly spookiness. But if you want to see the face of real horror, follow the links. If you dare.

Crimes Against Humanity, Film And Television

Sometimes there are so many industry and news media developments to comment on, infinite blog space doesn’t seem like enough. Oh well, let’s just break it down into sections and go for the juiciest items that popped up in the last few weeks.


At the Movies ended its 35-year run last month (provided you count its original incarnation, Sneak Previews, on PBS). I grew up watching the show and it was my introduction to film criticism. My favourite part was always the “Dog of the week” feature, later retitled the “Skunk of the week” for intellectual property purposes when Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert moved away from PBS. That was the last segment of the show when Roger or Gene would pick on some hapless Z-grade schlock that had just come out. This was at the tail end of the drive-in and grindhouse era, so they got to talk about some really cool trash cinema. I miss those days. Now the skunk or dog would be some straight-to-DVD crap that just wouldn’t have the same pedigree of sleaze about it. This was the golden age of Siskel and Ebert, but they had a long and successful run even after they became a mainstream-TV fixture.

And then Siskel got brain cancer and died, and then Ebert got thyroid cancer and had half his head amputated. Once Ebert was off the show and Richard Roeper stepped down with him, the writing was on the wall. What followed was the bleak year of the two Bens. Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz did all they could to screw the lid of the coffin down, and their reviews were more unwatchable than the worst films they ever discussed. If they made a movie about their year on the show, it would be called Douche and Douchier. A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips were much worthier replacements, but the damage was already done and their year at the helm was the last one. It all ended with a whimper rather than a roar. A rather pathetic whimper. Thirty-five years on the air, countless movies covered, thousands of timeless classics introduced and examined, and the very last film ever reviewed on the show was The Expendables. You may now roll your eyes in ironic disdain.

But! Ebert vows this won’t be the end. Not really. A successor is being prepped, ready to continue his work and fight the good fight for film criticism reduced to a simplistic yay or nay thumb-up-or-down verdict. The new show? Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies.

At the Movies was always criticized for not being as ethnically or sexually diverse as it should be. Even when they were going through the long process of choosing an emergency backup Siskel, and then an emergency backup Ebert, it was looking like a bit of a white-bread sausage factory. What the critics of the critics failed to understand was that, at the end of the day, it takes a couple of white male nerds to really geek out about movies. Nobody does it better. Because everyone else has better shit to do.

Nevertheless, now that they’re working on a new incarnation of At the Movies, the criticism has been addressed. Who are the new movie reviewers? Drum roll please. Two black dudes and two blonde chicks. It wouldn’t be so bad if not for the inane opinions and peculiar accents. And then, waiting in the wings, like the phantom of the opera, we’ll have segments with a surgically maimed and speechless Ebert gesticulating in grotesque pantomime to a review being read aloud by Stephen Hawking.

The whole enterprise comes off as weird and off-putting, with a hint of necrophilia as everybody involved gathers together to rob the grave of a once-great format. It makes for one of the worst demo reels I’ve ever seen for a new TV show. Personally, I’d rather spend the new half-hour show watching the dog and skunk from the glory days discuss contemporary cinema. At least it would be cute.


Screenwriter Fred Fox Jr. recently came out of the closet, owning up to being the author of the “Jump the Shark” episode of Happy Days. If you don’t know the significance of jumping the shark because you’ve, for instance, been living in an Afghanistan cave for decades fighting various Russian and American invasion forces, then I suggest reading up on it a bit before continuing. It’s one of those pop culture touchstones that’s so broadly understood, if I offer an explanation here it will just bore the rest of the class.

The premise of his article seems to be: Happy Days had a successful run for many more years after Fonzie jumped the shark, so surely this episode should not be pinpointed as the turning point in quality. And therefore it should not be saddled with the burden of offering the world the instantly recognized term for something starting to suck.

I disagree. Even as a kid, I would have disagreed with his argument, because I remember when that episode aired. I liked Fonzie, I liked sharks, but mixing the two was stupid and I knew it. Sure, people kept watching the show. They liked the characters, they liked the premise, but an unwritten contract had been broken. Jumping the shark had established that a beloved show was willing to resort to cheap gimmicks for a sweeps-week ratings grab. Once you establish that your show will get stupid at a moment’s notice for short-term gain, it’s the beginning of the end. It may take a long time for that merciful end to roll around, but just because you got to beat the dead horse for nearly a whole extra decade doesn’t mean your nag was still in the race.

Ironically, if you look at the list of Fred Fox’s credits, you’ll notice that his entire career jumped the shark with the jump-the-shark episode. I appreciate him crawling out of the woodwork to accept some credit and blame, but his argument doesn’t hold water and comes across as a sad attempt to deflect responsibility. For the record, I’d like to accept total culpability for any TV shows I may have fucked up or will fuck up in the future. My bad. And you can quote me on that when you throw it back in my face decades from now.


I’m always keeping my eye out for the most gruesome, disgusting, offensive movies being made. Because I have to know. When I hear a collective reaction of horror, I get in line. This has led me to see pretty much every single candidate for most vile cinematic atrocity ever committed to film.

So, as you can imagine, I’m salivating to see Uwe Boll’s Auschwitz. The teaser trailer suggests it will be just about the harshest, most unflinching holocaust movie ever made. Which could be a good thing, in theory. But it’s Uwe, the single worst filmmaker working in the world today. Given his sensibilities, it simple HAS to turn out to be an exploitational, tasteless piece of crap. With little children in ovens. If it doesn’t turn out to be the most offensive movie ever, it may still capture the title of most wrongheaded.

Meanwhile, Tom Six has come out with a teaser trailer for his sequel to The Human Centipede. He looks very self-satisfied in this footage, which I find kind of irritating. Apparently he’s under the impression he’s already made the most disturbing, horrific movie ever. Which is dead wrong. It doesn’t even crack the top ten. The Human Centipede has a great gross-out premise, but it never really runs with it. When I saw the movie, I spent the first half of the running time wondering if I’d accidentally stepped into a bad American remake of the movie I wanted to see — complete with “Oh no, I can’t get cell phone reception” scene. Takashi Miike, on a bad day, could make a far more vile film with this concept. And it would only take him a day, too. The man works fast.

I’ll see whatever Tom Six comes up with as a continuation of his ass-to-mouth epic, but my expectations are low. As far as the current crop of contenders for the title “Sickest Ever,” I still think A Serbian Film is effortlessly edging out all available competition.


Christmas came early for me this year with the sacking of Rick Sanchez. He reign of moronic terror at CNN has finally ended after his little “Jews control the media” rant on satellite radio. As far as racist tirades go, this one was pretty lightweight, but I think the CNN overlords seized on this opportunity to unload the dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks windbag before he embarrassed them any further.

If you’ve missed out of any of Rick’s shining moments of slack-jawed fuckheadedness, I’m sure they’re easy to find on Youtube. I’d link you myself, but I’ve seen more than enough of his antics to willingly sit through his highlight reel. Suffice to say, he’s such an abject moron of an anchorman he makes Ron Burgundy look like Walter Cronkite.

CNN has really been cleaning house over the last few years. They cancelled Crossfire, the most unproductive debate show on television, dumped Lou Dobbs and Rick Sanchez with little-to-no ceremony or debate, and shuffled Carol Costello off to mornings (a time slot where chipper idiocy is embraced because none of the viewers is really awake yet). Unlike the rest of the American news media, there seems to be a concerted effort to improve here. It’s just too bad that they can’t figure out who the weakest links are by themselves and keep waiting for Jon Stewart to tell them who needs to get voted off the island next.


If you watched lots of crap TV in the 1980’s, you’ll know the work of Stephen J. Cannell. Or, at the very least, you’ll recognize his production-company logo. Him tapping away frantically at his typewriter, an expression of bemusement at his own cleverness and/or paycheque etched across his face, was the ubiquitous end note of so many masterpieces of pop-culture junk. This was my first image of what a screenwriter was, years before I would become one. It took me years more to realize it was all a lie. Cannell was dyslexic and therefore, while incredibly prolific, hardly ever put pen to paper or finger to keyboard. He dictated most of his scripts. So when you watch him in this collection of edited-together logos starting in 1982, take special note of his mock typing. It’s like he doesn’t quite understand how it’s done. I’m especially amused by the final one, where he gives up any pretense of typing and instead plays his rig like a set of bongo drums. Coupled with his ultimate “I don’t give a shit” smile, he’s totally The Man sitting in his award-laden office.

So, anyway, he just died. And with him, a piece of my childhood and a hint of my future career path. I now picture him in Hollywood logo heaven, arguing with Ubu about who would be the better typist if either of them actually typed. Cannell has the edge with opposable thumbs, but I’d bet on Ubu because he has the dexterity to catch a Frisbee and is, as we all well know, a good dog. Woof.


One final note: congratulations, Germany, on finally finishing paying off your war reparations from World War I. I was a little surprised to hear that the whole world was still holding you to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, even seventy-seven years after we all realized it was a terrible idea that gave rise to fascism and the National Socialist party. Anyway, I’m sure all the Great War veterans out there will be glad to hear it’s over at last.

Wait…what? Oh. They’re all dead. Never mind.

Well then, maybe the rest of us will be glad to hear that Canada is now discontinuing personal income tax. This was a temporary measure started in 1917 to help us pay for the war. So now that it’s well and truly over, I’m sure our government will keep their promise to abolish it in short order. We currently have a Conservative government, and they’re always in favour of lowering taxes, right? So this should come off without a hitch.

Political Bent

I like to think of myself as politically neutral. I try to empathize with all sides of an issue, my vote is up for grabs by the party with the best platform, and I never endorse any one candidate because I figure they’ll inevitably make an ass of themselves at some point.

Poopy-head!Yesterday I got a call from a pollster charged with the task of calculating the statistics of where Canadians stand on their government. This was the sort of poll that ends up being quoted in the media as grave-sounding news anchors tell us what percentage of the public approves of the war in Afghanistan, who the leading candidate in the Liberal leadership race is, and whether the majority of the country thinks Stephen Harper is a boring poopy-head or a pasty-faced gargoyle.

I always like to answer telephone polls regardless of how much time they eat up. Since most people actually have something better to do, are gainfully employed, or realize life is too short to spend this much time on the phone with someone who’s sunk almost to the level of a telemarketer, poll results tend to be hopelessly tainted and nowhere close to reflecting an actual, reasonable majority. Instead, they skew in favour of the opinions and attitudes of the insane, the unemployable, the desperately lonely, and the flatly sociopathic. As one of those elite few, I felt it was my duty to mislead the poor idiots in charge of the country with the sort of answers that would help them alter the world to better suit my personal, greedy needs.

Gargoyle!As I answered a seemingly endless series of multiple choice questions with answers like “somewhat agree,” “almost never,” “Green Party,” and “because I think he’s a dick,” I came to realize something. I’m one of those evil leftists Canadian pinkos the brave American Republicans are trying to save the world from. I’m part of the problem. Bill O’Reilly would want my nuts cut off as part of his eugenics project. Donald Rumsfeld would have me sent to Guantanamo to be interrogated by a pair of pliers and a water board. Ann Coulter would pass on having dinner with me, even if I were paying.

I’m embarrassed, I really am. I knew my politics were kinda sorta liberal – “liberal” being just about the worst thing you can call someone south of the 49th these days, ranking somewhere between “Clinton” and “pedophile” – but I had aspired to be more centrist. I’d even ordered my very own copies of The Way Things Ought to Be and Let Freedom Ring to help compensate and nudge me back towards the middle. I guess it didn’t work.

I blame my education. When shopping around for a university, I ultimately ended up going to Concordia in Montreal. Not because I thought it was the best school for me. But because it was only a city bus ride away and I couldn’t afford to go anywhere better with the paltry money I was making at summer jobs. I remember, in a guide to Canadian universities published around that time, there was a chart of the political leanings for every higher-education institution in the country. Some where left wing, some were right wing, some were pretty middle of the road. Concordia was listed as “off-the-map left.” And they weren’t kidding. Every day there I felt a tad discriminated against because I wasn’t a mixed-race pagan lesbian communist.

I went into the journalism program. But in an effort to remain politically neutral, I made a concerted effort to stay as ignorant of politics and current events as humanly possible. I never read a newspaper, never watched a television news show. Occasionally we’d have a pop quiz on what was going on in the world and I’d be utterly unable to answer any of the questions. So I’d make up outrageous fictional answers for comedic effect. The head of the department never found my answers particularly amusing for some reason. I think he maybe took his job seriously or some crazy shit like that.

Only after I’d safely faked my way through the program and received my not-worth-the-paper-it’s-printed-on B.A. did I become interested in current events. Now I spend much of the day with various news media outlets acting as background noise in my office, keeping me up to date about the latest insult tossed across the floor of the House of Commons and the body count total in Iraq (Just a little more than 22,000 K.I.A. to go before you top Viet Nam, guys! You can do it!).

But I can’t deny it any longer. Maybe I absorbed it through osmosis in university, or maybe it’s just the by-product of being a media savvy, informed Canadian who’s never watched Fox News. I’m a liberal. Not necessarily a supporter of the Liberal Party, but a liberal nevertheless. There’s only one last resort for me. I must follow the lead of my leftist brothers and sisters down south. Rather than be branded by the terrible “L” word (no, not that one), I must fall back on that greatest of all crutches. Semantics.

No, I’m not one of those filthy, traitorous, troop-hating, tree-hugging, gun-control-supporting, pro-choice-choosing, gay-marriage-attending, marihuana-legalizing godless liberal scum suckers. Not me!

Whatever floats your boat.

I’m a libertarian.

My Chicken Has The Sniffles

Happy Pandemic!

Okay, maybe not yet, but soon maybe (fingers crossed). The promise of a new worldwide epidemic (“pandemic” for those of you interested in expanding your vocabulary) that could top even the razzle-dazzle body count of the Justinian plague has the nipples of the world media outlets standing at attention. But does the chance of a massive-scale human cull translate into more than just another ratings bonanza for news networks that have been flying high on earthquake and flood footage with snazzier visuals than the boring political corruption that’s sweeping across the States on a scale Katrina could only ever dream of?

Panic Central, CNN, has been offering round-the-clock coverage of every chicken with a fever, duck with a chill, or pheasant with a chronic cough, just in case one of them has cooties that might leap onto the nearest television journalist, and then leapfrog across the rest of humanity from there. With no really interesting hurricanes left to cover, they have no choice but to sit around all day promising that Anderson Cooper will snag an exclusive interview with the first mutated avian flu virus capable of human-to-human infection the moment it evolves (or is created by God for viewers in the south). A microscope with a satellite uplink is ready to roll, and a set of blue index cards stands by for Anderson to read questions off of. Probing inquiries such as, “Are you a sign of the apocalypse?” “What do you have against mankind anyway?” and “How much money would it cost the American taxpayer to get you to leave our nation alone and go bother someone else like…say….North Korea?” should keep viewers riveted long enough for the virus to further mutate into one that can comprehend these questions and articulate a response in a known language (preferably English because CNN viewers don’t like subtitles unless they’re in the form of an amusing and insightful ticker that scrolls across the bottom of their screens and tells them who won a Grammy).

I know I may be jumping the gun, but I’ve already applied for a position as a mass-grave cart-puller. I’ve always dreamed of holding a job that allowed me to ring a bell and call, “Bring out your dead” all day long. You’d be surprised how rarely I get to do that as a professional screenwriter. I figure it’s a good idea to have another line of work ready since I doubt there will be much call for cartoon and miniseries scripts once most of the human population is wiped out and we descend into another dark age because everybody who knows how everything works will be roasting on a pyre with the billions of diseases chickens we used to need to feed ourselves.

You know, I recently had a pitch for a TV episode turned down because it was deemed “too ghoulish.” I can’t understand where they got that kind of idea about my work.

Do Your Own Homework

You may have noticed the quality of journalistic reporting dropping off over the last few hundred years. The need to get the facts out faster, even if those facts bear little resemblance to anything factual, has made the presentation of news on air and in print increasingly inaccurate and overly simplified. If a story can be thrown at the nearest satellite dish live as it happens, even if there’s no context or explanation to be had with it, then media producers are beholden to run with it. Wait an hour and it will be old news, and who wants old news? Unless I see the word “live” in one corner of my television screen and the words “breaking news” in another, why should I care? Anything other than a raw feed may have been considered, edited or, God forbid, fact checked. And that simply won’t do. Unless there’s that adrenalin rush of “Holy shit, this is happening right now and I’m powerless to stop it,” my attention might wander. Worse, I may shift my focus away from the TV during the commercial break.

Canadian journalism has been something of an exception to this trend, avoiding the sensationalism of the British media and the steady dumbing-down of their American counterparts. This hasn’t been due to a higher standard in news reporting up here, but rather the malaise of dullness. Sensationalism is easy to avoid when nothing particularly sensational ever happens. Likewise the need to appeal to the lowest common denominator is safely eradicated when the news is so boring, there’s no hope of luring the lowest common denominator and his disposable consumer dollar.

But with the pending prison release of Karla Homolka, Canada’s public interest has stirred and the media circus is pitching the big top. Just like their opposite numbers in England and the States, Canadian muckrakers are pulling out all the stops to get a jump on the story. What that story will be, however, is unclear. We’ve known for twelve years when Karla is getting out. It’s been no secret. The story, it seems, lies in what utterly mundane day-to-day bullshit she might get up to once she’s free.

My own jokes here aside, I (and most reasonable people) don’t really think Karla is going to embark on another whirlwind murder spree, chain sawing hapless victims and having sex with their body parts. That little hobby has had its day, and with armchair criminologists the world over keeping their eye on her, I expect she’ll want to keep her head down and slip into the most uninteresting and blandly normal life she can possibly manage for the rest of her days. You know, like O.J. Nevertheless, newspapers, magazines and news networks will be on the job, dutifully reporting what she had for breakfast the day of her release, and the size, shape and consistency of the resulting bowel movement. And then they might want to report some trivial facts as well.

So desperate are they for any facts about Karla, correct or patently false, that the Canadian media has resorted to a tactic so low, so vile, so unconscionable, it’s actually put them on an equal footing with those talentless, fear-mongering, shit-slinging, infotaining hacks at CNN. They’ve gone looking for blog sources.

True, these past few years, amateur blog sites have had a better record of cracking pivotal news stories than any of the major papers or networks. They’ve shown up the big boys so many times, CNN now spends long stretches of air time having two women (known internationally as “the hot blog chicks”) reading the latest news to hit the blog scene. Of course they save anything real juicy for their regular news coverage so they can pretend they found the story themselves, but we know where they got it. They ain’t foolin’ nobody.

It’s become such a standard practice, lazy journalists will go hunting for leads on any old blog, not just the serious ones. Witness what happened here only last week. After running my completely facetious entry welcoming Karla to my neighbourhood of N.D.G.(her planned place of residence come July), I was contacted by a Toronto Star reporter who wanted to know if I could point her at Karla’s future address. Like I pal around with serial killers. I invite you to reread that entry and tell me, in all honesty, if there’s any moment in it in which I don’t completely sound like I’m talking out my ass. You all knew I was kidding, right? Now where, I ask you, was this journalist’s bullshit detector?

As a responsible citizen of both reality and cyberspace, I politely informed the reporter in question that I had no additional facts that could help assist her in stalking any ex-cons who may or may not have paid their debt to society. But the question remains, if the supposedly legitimate media will come sniffing around a website like this for a lead, hint, or factoid, what other rocks are they looking under and which other completely unreliable blog geeks are they quoting? It may only be a matter of time before we see Stile weighing in on the issue of North Korean nuclear armament on Crossfire. Given CNN’s penchant for pursuing new all-time lows, this may happen as early as next week.

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