The Spectacle Blog

Preservationist Ben

By on 3.1.06 | 10:59AM

Ben Stein was in town yesterday, as reported by local all news radio WTOP-AM 1500 reports, on behalf of the Civil War Preservation Trust and its new report on the ten most endangered Civil War battlefields. Long "energized" by their plight, WTOP notes, Ben drew particular attention to the Circle Forts of Washington, three of which are in Maryland, not too far from the stomping grounds of his youth in Silver Spring. As for plans to build a casino near the Gettysburg battlefield, Ben called them "bizarre."

Yo! Smithsonian Raps

By on 3.1.06 | 9:48AM

I should suggest at the outset that there is no genre of contemporary music that merits a Smithsonian installation. But having to read one's way through the following in today's Washington Post item -- twice pained by the awkwardness of its residually painful cultural sense -- calls up in the gorge something particularly galling:
"I would love to see more jewelry, more bling-bling, more clothes, more graffiti," said Marvette Perez, the Smithsonian curator leading the project. "I'd love to get Queen Latifah's hat from the 'Ladies First' video, some of Missy Elliott's sneakers. We're just getting warmed up."

"I'm so happy right now," [Ice-T] said as he finished his speech," because when somebody comes and asks me about my music and about hip-hop, I can say, 'Take your [flipping hindquarters] to the museum, all right?"

So Much for Ethics …

By on 3.1.06 | 8:12AM

So Rep. John Conyers abused his position as a Congressman, badgered his employees, bullied them into working on issues and for other campaigns they probably didn't want to work on, and generally just took everyone for granted.

The Hill is reporting on one of the least surprising stories to break on Capitol Hill in some time. Two former employees are charging Conyers with breaches of House ethics, which at this point has become nothing more than an oxymoron.

Conyers has been one of the most divisive, mean-spirited and intellectually and politically dishonest Democrats on Capitol Hill for years. He has used his seat on the House Judiciary Committee to indulge and further every crackpot scandal he could dig up in the past five years. Going so far as to hold unofficial "hearings" on impeachment proceedings against President Bush over the Iraq War and the notion that the President was aware of the September 11th attacks before they occurred.

Get the Post to Sex-Ed

By on 3.1.06 | 7:21AM

"Unintended Pregnancy Linked to State Funding Cuts."

Whoever this young man, State Funding Cuts, is, he needs to take responsibility for his actions and think long and hard about marrying his child's mother.

France the Lynchmob

By on 3.1.06 | 12:33AM

Three alarming alarming reports have arrived with regard the lynching of the young Jewish Frenchman Halimi, who was found mutilated and dying on February 13 in Paris.

All of the perpetrators are not yet apprehended, though some 20 of the accused so far hail from one suburb that is notorious for drugs and crime. Not all are Moslems, not all are poor, not all are ill-educated, not all our from North Africa. The ringleader has parents from Francophone Ivory Coast, and is said to have travelled to Ivory Coast to use email and telephones in some fashion to avoid detection by the French authorities. The motive for ransom is now discounted. The crime looks to have been sadism, racism, a blunt inhumanity, and is related in unexplained ways to the rioting that burned tens of thousand of cars last fall. The unbelievable report that Halimi's parents were called in the course of the ordeal, read passages from the Koran, and allowed to hear the screams of their child in the background is now confirmed.

Re: Between Schumer and a Camera

By on 2.28.06 | 3:00PM

I've heard that adage applied to at least three or four politicians. I don't know where it started, but I would not be at all surprised to learn that it went back to the newsreel era.

Tempus Fugit

By on 2.28.06 | 2:11PM

So the cable guy shows up at my house this morning (two hours late, natch) to help me join the revolution that is digital cable.

I am happy to have digital cable, but am dismayed that it now requires three remote controls to operate my television. I can deal with that, I suppose, but I am not sure I can deal with the enormous digital clock on the front of my new cable box which shall blare at me at all hours and as far as I can tell cannot be disabled.

I hadn't ever been offended by a digital clock until this morning. I think the thing that set me off was the stark realization, as I looked around my place, that I am besieged by digital clocks on things that I neither need nor want to have digital clocks on. In my small apartment, there are no fewer than a dozen digital clocks on things that are not clocks.

The madness must stop.

I hereby unveil my new personal Global initiative to urge manufacturers to stop putting digital clocks on anything other than, well, digital clocks.

Who's with me?

Serbian War Criminals - Gauntlet Thrown

By on 2.28.06 | 1:46PM

The Southeast European Times covers in succinct tones the Euro-frustration that has put Serbia, once again, behind the crosshairs of a foreign ultimatum:

"Full co-operation with the tribunal must be achieved to ensure that the negotiations are not disrupted," the European Council said in a statement. It called on both Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina "to take decisive action to ensure that all remaining fugitive indictees, notably Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, are finally brought to justice without delay."

"Without delay" means by the end of March, and "disruption" means "suspension of Serbia-Montenegro's talks on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA)" with the EU. Note the tricky timing that prevents Montenegro from voting their way out of their fair share in the onus.

Between Schumer and a Camera

By on 2.28.06 | 12:46PM

It's an old adage that that's the most dangerous place to be in Washington, D.C. Now even a TV industry mag agrees, ranking him the "easiest to get" for program bookers. Congrats, Chuck. (hat tip: fishbowlDC).

‘Gay Cowboys’ Watch

By on 2.28.06 | 11:41AM

Brokeback Mountain's been out long enough for the media to get this one right. Heck, I haven't seen the movie and I know that Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal's characters are not cowboys, but shepherds. Reporters and writers don't screw this up occasionally, but as many as 1150 times in the last 30 days. And that's only among the news web sites that Google includes in its news search.

I'm sure this case has been made elsewhere, but I doubt this slip is unintentional. As James Bowman writes in our March issue, the movie makes a point of showing the viewer "unforgettable images of toxic masculinity." (subscribe here!) See also Yale Kramer's thorough analysis of the film -- he argues that "It's a story that hates men." If so, then those propping it up in the media are well served by exaggerating the characters' manhood.