Insight. Antics.

Missing, Inaction.

In Media on August 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm
That headline pretty much describes these last months: Brief Wit was ill-tended to (mea culpa) as other things crept up. However, during my unannounced sabbatical, I’ve still been sopping up news. So, as we all settle in to our summer conclaves (Disclosure: mine is the same as my winter, spring, and fall strongholds), I thought a little review ‘n riff of some of the things I neglected might be a worthwhile exercise, if not for you, then maybe for me…

 
 

November
– Jesse Jackson, Jr. resigns from U.S. Congress due to health problems and federal criminal investigation of his activities: Aside from treason, those are the best two reasons I can think of offhand.

 
 

UP - Disney/Pixar

 

December
– World experiences worst Helium shortage in decades: Falsettos being preserved as a precaution.
– Hillary Clinton is hospitalized after doctors discover a blood clot related to the concussion she suffered: The only illogical explanation for this? Benghazi. Duh.
– Sandy Hook: Eight months later, it’s heartbreaking, as is the premium that certain politicians place on their job security compared to our children’s security.
– The United States records its hottest year on record in 2012: I’m sure it’s nothing.

 
 

Gérard Depardieu with his Russian Passport

 

January
– Fiscal Cliff avoided: The amount of time, jockeying, and coverage spent on a manmade calamity that ended as soon as it began could have been exerted on something a little more useful, no?
– Vladimir Putin grants Russian citizenship to Gérard Depardieu who has renounced his French citizenship due to high taxes: Will Gérard convince Donald Trump to follow suit (and join him and Edward Snowden for the next year)?
– Former CEO of AIG sues government over terms of bailout that saved his company: The balls on this guy! It’s almost as if he’s never heard the one about the scorpion and the frog.
– House Passes $51 Billion Sandy Relief Bill: Your punctuality is an inspiration to us all.
– Al Jazeera acquires Current TV from Al Gore and Joel Hyatt: They produce great content, but this is awkward and hypocritical, whatever Gore says.
– The Church of England drops its prohibition on gay clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops, so long as they promise to be celibate: This raised some interesting philosophical questions… if you willfully opt not to have sex, do you even have a sexual orientation? Does it even matter (to anyone other than yourself)?
– Oprah interviews Lance Armstrong: It’s almost as if Lance wants us to dislike him.
– The first official portrait of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is unveiled to a mixed reception from critics: I know the camera adds ten pounds, but how many is she wearing? Oh, you’re saying, it’s canvas? Not cameras? Curiouser and curiouser.
– President Obama’s Inauguration: Is it sad that few months out, Beyoncé’s lip syncing is the first thing that comes to mind? Second thing: Malia photobombing Sasha’s selfie.
– No candidates were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time since 1996: That’s about as many future Hall of Famers as are left on the  2013 Yankees starting lineup.

 
 

Mayor Ed Koch and Senatorial candidate Bess Myerson campaigning on the subway in September 1980 - Mary DiBiase/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

 

February
– At 17.4 million digits, largest known prime number discovered: How can this possibly be useful?
– Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch dies: My favorite Ed Koch memory is a local TV news story showing the joy resulting from babies looking at pictures of his face.
– BBC cancels The Hour: I’m still legitimately disappointed about this.
– President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announces his desire to become the first Iranian astronaut: By all means.
– The body of King Richard III, killed in 1485, is exhumed under a parking lot: Turns out he had been validating parking for centuries.
– Dennis Rodman goes to North Korea: Now that we have some distance, it’s safe to say this is bigger than Nixon going to China.
Horse meat detected in Ikea’s Swedish meatballs: Regulators say first clue was deliveries arriving from glue factories.
– Estonia becomes the first country to install a nationwide system of fast chargers for electric vehicles: I’ve been… they still have babushka ladies, but they beat the rest of us? That shows Tallinn(t).

 
 

Ra's al Ghul in Batman The Animated Series - Warner Bros

 

March
– Scientists working on the Lazarus Project announce successfully rejuvenated cells of a species of frog extinct since 1983: Ra’s al Ghul panics, tries to buy off Lazarus Project in last-ditch effort to keep secret of immortality from spreading.
– The Harlem Shake: As far as I am concerned, the Miami Heat won this meme, and their championship success can be traced back to it.
– As the Supreme Court hears two same-sex marriage cases, Hillary Clinton, Rob Portman, and almost everyone in between come out in support of it: It’s not just that the writing was on the wall, it’s that the closet was being taken out to make way for a bigger bedroom.
– Senator Rand Paul holds a 13-hour filibuster: He could have gone longer, if only he had used the discreet “catheter that lubricates itself right in the package” like the incessant ad on MSNBC tells us. Because nothing says conviction like peeing from the world’s greatest deliberative body.
– Cardinals elect Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as Pope Francis: Whatever the color, they’re still blowing smoke.
– Scientists at the Hadron Collider express confidence that a particle discovered in July 2012 is a Higgs boson: Nothing insightful to add, just that I kept hoping someone would misspeak and say Higgs bosom.
– Three time “Best Restaurant in the World” winner Noma probably got 63 customers sick with a norovirus: I’d like to see a survey measuring people who would still go to Per Se even if certain diarrhea awaited them.
– A plague of locusts descends upon Madagascar: Just in time for the second seder! 4:1 odds next year it’s hail in Sri Lanka. Who’ll see that action?
 – Morrissey is diagnosed with severe pneumonia: The more you ignore him, the hoarser he gets.
– In snooker, Ding Junhui defeats Neil Robertson to win the Grand Final of the Players Tour Championship: I still prefer Snood.

 
 

A Cypriot at protests against the EU bailout - Yiannis Kourtoglou/AFP/Getty Images.jpg

 

April
– Terrorist bombings in Boston: At points shocking, disgraceful, surreal, and inspiring.
– Cyprus financial crisis escalates: It has macroeconomic implications, but I suspect papers wrote about it a lot because they enjoy the term “Cypriot” too much.
– Fertilizer explosion in West, Texas kills 15: Accidents almost never get as much coverage as deliberate attacks, but man this one was awful. It made movie explosions look under-exaggerated.
America’s Most Wanted is cancelled: Apparently it was not.
Margaret Thatcher dies: Pretty sure I watched Billy Elliot that week obliviously and ignominiously in memoriam.
– Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signs a law that literally taxes homeowners when it rains a lot: The attack ads are going to be so good.
– NBA center Jason Collins reveals he is gay: Reveals plans to work on his outside game. Be thankful I spared you the more crass jokes.
– NBC announces that Jimmy Fallon will replace Jay Leno as host of
The Tonight Show in 2014, taping at 30 Rock: I think Conan made peace a long time ago, but for a second after he heard this, he must have thought: “Seriously? After all this, I could’ve stayed in my old studio for an extra few years and been host of The Tonight Show?”
– Presidents unite for opening of George W. Bush library: Is there an edict decreeing that all ex-presidents need to go with a library? I feel like an Applebee’s would have been more apropos here.

 
 

Graph of IRS Scandal Coverage - Brendan Nyhan/LexizNexis Academic

 

May
– An Apple I computer sells for $671,000 at auction: Coincidentally, it’s also the same amount Apple paid in 2012 taxes.
– The Dow closes above 15k for the first time: And yet my 401k still doesn’t have 401k.
– Three women saved from years long captivity by Ariel Castro (who later gets sentenced to 1,000 years): giving Dzhokhar Tsranev a run for his money on worst person in the world this year.
– Worst textile disaster ever occurs in Bangladesh: All so we could have pima cotton polos. 1,000 people died. At least the US is throwing the gauntlet down for workplace safety.
– Harper Lee filed a lawsuit claiming that a literary agent tricked her into relinquishing the copyright on To Kill a Mockingbird: I’m glad she is still alive.
– Angelina Jolie reveals her double mastectomy: Frank Costanza to follow suit.
– The IRS appears to target conservative groups: The scandal here is that Obama didn’t know. Also, liberal groups were investigated, too. This isn’t Watergate; it’s also not Stargate (yes, even Atlantis) or Nipplegate. It needed to be investigated and it has been. The White House has been exonerated and the probes spanned the political spectrum, but you probably wouldn’t know that from how the reporting trailed off.
– The Boy Scouts of America vote to allow openly gay youth to join: Just like the Church of England’s decision, this makes little sense. Right below intolerance on the list of things that bug me is a lack of consistency. Either maintain your wrong-headed, narrow-minded ideologcal purity and shoot your organization in the foot, or say, “We stand for being prepared for every situation and every person” and be prepared to lose the bigoted in your ranks. (A gay scout leader is probably less likely to sexually abuse a cub than a priest is…)
– Metro-North trains collide near Bridgeport, CT: if only Pete Campbell were on board.
–  Same sex marriage spreads internationally: The kiwis are joined by France in allowing two baguettes to wed. But Russia’s still Stalin’.
– It’s announced that Grumpy Cat will star in a feature film, from the production team that brought you Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill, no less: On a clearly unrelated note… has anyone ever swept The Razzies?

 
 

A supporter of gay marriage holds a sign during the DOMA and Proposition 8 hearing at the Supreme Court in March 2013

 

June
– Research finds that graphene is the strongest material in the world, even when stitched together: Huh? It’s almost like these scientists have never heard of adamantium.
– After Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey dies, Governor Christie decides to hold the special election for a replacement a mere three weeks before he is up for reelection: Even Tony Soprano (RIP) would call that crooked. Apparently, election day isn’t big enough for anyone other than Chris Christie.
– Edward Snowden reveals NSA’s PRISM program and other government surveillance operations via Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian and Barton Gellman of The Washington Post, has terrible plan for what to do afterwards: the ensuing international saga has been a shitstorm for virtually all parties. Spy novelist Alex Berenson’s take is dead on.
Michael Hastings, dogged, gladhand-averse journalist, dies in a car crash at 33: robbed of a fiancé in Iraq in 2007, robbed of an ASME National Magazine award (the journalist equivalent of an Emmy) for his Rolling Stone piece that led to General McChrystal’s ouster in Afghanistan in 2010, and robbed of a long, storied career in 2013.
– DOMA and Proposition 8 are struck down: Another Homo Run! It’s amazing how excited I get about things that will have no practical impact on my life.
– Michael Jackson’s daughter, Paris, attempted suicide by cutting her wrists and overdosing on pills. Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of killing her father, actually left a voicemail for her afterwards: Surprisingly it doesn’t say the very apt, “Never meant to make you cry, I apologize a trillion times, I’m sorry Ms. Jackson. I am fo’ real.”
– Paula Deen loses most of her TV shows and sponsorships after she reveals a repeated use of racial epithets: Just watch Jessica Williams and you’ll be all set on this one.

 
 

New York Magazine Cover for 7/22/2013

 

July
– Egyptian military overthrows President Morsi: New York Post headline “BUYER’S RE-MORSI” a SportsCenter Top Play on Words nominee.
– After Mark Sanford wins his old Congressional seat back, Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer decide to run for office again: A year or so ago, Weiner/Spitzer was a wisecrack about a CNN show for sexiled pols. For a couple weeks there, polls had it looking like NYC’s next administration… ?!?
– Andy Murray becomes the first Brit to win Wimbledon in 77 years: The UK hadn’t triumphed since before WWII. That’s still better than France; they haven’t won a war since before… um, well, yeah. Murray also beat France in a war a few days later. (Two-handed backhand gets ’em every time.)
– Police find four men held captive in Houston for their welfare checks: I can’t tell what’s more surprising, that someone would go to such lengths to kidnap someone for years over this, or that somebody in America still has something resembling a pension.
– George Zimmerman is found not guilty in the shooting of Trayvon Martin: Whatever you think about this verdict, I hope we can all agree that Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, should be given a “weight-behind-it” free slug of the man who indisputably shot his son to death. Was the prosecution right not to cross-examine Zimmerman? I’m not sure, but that doesn’t mean Mr. Martin can’t examine his face with a right cross.
 – After a gossip site tip (settle…), Anthony Weiner admits to communicating with more women online post-Congressional resignation and refuses to drop out of the mayoral race: I fail to see the Huma.
– Let’s end on a happy note… the Royal Baby is bornGeorge Alexander Louis is third in line to the throne. He is no doubt plotting, Stewie-like, about how to take out Charles and Will.

 

So, more or less, we’re up-to-date now.

 

Also, now I think I know how Aaron Sorkin feels when he’s writing The Newsroom.

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