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?”

RIP David Brenner

David Brenner was the first stand up comedian I recall laughing at. As a kid I would always get excited when he’d be on The Tonight Show or one of the ubiquitous daytime talkers such as Mike Douglas or Merv Griffin. He just had such an easy, likable way, and his routines made me think about the comedy in everyday life. It made a huge impression on me, even as a kid. I remember he had a bit about his car breaking down. He looked under the hood, even though he knew nothing about cars, waiting for a flashing light that said “Fix me! Fix me!”  I asked my mom, “How do you get that job?”

I also felt kinda bad for Brenner when it seemed a new generation of more cynical comics pushed him to the margins a bit in the 1980s. And I recall his late 1980s late night show, launched amid a crowded herd of such shows. His, like most of the others, were doomed to fail. I remember rooting for the show to work (it mostly didn’t) because he was so earnest and clearly loved just being there, having the opportunity to talk to celebrities for a living.

This quote from his obit supports that memory of his glad-to-be-there disposition:

“I come from the slums of Philadelphia and everything in my life is profit. My downside is what most people would strive a lifetime to get to.”

We will miss you, David Brenner. Here’s a great clip of Brenner on Letterman from several years back. It’s past the prime of his career, but it’s a terrific example of his gift of humor in observation of everyday life. It’s not Louis CK, but not everything has to be.

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.

L.A. Band No Performs Great Songs and Hair Magic Tricks on Carson Daly

The band No from Los Angeles performed on a repeat of Carson Daly’s show last night. Loved the songs, had a Nick Cave heart to them. But, the combover/combaround? Just say, you know, No.

Just Say No

I’m just surprised it took 40 years for a band to come up with the common sense answer to the band Yes

And now that I’ve taken a dickish, gratuitous jab at his hair gymnastics, let me at least have the decency of sharing some of the band’s music. Here is the full clip of the original interview with No on Last Call back in November, followed by an excellent live performance of the song “Leave the Door Wide Open”:

And here is a produced video for an older song, “Stay With Me.” The video is a bunch of preposterous nonsense, but the song ain’t bad at all.

Pizza Hut Launches New Line of Bad Grammar

Have we just given up completely on language? It’s troubling enough that people are buying their meals from the Pizza Hut counter at Target, where pizzas and pasta mingle alongside moist glistening hot dogs. But do the Pizza Hut folks really think it sounds cooler to the kids to say they want to “Plus Up” their meals? “I’m wanna plus up my food box with breadsticks.”

Change My Pitch Up! Plus My Sticks Up!

Change My Pitch Up! Plus My Sticks Up!

I can only imagine the phrases that missed the cut in these marketing meetings:

  • I’d like to “More On!” my meal with some Cinnamon Crust Nuggets.
  • Let me “Extra Do” that pizza with another, larger pizza on top.
  • Could I “Barf Include” a side of Pepperoni Pods?
  • And I’ll give mine some “Fatitude” with quadruple cheese and cheese.
  • Sure, I’ll “Go All Insulin” with the Alfredo Keg.

Now watch John Mulaney decide between salad or fries.

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