schadenfreude

The Chris Christie Show (Epilogue)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), at left, joins Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump during a press event at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, on Super Tuesday, 1 March 2016.  Christie, who suspended his own presidential campaign in February, has been widely ridiculed for endorsing Trump.

“Christie perhaps fancied himself as Trump’s VP or attorney general. If he did, he was not thinking clearly. To begin with, it is less and less likely with each passing day that Trump will ever become president. Moreover, Christie himself has so soiled his reputation that it is doubtful he would ever be confirmed for a Cabinet post.”

Jennifer Rubin

It is true, of course, Jennifer Rubin is one I pick on. It is also true the right-wing blogger, perhaps for the sake of having a Washington Post credential, sometimes turns up on the editorial page of a local newspaper here or there, and this aspect of reality can actually be problematic. On other days, something about easy entertainment goes here. Or something like that. To wit, Tacoma readers got this bit of analysis on Tuesday:

Since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has endorsed Donald Trump, he has been:

• Humiliated by video showing Trump ordering him onto the plane and telling him to “go home.”

• Condemned by his former finance co-chair Meg Whitman. (“The governor is mistaken if he believes he can now count on my support, and I call on Christie’s donors and supporters to reject the governor and Donald Trump outright. I believe they will. For some of us, principle and country still matter.”)

• Excoriated for his disastrous TV interview on Sunday. Phrases like “train wreck,” “off the rails” and “disaster” were used to describe his appearance.

Rubin is at her best when addressing conservatives about Republican politics, which in turn sounds reasonable enough; her purpose in posing as some manner of journalist is to help Republicans get elected, and her invocation of a fairly obvious title, “Chris Christie is now ruined”, is the sort of thing we might quibble with only to wonder at the word “now”.

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The Tree, and Something About Roses

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey breaks another big play against the University of Arizona Wildcats, 3 October 2015, at The Farm in Stanford, California.  (Detail of photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)

Sometimes we might wonder whence comes a question.

Stanford has the Rose Bowl routine down pat.

The Cardinal are doing it all for the third time in four years — starting with the trips to Disneyland, Lawry’s restaurant in Beverly Hills, the Improv comedy club in Hollywood, followed by media day at a downtown hotel and the team photo at the stadium the day before the game, and culminating with the annual clash between Pac-12 and Big Ten opposition on Jan. 1.

Stanford University quarterback Kevin Hogan talks to reporters during the teams media day in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015. Although Stanford is playing in the Rose Bowl for the third time in four years, the weeklong experience doesn't get old for Hogan and the Cardinal. They also know the importance of leaving Pasadena with a win after losing to Michigan State two years ago. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)But Stanford players and coaches swore off the idea that any Rose Bowl fatigue has set in.

“Never gets old, I guarantee it,” said defensive line coach Randy Hart, who is participating in his 11th Rose Bowl and 10th as a coach.

“It’s probably a better feeling that you’re a fifth-year senior because you appreciate it more,” defensive back Ronnie Harris said.

Dan Greenspan’s look ahead to the Rose Bowl might beg a question about how one might complain about repeated trips to one of the most prestigious contests in American football.

The answer is actually kind of obvious, but also a bit specialized; one needs to follow college football in general, and the Rose Bowl is of particular interest to the west coast; it’s our bowl game.

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The Price of Freedom

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 2, 'Firestarter'.

Live free and die? Oh, wrong state.

A Calais man was killed Saturday night after placing a fireworks mortar tube atop his head and setting it off, according to Maine State Police. It was the first fireworks-related death in Maine since fireworks were legalized in 2012.

Police said the bizarre incident occurred at roughly 10 p.m. in a residential backyard on South Street. Devon Staples, 22, was setting off fireworks with some friends when he “placed the fireworks mortar tube on top of his head and set it off,” the investigation found.

Investigators said the explosion caused a fatal head injury, and Staples died instantly.

(Anderson)

This is why people stick with the simple act of offering condolences. Because, you know, what is anyone supposed to do with that sad tale?

And it is true there is certain dark and morbid humor; many of us appreciate at least the idea of the Darwin Awards, but in the end we are laughing at human tragedy. Or, rather, that we are laughing at some particular absurdity within that tragic context does not erase the fact of human tragedy.

To the one, for instance, we have a dead man, and it is a safe bet that someone, somewhere in the world, misses him.

To the other, we have this dude who tried to launch a mortar off his head and died. What the hell is anyone supposed to do with that?

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Anderson, J. Craig. “Calais man dies after setting off fireworks from atop his head”. Portland Press Herald. 5 July 2015.

A Bob Beckel Moment

Bob Beckel

“These are words I never thought I would say: I feel kind of sorry for Bob Beckel.”

Jack Mirkinson

And then there is this:

On Thursday afternoon, the network informed Mediaite that Beckel—who had been off the air for a while thanks to some well-publicized struggles with drug addiction—is no longer on the payroll and won’t be returning as a co-host of panel show “The Five.” After the site said that the parting was “amicable,” Fox News went to Politico to emphasize that, no, it was not:

“We tried to work with Bob for months, but we couldn’t hold ‘The Five’ hostage to one man’s personal issues,” Bill Shine, executive vice president of programming, said in a statement. “He took tremendous advantage of our generosity, empathy and goodwill and we simply came to the end of the road with him.”

To call that “harsh” isn’t even an understatement. It’s an under-under-under-under-understatement. Fox News is famous for the pugnaciousness it employs when talking about its competitors, but to turn on your own employee like that when he’s dealing with a drug problem is fairly jaw-dropping. No matter what private misery Bob Beckel may have put his colleagues through, Fox News had the option of letting him go quietly and leaving him to handle his clearly tough fight with addiction. Instead, the network chose to drive the knife through. That’ll definitely help Beckel get better, won’t it?

(Mirkinson)

Honestly, Bob Beckel’s name is not one we might enjoy recalling; as a FOX News host he has been such a horror show one would rather forget he exists. And while schadenfreude whispers from the shadows of conscience that it could not have happened to a … what, really? … is the joke really that it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy? … the fact is that there is absolutely no excuse for kicking an addict when he is down. Mr. Beckel entered rehab in April, and at the time, according to Andrew Kirell of Mediaite, “As with Fox anchor Gregg Jarrett’s treatment for alcoholism last year, Beckel’s employment status remains unchanged”.

Certes, some might protest that two months is not nearly long enough, but perhaps there really are circumstances that required his termination. Nonetheless, what kind of asshole do you have to be in order to be the president of programming at FOX News? Bill Shine could have left the Mediaite suggestion of an amicable parting alone. Or he could have just said, “You know, actually, it was kind of a mess.” But to go out of his way to mop the floor with Beckel like he did?

Yeah. Ladies and gentlemen, this is your FOX News.

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Mirkinson, Jack. “Fox News just fired one of its hosts in the most vicious & humiliating way imaginable”. Salon. 26 June 2015.

Kirell, Andrew. “Fox’s Bob Beckel Undergoes Addiction Rehab”. Mediaite. 30 April 2015.

Just One of Those Things … or, Tragically Hilarious

When does a car wreck become international news? Well, quite obviously when there is something spectacular about it. Meanwhile, in the long history of wealth and luxury, sometimes folks gloat over certain misfortunes because they simply disdain the rich, whether for genuine cause or simple jealousy.

It helps, too, when nobody dies. Then you can call something like the Associated Press report out of Tokyo tragically hilarious:

Eight Ferraris, a Lambo, and a couple of BenzosAn outing of luxury sportscar enthusiasts in Japan ended in an expensive freeway pileup—smashing a stunning eight Ferraris, a Lamborghini and two Mercedes likely worth more than $1 million together.

Police say they believe the accident Sunday was touched off when the driver of one of the Ferraris tried to change lanes and hit the median barrier. He spun across the freeway, and the other cars collided while trying to avoid hitting his car ….

…. Police declined to comment on the total amount of damage, but said some of the vehicles were beyond repair.

NTV quoted the driver of one of the tow trucks brought in to clear the scene as saying it was the most expensive crash site he had ever seen.

Ten minor injuries, primarily bruises and cuts; fourteen cars were roughed up in total.

Call it what you want. There are plenty who recognize the craftsmanship of fine cars, and thus will mourn the damage. But even those might grin into their coffee mugs, enjoying some notion of schadenfreude.