The Educational Testing Service gets a question wrong and reveals too much of its literary tastes.12:00 AM, May 15, 2003 • By DAVID SKINNER
THE EDUCATIONAL TESTING SERVICE, reports the Washington Post, has conceded that a grammar question on a recent PSAT contained an unintended error--making what was the official, correct answer wrong.
Tina Brown's "Topic A" brings the charm of a Victorian salon to CNBC.2:00 PM, May 1, 2003 • By DAVID SKINNER
TINA BROWN'S talk show on CNBC, which debuted last night, happens only four times a year. Therefore, it might compare with a daily show the way a quarterly journal compares with a newspaper, the former being deeper and less on the cusp of the latest news story. Only it's not deeper than your average talk show. Still, it's not too bad if its pretensions don't rub you the wrong way.
The basic format is generic, although the show proves to be otherwise.
Also: Tiger Woods v. Michael Moore and Anna Quindlen v. common sense.7:00 AM, Apr 17, 2003 • By DAVID SKINNER
PERHAPS because of the mixed and novel aims of the war in Iraq, no single argument against the war ever came to define the antiwar movement. Rather, the pro- and antiwar camps roughly divided into people who believe in the moral potential of American might and those who don't. The latter have been even more disbelieving as a result of their collective contempt for our president, a hatred that more than any ideal or policy aim distinguishes the hard-core left today.
The Boys make a seriously dumb protest song; David Byrne and Jay Z; Eddie Vedder and Sen. John Kerry.6:00 AM, Apr 4, 2003 • By DAVID SKINNER
COMEDY, performers tell us, is harder than drama. One reason may be that grimness and weight come more naturally than lightness. To achieve the sour gloom of the dramatic performer, one need only take oneself seriously, which is both easy to do and psychologically gratifying. Take yourself seriously and inside you'll be purring with satisfaction.
From the April 7, 2003 issue: Saddam's war crimes.Apr 7, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 29 • By DAVID SKINNER
ANYONE STILL DOUBTING the criminal essence of Saddam's regime need only survey the methods employed so far by Iraqi fighters to see that laws, humanitarian conventions, and elementary standards of decency hold no sway with the dictator or the men who carry out his will. Already, there are too many reports of actions amounting to war crimes to keep track of, though certain categories of offense stand out.
Perhaps first on the list is the treatment of prisoners of war.
The tide shifts modestly as American celebrities become less embarrassed about their country's actions.6:00 AM, Mar 27, 2003 • By DAVID SKINNER
FROM THE PRO-BUSH sentiments of hockey great Wayne Gretzky to actor Adrien Brody's rousing acceptance at the Oscars, the last few days have finally brought good publicity for the war effort.
The great writer is also an anti-American, religious bigot. Who knew?10:30 AM, Mar 21, 2003 • By DAVID SKINNER
STARDUMB QUIZ: Which famous writer is speaking in the interview below, which took place on September 4, 2002 and focused on the then-upcoming war in Iraq?
Interviewer: Do you see as some members of the Bush administration see parallels with the 1930s and appeasement?
Famous Writer: I can't say that I do. I can't say that I do, I can imagine an argument that pictures Saddam Hussein as the Churchill today. It is all upside down.
Quick, who was it that compared Saddam Hussein to Winston Churchill? Susan Sontag? Noam Chomsky? Simon Schama?
The center square of comedy doesn't like it when people make jokes about lefty entertainers--it's unconstitutional. Also, a Coldplay update and Chrissy Hynde's literal anti-Americanism.11:00 PM, Mar 12, 2003 • By DAVID SKINNER
BLACKLIST. Censorship. The Constitution. Free Speech. This is what the Stardumb phenomenon is all about: The guaranteed right of every entertainer to make an ass of himself as he rushes to the public square with his fresh-from-the-mouth-of-Bill-Maher pronouncements on the issue of war.
And, thus, by ridiculing such statements, the American people are attempting to subvert the Constitution and take us all back to some dark, repressive era in the nation's mythically terrible past.
A Grammy special, Cusack revisited, MTV goes anti-war, and the Boss.11:00 PM, Feb 25, 2003 • By DAVID SKINNER
THE STARDUMB word of the week is "agreeance." We shout out a thanks to Fred Dunce of Limp Bizkit for the contribution, which he ad-libbed on stage at the Grammys, in defiance of the English language and rumors of a gag order handed down from CBS. Without him, we wouldn't have a Stardumb word of the week. So, thanks Fred.
Dunce's full comment was, "I hope we all are in agreeance that this war should go away as soon as possible."
Stardumb Hypothesis 4: Although celebrity is often used to advance an overlooked cause, the dynamic works the other way, too.
John Cusack goes hard on Bush and soft on Hitler, before praising the cinema of Osama bin Laden. Also: Scorsese's play of the week, Spike Lee and cast . . .11:00 PM, Feb 13, 2003 • By DAVID SKINNER
MARTIN SCORSESE wins the Stardumb play-of-the-week award for this beaut: "It seems to me that any sensible person must see that violence does not change the world and, if it does, then only temporarily. . .
What the strange little girl of American agit pop has to say about her mother country. Mo' Moby. And introducing . . . The Barbrometer!11:00 PM, Jan 30, 2003 • By DAVID SKINNER
SHOWDITZ JANEANE GAROFALO told the Washington Post this week that a pro-war corporatist media encourages stars to speak out against war in Iraq in order to marginalize the peace movement.