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Kathy Shaidle

(KATHY SHAIDLE is a blogging pioneer who runs FiveFeetOfFury, now in its 14th year. She's been called "one of the great virtuoso polemicists of our time," by MARK STEYN. Her NEW book is Confessions of A Failed Slut (Thought Catalog, 2014).
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How I Doubled My Freelance Income in Two Years (Part 3)

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Yesterday, as part of my series about how I doubled my freelance writing income over the course of about 24 months, I advised you to “Always Say ‘Yes’ (Except Sometimes).”

Today’s tip is also somewhat contradictory:

2. Be Prepared (But Not Too Much)

A while back, a fellow writer asked me to look over the outline/proposal/project scope thingie he’d just prepared for a client.

The client had hired my friend to write the copy for a ten page website.

My friend’s outline was… 40 pages long.

Whereas I’ve written the copy for 40 page websites, and the outline was five pages long. Maybe.

And I only create outlines (or whatever you want to call them) if a client asks me to (and I can’t talk them out of it.)

Otherwise I never write outlines. I’ve never had a business plan.

I do not make to-do lists. I avoid face to face meetings whenever possible.

Don’t get me wrong: My day, and therefore my week, is planned hour by hour, because my regular daily/weekly work routine rarely changes.

(As I said yesterday, my calendar looks like a clown car, and sounds like one too, thanks to the loud honking noises that remind menopausal me about my deadlines, even ones that have fallen on the same day of the week for years.)

However, my idea of “being prepared” involves, say, having two working computers (and mice and keyboards) at hand, at all times. And a LOT of batteries.

(And toilet paper and cat food, so I don’t have to interrupt my work day to restock those and other non-work-related necessities.)

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How I Doubled My Freelance Income in Two Years (Part 2)

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Yesterday, I talked about making more money last year as a freelance writer than ever before.

In fact, my income doubled in about 24 months.

I promised I’d try to explain how I accomplished this over the course of this week, so here’s my first “tip”:

1.  Always Say “Yes” (Except Sometimes).

At this juncture in my freelance writing career, clients and publishers approach me, not the other way around.

(Here’s how I got to that point.)

Today, one of my biggest challenges is knowing when to accept assignments and when to turn them down.

Mostly, I say “yes,” even if I’m (secretly) afraid to squeeze one more gig into my 14-hour a day, seven day a week schedule because my calendar already looks like a clown car, and I’d love to just veg out with a Criminal Minds marathon.

(Nope, The 4-Hour Workweek this ain’t. I don’t buy that gimmicky formula and neither does Timothy Feriss or he wouldn’t be Timothy Feriss…)

I’m able to say “yes” as often as I do now because a few years ago, I screwed up the courage to sometimes say “no.”

That’s when I’d first noticed a strange pattern:

The less someone pays you, the more work they demand from you — usually for free.

These “I need it yesterday!” types want multiple revisions and last minute changes, but they sure freak out when you add them to their bill.

Whereas my “high end” clients who are paying full freight are easier to work with.

They’re more satisfied with my efforts, and they pay faster, too.

So two years ago, I politely “fired” some long time clients who were still enjoying my old, low “just starting out”/”I’m afraid to charge too much” rate.

I also stopped writing for publications that weren’t paying me enough. (No, I never write for free.)

This left me more time and energy to devote to newer, better paying (and more enjoyable) clients and publishers.

Yes, I still work long hours, but now those hours are now less frustrating and more lucrative.

(Stay tuned for Part 3…)

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How I Doubled My Freelance Income in Two Years (Part 1)

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

bullion-coins-stacked_303x259No one needs a reminder that it’s tax time.

We Canadians don’t have to file until April 30, but that doesn’t lessen the sting for those of us who actually work for a living — especially if, like me, you run your own business.

My accountant just gave me the “good news, bad news”:

The bad news is, I owe a low five-figure amount to the taxman right now. I’ll also have to cough up quarterly payments this year on top of that — something I normally don’t have to do.

That’s because — and this is where the good news comes in — as a freelance writer, I earned more in 2013 than I ever did before, even when I was working at a “normal” cubicle job.

In fact, last year’s revenues were almost double what I earned as a freelancer in 2011.

Throughout this week, I’ll try to explain (to you and myself) how I went from making an average to an above-average income.

Believe me, none of these “lessons” will be terribly earth-shattering.

I certainly can’t promise that they’re universally applicable, either, or will even still work for me in six weeks or six years.

That said, they may still provide some food for thought at a time of year when we’re all forced to review our own individual bottom lines.

So stay tuned…

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Updated: Click here for Part 2

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David Letterman Out, Stephen Colbert In

Thursday, April 10th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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It’s official: Stephen Colbert is replacing David Letterman when the latter retires from late night television next year.

PJMedia’s Bryan Preston reacts:

I say it’s an odd choice because Colbert plays a character on his Comedy Central show. He’s parodying Bill O’Reilly. Does he bring that schtick to a full talk show at CBS, or does he leave it behind and re-invent himself?

Now, my antipathy towards David Letterman is familiar to regular PJMedia readers.

As well, I’m not a fan of Colbert’s schtick; yes, I “get” it, and no, it still wasn’t funny enough, regularly enough, to turn me into a loyal viewer.

In fact, Colbert’s character is so “ten years ago,” so Bush Administration, it’s been giving off an anachronistic odor for a while.

This new job gives Colbert a dignified and lucrative way to kill off his tired alter ego.

Because — and here’s the point — Stephen Colbert is perfectly capable of comporting himself out of character.

At least, he was when, for instance, he’d join the gang on Colin Quinn‘s Tough Crowd (speaking of “ten years ago.”)

Some will accuse me of using this post as an excuse to post a Tough Crowd clip, and while I admit that I do love myself some Nick DiPaolo, I really am trying to be, well, fair and balanced.

This isn’t a test of whether or not Colbert is really “left wing” or “right wing.” I’m just saying that the inside joke in Tough Crowd‘s title was that one’s fellow stand up comics were going to be the toughest crowd you’d faced in a long time. Participants who couldn’t keep up were crushed quickly and painfully. Colbert passed the test.

He impressed me when I found this old clip on YouTube. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but: Colbert may very well prove us all wrong.

Check out this clip and see what you think:

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Argh: Cat Stevens Allowed To Enter U.S. for Hall of Fame Ceremony

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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It’s bad enough that Cat Stevens — a.k.a. Muslim weirdo Yusuf Islam — will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Thursday night.

(Don’t blame me — I tried to stop it…)

But I was hoping he’d at least be banned from entering America, based on his habit of wishing aloud for the murder of Salman Rushdie and such.

No luck there, either. Stevens performed on Jimmy Fallon’s show last night, so we know he’s in the country.

I can only wish that fellow inductee Gene Simmons of KISS — being Jewish and all — will at least diss Stevens during the show.

Of course, KISS have already been dissing the Hall, and each other, daily in the run up to the event.

(Yesterday, Paul Stanley accused Ace Frehley and Peter Criss of anti-Semitism [!?]. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.)

Andrew Loog Oldham, who is being honored as The Rolling Stones’ original manager, says he’s not showing up because, among other things, he says the ceremony isn’t as much raunchy fun any more now that it’s televised.

Meanwhile, surviving Nirvana members seem to be hinting that, for their Hall induction performance, Joan Jett will be taking the place of their obviously absent lead singer, Kurt Cobain.

Now, I have all the time in the world for Joan Jett, despite her asinine politics, but if true, this decision is just… strange.

Joe Strummer died shortly before The Clash’s 2003 induction, and no one in the band said, “Hey, let’s just shove Patti Smith up there instead.” They stayed classy and didn’t perform.

Having said all this, will I watch this stupid show tomorrow night? Probably.

After all, sometimes something fun happens…

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What Is Your Damage, Heathers?

Monday, April 7th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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“**** me gently with a chainsaw!”

I know I’m not the only one who reacted to the announcement of a musical version of Heathers — the bruise-black 1988 satire of teen angst — by uttering that line from the movie, one of the many memorable catchphrases in a film renowned for, among other things, its daring and original writing.

Heathers‘ many imitators, from the laudable Mean Girls to the forgettable Jawbreakers, can’t possibly recapture the sheer, shocking, radical newness of the original.

Meanwhile, within the sub-genre I’ll call the “Blow Up Your School” movie — which dates back to Vigo’s Zero de Conduit (1933) — Heathers ranks somewhere below that near-masterpiece …if (1968) but above its direct predecessor, Massacre at Central High (1976), which failed to live up to its terrific premise, and promise.

That Heathers musical is now playing off-Broadway, timed to coincide with the movie’s 25th anniversary.

The review I read of it left me doubly confused.

Not only did the critic not seem to (want to) understand the point of Heathers, but neither, apparently, did the team who staged the darn musical.

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How to Go Galt: 5 Controversial Tips For Enjoying America’s Coming Collapse

Sunday, April 6th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in in March of 2013 as “5 Controversial Ways to Enjoy the Decline of America“  It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 40 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

Is America in decline?

I’ve been hearing the United States compared to the Roman Empire since around the 1970s, and I’m sure those apocalyptic sentiments were being expressed long before I was born.

However, it’s difficult to read and watch all the depressing stuff posted here on PJ Media and elsewhere and not conclude that, this time, it’s on.

America’s going Gibbon.

Some books propose possible ways to avert this catastrophe.

Aaron Clarey’s Enjoy the Decline isn’t one of them.

As his subtitle suggests, this book is about “accepting and living with the death of the United States.”

It’s full of counterintuitive, amusing, and sometimes infuriating advice:

What country should I move to?

What should I pack in a bug-out bag?

Why don’t black people go to national parks?

This book features something to offend everyone.

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It Happened To Me: I Agreed With Something at xoJane (Sort Of)

Friday, April 4th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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xoJane used to be Jane, a print magazine along the lines of Sassy and Bust and Bitch: that is, a Clinton-era publication aimed at women but more likely to print stories about RiotGrrls and extreme knitting than diets and makeup.

Today, the xoJane website does talk about beauty and fashion, because they finally accepted, sort of, that that’s what most women like to read about.

They still have an edge though; the editorial policy is extremely, faddishly leftist: “green” this and “trans” that and “slut shaming” whathaveyou.

(They have one story up now called “IS THAT EVEN LEGAL? 6 Rude Things Not To Say To Your Gay Friends Who Are Getting Married” and I thought for a second they were suggesting that it might be illegal to say rude things to gay people because, hey, Mozilla, right?)

One of xoJane’s most popular features is “It Happened To Me,” first person accounts of First World, (mostly) White Woman “Problems”:

“I Accidentally Dated a Racist/Republican/Jock,” “I Worked My Way Through College as a Pole Dancer and Refuse to Apologize For That, SO THERE!,” and endless variations on a theme that’s dear to my heart (given that it’s the subject of my new book):

“I Keep Hooking Up With Strange Men and Now I’m Depressed, Single and 35 and Don’t Understand What Went Wrong.”

Maybe I should submit this pitch:

“I Agreed With Something at Jane XO!”

Because that’s what happened to me today.

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Agent Mulder Vs. Charles Manson

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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That’s not a slash fiction premise or a rejected X-Files scenario, but more or less the concept behind the forthcoming NBC crime drama, Aquarius:

Aquarius will be set in Los Angeles in the late 1960s, and Duchovny will play a police sergeant whose personal life is more troublesome than his job, [sic] at least it was until he sets his sights on Manson, who at that point was just released from prison and starting to build his Family of easily swayed hippies. (…)

”The twists and turns of a complicated undercover operation will lead Duchovny’s character and his young partner to the brink of Manson’s crimes that will eventually lead to the Tate-LaBianca murders in subsequent seasons.”

The backstory to the infamous murders certainly gives the folks behind Aquarius some juicy, colorful stuff to work with:

Most people know that career-criminal Manson was also a frustrated singer-songwriter.

He’d pinned his hopes for fame and fortune on his acquaintance with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, who’d in turn introduced him to Terry Melcher, a record producer who happened to be Doris Day’s son.

Melcher also resided at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon — or had, until he made way for new tenants: Roman Polanski and his wife Sharon Tate…

What most people don’t know — because the Baby Boomers who run the world don’t want you to — is that the Manson’s Family were full-fledged players in the California counterculture.

Even after the Tate-LaBianca murders…

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Confessions of a Failed Slut

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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I (finally) have two new books coming out this year.

The first is a short-and-not-so-sweet Kindle edition that was commissioned by Thought Catalog.

Confessions of a Failed Slut expands on themes I’ve explored at Another Conservative Web Site, where I accidentally — almost by default — found myself working the “sex” beat.

Which is odd because I’m the least likely “sex writer” around.

I’m 50, I’m married and — as I admit in the book, “my ‘number’ (as the kids call it these days) is so low that in certain Australian provinces I would still be considered a virgin.”

I write as a one-time Catholic school girl who never managed to shake off that early formation entirely — thank goodness.

The book looks back at the old timey kings of porn like Hefner and Guccione, and the whole toxic “do your own thing” ethos of my formative years, the 1970s.

Fast forward to today, and I try to make sense of “dinosaur erotica, slut shaming and robot hookers of the near future.”

I invite you to check it out — there’s already a review at Amazon! — and incidentally, you don’t need a Kindle to read Confessions of a Failed Slut; you can just download a free Kindle reading app from Amazon and read it on your computer or smart phone.

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6 Classic Songs That Almost Didn’t Exist

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in two parts in February of 2013 as “6 Classic Recordings That Have No Business Existing.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

Today, when every computer ships with GarageBand-type software, sour notes can be sweetened with Auto Tune, and radio stations broadcast focus-grouped computerized playlists, there seems to be no room for the serendipity — – or sheer incompetence and confusion — that helped create some of the greatest records of all time.

For instance, the ultimate irony of the urban legend that “Louie, Louie” is a “dirty” song (there’s a whole book about it) is that today you can just about make out what the FBI(!) couldn’t back in 1963:

The Kingsmen drummer’s frustrated “f-word” at around the 0:55 mark.

What you can’t hear are the backstories: the flukes, accidents, misunderstandings, coincidences, white lies, and willpower that wrenched classic songs from crazy recording sessions.

What you know about a particular recording can change the way it sounds.

If you’re my age, you’ve heard Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” about 10,000 times, which may be 9,999 times more than you ever wanted.

But you may not realize that lead singer Brad Delp “actually hits those high notes; there’s nothing electronic helping him.”

One of the more remarkable vocal pyrotechnics on an album where Delp’s singing gives Scholz’s guitar work a run for its money is on the passage where Delp’s ever-rising tenor rides into the first notes of the signature guitar solo, a move Boylan says was planned and executed flawlessly on virtually the first take.

You may also not know that Brad Delp committed suicide in 2007.

Now, give that 1976 recording one more listen.

See if it sounds… different.

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Meet the Famous British Liberals Who Support Government Control of the Media

Friday, March 28th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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I braced myself as I scrolled down to the list of names.

Who would break my already fractured old heart?

Who would I have to add to my already lengthy “You’re Dead To Me” list?

You see, over 200 British authors, actors, musicians and other bigwigs have signed the “Hacked Off” petition, “urging UK press owners to embrace the cross-party Royal Charter on press regulation.”

The English press is legendarily ruthless:

Most reporters ensconced in Florida’s “Tabloid Valley,” where the National Enquirer and other supermarket tabs were headquartered, were British ex-pats.

(See also Evelyn Waugh’s barely fictional satire Scoop.)

But in 2011, critics said, British journalism hit a new low, when reporters at Rupert Murdoch’s loathed (and now defunct) News of the World were charged with hacking into the cell phones of 9/11 victims’ families — and, not incidentally, those of some celebrities, too.

Now — led by hacking “victim” and (admittedly adorable) whoremonger Hugh Grant — some celebrities and other leftist power brokers are pushing back, with great success:

While celebrities and victims of hacking fronted the campaign for tighter regulation of the press, it has been the liberal and left-wing intelligentsia and media that have driven the crusade to curb the popular press. It was they who formed Hacked Off, used the hacking scandal to demand and get the Leveson Inquiry into the entire ‘culture, practice and ethics’ of the UK media, and wrote the report’s demands for statutory-backed regulation.

Now more than 200 prominent members of what are sometimes called the chattering classes have publicly signed up to the demand for the press to bend the knee to the Royal Charter. It would be difficult to overestimate the abandonment of liberty that represents. The Royal Charter deal, stitched up by all the main political parties in an infamous late-night meeting with Hacked Off, seeks to impose a regulator using the ancient anti-democratic instruments of the Crown, the royal prerogative and the Her Majesty’s Privy Council. (…)

It evokes grim shadows of the old system of Crown licensing of the press, started by Henry VIII in 1529 and expanded under successive monarchs, under which nothing could be published without official permission.’

Those who defied the Crown licensers could expect to be sent to the Tower or the gallows.

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Is Oprah Winfrey Running For President?

Thursday, March 27th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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I’d call Steve Sailer “the Malcolm Gladwell” of the Right except Sailer is a smarter, better, braver writer with a better “accuracy” batting average.

Today, he shares an email from “a reader who is either paranoid or brilliant or both.”

The reader wonders if Oprah Winfrey’s upcoming “The Life You Want” tour of America is really a presidential Trojan Horse:

As one of the few surviving men to have experienced being in the studio audience of an Oprah show while free stuff is being given out, [the reader] writes:

“Oprah POTUS … I think this is a trial balloon and the Canada tour [in 2013] was to polish her game. Lots of red, white and blue, stars and strong suggestion in that article image! … I don’t think Hillary can get it done in 2016, but we will know better after this November what the general sentiment is toward the real conservatives. I am closely watching the “other O” for signals and this is a bit conspicuous to me. On the backside of 2003, I am pretty sure Oprah can get a huge chunk of white-woman votes.”

“Having spent about 15 seconds in The Presence in 1987,” Sailer adds, “Oprah remains the greatest natural politician I’ve ever met.”

The trouble is, the “red, white and blue” article image (above) that has Sailer’s correspondent so exercised is just an exaggerated photo-illustration cooked up by the Hollywood Reporter.

In fact, the “Life You Want” campaign’s — I mean, tour’s — real color scheme is yellow and orange, very Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt.

So, based solely on these flimsy semiotic tea leaves, I’m going to have to go with “paranoid.”

Although, like Sailer, I certainly think Oprah would have been a better “first black president” than Obama.

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Dead Celebrities Pitch Beer, Chocolate, and Bad Taste

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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A while back, I interviewed an executive at Q Scores after they released their semi-regular Dead Q Report.

Corporations pay Q Scores big bucks to determine which celebrities are “most wanted — dead or alive,” then figure out how to leverage these superstars’ popularity in products and ad campaigns.

For whatever reason, this month we’ve seen an uptick in the number of famous dead people hawking stuff on TV.

First, a pixilated, pixie-cut “Audrey Hepburn” stars in a glossy Dove Chocolate spot that the Los Angeles Times condemned as “the creepiest TV commercial ever made.”

I was relieved to find out I wasn’t the only one who finds the practice of virtually reanimating deceased celebrities ghoulish and tasteless.

Now, I realize society is on an extended zombie kick.

However, this particular sun drenched, madcap production — in which Hepburn is chauffeured through the Uncanny Valley portion of the Riviera — is arguably more disturbing than the goriest “living dead” scenario, precisely because it so blithely denies the reality of death.

A la Norman Bates and his mother, pretending dead people were still alive used to be a sign of insanity.

Now it’s the premise for a sales pitch.

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Rock Around the Clock: How 2 Movies Made Musical History

Thursday, March 20th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Baby Boomers have a vested interested in pushing the myth that America in the 1950s was boring, sanitized, conformist and deeply unjust.

“You rubes should be grateful we finally came along to liberate you!” Boomers chirp at every available opportunity, as if Woodstock was Omaha Beach with brown acid.

Yeah, thanks for disease, divorce and the Grateful Dead.

One of the most offensive movies I’ve ever (almost) seen wasn’t Hostel or Cannibal Holocaust but the smug, simple-minded Pleasantville (1998) — “almost” because its arrogant, ham-fisted Promethean concept infuriates me so much I can’t sit through it.

Even Boomer and unrepentant leftist David Macaray scoffs:

Everything that the boomers believed happened for the first time during their coming-of-age years actually happened a decade earlier, and in a more disciplined, modest and elegant fashion — the critical difference being that these remarkable phenomena didn’t affect the masses or spill out dramatically into America’s streets. That wouldn’t happen until the turbulent 1960s.

Lenny Bruce, anybody? James Baldwin? Sylvia Plath? Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer?

Even if you don’t care for them, they were the originals whom lesser talents spent the 1960s (and beyond) emulating.

And those were the radicals.

Below, check out the two most popular, highest paid — and therefore most mainstream — entertainers of their era, in action.

Yeah, the 1950s were so bland and uptight…

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Why The 3 Best Monty Python Sketches Aren’t Necessarily the Funniest

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in January of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

Monty Python saved my life.

I was ten years old in 1974, when the Buffalo PBS station across the lake began airing the iconoclastic BBC comedy series every Friday night.

Being stuck in a cheap, dinky apartment that overlooked a burned-out church, with my bullying alcoholic stepfather and a meek, “see no evil” mother, surrounded at school by more extroverted, rough-and-tumble classmates — and very likely, without knowing it, clinically depressed — that half hour once a week sitting two feet from the TV was one of the only things I felt I had to look forward to.

Maybe ever, I thought at the time.

Ironically, my crappy stepfather was the one who turned me on to the show.

The first night, he “made” me watch it, the same way he was always trying to “make” me get a suntan or take up horseback riding or keep all the closet and cupboard doors in the house either open or closed depending on his inscrutable whim of the week.

My pouty resentment faded fast. For whatever reason — the cool accents, the breathless pace, the tame “naughtiness,” the “question authority” iconoclasm, the ineffable cuteness of Michael Palin — I got hooked on Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

In high school, I finally met a couple of girls who shared my passion, and we became those insufferable sorts who communicate almost entirely in Python (and SCTV) catchphrases.

I bought all the Python’s albums and books by and about them, and repeatedly signed out hard to find titles from the library, like the one detailing their lawsuits and censorship battles.

(Which I suppose helps explain my enthusiasm for trouble-making and my relative indifference to being sued and otherwise denounced and condemned.)

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Adam Carolla’s Cool New Series Brings Bad Contractors to Justice

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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I’ll be 50 years old this year and I’ve never lived in a house.

OK, that’s not true:

When I first moved away from the apartment I grew up in, I shared a house with a bunch of people for three months.

We were broken into. Twice.

I wasn’t surprised.

Apartments — I just knew from personal experience — were safer than houses.

Too high to get flooded.

Too big to get swept up in Dorothy’s tornado.

Too tall for any kidnapper’s ladder.

No spooky basements or attics.

If you lived in a house, Dick and Perry would get you, or maybe the Manson Family.

The creepy covers of The Amityville Horror and Where Are the Children? — damn you, Wendell Minor — confronted me at every checkout counter.

No matter that my formative years coincided with The Towering Inferno, and the efforts of Roman Polanski, J. G. Ballard and David Cronenberg to shift the locus of horror from the small town Victorian haunted house to the 20th century urban apartment.

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Happy 59th Birthday, Nina Hagen

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus rip her off without even realizing it, as do countless teenage (and older) girls around the world.

She probably helped inspire Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the last great musical of the 20th century.

She wasn’t just a defector from Communist East Germany:

They kicked her out.

She found the perfect refuge in mid-1970s London, a city that has always embraced eccentrics, and her timing couldn’t have been better.

Raised in an atheist environment, she was baptized in 2009.

And this week, child opera prodigy turned punk pioneer Nina Hagen turned 59.

Hagen’s views on faith and politics are as blunt and unorthodox as her music and style:

The books by Huxley and Orwell with their terrible visions of the human race being genetically manipulated, in which there is a slave race and everything is controlled, everyone has chips — we are growing into such a horror scenario right now if we don’t inform ourselves and unite. My pastor and I wrote a book called “Vorboten der Zukunft — wie wir die Welt verbessern” (Harbingers of the Future — How We Can Improve the World). That’s exactly what I’m talking about. There are many civil initiatives coming together and joining forces — beyond party lines. It has nothing to do with political parties because they offer no solution. They only want to achieve power but no one is addressing our problems.

Nina Hagen would fail any conservative or libertarian purity test, as would most individuals raised in welfare-state Europe instead of America. Shaking off that utopian worldview is harder than many of us can appreciate.

And like a lot of Protestants, she really doesn’t like the Catholic Church (because she doesn’t understand it.)

But as an energetic embodiment of individuality, I’ll take Nina Hagen over pretty much anybody who spoke at CPAC this year, or who plays insipid Christian “rock.”

)

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Do These 3 Things To Own Your Name on Google’s First Page

Saturday, March 8th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in February of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…

 

I may be a blogging pioneer, but I’m not otherwise technically savvy.

I’ve never played a video game or “texted.”

I don’t even own a cell phone.

But along with blogging, one “techy” thing I know a little about is SEO, or search engine optimization.

At least, I did until Google ran their Panda and Penguin algorithm updates , and changed lots of their rules (mostly for the better) to punish folks who’d been trying to game the search-engine system.

And when you think of what’s at stake, it’s easy to understand why some “black hat” SEO “gurus” are always seeking the elusive formula for algorithmic alchemy, to turn search engine results placement into literal gold.

After all, an estimated 90% of Google searchers never visit page two of their results; getting your company’s site into those precious ten “page one” results for a popular and lucrative search phrase like “San Diego real estate” can mean increased business.

As well, dominating that first page when potential employers, spouses, or malicious trolls google your first and last name is a vital part of online reputation management.

I’m not an expert, but I’ve learned a few things about how to own (or at least, easily “rent”) your name on Google’s first-page results.

There’s not much you can do about nasty sites or pages devoted to dissing you unless they are literally slanderous and you can get a lawyer to send the site owner a “take down” notice.

However, you can try to push down embarrassing or nasty stuff by “owning” your page-one Google results.

These tips aren’t “tricks” — everything I’m about to tell you are all “white hat,” non-controversial things you can do to start taking control of your online presence.

TIP: Before you google yourself, ALWAYS sign out of your Google account, clear your browser cache and, if possible, use a program like HideMyIP to choose a different IP address.

Doing all this will more closely replicate what a total stranger will see when they search for you.

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Hitchcock’s Rope and Gay ‘Rights’

Thursday, March 6th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle
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A cake in the small box. A corpse in the large one.

Hitchcock’s 1948 film Rope is regarded by some as one of his lesser works, a mere gimmicky curio:

A movie made in what is supposed to be one long take, the better to recreate the experience of watching a stage play (which Rope originally was).

Because that would have been technically unachievable at the time — a Technicolor camera’s film cartridges had to be replaced every ten minutes — Hitchcock challenged himself to employ the fewest cuts he possibly could.

The finished movie features only ten, a mixture of traditional hard cuts and not very subtle dissolves.

Hitchcock later called Rope “an experiment that didn’t work out.”

It fell into semi-obscurity until a 1984 rerelease prompted critical reevaluations and introduced the movie to a new generation.

I’ve never understood why Hitchcock was disappointed with the movie.

Then again, I’ve always been very fond of Rope.

Its themes intrigue me.

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The 8 Most Overrated Musicians

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in three parts in April and May of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the count-down? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…

The “Academy of the Overrated” scene in Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1978) is meant to get us to hate Diane Keaton just before Woody Allen changes his mind and falls into bed with her.

Yes, as Mariel Hemingway’s character puts it, Keaton and her beau are “creeps” — but mostly because their “academy” inductees are so gauche, as is their decision to inflict their pretentious pillow talk onto hapless acquaintances on a public sidewalk.

Let’s face it:

Some artists really are overrated, especially today when words like “genius” and “classic” (and the current go-to empty-calorie adjective “iconic”) have been neutered by lazy, know-nothing writers.

First, we prick the inflated reputations of 5 rock and pop stars with XY chromosomes and little else to recommend them.

#5: Pink Floyd

Let’s tackle Roger Waters’ reputed antisemitism first, since it lets me put off having to actually talk about his dreadful “music” for a bit.

Waters made news most recently when New York City’s famous 92Y, under pressure by Jewish groups, cancelled his scheduled lecture.

I’m not a fan of anybody trying to get someone else’s public appearances cancelled, and not just because it’s happened to me.

What’s unusual about this particular instance, however, is that critics’ “accusations” against Waters are true.

Some will object that “anti-Zionism isn’t necessarily anti-Semitism” and if we existed on a pure and sterile plane of Platonic forms, they’d be right.

But here on planet Earth, anyone who’s engaged a rabid “anti-Zionist” in “conversation” knows that within moments, their opponent will slip up and spit out some slur upon “the Joooozzzz!!!”

I save myself time and simply assume that long-time anti-Zionists are Jew-haters, because life is too short and I have laundry and stuff to do.

I’ll leave you with this hilarious piece of evidence, then:

Those who grew up with Pink Floyd’s 1979 double album “The Wall” will remember it as the perfect antidote to the crueller aspects of teenage life. Chronicling the mental breakdown of a pop star, the rock opera rages against suffocating parents, tyrannical teachers and social conformism. The story concludes with the hero hauled before a nightmarish court, where everyone in his life testifies as an adversarial witness. Before the defendant can say a word in his own defense, the judge bellows a guilty verdict: “The evidence before the court is incontrovertible. There is no need for the jury to retire!”

I was reminded of this scene Saturday while attending a session in New York of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, a self-appointed people’s court that has met periodically since 2009 to sit in judgment of Israel. (…)

Another reason to be reminded of “The Wall”: Roger Waters, Pink Floyd’s chief lyricist, was a member of the jury.

I grew up trying to avoid The Wall.

It was ubiquitous in my steel mill home town — a whining drone blaring from every paneled suburban basement and tricked-out Chevy van.

But those of us who’d discovered punk wanted nothing to do with the overproduced bellows of millionaire dinosaurs like Pink Floyd.

We didn’t learn until decades later that Johnny Rotten himself was a secret fan, his band’s sartorial protestations to the contrary.

That doesn’t make Pink Floyd’s music any more palatable, however.

Had their efforts been presented matter of factly, I’d give them a pass.

But every Floyd album was held up by under-read, musically unsophisticated teenage boys as a deep, profound commentary on society (man!!!) as well as an example of superior performance and production.

They’d show off their stereo system using Dark Side of the Moon, sounding like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas:

“Check it out! One instrument comes out one speaker, and another instrument comes out the OTHER speaker!!”

Have you, now a sober adult, actually listened to Dark Side of the Moon lately?

Can you scrape off enough encrusted nostalgia to acknowledge that album’s sheer awfulness?

And while those Wizard of Oz weirdies aren’t Floyd’s fault, they’re not helping matters, either.

Also: Pink Floyd’s album covers were singularly hideous.

When I scream “The Who are better than that stupid band you like,” I’m thinking about Pink Floyd first and foremost.

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Songwriters Hall of Fame Welcomes Ray Davies — and Donovan?

Friday, February 28th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

Ray-Davies-007

Canadians are supposedly really good at making apologies, so here’s one from me:

You know all those shouty “we’re all strong beautiful women” songs your daughter makes you listen to in the SUV?

Those anthemic musical training bras for budding bimbos, “sung” by Katy Perry, K$sha, Miley Cyrus and other balls-out, in-your-face ladies who don’t need no man for nothin’?

Yeah, well, those songs were probably co-written by this Canadian guy.

So, sorry.

You see, Ottawa’s Henry Walter works for another fellow you’ve probably never heard of, one “Dr. Luke”:

[M]ost of the iconic hits of the last 10 years were written by the same person.

If you have attended a photogenic pool party in the last five years, or even watched a video of a pool party while sitting alone in your house, chances are you were dancing (or crying) mostly to music written by a guy called Dr. Luke. “TiK ToK”? “Dynamite”? “Till the World Ends”? “Wrecking Ball”? Pretty much any song by Katy Perry? They’re all the work of this single relatively unfamous songwriter, who has written or co-written 40 hit singles since 2004.

Add in Dr. Luke’s frequent co-writer Max Martin, and these two guys have pretty much written everything you have ever heard if you were born in 1999.

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Harold Ramis: We Saw Him First, Eh?

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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The first SCTV bit I ever remember seeing was also the first one I thought of when I learned of Harold Ramis’s death.

For a split second, I hesitated referencing his fake PSA “So You’re Dead, Now What?” on my blog, which isn’t like me.

My instinct to run with it proved sound:

Ed Driscoll thought of it too, and then I saw it cited elsewhere, without a single “too soon!” complaint in the comments.

That’s rather startling, given our hypersensitive, easily offended, concern-trolling society.

Then again, maybe it isn’t.

To his credit, Harold Ramis’s daunting creative output contributed not a jot nor a tittle to the spread of the toxic, politically correct culture that metastasized during his lifetime.

For that alone, he deserves all the praise he’s been receiving this week.

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Hustler Magazine v. Falwell Turns 26

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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By now, PJ Media readers have likely heard about climatologist Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann’s lawsuit against National Review and its star columnist Mark Steyn.

In the summer of 2012, millions of non-football fans first learned of the existence of one Jerry Sandusky, the once revered (and then disgraced) Penn State football coach.

So on July 15 of that year, Steyn repeated blogger Rand Simberg’s recent observations that Penn State’s roster of employees also included Michael Mann:

In the wake of Louis Freeh’s report on Penn State’s complicity in serial rape, Rand Simberg writes of Unhappy Valley’s other scandal:

“I’m referring to another cover up and whitewash that occurred there two years ago, before we learned how rotten and corrupt the culture at the university was. But now that we know how bad it was, perhaps it’s time that we revisit the Michael Mann affair, particularly given how much we’ve also learned about his and others’ hockey-stick deceptions since. Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science that could have dire economic consequences for the nation and planet.”

Not sure I’d have extended that metaphor all the way into the locker-room showers with quite the zeal Mr Simberg does, but he has a point. Michael Mann was the man behind the fraudulent climate-change “hockey-stick” graph, the very ringmaster of the tree-ring circus. And, when the East Anglia emails came out, Penn State felt obliged to “investigate” Professor Mann. Graham Spanier, the Penn State president forced to resign over Sandusky, was the same cove who investigated Mann. And, as with Sandusky and Paterno, the college declined to find one of its star names guilty of any wrongdoing.

If an institution is prepared to cover up systemic statutory rape of minors, what won’t it cover up? Whether or not he’s “the Jerry Sandusky of climate change”, he remains the Michael Mann of climate change, in part because his “investigation” by a deeply corrupt administration was a joke.

Speaking of jokes, Mann duly sued over Steyn’s and Simberg’s quips.

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