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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

September 18, 2007


Rising Crude(ly)

"Too little, too late,"
-A Goldman Sachs summation of OPEC's decision to raise crude oil output an additional 500,000 per day to meet rising demand

Okay, first someone get to President Bush and tell him that it's OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, not APEC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation that is raising the crude oil production. It can get so confusing if someone has no interest in the subject to keep current.

Although gas prices rise and fall, seemingly at the whim of the energy companies controlling their distribution (a.k.a. Big Oil), the real fear is that rising crude prices will create a situation in which both gas for our cars and fuel to heat our homes will become a luxury rather than a staple. Of course, it would become a luxury which we can't live without.

Get ready America, it's going to be a cold Winter.

Crude oil has risen $1.47 per barrel in just one day and closed at $81.13 yesterday.

"The market developed a momentum of its own when price movement coincided with tightness in the market,"
-David Moore, a commodities strategist Australia's Commonwealth Bank

And what a fortunate coincidence for those of us (not including me, of course) who own stock in the Big Oil companies that stand to make their newfound windfalls. This new price surge (we all know how the Bushies love the word "surge") will, no doubt, see the pocketbooks and bank accounts of the Bush "base" of "haves and have mores" fill with middle class dollars. It might even make the one-quarter record of $10 billion in profits which MobilExxon "earned" seem paltry compared to what they must be projecting their "earnings" to be this year.

"In such a tight market there is potential for it to go up quite sharply without any major new news, but I actually expect some profit-taking at these levels to around $80,"

"Some profit taking," huh? I think that Mr. Moore is being a bit "conservative" in his estimation here.

How this rise in crude will effect the rise in cost for our Winter fuel, as well as our gasoline prices, is anyone's guess. But to think that "profit" is merely a possibility is just ridiculous. Let's face it, all we need is another pair like the Late "Kenny-Boy" Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, both of Enron (in)fame, and this could be a real crude oil/ winter Heating bumper crop for Big Oil here, as well as in other areas of the world.

Now all we're missing is a good, late season hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico and we're all set to see those high gas prices which Big Oil loves so much.

In fact, as we have seen gasoline prices fall in some places, overall, Big Oil has made huge profits yet again off the backs, and through the wallets of the American Middle class. Oil prices have risen by one-third (33 percent) in just this past year alone.

And just in time for the Winter energy season, too.

Wow! Another fortunate coincidence! What luck!

-Noah Greenberg

by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2007 The San Francisco Bay Area Reporter, Inc.

George Bush kicked off the new fall season with a re-run: A speech from the Oval Office on September 13th reminding everyone that the war will be going on...forever.

Anyone who thought the fact that the majority of Americans, all the Democrats in Congress plus some of the Republicans and the whole rest of the world want the U.S. out of Iraq was enough to actually make the President call the troops home must have thought they were living in Japan where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigned last week because of low poll ratings.

Now *there’s* a reality show we’d like to see: Can Mark Burnett put that together for next season? A show where world leaders who don’t perform get voted off the world stage? Working title: *The People Rule.*

For now, we have to settle for *Kid Nation.*

We would have started out our fall preview with all the new queer shows, but there aren’t any (just a very creepy pseudo-bisexual show on the despicable MTV, more on that much later), so we are going directly to the controversial, which is the next best thing.

CBS’s *Kid Nation* which premiered on September 19th is outrageous and thus fantastic. Imagine *Lord of the Flies* as reality show instead of metaphor. *Wow.* CBS actually got the parents of 40 kids ages eight to 15 to sign off on sending their kids out into the middle of nowhere in an old desert ghost town to live the life of their dreams, sans adults. (Were the parents hoping the kids would never come back? Is this easier than foster care? Or were they just hoping to sue later, as several of them have?)

Unfortunately, since most of these kids don’t know how to cook or do much of anything else, it’s good it’s set in the Wild West, because Wild West it is. The chickens don’t get killed in the first episode, but....

*Kid Nation* makes *Supernanny* look like nap time.. One little girl actually explains earnestly to the other children how they don’t have to be smart to lead because “George Bush is *not* smart.” Out of the mouths of babes....In every episode the town’s kid government makes decisions about how to run their little world. Town hall meetings, councils, putting together a store and a saloon (don’t worry, just root beer). There’s lots and lots of screaming and crying, because, well, they are kids. Oh–and no one gets voted off. The idea is to see if kids can do a better job than adults. Remember that comment about George Bush?

We guarantee it will be your guiltiest pleasure. The producers are already signing kids for next season.

We thought we had gone off *Survivor* forever because we just got tired of the same pretty-but-tediously-self-absorbed people half naked on various islands. The 15th season, however, kicks off with a whole new shtick: It’s *Survivor; China,* baby. *Mao!* Debuts on CBS September 20th with the usual cast of irritating pretty people, but it’s still in *China.* It’s worth every irritating second just to see how extraordinary the place is.

Another must-see reality series stars our favorite vicious Brit, Chef Gordon Ramsay, cursing a blue streak while trashing and re-vamping disgusting restaurants in *Kitchen Nightmares,* which debuted on Fox September 19th. (Catch the replay if you missed it at Fox.com because it’s just super.)

We warn you–you will never want to eat out again. But it’s superb entertainment. We have been riveted by every season of Ramsay’s various series. (An unpleasant note, former *Hell’s Kitchen* contestant Josie Smith-Malave, an out lesbian, was assaulted, spat on and had anti-gay epithets hurled at her and a small group of women friends as they left a bar in New York last weekend. Nassau County police are investigating the possible hate crime.)

Even though there’s nothing truly queer on the tube this season (if we find it, we’ll let you know), there are a host of new shows with gorgeous casts. There’s much to be said for eye-candy.

For those with a taste for all things Latin, CBS’s *Cane* is *the* show to catch, debuting Sept. 25th. *Cane* takes place in South Florida where everybody either makes rum or drinks rum or just lies around looking beautiful while people who are drunk on rum chat them up. This is the story of the Duque family and it is *hot.* Starring heavyweights Jimmy Smits, Hector Elizondor, Rita Moreno (be still our heart!), Nestor Carbonell and a host of drop-dead gorgeous men and women, this show is bound to be the prime-time soap series for the season. CBS has been flooding the airwaves with promos all summer. *Cane* has got sex, revenge, warring families, sugar cane and of course, a rum business laced with blood and danger. *Cuba libre!*

It’s pure Shakespeare (*Lady Macbeth* meets *Romeo and Juliet*), with a cast to die for. Plus fantastic music. And did we say sex? Lots of sex. Lots of shirtless sex. With an equal amount of revenge. Rightly touted by those of us who got the delicious sneak peek as one of the season’s hot picks, this is the most glamorous show this season not on Fox, which has always had the market cornered on the glam shows. Until now.

Speaking of glamor and sexiness, ABC’s *Dirty Sexy Money* is one of the five best new shows of the season. The title says it all, the cast says a little more: Donald Sutherland at his most lurid, Jill Clayburgh in doyenne mode, William Baldwin (the pretty and non-crazy Baldwin brother) and Peter Krause (late of *Six Feet Under*) are part of a superlative cast rounded out with intensely gorgeous young things. Krause is an attorney with integrity who gets in with a high class pseudo-mobstery family, the Darlings. Conflicts ensue. Many conflicts. Like the fact that Baldwin’s character, Patrick Darling, is cheating on his wife with a transsexual. Another guilty pleasure you won’t want to miss. Premieres Sept. 26th.

Probably the most intriguing new offering this season is the quirky, thriller-ish *Pushing Daisies* on ABC. Starring the delightful and yes, quirky-sexy, Lee Pace as a kind of dark Walter Mitty pastry chef who has a little touch of the supernatural about him–he can bring people back to life, if briefly, with a fingertip–*Pushing Daisies* pairs Pace with cop Chi McBride (late of *The Nine* and *Boston Public*) to solve murders. Additional cast members: Swoozie Kurtz, whom we can never see enough of and Kristen Chenoweth, ditto, although we do not know if either will be singing. This show also has the most amazing sets since *Pan’s Labyrinth.* Debuts October 3rd. Prepare to be hooked. Pace’s Ned is the Hiro of this season. Another perk: directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. Sweet.

For those still pining for *Alias,* *Bionic Woman* should help fill the void. Destined to be a lesbian classic in the category with *La Femme Nikita,* this new take on the 1970s classic has a feminist streak as long as your arm. From the *Battlestar Gallactica* team, this snazzy re-make has almost nothing in common with its predecessor except the name Jaime Sommers and the basic premise. Michelle Ryan, who fans of the Brit soap *EastEnders* will be immediately familiar with, plays the re-made woman. Ryan is just super–a little Jennifer Garner in *Alias,* a little Jessica Alba in *Dark Angel.* The show is ultra chic and ultra hip and ultra addictive. Tivo it from NBC on Wednesdays, starting Sept, 26th.

For those missing those great shows like *Buffy, the Vampire Slayer* and *Angel* that used to make the blood pump, *Reaper* is the show for you. This is dark, dark, dark and incredibly funny. Sam (Bret Harrison) turns 21 only to find out–surprise–his parents sold his soul to the devil while he was still in utero. So, Satan (the wonderfully devilish Ray Wise–remember him on *Twin Peaks*?) packs him off to work–as a repo man for souls. It’s great stuff. Co-starring the delightful Tyler Labine who was so great in the short-lived *Invasion*as the believer in aliens, as Sam’s best friend Sock. Debuts on Sept. 25th on the CW.

There are some very good sit-coms this seasons, as well. We *love* CBS’s *The Big Bang Theory* on their Monday comedy lineup (it premieres on Sept. 24th, coming before the still-funny *Two and a Half Men* and *Rules of Engagement*). And we especially love the Fox sit-com *Back to You,* which debuted on Sept. 19th. How can you go wrong with a cast that stars Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton and Fred Williard? Right, you can’t.

*Back to You* takes place in a Pittsburgh news room. Grammer and Heaton play ex-lovers now paired as co-anchors. Hilarity and enmity ensue. Expect to see Grammer and Heaton carting off some more Emmys.

The most edgy show, which we still aren’t sure belongs in the yay or nay column, is Fox’s *K-Ville.* We used to live in New Orleans, so we have a soft spot for anything NOLA. *K-Ville* takes viewers on a tour of the real New Orleans, post-Katrina. The houses with the waterlines still intact. The houses that aren’t houses anymore, but piles of sticks. All depressingly lifelike in HDTV.

Cole Hauser and Anthony Anderson play two cops in the post-Katrina NOLA. Anderson was spectacular in *The Shield* last season as the drug lord, Antwon, with the queer kid in prison. He’s good here, too. But cops are problematic characters in New Orleans. They are often bad cops. So stay tuned on this one. And be forewarned–the scenes of New Orleans still un-re-built after two years will make you furious. Or should. Mondays on Fox.

Here are the shows we won’t be watching and that we not only cannot recommend, but just don’t think you should watch because life is too short.

Every once in awhile we are lured into Seattle Grace to spend an hour with *Grey’s Anatomy.* We admit it, and we aren’t ashamed. (Especially since homophobe Isaiah Washington was kicked off the show, albeit months later than he should have been and we still say if it had been T.R. Knight calling Washington a “nigger” instead of Washington calling Knight a “faggot,” there would not even have been time to blink before Knight would have been out the door. The cast has said it’s “a relief” since Washington left.)

Anyway, we’ve loved Katherine Heigl since we first saw her on *Roswell,* which is why we occasionally check out *GA.* That said, we will *not* be watching *Private Practice,* the inexplicable spin-off with Kate Walsh’s irritating Dr. Addison Montgomery moved to LA to be *really* irritating. There are so many better things to watch in this Wednesday night time slot. And even if there weren’t...

And yet *Private Practice* isn’t one of the worst new shows. That spot goes to *Cavemen.* Yes, they made a *whole program* out of the incredibly annoying characters from the Geico insurance commercials. For people who don’t believe in evolution. Which means it already has an audience.

We aren’t sure who the audience is for MTV’s new dating show that debuts on October 9th. *A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila* is being billed as the first bisexual dating show.

Well, yes and no. Miss Tequila’s big claim to fame is her MySpace page is full of friends. Oh, how *interesting.* Another celebrity wannabe. Yes, we can’t *wait* to watch *that.* Let us turn off our K-Fed CD first, though.

This show is like *The Bachelor* except Tila, who is allegedly bi-sexual, will be choosing between 16 straight men and 16 lesbians. Uh huh. Well, last time we checked, the definition of *lesbian* is that no men are involved. Ever. So Tila might be bisexual and the women who are cheesy enough to be on this show might also be bisexual, but no one is a lesbian. This is just one more example of why we hate MTV. Sleazy, sleazy, sleazy. This show may be the only thing that could go lower than VH1's *Flavor of Love* with Flava Flav.

According to the MTV promo “The finalists move into her mansion, live together, and each week Tila will narrow down her suitors. Every episode will culminate in a dramatic ceremony unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.”

Like what? A threesome every week? Ick.

MTV exec says, “The show is a rollercoaster ride of drama, conflict and emotion, busting stereotypes and challenging the norm, proving that the rules of attraction are made to be broken.”

Didn’t Jerry Springer already do this? As we said, *ick.*

The best (well, *only*) queer storyline is being played out on *As the World Turns* with Luke and Noah. Now *that* is worth watching.

Finally, our rant of the week, brief but irate: ABC’s September 14th episode of *20/20* was allegedly deconstructing the health care industry in America. So the fact that Blue Cross and Horizon were sponsors was *not* a conflict of interest? Right. John Stossel needs his ass kicked. Hard. Where’s Tony Soprano when you need him?

Set the VCRs, DVRs and Tivo for the good stuff coming up, and stay tuned.

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-Noah Greenberg