Diary of a Mad County

Courtesy Comedy CentralWednesday, Feb. 9 Fox, the network that brought you The Simpsons and Who Wants to Get Anally Probed . . . Again, announces that the funniest show on TV not called The Venture Brothers had its season-episode order cut from 22 to 18 and will not be part of the network-sweeps lineup in May, which will now include even more episodes of Who Wants To Get Anally Probed . . . Again . . . Cancun!Yes, Arrested Development, the funniest show on TV about Orange County not called Robert Schuller's Minimum-Wage Beat Down, looks as if it's on the brink of going away. Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman has tried to assure angry fans that the show is safe "hopefully for many years," but they are understandably dubious since that's exactly what the U.S. government told Salvadore Allende.

Thursday, Feb. 10 The city of Anaheim demolishes a cracked, slide-damaged, $2.5 million home in Anaheim Hills and . . . We . . . Are . . . LOVING IT! News vans, news copters and news strippers ("This is UPN News, live!") descend upon the gated community to show us pictures of the fractured house, its imminent slide, people watching the house getting ready to slide and, ultimately, the house getting the crap kicked out of it. Real estate being a religion in these parts, the story is played with all the solemnity and schadenfreude that usually accompanies celebrity murder trials and thefts of personal sex tapes. Originally, the city was going to allow the home's residents two days to demolish it themselves—what's known in the trade as "Schuller-ing" the property—but then decided the home may attack other homes, so they knocked it down themselves. Many people feel badly for the owners, who not only lost their house, but also were not allowed to get their belongings out before it was destroyed. Sadly, not as many people show concern for the house, which, tragically, was just two weeks away from retirement.

Friday, Feb. 11 UC Irvine Chancellor Ralph Ciccerone announces he will resign his position at the end of the school year—right after the big faculty water fight—to become president of the National Academy of Science, an outfit with some of the smartest people outside of my bathroom mirror, boasting 190 members who've won the Noble Prize, though several of them won the award when it was still given for achievement in the field of "Minding Your Own Business. See? Myaah." Ciccerone replaces Bruce Alberts, who is completing his second six-year term, the maximum allowed by the academy's bylaws, and how smart can these people really be if they still believe in term limits? Anyway, Ciccerone is one of those people you admire so much you just hate him because you will never, ever, ever be him. Not even close. Stop trying. Really. You're embarrassing yourself and everyone around you. Ciccerone not only did his undergrad at a little place I like to call MIT, but he also played on the baseball team there. He received his master's and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering, with a minor in physics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and served as a research scientist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla; and at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado—though I've heard the latter is a "party" atmospheric research center. Ciccerone is an atmospheric chemist, which I just found out is an actual title and not what tweakers in Riverside call themselves when they take the lab outside on pleasant days. Ciccerone's work has helped shape policy on climate change and pollution; he's conducted research on the plasma physics of Earth's ionosphere, the chemistry of the ozone layer and radiative forcing of climate change; and he also helped identify the roles that nitrous oxide and methane play in climate change and global warming, which we all know doesn't exist and won't until it kills every one of us.

Saturday, Feb. 12 I got nothing.

Sunday, Feb. 13 Today, on the day we honor middling musical talent with an award that has all the staying power of a cracked Anaheim Hills home, Parade Magazine—the publication that every week poses the tough question "Is Everything About America Just Great or Really, Really Great?"—lists its "World's 10 Worst Dictators." Anyone who's seen Woody Allen's Annie Hall can spot the symmetry at work: in the movie, Allen's character flies to LA to get Annie back, but she tells him she's got to leave because it's the night of the Grammys. Allen's character then rants that all they do in LA is give out awards, fuming, "Greatest Fascist Dictator, Adolf Hitler!" Hitler, a first-ballot hall of infamer, is not on the list, but the likes of North Korean loon Kim Jong Il is, as well as some guy from some place called Turkmenistan, which I had always assumed was ruled by the Marx Brothers. Yes, these are the worst of the worst, and at least a third of the worst rule countries—China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia—that the U.S. does business with. These are thugs and bullies, men who use violence, intimidation and fear to get their way. In totally unrelated news, George W. Bush says if the USA Patriot Act isn't renewed, we're all going to die.

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