Archive for July, 2008

Bob Newhart Names “Mad” Kane Winner of 2008 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Back in June I was thrilled to announce that I was a 2008 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor Competition finalist. (The humor column that got me onto the finalists list is Guide For The Opera Impaired.

Well, I’m now beyond thrilled because Bob Newhart, the finalists judge, picked me as the FIRST PRIZE winner.

Mr. Newhart even sent me a handwritten personal note (reproduced below) explaining why he named me for the top Robert Benchley Society humor award.

Right now I’m verging on euphoria —a dangerous condition for a satirist.  But just to be mentioned in the same sentence as Mr. Benchley and Mr. Newhart is almost beyond comprehension.

Here’s Mr. Newhart’s note. (Needless to say, I plan to frame the original.)

Bob Newhart Letter

UPDATE: I’m very pleased that my award has generated a fair amount of publicity.  This article in Gannett’s Journal News is probably the best of the stories.  And it has a fun companion video of me reading one of my humor columns.

Media Sheep

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

I’ll be making a big announcement very soon — probably on Friday.  But in the meantime, here’s my Media Sheep, inspired in part by this Carpetbagger Report post: In context, Obama’s humble; but out of context…

Of course, we’ve reached a point at which reality no longer matters. A reporter found an anonymous source who took Obama’s comments out of context, changed the meaning entirely, and all of a sudden, we’re off to the races. As Vincent Rossmeier noted, “Of course, the simple fact that the quote isn’t accurate isn’t going to stop some on the right — and in the media — from using it as fuel for the emerging narrative about Obama.”

Media Sheep
By Madeleine Begun Kane

McCain’s a straight talker.
Ignore all his lying.
Obama is pompous.
He’s humble?  Not buying!

That’s the agreed-upon narrative.  See?
Facts don’t support it?
So scrap them with glee.

McCain contradicts
All his stated positions.
Just brush this aside.
He’s above all suspicions.

Minor adjustments in views from Barack?
Paint them as flip-flops
And go with the flock.
(For extra points, tell me what song parody this could be turned into with a bit of tinkering.)[tags]John McCain Verse, Barack Obama Poem, Straight Talk, Press Narratives, Flip-Flops, Media Humor, Presidential Campaign Satire, Election Humor[/tags]

A Humorist’s Lament (Covering The New Yorker Cover Brouhaha In Verse) – Updated

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

By now, everyone’s surely seen Barry Blitt’s New Yorker cover, depicting Barack Obama as a flag-burning, bin Laden-loving, fist-bumping Muslim.  Intended to satirize “The Politics of Fear,” the image is being widely criticized as reinforcing the very stereotypes it seeks to mock.

Cartoonist Tom Tomorrow has a very interesting take on the topic here and here, as does cartoonist Ruben Bolling here, and Don Davis here, here, here, and here.  The New York Times queries some late night talk show hosts here and Mark Karlin of Buzzflash speaks out here.

Here’s my view in verse:

A Humorist’s Lament
Madeleine Begun Kane

A humorist like me sure knows
How tough it is to write, compose,
And sketch satiric toons and prose
And poems.  It’s not without its woes.

For instance, Barry Blitt’s lampoon,
New Yorker’s well-intentioned toon,
Is meant to show as crass buffoon
The lie and bias-spreading goon.

The humor quand’ry, if you please:
This toon could fit with equal ease
In any right-wing, racist sleaze
And readily its readers please.

That’s why it draws this fit of pique
For spreading what it would critique,
Confirming to the knowledge-weak:
Barack Obama — Terr’ist Sheik!

Update: Some more funny people have chimed in on this topic: skippy; David Horsey; Jon Swift; and Talk About Comics.[tags]Barack Obama, New Yorker Cover, Barry Blitt, Tom Tomorrow, Ruben Bolling, Racial Stereotypes, Media Humor, Election Coverage Satire[/tags]

Ode To Judge Ronald Leighton

Monday, July 14th, 2008

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton (Tacoma, Washington) made a big splash recently when he lambasted a legal filing with a limerick. What prompted him to wax poetic?   A 465-page complaint in a racketeering lawsuit failed to comply with a federal rule (FRCP 8(a)) requiring legal complaints to be “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” 

Judge Leighton dismissed the complaint and directed attorney Dean Browning Webb to refile it, in an order that included this limerick.

Plaintiff has a great deal to say,
But it seems he skipped Rule 8(a).
His Complaint is too long,
Which renders it wrong,
Please rewrite and refile today.

Although Judge Leighton’s limerick meter is a bit spotty in the first two lines, I think His Honor’s poetic effort deserves a poem in … uh … his honor:

Ode To Judge Ronald Leighton
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Attorneys are often verbose,
Penning legal complaints grandiose,
Writing hundreds pages
And setting off rages
From those who find wordiness gross.

But Judge Leighton showed major restraint
When he ruled on an endless complaint.
In a limerick poem
He said, redo this tome
Cuz in 8(a) compliance it ain’t![tags]Judge Ronald Leighton, FRCP Rule 8(a), Federal Rules Humor, Judicial Humor, Courthouse Verse, Litigation Humor, Racketeering Lawsuit, Poetry, Dean Browning Webb, Legal Complaint[/tags]

Wham! Bam! No Thank You, Phil Gramm!

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

John McCain and his economic advisor Phil Gramm should really get their stories straight:

John McCain’s campaign says in their new ad that the economy is “in shambles.” …

In an interview with the Washington Times, Gramm says the economy is in relatively decent shape — and much more.

“You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession,” he said.

Moreover, Gramm said: “We have sort of become a nation of whiners. …”

Naturally, Gramm blames our “mental recession” on the media.  And that brings me to my latest political verse:

Wham! Bam!  No Thank You, Phil Gramm!
By Madeleine Begun Kane

We’re “a nation of whiners,” says Gramm.
Our economy’s not in a jam.
It’s a “mental recession,”
This public obsession
With price hikes and jobs on the lam.

So who is at fault? It’s the press.
Yes, says Gramm, they have brought on this mess.
It would seem that reporting
The news isn’t sporting.
Vote McCain for continued “success.” [tags]Phil Gramm, Economy Verse, Media Poem, Campaign Satire, Election Humor, Vote McCain, Mental Recession, Nation Of Whiners [/tags]

Dear Obama

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

So Obama denies that he’s moving rightward towards the middle. Sorry, but I just don’t buy it. 

Unlike Obama’s ardent primary campaign supporters, I never thought he was especially liberal.  But Obama’s  positions on FISA, abortion rights, gun control, faith-based initiatives, and the death penalty are even worse than I suspected. (So far, he’s pretty much where I thought he’d be re ending the war in Iraq — way too slow.)

And now it’s time for a limerick:

Dear Obama
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Dear Obama, your flight to the right
Is making me feel quite uptight.
It’s alarming how fast
You’re forsaking the past
And converting to GOP-lite.

(Don Davis weighs in on being “stuck in the middle with Obama.”)[tags]Obama the Centrist, FISA, Abortion Rights, Gun Control, Faith-Based Initiatives, Death Penalty[/tags]