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Alex Jones explains Obamacare dressed as a lizard, continues downward mental health spiral

Is it wrong to hold up someone who is so obviously mentally ill to mockery and then sell advertisements against it? Am I a bad person for lampooning someone clearly losing his shit for laughs and banner ads?

Nah. This kind of thing happens on Fox News all the live-long day, doesn’t it?

I think if you showed a younger Alex Jones what he would eventually come to represent, and how the general public would regard him, as they do today, “Winning” like his pal Charlie Sheen, just a sad, pathetic clown, he’d probably break down and start sobbing.

Imagine the sheer, unmitigated hell his wife must go through!

Crack is wack, but whatever Alex Jones is on should be avoided at all costs.

Maybe the Illuminati HAVE already gotten to him. I guess I wasn’t thinking, you know, enough steps ahead!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Glenn Beck: Beware Obama’s Marxist revolutionaries, next stop mass murders!

Still trying to live up to his reputation as Glenn Beck, on his program today Glenn Beck insisted that it was really “Marxist revolutionaries” in the Obama administration who were causing national parks and monuments to be shuttered during the GOP-led government shutdown.

Despite knowing fully well which party was to blame for the shutdown, Beck blamed Obama anyway, spinning a yarn about “a secret cabal” in the White House whose goal is to “inflict pain” on Americans.

“I want you to understand you are now seeing what I told you about three weeks ago. I told you they have gone from nudge to shove. Your next step is shoot.”

“Understand they are into shove, every Marxist communist revolution always ends with millions dead. Always, without fail, every time.”

Somehow Beck equates Stalinist and Maoist atrocities to the Washington Monument being closed down temporarily and a supposed starvation endgame of the Obama administration:

“They starved them to death. Why? To teach them a lesson. This is the beginning of teaching the American people a lesson: don’t you screw with us.”

Oddly, considering his animus for the “Marxist” President, at the clips end, Beck admonished his listeners to support his “Defund the GOP” campaign before “it will be too late.”

Seems like odd logic, but it’s Glenn Beck so why bother asking why?

How senile would you have to be to willingly choose to tune into Glenn Beck’s radio show??? His audience must have a collective IQ of approximately one peanut… The folks at Rightwing Watch, they at least get paid for this torture!

Via Rightwing Watch

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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War and Pixels: The complete Tolstoy archive goes online
08:39 am


Leo Tolstoy
Russian Literature

If you’ve never read War and Peace or Anna Karenina—which is often described as the greatest novel ever written—then soon you will have no excuse, as all of Leo Tolstoy’s works will be available free on-line.

The website will feature the 90-volume edition, which has been scanned and proofread, no less than three times by more than 3,000 volunteers from 49 countries. The texts, along with personal letters, and comprehensive biographical information is available in Russian, and will shortly be available in English.

The writer’s great-great-granddaughter, Fyokla Tolstaya told RIA Novosti:

“We wanted to come up with an official website that will contain academically justified information. Nowadays, it’s very important [to know] who posts information online.”

All of the novels, short stories, pamphlets, children’s stories and letters will be available for download onto all e-book readers and computers from

Below the only known film footage of Leo Tolstoy.

Via RIA Novosti, H/T Paris Review

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Bill Murray as The Human Torch in ‘The Fantastic Four’ radio series, 1975
01:10 pm


Bill Murray
Stan Lee
The Fantastic Four

A young Bill Murray stars as The Human Torch, aka Johnny Storm, in this 1975 radio adaptation of The Fantastic Four, narrated by Stan Lee.

This episode is #4 “Dreaded Doctor Doom.” You can listen to the whole series (10 eps) here.

‘Nuff said?

Via Scheme 9

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Art Garfunkel is really, really into ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’
05:15 am


Art Garfunkel
E.L. James

Art Garfunkel
Back in the day, like when the Internet was first a thing, one of my unexpected joys was discovering that Art Garfunkel, who had a very well-developed website early on, dedicated a section to updating the books he was reading. Not just the books he’d been reading lately, but every book he had read since 1968. (Here’s how it looked on November 3, 1999.) The guy went through a great many books a year, and his preferences were pretty high-minded for the most part, like Voltaire and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Lord Chesterfield and cats like that. And he’d mix it up too, there wouldn’t be any runs of every Philip Roth book in a single year or anything like that, he’d jump around from Thomas More to E.L. Doctorow to Martin Heidegger as it pleased him. At the time I thought that the idea of a famous musician like Art Garfunkel parading his erudition in public like this was high-larious, but in retrospect (I’m older too) I find it rather sweet and admirable. He has good taste and he clearly enjoys his reading. In truth I probably wasn’t all that nice to ol’ Art, having an inherently funny name like “Art Garfunkel” and being a prominent example of someone who hadn’t been that productive musically in the recent past and all.

It’s something a shock, then, to discover lo these fifteen or so years later that Art has kept the list current through 2012—and presumably will keep updating it. I noticed that Art keeps a separate list of “Favorites,” which list currently has a substantial 157 selections on it, just to give you an idea of just how much the man reads—those are just the favorites.

Looking at the list, it’s hard not to notice that the most recent entry is E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey, and some British journalist must have noticed too because there’s audio of him talking about it:

I love that book. Unlike so many people, I think it’s quite well written. It’s not only spicy, this writer can write. I thought it was a very well written, hot book. It’s spicy!

The quote sounds spliced together and I wouldn’t trust it for a second, but Art’s enthusiasm does sound legit.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Marshall McLuhan on the dangers of television and the rise of the one-liner
06:23 pm

Pop Culture

Marshall McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan explaining how the “one-liner” is symptomatic of the shortened attention-span of children. It’s all to do with television, which McLuhan claims, has a negative effect on the nervous system.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Fact: ‘Community’ creator’s Dan Harmon’s ‘Harmontown’ is the best comedy podcast
08:47 am


Dan Harmon

To get a handle on who Dan Harmon is, the following facts are relevant. He grew up in Wisconsin, which gave him access to, simultaneously, a healthy dose of anti-elitism, a taste for brusque humor, and an enduring respect for hard work. As a child growing up, he had the early verbal gifts and a doting mother and a psychologically absent father; the household was an untidy one. In his teen years (to place him generationally, Harmon turned 40 recently) he feasted on the dork’s trinity of comics, sci-fi, and D&D. He’s probably on “the Spectrum” but had the wit and/or the guts to try improv at his early adulthood (before it was trendy, too); the improv seems to have taught him to be fearless—for what is there to fear in experimentation and self-revelation?—and gave his writerly, Spectrum-y brain an extrovert’s outlet. He may have had that performative spark all along, but the improv instilled habits that would prove very, very useful and make him, almost incidentally, rather wealthy. In any case he’s a writer’s writer with just enough sketch chops to pass as a real performer, and this sets him apart. He’s imbibed the performative instinct; onstage, he inhabits “bits.” The improv probably saved him from becoming an inveterate crafter of dreary and well-written novels, and thank god for that.

Even though he has a formal education he qualifies as an autodidact, the telltale sign of which is his wholesale adoption of Joseph Campbell as his hero. He has the necessary verbal gifts and fearlessness to be a writer (which he is)—one wonders if he ever really reads books; books never enter into his stories, and this is a guy who shares everything. But then again, his job is TV, and what he “reads” is pop culture most of all—for pop culture tropes are what an improv artist most requires, and the same is true for the creator and showrunner of Community.

Everyone who writes about him mentions his intelligence, and I’m no exception. He’s given to frenzied, flustered, and eloquent rants, he sometimes bullies his interlocutors in argument (he admits as much), and the scalpel of his highly intuitive intellect occasionally runs ashore on the shoals of insufficient command of fact and, very occasionally, of common sense. But that’s fine, I like messy and bold thinkers, and Harmon is nothing if not that.
Harmon’s the only guy I can think of who can feature as an authoritarian and a Trotskyite in the same breath. In a recent episode of Harmontown, he argued with his co-presenters for many minutes about the agrarian worker’s paradise of perhaps a hundred people he would set up on the moon, given the opportunity. In effect he was bellowing, “No no no, I’m decreeing that there won’t be any hierarchy here!!”—and he was scarcely aware of the contradiction. What was truly transmitted in the whole debate was his honest and devout desire for such a world.

His penchant for abject self-revelation functions like an onion onstage, there are always more layers. His very sharp and ostentatiously “needy” (note the quotation marks) girlfriend Erin McGathy, who has a podcast about relationships of her own called This Feels Terrible is also a weekly presence on Harmontown, and on several occasions the two of them have engaged in ostensibly gut-wrenching arguments onstage that left audience members gaping (the Pittsburgh episode of their tour last winter was a standout in this regard). But when the metaphorical curtain drops, they all take their metaphorical bows, and it emerges that in some sense these battles function as still more “bits.” But underneath those “bits” are, it seems, real pain at times, and so on indefinitely. The improv performer’s ethic allows them to pass off their actual emotional tumult as entertainment, but one is left wondering just how protected they really are. Apparently they’re all “strong” enough in the right ways to deal with it, or else simply crave that which an audience alone can supply them. It wouldn’t be unfair in this context to observe that Harmon, with his messianic fervor, does hanker after the Christlike. In some indefinable way he crucifies himself every week (some weeks) in order to confer beneficent lessons onto his Asberger’s-y flock.

Unmentioned so far is a key part of the dynamic—Dan Harmon is the mayor of Harmontown, but the always nattily dressed Jeff Davis, an authentic improv actor often seen on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, serves as its comptroller. Harmon and Davis, who are dear friends in real life (it would have to be so in order to work), are something like the Ernie and Bert of grown-up verbal horseplay, but that metaphor misses the dapperness and bon esprit and general air of specialness Davis involuntarily imparts, and the analogy of Cameron and Ferris misses it on the other side; Harmon’s too self-actualized for Cameron (even if he has the angst).
Dan Harmon and Jeff Davis
I “discovered” Harmon as an object of interest of his own (as distinct from Community) last year, and I’ve been calling him “the thinking person’s Bill Murray” ever since. The trouble is, I’m not sure what that gets him. There’s a real chance he could emerge as something like this generation’s—what? Andy Kaufman? No. George Plimpton? Also no. (John Hodgman is that.) Hunter S. Thompson may be the closest we can get, the intellectual’s daredevil icon. The fact is that we haven’t seen a gregarious intellect-but-not-intellectual like this in the public sphere in living memory. It just isn’t usual for people as smart and greedily cerebral as Harmon to have enough common touch to become even remotely famous. All the good comps are literary writers (David Foster Wallace? Truman Capote?), and Harmon isn’t that.

While showrunning Harmontown, Harmon first took serious notice of the Spectrum, and he has become something like the Spectrum-inhabitant’s especial hero par excellence. The tribe that has coalesced around Harmontown meets in the back of a comic book store in Hollywood, and Harmon frequently references the likelihood of a Harmontown fan to be, variously, male, bearded, shy, obsessively honest, able to cite Star Wars: A New Hope chapter and verse, and so on. We all know the type (hell, I’m one too, albeit not so strong on the Lucas interest). I attended his triumphant return from “HarmonCountry” at the Egyptian Theater last February, and the line awaiting the passes at the entry table certainly confirmed any stereotypes one might have harbored about his audience.

All of this is to say that Harmontown is the best comedy podcast currently being distributed, period. Harmon has a talent for spawning projects, and Harmontown appears to be #2 on his docket at the moment (he is running Community again, after all). The number of tweets and photos and videos and paintings he and his audience have generated is positively daunting; Harmontown is a cult of sorts. Harmon is reflexively technophilic, and both he and his audience are entirely comfortable in what used to be called cyberspace.

What else do you have to know about the show? True to its democratic intentions, audience participation is a usual thing; Harmon and Davis are as likely to haul up an audience member onstage as anything else, and a fair number of the audience members are known as semi-regulars. I attended three episodes when I was visiting LA last February, and what do you know, Harmon ended one of the episodes by pulling me into the action; he actually sang me a little song in which he professed to love me as a symbol of his love for all humanity (go to the 98:00 mark).

Harmontown started out as an hour-long show but rapidly ratcheted up to roughly two hours a week. A D&D game has been in effect since the early weeks; Harmon recruited a marvelous fellow named Spencer Crittenden from the audience one night to serve as dungeonmaster, a decision that has reaped rewards wildly beyond anyone’s expectations (Crittenden now works as Harmon’s assistant on the set of Community). The D&D game takes up about a third of every episode, and the in-game characters are by now as familiar to the audience as Harmon, Davis, et al. themselves. Harmon’s character is Sharpie Buttsalot for amusing reasons revealed in episode 6; Davis is for arbitrary reasons known as Quark Pffffffffft; and so on.
After a few months of the podcast, Harmon took the whole clan on the road for several weeks in order to meet his audience outside of LA; these segments are collectively known as “HarmonCountry.” The road episodes are wildly entertaining (each one is also obscurely sui generis), and they also served to cement his relationship (hitherto a presumptive one) to his audience in interesting ways. Harmon being Harmon, there was no lack of grandiosity in it all, but his essential good nature and good intentions keep shining through. A documentary about the tour is currently in the process of being edited.

In a landscape in which even very sharp podcasts have a thudding air of dude-ness about them, Harmontown is an oasis for that rarest of things—wit, even Wildean wit in the purest sense. Harmontown is an arena in which what is prized above all is verbal play, and that isn’t something that is actually true of any other comedy podcast I can think of; in other podcasts, all of the comedians ultimately hew very closely to a comparatively restricted set of tropes that (let’s face it) substitutes for wit. Paul F. Tompkins might be the guy one would use to counter the above statement about Harmontown‘s wit, but Tompkins and Harmon are completely different types. Tompkins is a trained professional who is as fussy about his wardrobe as Davis himself; Harmon is a wild man by comparison, perfectly willing to play a gorilla in the wild for an hour a week, wading into inchoate territory that would leave Tompkins feeling more than a little exposed. What makes Harmontown special is that they nail the wit thing again and again even under such unpromising, i.e. primal conditions.

The truly revolutionary aspect of the show is that it is truly, truly unscripted. Many episodes start with a (completely sincere) avowal from Harmon that he hasn’t any idea if there’s anything to talk about this week, and damned if every week they don’t come up with a fruitful tangent to follow. The shared history of Harmon and Davis (and satellite characters like his sometime writing and business partner, Rob Schrab) enables this, because there’s no shortage of crazy anecdotes to dredge up, for Harmon and his friends live to be casually, playfully brutal to one another as only good friends can, a stance one finds oneself envying—we return to Harmontown’s missionary aspect. The show derives its energy from the sheer confidence Harmon has in himself to be interesting, and you can feel the other participants’ confidence in the exact same thing. As long as Harmon has a burr up his butt about something, the show will be dazzlingly entertaining, period.

It’s smart and fun and evinces a real sense of community. You never know what to expect from an episode of Harmontown, and there’s a subreddit dedicated to sifting through the ashes every week. Harmon and his buddies really know pop culture, and they have a perspective (more than one perspective), and a lot of shared in-references, and, I don’t know, if you’re a verbal type, it generates an oxytocin hit in the brain that no other podcast can touch.

Here’s some video! Harmontown is a podcast, hence there isn’t video of it. Instead, here’s Harmon in an extended interview with Kevin Pollak from the summer of 2012 and a weird training video Harmon performed in for Cousins Subs chain in 1995.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Dear Ryan Adams: PLEASE go on crybaby Sean Hannity’s show and SAY IT TO HIS FACE!

Although you’d think that Sean Hannity gets emails, tweets and even people getting right up into his smug fratboy face telling him to “fuck off, asshole” every single day of his goddamned life, an “outrageous” insulting tweet from “liberal” rocker Ryan Adams—who the apparently distraught Hannity pretends like he’s never heard of—has caused the Fox News troll king to get the major sadz.

What’s a wounded, well-paid, well-fed middle-aged millionaire supposed to do when a rockstar tells him he sucks in less than 140 characters? How’s about asking Miss Oklahoma to come onto his show to defend his honor? What else would you expect from a weeny like Sean Hannity?

Via Mediaite:

Sean Hannity tonight responded to singer Ryan Adams over Adams’ Twitter snipes at Hannity and his refusal to come on Hannity’s show and explain himself. Hannity noted that Adams’ initial tweet was taken down, asking “Why the urge to quickly recall the tweet, sir?” He called Adams a “gutless little coward” and challenged him again to make the same charges face-to-face.

Tamara Holder pushed back a little, telling Hannity he was “changing the subject” from his initial point on Twitter about role models and entertainers “who have a right to speak their minds.” Miss Oklahoma Anna-Marie Costello said Twitter allows anyone to say anything without any accountability, claiming Adams “has no sense of integrity.” Holder shot back, “Why? Because he called Sean Hannity out on Twitter?”

Exactly what I was thinking when I watched the segment. That and the fact that Miss Oklahoma sounds like a drunk who memorized her lines…

What’s the big deal?


Ryan Adams did not delete the tweet in question—Hannity’s either lying or he’s mistaken, but I’d wager he’s lying—because it’s still there, right in his Twitter feed. How is Adams “gutless” then, according to he who will not submit to water-boarding for charity‘s criteria?

To tell you the truth, I think Ryan Adams SHOULD go on Hannity’s show and say it to his fucking face. He’d destroy the little bitch and he’d be doing it for you and me!

What’s Hannity going to do, take a swing at him? He certainly can’t outsmart Adams, as quite obviously Sean Hannity’s just not that bright. (Hannity tweeted at Adams: “Confident on Twitter, but too scared to come on and explain yourself?” to which Adams snapped back “I don’t negotiate with terrorists.” That had to piss Hannity off, bigtime!)

Everyone should send encouraging tweets to Ryan Adams about this. It would be mega-genius heavy-meta television. Performance art!

America NEEDS this to happen. Think of the poor Internets starving for viral videos…

But Ryan Adams needs to insist on one condition to Sean Hannity before he agrees: It has to be LIVE.

Think of the possibilities.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The BEST royal baby headline yet

Via satirical magazine Private Eye (obviously.)

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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Rupert Murdoch Unplugged: Secret tape recordings reveal true nature of The Beast
07:49 am

Current Events

Rupert Murdoch

The news that Rupert Murdoch had been indiscreet on a secret tape recording made me imagine what dreadful thing it could be?

Had the media mogul revealed himself to be the Great Beast? Had he dished-up salty tales of hideous orgies at Bohemian Grove?

Alas, neither of these imaginary things—more the pity.

It turned out Murdoch had been caught letting slip his real views on the ‘phoning hacking scandal that eventually led to the demise of his (in)famous organ the News of the World.

Why Channel 4 News, who broadcast the story as an “exclusive,” and investigative news site Exaro, who did likewise and have it hidden behind a pay-wall, should think they had some kind of major scoop, when the always reliable Private Eye published the very same story three weeks ago?

Who knows?

What I can tell you is that the 82-year-old Murdoch was secretly recorded (obviously by more than one person) at a meeting he attended with arrested Sun journalists, at the paper’s HQ in the East End of London, on March 6th, this year.

For most of the meeting Murdoch railed against the treatment of his journalists by police during the Hackgate scandal. This was to be expected, as any boss would have found dawn raids on their staff by the boys-in-blue as more than just a wee bit over the top.

“I mean, it’s a disgrace. Here we are, two years later, and the cops are totally incompetent…

“The idea that the cops then started coming in, kick you out of bed, and your families at six in the morning, is unbelievable. But why are the police behaving in this way? It’s the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing…

“And now they’re arresting their own, who never even took money.”

Murdoch went to rave about what had been done to his flame-thrower-haired editor, Rebekah Wade. (One can almost hear the lump in his throat…)

“..what they’re doing, what they did to you, and how they treated people at [******], saying ‘a couple of you come in for a cup of tea at four in the afternoon.’ You guys got thrown out of bed by gangs of cops at six in the morning, and I’m just as annoyed as you are…

“The people who came in and turned over…Rebekah on Monday morning…there were about fifteen or sixteen. Most of them, a dozen, were from Manchester, a murder squad of something.  And there were three local cops. It’s ridiculous.”

Murdoch went on to offer “total support” (Up to a point, Lord Copper) for his journalists, ensuring health care..and er…well, that they should “trust” him. Surprisingly no-one laughed.

There was also the usual raving about the Establishment, which Murdoch has been wittering-on about since he set up his business on British shores back in the Swinging Sixties.

“And we’re being picked on. I think that it was the old right-wing establishment, [Lord] Puttnam, or worse, the left-wing get-even crowd of Gordon Brown. There was a sort of—we got caught with dirty hands, I guess, with the News of the World, and everybody piled in. It was a get-even time for things that were done with The Sun over the last forty-years…

However, all of this is small potatoes compared to the meat-and-two-veg of the recording, when Murdoch admits to being aware of payments-for-information.

“We’re talking about payments for news tips from cops: that’s been going on a hundred years, absolutely. You didn’t instigate it.

“I would have thought 100% … at least 90% of payments were made at the instigation of cops saying, ‘I’ve got a good story here. It’s worth 500 quid’ or something. And you would say, ‘No, it’s not’ … And they’d say, ‘Well, we’ll ring the Mirror…’ It was the culture of Fleet Street.”

This runs contrary to Murdoch’s bumbling performance as a contrite Mr. Magoo at last year’s Levenson Inquiry, where he laid the blame on a couple of rogue journalists.

This tape probably gives a pretty good view of what Rupert Murdoch is really like. (Not that we hadn’t already imagined something quite similar!)

These tape(s) should now be passed onto the Police, who must investigate Murdoch’s comments fully.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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