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Where I write all things Justin. Call me a Daydream Belieber!
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Patricia Arquette Is Not The Problem


Welcome back to WHEEL OF OUTRAGE, the game where we take the innocuous comments of a public figure, distort their meaning and intent, and turn allies into enemies! Let’s see who was dumb enough to say something into a microphone this week!

Let’s say hello to tonight’s contestant, actress Patricia Arquette! You may remember her as Alabama Worley in TRUE ROMANCE (I certainly do), that lousy CBS show where she was a psychic, or most recently as the struggling single mom in BOYHOOD — a role that just won her a richly deserved Academy Award!

Looks like Ms. Arquette made the mistake of trying to say something in her Oscar acceptance speech, because this week has been full of thinkpieces decrying her appallingly insensitive and racist statements. Let’s see what she said:

“We don’t have equal rights for women in America and we don’t because when they wrote the Constitution, they didn’t intend it for women. So, the truth is, even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are applied that really do affect women. It’s time for all the women in America and all the men who love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve fought for, to fight for us now.”

Wait, that’s it? Rewind that, let’s see it again.

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Fire Brian Williams (Or Don’t)


It’s been a rough couple of weeks for NBC News anchor Brian Williams. First he had to weather the indignity of his daughter getting her salad tossed on HBO, and now he faces legitimate questions about his truthfulness and integrity.

It seems that Mr. Williams, in paying tribute to a war veteran he met in 2003 during the Iraq invasion, embellished the story of their shared adventure, claiming that their helicopter had been shot down when in fact no such thing happened; Williams’ helicopter was trailing one hit by RPG fire and landed without incident an hour after the stricken aircraft made an emergency landing.

Veterans quickly took issue with Williams’ story, made worse by the fact that Williams has been telling this story for years, most recently on Late Show with David Letterman two years ago. Williams offered an apology from the anchor chair a couple of nights ago, saying he had somehow accidentally “conflated” the two helicopters (the one that was hit and the one he was riding in) and insisted it was an innocent mistake.

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American Sniping


Remember when Seth Rogen was a hero of free speech and the American way?

It seems like just a couple of weeks ago that THE INTERVIEW, written and directed by Rogen and his partner Evan Goldberg and co-starring James Franco, was the talk of the nation.

THE INTERVIEW, in case you spent the Christmas holiday on the moon, features Rogen and Franco as an entertainment reporter and his producer who get invited to North Korea by Kim Jong-un for an exclusive interview; the pair is then recruited by the CIA to use the opportunity to kill the crazed leader.

The North Korean government, oddly enough, took umbrage at the premise of the film, and promised grave repercussions if Sony Pictures went forward with the release; soon after that Sony’s computer systems were hacked, embarrassing private emails were released, theatrical releases were leaked to the Internet before they could be released, and the party claiming responsibility (the Guardians of Peace, or #GOP) promised more mayhem if the film was released.

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Rolling Stone, Covered With Moss

1035x1407-Nicki_Cover_SML copyI’m going to give you a list of names, and I want you to see if you can guess what they have in common: Nicki Minaj, Marilyn Manson, Cat Stevens, Fall Out Boy, Sleater-Kinney.

Stumped? That’s okay, because it’s a trick question. None of these names have anything at all in common other than belonging to musicians that breathe oxygen, and the fact that they were all featured on the cover of Rolling Stone that somehow infiltrated my mail slot a couple of weeks ago.

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Stop Not Watching The Bachelor


I came terrifyingly close to making a huge mistake last week. No one would have been hurt or anything, but my quality of life would definitely have been affected, and I want to discuss it a little this week because I suspect that most of you are making this mistake on a regular basis.

Monday night came and went, and then Tuesday, then Wednesday. It wasn’t until Thursday that I found myself in front of my TV, scanning my DVR inventory, and saw the season premiere of THE BACHELOR waiting patiently. And I don’t know what got into me, but I very nearly didn’t watch it.

Although it has brought me great amusement in the past, the side of my brain that writes, and performs, and took more Shakespeare courses than were required in college said “Come on dude, can’t we do better than that bottom-feeding tripe?” And for a moment, I almost listened to that stupid, stupid voice.

But the other side of my brain, the one that has no shame or compunction about things like this, the one that dips graham crackers into Nutella and finishes with a spritz of whipped cream straight to the trap said “It’s not like there’s anything else on.”

So I did it: I watched the season premiere of THE BACHELOR, and it was the smartest dumb thing I did all week.

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Sarah Palin Is Right


It’s hard to think of any public figure I dislike more, or have less sympathy for, than Sarah Palin. Elevated in a weak moment by former Republican presidential nominee John McCain to become the most manifestly unqualified running mate this side of Tom Eagleton in 2008, after losing the election Palin then resigned as governor of Alaska and leveraged her name recognition, political experience, and cheekbones to move into the lucrative world of television punditry, appearing as a Fox News contributor and star of a couple of TLC reality shows.

Though she still pops up now and again to complain about “the lamestream media” (her favorite phrase), her star has fallen considerably: she has no influence on Republican Party policy, no one is clamoring for her endorsement, much less floating her name for any office above PTA secretary, and the only TV coverage she got last year was when her entire brood piled out of a stretch Hummer limo to start a yard brawl at a backyard barbecue. No longer pulling the big checks from Fox News or TLC, she’s been reduced to starting her own Internet channel, where she’s seldom heard from, which is just the way I like her.

But she’s back in the news this week because she posted a photo of her son using the family dog as a stepstool, and people are outraged, claiming animal abuse and poor parenting. Palin quickly fired back at her critics, pointing to a nearly identical photo Ellen Degeneres posted of a little girl standing on a Golden Retriever that won warm applause when Degeneres showed it on her talk show and calling PETA, who denounced Palin and had named Degeneres Woman of the Year in 2009, hypocrites along with everyone else who was piling on.

I strongly dislike everything about Sarah Palin, from her victim routine to her empty-headed demagoguery to her uninformed policy prescriptions to her ignorant fearmongering to the faux-folksy, condescending, snarky tone she uses for nearly everything, including her statement. Even her famously good looks are eroding much faster than can be blamed on Father Time; the hate and ugliness she so tirelessly pumps into the world seems to be reflected on her face, looking more and more like an involuntary, permanent scowl. This person is contributing nothing but negativity to our society and is provably, empirically wrong almost every time she opens her stupid yap.

Which is why it so pains me to say she’s absolutely right about this.

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Mark Wahlberg Is Human Garbage


It has been a pretty eventful couple of weeks, what with the Sony hacking scandal, the climate deal with China, the president’s executive action on immigration, the opening of Cuba, the fall of Bill Cosby, and the release of my Christmas song, so you can be forgiven if you missed the story where Mark Wahlberg outed himself as one of the worst human beings in public life.

The Artist Formerly Known As Marky Mark sent a formal request to outgoing Massachussetts governor Deval Patrick, asking for a formal pardon for a 1988 incident where he beat one man with a stick while robbing a convenience store and punched another while evading the police.

Wahlberg served 45 days in jail for this little adventure, and has obviously gone on to fame and fortune as one of our most ubiquitous movie stars. He paid his debt to society. But for some reason he wants the incident stricken entirely from the record, as though it never happened, maybe because his criminal record is interfering with his business interests as a restaurateur or whatever.

Ironically, I never heard about any of this before the pardon request went public, so Wahlberg’s effort to cleanse his record is having the opposite effect, at least with me.

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Relatively Merry

“Relatively Merry” — a drinking song for the holidays by Alex Castle.

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“We’ve Got A Couple Of Walkers”

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As the reaction (and the reaction to the reaction) to last week’s non-indictment in Ferguson ignited a new round of national conversation about race and racism and the police, a video that seemed to sum it all up in a tidy one minute and ten seconds lit up my social media feeds.

While nowhere near as appalling as the video of Eric Garner being choked to death by the NYPD — a crime whose aftermath I am still trying to process — this video, shot in Pontiac, Michigan, certainly looks bad, and it is very likely exactly what it looks like: crazy racism in action. Somebody called the cops on this kid just for walking around outside. Or maybe the cop is lying about that part and took it upon himself to stop the kid.

Either way, everybody pointed angrily to yet another example of the unfair way the police approach black people and the way they approach everybody else, which was my first reaction as well.

But it did remind me of something.

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Axl Rose Ruined The Movies

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This weekend the third movie based on “The Hunger Games” book trilogy arrives in theaters: MOCKINGJAY PART 1. It’s “PART 1″ because although the book it’s based upon, “Mockingjay,” isn’t any longer than “The Hunger Games” or “Catching Fire,” the books the first two movies were based on, someone decided it needed to be turned into two movies, the better to exploit the property and make more money, I guess. In a couple of weeks THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES, the third movie in a trilogy based on a book half as long as any of the “Lord of the Rings” books that only required one movie each, hits theaters, and it was recently announced that Marvel’s third Avengers movie will also be two parts.

Where did it all start? Who decided that More Is More, always and no matter what? Was it when Quentin Tarantino decided that his 2003 kung fu B-movie tribute KILL BILL — a movie whose deepest thought was the idea that unlike Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne, who had to put on disguises to fight crime, Superman’s true identity was Superman, and Clark Kent was the disguise — was such a work of genius that it had to be four-plus hours long and had to be broken into two movies (rather than just cutting out Daryl Hannah)? That was definitely an important step, but I think it goes back much farther.

I have identified Patient Zero of our current epidemic of Entertainment Bloat: Guns N’ Roses 1991 albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II.

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