Sunday, May 22, 2011


Jim: It's roundtable time. Our e-mail address is Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


Ty: First off, I answered an e-mail two or three weeks ago where someone asked for a link and I told them I'd give it to them. I didn't. I forgot. Unless I've dreamed the whole thing. I replied to their e-mail to us on my cell phone. And it didn't put a copy in the 'sent' folder and I can't find the original e-mail. Again, maybe I dreamed the whole thing. But I think it happened and if you're reading this and you're the person who e-mailed, please e-mail again and let me know your link. Second, Rhonda e-mailed to say, "Thank you for Dona!"

Dona: Well thank you for Rhonda right back.

Ty: Rhonda writes, "I just spent the week enjoying some of the classic TV commentaries by Ava and C.I. I was laughing out loud and everyone at work was staring. But what stood out from my visit through the archives besides Ava and C.I.'s great writing was how much I enjoy the site's look today and how much I would have hated it back then. I'm one of the people who discovered you in 2008. If I'd been reading in 2005, no offense, it wouldn't have been for long. There are no illustrations in those early features and there aren't short pieces or anything to break up the text look of the site. I know from reading for the last three years that Dona was the one who really insisted on visuals and that she's also the one who advocates for short pieces to run along side the long ones. So I just wanted to tell her how much I appreciate her work."

Dona: That's really sweet and I say thank you to Rhoda. Believe it or not, back in 2005, there were a lot of websites that didn't have any visuals. For us, we wanted visuals but really only pursued it after Isaiah emerged. Isaiah, do you want to talk about that?

Isaiah: Sure. Briefly, I was reading The Common Ills and a community member. Ruth did a public radio report each week back then -- 2005 -- and Kat did music reviews. I wanted to do something to help the site. I used to draw cartoons in school so I figured I could offer up that. I was honestly afraid to offer it and assumed that I would be turned down. So I wrote this rather hesitant e-mail and C.I. wrote me back immediately, said we should go for it and gave me one of her cell phone numbers if I had any questions. And, by the way, I hadn't drawn anything as an example at that point. So she was just going on faith. So that's why I do my comic. And in doing it, the after-stuff, both C.I. and I had to learn about posting illustrations and different programs and other junk. So she was able to bring that over to here and help out with that.

Jim: And, of course, the earliest illustrations we ran were Isaiah's. And we still run his comics today. Re-run them. And Dona does deserve the credit for that. Ask any of us and we'll tell you that. She's always thought beyond this edition. She's always thought the overall picture. She's made many, many other contributions but in terms of the look of the site, that's all her.

Jess: Last week's "We want it on DVD and we want it now" resulted in many e-mails but one person in particular was ticked off. He writes that C.I. knew Farrah Fawcett and "she made sure her friend got included in the write up." C.I.?

C.I.: I did know Farrah, she was a lovely woman and a very talented artist. The notion that I rigged results is hilarious because, first of all, my input on that article was minimal and confined only to At Long Last Love and Moment by Moment. Secondly, if I was using my 'influence' to skew the results, I obviously don't have much influence since Farrah's films didn't make the top ten. Thirdly, I believe I'm on record online as stating that my favorite performance by Farrah is in Between Two Women which co-stars Colleen Dewhurst. That film didn't make the article. Lastly, when we were talking about the article, back when it was first planned, I did cite a hope and that was that some people would e-mail -- and no one did -- to note some of Liza Minnelli's dramatic roles. The Sterile Cukoo and Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon are not available on DVD and Liza's amazing in them. I thought of that, when we were discussing the article, because we did a piece awhile back on which performers qualified as stars. And a reader had e-mailed after that we didn't name Liza. And then we did a follow up where we noted this wasn't the list of all stars and I said I was sorry that we didn't include Liza because she's clearly a star. But one of the reasons Liza doesn't get the respect that she deserves is that she's confined to one role today, she's seen in one way, and a large reason for that is because her non-singing, dramatic work is largely unavailable. I know Liza. I also know Diana Ross. Were I rigging the results for that article, Diana would have had a film in the top ten.

Ty: A number of you e-mailed to say, "You forgot ____." No, we didn't. That was your article, that was the films you wanted on DVD, you the readers, and we wrote it on your behalf. For three weeks, Jim reminded you to weigh in via e-mail if you had an opinion. For you to wait until after the article runs to suddenly say, "Well ___ should be on the list . . ." That falls back on you. ___ didn't make the list because you never e-mailed when we were compiling.

Jim: Krystelle e-mailed to ask, "If the Iraq War ended tomorrow, would you stop publishing?" Yes, Krystelle. And for all of those who would like to see us gone and gone for good, all you have to do is end the Iraq War. We'll gladly leave the online world.

Ava: In Jim's note, he often credits "Highlights" to "Mike and the gang." Joel e-mailed wondering why that is? Mike, why don't you explain highlights and then we'll go to Jim's response.

Mike: Highlights is a piece where we note the best of the last week at community sites. At one time, 2005, 2006, these "bests" were actually reprinted in full here. We don't do that anymore. That was one of the "short pieces" that Dona came up with when we didn't have the time or desire to repost full posts. So how were we going to note them still? Dona came up with just links and a brief comment from those of us writing.

Jim: And I say "Mike and the gang" because I left out someone a few weeks or months back. Why then identify Mike? Mike's always done "highlights." I know others have had time off but I believe Mike has always done highlights.

Ty: Jessie e-mailed to point out that when people answer questions in these roundtables about the differences it's mainly those of us with Third -- Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava, C.I. and myself -- but that Rebecca's been helping out since the first month, that Kat's been since the second month, and that Ruth and Betty both start helping out in April, the fourth month. So Jessie was wondering if the four of them -- Rebecca, Kat, Ruth and Betty -- might have an observation or two to share on the evolution and changes?

Rebecca: Well I'd say that it's easier in many ways and harder in many ways. I'd say that after all this time, every edition is still different. You never know going in what's going to end up published, how long it's going to take, it's still a surprise. That can be good in -- 'it's exciting' -- it can be bad in you never know what you're getting into.

Betty: I'd agree with that and note that it's also a marathon or endurance test many editions. With Dona's pregnancy, we've all got an excuse. And I want that on the record. Because of Dona's pregnancy, we now take 'breaks' which can include six or seven hours for a nap. We're all using Dona's pregnancy as an excuse to take a break. So when people -- and I know some readers have -- complain that we're posting late Sundays, don't blame Dona for that. We're all tired and wanting time to rest.

Ruth: To go to a different place, I would say what stands out the most to me is that, back then, we would be writing about Iraq and thinking, "Well we've got to hit hard here" or "We've got to really say it from this angle" because we had to stand out from all the other Iraq coverage and commentary. These days, that is not even a concern because we know there really is none. We are one of the last outposts on the left. That is reality.

Kat: I would agree with everything that has been said but especially with Ruth. The wars are of no interest to, for example, The Progressive, The Nation, In These Times, etc. And that was really driven home last week when Ted Rall wrote about how, before going to Afghanistan this year, he contacted The Nation to tell them about the trip and offer to write something while he was there but they weren't interested. That says it all.

Ann: And if I can quote Ted Rall for a moment, he wrote about how editors of 'left' outlets asked him to attack the GOP or do positive cartoons of Barack. As he states, "I thought -- still think -- that's my job. I'm a critic, not a suck-up. The Obama Administration doesn't need journalists or pundits to carry its water. That's what press secretaries and PR flacks are for." And I read that and I think not only of all the whining we've all received in e-mails but especially of what it's like for Ava and C.I. -- who have made similar criticism about SNL repeatedly, most recently noting that they've gone from class clowns to teacher's pet -- or for Isaiah or for Wally and Cedric.

Jim: Good point. Let's go to Wally and Cedric.

Cedric: Well, backstory, Wally and I do joint-posts, they are humor posts. We do them in the style of a wire service. When Bush was in the White House, we mocked him non-stop. We do the same with Barack. We would have done the same with Hillary -- Wally and I both campaigned for Hillary -- or John McCain or anyone. But because it's Barack, you get a whole ignorant sub-section of 'critiques' that falsely cry "RACISM!" They try that less and less with us because I am Black -- unlike Barack, who is bi-racial, I am a Black man -- but they used to do that all the time, the little whiners who thought they could derail our work.

Wally: Right. And, after awhile, they just realized that it wasn't going to work. We're going to do the same posts we've always done. The big difference between Barack and Bush is that Bush wanted to play cowboy and Barack wants to play celebrity. They're both fakes, stunted boys play acting at being men.

C.I.: I'm sorry to jump in but what Wally just said is a truest. It should be made into a "truest statement of the week." It's very astute.

Mike: I'll back that up.

Wally: Thank you both. But it's really amazing how people will e-mail you and try to bully you into writing what they want. And what a lot of them want is non-stop propaganda about their beloved idol.

Jim: Dona just passed me a note pointing out that we need to wrap up and we haven't heard from Stan, Trina, Marcia or Elaine. Marcia, the big news of last week to you was what?

Marcia: I'd say it was the continued silence from the media on Iraq protests. Friday was what?

C.I.: Countdown Friday.

Marcia: Right. And protests took place in Baghdad and Mosul but nothing from the press.

Stan: They did, The New York Times did, cover northern Iraq protests in a Thursday article. I read that -- combined with their silence on the continued protests in Baghdad where the paper's reporters are based -- as a confession that they were scared of upsetting Nouri and that they needed to go to the safer region of the north in order to report. I'm sure that's not what they intended to confess. And I don't need an e-mail from Tim Arango explaining to me why I'm wrong about his writing. In fact, he should use the time he'd spend on that in focusing on his writing.

Jim: Okay, Trina, Cornel West is under criticism because he dared to criticize St. Barack. Any thoughts on that as we wind down?

Trina: Good question. Ruth and I were talking about this. One of the criticism is that he's 'going after the Jews.' Where does he go after Jewish people? He doesn't. He's speaking of who Barack is surrounding himself with and he notes that it is White people and it is Jewish people. White, typically, means WASP to most people. We, Ruth and I, saw his remarks in that regard.

Jim: And Elaine, last thoughts?

Elaine: Disappointment that we won't have time to expand upon C.I.'s Thursday night entry this week but holding you at your word that we will next weekend.

Jim: That is the plan and, on that note, we'll end this roundtable.
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