AMERICA’S GOT TALENT

July 14, 2008


One of the most humbling things any artist – musician, actor, painter, comic, novelty act, dancer, etc. – goes through is a bad audition. I see it this way: my job description is one sentence: GET THE NEXT JOB. So most auditions hold out a carrot that is a feasible, if somewhat personal and risky goal. As in, “if you get this job you can pay your rent.” Usually you are aware of what to prepare, what the job entails, and who you’re auditioning for.

Not so with my latest venture into the audition phase of my career.
I tried out for “AMERICA’S GOT TALENT,” the latest reality offering from mogul SImon Cowell.

Less than 24 hours into his visit to Seattle last week, Chinese President Hu Jintao was already serving as a pitchman for the city’s most famous coffee chain, Starbucks. This came as a surprise to those of us here at Taylor Mason Headquarters (TMH). There are currently around 400 Starbucks shops in China, total. Do the math! That comes to one Starbucks for every person who makes enough to be able to afford to drink coffee there.
Did you see the picture of Vice President Dick Cheney sleeping during Hu’s press conference? Apparently Cheney misread the memo and thought it was one of President Bush’s press conferences.

Believe it or not, and this is no exaggeration, AGT called me! They are looking for novelty and variety acts, the weird stuff that you find at the bottom of the showbiz ladder: ventriloquists, jugglers, mimes, magicians, unicyclists, etc. Most people are smart enough to know that this kind of “cattle call” audition is a nightmare.
Which is why so few “professional” acts are auditioning. Which is why they called for me – hoping to get at least 1-2 “pros” to come out.
And I took the bait. In true bottom-feeding form, I agreed to audition this past Wednesday in New York City (Queens, actually), along with 5000 of the strangest, oddest, most desperate wannabees you can possibly imagine.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is giving up some of his responsibilities in policy development to focus on the fall midterm elections. President Bush says he’s excited about this. That’s a quote. He’s “excited!”
Uh, Mr. President? YOU WILL NOT BE RUNNING.

I showed up an hour early for the 9:30AM call at the Sheraton Hotel in Flushing. It’s in a Japanese neighborhood-enclave of New York, and the locals were up and on the move to work as I drove in and parked. I stood in line, which stretched down the block from the main entrance, as Japanese walked by us shaking their heads at the goofballs trying for a moment on TV.
By the way? Standing in line with bad magicians and teen rock bands and dance troops and harp players and clowns and other pretenders (just like me!) is about as comfortable as getting a back rub with a brillo pad.
It took 90 minutes to get inside the hotel, and then another 2 hours of standing there waiting to get into the “practice room.” I had been looking forward to this – getting into a space where i could be alone and get myself together before meeting the… “casting people.”
Wrong.
The room was being used by two film crews getting the “artists” on-camera in pre-audition or practice phase. Vocal groups were caught harmonizing, hip-hoppin’ teens mugged and declared themselves the “real talent here,” street performers tried to outdo one another by jumping in front of the camera while the other was performing. A belly-dancer wiggled, an Elvis impersonator struck a pose… it was a complete circus.
One act that stood out: a team of girls from Brooklyn, dressed in midriff-showing skirts and tops, did some street-dancing. They sang along as they gyrated, closing with a jump rope routine – you’ve seen it: two girls twirl a jump rope, while a third does all sorts of tricks as the jumper. The twist here? They used a little girl as the “rope.”
Yes. She was accidentally slammed into the floor about two-thirds of the way through the routine.
Me? I tried to hide from the camera.

President Bush and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who don’t always agree with each other, were scheduled for one of their infrequent meetings last Friday in San Jose. Arnold hates these meetings because he’s normally called the Governator, but when he’s with Bush we at TMH refer to them as Dumb and Dumbinator.

After 5 hours of waiting, they called my number: 5353. As in number five-thousand, three-hundred-fifty-three. I waited right outside the “audition room” with two other men,a white guy in his late-30s and a well-dressed black man in his 20s, for another 10 minutes while I watched the proceedings all around me.
Clearly, part of the “fun” of AGT will be the loony, goofy “acts” that are trying out for the show. The more pathetic, the better, it looks like.
The three of us went into a little room where there was a camera and a cameraman, plus three “casting agents”: two white women in their 30s and a white guy in his late 40s. They were congenial if not bored.
The other two guys I was with were singers. It’s billed as “AMERICA’S GOT TALENT,” but my take on the whole thing is: if you didn’t get into “AMERICAN IDOL,” you are auditioning for “AMERICA’S GOT TALENT.” Singers outnumber all the other kinds of acts by at least 3-1.
The first one was an opera singer/actor. He sang something by Bizet – I recognized it – and did a perfunctory job. He sang the whole piece – about 6 minutes. Which was interesting, because we were told to do a 3-minute audition. The casting people asked him to sing something “pop, and upbeat.” He couldn’t. They asked him for his educational background, and what he does, etc.
Then the next man, the well-dressed African-American went. He sang a decent version of “Walking In Memphis,” by the musician Marc Cohn. He got the same treatment, “Where are you from? How long have you been singing? Where did you study?”
Then the head casting person – the guy – asked them to leave.
My turn…

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried, the voice of the Aflac duck in television commercials for the insurer, was crowned “unsexiest man in the world” by the Boston Phoenix newspaper. New York Yankees pitcher Randy Johnson came in second and Osama bin Laden was a distant eighth. Gilbert is hoping this will improve his chances to get a date with the world’s unsexiest woman, Joan Rivers.

“So, you’re a ventriloquist?” The question came from the man – and I sensed the playfulness in his voice. Or was some disparagement there?
I slated for the camera: “Hi. My name is Taylor Mason. I am a ventriloquist.”
And I started my act.
Here’s the deal. There are two kinds of ventriloquists in the world: good ones, and really, really bad ones.
There are 5 good ones, and none of them auditioned for AGT.
These guys had seen the others: the older men with cheeky little-boy puppets; the girls with girl puppets; the talking animals (a mask on an animals face, and the ventriloquist makes the animal “talk”); the hopeless people who think that a puppet and some puns constitute “an act.”
They let me do some of my act for 2 minutes. I timed it… I’ve been doing this for many years, and I know what I am doing. I went on at 1:57PM.
At 1:59PM the three of them were talking. Talking louder than I was.
Uh-oh.

Vice President Dick Cheney announced plans to travel to Lithuania, Kazakhstan and Croatia next month, on a good will tour. Mr. Cheney’s trips are planned by the same travel agent O.J. Simpson uses when he goes hunting for his wife’s real killer.

“Is there a problem?” I asked.
The man looked at me.
“No. Thank you. That’s it.”
I was a little put off.
“I can do more…”
“NO!” the guy was definite. “No, no… I think we got the flavor.”
I tried to make eye contact – nothing doing.
“I have more stuff I can do…” I offered, meekly.
“That’s okay… look, you’re the best ventriloquist we’ve seen,” he said.
“Everyone else MOVES THEIR LIPS,” says one of the women.
“Oh… so I guess that’s it, then?” I asked.
“Yes. Go now. Thank you so much.”
I waited around for close to 6 hours and my “audition” lasted less than three minutes.

The head athletic trainer for the San Francisco Giants was told to appear before a federal grand jury investigating whether Barry Bonds lied about his connection to a steroids scandal.
We do not want to jump to conclusions, but we’re taking it for granted it may have something to do with Barry. Or maybe it’s legit… like an Associate Justice pulling a hammy.
And wait a minute? Have you seen the size of Barry Bonds’ noggin? His cranium is HUMONGOUS! Who needs a “head trainer” more than him?

I had 3 hours to think about the waste of the day, because there was a major accident on the southbound New Jersey Turnpike (a car blew up… same ol’, same ol’).
My take on AGT: they are going to be brutally honest and show all us lower-tier “acts” what we really look like. On national TV. Much of it is a train wreck, and who can resist watching that kind of stuff?
It’s probably gonna be good television: a reality show with a cast of real people making fools of ourselves, for a couple of minutes of airtime, and a credit on our resume.

Senator Edward Kennedy made an appearance on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” on Comedy Central last Thursday. Some people have described this as a “new frontier” for the Senator. Yes. Prior to this, people had only laughed at him in the daytime, on C-Span. Jon Stewart refused to ride in the same limo to the show, as they had to cross the George Washington Bridge, and Mr. Kennedy has a history with bridges…

I can’t escape these nagging thoughts to the AMERICA’S GOT TALENT audition, that have not left my brain since I walked out of the room:
The acts I saw were pretty bad… if I don’t get cast on the show, what does that say about me?
and:
The acts I saw were pretty bad… if I get cast on the show, what does that say about ME!?

thank you for reading. Thank you Marsia! Thank you Sheri! Thank you Paul, Jerry and Bill.

taylor

Dear Taylor:
Did you see? Over the weekend i belted a high fastball into the seats out in Denver’s Coors Field and Home Run Emporium, for my first homer this year! I used pine tar to get a better grip.
No, not on the bat, silly! On the syringe!
Tuning into my show, “BARRY ON BARRY”,
your pal,
Barry Bonds

Dear Taylor;
We hosted Chinese President Hu Jintao here in Washington, DC, over the weekend. We had a blast! We played Chinese Checkers, I showed him my Doobie Brothers collection and taught him the words to “China Grove” and I made him do “Who’s On First” – the old Abbot and Costello routine – with me!
I’m doing international relations!
Gettin’ It Done!
GW

Dear Taylor –
I became the oldest player ever to hit a home run a couple of days ago, when I hit one in San Diego! I am FORTY-SEVEN YEARS OLD! I hope to still be hitting them when I turn 50! Barry Bonds called me and said he wants to do the same thing, but he was referring to “50” as in his HAT size.
50 is the new 40!
Julio Franco

STAY-CATION

June 29, 2008


That’s right! Vacations are too expensive this year, so it’s STAY-CATIONS for everyone! My neighbors had the best idea yet: the entire family got in the car and sat in the driveway for 8 hours, arguing and fighting. Then they went back in their house, slept a couple of hours, came out and got back in the car, arguing for 3 more hours. They went back in the house, changed into swim trunks and bathing suits, and hung out in the backyard for three days. They had food delivered. There was much arguing and in-fighting, they took a lot of pictures, then they climbed back in the car in the driveway and most of them slept while the dad tried to stay awake for 10 hours. VOILA! STAY-CATION! NO ARCTIC CIRCLE?
The weather and ocean conditions in the next couple of weeks will determine how much of the sea ice will melt, and early signs are not good, said Mark Serreze. The prediction is that the entire North Pole will melt away by September! He’s a senior researcher at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO. Here at Taylor Mason Headquarters, we don’t see this as a negative at all! Even in the depths of a recession, we suggest everyone start buying squirt guns, wading pools and swimsuits this summer! It looks like there will be plenty of water everywhere! Hooray!

We’re having a “Humidity Festival” this weekend here in New Jersey, which leads to perspiration, and that led us to this story: Phoenix is the winner of Old Spice’s 7th annual Top 100 Sweatiest Cities,
followed by Las Vegas, Tallahassee, Tucson and Arizona. Washington D.C. would have won but the sweat has to be caused by the weather, not polls.
Here in New Jersey, most sweat is caused by threats from Tony Soprano.
Speaking of, did you hear about the group of dolphins that has been bothering swimmers in the Shrewsbury and Navesink, NJ, rivers?  Yep.  NJ Wildlife officials are trying to get them to move, but these are Jersey dolphins, which make them the toughest dolphins in the world.  You can’t just shoo them.  You have to make them an offer they can’t refuse – or tie a stuffed dolphin to a cement block and drop it in the river near them.

Police in Placentia, California, are looking for a man who wheeled a dolly into a convenience store and stole an automated teller machine.  The clerk thought he was just going to buy a 480-ounce slurpy.
A study reported in the Journal of Consumer Research found that thinking about death might cause overeating… especially if you’re thinking about death by chocolate.

The biggest news this summer in the comedy world was the passing of legendary comic George Carlin.  He was 71 at the time of his death, and still touring, writing and working.  Very impressive.

The airlines are having major problems this summer, laying off workers, canceling flights and losing money.  Here’s the latest: many airlines are now charging you to check a bag.  Our suggestion: Put the baggage fee IN the suitcase that you check.  If your bag makes it to the correct destination on time, the airline gets their check!  If not?  No check!
According to our inside sources at the FAA, there are soon going to be fees for getting your shoes, belt, bags, phones, laptops and keys back once you go through security.  We have it on good authority there will also be a charge to use oxygen once the plane takes off.  Will keep you posted.

Allow us just one quick note on the price of gas and consumerism so far this summer.  Sales of Hummers, the giant, tank-sized autos that are so prevalent in upscale communities, have dropped.  For those that own Hummers, we have some great suggestions this summer:
The Hummer is huge.  It is over-priced (even now!).  It is wasteful, inefficient, selfish and basically worthless.  Let’s give it a new name: CONGRESS.
There is a way to save yourself, Hummer-owner.  Why don’t you donate the back end of the vehicle to a homeless family of four?  There is plenty of room (you’ll never notice them!) and you’re actually doing a service during the recession and housing crunch!  Heck, import some soil and let them grow produce on the roof!

NBC announced that TV personality and new mom Nicole Richie will guest-star on the comedy series “Chuck” this fall. Nicole was a little surprised to find out it was a comedy. She thought she was auditioning for a reality show about modeling called “Upchuck.”

Thanks for reading!  Thank you Marsia and Paul!

Dear Taylor-
Well, I got here, but it’s been tough.  Apparently there are seven words you can’t say in Heaven.
Watching my language,
George Carlin

Dear Taylor;
Hello, mate.  We’re getting back together!  We’ll reunite for a concert on “VH1 Rock Honors.”  But we’re having problems because we’re getting on in years, you see?  Roger keeps misreading the words for “Who Are You?” and singing “Who Are We?”
Wait… who are we?
Still Meaty and Big, But Not So Bouncy,
Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey

Dear Taylor:
I am spending the summer at my summer home, so please come visit us.  You’ll know it when you see it, it’s a sandal!
Taking care of the children,
The Old Lady Who Lives In A Shoe (Sandal in the summer)

LAST COMIC STANDING

June 12, 2008


Yes, that was I performing on LAST COMIC STANDING on Thursday, June 12, 2008, the NBC-TV vehicle that is in its 6th season.  I want to thank everyone who sent me an email or posted a comment or called.  I had a blast doing the show, and I (of course!) have a tale to tell.  Now that I’m getting into the world of big-time television, I was drawn to the news that Oprah Winfrey has topped Forbes Magazine’s latest Celebrity 100 list of the richest, most influential artists, athletes and personalities.  She finished ahead of Tiger Woods, Angelina Jolie and Beyonce Knowles.  WHOA!  Here at Taylor Mason Headquarters, we like to call them “The Four B’s”: Biggie, Birdies, Babies and Booty.

You can watch my performance on LCS here http://www.nbc.com/Last_Comic_Standing/video/ – mea=262656, and please leave a comment! Rate the video (10 Stars!) THANK YOU!!!!!

I auditioned for the show at Zanies Comedy Club in Nashville, TN.  There were some great comics on the bill, and the judges were very cool.
I basically passed three auditions: one for the first two judges who were tough – we had to do our material without an audience, which is tough for a comedy act – we need some kind of response to do our set.  Then I did a short set for George Wendt and John Ratzenberger, the venerable stars from TV’s “CHEERS” sitcom, who were the celebrity judging team for our city.  Finally I was chosen to perform in front of a live comedy crowd at the club, and the set went very well.  (You can see it by clicking on the links above, or going to www.nbc.com/lastcomicstanding).  I was very happy with my performance, and I felt as if I had done my best.  Win or lose, I could not have performed any better.

Colorado Lottery Officials are releasing new scratch-and-sniff lottery tickets that smell like fresh coffee, flowers and chocolate.  Hmmmm… sounds like a lottery official forgot his wife’s birthday, huh?

They called all the comics back on stage and host Bill Bellamy read off the names of the comedians who had been voted on (passed) to the next round. I WAS THE FOURTH NAME CALLED!  YES!  I got my red envelope and did a couple of interviews, and called my wife.  Great news!  I was a finalist on LAST COMIC STANDING!

Uh… wait…

United Airlines and USAirways have joined American Airlines by charging $15 for every checked bag.  Doesn’t seem fair, but here at Taylor Mason Headquarters, we have the solution!  Lock the $15 in your checked luggage.  Tell the airlines that they can get their money at the other end – provided they don’t lose it!

So.  I was supposed to head for Las Vegas and the next round of LAST COMIC STANDING.  I immediately began working on a short routine that I would perform there. Five nights before the event, I get a late-night phone call from the offices of LAST COMIC STANDING.  A production assistant says, “I’m sorry.  You have been dropped from the show.”  I was somewhat surprised, but not shocked.  I had been warned this might happen.  “I’m fired?” I asked.  “You’re an alternate, and you are not on the show as of now” was the reply, and the caller hung up.

I took it for granted that I would not be part of Season 6 of LAST COMIC STANDING, and I was fine with that.  I did my best.  Let’s move on.

Health officials in York, PA, shut down a Chinese restaurant after finding a snapping turtle in the kitchen sink that the owner claimed to have rescued in the parking lot.  Apparently he couldn’t explain why the special-of-the-day was moo goo gai snap.

Nobody was more surprised than I when my cell phone began ringing about 900pm that night, with friends and family calling me about my show on LAST COMIC STANDING!

I still don’t know what to think.

Again, I want to thank everyone for the kind messages.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take a minute and go to the nbc.com site, click on the LAST COMIC STANDING page, and search for my video – you get to see my entire set.  You can leave a message and/or assign a rating (so far all I’ve received is the full 10-star rating from a number of folks!) to my little presentation, and I will let you know what happens down the road.

Thanks for reading!  BLESS YOU ALL!

Thanks to Paul and Marsia and Zanies Comedy Club in Nashville!

 

taylor

 

Dear Taylor –

Senor… I am sorry to say that the reason we were cut from LAST COMIC STANDING is not because I wasn’t funny, or Romeo wasn’t funny… the problem is YOU, senor.
Please.  Let us do the audition alone next time.

Eat More Chicken,

Paco

 

Dear Taylor:

You have violated our non-disclosure agreement.  From now on you are not to mention a word about having been cut from LAST COMIC STANDING.  Do not tell people to go to www.nbc.com/last_comic_standing/video/#mea=262656.  You are not to encourage anyone to rate your video performance, or make a comment about how you performed on the show, even though you did a great job and you have the highest rated performances of anyone, including those who made the finals.

Do not tell anyone about your situation, the phone call that terminated your appearance on the show, and the fact that you were “passed” and then cut.
Thank you for your time and for your adherence to this matter.

Regards,

The NBC Lawyers

 

Dear Taylor;

If you get a letter from the NBC Lawyers, forward it to me.
I will handle the case for you.  I’m a lawyer, too.

Not Soo-eee!
It’s SUE YOU!

Paco (esq)

CHEAT SHEET

June 5, 2008


School just let out here in Moorestown, New Jersey. It’s official, summer is here. The Internet slowed to a crawl over the weekend after millions of kids tried to access the web site www.i’m so bored.com. Summer in our quiet little burg means gas stations are offering sunscreen to Hummer owners so they don’t get burned during the hour it takes to fill their tanks. Is anything more American than cheating? Everyone is doing it. And has been for a long time. How many penalties don’t get called in football games? How many people made a fortune doing something… uh… nefarious… before going “straight.” Who hasn’t driven 70 miles-per-hour in a 55-mile-an-hour zone when the road is clear and NOBODY is on the road but you?
That said, why the outcry over Barry Bonds beating Babe Ruth’s record? Why the anger over Jason Grimsley, the slacker major league pitcher who admitted using Human Growth Hormone (HGH) last week, and sent the baseball world into major spin control? Sure they cheated. So? WHO HASN’T? I would imagine every one of those radio commentators and journalists and columnists who are vilifying these guys nowadays did more than a little cheating to get where they are.

Heck, they’re probably cheating on their jobs or their wives or their audience right now.

The Dead Sea is dropping about 3 feet each year because it is not getting replenished quickly enough from the Jordan River, and scientists say it could eventually disappear altogether. They are investigating the possibility of filling it by means of a 125 mile canal from the Red Sea.
Of course, if the Dead Sea does survive, they’ll have to re-name it.
The Grateful Dead Sea.
The I’m-Not-Dead-Yet Sea (named for the Monty Python song from SPAMALOT)
The Lay Down and Play Dead Sea
The Night of The Living Dead Sea

I had a college football teammate – he didn’t know me, I’m telling you this second-hand because the story was passed to me one night in a locker room long ago and far away – who cheated his way through college and ended up with a solid 3.4-out-of-a-possible-4.0 GPA. Not a bad grade point for a division I college football player. He got into dental school no problem, and was on his way.
Only he couldn’t hack it. He had, literally, cheated his way through his undergrad career. Never attended class, always had someone take his tests for him, or give him the answers or scammed his way through. He was hugely popular. But he had never studied a day in his life.
He finally succumbed to the reality: cheating caught up to him. I don’t know where he is, or what he’s doing now, but I bet he’s still cheating. It’s the only thing he knows.

Detroit City Councilwoman and former Motown star Martha Reeves is in trouble because housing inspectors found 25 code violations at a rental property she owns. The real reason why Martha’s tenants are “dancing in the street” is because they don’t want to step on any roaches.
Google just released its new online spreadsheet program to compete with Microsoft’s Excel program this month and it’s already a big hit. The new software is popular with women who Google a potential date and then need a spreadsheet to figure out what he’s really worth.
Macy’s downtown Boston department store removed a window display featuring two male mannequins marking gay pride week after a group that opposes gay marriage complained it was offensive. Correct me if I’m wrong, but department store mannequins don’t have any organs of any kind whatsoever. Shouldn’t this have made these people happy?

Federal investigators searched the Scottsdale home of Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Jason Grimsley as part of their investigation of steroid use in baseball. They didn’t say if they found any steroids, but the investigators confiscated several rolls of paper towels they suspect Grimsley may have used when he practiced his spitballs.
Actually, Grimsley was nailed by the IRS (hmmmm… HOW MANY PEOPLE CHEAT ON THEIR TAXES? I KNOW PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER PAID THE IRS A DIME!!), and they served a warrant. They found that Mr. Grimsley, who has a degree in chemistry, was holding onto large quantities of HGH. Presumably to sell to major and minor league baseball players.
As the truth comes out a little more every day, it is clear that the cool designer drug of choice in big-time sports is Human Growth Hormone. It cannot be detected by drug-testing. It gives you incredible strength and stamina. It affords a mediocre talent, like a Jason Grimsley, to hang around big league baseball for more than a decade, never quite becoming anything more than a journeyman player, but always good enough to make the roster. And more than $10 million in a ten-year career.
Let’s face it. Grimsley could not have hacked the big show on his own talent, hard workand guts. He wasn’t gifted as an athlete. He needed something else.
He had to cheat.
Which means that, probably, there are a lot more Grimsleys in the majors. Proof? The Arizona Diamondbacks, who fired him IMMEDIATELY upon getting the news, then went into a nosedive. They lost 7-8 games in a row, getting swept at home by the Phillies and Mets, and it is my contention that there are many, many nervous guys in the Arizona dugout these days. Along with the rest of pro baseball.
More upsetting to me: there were and are no doubt some clean, non-cheating players in the minor leagues who never saw light of day in the bigs, because there are many players who cheated and beat them out for a season or two.
I wonder what they think of Mr. Grimsley?

Olympic gold-medal gymnasts Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner are the proud parents of a baby boy. They made the doctor who delivered the baby refer to the birth as a “dismount.” And this is true: Bart told an interviewer that “the baby was born with definition in his pecs and torso.” It is hopeless.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is doing better after undergoing surgery to repair injuries caused by his now-famous motorcycle accident. Doctors ar still keeping him in isolation to protect him from infections and his coach, Bill Cowher.
During a Triple-A minor league baseball game between the Buffalo Bisons and the Durham Bulls, a seagull flew between the pitcher’s mound and home plate just as Durham’s pitcher released the ball and got knocked out. The seagull eventually got up, shook it off and flew away, which convinced the pitcher that maybe he needs to try steroids or HGH after all. The umpires ruled that the ball was dead, the bird was alive and the hot dogs tasted somewhere in between.

Cheating is accepted in our society. You cannot escape it. Sports only represent a microcosm of the United States as we know it. Example: Wall Street. Do you expect me to believe that most of those people who have made and spent billions did it all based on their wits, their knowledge, their nerve and their brains? Please. THEY CHEATED. They got information. They lied, stole, borrowed, and did what they had to do and they didn’t get caught. Robin Williams is a huge talent, a paradigm-setting comedian and entertainer who is immortal. He is also considered, by many comics, to be a thief and a cheat, because he has used the jokes and routines and premises of other comics to build his career. The field of journalism is pock-marked with plagiarism, false information and lying, by the biggest and the brightest. See The New York Times. See Dan Rather. The problem is that it is easy to get caught cheating in 2000-era America, which is why it has become acceptable. And why there is no such thing as the truth, because the truth has been cheated… but that’s another blog.

NASA announced the space ship that will return astronauts to the Moon will be designed at the Glenn research Center in Cleveland and should be ready for tests in 2012 and for a manned flight in 2014. And because it’s being designed in Cleveland, this time astronauts will bowl on the moon instead of playing golf.
The Pentagon moved its ground-based interceptor missile defense system from test mode to operational in anticipation of an expected North Korean missile launch. Also in preparation for the launch, U.S. intelligence officials scrambled to find someone else to interrogate besides Margaret Cho.
Texas governor Rick Perry has announced a $5 million plan to install hundreds of night-vision cameras on the Mexican border and put the live video on the Internet. In other words, it’s a search engine to search for illegals. They should call it YaJose.com.

Here is a real-world example of how cheating is now interwoven into the daily life of our world. Gameplayers, the geeky folks who live and die by the latest release of video and fantasy games, bloodbath games or simulation games will all tell you: THEY NEED THE CHEATS. Every video game out there comes with built-in “cheat” codes. There are books that are written to help you cheat the games, and/or you opponents, so that you can win.
Cheating is a culture unto itself! Cheating is breathing. It runs like water.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved an anti-depressant as the first drug for treating seasonal affective disorder, better known as “the wintertime blues.” Each bottle must contain a warning to only take during December, January or February because, as Eddie Cochran explained, “there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.”
Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood checked into a London rehab clinic this week for treatment of alcohol abuse, but he’ll join the band for the start of its European tour next month as planned. Ron knew he had a problem when Keith Richards started making sense to him.
Possibly because of their anti-Bush remarks, ticket sales for the upcoming concerts of the Dixie Chicks are not going well. While typical sales are around 15,000 tickets per venue, they are selling closer to 5,000. Ironically, their latest album is selling very well and hit number one on the charts. A spokesman for the group explained the low ticket sales by saying that the album was so good, people just couldn’t tear themselves away from it to go attend a concert.
The singer Meat Loaf has filed a lawsuit claiming he owns the rights to the expression “Bat Out of Hell” even though someone else wrote the song. If Meat Loaf wins, he plans to celebrate by doing something we have always felt he should do. He will dance the mashed potato.
A Namibian tourism official now says he may have been tricked into believing that Britney Spears was considering having her baby in Namibia like Jennifer Lopez. He should have known the call he received wasn’t from Britney’s husband Kevin Federline because the man on the phone said he was calling from work.

Okay. I’m cynical. Not everyone cheats. But the saying “cheaters never prosper” is hysterical when you read it today. Not only do they prosper, THEY’RE THE GOOD GUYS!
Athletes apply themselves sedulously to their sport. So here is my question for those of you who were able to plow through all this: is what Barry Bonds or any other professional athlete does to his body really cheating, Or is he/she trying to be the best they can be?

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch threw his support to Senator Hlllary Clinton (D-NY), and when the news was announced, birds died in mid-flight and fell the ground.
Jobless claims in the U.S. jumped this month by more than 5000. Most of them from members of the White House staff.
The United States flew two forensic experts to Iraq to conduct an autopsy on terrorist al-Zarqawi, who died in a bombing raid, to confirm the cause of death. NBC has picked it up as a new show for the fall: CSI Baghdad.
President Bush says the death of Iraqi al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi will be a turning point in the war on terror. This war has had so many turning points, most Americans are becoming:
a) suspicious
b) disgruntled
c) dizzy
The Senate voted 49-to-48 to reject a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The 48 senators who voted against it did so because:
a) they’re Democrats
b) they have gay friends and relatives
c) they’re planning to redecorate their offices

By the way? I didn’t cheat writing this. I did this fair-and-square.

Bridgeport, Connecticut’s mayor John M. Fabrizi admitted he has abused cocaine while in office and apologized “to all the people of the city” but has no plans to resign. Fabrizi took office after a former mayor was convicted of corruption, which makes Bridgeport the city that puts the “con” in Connecticut.

thanks for reading. thank you paul, marsia, sheri and william.

taylor

Dear Taylor:
As I said in my weekly radio address, I am pushing Congress to give me line item veto, so that I can cut the federal budget. I also want it in the White House kitchen, so that I can cut broccoli, spinach and squash from the menu.
Still here,
G.W.B.

Dear Taylor:
Don’t you dare make fun of my new show. YOU DIDN’T EVEN MAKE THE AUDITION PHASE!
Watching the ratings go up for AGT,
Regis Philbin

Dear Taylor:
If you’re on ritalin and you know it clap your hands,
If you’re hyperactive and you know it clap your hands!
If you’re anxiety-ridden,
You keep bi-polar feelings hidden,
If you’re dysfunctional and you know it clap your hands!
Clapping to the beat of the drummer in our heads,
Mrs. Howards 5th-Grade Class

GIMME THAT OLD TIME RELIGION

May 7, 2008


Lottery officials across the country are hoping the numbers 666 don’t come up today because so many people have played them. If that happens, expect eBay to be clogged up tomorrow with lottery officials trying to sell their souls. And we loved this story! Police in Baltimore arrested a man who figured out how to override service station pumps and sold gasoline to drivers for $10 a tank while pocketing the money. A real-life ROBIN (under the) HOOD!

Nothing makes for great controversy like religion and politics. PLEASE SEPARATE CHURCH AND STATE!
Let’s start with this story: The Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball Club was having a better season this year than they have had in a long time. General manager Dan O’Dowd and many of the players claim it is because they are Christians, and have applied Christian attitudes toward the clubhouse and their game. According to a front-page USA Today story, the team feels their success is directly related to their faith, and living a spiritual lifestyle.
Frankly, that’s fine. If that works for them? Great! But why make such a point of it? Why not let their actions speak for them? Why publicize it? Rockies Chairman and CEO Charlie Monfort says, “I believe God sends signs, and we’re seeing those.” Okay but… the team just lost five games in a row. I’m sure that, as Christians, the guys who are devout feel that the losing streak is a test God is giving them. A cynic would say that God has switched allegiances, and wants the Dodgers to win the National League West Division.
As usual, we at Taylor Mason Headquarters have the 4-1-1. God could care less about baseball.

The real deal is that sports are the true religion in this country. Computers and hi-tech toys are the new pastime. And the internet is the new media.

Cleveland Indians pitcher Scott Sauerbeck apologized to his family and teammates following his early morning arrest for drunk driving which ended with the police finding him and his female companion hiding behind some bushes. Sauerbeck wasn’t driving, so in his case the DWI charge stands for
“Disgruntled Wife Insists.”
Future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens has agreed to a $22 million contract to pitch for the Houston Astros for the rest of 2006. Since the season will be almost half over by the time he’s ready, Roger only gets around $12 million but should be able to make up the difference selling scoops of pitchers
mound dirt where he spits, on eBay, beginning in August. As part of his superstar status, Roger will
get to stay home when he’s not pitching, have his baseballs warmed up by a designated ball girl, and be allowed one do-over per inning.
The National Hockey League Stanley Cup Finals begin this week… yeah, we feel the same way.

The next big religious news that came out last week? Pat Robertson, at age 73, leg-pressed 2000 pounds. Robertson is 76 now, so this story is three years old, except that recently CBN.com released the footage of Mr. Robertson “pressing” 2000 pounds on the website. Along with an ad for a supplement that will make you strong and healthy.
I am absolutely certain this is a joke. And there are lots of people that don’t get it. But I can enlighten you, because I work out. I leg press.
First, you would need 22 45-pound plates on each side of the machine Mr. Robertson was using. As if the machine he was using could even HOLD 1500 pounds, much less 2000! Second, the world record for the leg press is 1100 pounds. Pro football players, in the peak of their careers, can leg press
650-700 pounds if they’re incredibly strong. Third, Robertson is clearly fit – at least physically – and I am guessing that he is really enjoying the press and notoriety he’s getting for his little… uh… exaggeration. More on Pat later. For now? Way to go, Mr. Robertson! You caused quite a stir! (Uh… you WERE just joking, right?)

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is visiting Vietnam in an attempt to build up security ties with our former enemy, who now shares American concern about China’s rising military might. Rummy is hoping to convince the Vietnamese government to ally with us by offering them military training,
financial support and millions of free copies of Jane Fonda’s workout videos.
US commanders in Iraq plan to give ethics classes to soldiers in Iraq as soon as the commanding officers take them first, they figure out a way to prevent cheating, and the Pentagon develops some that Mr. Rumsfeld can pass.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered 1,000 National Guardsmen to help guard the Mexican border. He wants to make sure that his gardener, cook and housekeeper don’t try to sneak back home.

The much-talked-about film The Da Vince Code opened a couple of weeks ago. It has already begun slipping at the box office, finishing this past weekend ranked number four. There are many reasons for the quick descent, but these are the notable ones: it is not a very good flick; the acting is perfunctory; the script follows the book and then goes off on some universalist, world-would-be-better-if tangent that doesn’t make sense; and, of course, people of faith find the movie to be spiteful and mean, if not just plain wrong.
The entire production is just bad, a colossal waste of time and money for all parties concerned, including the audience. Tom Hanks kneels to pray at the end of the movie, and I couldn’t help laughing out loud in the theater, because I got the feeling he was praying for forgiveness after taking this insipid role. There were lots of opportunities to make an interesting, fun, exciting thriller of international intrigue and action. Instead we get a slap in the face to anyone who goes to church.
Which reminds me. I have all these questions about faith in the movies. Ever notice how Catholics are ALWAYS represented as psychotic and psychopathic? I know lots of Catholic people. They’re all really cool. If I believed what I saw in the movies, I’d turn and run whenever I saw them.
And forget “Passion Of The Christ.” If you go by 90% of the movies made in Hollywood, Jesus doesn’t exist in the USA, except as a curse word. How outta touch is that? 60% of the country claims itself as “Christian.”
I have a lot more, but here is the one I will finish with. It’s fine, with freedom of speech and so on, to poke fun, or desecrate God and Christ and people who go to church. Or temple. I accept that. But why doesn’t Hollywood make a movie that tells the story of Muhammad?
You know… how this Bedouin trader living outside the ancient city of Mecca picked up gossip and third-person accounts of Judaism and Christianity, then started having miraculous revelations of his own? Coincidentally, much of what Muhammad was told in these… prophecies… was very similar to what he had heard about the older, established faiths he had heard so much about. Some of Muhammads variations made this new religion, called Islam, very appealing to the common man. AND I DO MEAN MAN. As well as quite attractive to fierce desert tribes who were prepared to appreciate Muhammads policy of victory-thru-decapitation. That movie would take courage and honesty. Plus it might start another war…
Which leads us to one more point about The Da Vinci Code. The over-used and abused quote: “God and religion are responsible for the worst wars,” gets another play. But it is not true. The worst wars – WWI, WWII and even the cold war of the 50s and 60s – were about the eradication of religion. The Nazi regime and Communism feared religious beliefs, and tried to wipe them off the face of the earth. I know this. The Pope knows this (I’m paraphrasing his latest speech – which nobody knows about because no media outlet covered it, except for me and a buried story in The New York Times). So please, all you media-types: don’t say God and religion are the cause of most wars.

The film “Wedding Crashers” dominated the MTV Movie Awards on Saturday, and took three awards, including best movie. However, two men who crashed the MTV Movie Awards were thrown out of the event, and beaten unmercifully.
Jessica Alba, who hosted, won the award for Sexiest Performance for her performance in “Sin City.” Actually, there are no restrictions on who can get that award, except you’re disqualified if your performance gets you pregnant.
People magazine’s “sexiest man alive” is available again now that Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz have decided to split up. Congratulations to Paco, here at TMH, who had this month for the break-up in our office pool!
Last Saturday, Venezuela’s controversial President Hugo Chavez inaugurated a film studio on the outskirts of Caracas. He said its mission was to counter the Hollywood movie industry, which he referred to as a “cultural dictatorship.” Actually, we at TMH prefer “cultural vacuum,” but you get the idea.

The last time we wrote about President Chavez, we reported that Pat Robertson, the strong-legged TV minister, had called for his assassination.
Which brings religion and politics together in a juxtaposition that really should never happen.
How can a man of God call for assassination of anyone? Isn’t one of the Ten Commandments “Thou Shalt Not Kill?” All we can think is that, again, perhaps Mr. Robertson was kidding! Next he’ll call for us to go into Caracas and steal things! Covet Mrs. Chavez! Curse!
Maybe what Mr. Robertson should do, with his incredible strength, is go have a fight with Chavez mano-a-mano, and use those legs to kick some… you know…

According to surveys at Cornell and Princeton, nearly 1 in 5 students at the Ivy League schools say they have purposely injured themselves by cutting, burning or other methods. The other 80 percent have never tried to cook on a hot plate in their dorm rooms. It’s even worse at Yale, but that’s
because so many students want to look like they’re members of the Skull and Bones society.
Real estate mogul Donald Trump announced that next building named after him will be a luxury hotel-condominium tower on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. The Donald has already warned his staff that he’ll fire the first person who compares his hair to a grass skirt.
Katharine Close, the 13-year-old from right here in New Jersey won the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and is still celebrating her victory. Yesterday she showed other spelling bee finalists how we do it here, by roaming the streets of her hometown torching billboards and signs with misspelled words.

It is difficult to separate church and state, because The United States is a nation based on Christianity. That is a fact. “In God We Trust.” “… one nation under God…” The founders were very specific about it. We cannot escape that. It is a fact.
I think it speaks for itself.

Anna Nicole Smith announced she’s pregnant. Following the trend of other celebrity parents, she plans to give the baby an unusual name. Like “Goldie Igger”
Hmmm. Seems to us she must have gotten pregnant about the time that the Supreme Court ruled in her favor regarding that inheritance case. We don’t want to make any accusations, but what do you bet that the kid is going to be really, really smart?
ABC’s broadcast of the finals of the National Spelling Bee didn’t do as well as expected in the ratings because none of the finalists had gray hair.
Katie Couric’s reign as the host of the Today show is officially over and she will spend the next few weeks in therapy with a perky-removal guru.
The automotively challenged rap star, DMX, racked up even more traffic violations last week. In 2004, he plowed his SUV through a security gate at JFK Airport. In 2005, he plowed his SUV into another car and shoved it into a police cruiser. In the latest incident, he was apprehended for speeding, driving without a license, and not wearing a seatbelt by police in White Plains, New York.
You know, there’s probably nothing more humiliating for be a rap star than to be arrested in White Plains.
Sylvester Stallone celebrated his 60th birthday at the soon-to-open Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, along with his fellow Planet Hollywood founders, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The guests all sang “Happy Birthday to YO!”

thank you Marsia, Paul, William and Sheri! Thank you for reading!

OH!
We just saw this: researchers at the University of Southern Maine have identified the hormone that enables caterpillars to transform to moths. A caterpillar hormone? Now that creeps us out!

taylor

Dear Taylor:
Yes. In the garden, growth has its seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.
Being there,
Chance the Gardener

Dear Taylor:
I am free! Free to come and go! Free to be open and supportive, and compassionate and loving! Free to accept the way things are, and free to choose my own lifestyle!
Free to be weird, wearing hemp clothing and living on food stamps in a tiny apartment in Wichita, Kansas.
Far out…
The Last of The Hippie Generation

Dear Taylor:
Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman!
All the world is waiting for you!
And the power you possess
In your satin tights.
Fighting for your rights.
And the old red, white and blue!
Wonder Woman! Wonder Woman!
Now the world is ready for you!
And the wonders you can do.
Make a hawk a dove,
Stop a war with love,
Make a liar tell the truth!
All our hopes are pinned on you
And the magic that you do!
Whenever I reach a point where I am confused, or lost, or even depressed, I sing my theme song. And everything is right again.
I thought your readers might find the same solace in it!
And as a bonus, it negates Katie Couric!
Livin’ in the 70s,
Lynda Carter