Mocha Mr. Clean's The Dirty Truth

July 23, 2008

Come Back, Aaron McGruder!

Filed under: Current Events,Pop Culture — mochamrclean @ 10:51 pm

It’s hard to believe, but two of best cartoonists/satirists of our time were on the sidelines during a pivotal period of the presidential campaign. When the battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s heart and mind reached a fever pitch, both Garry Trudeau and Aaron McGruder were content to watch all the fun from the sidelines and let their respective creations, Doonesbury and The Boondocks lay dormant.


Trudeau’s absence was just a three-month hiatus; he returned in June and we can look forward to his own unique brand of satire in newspapers as we march to perhaps our most historic election in November. But Aaron McGruder’s case is more disappointing.

A couple of years ago, McGruder halted his daily, nationally-syndicated newspaper strip to devote his time entirely to the TV-animated version of The Boondocks. At its best, Boondocks walked on and often leapt over the edge with its cutting humor and commentary. McGruder’s work was often banned in newspapers for its message. Following the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, The Boondocks was barred in some papers for suggesting that Ronald Reagan funded terrorism. In subsequent years, McGruder stirred uproar with his use of the N-word and satirical want ad to find a mate for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

McGruder and his Boondocks made people uneasy because he spat in the face of what’s considered taboo. He told the dirty truth – the kind of dark, filthy truth that most people don’t like to hear and can’t handle. He shoved the mirror into people’s faces and forced them to look.

But somewhere along the line, McGruder grew tired. He burned himself out. He thought he would get better satisfaction out of the often hilarious, brutally raw animated version of The Boondocks. The TV version of Huey, Riley, and Grandpa is good, but it’s not the same as the comic strip. TV’s Boondocks is missing some of the characters who were regulars – and hence part of the satire – seen in the newspaper comic. And the focus appears of both versions seem different.

You have to wonder what McGruder thinks of Obama and this presidential race. You have to wonder what ideas have floated through his head through this 18-month-and-counting process. McGruder had to be chomping at the bit on some days. This race for the White House could have given The Boondocks newspaper strip plenty of material. Boondocks TV is fine but there’s one key shortcoming. TV shows take a longer time to produce, animated shows even longer. So essentially, McGruder could remain silent well through November and let John McCain and Obama walk away from his mirror unscathed – and that’s a dirty shame.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Come back, Aaron. We miss you. We need you to tell The Dirty Truth.

~mmc

Things That Make You Go …

Filed under: Media,Pop Culture,Pro Wrestling — mochamrclean @ 5:04 am

As Arsenio Hall used to say, some things just make you go, “Hmmmm …”

For example, wrestling fans, isn’t Shawn Michaels looking more and more like the late George Carlin every year? (And I’m not just talking about the thin layer of fuzz on his chinny-chin-chin.)

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.

And doesn’t Cody Rhodes bear a striking resemblance to that Geico lizard?

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.

And shouldn’t that 49-year-old Michael Polinko guy from those Bowflex commercials be 50 (or older) already?

I’m not being a hater; I’m just sayin’ …

That’s not just some food for thought, ladies and gentleman. That’s a dose of The Dirty Truth.

~mmc

Why So Serious?

Filed under: Current Events,Pop Culture — mochamrclean @ 2:32 am

Believe the hype, ladies and gentlemen: Heath Ledger is as good as all the critics say he is in “The Dark Knight”.

Ledger’s Joker in “Knight” is a crowning, albeit sad, achievement given that his life was suddenly cut short this past January. He is a marvel on the screen in this film, which takes the superhero movie genre to a whole other level.

When Ledger’s Joker talks, you listen; you simply cannot take your eyes off him. Everyone else, even our hero The Batman, seems to fade into the background when Ledger’s Joker is around. And he did all of this without excessive use of a demented cackle.

It doesn’t matter whether Ledger gets nominated for an Academy Award for his last completed film. Everyone knew he was talented, but his performance in “The Dark Knight” will make the non-true believers – and even the greatest cynics – believe. Still, you have to wonder what could have been for Ledger. No one should ever die age 28. The best should still have been yet to come for him.

But Ledger, like James Dean, Kurt Cobain, Marilyn Monroe and so many others will be forever young in our hearts and minds. His maniacal, hell-raising, creepy Joker will hover over us like a dark cloud – inescapable and foreboding – for years to come.

~mmc

July 16, 2008

What a Game!

Filed under: Sports — mochamrclean @ 7:04 pm
AP

AP

Usually I dismiss Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game as a complete bore – nothing but a glamorous exhibition game among the best (and most disgustingly-overpaid and overrated) players in the game.

But Tuesday night’s five-hour, 15-inning marathon was a mid-summer classic. The boys didn’t just “phone it in” – there was some actual competition between the American and National Leagues.

It was a game befitting of the pageantry surrounding the last season at what will be the old Yankee Stadium. It made me actual love baseball again.

And wasn’t it nice to see “Boss” George in the house?

AP

AP

There was a time when George Steinbrenner was one of New York City’s most notorious figures. Now, in the twilight of his years, he is one of the most beloved. Say what you will about George, he has always loved winning … and methinks he has won in the long run, even if he never sees his beloved Yankees win another championship in his lifetime.

~mmc

July 13, 2008

Foxy Roxxi

Filed under: Pro Wrestling — mochamrclean @ 7:25 pm

I don’t care what anyone says. TNA Wrestling’s Roxxi Laveaux is foxy. Voodoo Queen, shaven head – Sinead O’Connor-style, whatever … the woman is sexy!

(TNA Entertainment, Inc.)

In the world of professional wrestling, where women wrestlers find it especially difficult (and their careers short-lived) because looks are so much more valued than actual in-ring skill, Roxxi has guts. Women having their heads shaved and bleeding in a match is practically unheard of in the sport of kings and queens, but the former Nikki Roxx (given name: Nicole Raczynski) has done both. She must have incredible desire to succeed in the squared circle and let’s hope she gets suitably rewarded with some kind of women’s championship someday. One thing is for sure, the fans in TNA love her.

And TNA should be given credit for breaking the mold with the way female performers were largely perceived in wrestling in recent years – as mere eye candy with little skill – thanks to the post-Trish Stratus/Lita era WWE. The Knockouts are the only thing TNA really does well these days.

The folks in Stamford, Conn. may not really consider the powers-that-be in Orlando, Fla. real competition, but TNA has forced WWE to rethink its women’s division. Why do you think the talented Mickie James (who really has it all and has endured all kinds of obstacles in WWE) is currently enjoying some air time on TV and pay-per-views and a WWE Women’s Championship reign? Why do you think WWE has created a new Divas Championship to counteract the TNA Knockout Title and is pushing Natalya Neidhart to the sky? (And you have to love a woman who executes The Sharpshooter better than the so-called “icon” Sting. Thanks, Uncle Bret Hart!) How much you want to bet that Mickie, Natalya, Victoria, Beth Phoenix and other “real” women wrestlers in WWE watch TNA every week and are thrilled about the Knockouts’ success?

Roxxi, Gail Kim, Awesome Kong, ODB, Angelina Love, Velvet Sky, Taylor Wilde and all the rest of the Knockouts in TNA – you go, girls!

~mmc

Press Pissing Matches: For the Pits

Filed under: Media — mochamrclean @ 1:58 pm

Don’t believe everything you read, hear or see, folks.

Question everything; don’t take anything at face value. Don’t trust anybody or organization that’s the president, vice president and treasurer of its own fan club (in short, the biggest mark for itself). And especially, don’t trust anything that calls itself, “The Most Trusted Name in News” or “The Paper of Record” or “Fair and Balanced” or anything like that. (I’ll decide that for myself, thank you very much!)

I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of pissing matches between news organizations. If there was an unwritten code of conduct during the heyday of Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite, you wouldn’t know it today. The New York Daily News, New York Post, New York Times, Bill O’Reilly, Newsweek, Vanity Fair and others regularly take public pot shots at each other and recently FOX News Channel’s “On the Record” host Greta Van Susteren caused a stir over the media trade blogosphere with candid comments made in response to remarks made by the executive producer for CNN rival show “Anderson 360.” (The producer called “Record” a missing person of the day show that’s not really news, incurring the wrath of the mighty GVS.)

A few of things should be noted here: Throughout all this brouhaha, no one – no one – has noted just how utterly insensitive the “missing person of the day” comment was. No matter how common missing person reports are, we should always remember that these people have families. They have people who care for them. They are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters … friends. They are not just news fodder for greedy, ratings-hungry networks. In short, they are human beings.

Secondly, Joe Blow on the street doesn’t care if he’s watching the top-rated news program. Joe Blow doesn’t care how many more viewers watch your program than the nearest competitor. Joe Blow doesn’t care about petty pissing matches among rich TV executives and their TV “talent.”

An old, wild professor once told me, “Report the news. Don’t become the news.” A journalist’s job is to inform – and sometimes entertain – and help the public arrive at the truth. A journalist is supposed to inspire thoughtful debate, not use his or her platform to promote their own agendas and settle vendettas.

So please, you major media news conglomerates out there, stop being marks for yourselves and concentrate on informing us again. There are much more important things in the world than your pissing matches.

But who knows? Maybe these pissing matches are all a work, a collection of staged battles among rivals in a business everyone knows one another and personal and professional nepotism runs wild. In short, maybe these rivalries are just a ratings, circulation and Web hits ploy.

Is that The Dirty Truth? I’ll let you decide …

~mmc

One Sad Day …

Filed under: Media,Sports — mochamrclean @ 8:22 am

On one Saturday, two gentlemen who fought the good fight – and battled an insidious disease bravely – were called home.

Be safe at home, Bobby Murcer. I hope you’re shagging a few fly balls with Mantle in the outfield and Munson behind home plate. Say hello to my grandmother and great-grandmother, who loved watching you and their New York Yankees:

Rest in peace, Tony Snow. You have been remembered by your friends and colleagues in journalism and Washington, D.C. as a true gentleman. (And you have to tip your hat off to a man who can have a band on the side called Beats Workin’.)

I’m tired of death notices, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s have some good news for a change …

~mmc

July 7, 2008

Memo to N.Y. Yankees: A-Rod Needs to A-Go

Filed under: Current Events,Sports — mochamrclean @ 8:16 am

I don’t care if Alex Rodriguez hits a gazillion homeruns. I don’t care if he’s a future Baseball Hall of Famer. I don’t care if A-Rod could become the greatest baseball player of all time … he needs to go. Now.

The brouhaha over his marital troubles with his wife and his alleged affair with Madonna only show what a distraction A-Rod has become. The third place New York Yankees just split a four-game series with the hated Boston Red Sox, are not any closer to catching the first place Devil Rays and missed out on getting Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia when their starting pitching (as always) is suspect. Yet, no one – no one – is talking about this. Instead, all the morning headlines, all the insipid morning “news” shows, are focused on the A-Rod-Madonna debacle.

Granted, Madonna has denied having an affair with Rodriguez. A-Rod hasn’t publicly commented on his private woes. But as a public person and arguably the most controversial athlete in the New York market, A-Rod should have picked his friendships better.

It’s no coincidence that the Yankees haven’t won a damn thing – not even come close – since they acquired A-Rod. He’s always been the sole diamond on hopeless teams like the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. Rodriguez is great when you’re either ahead or in the hole by 10 runs. But when you really need that key hit, he’s not Mr. Clutch, he’s Mr. Invisible.

The Yankees had a chance to get rid of this money-grubbing, headline-hoarding loser last winter, but they buckled. It’s time for them to realize that A-Rod may wear pinstripes, but he’s not really a Yankee.

And that, my friends, is The Dirty Truth. Thanks for reading.

~mmc

July 4, 2008

If You’re Reading This …

Filed under: Uncategorized — mochamrclean @ 8:01 am

If you are reading this, first of all, thank you. But please read – an dmost importantly, obey – the command below immediately:

Go on a picnic! Plan to go on a picnic. Go outside and toss a ball with your kid. Watch some fireworks. Go somewhere – anywhere – but don’t stay a minute longer in front of this computer on Independence Day! There’s more to life than BlackBerrys and blogging, folks.

Thank you for reading. Until next time …

~mmc

July 2, 2008

Michael Turner

Filed under: Comic Books — mochamrclean @ 11:05 pm

If you’re a comic book fan, you know this talented artist’s name and work. Tragically, Turner’s life came to an end last weekend. As a lifelong comic book lover, I enjoyed his work, especially in DC’s “Identity Crisis” from a few years back.

Michael Turner was only 37. As you’ll see in his obituary below, he battled a disease for years and did not let it prevent him from using his immense talent.

Turner’s death didn’t make headlines in the mainstream media – comics books are too low-brow for them. And I would have hated to see some “Bam!” “Wham!” Pow!!” nonsense in an article about Turner. But he will be missed.

In the meantime, check out Michael Turner’s life and times, courtesy of Newsrama:

From Aspen Comics’ Vince Hernandez

Hello all,

Unfortunately it’s with great sadness that I must inform everyone that Michael Turner tragically passed away last night, June 27th at approximately 10:42 pm in Santa Monica, Ca. Turner had been dealing with recent health complications arisen in the past few weeks. More details concerning Turner’s passing, and services, will be given shortly.

Anyone wishing to send their condolences to Michael Turner’s family is encouraged to send to:

Aspen MLT, Inc.
C/O Michael Turner
5855 Green Valley Circle, Suite 111
Culver City, CA, 90230

Aspen also encourages anyone wishing to make a charitable donation to please send to Michael Turner’s requested charities:

The American Cancer Society

Or

The Make-A-Wish Foundation

Turner was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma (a bone-based cancer that attacks the cartilage) in March of 2000, which ultimately cost him his right hip, a portion of his pelvis and several pounds of bone. Turner was very open about his cancer, making convention appearances throughout the entire time, and never giving in to the illness.

Mike got his major break in comics at Top Cow, where he made his name as the artist on Witchblade with a look that was reminiscent of studio founder Marc Silvestri, but was all his own. His work was highly in demand throughout his career, and he was a frequent cover artist for a diverse number of series over the years. Turner’s style influenced many artists in the new millennium, probably more than Turner himself ever realized.

Turner’s creator-owned Fathom debuted in 1998, and in 2002, he left Top Cow to found his own Aspen MLT, Inc. where he saw Fathom resurface, along with other projects such as Soulfire and Ekos. Turner had done a significant portion of work at DC early in the decade, providing covers for Identity Crisis and Flash, as well as for the “Godfall” arc in the Superman titles (which he co-wrote), and the interior art for “Supergirl from Krypton” in Superman/Batman, where he and writer Jeph Loeb re-introduced Supergirl into the modern DC Universe. More recently, he had been providing variant covers for Marvel titles, such as next month’s Uncanny X-Men #500. At his most recent convention appearances, both Turner, and later Aspen representatives spoke of how the artist was eager to complete his obligations to other companies, so he could finally get back to work on his own projects at Aspen.

Despite his illness, Turner was one of the most upbeat people at conventions and in the industry. He always radiated a sense of humility and gratitude to his fans, and always had time for a quick chat or a smile. In an industry that can and has beat the happiness out of many creators, Mike was resistant to it, and was ever happy to work and talk to his fans, and even talk to the press. From the first moment you met him, you were his friend, and he treated you like he’d known you all his life.

Since his initial diagnosis in 2000, Turner had several ups and downs, but, surely thanks in part to his positive attitude, he was seen as the guy who was going to beat it, and be drawing for years to come – he just had to kick this thing first. Mike was 37.

Newsarama extends its deepest condolences to Mike’s friends and family. He will be missed.

~mmc

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