Sunday, March 13, 2005

A note to the readers

Another all nighter which some of us live for and others of us don't.

We're really excited about this edition.

But first a note on what didn't make it into the issue. Donna and Ty were supposed to do a first draft on what sort of e-mails we won't reply to. (We is Ava and sometimes Dona. The rest of us usually just read them.) Ava read a number of e-mails on her day this week from people asking personal questions. We don't respond to those. We'll have a piece next week on that fingers crossed.

Now about what's in this edition.

For those who like a little laughter with their criticism of The New York Times, check out "Like good parents we start out to give the potential speech only to discover The Timid has a secret to share." That was a lot of fun to write. It was also a piece we argued about a great deal.

We being Ty, Jess, Ava, Dona, Jim and C.I. of The Common Ills and Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. At one point, and remember this was an all nighter, C.I., Ava and Ty were of the opinion that there were parts that could be construed as making fun of gays and lesbians. Certainly we would never intentionally make fun of GLBT. We were using the coming-out process to make fun of The New York Timid. However, due to strong objections and comments like "I can't take part in anything that's going to hurt someone who had a difficult coming out," we struck six paragraphs. The four of us who felt it was funny and obviously not making fun of GLBT like to think that had the piece been written yesterday evening when we all started piecing everything together, the paragraphs would have raised no objections. But we understand that it was an all nighter and nerves were frazzled. We are all now comfortable with the piece as it appears and hope that everyone, regardless of whether or not they've ever come out on any issue, can enjoy it. (Well, everyone but The Timid.)

Another thing that put us behind was our interview with Kat of Kat's Korner. That's not a complaint. But Kat had promised us five minutes after midnight when her company had gone home where she would briefly discuss the review of The Beekeeper that we highlight.

We were thinking we would get some interesting statements out of the talk, maybe a paragraph, maybe two. We got an actual interview and we're very happy to have that. But it wasn't planned and that put us behind schedule.

The DVD review was about the only thing that went quickly. We'd all seen Orwell Rolls In His Grave and we knew what we wanted to say.

The editorial on The Timid was another story. That was a very long process and we thank Rebecca for helping with each draft. We also think C.I. for answering various questions and recommending previous embarrassments of the paper of record. We wish C.I. had been part of that editorial and feel it would be stronger if C.I. had been. But we respect anyone's right to say that they're not sure that they can be objective or that it's in their scope.

C.I.'s issue was that over at The Common Ills only members would write about The Timid's editorials, C.I. tries to refrain from commenting on the on the opinions of the editorials. So since our editorial was about an editorial in The Timid, C.I. drew a line about helping with the actual writing or reviewing it in draft form.

We thank C.I. and Kat for allowing us to reprint the wonderful review Kat did of The Beekeeper
(the new album by Tori Amos).

We thank C.I. and Rebecca for all their help.

Rebecca said she was going to crash after the editorial went up. Ava said the same thing (and no one blames her). C.I. was with us all the way until the morning Timid was delivered. We appreciate all the help. And we don't make a point to say "This was written by." Because it is a group effort. Everyone of us contributes and when C.I. or Rebecca contribute, we note that (C.I.'s big on disclosure). (C.I. and Rebecca took part in the interview with Kat.)

But those of us who stayed for this note to the readers are all in agreement that we do need to single out two participants for one article. It's about being honest and it's about giving credit where it's due. Ava and C.I. did the TV review all by themselves. They watched the episode, they made notes and when every other sentence was calling for a rewrite on an early draft of the editorial, Ava said she'd add her input when we got a completed draft and that she and C.I. were going to break off and work on the review of Smallville.

That review is funny. When we saw the first draft, we didn't see a thing to change. We all laughed and enjoyed it. Had we not been scrambling all night (and all morning) we could have all particpated in that. We don't think we could have made it any funnier if we had all participated.
Ava and C.I. did all the work on that and though we don't usually make a point to say "This was written by" we do want to point that out. (And we did try to get them agree to a byline on that -- it would have been the first byline at this site. They refused. But they're not with us writing the note so they can forget about being modest and take the credit they earned.)

As always we hope you find something you enjoy. If you do or don't, let us know. Smallville was a show that seven e-mails had asked us to review. C.I. brought up reviewing Orwell Rolls In His Grave and Ty noted that we'd had e-mails asking about that as well. So we are reading even if only Ava and sometimes Dona actually replies.

Editorial: What the New York Times won't tell you and how it's always been that way

As Common Ills members we've followed the criticism of the reporting on Ireland. We've spoken to professors who've noted that The New York Times is "ahistorical," "in over their heads," "fails to grasp conflict," and "missed the boat as usual."

We couldn't agree more. The New York Times more useless every day. (That's a steal from The Common Ills.)

When Gail Collins leads her cheerleaders on the editorial board for any cause why does it always appear there's a cost-benefit analysis? Are they an insurance agency or are they damn newspaper?

Yesterday, they trumpeted "The Bullies of Belfast." We went to a professor with that editorial right away, one we'd already talked to.

"They demean the entire struggle. They reduce it to allegations that have yet to be proven about a pub brawl and work from there to push an agenda that ignores the historical roots of a struggle in Ireland. As an editorial in a campus paper this wouldn't cut it. Their ahistorical approach is an insult to intellectual inquiry and any pursuit of knowledge."

So what do they not explain? Oh kids, where do we start?

Anytime you use "wise" to refer to the Bully Boy's administration, you're not just ass kissing, you're gouging your own eyes to be willfully blind. Little Missy Collins loves her history, provided it's women's history, provided it's far in the past, provided it's something that causes no controversy and can be dismissed by detractors as "niche history." (Missy Collins would be the last to raise a voice in objection to anyone dismissing it as "niche history." It's history for the ladies that lunch.)

Completely useless as any type of historian, Collins may be the least of the problems for the editorial board. Though we do enjoy her repeated claims that she's moving things forward op-ed wise in terms of representation for women. Collins, you've hired what regular op-ed female?
John Tierney? We thought he was a man. Collins, you give feminism a bad names and your bullshit about "in ten or twenty years" maybe change will come . . . Susan Estrich does more to help things right now then you rushing in singing "Let's Wait Awhile."

But as The Common Ills noted, it's very interesting how the issue of patents re: Ireland isn't a story The Times wants to cover. It's also interesting that a group with socialistic aims (IRA)
is yet again attacked by the neo-liberals (open the markets enough for us to dominate them!)
that pass for liberal on The New York Times editorial board.

The whiney ass cowards of The Times editorial board bemoan Gerry Adams:

But he hurt his cause by adding a defense of "those who break the law in pursuit of legitimate political objectives."

He hurt his cause? What is that quote about the tree of liberty and blood? (We know the quote, we think the ed-board chooses to ignore it.) If a law isn't valid, do you have to obey it?

That's at the heart of intellectual inquiry and has been forever. It's basic to philosophy, ethics and history. But The Times pretends they've never heard of the concept as they continue their Rush to Judgement.

Civil disobedience takes a slap down as a result of their badly written editorial.

Dissent as well.

They'd no doubt argue (in some weak assed fashion), "We were referring to the I.R.A.'s actions!"

You may have thought you were but as usual you were too quick to push the administration's spin to speak clearly.

But you never speak cleary. You toss your darts out with malice and true zeal.

Then you whine about how you were misunderstood.

"The Bullies of Belfast?" Why don't you speak of "The Bullies of The New York Times?"

You could start with Jeff Gerth. You could explain why you never informed the public that Kathleen Wiley was discredited by the independent counsel's office. You could explain your attacks on Richard Jewell. You could discuss why Nicholas Kristof felt it was okay to conduct a trial on the op-ed pages regarding who was responsible for the anthrax attacks. You could talk about your great history of lying. How about when you used your paper to BULLY Wilfred Burchett? How about the lies of William L. Lawrence that you printed as fact? Good God, how about allowing Daniel Okrent to attack a reader with the full weight of the paper behind him?

You want to talk about bullies? Look in the damn mirror.

We don't support the IRA. We don't condemn it. We're smart enough not to allow our brains to go all mushy over a propaganda campaign aided by the White House.

A man died. Sad. Tragic. A bar brawl. Not uncommon.

Slate's Scott MacMillan reported on Friday some things that the editorial board might have missed (it's hard work those maritini luncheons and anagram rounds):

Many now say the McCartney murder -- by all accounts a sordid pub brawl that had nothing to do with the IRA's elusive revolutionary aims -- will damage the reputations of the IRA and Sinn Fein far more than the heist. An anti-Sinn Fein campaign led by McCartney's sisters has compared the current IRA to the reviled Shankill Butchers, the Protestant gang that terrorized Catholic West Belfast in the 1970s. Born in the late 1960s from a genuine need to defend Catholic neighborhoods from Protestant loyalist pogroms, the Provisional IRA has never employed the noblest methods in its war, but even once-stalwart partisans now say the group has degenerated into a mafia-style criminal racket.

The Shankill Butchers don't make your editorial or the fact that the IRA responded to them, does it? Your ahistorical approach speaks of bias.

You also fail to grasp this bit of reality MacMillan reports:

Still, despite talk of excluding the party from politics altogether, Sinn Fein is unlikely to go away. Despite its faults and a dip in popularity, the party has a loyal republican support base. A recent poll shows the SDLP and Sinn Fein neck-and-neck even after all the bad press. And at this point, imagining a Sinn Fein without Gerry Adams -- who made the party what it is today -- would be a bit like Blondie re-forming without Debbie Harry.

But most of all you fail to grasp this (which C.I., Krista and Dominick of The Common Ills have repeatedly pointed out) from MacMillan's Friday piece:

The Irish and British governments openly fingered the IRA, sending Northern Ireland's already foundering peace process completely off the rails.

The great "liberal" paper that The New York Times is supposed to be (but isn't) is spinning this story with no concern over the peace process, with no concern that they are taking a match to kerosene. In their efforts to advance neo-liberal markets and the Bully Boy's stance, they are perfectly willing to set the stage for a blood bath in Ireland.

Who's the bully?

Having failed in your efforts to prompt outrage over allegations of a bank robbery, you now rush in with the poor McCartney sisters and try to put a face on your attacks against the IRA, Sinn Fein and Gerry Adams which you expand into an attack on honest intellectual exploration.

You have no shame. Here at The Third Estate we don't think you'll change. You've never changed. You've always run your little clamp downs.

We don't think you'll ever get better because you've never gotten better.

You are useless and we'd argue the sooner you move to a for-pay site, the better. At last the "reach" of the paper will cease and without that "reach" you'll fold quickly.

You were saved from economic problems in the past by investors who wanted to clamp down on a progressive spirit sweeping the country. You did that very well. You continue to do it.

You will lie about anything and anyone and you will never take accountability.

You will create lies about Congress woman Cynthia McKinney. When called on it, your reporter will claim that the remarks attributed to McKinney are in the Congressional Record. They weren't, they aren't. But you just go on lying.

Let's go to Greg Palast via AlterNet:

The New York Times' Lynette Clemetson revealed her comments went even further over the edge: "Ms. McKinney suggest[ed] that President Bush might have known about the September 11 attacks but did nothing so his supporters could make money in a war."
That’s loony, all right. As an editor of the highly respected Atlanta Journal Constitution told NPR, McKinney’s "practically accused the President of murder!"
Problem is, McKinney never said it.
That's right. The "quote" from McKinney is a complete fabrication. A whopper, a fabulous fib, a fake, a flim-flam. Just freakin' made up.

Hi, Lynette. My name is Greg Palast, and I wanted to follow up on a story of yours. It says, let's see, after the opening -- it's about Cynthia McKinney -- it's dated Washington byline August 21. "McKinney’s [opponent] capitalized on the furor caused by Miss McKinney's suggestion this year that President Bush might have known about the September 11 attacks but did nothing so his supporters could make money in a war." Now, I have been trying my darndest to find this phrase . . . I can't. . .
Lynette Clemetson, New York Times: Did you search the Atlanta Journal Constitution?
Yes, but I haven’t been able to find that statement.
I’ve heard that statement--it was all over the place.
I know it was all over the place, except no one can find it and that's why I'm concerned. Now did you see the statement in the Atlanta Journal Constitution?
[Note: No such direct quote from McKinney can be found in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.]
And did you confirm this with McKinney?
Well, I worked with her office. The statement is from the floor of the House [of Representatives].... Right?
So did you check the statement from the Floor of the House?
I mean I wouldn't have done the story. . . . Have you looked at House transcripts?
Yes. Did you check that?
Of course.
You did check it?
[Note: No such McKinney statement can be found in the transcripts or other records of the House of Representatives.]
I think you have to go back to the House transcripts.... I mean it was all over the place at the time.
Yes, this is one fact the Times reporter didn't fake: The McKinney "quote" was, indeed, all over the place: in the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and needless to say, all the other metropolitan dailies--everywhere but in Congresswoman McKinney's mouth.
Nor was it in the Congressional Record, nor in any recorded talk, nor on her Website, nor in any of her radio talks. Here's the Congresswoman’s statement from the record:
"George Bush had no prior knowledge of the plan to attack the World Trade Center on September 11."

You want to talk about bullies?

Every now and then the paper will toss out the sop of "printer error" and "editorial error" and we're supposed to see that as the paper being responsive. It's not.

And why have they never corrected referring to Sinead O'Connor as "Mr. O'Connor?"

How did that even make it into print? The attacks on Irish Catholics seem more and more to be part of pattern dovetailing nicely with the lack of respect for working class men and women.

They are unresponsive and useless. C.I. mentioned The New York Post pre-Murdoch. We didn't know it was ever any different. So we went to the rolled film at the library and checked day by day for two weeks comparing you with The New York Post owned by Dorothy Schiff.

Know what we found? The Times didn't cover the working class issues then. So people who think that somehow the paper will suddenly start to move beyond its elitism or find some dedication to the truth are kidding themselves or just don't know the facts.

Saying the paper is the alternative to the Murdoch-owned-Post is like saying Joe Lieberman is the alternative to the Bully Boy.

In Post Cards From the Edge, Debbie Reynolds scolds daughter Merly Streep with the possibility that she might have been raised by Joan Crawford or Lana Turner to which
Streep cracks, "These are the alternatives!"

Exactly. These aren't alternatives. And The Times isn't a choice, not a real one.

The right has a paper in New York City, The New York Post. The left has no paper. When we hear people praise The Times for their coverage of social security currently, we can't help but remember that the house organ has historically taken part in the trashing of social security.
But no apologies for that either because they don't apologize and they don't take responsibility.

Bill Keller can whine about attacks and it's true that a lot of the rage shouldn't be aimed at him.
The problems predate Keller. The roots take hold long before Keller breathed his first breath.
But when he dismisses critics of the paper he fails to grasp that the paper of record has a long record that reads like a criminal's rap sheet.

The Times never got honest about that and never will because the committment isn't to telling the truth, it's to managing people. That's why it attracted the investments that bailed it out in the first place. When people argue that the paper can change, they are ignoring the realities of the reason the paper has continued to exist.

No, it can't all be laid at Keller's doorstep. He's an outside flunky running a family business and taking all the heat for things beyond his control. But the reality is The New York Times is beyond any editor's control.

They can (and did) attack the BBC for breaking the truth about the "rescue" of Jessica Lynch.
And they feel no one notices so they can get away with it. Like they got away with Whitewater,
like they got away with the attacks on Wen Ho Lee, like they get away with everything.

This isn't a paper that reports reality, this is a paper that attempts to manage opinion. The sooner it moves to a for-pay site and loses its readership the better. We agree with BuzzFlash's recent coverage of The New York Timid. We agree with Gore Vidal's longterm criticism as well.
Can we get one real paper in this country? The New York Timid sure ain't it.

If not Death to the Grey Lady, then certainly Retirement! And may she end up on one of the shoddy pension programs she advocated in the eighties and early nineties.

Like good parents we start to give the potential speech only to discover The Timid has a secret to share

Well what a proud week it's been for The New York Timid.

They gave blanket coverage to the most pressing issue of our time, the Michael Jackson case.

Equally proud must be John M. Broder and Nick Madigan who usually file seperate pieces but when the news is really breaking fast and quick they can tag team and share a byline.

"Hey Mom, great news! I'm on the front page of this morning's Times! Yeah, yeah, I'm psyched! Uh . . . no, it's not about social security. No, Mom, it's not about the bankruptcy bill! Mom, Mom, listen. Listen, I'm covering the Michael Jackson case. Mom? What do you mean you and Dad didn't pay all that money for college so I could end up being a glorified Rona Barrett? Mom, I take offense at that! This is the story of our lifetime."

Obviously The Times feels that way with their daily coverage. Why else the constant front page photos (our personal favorite is Kimberly White's photo that appeared on the front page of the March 11th edition showing Michael Jackson in pajama bottoms but a close second is Marcio Jose Sanchez's photo of Jackson arriving at court for the opening of the trial that graced the front page on March 1st).

This past week, The Timid didn't really want to even be a booster for the Bully Boy (Elisabeth Bumiller was nearly AWOL the whole week!), they just wanted to let their hair down, kick off those tight shoes and revel in the power of being trashy.

Hey, they're phoning in it at this rate. We wish they'd give us something worthy to critique.

Instead, they gave us breathless reporting over Michael Jackson.

They noted:

*Michael Jackson, dressed in blue print pajama bottoms and looking more spectral than ever, listened on Thursday in obvious distress to more than four hours of damaging testimony from the boy who has accused Mr. Jackson of sexually molesting him.

*At one point on Monady, after Judge Rodney S. Melville had overruled a defense objection to some testimony, Mr. Jackson threw up his hands and said, in a sarcastic tone, "Thank you, thank you, Judge."

*A day after telling jurors that he had twice seen Mr. Jackson masturbate while groping his brother, the boy, 14, admitted to the defense lawyer, Thomas A. Mesereau Jr., that he had given conflicting accounts in previous statements to a psychologist, investigators and a grand jury.

*While the younger brother said on Monday that Mr. Jackson had shown him, his brother and another boy a pornogarphic magazine called Barely Legal, Mr. Mesereau said the issue of the magazine was published in August 2003, several months after the boys had left Mr. Jackson's ranch for the last time.

*The judge also said that the comedian Jay Leno, who is expected to be a witness in the trial, can make jokes on television about Mr. Jackson if he avoids the facts of his testimony, which concerns a call he received from the boy's mother.

Take that, New York Post, The Timid snaps, tossing a feather boa over its shoulder.

There's real news going on. There's news that effect our lives, that will effect our lives. And The Timid has not one but two reporters working this infotainment story. This ain't Julius & Ethel Rosenberg here. And this ain't a real proud time for the paper.

The Timid's "scoops" consist of things like reporting on reports they're given a summary of.
(And as The Common Ills has pointed out, doing that a day after the LA Times has already reported on it.) They can't even seem to fake it enough to pretend to be overly interested in the Bully Boy.

They only come to life when they can Girls-Just-Want-To-Have-Fun-it enough to splash Michael Jackson's ever altering mug on the front page. They are all that is wrong with the media and they've been that for some time. Only they've never been so naked about their deficiencies.

Maybe Paris Hilton's fame has convinced them that people love the dysfunctional? Maybe they're hoping for their own train-wreck of a reality show? (Fat and Fluffy, tonight on Fox.)

But this is the paper of the record. (Yes, they have used that phrase, Daniel Okrent.) And this is the paper of "all the news that's fit to print."

And they give us daily reporting on the Michael Jackson case?

It's already gone through its middle-age period and it's far too late to blame it on a hot flash, so we must be seeing the early onslaught of senility finally taking over the paper.

What's that, Timid? You have something to tell us? You want us to sit down first? Okay. But what's going on? You look like you're about to cry?

"Hey, I can be young and kicky! Just like one of those freebie dailies they hand out to you before you board the train!"

Yeah, you could be that. But remember, those dailies are freebies. No one's paying for them.
Certainly, no one's paying a buck a piece for each one.

So next time before you grab the body glitter and faux fur, you might want to try to remember that at a certain age, there's a limit to what you can pull off. Walter Cronkite, for instance, doesn't try to dash around a speedo. Barbara Walters has yet to show up on The View in a belly shirt. Somethings are just unseemly.

What do you mean you're being the real you? What's all this talk about stepping out of the closet?

"This is me. This is the real me. I'm just a useless piece of crap that whores itself out for any story that doesn't require doing more than sitting down in a chair all day and taking notes on things said publicly."

Oh. That. Honey, we knew you were that way long ago. Way before you outed yourself. There are some things that, well, a reader just knows. And we knew.

It was probably something about the way you were always showing up quoting unnamed sources. Kind of a newsprint version of the pronoun-game. Or maybe it was from the attacks on the BBC in 2003 when you went to great strides to tell us that they weren't what they seemed. We got the subtext, baby, we understood.

You were hiding your own secret. You were living your own lie.

Sister-girl, come give us a hug. We put you down and trashed you all this time because we thought you thought we thought you were a real newspaper. Now that you're not pretending, maybe we don't have to anymore?

It must be a great relief for you not to have live a life anymore, not to try to keep it on the down low. But to just toss your hair, throw the arms in the air and cry out, "I'm here/I'm a tabby/
Get used to it!"

We hear you, honey. And we look forward to more editorials advocating the superficial. We understand now why you were never able to muster up the courage to defend Lynne Stewart after the verdict. She just wasn't tabloid people, was she? You tabloids are all about the fluff.
We like to think that Elisabeth Bumiller and her Elite Fluff Patrol squad helped you face up to what you were. We kind of think now that you were running the squad stories to tip us off.

"Mom, Dad, this is my friend, Elisabeth."

Yeah, we're getting it now. It's making sense. Who wants to be the Grey Lady when you can be the Snap Girl? Whoomp there it is!

TV: Super Stripper or Super Chicken, we weigh in on Smallville

When people speak of the WB's Smallville, they tend to speak of Tom Welling, someone who had previously escaped our attention. And when they speak of Welling, they speak of his eyes or his body. We now grasp why they don't speak of his hair -- it resembles a Rave home perm at its worst.

You're cued that the bod is supposed to be really hot by the opening credits where you see Tom Welling in stages of undress not once, not twice, but three times. It's good that the WB realizes that men can be eye candy as well but that may be all that we can find good in Smallville.
For the record, we were told by people who brag about the show that Lois Lane (a young Lois Lane) is sometimes on the show now. If she was, she didn't even register. We did grow excited in the final scene when Margot Kidder, Lois Lane of the WB Superman movies, showed up playing what is presumably a villaness.

So let's track it. Eye candy starting in the beginning and Margot Kidder at the end. How do they fill out the rest of the episode?

Soap opera, kids, lots of soap opera. High school student, but apparently eighteen-year-old, Lana Lang is having an affair with the football coach. Near the end, she tells Clark Kent (Welling) that they're both adults and they aren't hurting anyone even if it is against the rules. While we tend to agree that it's not the end the world, we aren't the paragon of morality that Clark Kent is supposed to be. However, his easy acceptance isn't surprising when we've sat through an episode where ethics didn't seem to register in his universe.

And what a universe it is. Populated by the likes of John Schneider who's not a bad actor, not a good actor, just not an actor. He smiles. He scrunches his face up from time to time. And he never convinces us that we're meeting Pa Kent. He's also not all that bright.

Early on, it's time to work on the tractor and he has Clark (or Clark's body, Lex Luther's father is inside -- don't ask, we're trying to keep this as simple as possible) help him work on the tractor. How?

By lifting it. Now we might not have grown up on the back forty, but we're smart enough to notice that the underneath of the tractor is more than high enough to crawl under. And we're smart enough to know that outside your house, in full of view of anyone driving up, may not be the best place for your adopted son to demonstrate that he can lift a tractor over his head.

Apparently the simple fact that he's not donning blue tights and a cape means Clark can do pretty much anything and no one will catch on?

Poor Annette O'Toole (who played Lana in the WB movie Superman III). She's really trying to make sense out of her role as Martha Kent but the writers have no clue so she's left with this segmented acting that's really powerful in a scene here or a scene there but never adds up (and, quite frankly, makes Martha look like a real idiot).

Remember how Lex Luther's father ended up in Clark's body and how we're not going into details. Just know it happened. This gives Tom Welling the opportunity to strut around shirtless for a bit (which seems to be the main purpose of the show). He's wearing pants and nothing else. And he primps in the mirror. Then he pulls out his waistband and sneaks a peak inside the pants to see what's Clark's packing (remember Lex Luther's father is now in Clark's body). (Has been for hours and hours but apparently Clark didn't need to piss at any point so it's news to Lex Daddy what Clark's packing.)

Looking up, Welling does a self-satisified smirk. And we're left thinking, "We are watching a show about Clark Kent, right?" Size queens and shirtless scenes, oh my.

Then it's time to make a phone call to allow for more shirtless time. Lot of flexing of the arms. Then Annette O'Toole enters as Martha.

And the writers apparently didn't think that mother Martha would notice that it wasn't Clark.
Oh sure, he seems a little different. Martha even asks if he's going out since he's all dressed up.

At that point we fell to ground laughing, folks. Why? Well other than the slacks, Clark's not wearing anything. All dressed to go out? What is he, Super Stripper?

Clark (or "Clark") puts on a shirt and says no, he's staying in, he was just sick of plaid. (Referencing the drab way Clark dresses when he is actually wearing clothes.) He doesn't button the shirt just yet because there's still plenty of time to show a little skin.

And besides, clueless Martha thinks he's just depressed. And thinks he just needs the hug he asked for. And thinks that even when he's clutching her body to him like a lover and rubbing his face in her hair. He's all but grinding into her and Martha's chattering away like this is the way sons and mothers normally interact. Is Martha an idiot or has she been lusting after her own son?

Who knows? Her son parades around shirtless and she thinks he's all dressed up for a night out on the town so maybe she felt a standing lap dance was par for the course when you're raising a Super Stripper?

Martha visits the prison where Lex Luther's father is. (Really Clark.) She can't believe it's Clark. Then she doesn't want to believe it. After he starts telling her things only Clark could know, she finally believes that he's her son. O'Toole plays that transformation brilliantly but with no connection to anything that's come before so we're left to wonder if the slow delay in believing the truth was because maybe she just didn't want to give up those standing lap dances?

In the end, the real Clark tricks the fake Clark into visiting the prison so that they can switch back. This occurs in the middle of a prison riot.


So they do the body switch.

And then what does "truth, justice and the American way" do? Hightails it out of the prison in the blink of an eye.

Now wait just one damn minute. This is Clark Kent/Superman. And we're in the midst of a prison riot. And people are getting hurt left and right (prisoners, guards) and Super Chicken beats a hasty exit? (We warned you ethics weren't all that important to this Clark Kent.)

The show's soap opera plots are unbelievable but so are scenes like that. For a moment, we even forgot about Martha enjoying the heavy petting session with "Clark." Superman as Super Chicken?

The show makes no sense at all. No wonder O'Toole can't get a handle on her character from scene to scene. (Though she tries and she looks wonderful.) The show exists for one reason and one reason only, to see how much skin Tom Welling will show this episode. We're told that there was once a near nudie scene of Welling walking into a fire that may or may not have shown a little butt crack. And that another scene exists of Welling skinny dipping that also may or may not have shown a little Superbutt. Not the way we ever pictured Superboy, but hey . . .

Near as we can figure out, Tom Welling's own reason for existance in the universe is two fold:
to show off his body in various stages of undress and to make Ashton Kutcher look smart. He works hard to achieve both goals.

The Luther-"Clark" was the one who found out about Lana and the Coach (who, come to think of it, also looks like a male stripper -- that seems to be the "in look" in Smallville -- who knew?). When, near the end of episode, Lana explains the affair to the real Clark (which we discussed above), Clark's learning of it for the first time. And we must say Welling either made a wonderful acting choice to not have Clark reveal that the person who caught Lana and the Coach wasn't really Clark, or else he only has that one bland look to offer. (For deep surprise, Welling makes a point to raise his eyebrows.)

Looking like a reject from My So Called Life, a character named Chloe shows up for one scene.
She's a high school student trying really hard to work a Claire Danes vibe but not pulling it off.
Which made us feel for her because standing next to the actress Kristin Kreuk (who plays Lana), Allison Mack (Chloe) must feel like Peppermint Patty standing next to the Archie's Veronica.
Kreuk looks like a vintage forties-era movie star. Who knew that Smallville was home to hot oil treatments and spa visits?

We couldn't figure out if Kruek's a bad actress or if it was the writing? Since the writing was hideous throughout, we'll pin it mostly on the writing. But it strikes us as strange that when you're worried your ex-boyfriend might out your affair with the Coach (thereby getting him fired), you elect to take an annoyed tone with Clark. If you're asking him not to tell, wouldn't most people plead? Even before she gets to the line "you owe me that much," Lana's a nasty thing little to Clark. Maybe all that intense beauty grooming leaves a scar on the soul?

People who are watching this show, and a lot of people are, swear Kreuk is an incredible actress. When we asked for a great scene or two, they tended to focus on her hair. And one person even felt the need to note, "What I like best is that she's never done a Felecity. She's comfortable having a real great head of hair." Well good for her. And may it take her the heady heights of Pantene commercials some day (barring any follicle challenges), but we're still not convinced that she can act.

After the show, we were still trying to figure out the title. They'd already had Lois & Clark, so Lana & Clark couldn't be used? No to Superboy because he doesn't wear tights? Then it hit us.
This is Smallville Creek. It's a soap opera, it's the WB, hence naming the show after a location
in the grand traditon of Dawson's Creek and other non-WB teen-soaps like Beverly Hills


Us, we would have gone with Super Stripper.

Third Estate Interviews the Ever Insightful Kat of Kat's Korner

The ever insightful Kat of Kat's Korner is someone we highlight periodically here. We gladly steal from the best and Kat's probably the finest music critic in years. When we asked her to say a few words about her review of Tori Amos's The Beekeeper we found out she actually had a lot more to talk about.

We understand that you're not happy with this review and we're surprised because we really love it?

Well it is what it is, you know? And with that review, I felt I was responding and not being active. It is what it is and that's what it is. But I hope I don't end up writing more reviews like that.

Well what do you think the problem is?

I'm responding to the sexist pricks and prickettes who want to hold Tori up to some standard that's a male-defined standard of what a woman should be. Which reminds me of a Tori lyric from "Playboy Mommy.""I never was the fantasy/ of what you want/ wanted me to be." That's exactly the problem. Too many don't want to deal with what Tori is, just what they want her to be. Evaluate the album. You can love it or hate it. But stop trying to force her to fit into your notion of how a woman should be captured on a compact disc.

So I start out responding and that's fine. But I think if I'd thought about the review a little more, I would have done the second section, the actual review, differently. I'm not someone who feels the need to tick off songs to prove I listened. I'm trying to address the total vision or mood or theme. And I would've preferred to concentrate on one or two songs. Now maybe because there are 18 songs, I'm mentioning more. But I feel like after refuting their sexist mannerisms, I fell into their own thought process of what a review should be.

I never want to write their standard type of review because that's not me and that's not what I respond to. I got a lot of e-mail on this so maybe it works and I'm being overly harsh. I know that normally I wouldn't have mentioned so many songs but where I did mention them, I've gotten e-mail saying things like "Oh, I caught that too!" or "I wouldn't have caught that this was a response to or a continuation of that song." So I know people enjoyed it.

But I just feel like there were things in that, moments, passages, in the actual review, where I was responding in a manner or format not unlike the template they'd use. Which is mention as many song titles and move quickly. I'd rather look at the big picture. I'm not sure I did that, honestly. I think it's an amazing album but I'm not sure I got that across.

So give us a sneak peak on what you'll be reviewing next?

I'm going through the Beatles albums. Eli (Common Ills community member) loves music and he's over-seventy and actually went out and bought The Beekeeper based on the review. That's really incredible to me. He rocks. But he'd asked awhile back if I'd be reviewing older albums and I have meant to do that. I asked for a list from him and there were a lot of Beatles albums on it. So I thought "Great, I know the Beatles. This will be a piece of cake."

And they're great albums but I'm looking for something to say that hasn't been said a million times before. And back then, they actually wrote reviews worth reading. These days, the reviews come off like ad-copy put out by hacks. If I can't find a way to write about those albums, which are great albums, in a way that's offering something, I'll move on to something else on his list.

What about Ani DiFranco's latest album?

I've got it. I bought it. I like it. But I always take awhile to respond to Ani and I haven't yet.

And that's a larger problem, if we've got the time for it.

All the time you want.

What is the deal with The New York Times and this attitude of "I must be the first out of the gate with a review on the day it's released or a few days before?" This isn't a movie debut.

I think the reviews are rushed for deadlines. I think hacks churn out anything to meet deadlines and the reviews suffer. Your average person isn't buying on the day an album's released. They're buying a week later or a month later. Now a fan of a certain artist who is really devoted will go buy the album the day it comes out. But a review won't change that.

Reviews should be about explaining why this is worth a listen or not. So you're dealing with people who aren't die hard fans rushing out. That's your audience for a review. When I did the first review, Greenday had dropped on the charts. Big deal, because it shot back up. That's the reality of music.

And these insta-analysis reviews that focus on what's come out or is about to and are just pure hackery are damaging to music. I am so disgusted that even Rolling Stone has fallen into the trap. Spin's snide and snotty but they usually get at feeling for the album they are reviewing into the actual review. I put Rolling Stone reviews higher than The Times but they should be a lot better.

But there's not an "opening day" for music. And there shouldn't be. That attitude has gone a long way towards destroying the movie business now that a film can't build and find it's audience. I'd hate to see that attitude completely overtake the music business.

The Times would serve their readership better by making their writers live with an album a bit before reviewing it. These are idiotic reviews and that's partly because they're rushed. So you're writing the first thing that pops into your mind as quickly as you can.

I'm not arguing that they should work from a formal outline or note cards. Write in the moment, it'll bring passion to your writing. But you need to know the album to do that and a quick listen or two won't do that. I know of one writer who puts the CD on and writes a sentence after one listen to each track. If you're sitting there during a track thinking, "What am I going to write when this song is over!" then you're missing how it fits into the total theme of the album -- if it fits! These aren't album reviews, what they are is, "here's a song" and "there's a song." For anyone who loves music, these reviews are not just irritating, they're harmful.

And I wish everyone would drop the "historical perspective" from their generic template because they don't know what they're talking about. They've looked up a quick factoid and they include it in the review because it will make them look smart and knowledgable. But they've pulled a fact (which may or may not be true) and have missed the overall picture that the fact fits into. It makes for a segmented history at best and a distorted one at worst. Which pretty much sums up the music reviews.

I realize that the majority of the big releases are pure and utter crap. That's fine. That's always been the case. For every Justin Timberlake, you've had a Fabian or a Frankie Avalon come before. That's reality. But even there they can be a bit more probing of the album. However, when it comes to someone really attempting to use the artform of music, these snap reviews are just insulting.

Reviews used to be powerful and they'd let you know why this album was to be avoided and this one was to be noticed. Now they're all treated the same. Some American Idol kid making a fool of themselves is treated with the same coverage as someone really attempting to say something.

It's insulting to the artists and insulting to anyone who truly cares about music.

You've been writing about two album reviews a month [for The Common Ills].

Yeah. I'd thought, well one a month. But it's probably up to that. And I write about music from time to time without it being about a specific album. If I had the time, I would write more. I've been wanting to write about Bright Eyes but there's just no time. And the next thing I write has to be something from Eli's list because I stated in the first thing I wrote that we'd focus on older albums and not just recently released things.

And I think that's especially important now when you have so many writing "history" in their weekly reviews that's not historical. I also worry about the power of myth. I'm thinking of the reaction to [Bob] Dylan's book which I glanced at and was the most self-serving piece of mythology. It's like, "Does anyone not know that, like Madonna, Dylan carefully crafted an image from day one?" I read these reviews calling it "frank" and "full of truth telling" and I realize I'm dealing with bitty boys who jerked off once to often to mythology but never knew much about the music. I have no problem with Dylan's music or Madonna's. But let's not pass off myth as fact even if they put their names to it.

What are your thoughts on Paul McCartney's half-time show?

I didn't see it. I have no interest in vegging on the couch in front of a television. Paul's also looked like that old, unmarried aunt who's living alone with her cat for about the last 15 years. Only now he's started acting like her. It's really sad. I'd give anything to hear an album from Ringo Starr right now. It wouldn't have to be art, it could be goofy, just something high energy that showed there was still some life there. Paul McCartney's gone through the motions for so long that you really start to appreciate the Rolling Stones. He's also gone a little too heavy on the flag waving for another country, our country, and that's made him look pretty silly. Uber American Patriot doesn't play well on Paul McCartney.

But it gets him on TV at a time when his peers who are doing strong work can't get on. John Fogerty made a really strong album and it seems to have been released and then disappeared which is a real shame.

You've written about sampling.

Yeah and I think a few people misunderstood that. I'm talking about the hook of a song. Taking someone's hook and just using it in between some dopey "hate woman fuck her over good" rap.
You haven't done anything but degrade yourself and who ever agreed to let you sample. But sampling can be art. There was a time when it was. But there was a time when rap was about something real. Something political, something personal.

Now it's all just play acting, if it makes it onto corporate radio, and we're seeing a lot of recording artists get burned by the play acting. But when you present a myth as fact, you can be forced to live it. And I don't shed a lot of tears for them because the damage really is done to the people who listen. Most of whom will never be cruising in limos or sipping the latest trendy drink. It's an escape. And the music that has lasted or touched us historically has been something that was real.

Instead it's like "brand music" where they name check products. I have no use for it. I never listened to a song to figure out what to buy. I did turn to music, and still do, to make sense of my own life, my own struggles. And there was a time when rap did that and truly was poetry. And that rap, that kind of rap, is still out there. But it's drowned out by the nonsense about you are what you wear and you purchase. And this message that you are only as good as what you consume will prove very damaging to kids who grow up and find out that when Mommy & Daddy aren't footing the bills and you've got the electric company expecting to be paid and you've got the telephone company wanting money, there's not going to be a great deal left for living that ghetto fabulous life you've been car dancing to all through high school.

Those kids are going to hit a wall. And they're going to either internalize the message that they're failures for not meeting the standards of ghetto fabulous or they're going to have to figure out a new sense of values. It just really bothers me. But if you're stealing Sting or whomever's hook and that's the only thing anyone remembers about "your" song, you obviously haven't written a song. If however, you're building on something someone else has done or somethings others have done, you are creating.

We're not seeing a lot of creating.

And blame it on radio which is totally corporate and a lot happier playing "songs" that are actually plugs for products. The whole listening hour can be turned into one long commercial.

And that's what we're seeing more and more. You date or fuck as a side story in the song, but you make your purchases first and foremost and then sport them because you're apparently only as good as your brands. The days of introspection are postponed when your Air Jordans or whatever instantly tell the world you've got it.

I can remember when there were actual songs about actual real life events on the radio. I don't hear them on the radio that continues to push the Disney Kids at the expense of real artists.

Are there any albums you are asked to review that you end up thinking, "Oh, they so do not get it?"

Most of the choices are fine. I did get told that I really needed to listen to Minnie Driver because she was making actual music by three people in e-mails. So I borrowed the album from a friend and listened. It's not a bad album. She can sing. She's got a real band backing her. She has a nice turn of phrase as a writer. But I wasn't blown away. If it was on the radio right now and I heard it, I'd be glad that some actual music was making it on the air and I wouldn't object if it came on at a party but I didn't see the point in writing about it. I've still got the album and listen to it from time to time. If it starts speaking to me, I'll return it to Iwan and buy my own copy. But if something's not exciting enough to me to make me go purchase it, it's not anything I need to be reviewing. I cringed the first few times I heard her version of Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" but it's grown on me.

And I liked the review that you did of Anais Mitchell. I'd gotten e-mails about that but hadn't had time to go out and get it. And I don't buy online. I'm someone who has to go to the store, has to hold it in my hands, carry it to the counter and pay for it. I want it when I want it, not a few days after I decided to get it. But I read your review and I thought, "Okay, I've got to get this album." So I did and I'm really enjoying it. She's a very vivid writer.

I also think your review proves you can convey the mood of an album in a non-essay because that was a fairly short entry for you but it conveyed what made the album special.

Kat liked our interview! Okay everybody, we can stop writing now. We've accomplished something.

Seriously, I did enjoy it.

So if we were there hunting around your CD player what CD cases would we find right now?

Hold on and I'll look. I've got ten laying out right now. I had friends over and this was what they'd picked out: Maria McKee Live in Hamburg; the Beatles' Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club; Love's Forever Changes; Anais Mitchell's Hymns for the Exiled; Pearl Jam's Oct. 22 2003; Green Day's American Idiot; Tori Amos's The Beekeeper; Bright Eyes's I'm Wide Awake It's Morning; Joan Baez's Gone From Danger; and U2's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. If you'd called at another time, you'd have gotten a different answer.

Spotlighting Kat's Korner "Tori Releases The Beekeeper and the sexists come swarming"

When we told Kat we were highlighting this review she'd written (thanks to Kat and The Common Ills), we asked her to talk about it. We thought we'd have a paragraph or two at most.
What we ended up with was an interview about the state of music.
We love this review (and think Kat's too hard on herself about it -- read the interview) but we're really excited that we ended up interviewing one of the strongest voices on music around.
Read this review and see if you don't agree.

Kat's Korner: Tori releases The Beekeeper and the sexists come swarming

I'm piecing a potion
To combat your poison
I'm piecing a potion
To combat your poison
She is risen
She is risen
She is risen boys
I said she is risen

When whiney little boys, wiping the, er, snot off their hands start making stupid comments about Tori Amos's filigree and about how she's spotlighting something other than piano this go round, it's time for your uber critic to bare her claws.

This is what's wrong with music critics today. They can't talk about an album, they have to speak of a history and the truth is they don't know what they're talking about.

In case you missed the last round of reviews for an album by Tori Amos (Scarlet's Walk), let me inform you of the 'conventional wisdom' most critiques carried: Tori's returned to piano! It's just like Little Earthquakes!

No, it wasn't. But they put forth the lie as truth because, hopefully, they didn't know any better.

Now we see the latest spin.

Jon Pareles (who spent years embarrassing himself at Rolling Stone) weighed in Monday on Tori's album:

Tori Amos has been settling down lately.

Has she? What's your basis Jon?

She has cut back on her fluttery vocal leaps into the high register, her busy classical piano filigrees and her most abstruse verbal free-associations.

Filigrees? Kind of a dainty word, one might infer your mocking her in a way you'd never dream of doing to any number of male keyboard players. As for cutting back on vocal leaps, what album were you listening to? But the "fluttery" term is rather cute if you're trying to win Sexist of the Month. (Warning, you've got a lot of competition with the defenders of Lawrence Summers, so even you may have to up the wattage!)

On her new album, "The Beekeeper" (Epic), she offers something like a straightforward love song in "Sleeps With Butterflies," thinking about a lover who is flying off somewhere and promising, "You say the word you know I will find you/Or if you need some time I don't mind."

A straightforward love song is your idea of what Tori needs to do? Obviously since it's the first song you highlight. Does she need to do a love song, straightforward or otherwise, because she's a woman, Jonny?

[And note to the Times, your lousy punctuation is not only confusing, it's dated. Someone needs to update your style book. Using the same punctuation for a song as for an album shows a lack of respect for music. But hell, the majority of remarks you publish on music show a lack of respect.]

"The Beekeeper" is a generous, even overstuffed album, 19 songs and 79 minutes long, with an elaborate scheme involving six "gardens" of songs inspired by the six-sided cells of a honeycomb.

Overstuffed? Again we're looking at wording that would never appear in a review of a male performer written by Jonny. But it's his way to clue you in that Tori's good . . . for a woman.

This isn't a review of Tori Amos or her music, this is a ruler slap from big bad Jonny who wants to make sure Tori knows her place. He concerns himself with word collages (gee, didn't Jim Morrison do those?) and other nonsense and never shows any evidence that he grasps the album he's listened to. He's far too busy trying to put the album into a context but fails miserably because he has no grasp of what Tori's done before.

She's a girl
Rising from a shell
Running to spring
It is her time
It is her time

Barry Walters in a review that appeared in Rolling Stone doesn't care for the album but at least he has a grasp on her past recordings when he attempts to offer perspective. For instance, while Jonny thinks that Tori's stepped away from the piano for the first time, Walters offers:

The title track brings back the flattering electronic sounds we heard on 1998's From the Choirgirl Hotel, and "Original Sinsuality" hearkens back to the harrowing starkness of Little Earthquakes.

Oh yeah, Choirgirl. Funny how Jonny's such an expert but he's completely unaware of that album or, for that matter, the disc of studio recordings (the other disc in the two disc set is live recordings) on To Venus and Back? Or that he missed Strange Girls, Tori's album of covers.It's strange, isn't, that something that began on Tori's second studio album (Under the Pink) has somehow escaped his expert attention?

Jonny is killing a love for music, not fostering it and he needs to be called to the carpet.

I don't
I don't know why
In your Boys life you become like a bull in a china shop
Smash it up into smithereens
There you
There you go again
Breaking porcelain

His review style on Tori's album is not unlike that of a man who beats his wife, a little praise, a slap from nowhere, a little praise.

This is his way of covering all his bases. (And working out his own sexual dysfunctionality.)

And he's not alone on that.

Walters doesn't like the album. That's his opinion. But he doesn't try to play the "on the one hand, on the other hand, on the one hand, on the other . . ." crap until he comes off like someuseless male copy of the Devi Durga. (Walter's also doesn't come off like a sexist with his own personal agenda/issues to work through.)

What's to generate passionate in a review like Jonny's?

I did a thing before about how the people killing the love for music were bad reviewers and Jonny's one of the worst. He wastes time posing as an expert on Tori's music when he's not (and he could get away with that at most publications but he's truly found a home at the New York Times which allows know nothings a greater say simply because there's no one on staff editorially that knows anything about modern music). When not posing as an expert, he's passing himself off as Durga with his many hands on various arms apparently.

Tell me who gets inspired by that crap? That's not fostering an appreciation for music, that's not fostering an appreciation for the truth. It's reduced an album (a passionate one from a passionate artist) into a lab dissection done by a clinician with all the life of the stereotypical undertaker.

It leaves you cold. Jonny's the king of salt peter, folks. Always has been (check out his reviews for Rolling Stone sometime). Walters truly doesn't care for the album and some won't. But Walters says so in straightforward language without the bitch-slaps an abuser like Jonny so enjoys.

I want you to look at the reviews you come across because I really think that's disturbing at this late date. See which males mock and ridicule Tori's feminine art with what words. (And look for the Queen Bees as well -- women eager to prove that they can jerk it with the big boys.)

And there will be men and women who don't care for art. That's fine. It's art and we won't all respond the same way. But I'm not asking you to look for disagreements, I'm asking you to look for bias. Like when you come across the an attitude that if she's do "straight forward" songs like everyone (male) else, there'd be no problem. In other words, see if the critic is reviewing the album or making a statement on how women should make art because there's a world of difference between the two.

In album reviews, sexism can still be paraded and here comes Jonny to lead the charge.

And looking at the Sunday paper, Dwight Garner has his back! Dwight's terms in his brief Tori review?
"flightily melodramatic";
"Glinda the Good Witch."

It must be great sport for Dwight to mock a woman so openly, maybe helps him get over all those school yard taunts inflicted on him as a child named "Dwight." And little prefaces to his "work" in Salon like "straps on his reading jock" probably tell you more about how hard he's working it to prove his masculinity then anything I could write here. Although some might argue that was tongue-in . . . Well, I don't even want to think about where the tongue went on iddy biddy Dwight.

Lucky me
I guessed the kind of man
That you would turn out to be
Now I wish that I'd been wrong

Tori's in the same situation with this masculine thinking that Stevie Nicks (among others) was before. Stop writing about what interests you! Write something straightforward! Think like a man! Of course, the same critics wet dreamed over Lindsey Buckingham for years and the simple facts are Stevie Nicks had a successful solo career and Lindsey never had anything. Even within Fleetwood Mac (where he largely spent his time reworking old Mamas & the Papas hits); he never achieved the success of Stevie. Or for that matter the success of Christine McVie (kids, Linsdey didn't write "Don't Stop," Christine did).

But, they'd argue, if she'd just write like Lindsey, or better, sing Lindsey's songs, she could really go places. That's what the reviewers implied repeatedly with Stevie. Okay, kids, tell me who's known and who's a footnote? Tell me who made a career and who never found fame outside of the ravings of sexists who couldn't deal with the fact that the two most talented writers and singers in the Big Mac were women?

Lindsey, coasting on a fourth of the talent of Glen Frey, never really made his splash. Stevie Nicks made history. Yeah, she's hit the brick wall all women hit if they live to a certain age, but she's an iconic figure of the '70s and '80s, something that can never be said of Lindsey.

This bullsh*t has to stop. It should have stopped long ago. And the supposed progressive New York Times should be embarrassed and ashamed of themselves for a double assault on Tori Amos this week.

"Hoochie Mama" is a stand out track which finds her playing with her voice (as Jonny notes) just as she did on "Professional Widow" (something that slips Jonny's mind apparently since he doesn't note that). It also has a wonderful descending line that repeats throughout.

Yep, Tori's music. Something left out of Jonny's review as he quotes lyrics. (I can read a lyric sheet as well. I honestly don't think that quoting one means I've done the work entailed to discuss an album. Jonny feels differently.) Also of note is the drumming on "Marys of the Sea" which is the perfect example of prosody (it's a term, Jonny, look it up) as the song goes from a narrative of an individual speaking to an individual dancing. Check out the pensive quality to the music and Tori's vocals in "Toast" (the perfect marriage of lyric to melody).

"Parasol" opens the album and it's worth noting that Tori is one of the more physical performers/writers. That's often noted in concert reviews, but it's true of her approach to recording music as well. With "Parasol" she's stepping slowly into a vision (one Dwight and Jonny will never be able to conceptualize) and then she's quickly swept into it. (As is any listener up for the journey.) Scarlet's Walk was a spiritual journey through America. See if you can figure out for yourself where The Beekeeper takes you.

"Sweet the Sting" has a stuttering to it (lyrically and musically) underscoring the mating dance we all engage in. When Tori sings of "breathing" her voice climbs those "fluttery notes" Jonny thinks she's given up on.

(Getting the impression that Jonny just scanned the lyric sheet? Me too.)

"The Power of Orange Knickers" is a key song to understanding the album (and the journey). Maggie got that straight away. Dak-Ho took forever to grasp it's importance to the central concept of the album and Iwan swore he'd never speak to me again if I provided a road map to the journey. So if you're confused when listening to the album, I'll just recommend that you listen to this song repeatedly until the point seeps in.

I'll footnote "Jamaica Inn" by telling you to listen to "Josephine" off Venus (think in terms of the relationship between Stevie Nicks' songs "Dreams" and "Outside the Rain"). "Barons of Suburbia" finds Billy and the Christian boys of "Precious Things" all grown up as well as the narrator who no longer has reason to run.

And "Sleeps With Butterflies" is a statement of purpose, an announcement of a transition ended. (Surprisingly, or maybe not, Jonny sees it as a love song.) "General Joy" (which follows "Sleeps With Butterflies") puts the manifesto into action. (The vocals and music may remind you of "In the Springtime of His Voodoo" -- I don't think that's accidental.) "Mother's Revolution" especially ties into the previous two songs.

Word collages may be hard for Jonnys to follow. I find Amos's lyrics straightforward. I think the ease or struggle you have "decoding" it may have to do with your artistic background and your appreciation for art.

"Cars and Guitars" deserves special note because Tori's left the "Taxi Ride" and is taking control of the wheel and it highlights some of the best work by the band on the album. It also showcases those "fluttery" vocals that Jonny claims are missing.

So what we've got here is a pretty major statement from a major artist and the Jonnys are pouting because they weren't spoon fed. Maggie calls this the ultimate drinking album. But if you know anything about Maggie, you know that any good album becomes the ultimate drinking album to her. So I ask Iwan who's fairly straightfoward (in a non Jonny way) what he thinks."The album rocks." Did he catch the journey, does he grasp what Tori's singing about? "Huh."

And the point of that is not to embarrass Iwan but to note that you can get into this album even if you're not able to decode it. Toni likes the "rhythms she's using." Sumner smirks at her and she makes a comment about feeling like she's on American Bandstand's rate a record before falling silent.

There's a message here and it's worth hearing. And maybe you'll get it and maybe you won't. But the music alone is enough to provide you with enjoyment. Of course if you're used to the simple-minded Disney kids (who try to clobber you with repetition) and are still stuck on reflecting on that first crush (regardless of your age), this probably isn't for you. But take heart, there will always be someone to fill the world with silly love songs (straightforward or not) andif art and passion don't figure into your musical trip, I'm sure you'll find many selections at your local Wal-Mart that will speak down to you.

Thought I heard you
Whispering murder
Thought this witches
Brew was more than
But words are like guns
When you shoot the moon

DVD must see Robert Kane Pappas Orwell Rolls In His Grave

Orwell Rolls In His Grave is a truth telling moment you may not be able to stomach. While other films have focused solely on the Fox "effect," the realities of why we are where we are now in the state of news go beyond Fox "News."

Offering a historical perspective, Robert Kane Pappas traces the decline in standards and funding for news divisions now owned by megacorporations.

Orwell's Ministry of Truth ensured that the Big Brother was never contradicted. As Pappas asks in a voice over, "Can lies become truth? Could a media system controlled by a few global coporations with the ability able to overwhelm oll competing voices be able to turn lies into truth? These corporations are not answerable to the people. Only the politicians can regulate them. "

Utilizing clips and interviews with people like Danny Schechter, Mark Crispin Miller, Charles Lewis (former 60 Minutes producer), Peter Mitchelmore (former NY Post editor), Robert W. McChesney, Mark Lloyd, Michael Moore, Rep. Bernie Sanders and Aurora Wallace, director Robert Kane Pappas paints a very disturbing portrait of a mainstream media that refuses to give the people the basic information they need to be informed citizens.

Topics include the "neverending story," the selling of the war, the media's handling of the 2000 election and the Supreme Court decision, media consolidation, the limited range of expression and 'free' speech.

This movie will explain to you why it is past time to hold the press accountable. Why an occassional story of import making the front page of The New York Times is not cause to celebrate our free press but further evidence of how poor the mainstream media is. Why does a day of truth or near truth in one story cause us to celebrate and scream "Yipee!" when in fact the press should be covering the realities every day but instead wants to focus on sports or "lifestyle." It's not news, people.

And it's not going to inform you of what legislation is coming out of Congress or how it's going to effect you. It's not going to help you put food on the table or pay the medical bills but goddamn if you won't know every last detail of who made the latest cut in the current reality shows or the state of celebrity justice in America.

Watch the movie and be disgusted with the state of mainstream media so that you don't fall for information management and greet a breif respite from infotainment as the second coming of real journalism.

And note Charles Lewis's obsersvation about today's reporting:

What will pass for investigative reporting is someone may get hold of an early report from some committee that's about to come out or an investigative report from the inspector general report that's going to castigate the secretary of this or that so you'll breathlessly go on the air and you'll say ABC has learned or whatever network is and you'll be out of breath and it's all exciting and you'll be out of breath and it look like the facelss minions that comprise the network
hundreds of them out there ferreting out information for you to serve the public. It's complete bunk, it's not happening at all. The public would never know from the media that they spent 11 million dollars to keep any free air time provisions out of amu legislation, successfully by the way.

Orwell Rolls In His Grave is a documentary you owe it to yourself to see to grasp how "news" is not a business pursuing truth but a corporate arm shaping and manipulating the public.

Robert Kane Pappas: The spin process is very effective, both in newspaper reports and on TV and in radio. If you make it your business to be informed, what happens is, you end up watching the mainstream news with your mouth hanging open. If you watch only what they offer, you're largely intellectually lobotomized. Your opinions are determined by two- and three-word sound bites: "Death Tax," "Conspiracy Theory," "They hate our Freedoms," "Democracy," "Liberal Bias," "Class Warfare." As Winston's co-worker Syme says with glee: "Every year, fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller."

We are linking to BuzzFlash for two reasons. One we learned of the movie from them and, two, they are taking on The New York Times and have asked who are you going to support? We'll go with BuzzFlash. The film costs 30 dollars minimum at BuzzFlash and we realize that some of our readers will not be able to afford that. For that reason, we have provided links to BuzzFlash interviews with Robert Kane Pappas. We'd also recommend that (to quote Tori Amos) "in times like these, you know who your friends are" so if you're not regularly checking out BuzzFlash, we urge to start visiting the site.
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