Archive for the Rants & Rages Category

What Women Want

Posted in Rants & Rages with tags , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2008 by tigereye

Let me first say that when I was 13 and Walter Mondale, even in the face of doom, chose then-Representative Geraldine Ferraro, I was tickled as hell, along with all my Democratic female relatives, which is to say everyone on both sides of the family except one extremely sickening cousin. He probably wasn’t going to win, and we didn’t know jack about this woman — but she was bright, and kicked George Bush I’s skinny butt in the VP debate, and I held fond memories of her for all these years. Until this spring, when she pulled off her “Mission Impossible” mask to reveal a white hood, but that’s another story.

Let me also say: what y’all may not know about me is that I was a Hillary Clinton supporter long, long before I’d ever heard of Barack Obama and John Edwards. I would have taken a bullet for her. I got beat up at a rally for the 1992 Clinton/Gore ticket, and felt my black eye and bloody nose were as much on Hillary’s behalf as Bill and Al’s. I hate that she comported herself so awfully by the end of her campaign. Unlike Ferraro, I feel her legacy deserves better. Just because I found candidates I believed in more fully doesn’t mean I don’t have, well, feelings for Hillary, the way you sometimes hold a soft spot for years for that guy you dated a long time ago. You don’t want to be with him now, but you wish him well.

So I’m insulted.

On behalf of all women who supported Hillary Rodham Clinton; on behalf of all women who have ever worked and earned less than a man doing the same job; on behalf of all women who identify as feminists, not just co-opt the term and twist it into some unnatural mockery of what it’s supposed to mean.

Does John McCain think women are interchangeable?

“Look! Look, you former Hillary voters, over here! See, we have a woman too! That’s what you wanted, right? Isn’t that what you women wanted? See, here’s a woman, why don’t you get excited over her now?”

If Hillary Clinton had been the Democratic nominee, he’d probably be trotting out Alan Keyes to try to woo the Obama supporters.

I don’t like anything about this woman except her glasses. I really don’t. I haven’t seen anything admirable or likable about her, which should surprise no one: I tend to think uncharitably of Pat Buchanan supporters in all walks of life. But that’s not the point.

The point is, who thinks like this?

It’s bad enough that in 2008 women can’t make the same wages men do. It’s headache-inducing to think the world, and my own country, are full of people who have no trouble thinking I’m less of a citizen, less of a worker, less of a vote, less of an opinion. We’re 51% of the population and less than 20% of the representatives we elect. And worst of all, we’re taught not to mind. Some of our families passed this down to us the way it was handed to them. Some of our families told us it was wrong but our teachers and friends and employers and government didn’t, so it was hard to keep that message in mind. I cannot think of anything harder to do, right now, than raise a daughter. It would break my heart for her to find out her society didn’t love her as much as I did.

And that someone representing half the population of her country thinks she would be interchangeable.

You idiot, what the Clinton supporters — the real ones, not the ones with little reins leading back to Karl Rove’s web — wanted wasn’t a woman. It was that woman. They believed in what one particular amazing woman was trying to do, even when she lost sight, near the end, of how the ends don’t always justify the means. They held on stubbornly even when they knew she was wrong, even when their friends wanted to wring their necks and stamp our feet and shake sense into them. And most of them came around.

Sarah Palin can stand on that platform by John McCain and invoke Hillary Clinton’s name all day long, but that’s all she’s doing: name-dropping. She couldn’t stand more diametrically opposed to what Hillary Clinton stands for and believes in if she was Mothra or Lex Luthor. And it’s even more insulting to have a woman ask us to vote for her ticket because she has a body part in common with us.

Hell, all this and I’m an Obama supporter.

I hope thousands of other people are as angry over this as I am.

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Nothing That Hasn’t Been Said Already

Posted in Rants & Rages, Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , , , , , on August 9, 2008 by tigereye

I will admit up front I’m not terribly conversant in the plight of Tibet, or the day-to-day lives of the Chinese people we’ll never see on the nightly news, or even the treatment of political dissidents. I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about those issues. Although I know enough to be troubled by them, I’d just make a fool of myself if I tried to post about them.

Also, the opening ceremonies were lovely. I didn’t get the full experience, and here’s the tacky reason why: the public radio show World Cafe was interviewing Coldplay about their new album and I wanted to hear it, so I listened to the whole show while watching the opening ceremonies with the sound off. This allowed me to hear a lot of good music I wouldn’t have heard otherwise, and also let me escape the voice of Bob Costas, whom I utterly despise. (Is there no sport this pompous bastard can’t try to ruin for me? Wasn’t the Kentucky Derby enough this year?)

My problem is this.

Dead tigers.

I’m Tigereye for several reasons. I think tigers are as close to divine as any earthly entity can get. Looking into the yellow gaze of a tiger is very much like what I imagine looking at the face of God to be: implacable, otherworldly, immensely strong and wise, fierce, possessed of a nature we can only think we understand.

They’re also the most beautiful creature on earth, and my college mascot, and as close to perfect a lone predator as can be found.

They’re killed by poachers so their bones can be ground up for “traditional Chinese medicine.” They were, and perhaps still are — I can’t bring myself to read much about this, to be honest — raised on farms in China for slaughter, so there would be less need for poaching.

They’re also killed so various nations of cowards and idiots can have tiger skins as status symbols. Or shot in canned hunts by rich scumbags right here at home. Or so menus in China can boast of serving tiger penis.

I can’t even begin to properly express my hatred of anyone who would kill a tiger or profit from its death. I’ve seen a photograph of carcasses on a “tiger farm” and hope I never see anything like it again. And I wish the most dreadful things upon everyone involved, in as many lives or incarnations as they may have, because it’s the kind of callous, greedy sin that should follow someone forever.

I also see dead dogs and cats, who were fed poisonous food so some plant-owning prick in the U.S. could save fifty cents a ton on wheat gluten from China. One of the things that upset me the most about last year’s pet food-related deaths was how much of the food was store-brand or inexpensive: for some of those people it was all they could afford, and they fed it to their pets out of love and responsibility, and the dogs and cats died. Organ failure is as horrible a death for animals as it is for people, and those people had to watch their pets suffer and die because of the naked greed of businessmen in two countries. Veterinarians had to euthanize hundreds of animals, some of which they’d known and treated all their lives. It’s a hard process for everyone at the vet’s office, just like it is for a family who fed their dog what they’d always given him and watched him die from it.

I see black pools of farm-raised shrimp while the shrimpers in my state, who have pulled fresh sea critters out of the water for us all their lives, go broke with a better, safer product. To put it eloquently, this sucks. They’re not commercial farmers with government subsidies at their disposal — they’re guys who can’t pay their mortgages if morons all over America keep saving ten cents a ton and buying antibiotic (and God only knows what else) -ridden shrimp from China, frozen and gray by the time it gets here.

Lest anyone think I’m concentrating too much on wildlife, pets, and seafood, I also see that one guy in Tienanmen Square, standing in front of a tank.

That’s what played on the screen in my head while I watched a spectacular opening show and watched my President enjoy it.

Piles of slaughtered tigers, old women and children weeping over dead pets, guys 200 miles away from me getting up at 3 a.m. to get on the shrimp boat, and one unspeakably brave man with a flag.

I wish I was a different person and could put all this out of my head and watch Tyson Gay outrun the world, but I can’t.

I’m going to be watching as much of Animal Planet’s “Puppy Games” as I can find.

U.S. Government vs. Tigereye

Posted in Rants & Rages, Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) on July 12, 2008 by tigereye

Everything in this post is true.

As you all know, I don’t make any apologies or excuses for my political beliefs, which hasn’t always made me popular in my very red state, but it wasn’t until all this Bush administration-warrantless wiretapping idiocy started that someone actually went after me for them. I’m sure my FBI file isn’t exactly up there with Tim Robbins’s, filling an entire file cabinet, but I bet there are at least two heavy, tattered folders of it, dating back to when I protested Gulf War I in college and running straight up to when I called GWB a smirking, slack-jawed baboon over the phone last week. Assuming a certain level of federal efficiency, of course.

It started, as many things do, with the telephone. And ice cream. And it goes back at least three years.

See, they’re wiretapping pretty much anybody, so I’d been joking for a while about being on the list, with no further qualifications than writing letters to the editor and publicly mouthing off to friends over drinks, movies, trying on clothes, hunting the car in the parking garage… My phone cracked and popped more often than I thought was normal, starting in 2003, but it was, after all, just a phone, and I’d flung it across the room a few times, so a little static didn’t seem unreasonable.

Then my favorite ice cream went away.

It was Haagen-Dasz Bananas Foster, and if you never got to try it, that’s my fault and I’m sorry. I really am. It was delicious: banana ice cream with an irresistible streak of caramelized rum swirling through it. My mouth is watering now, just thinking about it. I first found it at my local Publix, and when I got my one experimental pint of it home and tasted it, I went back the next day and bought about six more pints.

I savored them all, every life-beautifying bite, right up to the moment Publix suddenly stopped stocking it.

That didn’t make sense. If you’re selling out of something, you get more of it ’cause it’s obviously in demand, right? I’d done years of work in retail, and this was one of the most basic things I’d learned, right behind Ninety percent of people will steal anything not nailed down.

I figured maybe Haagen-Dasz just owed them a delivery, and stopped in the Publix near the veterinary clinic where I worked instead. Ah, success! I took home two more pints. And then the next time I looked at that store, they weren’t carrying Bananas Foster anymore either.

My phone kept crackling. People commented on it. John, my best friend, my mom. In fact, it was my mom who first said, “Are you being wiretapped? I hope you’ve got better sense than to say some of the things I’ve heard you say about the president over the phone.”

Well, I sure as hell was after that.

Then I went to a football game with a friend, and we stopped at a Ben & Jerry’s store on the two-mile hike back to the car (next time there’s a Clemson game on ESPN, look at that stadium and you’ll immediately understand). She got Key Lime Pie; I got Wavy Gravy. In the car, scarfing down our calories while waiting for the traffic to clear, we rhapsodized over how good it was, how we wished we each had a B&J store closer to home…

Next home game, both flavors were off the menu. Key Lime Pie was limited, explained the college kid behind the counter, looking at us a bit wide-eyed; Wavy Gravy had been discontinued again. He seemed nervous, like we were considering buying ice cream just before we blew up the place.

(About the Key Lime Pie: sorry, Beth. Didn’t mean to drag you into this.)

If it had stopped with the ice cream, I think I could have gotten along just fine, if disgruntled. (I mean, Bananas Foster was really, really good.)

Next to go was a favorite perfume. It was Liquid, manufactured by Hard Candy, and I’d ordered a bottle of it from their website, followed in short order by the lotion and the shower gel. It was an odd, almost licorice-scented perfume, unlike anything else I’d come across, and not long after I stocked up on it, it was gone.

After the success with removing one cosmetic from me, the guys in their black suits and black Lincoln (they must be miserable, sitting there in a southern summer, dressed like that, or at least I like to think how unhappy they are) decided they were on a roll and took away three of my favorite lipsticks, although by now I was catching on and ordered a backup of each one before they disappeared. Hey, it’s a pain trying to find a good red lipstick these days. I’d tell you what the colors were, but I have a sneaking suspicion the government guys might go through my house searching for them, and anyway you wouldn’t find them. Sorry.

And so it continued. No kidding. I keep thinking Ben & Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie Chunk is going to be next, so I’ve stocked up on it; instead the one I lost was Brownie Batter. The anti-frizz leave-in conditioner I used to slather onto my dyed, damaged hair has vanished. Ditto Pineapple Paradise Yankee Candles, Night Court on DVD, my favorite Opi nail polish, Clinique shower cream, and Escape body cream.

The tide might be turning, though. It’s possible that it’s just because this is an election year, but for the last two weeks, I’ve been searching every Publix and Bi-Lo and Bloom in three counties, looking for Lean Cuisine Chicken in Peanut Sauce. (Don’t laugh. If you couldn’t cook, you’d live off these too.) I almost gave up, carrying around the mental image of black-suited guys who don’t even remotely resemble Will Smith or Tommy Lee Jones, raiding the freezer case at Publix, muttering to each other as they worked:

Guy 1: Go check the Ben & Jerry’s. I think we missed some Cake Batter last week.

Guy 2: I will, but first, don’t forget the Land Shark beer. It’s behind you. That’s on the list too.

Yesterday, on my grocery run, I passed a Publix stocker working the freezer section and peered over his shoulder. I think I messed up his afternoon, asking him to pass me an entire stack of Chicken in Peanut Sauce, but it was worth it. I’ve got to make it last, at least until November when I might get my civil rights back.

I only wish I could get Haagen-Dasz Bananas Foster back, too.

Gloom, Despair, and Agony On Me…

Posted in Rants & Rages, Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , , , , on July 3, 2008 by tigereye

This has not exactly been my week. If I’d known how it was going to go, I would have crawled in bed after seeing Wall-E (far and away the best thing that’s happened to me all week) and come out only to hit the snooze alarm.

I volunteered to help a co-worker finish a massive project, and through no fault of hers, it’s sucking up my free time, my patience, and my will to live;

Spike ran out the front door today, and when I leaned over to scoop him up, I threw my back out for the first time in 6 years. I had to crawl — literally this time — back in the house, and it took me 10 minutes to get vertical. I have 5 pain pills left on this batch and I’m considering taking them all, washed down with a swig of Corona. Also, when I can move enough to catch Spike, I’m considering swinging him around by his tail until he’s dizzy and then flinging him out into the yard;

On top of that I’m getting a rerun of yesterday’s migraine;

I have to pay the rent and I’m curious as to what my landlord would say if I called him and said, “Hi, can you come over and get the check? By the way, it’ll only be good because it’s covered by my overdraft protection. And the reason I can’t bring it to you is I can’t walk and anyway I’m on painkillers.”

Also, I’m worried my adored Roger Federer is going to get beaten by his rival this weekend at Wimbledon. There. I said it.

As far as good news… well, Wall-E, like I said, is extraordinary. Back down to earth (snicker), there’s a two-day Twilight Zone marathon on the SciFi channel, so I’ll be entertained while immobile.

Anyway, happy holiday weekend to everybody else!

I’m Ranting Because I Care. Or Because I Totally Don’t.

Posted in Rants & Rages with tags , , on June 30, 2008 by tigereye

I’ve been hanging out on a few sites lately that, while fun, tend to lean a little more celebrity-heavy than I usually like. I’ll go there looking for a conversation on the election or a good book review and instead it’s where I can get all the latest up-to-date information on Amy Winehouse and whichever Olsen twin is around lately (like it matters).

I’m actually kind of fascinated by Amy Janis Winehouse, and occasionally someone I’m interested in will show up in a picture — George Clooney is always a nice surprise — but it’s irritating to see all these photos that belong in Us Weekly on a site that usually has a little more substance. Celebrities in general kind of bore me. Besides, you’ve got a guy as interesting as Barack Obama running for President and all these people can crab on about is some British modelly thing on her fourteenth minute? Nah, I could be doing my nails.

For example:

Who is Agyness Deyn and why on God’s earth would anyone find her interesting?

Who gives a rat’s ass what Miley Cyrus (or her sad-assed washed-up dad) is doing this week?

Does anyone even remember Hilary Duff? No, and we like it that way.

Who are Spencer somebody and Chuck Bass and why should I read about them instead of playing spider solitaire compulsively ’til I win?

Don’t get me wrong. I went to that site to escape a crappy-assed social network, and at least the new place actually enforces its Terms of Service, which few other places can claim. I’m just in a bad mood and don’t give a damn that Matt Damon has eaten all the Ben & Jerry’s on the West Coast, as long as he leaves some for me.

Apologist or Bitch: You Be the Judge

Posted in Rants & Rages, Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2008 by tigereye

When you lean as far left as I do, you encounter a lot of people who practice different religions or none at all. I like this, personally. I was raised in a little cracker town where the Most Different People around were the two Lutheran families, so when I was allowed into the larger world — I called this “graduating high school” — I was kind of relieved to actually meet some of the people whose beliefs I’d only read about until then. Any resulting cultural exchange was always fun. Seriously, I remember thinking — my Catholic friends had to share a veggie pizza once a week? My Hindu friends avoided McDonald’s fries? (I still think these guys were robbed. Those fries were a food group when I was growing up.) It was a cross between leaving Hooterville for the real world and stepping out of the black-and-white house into the color of Oz.

Since then, though, I’ve noticed one thing that bugs me more and more. I really get annoyed by the implication that all Christians are alike, stamped out of the same cookie cutter and following the same bizarre religious practices. I’ve met people who genuinely think we all handle snakes, speak in tongues, don’t drink, don’t swear (although I recognize the argument that I might really go to hell for this one), scream outside abortion clinics, and, last but most personally irritating, vote Republican.

Ahem. Please stand aside while I get this soapbox out.

I can’t say this directly to the folks on a couple of newly discovered and appreciated websites, or apparently 99% of all screenwriters anywhere on the planet, or even a few clueless dopes in my own political party who don’t realize we’re all under the same big blue tent, so I’m going to pass it along here and hope that someone who needs to hear this speech will follow one of my regular friends to this post.

All Christians are about as alike as all… well… all anything, and it’s like having a rock in my shoe to think that the guys who wrote, for example, my old favorite “The West Wing” would be astonished to learn about the vast difference in views, experience, and practice between, say, members of the Church of God and Episcopalians. (For anyone curious, I’m a Methodist. I was sort of raised Baptist but it quite obviously didn’t take.) By the time I was in high school and reading everything I could get hold of, I knew there were great disparities in other religions as well: the spectrum between Reform and Hasidic Jews, the disparity between all those religions — Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Shinto, and probably at least two or three more I’ll be embarrassed to have excluded –vaguely referred to in class as “Eastern,” or even the difference between two of my Catholic buddies, the one who attended Confession and Mass every week and the one who went to church maybe twice a year but still restricted herself to the veggie pizza on Friday nights. And then there were and are my atheist friends, including the one I’ve been with for nearly 11 years. He has slightly more conservative views on abortion than my Methodist self does, but also believes visitors to the Bob Jones University Art Museum should show the minor respect of dressing nicely when they’re there. I like this range, by the way. I’m not much into stereotypes.

I’m not asking for respect, because any Christian who doesn’t think we get it in spades is delusional. I’m just hoping maybe there’ll be one unsuspecting person who will slap his forehead and say (out loud, natch), “Golly gee willikers! What was I thinking? I’d better get hold of that screenplay I just sent Aaron Sorkin before he thinks I can’t tell a Presbyterian from a Primitive Baptist!” (Uh, dude, you’re probably in the clear.)

I watched “Fear Itself” last night on NBC and at one point the screenplay called for a family to be in church two weeks in a row and sing “Amazing Grace” both times. I didn’t think you had to be a foot-washer to know this is a big dumb error. Why do you think hymnals are so freakin’ big?, I asked the TV in frustration. If the only church songs you know are “Amazing Grace” and “Silent Night,” that’s fine, but before you sell this crap to someone don’t you think you should rustle up a friend and maybe ASK? It may have put me off the show.

What’s interesting to me is there are writers who make this mistake too, although considerably fewer of them and making even more considerably less money. Screenwriters as a rule strike me as egomaniacs, with the possible exceptions of Diablo Cody and Larry McMurtry, so maybe they don’t like to admit they aren’t in touch with everyone’s universal experience by asking somebody else for his or her recommendation. It’s also possible that they don’t know they don’t know, in which case they’re exactly like I would have been if I’d never left Hooterville, or read a book.

For the record, Imaginary Screenwriter who Stumbled Onto This Post, in my family alone there are Baptists, Methodists, and non-church-affiliates. Some of us drink and swear (some of us swear more than most people should), go to Jimmy Buffett and U2 and Tool concerts, watch extremely violent movies, vote Democratic (which is almost a secondary religion), have sex before we’re married, don’t like or want kids, hang out with gay friends, and don’t want the Ten Commandments propped up in every courtroom, classroom, and roadside rest stop like a Burma-Shave sign. Then there are others who equate drinking and smoking and premarital sex with crimes, went to private religious schools, don’t listen to any music racier than Josh Groban, place Bibles in every room of their home (including the bathroom, which is just freakin’ weird beyond words to me), are horrified by gay couples in California getting married, and think Bill Clinton is the Antichrist. (They might have moved on to thinking it’s Obama by now. I don’t know and hope I never find out.) So, Mr. Imaginary Curious Screenwriter, riddle me this: if one family, in one remote Hootervillian corner of one appallingly conservative southern state, can have a stretch like this between members of the same family, why can’t you figure out that maybe we all didn’t fit inside the same cookie cutter?

I hate the constant bitching of the right-wing whackjobs about the “Hollywood elite.” I think that’s a crock. You never hear them bemoaning the “sports elite,” do you? No, most of those guys vote the way the right wing wants them to, so they get a pass. And I’m not going to take a swing at Hollywood either. It’s lazy and misses the point.

The point is, I guess, to look around once in a while and see some new differences. It’s a big country, guys, and moreover, it’s oddly shaped. You’d better be prepared to bring a really big set of different cookie cutters to fit inside it. And that’s not even getting out to the rest of the world.

S.N.L. D.N.R.

Posted in Rants & Rages with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2008 by tigereye

Sometimes you have to hand out Tough Love, folks.

I was five years old when Saturday Night Live first came onto the scene. Five years old. That show has outlasted all my cars, most of my friendships, my virginity, several beloved pets, and at least two school buildings. It was terrific at its inception, wretched for a couple of post-Eddie-Murphy years in the early ’80s, had the cast version of either an intervention or a quadruple bypass, and came out on the other side as good as ever. Then slowly that cast, born during the Reagan years, was replaced member by member, like a car having one engine component after another fall out onto the garage floor. And to continue that analogy, the mechanic picked it up, looked at what it used to be, and thought, “I got another’n of these in the shop somewhere,” and replaced it with a used but at least still-working part. Then gradually the whole car replaced itself with parts that weren’t as serviceable as the originals, and the cycle went on, and on, and on…

You see where I’m going here, right?

I can’t even watch SNL, as it’s now known — and it doesn’t deserve to have even that much similarity to the show it once was. It hurts. It hurts me in the brain and the funny and the writer, all at the same time, so I can only imagine the toll it’s taking on its last three remaining talented cast members, Amy Poehler, Darrell Hammond, and Kenan Thompson. They’re whirling in such a vortex of suckdom created by their fellow, oh, hell, just say actors whether it’s true or not, that I’m impressed they keep showing up. If I were Poehler or Hammond or Thompson, the urge to just sit backstage in my dressing room and swill Southern Comfort straight out of the bottle would be impossible to withstand by now. I think it’s why Darrell Hammond only shows up in one skit a week these days.

SNL is in a Green Eggs and Ham state of misery: they are not funny on a stage, they are not funny with Ellen Page, they wouldn’t be funny with Alan Ladd, or with Fat Boy From “Superbad.” (I just came up with those rhymes off the top of my head and they’re funnier than anything SNL has done in weeks.) IT JUST BLOWS GOATS, PEOPLE. It’s painful to watch. John keeps trying to make it through the show out of stubborn loyalty and the hots for Amy Poehler, and I cringe for him, week after wretched awful unfunny week. You’d think the writers’ strike would give them time to regroup, even if they weren’t allowed to fire every talentless schmuck in their repertoire, from smirking frat-boy dolt Andy Samberg or whatever the hell his name is, to Fred Something, whose only funny bit EVER was wearing a dress and pretending to be Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, to Kristen No One Knows Your Name and You’re Not Funny, who plays that sickening character that’s a total ripoff of John Lovitz’s Annoying Man, only less funny and oddly enough, less annoying. There’s some poor new girl in the cast who resembles Julia Sweeney. So far she’s not funny either, although it may or may not be her fault.

Who writes this crap they’re passing off to us as humor? Look, I don’t live in New York and I have no current income, and this stupid piece I’m writing at this moment has already made me smile a couple of times. That’s more than SNL has accomplished. And it’s not that they’re hurting for material — the governor of New York gets caught banging an expensive mannequin, the upcoming election is a gigantic mood swing in three acts, everyone who’s ever touched a baseball is caught pants-down and needle-in-thigh with steroids, yet they can’t capitalize on it? The Taliban allows more humor than SNL has delivered. They’ve had two presidential candidates and an Oscar nominee turn up this season, and that’s just on the shows I’ve seen bits and pieces of, but they haul Fred Armi-notfunny out to wreck the news with one of his failed recurring characters. The news is the only bright spot on the show, partly because of poor workhorse Amy Poehler and partly because all the would-be musical guests are taking one horrified look at the train wreck the show’s become and suddenly developing laryngitis. Hell, I bet they couldn’t book Britney Spears — and there’s another reason the show should be at least bearable for the first 30 minutes. America has given you Britney, SNL, and you’ve made her no fun. At long last, have you no decency?

So I’m sad to say it, but I’ve lived a little longer than the show and I’ve come up a lot wiser (not to mention a hell of a lot funnier), and someone has to call for it: just cancel SNL, guys. Just go gentle into that good night. You’re over. For reasons known only to God, Lorne Michaels refuses to fire the lot of his wretched, funereally unfunny cast (he could keep any or all of his three remaining decent players, if he can sober them up) and start from scratch. Doesn’t he remember what happened the last time he ditched the whole ship of fools and got newer, better fools? The show went from the televised armpit it had been with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Anthony Michael Hall and became the talk of Monday mornings again with players like Phil Hartman, Mike Myers, Jan Hooks, even Victoria Jackson, for God’s sake. Hey, maybe they could get Victoria back — it’s not like she’s busy with her comedy career, and at her worst she’d be the best they have now. Scrap that lousy, vocally irritating woman and the weird black stepmom of a white-trash teenage girl, and give Amy Poehler something funny to do. Put Darrell Hammond onstage as Barack Obama and retire Fred Whatshisname to commercials — he might be as funny as the other nerds in those annoying Alltel ads, if he puts his back into it. If you have to wipe the whole slate clean, Lorne, do it — Amy and Darrell and Kenan are talented enough to land on their feet, and they’ll more than likely thank you for the intervention. But for God’s sake, man, do something, whether it’s firing everyone (start with the writers!) or axeing the show. Put us out of our misery. Bring our long national nightmare to an end. Do the right thing. Make us look forward to the weekends again.