Sunday, June 05, 2005

A note to our readers

This is another theme issue. With all the talk of have we reached the tipping point, Jess suggested we take it to the tripping point and impose a sixties sensibility upon the present.

Great idea and we thank Ruth, Betty, Kat, Folding Star and Rebecca for their assistance on this edition. (We don't thank C.I. here because we continue to maintain that C.I. is a part of The Third Estate Sunday Review gang.)

We knew we wanted to deal with an e-mail C.I. had received but we weren't quite sure how. Then Ruth suggested we do it as a fairy tale noting that they were very big in the sixties. ("White Rabbit," anyone?). That became the mammoth entry (believe it or not, we have severely edited it) that never seemed to end. It was a nightmare roundtable.

In it, we blended in lyrics throughout of songs we like and felt were worth noting. There was a wonderful Carole King song that didn't make the cut much to Jess' disappointment but maybe next time. But the blend of fantasy and music struck us as very sixties.

We also did "Ten CDs, Ten Minutes" focusing on picks from that time period. We hope you'll enjoy that and that it continues the theme of this edition.

What else to write, we wondered. We were all exhausted. At one point, an electricity shortage led to our losing contact with one member helping with this edition. When we were all back on board, it seemed to us that an essay would be a way to go. Kat pointed out that essays were all the rage back when people had longer attention spans. Ava suggested that we could add song lyrics to the piece to flesh it out and to keep with the theme.

Ava and C.I. had an interesting assignment, they had to review a TV show imposing the sixties on today. We had no idea how they'd handle that task and Rebecca expressed concern that creating characters might dilute their critics voices that readers enjoy so much. We were all nervous when they finished their review and read it carefully (there are times when we rush through it and just say "great, let's post it now"). Much to our delight, they found a way to pull off even that task. It's funny, it's sixties, it's today and it's to the point. Next week, we may ask them to review the state of the world and figure out for all of us how to fix things. (That was a joke.)

We weren't planning to do a blog spotlight or to highlight a book review from Folding Star because we wanted to keep our theme. Then Ruth remembered a post C.I. wrote about Rudith Miller. It's a parody about two women in the sixties, in college, one Rudith Miller and the other Heather Rain Farrow who steals Rudith's identity and look to become the Judith Miller we know today. We found it very entertaining back in January and it fit our theme perfectly.

That left only the editorial and we'd always agreed that if something broke, we'd do that "straight" and break the theme of the edition. Something did break, more evidence against the legality and honesty of the invasion/occupation.

We tried to stretch with this edition and we have the sore fingers and bags under our eyes to prove it. Were we successful? We're too tired to judge that at this point. But we do think it was a learning experience and it was fun exploring. We hope you'll find something here that amuses you or enrages you.

Now we'll do the thank you to C.I. You and Ava pulled off the impossible with your TV review so thank you for that as always. And thank you for hanging in throughout even though it meant delaying posts at The Common Ills last night to help us pull this edition together. Ty is chanting "One of us, one of us" from the classic film Freaks. And he's right, you are (one of us, not a freak!).

Thank you also to our readers who have had some amazing e-mails of late that have been such a joy to read.

We'll also note, because Ava points out that we haven't done it and figures if we don't put it in print here, we won't, that we're adding Jude of Iddybud to our links as well as our beloved Kat who's just created her own site. We've been meaning to add Jude for sometime along with some others. The others will have to wait but we will add Jude after this goes up and we thank her for her shout out last week and, Jess adds, for her humanity which shines through at her site.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava

Editorial: Connect the dots

You too can be a well informed American, provided you read the British press. But maybe things are picking up? The Associated Press has a story today entitled "Bolton Said to Orchestrate Unlawful Firing" and we suggest you read it. It's by Charles J. Hanley and here's an excerpt:

John R. Bolton flew to Europe in 2002 to confront the head of a global arms-control agency and demand he resign, then orchestrated the firing of the unwilling diplomat in a move a U.N. tribunal has since judged unlawful, according to officials involved.
A former Bolton deputy says the U.S. undersecretary of state felt Jose Bustani "had to go," particularly because the Brazilian was trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. That might have helped defuse the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined a U.S. rationale for war.

Bolton fired Bustani, in 2002, because Bustani wanted to put chemical weapons inspectors in Baghdad. Now that might seem strange to you if you rely upon the American mainstream press.

If your news sources are a little more well rounded, you may however remember The Sunday Times of London's Downing St. Memo which reveals, in 2002, that the United States is willing to shape and distort to push forward on the invasion of Iraq. The same invasion that Bully Boy and his minions were saying they had not yet decided to go forward with.

How does Hanley sum up the Downing St. Memo (yes, it's mentioned in the article)? Thusly:

An official British document, disclosed last month, said Prime Minister Tony Blair' agreed in April 2002 to join in an eventual U.S. attack on Iraq. Two weeks later, Bustani was ousted, with British help.

Here's something the memo says that's not in the AP account:

Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

The Sunday Times of London published that memo May 1, 2005. What did they publish last Sunday? Michael Smith's "RAF bombing raids tried to goad Saddam into war." From the opening of that article:

THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown.
The attacks were intensified from May, six months before the United Nations resolution that Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, argued gave the coalition the legal basis for war. By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive.
The details follow the leak to The Sunday Times of minutes of a key meeting in July 2002 at which Blair and his war cabinet discussed how to make "regime change" in Iraq legal.

Is a pattern emerging? A pattern that even the mainstream press must begin to notice?

We think it is. But we wouldn't bet the house on it. We've shared our feelings/concerns on the mainstream press in an essay in this edition. The way we see it, the press has plenty to address. It's just an issue of whether they want to or not.

Hats off to BuzzFlash, once again, for finding the Associated Press article and drawing attention to a very important article.. As always the place we flocked to when finally getting ready to compose this edition's editorial.

Once more into the blog world

Once upon a time, New Blogger emerged. He looked around the blog world, yes, he was a he, and wondered, "How do I get noticed?" He wanted nothing more than to a blogging net star, just grab your keyboard and learn how to play. Motives, children, can be pure or they can be your downfall.

He walked to the looking pool he'd heard so much of and encountered a few bloggers, self-entranced ones. They snarled. They hissed. They raged. "Why won't Kos notice me!" "Screw Atrios!" "Bill Scher is no Cher!" On and on they raged, the looking pool reflecting their faces distorted with anger, enlarging it.

New blogger studied the group for a moment and then rightly fled.

"Dear Lord," cried New Blogger, "Please don't ever let that be me!"

He ran and ran, trying to get far away from their rising voices.

"Screw them all! Screw them all! Screw them all!"

The chant echoed all around.

Down the path New Blogger ran. And ran. And ran.

Until, nearly breathless he saw, just in front of the woords, a tiny shack shaped like a mouth with a foot in it and painted in shades of dark black and blood red.

Gulping, New Blogger rushed to the door and knocked.

Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock.

He waited.

Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock.

He paused.

Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock.

Finally the door opened. Wearing a sleepy grin, a small round man greeted New Blogger with, "Oh hello. I was sleeping. My name is Dopey. Would you like to come inside and help me Clean These Panties!"

Dopey was short and stocky, with a round belly and a small mind.

Looking around nervously, still hearing the faint chant of "Screw them all!" despite the distance he had traveled, New Blogger nodded.

As he entered the tiny house, he saw various items stacked in piles all around.

"Now where are those panties?" Dopey asked scratching his round belly. "I know they are here somewhere. Will you help me find the panties?"

Nodding, New Blogger began sifting through the mounds of junk as Dopey did the same.

Thirty minutes later, with no panties in sight, New Blogger sighed.

"Maybe all the panties have been cleaned?" New Blogger wondered.

"Nonsense!" hissed Dopey revealing fangs for eye teeth. "If the panties were clean, I would know! I would post at my site! Now you find the panties!"

New Blogger stared at Dopey's fangs, unnoticied prior.

Dopey's eyes narrowed and his lips snarled. His face clenched and his stubby fingers balled into tiny fists. He stamped his right foot, then his left. Throwing his head back, he let loose with a horse-like cry. Bowing his head, his eyes bore into New Blogger while his feet scraped the floor.

"You took the panties!" Dopey exploded. "How can I Clean These Panties! When you have taken them! You took the panties! I will demolish you!"

"B-b-but, Dopey, I did not take the panties."

"Well where are they!" Dopey exploded, the ends of his hair flying upward with the explosive quality of his voice. "You're not suggesting I'm wearing them, are you?"

Dopey undid the button of his tight pants and peered inside. As he did, New Blogger took that as his cue to leave this sad, round bellied, small minded, deranged and bitter man.

Dopey moved to run after him but his pants had fallen to his ankles and Dopey landed on the dirty wooden floor with a loud THUD.

New Blogger ran out the front door without looking back while Dopey cursed and raged

in that tiny kinda scary house by the woods
by the woods
by the woods

New Blogger ran as fast as his legs could carry him.

Through the wood,
through the woods,
through the woods.

Out of breath, he paused and rested with his hands on his knees as he breathed in deeply. Looking around he saw a shiny, yellow metallic sign dipping from a large tree limb. The sign read "BLOG SUCCESS."

He eyed it for a bit. He looked around. He appeared to be alone in the woods.

Carefully and quietly, he approaced the tree in question.

Once he reached for something
Golden and hanging from a tree
And his hand came down empty.

Frustrated, he cried out, "Why?"

"Why? Why? Why?" echoed back through the forest.

All darkened around New Blogger as the clouds folded over the sun.

Saddened and scared, his body began to shake with tears.

Then a series of visions appeared.

New Blogger saw C.I. of The Common Ills, Kat of Kat's Korner, Folding Star of A Winding Road, Jess, Jim, Ty, Dona and Ava of The Third Estate Sunday Review, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude and Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man.

"The muses!" exclaimed New Blogger. "Surely, you can tell me what to do. I am New Blogger and I have just started a blog, a new blog. I would like more visits, more traffic, more readers."

Appraising him with a careful eye, Betty asked, "And what is it you believe in?"

New Blogger thumped his chest and said, "I am of the left! And I have much to offer! Will you help me get the word out?"

"If it's getting the word out," C.I. offered, "then you should go up the mountain to see Jude."

"Jude the Obscure?" questioned New Blogger.

"No, Thomas Hardy please!" groaned Dona.

"No," explained Ava. "Jude of Iddybud."

"People listen to her, for she has earned their trust," explained C.I.

"But," Ty said with a pause for emphasis, "she will ask you the same question that Betty did. The one that you did not answer."

"But I did answer!" exclaimed New Blogger.

"You speak in riddles," sighed Betty. "Not unlike Thomas Friedman. I asked you what it was you believed in?"

"I have much to offer," New Blogger said thumping his chest.

"What is it you refuse to tell us?" asked Jim.

"Nothing. I am of the left."

Jim studied New Blogger carefully.

"Well, I am a Straussian," New Blogger offered finally.

"A what you say!" snapped Rebecca with many other words accompaning her questions, words not suited for a child's fairy tale.

"Hey narrator!" Rebecca said waving a finger at yours truly, "Don't play editor on me, okay? I'm known for my potty mouth!"

"What is a Straussian?" Dona asked Jess.

"A classical composer?" wondered Jess.

"I think it is a One Life to Live fan who misses Robin Strasser as Dorian," decided Betty.

Kat studied him, chewing a blade of grass, for medicinal purposes, and studied him some more. She looked New Blogger up and down, and down and up, right to left and left to right. She circled around him to see both the front and the back. And then the front again.

"You," Kat said finally, "are of the school of Levi-Strauss."

New Blogger proudly nodded a collective gasp went out.

"A neocon!" shouted Ty.

"No, no," New Blogger tut-tutted. "I am of the left."

"Well then you are one of those darn neoliberals!" Rebecca exclaimed again in far more colorful language than is suited for a children's fairy tale.

"Hey Ruth," Rebecca hollered looking up at yours truly, "I'm not kidding. Stop editing me!"

Jim wavied New Bloggger away, 'Be gone. We have no help for you here."

"B-b-but" stammered New Blogger, "I am asking for help. I need it for my own happiness."

"Where in the Constitution or Declaration of Independence does it say you will get happiness?" asked Dona. "It doesn't. It only says you have the right to pursue happiness. Pursue it elsewhere."

"Well," offered C.I., "He may not be of our tribe but --"

"C.I.'s going to say @#!! 'in fairness!' Listen, it's coming!" hollered Rebecca who, reading over her line as written said, "Better Ruth, but still not accurate."

"As I was saying," C.I. began, "In fairness, perhaps we can offer some advice."

"Who the heck are we? Leano Horne in The Wiz?" wondered Ty.

But Jess spoke up:

The rebel cry of desolation
To which we used to harken
Echoes now in isolation
As the skies in fury darken
A thousand acts of desecration
Hundreds more continue
When y'know that you are all creation
You're gonna fight 'em with all that's in you.

"But what does that mean?" asked New Blogger.

Kat sighed and offered:

Oh, and it's a hollow feelin' when
It comes down to dealin' friends
It never ends
Take another shot of courage
Wonder why the right words never come
You just get numb
It's another tequila sunrise,
this old world
Still looks the same,
Another frame,

"What does that mean!" screamed New Blogger in frustration before unleashing a howl of such fury and magesty it was, for all intents and purposes, a one note opera.

With a serene smile, Ava patted New Blogger gently on the shoulder and declared:

Perhaps the pictures in the Times could no longer be put in rhymes
When all the eyes of starving children are wide open
You cast aside the cursed crown and put your magic into a sound
That made me think your heart was aching or even broken
But if God hears my complaint He will forgive you
And so will I, with all respect, I'll just relive you
And likewise, you must understand these things we give you
Like these flowers at your door and scribbled notes about the war

We're only saying the time is short and there is work to do
And we're still marching in the streets with little victories and big defeats
But there is joy and there is hope and there's a place for you

"Are you telling me what I need to do?" New Blogger whined. "I can't understand what it is I'm supposed to do."

Jim grinned broadly and declared:

I'm going to find myself a girl
Who can show me what laughter means
And we'll fill in the missing colors
In each others paint by number dreams
And then we'll put our dark glasses on
And we'll make love until our strength is gone
And when the morning light comes streaming in
We'll get up and do it again
Get it up again

"Well," sighed New Blogger, "I have no idea how that applies to me, but at least I understood what you were saying."

"Let me lay this down on you then," offered Ty:

Good morn or evening friends
Here's your friendly announcer
I have serious news to pass on to everybody
What I'm about to say
Could mean the world's disaster
Could change your joy and laughter to tears and pain
It's that
Love's in need of love today
Don't delay
Send yours in right away
Hate's goin' round
Breaking many hearts
Stop it please
Before it's gone too far

"What in the world are you trying to say?" asked New Blogger in desperation.

Clearing her throat, Betty replied

Sister, there's a wind that never dies
Sister, we're breathing together
Sister, our love and hopes forever keep on moving oh so slowly in the world
Angela, can you hear the earth is turning?
Angela, the world watches you.

"Who is Angela!" screamed New Blogger. 'None of this makes any sense!"

Folding Star smiled and offered:

Oh I am just a student, sir, and only want to learn
But it's hard to read through the risin' smoke of the books that you like to burn
So I'd like to make a promise and I'd like to make a vow
That when I've got something to say, sir, I'm gonna say it now

New Blogger screamed in frustration, "Say what! I can't follow a word of this!"

Dona nodded and said:

baby, don't look so nervous, they just want the facts
and it’s all written out in the usa patriot act
cause we don't take no chances in a nation at war
so tonight we're gonna party like it’s 1984
oh, honey, what did i tell you about the house being bugged?
they can hear us making breakfast, they can hear us making love
but excuse me a minute- big brother’s at the door
and he’s ready to party like it’s 1984

"You people are crazy! How does any of this help me get linked by BuzzFlash! I can't take anymore!"

"Oh no," declared Rebecca. "I see where this is headed. C.I.'s up next and will get a quote but I'll be #@#!! stuck mopping up after every#@#!!one and having to explain the point!"

Taking a breath, Rebecca looked up at the sky before hollering, "Ruth, I ain't kidding! Stop cleaning up my language!"

"Wy don't you go next," Ty suggested to Rebecca.

"Very well," Rebecca said:

We are all outlaws in the eyes of America
In order to survive we steal cheat lie forge fred hide and deal
We are obscene lawless hideous dangerous dirty violent and young
But we should be together
Come on all you people standing around
Our life's too fine to let it die and
We can be together
All your private property is
Target for your enemy
And your enemy is
We are forces of chaos and anarchy
Everything they say we are we are
And we are very
Proud of ourselves
Up against the wall

At which point, New Blogger shook his head in dismay.

"Ruth!" Rebecca yelled, "You cut me off before I got to the f-word!"

"This is all nonsense!" New Blogger hissed impatiently.

"Nonsense?" asked C.I. "Like a Bully Boy who claims God is on his side while he kills and destroys?"


When the president talks to God
Are the conversations brief or long?
Does he ask to rape our women's' rights
And send poor farm kids off to die?
Does God suggest an oil hike
When the president talks to God?
When the president talks to God
Are the consonants all hard or soft?
Is he resolute all down the line?
Is every issue black or white?
Does what God say ever change his mind
When the president talks to God?

"You people are insane!" yelled New Blogger. "Not one word you've said has meant anything! I'm headed up the mountain to find this Jude!"

Ava shook her head sadly, "Oh no, please spare her. She no doubt gets enough wack jobs bothering her. What we're telling you is that you need to know what you believe in. You need to speak what matters to you. If you do that, someone will listen."

Ty added, "Maybe a few, maybe many. But it ain't about becoming rich or famous."

Rebecca nodded and said, "It's about sharing - sharing what matters to you, what means something to you."

"I have been to the looking pool!" New Blogger stated. "I have seen the ravings of jealousy. I have been to Dopey's house, I have seen the bizarre! Now I come upon you and you serve me platitudes! I want a tip sheet! I want guidelines! I want to know how! How! How do I become one of the important voices! Should I copy Atrios or copy Kos?"

Shaking her head sadly, Kat mumbled, "You try so hard to be like the big boys."

C.I. offered, "The world has an Atrios and a Kos. Why would they want a copy?"

"Yeah," said Rebecca, "Outside of Creed, has a sound alike ever really made much of an impact?"

"Harsh but true," laughed Jess. "There's only one Pearl Jam!"

"So be yourself," Ty offered. "And if you're speaking your truth, people will listen."

"That's the biggest load of --" New Blogger stopped speaking and looked to the sky. "Er, candy, I've heard since Field of Dreams! What is that? 'If you build it they will come!' And you were worried about coming off like Lena Horne in The Wiz?"

"Think of home Dorothy," Betty said in her best Lean Horne impression as she patted New Blogger's shoulder.

"And get your Straussian but out of here," Jim advised. "We've done the 'in fairness' bit and then some!"

"You people are nuts!" New Blogger screamed. "You just quote song lyrics!"

"Not true!" replied Jess. "We also write and sing on our own. Hit it gang!"

All together:

You dirty, bitter bore
You're rotten and nasty to the core
You been down on your knees
Had loads of money, but still you wanted more.
That's why you been working for the man,
Making a killing in Saipan.
Tom DeLay, Tom DeLay
What ethics did you break today?
Tom DeLay, Tom DeLay
When they gonna' cart you away?
Tom DeLay, Tom DeLay
Are you looking at a prison stay?
Oh Tom DeLay, Tom DeLay

And with that, we reach the end of our tale. Some lived happily ever after.

Song quotes credited below in the order in which they appeared.
"Black Dove (January)" written by Tori Amos, from the album From the Choirgirl Hotel.
"Tapestry" written by Carole King, from the album Tapestry.
"Time Gone By" written by Carole King, from the album Touch the Sky.
"Tequila Sunrise" written by Don Henley and Glen Frey, from the album Desperado.
"Song to Bobby" written by Joan Baez, from the album Come from The Shadows, collected on the boxed set Joan Baez: The Complete A&M Recordings.
"The Pretender" written by Jackson Browne, from the album of the same name.
"Love's In Need Of Love Today" written by Stevie Wonder, from the album Songs in the Key of Life vol. 1 & 2.
"Angela" written by John Lennon & Yoko Ono, from the album Some Time in New York City.
"I'm Going to Say It Now" written by Phil Ochs, from the album Phil Ochs In Concert.
"1984" written by Anais Mitchell, from the album Hymns For the Exiled.
"We Can Be Together" written by Paul Kantner, from the Jefferson Airplane album Volunteers.
"When the President Talks To God" written by Connor Oberst (Bright Eyes), not currently available on any album.
"Ode to Tom DeLay" written by Jim, Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava, Rebecca, Fodling Star, Betty, Kat, and C.I.

TV review: Law & Order: Trial by Jury

One of us was hiding the stash and the other was doing windmills and shouting, "Just a minute, Mother!"

It was your typical Friday night. Tunes on the radio, wet towel under the door and roach clips
. . . well, all over.

One minute we were contemplating our hopefully bright futures, the next we were very much in the present. Could things get much worse?

"I made brownies, so why don't you come on downstairs? You know it is your father's birthday."

Groans and eye rolls as we sprayed air freshner, chewed gum quickly and checked one another's pupils.

Down the stairs we went, descending into boring, suburbia conformity. It may not have been the start of the week, but it certainly felt like another "Pleasant Valley Sunday." A little earlier and we no doubt would have heard "The Hissing of Summer Lawns."

There was a parental unit zoned out in front of the TV in the lazy boy recliner. We nodded to acknowledge his grunt and made our way in front of the coffee table while wondering where the brownies were? Honest to God, it didn't matter that we'd finished dinner an hour ago, we were starving. Looking at one another, we burst into a giggling fit leading to the usual injured question of "What's so damn funny?"

Saved by the arrival of brownies, we eagerly dove in while the parental units spoke to one another in that distant, detached way they had. By all that is holy, we hope we die before we get old.

"They thought a nice way to celebrate your birthday would be to come down and watch your favorite show with you."

That was greeted with a harumph as he grabbed for a brownie and eyed us suspiciously. Should we have doused ourselves in fragrance? He was such a straight arrow, tight ass, surely he couldn't place the smell, right?

"Well, it's not my favorite show. My favorite show is the original. This is just a pale copy."

"Well, honey, if you'd like to watch something else --"

Before she could reach the remote, he cut her off with, "This is just fine."

"Brownies and cake in one night," he grumbled but we noticed that didn't stop him from eating one.

Oh Lord, that theme. It's so cocktail jazz. Honest, Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass would be embarrassed to perform it. Law & Order: Trial by Jury. As a general rule, we believe you should always avoid any show whose title contains a colon. Colon. We were laughing again.

"Is everything in the world funny to you two jokers?"

"No, not everything. For instance, the war isn't funny. There's nothing funny about the current invasion/occupation, or the people who are dying, or the government that's lying. Not a thing funny there."

Oh wait, did one of us say that out loud?

"War is not healthy for children and other living things. Thank God we aren't a part of the military industrial infotainment complex that turns it all into some video game far removed from the actual blood and destruction."

Oh, there goes the other.

"Show's starting so you two America haters can just shut it."

"Now what's this show about, honey," asked Mother trying to smooth things over.

"Law & Order. Law & Order: Trial by Jury. Jesus Christ, don't you pay attention to anything?"

"I was just trying to make conversation," Mother huffed.

"Well commercials are over, show's on, so shut it."

The dull domestic dramas of conformity. We didn't know which was worse, what was on the screen or what we were seeing in our own living room. Dear God, please let us die before we get old.

In English class, Mrs. Head -- what a strange name -- has been teaching us about point of view. This show's point of view would have to be "Law good, everyone guilty." It's as though the entire franchise was thought up by some spoiled, sheltered prep school boy who used to pin the Confedrate flag on his walls.

All the Law & Orders suck. They do not, however, all suck equally. But, yes, they all suck.

Utilizing the "ripped from the headlines" storylines to save on hiring real writers (Warner Bros. did the same thing in the thirties and forties with their B-movies), plot's not the only thing taking a holiday from the franchise, engaging dialogue and characterization are also missing.

This version basically stars Bebe Neuwirth who shot to fame playing the monotonal Lilith on Cheers and, later, on Fraiser. She's not doing any stretching in this role. If Neuwrith's TV persona were a handshake, it would be cold and clammy.

Also in the cast is Fred the Pitbull Thompson. Thompson's an "actor" now because he manages to recite his dialogue word for word and utilize the same irritable expression in scene after scene. Having conquered the Senate and bad TV shows, if he next pursues product endorsements, we'd recommend he schill for fiber products since his sole expression can best be described as constipated.

In this cast, Neuwrith is practically the youngster. Remember, don't trust anyone over thirty. Which leaves you with no one to root for.

Forty minutes into the show, as you see a videotape and then watch the attornies bicker over whether or not it should be played in court (the judge rules that it should), you start to long for the deeper meanings of Dragnet.

To remind everyone how limited the acting range required for this show is, Candice Bergen pops up for a few minutes. With Murphy Brown, she went from Hollywood joke to respected actress.
Diane English is no longer around to prop her up and feed her lines so she's about as interesting as Charlie McCarthey left lying on a table. Wait, that's too harsh. Charlie's face was much more animated than Bergan's. Whether she's playing the villain in Miss Congeniality, the shrew in Sweet Home Alabama or the nag in The In-Laws, Bergen's fond of popping her eyes and doing this half-a-head-roll move. She uses them in this role as well. No, we can't figure out why either.

In the world of Dick Wolf, Candice Bergen is the perfect actress. She's as flat as every other detail in his shows. He doesn't have to worry that after the initial, "Oh look, it's Candy Bergen!" moment that anyone's going to be distracted further.

Making what we're sure was a brave acting choice, Amy Carlson sports cleavage often. Since the show provides no backstory for any of the characters, we invented our own.

Carlson's Kelly Gaffney (who thinks up these names?) (or were they "ripped from the phone book?") was a mousy, flat chested thing throughout high school and college. As her gift for getting into law school, her boyfriend, Lance Beverly, paid for implants. Alas, Kelly was so overjoyed at the prospect of permanently strapping on two floatation devices, she failed to check and see where Lance, a poor boy from uptown, got the money. Turns out he was dealing crack. Kelly found this out after he was arrested. She took an an oath, then and there, to clean up the streets and to wait for Lance to finish serving his term. But he got shanked in prison, probably for having the name Lance Beverly, and now she's left with only the sense of purpose and the memory of him. So every time she lifts and drops the implants, she's doing it to remember him. She must think of him constantly.

Carlson won a daytime Emmy for playing Josie on Another World in 1998. Her big moment, that no doubt cinched the win, was when Josie, four months pregnant, got shoved out a window, fell five stories, landed on a trampoline and miscarried. After that, it's no surprise Carlson's drained. Which explains her low key, some might say non-existant, characterization at present.

The show's nothing if not reserved and Republican. By comparsion, Mayberry was a regular Peyton Place what with Thelma Lou and Barney, among others. To get through this show, you need something much harder than what we stashed upstairs. Watching the continuous debate over the arcane, we wondered when Wolf would turn his attention to Law & Order: The Plumbers Division. The merits of washers and screws could be debated for hours, no doubt.

Somewhere near the end we dozed off. Missing, we're sure, a cliff hanging verdict full of long pauses and quick close ups.

"Well, wasn't that nice?" Mother asked, waking us. "All four of us sharing an evening together. We could make this our special time and this our special show."

"We can't," one of us said as we both stood up. "Unlike the war, Law & Order: Trial by Jury has been cancelled."

10 CDs, 10 Minutes

Hey groovy guys and gals. You got the incense lit? Anything else? Got the lava lamp flowing or the strobe light going? Kick off your shoes, we're the barefootin' love generation here. We're bringing you ten trippy, groovy, transplendid music albums and we'll break them down for you in ten minutes, but don't time us, okay? That'd be a real drag to picture you with a stop watch being so anal and, frankly, so Republican.

Ava: Joan Baez's Joan came out in August, 1967. The summer of love. It's baroque rock. "Be Not Too Hard" opens the album on a gentle note and quickly things move to a cover of the Beatles "Elanor Rigby." Baez covers Simon & Garfunkel's "Dangling Conversation" (and asks if God, not the theatre, is dead) and Donovan's "Turquoise." When Dona and I started exploring the music of Joan Baez this was one of the first ones we bought. It's remained a favorite of mine.
If someone's looking for a starting point into her sixties work and wants to start on the non traditional folk albums, I'd suggest that they start here. The sound quality is superior because this CD is a reissue packed with a lengthy essay on Baez and the making of this album.

Jess: My pick was hard, really hard, because I grew up hearing music from this period all the time. My parents do listen to things released after 1969, but the majority of the music played in our home was either from this period or from artists who were established in this period or immediately after. The Mamas and the Papas was a group we not only listened to, but sung along with. I can remember the radio going out in my mom's car when I was around four or five and for the next two years, we sang songs in that car. Usually the Mamas and the Papas but there was also one where my mom would pat the dashboard and we'd all be singing "Come on, come on, you can make it up the hill." My mom swears now that the car really was slow in going up hills but looking back, I think she largely did that to give us something to do and focus on.
So of the Mamas and the Papas albums, I'm going with Deliver because it's often overlooked but I really think they nailed the singing on this one more than on any other. In terms of song writing, John & Michelle Phillips composed the classic "Creeque Alley" for this album with the refrain of "No one's getting fat except Mama Cass." The other big hit from this album which was also released in 1967, Ava, is "Dedicated to the One I Love." The Shirelles had already had a hit with that a few years back, but the Mamas and the Papas remade it and made it their own with starts and stops and trippy time signatures. The vocal interplay on that song is pretty amazing.
The gang knocks it out of the park with "Sing for Your Supper" which really gives Cass a chance to shine and show off those amazing pipes. They do two covers of well known songs. On the first, "My Girl," they make it a little more bouncy via the vocals. On the second, "Twist and Shout," they really slow it down and bear down on the "C'mon baby" parts. "Look Through My Window" was written by John Phillips and it was also a hit from this album and the vocal dynamics there are fun to sing along with as you go from soft to loud and back very quickly. Finally, there's John Phillips' "String Man" which is, honestly, a goofy song but I love the way the group bends the notes.

Dona: Well my pick comes from 1966, Judy Collins' In My Life. Like Joan Baez's Joan, this is baroque rock. There are so many incredible songs on this album. Ava and I go back and forth on who covers "La Colombe" better, Collins or Baez. We finally decided it depends on your mood at the time after many days of "I think it's Collins!" and "Me too!" followed by, "Wait, it's Baez!" and "I know!" Favorite songs on this album are every track. Her cover of the Beatles' "In My Life" is haunting and, though I love the Beatles, Judy owns the song. I don't care for Randy Newman at all but I love her version of "I Think It's Going to Rain Today." I'm also not that crazy about Lenoard Cohen but she brings "Suzanne" to life. That said, the two songs that get me the most excited are "Pirate Jenny" which is just wonderful and her "Marat/Sade" which is a "homage" and a cutting of several songs from the musical. We sing that at the top of our lungs and Jim realizes now that he needs to learn the song and join in on the fun. "We want our rights and we don't care how/ We want a revolution now."

Ty: Using Ruth's definition of "the sixties end with Nixon's resignation," I chose Stevie Wonder's Talking Book because that's one of my favorite albums of the old stuff. The sounds in "Maybe Your Baby" seem to be coming back in some rap stuff, that fuzzy sound. "Superstition" is the stand out track absolutely but "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" is probably my favorite up tempo, sweet song by Stevie other than "Isn't She Lovely." "Blame It On the Sun" is another favorite and Betty just told me that Diana Ross recorded that in the nineties, so I'll check that out. And I can't stop without praising "I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)" which is amazing and one of those songs that reminds you of how when Stevie wants to let loose, he's not just a good singer but an amazing one. Oh, it came out in 1972.

Jim: My pick came out in 1969 and it's the Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed. This is a remastered CD, a SACD in fact and the sound's incredible. It's an album where all the songs work well together and flow and my two favorite tracks are "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "Gimmie Shelter."

Ruth: My pick is the Beatles' Revolver from 1966. Rubber Soul had already came out and was a strong album that I enjoyed but when Revolver came out, there was no indication of it being a put-on and I can remember how blown away all my friends and I were by this album. Other masterpieces would follow, but this was the first one. "Here, There and Everywhere" is probably one of my favorite Beatles' songs that I feel like most people today don't get a chance to hear because it wasn't a number one. "She Said, She Said" was supposed to be about Peter Fonda, according to what John Lennon told the press, who met the Beatles on a trip to California and kept telling them that he knew what it was like to be dead. The animated film The Yellow Submarine would follow but this is the album on which the title song appeared. And of course "All the lonely people," "Eleanor Rigby." appeared here. This was the song that your parents could get into. I don't mean that it was for your parents. But I am saying that, and I'm sure we've all done this, when you really love a group, you want the people around you to love it to. Now when you're living at home, that includes your parents. My father was into Frank Sinatra and similar artists. He looked down on the Beatles and really thought I should listen to Sinatra. There were a few songs, like "Michelle," that he thought were okay but "Eleanor Rigby" was the first song that hooked him. By the time they did "Blackbird" on the White Album, he was a dedicated fan.

Betty: I picked Diana Ross & the Supremes Reflections. It was the mid-nineties and I was trying to build a CD collection. I was and am a big fan of Diana Ross and it was hard to find anything on CD. I found this at a used CD store. Besides the hits that the group had, it's a real snap shot of the era because they also cover three big hits from other artists. "Ode to Billie Joe" is a strong song and they do a great job on it. I'm less impressed with "Up, Up and Away" but I was never crazy about the Fifth Dimension. The third one is a home run, "What the World Needs Now Is Love" because there are some songs that Diana Ross' voice is just made for and this is one. She's always been really good at the dramatic readings in songs during the spoken passage parts and this song is no exception. Of the hits they got off the album, obviously "Reflections" which was very popular when I got the CD because it was being used as the theme song to China Beach. The other two hits were "Forever Came Today" which, as Jess said about a Mamas and the Papas song, starts and stops. It's a really interesting song. Then there's "In and Out of Love" which is a gentle swaying song. And this album came out in 1968, the CD I have in 1991 and Motown should remaster this and re-release it. But even in this substandard format, Diana's voice gives me chills.

Rebecca: I think everyone knows how much I love Otis Blue but since I've talked about that a great deal, I went with another album by Otis Redding, Live in Europe. There are ten songs here that were recorded live and there's not a one that's not a classic to me. He does "Respect," which he wrote. He does the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" and the Beatles' "Day Tripper." He does the Temptations "My Girl." My favorite song, if I had to pick just one, would have to be "Try a Little Tenderness." I get goose bumps on that one because it's as though he's pouring everything he has into that song. The album came out in 1967.

Folding Star: Dusty in Memphis. 1969, is really just incredible. You put it on and suddenly Dusty Springfield's voice is reaching across time and space, past all the concerns of your daily life, and into a place inside you where she just connects to everything you're feeling. And it works no matter what you're feeling. If you're feeling really happy, in love with the world, you can put it on and know just from her voice and the very sound of the album that Dusty gets that better than anyone. And if you're feeling the lowest you've ever felt, you can hit play and let her voice wash over you and feel understood, that you're not alone in how you feel. On top of that incredible personal effect it has, it's also one of the most amazing albums I've ever heard in a musical sense.

Jim: And you wrote about Dusty in Memphis at your site as well. That's my parents favorite album of all time I think. I think "Breakfast in Bed" is my favorite song on the CD. And it's also a CD that made a list Kat did, I think.

Kat: Yeah, it did. Jim's referring to a thing I did at The Common Ills on essential albums of the last forty years. My friends and I went around at parties asking people to note their favorite albums and from that we made a list and then selected the choices. Love is a group I like but one I'd forgotten until the list. Forever Changes made our final cut and it's just an amazing album. We borrowed the vinyl version of it from a friend but after the list was done, the next day in fact, I went out and bought this album because I loved it that much. There is so much passion and power in this album. You hear it and you realize that in this moment, 1967, they really were amazing. They never found a way to equal this during their brief career, or to surpass it, but this is an amazing album. Just listen to the first track, "Alone Again Or," and see if it doesn't hook you. If it does, this is the album for you. I'll also note the album cover which is some amazing art work. I know these days, it's all about the product and they have to put glossy photos of various untalented lovelies on the cover, but I miss the art of album covers. These days, it's all snap shots.

C.I.: This was too hard. I narrowed my time frame down to 1967 to 1970. There was still too much. Laura Nyro, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, on and on.
I finally asked myself what I wanted to listen to right now and decided on The Doors. So I chose, from 1967, the Doors self-titled debut.

Rebecca: Big suprise. Christmas music.

C.I.: Rebecca's referring to the fact that when December rolls around, I play the Doors. It's always been Christmas music to me. Seriously, as a kid, we've decorate the tree to the Doors.
I got it as an early Christmas gift one year from someone, a best of, who went down my list of requested music and decided no, what I really needed was the Doors. There are other strong albums and I even like the experimental Soft Parade, but this one is my favorite and whether it's "Break On Through (To The Other Side)" or "Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)" or "The End,"
there's not a track on the album that I don't love. As a band, this is, my opinion, there strongest album.

Kat: I'd agree with that. They were coming off their performances and fame hadn't bit them in the ass yet.

Essay dedicated to the mainstream press: "Don't it leave you on the empty side?"

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Quagmire. There we said it. Did you grimace? Did you toss out some nonsense about how long it took to rebuild a country after WWII? Are you still so scared of making the comparison to the Vietnam conflict?

The nation's turning against this illegal war. Every day, another new detail emerges. The mainstream press, if it addresses it, does so fleetingly. But the people are making the connections the press refuses to make.

You've got a press collectively pulling a hard for the glory days of the Watergate coverage all week. And then they go back to . . . talking about Tom Cruise. Hey, we understand Christian Slater may have been charged with something. Surely you can continue to do your j-schools proud by easing out of the Michael Jackson coverage and into that.

As Ruth pointed out a few editions back, it's easy to look back and think that the press was once just doing one hard hitting story after another. That they were actively and unanimously exposing the lies of Vietnam. But that's not the case. Then, as now, the public had to turn against the war. Only then did the press start to do its job.

We're guessing their collective eyes were on the media circus that has been the Michael Jackson trial and so they missed what's happening in your town or your city, what's happening all across the nation.

As low as we've gone
Now the ocean is calm,
And here comes the turn of the tide.
It's time to be heard,
It's time to decide.
Here comes the turn of the tide.

The tide is turning and has been for awhile. But apparently word on the street doesn't reach the lofty offices of The New York Times.

This week, we heard a great deal about the power of the press. We heard a great deal about how that power was supposed to be used. Were those just empty words? Was anyone listening or just reciting?

The New York Times followed up some strong reporting by Tim Golden recently with an in depth look at the torture jets used by the CIA. Golden and Scott Shane's story on the jets were front page stories. This could be a time for reinvention, for dedicating themselves to the core mission of their profession. But this morning's New York Times front page, sadly, busies itself telling you that Bill the kitty killer Frist says he'll prevail in the long run.

Wow. Color us informed.

After the rush when you come back down
You're always disappointed
Nothing seems to keep you high
Drive your bargain
Push your papers
With your medals
Fuck your strangers
Don't it leave you on the empty side
When you come back down

So the shine on of last week, that's all it was? All the talk about the power of the press, just empty, self-congratulatory words? Bill Keller frets over circle jerks, what was this week long masturbation?

I've been waiting for something to happen
For a week or a month or a year
With the blood in the ink of the headlines
And the sound of the crowd in my ear
You might ask what it takes to remember
When you know that you've seen it before
Where a government lies a people
And a country is drifiting to war

What does it take to remember? For the press, apparently, the end to a three decades old parlor game. But what you gonna' do now?

Or maybe you're perfectly happy to live in the reflected glory of Woodward & Bernstein? Possibly, that competative drive only kicks in when it comes to your social calenders?

The news is meant to inform. As it stands now, the public is ahead of the press. Is this the stuff of the dreams that drove you through school? Did you tell yourself, "I'm going to bust my ass for this degree so that one day, somehow, some way, I can be mediocre."

If that's what you were shooting for, congratulations on the low expectations because you've succeeded. Possibly even beyond your wildest dreams.

But we're left to wonder where the one small voice will come from in the mainstream. You know the one small voice we mean, right?

So you walk away and say
Isn't he divine
Don't those clothes look fine
On the emperor
And as you take your leave
You wonder why you're feelin so ill at ease
Don't you know --
Lies -- take your soul
You can't hide from your self
Lies -- take their toll on you and everyone else
One small voice
Speakin' out in honesty
Silenced but not for long
One small voice
Speakin' with the values we were taught as children
Tell the truth
You can change the world but you better be strong.

You actually, many of you, went toe to toe with the Bully Boy and his administration for the past two weeks over the Newsweek controversy. You showed a spine when most of us assumed you'd been deboned shortly around the time he stole the first election.

Sure you were just covering your own asses, circling the wagons, looking out for number one, but did you notice what happened? Did the public storm the waiting rooms of the Washington Post? No.

Were you surprised to discover that in the end, the public didn't fall for the lines from the administration?

Could it maybe serve as a lesson to you?

Dare we suggest that perhaps that perhaps your problem isn't "media critics" or "bloggers," but the fact that you've abdicated your role for too long?

Might Bill Keller target some of the energy he's storing up to go to war with the bloggers instead on ensuring that his paper is leading the way with stories on the Downing St. Memo?

In the days of Watergate and immediately after, the press got one wet kiss from Hollywood after another as they were portrayed as dedicated to their jobs as watchdogs. Mary Richards went to jail to protect a source, for goodness sake. Jane Fonda twice played reporters breaking important stories (China Syndrome and The Electric Horseman). Robert Redford played Woody and Dustin Hoffman played Carl Bernstein. There were a few snags along the way (Absence of Malice which starred Sally Field as an incompetent reporter who put into print whatever she was told -- hey, maybe Judy Miller trying to project Sally Field wasn't so much of a stretch!) but by mid-decade in the eighties, a Broadcast News could still be made.

If trust has vanished in the press, it's because we're so aware of the repeated failures. And it's not as though these failures are the result of trying, they're the products of denying.

Publicisits are in the business of bait and switch, of spin. Reporters shouldn't be.

In a column this week, Alessandra Stanley made a big to do about how for all the talk of the electronic media's dominance, the unveiling of Deep Throat occurred in print while the electronic media only amplified that. We're not going to split hairs with Alessandra. Two of us are fans of her work (Ava and C.I.) but we will point out an obvious fact, one that we'll be most readers of The New York Times had pop into their heads as they read the column: The New York Times didn't break the story.

No, they were beaten to the punch by Vanity Fair, a sometimes solid magazine, but one not that far removed from Town & Country. Exactly what does that say about our daily press?

Songs quoted above, listed in order below:

"The Times They Are A Changing" written by Bob Dylan, from the album The Times They Are A-Changing.
"Turn of the Tide" words and music by Carly Simon and Jacob Brackman, available on her boxed set Clouds in My Coffee.
"Woman of Heart and Mind" words and music by Joni Mitchell, from the album For the Roses.
"Lives in the Balance" words and music by Jackson Browne, title track from the album of the same name.
"One Small Voice" words and music by Carole King, from the album Speeding Time.

Blog spotlight: The Common Ills on "Rudith Miller"

We weren't planning to do a blog spotlight in this tripping edition. Then Ruth reminded us that C.I. had done a thing, a parody, on Rudith Miller. It takes place in the sixties when Rudith and a young Judith Miller are both planning to be journalists and attending Hack U. At Hack University, they struggle with the big themes of spin. We're glad Ruth remembered this and we thank C.I. for allowing us to reprint this comic essay from January 9th of this year.

Parody: Rudith Miller weighs in on journalism and Judith Miller's front page story in this morning's Times

Hi gang. My name is Rudith Miller, Rudy to everyone who's charmed by me -- and who isn't charmed by me? I'm a steam roller with gamine bangs! Note my pixie charms. Celebrate me.As much as everything I could ever write about is actually about me, so is this! That's a technique I was taught at Hack University -- a great school if ever there was one! I learned so much from professors like Robert Novak.
I just thought I'd share a few tips with anyone who might be an aspiring journalist. I'm happy to pass on my wisdom because I'm not using it. I'm what's known as a "non-practicing reporter." But I'm not like those ex-Catholics attacking the Church. I just moved on to better and more humane things.

Our alumni is quite famous. It's a rare day I don't turn on the TV or the radio and spot one ofus pontificating in the "gatekeeper" voice we were all taught. Well not, all of us. Chris Matthews never quite managed to get that lesson down. He was one of the students who rode the short bus to Hack U. But hasn't he done a great job of overcompensating by bellowing? We're all very proud of him because the odds were against him.

I remember Professor Brit Hume hectoring him once about his strong hold on common sense and how that would only interfere with a successful journalism career. If you watch Hardball, you'll see Chris slip every now and then. But always remember, he rode the short bus. Cut him a little slack.

At Hack U, I had a great deal of fun because we weren't ones to bury our noses in books, let me tell you! All facts and no fun was the motto of CJR -- not Hack U!

But I want to talk about Heather Rain Farrow. She was this little wisp of a girl -- one we all suspected was from Berkeley because she was just so out there with her long, straight blond hair and her bell bottoms and her love beads. She truly was Peggy Lipton's Julie on The Mod Squad. Only not cool enough to be a narc!

So Heather Rain had a really hard time fitting in. After the first semester, she was put on academic probation and she had a long talk with the dean of students. He explained that with her looks and a name like "Heather Rain Farrow" she might as well pack it in and step on overto the Weatherman University where a young Matt Lauer (yes, he had a full head of hair back then!) was excelling in Charm 101 and Grinning Through Disasters.

Next thing I know, Heather Rain is studying me. Stalking me is more like it. At first it was flattering and, honestly, understandable. I was at the top of my class and I was, after all, me.

But when Heather Rain began dying her hair brown and speaking in my flat monotone, I began to suspect she was taking it a little too far.

One night I caught her in the dorm bathroom with a pair of pinkie shears. She'd chopped off all hair and added bangs. She looked like a carbon copy of me! I grabbed her by the shoulders and said, "Heather Rain, what the hell are you doing!" She fixed me with her squinty gaze and declared, "From now on call me Judith!"

I recoiled in shock. "Judith." Now some might argue she was just a big fan of that folk singer Judy Collins. I don't doubt that Heather Rain had a few albums by Collins in her vinyl collection.But with her hair dyed my shade of brown, with my bangs and my monotone way of speaking (I was planning to go into broadcasting at that point and it was important you strip away any regional quality in your speaking voice), it was so obvious to me that "Judith" was trying to become Rudith! That would be me.

I remember being shocked by how quickly she began fitting in and how easily she was accepted into the group. That young Charles Gibson began squiring her all over campus which may have been fitting punishment since I understood he fell asleep all the time -- even during, if you get my meaning.

It was hard on me to see this cheap, bargain bin, knock-off of me so quickly embraced. I struggled through the program as "Judy" excelled. My heart wasn't in it anymore eventhough I did manage to graduate with honors. Afterwards I went onto business school and eventually went into acquisitions and mergers because, honestly, I found it to be a more compassionate profession. Sure I break up companies and destroy pension programs but, on the up, I've yet to cheerlead anyone into a war. Helps me sleep at night.

Anyhoo, I've followed Heather Rain Farrow's career with some interest, or, as she likes to be called now, "Judy." Mainly because so many people have dubbed me "Judy's evil twin."Evil twin? Come on people, how nefarious would I have to be to claim that title!!!!!!!! It's just not possible.

Today I'm reading the New York Times where I see a front page story by "Judy.""Audits Criticize U.N. Handling Of Oil-for-Food." I thought I'd read through it to see if she was still practicing what we were taught at Hack U -- back when she was attempting to steal my identity. Identity theft is so common today but I believe Heather Rain pioneered it.

By the way, I carry those bangs off much better but then I don't look like the "before" shots for a Botox ad. And when people talk about my bangs, they cite Audrey Hepburn, not Sally Field!It's the difference between looking gamine and looking like you just emerged from Super Cuts.

But let's get back to her story because I know she stole her tricks from me and if she's going to use them you should too.

First off, notice how she mentions numbers like "58 reports" and then goes on to note things like "many of which criticize how the aid program was administered."

Did Judy read 58 reports? I doubt it. Has she read "many" reports? I doubt it.

She gets to pretend she has because she's slipped in the apparent fact that the paper only had access to ten reports. That way, if she's called on it later, she can say, "I said I only had access to ten!" It's a cute little trick and one that TA Cokie Roberts used to stress whenever Professor Roger Mudd was under the weather.

As Cokie used to tell us, "You imply something repeatedly and it's not your fault that the reader misunderstands." It's called professionalism.

Want to know another trick of the trade?

Slam at the top of your story. That's the part that will make the front page. Slam and slam freely. If you're not slamming freely you're about as useful as Shaq on a free throw.It's important to slam not just so you get your "props" from other journalists but also because your entire piece will not run on the front page.

By slamming early and often, you know your star turns will be remembered. It's the difference between being a reporter and a "star."

Heather Rain used to object to that as unfair and boy would Professor Novak chew her ass.Well not just Heather Rain. For a two week period, she insisted upon being called "Squirrel" to honor a rodent that was run over in the student parking lot by that hot rodding Timmy Russert.He had an early love for those muscle cars even back then!

But somewhere after she dropped Heather Rain and after she stopped calling herself "Squirrel," she obviously internalized Professor Novak's message.

Here's another tip, via visiting lecturer Newton Fulbright, "Don't rely on any named person for the early part." That is so true. What you write is all about you and no one's going to be saying "Judy got game!" if the knock out blow comes from someone you identify. I mean if Scoots Libby gets quoted readers are apt to remember him and not you. Besides, if people have to go on record, they might not be so eager to give you that beyond belief quote.

Chris Matthews (remember, short bus) used to have the biggest problem with this. That's probably why he never really made a name for himself in print journalism.

Now, if like "Judy," you've built your house on the sand of non-existant WMD, it is important that you present a dissenting voice or two -- at least until readers forget that all your trumped out stories never bore out.

So if you're in that phase you're going to have to offer dissenting voices in a long piece. I don't know what people expect from "Judy" -- I'm no fan but good God, people, she was practically commanding a unit in Iraq, issuing orders of where to go and what to do!

The expectations of readers can be so high. You've given them a paper, what more do they want -- truth??? Well when those faceless, unimportant readers question you, just ride it out by tossing in a dissenting quote or two. Just sprinkle it in for flavor. But never at the top. That way people who just read the front page don't have to be bothered with these nay sayers or facts.

"Judy" has that part down. You have to turn to page A8, inside the paper, to hear a dissenting voice. Silly people who persist in reading every word of the text will find out that all the declarative statements offered as fact at the top of the piece aren't as concrete as they might have seemed.

You can quote Paul Volcker, who's heading the investigation, saying that the audits "don't prove anything." You just do it down in your piece so that you've already left people with the impression that the audits do prove something, something very dire. And remember they already mistakenly think you've read all the reports so, even if they make it that far, they'll remember your strong "star turn" upfront more than anything else.

Some people see journalism as informing the public. At Hack U, we were always taught that we should see ourselves as prosecutors making opening statements. That's probably why we've never been ones to get behind the quaint notion of "innocent until proven guilty."

VIAWAP. That's a mnemonic device Professor Novak gave us to remember a core principle: Vendetta Is Ambition With A Purpose. I see "Judy" hadn't forgotten that.

Nor should she. Some on the right claim that the UN's insistence upon being fact based is because they are at war with the administration. "Judy," however, knows it's all about her and she'll grudge f--k them over until her dying day. I'll fault her for many things but she obviously internalized the VIAWAP motto and has been pushing this story since June of last year.

Now I want you to take a moment to appreciate the wonders of "Judy." Imagine if the Times had let that Gretchen Morgenson have a go at the story. (I understand Morgenson actually went to an accredited journalism school! Probably why she's never crossed over big on cable.) I mean, the story's about audits, it's about companies, it could have gone to Morgenson and the business pages. Can you imagine what she might have written?

She'd probably open with Volkner saying the audits "don't prove anything" and "There's no flaming red flags in this stuff." And then what? I mean after you open with that, there's no story at all. Then the burden of proof is on the people attacking the UN. "Always open with allegations" as professor Herbert Phillbrick used to intone.

"Judy" took that to heart and it's driven her career long after the wheels fell off her cart. Did I mix metaphors? Blame it on the alumni reunion last spring where I bumped into Peggy Noonan. She's a sweetie, that Peggy Noons, but why she insists upon cultivating that phoney voice, one that suddenly pops up in the 90s (and one which only sounds polished to dock workers, I'm sure), is something I'll never understand.

But back to "Judy." She started out at Hack University with the most obstacles to overcome of any student other than Matthews (who wore clip-on ties, by the way; remember -- short bus).Little Heather Rain Farrow, whose "raps" about "peace, man" were always greeted with titters, is long gone. She's been replaced by "Judith Miller." She's run with my identity and won my begrudging respect for embodying all we were taught at Hack U. Now if only she'd drop those bangs.

[Note: As stated in the heading, this is parody. But should you encounter Judith Miller, feel free to call her "Heather Rain."] [Note II: Voice has been changed to voices. Thanks Ben.]

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