Silly Season

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  • Today, “Talk Like A Pirate Day” marks the official end of the silly season, those glorious few months toward the end of summer when the gherkins are ripening and the mass media hit their lowest audience levels of the year competing for their share with lies, fables, fantasies, and frivolity.

    Around 1950, C.M. Kornbluth published a story called “The Silly Season.” The story was premised on an old journalism tradition. In the hot summer months nobody believes what they read in the newspapers because the reporters are stretching for stories to write while everything is slowed down, governments are in recess, and everyone’s on vacation. What better time for the aliens to invade? Who believes those flying saucer stories anyway?

    This year the season included the catholic pope speaking before parliament in the United Kingdom, admirably introduced at Westminster by Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow (whose wife, tweeting as @SallyBercow used the papal visit to underscore some of her own work for gay rights). Thomas More, dead since 1536, was present for the meeting of the octogenarian cleric with the octogenarian queen. We mortals will never know exactly what Saint Thomas made of the occasion.

    Other special moments of the just passed silly season included the twin teabag victories of Carl Paladino (characterized by New York Magazine as a fan of bestiality porn) and Christine O’Donnell, dabbler in witchcraft and opponent of “sexual socialists” everywhere. Jason Linkins calls Paladino and O’Donnell the “newly-minted Tea Party Prom King and Queen.

    In local silliness, the Whooga ugg boots arrived and I did an unboxing video. The voice over is embarrassingly unscripted and bespeaks a singular lack of talented ad libbery. Currently, I’m spraying them with a leather conditioner to extend their life in the barnyard mud, and the slush and snow of the Wisconsin winter. I don’t intend to wear them to Orlando, because–stylish as they are–they’ll be too warm for Florida. Between now and the 30th, when the AARP convention is due to start in Orlando, I’ve booked cyber-journalism lessons with one of my generation’s most famous correspondents. I’m hoping he can give me a few hints for interviews with James Carville and Mary Matalin and Kathleen Sibelius.

    Silliness on the national scene continued last week with Fox News filing a lawsuit against Robin Carnahan for telling the truth.

    Finally, in an encore act of silliness guaranteed to keep you giggling until you collapse from lack of breath, Newt (yes, that NEWT) Gingrich reprises his role of power-mad propagandist for the religious right at a gathering called the “Values Voter Summit” sponsored by a group called the FRC, or Family Research Council. Here’s a taste:

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