Diary of A Mad County

Photo by Jeanne RiceWednesday, Dec. 15 Today on Miserable Reasons to Get Up in the Morning, the British producers of the ABC show Wife Swap—which has real-life women switch families so we may learn what it truly means to be a family—is suing Fox TV, saying its show Trading Spouses—which has real-life women switch families so we may learn what it truly means to laugh at the morbidly overweight, especially if they're wearing stretch pants—is a “blatant and wholesale copycat” of their show. First, since when did “copycat” become a legal term, and if it is, why didn't the British folks accuse Fox of the more serious charge of being a “dirty ratter“? A Fox spokesman said the network wouldn't comment on the charges until it had seen what someone else had said when accused of the same thing. The spokesman, who confessed he wasn't clear whether Trading Spouses was being sued by ABC or Kobe Bryant, would only say, “Where's the beef? I am not a crook. Can't we all just get along? Sit on it, Potsie. Eeeeehhh!” This isn't the first time Fox has been accused of copying TV shows. They were sued for the boxing reality show Next Great Champ by the producers of NBC's The Contender.Meanwhile, Fox News has been accused of copying the Republican National Committee. Wait. That was being. Fox News has been accused of being the Republican National Committee.

Thursday, Dec. 16Terry Smith is arrested and charged with selling millions of dollars' worth of counterfeit designer merchandise out of his Newport Beach home. Neighbors reported a constant stream of people into Smith's home every week, but police weren't at first suspicious, figuring he was just selling drugs or guns or pirated TV-show concepts. But, of course, Smith is accused of something much more dastardly. I mean, when you sell crappy merchandise at unfairly low, some would say predatory, prices and pay next to nothing for labor costs, well, now you're messing on Wal-Mart's side of the street. But lemme just get this straight. Smith sells a few fake handbags and/or jeans, and he's looking at 10 years in prison. Fox rips off other networks' shows, and today it is announced its head, Rupert Murdoch, is buying a $44 million penthouse apartment on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue. Is that it? Cool. Of course, $44 million is nothing to Murdoch—worth an estimated $7 billion, Forbes recently ranked him as the world's 43rd richest man, right behind Montgomery Burns and the guy who invented adult contemporary.

Friday, Dec. 17 I will say nothing except to repeat what I have always said: nothing good ever came of contact with John Tesh.

Saturday, Dec. 18 The kids are on Christmas vacation, so I thought it might be fun to take them to Disneyland, where people are paid to have the holiday spirit. And handsomely. I just found out Southern California residents get a break on admission prices. We can get a one-day “park hopper,” which entitles you to admission to Disneyland's Magic Kingdom ANDits California Adventure Fantastical Pile of Crap for just $62.75! Hey, how about I give you another eight bucks and you knee me in the groin and tell me I'm adopted?

Sunday, Dec. 19 You know, I really should be thankful today. Here I was, all worried because I hadn't turned in my “Douche of the Year” ballot and today is the deadline and I just couldn't make up my mind. I mean, c'mon, you lived through this year, how could you choose just one douche? And just when I was set to cop out and do what I do every year—write in “Texas”—it comes to light that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has not been signing the letters of condolences to families of soldiers killed in action. Instead, he has been using a machine that signs his name, claiming it gives the letter the appropriate “cold-hearted, your son/daughter/golden retriever died in vain for a government that could care less about their sacrifice” feel that was once all the rage in the Soviet Union. This comes after Rumsfeld's infamous comments to troops asking for more and better-armored vehicles that “you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have,” adding, “eat shit and die!” Rumsfeld, who has asked young men and women to die for a cause that was once about terrorism, then not; then about WMDs, then not; now says he will perform the ultimate sacrifice and actually start signing the letters. By hand! His own hand! Semper fi.

Monday, Dec. 20 Gratefully, Huntington Beach's Barbara Sandefur won't be receiving any letters from Donald Rumsfeld's robot hand, but it was close. Waaay too close. Her son, Kenny, a Marine on his second tour in Iraq, was shot last week near the Syrian border. Barbara, who was flying to Bethesda, Maryland, last weekend to be reunited with Kenny, e-mailed that he had been shot in the shoulder and the bullet lodged in his neck. So far, he's had a couple of surgeries and stints in the ICU and is breathing through the use of a tube. Now, you may remember Barbara from a story I did last year about her growing impatience and questions regarding the war and her son (“It's the Peace That's Killing Her,” Nov. 14, 2003). Now, Barbara is not some dirty peacenik. Recently, she circulated an e-mail criticizing those critical of a soldier who shot an Iraqi he thought might be playing a deadly game of possum. “We need to stand up for our Marines and soldiers and back them,” she wrote. “We need to show them we support them in their efforts and their sacrifices. This Marine did his job and quite possibly saved the lives of my Marine and your Marine.” The problem is that she has never been convinced that her government supports her Marine. Gee, wonder where she could have gotten a crazy idea like that in her head? Machine That Does Donald Rumsfeld's Thinking for Him, do you have any ideas? In that story last year, Barbara dreaded Kenny going back for his second tour in Iraq, saying she'd rather “break both his legs” before she let that happen. Now, in her e-mail, she writes, “One good thing, [Kenny] won't be going back to Iraq. He is out of the service in 18 months, and it will take most of that [time] to recover.”

Tuesday, Dec. 21 As of this writing, 24 people were confirmed dead in a lunchtime attack on a U.S. military mess hall in northern Iraq. Merry Christmas, Mr. Rumsfeld. Here's hoping your writer's cramp will not be in vain.


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