Monthly Archives: March 2012

by Arthur Marx



Arthur Marx (Groucho’s son) wrote this tell-all, an odd-but-compelling mix of typical showbiz biography and lurid sex anecdotes about the famous comedian.

The Good:  I loved the showbiz stories, and they are legion in this book because Hope’s career spanned 1920s vaudeville to 1990s television.  Despite the unflattering tales of Hope’s adulterous affairs (also legion), Marx’s reporting seems fair and balanced.  For every unsavory sex episode, there are examples of the entertainer’s outstanding philanthropy.  Hope is a fascinating subject and Marx sheds light on much – but not all – of his life.

The Bad:  Even though I gobbled up those show-biz tales, there might be a few too many of them.  Marx covers nearly every benefit, tour, movie, radio show, and airplane ride of Hope’s storied career.  Some of Marx’s critical allegations would benefit from footnotes, which are conspicuously missing.   The book’s editing and proofreading are horrendous – or nonexistent.

The Verdict:  When I finished the book, I had a strong desire to watch Hope at his best in some of his 1940s Paramount pictures.  But I was also disillusioned by his hypocrisy and embarrassing career windup – pretty much everything he appeared in from 1960 until his death at age 100 was dreadful.  If you idolize Hope the man, this book will shatter your illusions.  Yes, Hope’s USO tours are legendary – but so are his adulterous flings, misogyny, right-wing politics, and miserliness.


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Oscar Musings


Emcee Billy Crystal:  hokey, corny, boring

Angelina Jolie’s Leg:  more weird than sexy

Biggest Oscar Crime:  snubbing the final Harry Potter film (and the entire series, actually)

Saddest Attention Grabs:  a tie between Sacha Baron Cohen’s lame “accident” with Ryan Seacrest, and poor, pathetic Sean Young’s post-ceremony arrest


OK, so no one will see The Artist, and television ratings plummet when films like it win Best Picture.  I still think that’s better than awarding the top Oscar to populist junk like Titanic.









I don’t say this often, but I couldn’t agree more with two of the panelists on Fox’s The Five.  Bob Beckel and Greg Gutfeld on Monday went after the idiots in Rocklin, California, who are considering a ban on smoking in citizens’ … own yards!  Beckel and Gutfeld also belittled the “studies” we see regarding the alleged dangers of second-hand smoke, labeling them a sham.  It’s this kind of enlightened commentary that keeps me tuned to Fox — at least occasionally.






Sometimes it’s hard to pick sides.  I don’t much care for Sandra Fluke, the law student who comes off as an entitled whiner seeking government feebies.  I don’t much care for Rush Limbaugh who is, as we all know, a big fat idiot.  And I suspect that President Obama’s phone call to Fluke was a political ploy designed to appeal to female voters.

Everyone just needs to stop having sex, and then this issue will go away.




Cable News Irony of the Week:

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow explained, for Limbaugh’s benefit, how birth control works.  Wait … Rachel Maddow knows about birth control?





Asshole of the Week:  Judge Mark Martin


Pennsylvania Judge Mark Martin has no interest in the Constitution or free speech.

Martin, displaying an appalling lack of knowledge about his own country and its laws, dismissed an assault case against an Islamic idiot who attacked a man dressed up as “Muhammad zombie” for a Halloween parade.  “I think our forefathers intended to use the First Amendment so we can speak with our mind, not to piss off other people and cultures — which is what you did,” Martin told the man who was attacked.

So, according to this judicial font of wisdom, the next time you “piss off” someone with your words, he or she will be fully justified in assaulting you.

Martin has pissed off me and many others, so I assume we can now assault him with impunity — as long as the resulting case winds up in this fool’s own court.




Some wiseass couldn’t resist commenting when news broke about the death of Monkee Davy Jones:




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by Katherine Boo



Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers is in many ways an astonishing piece of work.  Yet it’s also the type of “nonfiction” narrative that triggers nagging doubts (thanks a lot, James Frey).

The good.  Boo spent three years recording the lives of slum-dwellers at Annawadi, a squalid settlement adjacent to fancy tourist hotels and Mumbai’s international airport.  Boo avoids sentiment and, in depicting a world so harsh, unforgiving, and corrupt, has no need to embellish the facts.  (But does she?  See below.)  She uncovers a small slice of poverty and in the process sheds volumes of light on income inequality in India.

The suspect.  Imagine this:  A group of male street-toughs, all of them teenage thieves or scavengers, are gathered on a corner.  They discuss the sort of things that young boys discuss:  girls, music, movies.  They spot a white woman who is middle-aged, well-educated, privileged – and American.  “Hey lady,” say the boys, “come join us and we’ll share our secrets and dreams with you, and treat you like just one of the guys.”  See the problem?  And yet Boo manages to probe the innermost thoughts and dreams of these kids.  Great journalism, or creative license?

In an author’s note, Boo proffers a fairly convincing explanation of the techniques she used to get Indians like those boys to open up.   In a separate interview, Boo calls narrative nonfiction “a selective art.”  That leaves the reader with a choice:  buy into the reporter’s “selective art” … or not.


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