Someone should explain to CNN that “Breaking News” and “Relentless Speculation” are not the same thing


CNN has not broken one single morsel of news about the mystery Malaysian Airlines plane. It has breathlessly chased every red herring this dramatic saga has introduced. CNN parades a continuous stream of experts and observers with varying degrees of knowledge to speculate on where in the world the wayward aircraft might be.

It’s a ferociously fascinating story. I’ll watch a panel yap about what they think might have happened. But let’s call that what it is: People guessing. “Breaking News” implies that news has broken, that something new has been revealed. CNN will run the “Breaking News” title graphic while relentlessly repeating the same updates being reported by every network. Often the “latest” news is hours old.

His quest for credibility is failing

His quest for credibility is failing

And CNN’s resident aviation expert and meth-addled genitalia wrangler Richard Quest is an imbecile and a twit. He has been spectacularly wrong on almost every observation and speculation. He was almost unequivocal that the Chinese satellite photos from a few days ago were indeed showing the wreckage of the plane. Other more knowledgeable experts urged caution based on the size and placement of the satellite photo mystery debris. But Quest continued to insist with bluster that the photos showed the remnants of the downed plane. He’s a buffoon.

And Wolf Blitzer embarrasses himself in live reporting and interviews during unfolding stories such as this. Here is a typical exchange:

Thoughtful, Cautious Aviation Expert: “We just don’t have enough information to speculate on what might have happened to that aircraft.”

Blizter: “So do you think it’s possible that terrorists overtook the flight crew and diverted the plane to Yemen?”

Thoughtful, Cautious Airline Expert: “What you are asking is absolutely impossible to know.”

Blitzer: “So it is possible then. Also, did Malaysian Airlines ignore FAA guidance regarding possible vulnerabilities related to corrosion in the fuselage of the Boeing 777 aircraft? Did that create a breach in the external structure of the plane that compromised the air compression in the cabin?”

Thoughtful, Cautious Aviation Expert: “We won’t know for several days or even weeks what the maintenance record of the plane will show. And in any case, the scenario you describe is highly unlikely. There is no value in such random conjecture.”

Blitzer: “So you’re saying that the wanton negligence of Malaysian Airlines cost the lives of more than 200 passengers on that airplane?”

Thoughtful, Cautious Aviation Expert: “You’re an idiot.”

Blitzer: “Are you suggesting then that aliens cast down a beam from a hovering space pod and pulled the aircraft in with a gravitational force that earthly science cannot even comprehend?”

You Could Not Invent a Person to Hate Worse Than Deepak Chopra

There are many terrible things happening. First, there is a phenomenon my friend Tim made me aware of last night. Local PBS here in Atlanta (and I’m sure elsewhere) routinely runs infomercials. Last night, some dipshit had an hour block to tell us how to overcome the “seven types” of ADD. If this is what public broadcasting requires to stay on the air, then take it off the air. We have more options for arts and education from more media than we have ever had. Shoot that wounded dog dead.

Need more convincing? Tonight, Deepak Chopra gets an hour of public air time to help us lose weight. There is no worse human being on the planet than jewel-bespectacled new age charlatan Chopra. He’s an industry of bullshit. He is a much worse slimy rich guy than Donald Trump. His cynical feel-good snake oil act manipulates the hopes and good intentions of decent people. Sometimes people who are desperate for comfort, or a way out, or just health and happiness.

So now Dr. One-Percenter Hypocrite is convincing fans of public broadcasting that satisfying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs will make cellular changes to their bodies that will help them lose weight. And keep it off!

Here is a thing he says out loud about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: “If these needs are not being met in your life, you will inevitably fill them with addictive foods.”

Hahaha! We don’t take anyone seriously who says nonsense like this, right? Right? Please, right? Don’t forget to visit the Deepak Shop on your way out.

Michael Rapaport’s Awful Southern Accent is Ruining Season 5 of Justified

I just caught up on episode eight of Justified’s fifth season. My question: How much longer can we abide Michael Rapaport’s preposterous southern accent? It is so conspicuously laughable that it becomes a distracting focal point of every episode he’s in. The plot from this week’s episode crackled, with Boyd convincing Yoon and Ruiz that his crew could make the dead bodies in the Mexican desert go away. A midnight desert showdown with corrupt Mexican police followed. Misdirection led Boyd and crew to escape with their heroin intact, yet also teased a showdown between Rapaport’s Daryl Crowe and Boyd.

And yet…there’s this:

This is just one example, and not nearly the most egregious one. It’s like needle scratch stops the action every time he utters a line.

There’s not much I could add to Matt Barone’s excellent breakdown of Rapaport’s dreadful drawl on I just hate that Justified swung and missed so spectacularly in casting Rapaport in the first place.

I’ve enjoyed so many of the seasonal or multiple episode character arcs on Justified. Margo Martindale was brilliant in season two, winning an Emmy as Mags Bennett. Neal McDonough was fantastic in his role as Detroit bad guy Robert Quarles (those smarmy Cadillac commercials notwithstanding). I loved Patton Oswalt’s turn as the wannabe cop. The show cast Jere Burns perfectly as Duffy, with a surgery-altered joker face that suits his role. It’s like his face is its own character. (And frankly, his pinned-back, thin-eyed, bad-after-picture appearance probably makes him uncastable for many roles.)

And I’m actually on board with the story lines this season. I like the tension between Art and Raylan. I like the uncomfortable coexistence of the Florida Crowes in the Kentucky backwoods. Joelle Carter manages to make Ava engaging even amid a somewhat tedious Women in Prison subplot. And Art’s showdown in the diner earlier this season is one of my favorite scenes in the entire series run. But Rapaport’s clanging performance as Daryl is derailing the season for me.

Bonus Boyd Crowder aside: The outstanding Walt Goggins briefly attended my high school in the northwest Atlanta suburb of Smyrna. (Julia Roberts went there too. Go figure.) I just discovered today that Goggins used to leave notes in my friend’s mailbox notifying her that she smells nice. For the record, she does smell quite lovely.

The Happiest News of the Week: John Mulaney Has a Show Coming Up on Fox

I’ve heard and seen bits of John Mulaney’s stand up routines over the past few years, but I finally downloaded the full “New In Town” performance last week. Immediately one of my top full-length stand up shows of all time. Like George Carlin, Chris Rock, Mitch Hedberg kind of all time. He’s just spectacular at building a funny idea into a huge comedy payoff. He crafts his material meticulously, such that each routine has a cadence that evokes big laughs while carrying the story somewhere we’re all eager to follow next.

So, yesterday Twitter told my brain something wonderful: Mulaney just finished taping the fourth episode of an upcoming sitcom for Fox. The masterful Martin Short costars, along with Elliott Gould. The show even has Lorraine Bracco and Penny Marshall, for fuck’s sake. Please, please gods of comedy and television, make this show as great as it should be. Don’t erode away the things that make Mulaney so funny in the first place in an effort to make him “more relatable” for “maximum demographic draw.”

In the meantime, here are two excellent Mulaney clips from “New In Town.” They are not completely ruined by Comedy Central’s shitty site, which is full of commercials, clips edited several minutes too short, and bleeped dirty words.

UPDATE: Wow, and Comedy Central’s embed code also blows. Here are “links” to the clips:

Ice-T on Law and Order SVU

Get the paddy wagon

“True Detective” Is Better Than Every Other Thing, and Matthew McConaughey Can Make Anything Sound Cool

Last night I cooked chicken for dinner. I am obsessively meticulous about continuously washing my hands and utensils when cooking, especially with raw chicken.

Rah, Chicken

Rah, Chicken

In fact, my fixation on food preparation and cleanliness borders on pathological. I had a boss once who walked into the restroom on our floor with an uncovered salad from the cafeteria downstairs. I’d rather have witnessed a plane crash.

Seriously, he just set it on the counter while he peed, letting his open salad mingle with airborne particles of his colleagues’ excreta. I’m lathering up with hand sanitizer now just from typing about it.

So last night, as I tore open the clear plastic chicken packaging, for some reason I thought about how disgusting it would be to just lick the raw chicken. That would be the kind of trauma from which I might not recover. So “lickin’ the chicken” took root in my head as one of the grossest phrases imaginable.

Unless Matthew McConaughey said it. His easy Texas drawl just pats you on the shoulder and hands you a beer no matter what he’s saying. He would make it sound like a cool catchphrase, something you wished you could hang out with him and do after surfing.

“Hey, Matthew, what’s up, how’s it going?”

“Alright alright, you know, JK liivin’, just lickin’ the chicken.”

Given that he landed on Neptune in his SAG award speech for best actor recently, I’m hopeful that he will somehow find this and work “lickin’ the chicken” into his likely upcoming Oscar™ acceptance speech.

Which brings us to his current project, the astounding series True Detective on HBO. He and Woody Harrelson absolutely mesmerize in their roles as Louisiana State police detectives alternately investigating in flashback and currently reflecting on a murder set 18 years prior. McConaughey crackles with dazzling, forceful nihilism. And Harrelson startles viewers with a turn as a volatile, complicatedly sinister cop and husband with what seems to be a genuine but entirely pliable morality. Their evolving narratives slowly fill the gaps of their complex and ferociously flawed characters, as well as the pursuit and apparent capture of the murderer.

Scenes bring you to your knees with their riveting visual power and dark beauty. At times every fractional second is exhilarating and fascinating. Below is one such scene, the harrowing chunk of dynamite that closed out the fourth and most recent episode.

Even if you don’t know the full setup for the story, this scene will amaze you. Quick context: McConaughey is undercover with a drug gang staging a violent raid on a rival gang. His crew members are falsely dressed as cops in the scene. That’s really all you need to know to behold the fierce artistry of this six-minute, unbroken one-track scene.

Here, breaks down how they filmed the remarkable scene.

And here author Michael M. Hughes takes an interesting look at how the show incorporates an obscure 1895 work or strange fiction called The King in Yellow, written by Robert W. Chambers.

Deadwood has long been my favorite TV drama ever, but I have a feeling that may change by the time this eight-episode season ends.

Really, Georgia? Now an Earthquake? *smears on locust repellent*

On the heels of SNOW MY GOD! 2014, and 4.1 magnitude earthquake just shook Georgia and the Carolinas. On Valentine’s Day no less.

Headline prediction for mid-November: “Birthquake!”

Most importantly an hour after this quake rocked the southeast: Why isn’t WSB TV’s Mark Winne dressed like Humphrey Bogart and reporting from the back of a Humvee?

UPDATE: Breaking: Governor Nathan Deal forms Earthquake Task Force. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed compares response to Day 1 of the last earthquake.

SNOW MY GOD! 2014 Update: Canada Weighs In On the Atlanta Winter Storm

Another great moment in local coverage of SNOW MY GOD! 2014*. This analysis by a Canadian visitor really puts the storm in perspective:


*A friend also suggested CLUSTERFLAKE, which I must admit I wish I had thought of.

SNOW MY GOD! 2014 Update: WSB TV’s Mark Winne Submits This Awful Reporting, For Your Consideration

We have a serious early contender for Most Inane Winter Storm Reporting from WSB’s Mark Winne, interviewing Georgia National Guard members.

First of all, it’s unclear why he protects himself against the harsh conditions by dressing as a 1940s gumshoe.

And the usually hard-hitting investigative reporter seems to feel like he’s slumming by doing storm duty. So he artificially interjects Serious Newsman Drama into the interview, to hilarious effect. Here’s the transcript of the interview with National Guard Specialist Lucinda Jamerson:

Winne: “So you’ve been out on the roads, uh, in a Humvee?”

Jamerson: “Yes sir.”

Winne: “Uh, you helped move a blocked tree off Atlanta Road.”

Jamerson: “Yes sir.”

Winne: “You saw a flipped over car.”

Jamerson: “Yes sir.”

Now, after wearing down her defenses with obvious observations, Winne goes in for the kill:

Winne: “Why are you out here?”

Honestly. “Why are you out here?” He just finished reciting to her a list of things that she was doing out there, barely giving her time to respond. Then he HOLDS HER ACCOUNTABLE for justifying her role in the storm response.

Winne clearly wasn’t actually trying to trip her up or call her out, but his rapid-fire ambush instincts make this otherwise air-filling news clip extra amusing.

To her credit, Jamerson rolled with Winne’s peculiar question and responded with a simple summary of her snow job:

Jamerson: “I’m out here doing what I’m supposed to do, as a Guard member, helping out the people, giving them what they need in these conditions.”

Remember, people, CATASTROPHIC. Be safe. 

UPDATE: Oh good lord, now Winne is “on patrol with the National Guard.” He just signed off with “Reporting live from a Humvee.”

Winne The Gumshoe

UPDATE 2: We have another strong candidate for Most Inane Winter Storm Reporting, this time from WXIA. We don’t have video, but my brother shared this: “We just watched a Channel 11 reporter put his microphone up to the ice so that the viewers could hear it melting. That’s right, he actually interviewed the ice.”

UPDATE 3: Guys, Winne really just can’t help himself.

Unfortunately, this part of the report was cut off:

“By the way, for those of you not familiar with military terminology, a Humvee, which I was riding in the back of while reporting that story while on patrol with the National Guard, is short for ‘Hummus Vehicle.’ At least that’s what the Guard members I was on patrol with today told me. Apparently its of Greek origin. I’m Mark Winne, Channel 2 Action News. Emphasis on ‘action,’ by the way.”