fit to print

To: Paunch Sulzburger,

From: Overpaid Consultant

RE: “Talent”

Good seeing you the other night, Paunch.  The lighting in that restaurant did make you appear taller and less bald.  But let’s cut to the chase here.  Some of that dead wood on your OP/ED page is so petrified you guys don’t need an iceberg to sink.  The deck chairs alone will bring you down.  What are you doing, putting the Walrus and the Carpenter’s dream on TV all the time?  Are you nuts?  People go on TV all the time and say the stupidest things, but I have to tell you, your crowd ain’t delivering product like it should.  Not meaning to be shallow, but no flat-worlder should make such a big lump on Google Earth.  Doesn’t look right.

And no amateur psychologists should be so clearly crazy as that nut Dowd.  Nobody wants to spread out their paper and have their worst ex-wife come stomping into the room.  Unless she’s young and hot.  Bzzzzt!  Dowd goes.

Then there’s that Brooks.  He could actually work, if not for the unfortunate grease spots that keep befouling the set.  I have an ad in mind there, just to be safe, too.

See below….

(to be posted on Craigslist…  if response is weak, discuss the crushingly expensive option of “Week in Review.”  One week only.)

WANTED: OP/ED “Writers”

Position 1:

This column is a place for feminism without feminists, liberalism without anything to be liberal about, and places a snarky, annoying bulwark between real news and the gossip we prefer.

Owing to the Recent Unpleasantness, we ask that applicants submit their ghostwriters to rigorous standards, and avoid drinking to excess or being ostentatiously bony.  Jokes about Hillary’s coffee tables are no longer being considered.


Postion 2:

This space should be thought of as the Howdy Doody Show for globaloney.  Tossing in a thing or two about Polar Bears is just the spoonful of sugar that makes the sweatshops go down,  For obvious reasons, applicants should be Height/Weight proportional, and not display facial hair that suggests endangered sea mammals.  Access to cab drivers mandatory.

Position 3:

Every time Cheney goes on TV this position gets harder.  While Brooks seems to drip the right grade of condescension, he misses the point too often to be any good.  We need a Joe the Plumber with a bigger vocabulary for that spot.  I won’t write the ad until I get more input, Paunch.

Send me your ideas before I post these….


  1. Oh, goody! Can we do the WaPo next? Can we? Can we please? I can’t wait to see what you do with Krauthammer. The torturer’s Tinker Bell? Help, I’ve fallen, and I can’t get it up? Heel on wheels?

  2. Casual Observer says:

    That’s Rich.

    Oh, wait, no it’s not.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Rich and Krugman will have to be removed, too, but replaced by some of those “advertorials” from the Washington Legal Foundation and/or Chevron. The writing’s almost as snappy, and a lot less very nice people get angry.

  3. bystander says:

    Spew Alert!

    Time to apply handiwipes to the keyboard and the monitor.

    Yeah. Seconded. The Washington Post up next. There’s so much to work with: Sally Quinn, Michael Gerson, Fred Hiatt, Ruth Marcus, Kathleen Parker …

    • cocktailhag says:

      And don’t forget Richard Cohen, Charlotte the Harlot, and the lovely and vivacious Shailagh Murray, whose tireless efforts in the front of the paper have clearly earned her a spot in its rear.

      • dirigo says:

        If you really try to corner MoDo, she may emerge, bonier than ever, and worse, in a morbid attempt at a defense against the charge of cribbing from Josh, start sounding strangely like Kate Hepburn.

        More shrill by the minute; underbite and chin in aggressive sync.

        Maybe she’ll start smoking Pall Malls.

        • cocktailhag says:

          I think of her as sort of a Norma Desmond of the dead tree media, “I’m still big. The papers got small.” Mugging for the camera, bonily. Kind of a downer for a Cocktailhag confab in Palm Desert, with or without the Pall Malls. (Not a good brand choice anyway because of the tobacco fragments on the whitened teeth….)

          • dirigo says:

            And the tell-tale lipstick stains on the butts left behind in the sea shell ashtrays.

            Hey, I’ve got an idea!

            If she doesn’t survive this crisis of the TPM paragraph lifteroo, maybe Cocktail News could send her to Italy in relief of Harlan Harrington, who, you’ll recall is hot on the trail of the Berlusconi story.

            Mo would enjoy the Med for a while, but she’d have to wear a five foot diameter straw hat and have to smear enough sunblock on her face, legs, and arms to wax an SUV twice.

            She may be able to drive a speedboat in Naples harbor though, a definite plus for shadowing Silvio’s yacht.

  4. cocktailhag says:

    Yeah, but Silvio’d have to be drunker than usual to notice La Dowd. Actually, Naomi staged a Summer Hag picture for me (big sunglasses and leopard scarf tied at the neck, curlers optional) that I really liked until just now you made it sound MoDo-ish. I have to rethink this soon, lest I be caught in coyote in June.
    I can hear it now, “….this is Maureen Dowd, reporting from Capri. More later on this CHNN station.”

    • dirigo says:

      Image is EVV-erything! You gotta get it right.

      • cocktailhag says:

        Dang. I just tried to post a youtube of my favorite (because she’s dead) CHNN honorary correspondent, Jessica Savitch, but it didn’t work. Foiled again.

        • bystander says:

          I hope it wasn’t this one.

          How do you spell d i v a?

          • cocktailhag says:

            No, it wasn’t, but I find that clip oddly endearing, even with the hair flips. I was attempting to link the 10/3/83 one where the poor thing has lost all ability to enunciate. She was still relatively great (on TV) when the “Angry Anchor” clip was made. Later, not so much.
            I’d love to have a permanent clip with “more news later on this CHNN (edited) station.” Spinning globe becomes olive in Martini…..

        • bystander says:

          Cocktailhag. Copy this.

          <a href=”URL“>Tag Name</a>

          Where you see URL insert the actual web address of the link just as if you were going to send it to me in an email.

          Where you see Tag Name insert what you want to call that URL.

          If you copy the format, you can paste the URL and the Tag Name in the spaces as designated. Leave the template exactly as it is with the spaces, quotation marks, and equals sign just as they are. Just replace URL and Tag Name.

          I’m off to search for Jessica Savitch 10/3/83.

          • cocktailhag says:

            I’ve been instructed many times, but only accidentally got one right in NY with Benjy and Naomi babysitting. The 10/3 meltdown is rich… compare it to other clips a few years before and it tells a frightening story. Two books about her, but most particularly “Almost Golden” by Gwenda Blair, are disturbingly great reads about TV News.

    • cocktailhag says:

      That was the one. Poor thing. A tool of the Barbie-ization of the news, chewed up and spit out.
      I bet she was part of what inspired Gus Van Sant (local boy made good) when he made “To Die For.”

  5. bystander says:


    <a href=””>Jessica Savitch 10/3/83</a>

  6. bystander says:

    I could have made that clearer… sorry.

    <a href=”“>Jessica Savitch 10/3/83</a>

    Or, if it’s easier to visualize:

    <a href=”“>Jessica Savitch 10/3/83</a>

    Figure and ground. If I could grok how to do colors, I might be able to make it obvious enough for you to say, Shit! That’s easy! Why didn’t you just say so!

    Can you tell? I’m simply determined you’re going to get this. You may wind up banning me from your site. Harumph!

    • cocktailhag says:

      Intellectually, I know it’s possible and I’ve even done it. But practically, somewhere between copy and “insert into post,” I inevitably end up with a disheartening “not found.” I have wasted hours on this, to no avail unless someone is breathing down my neck. Twenty years in construction, with computers not a part of my daily life, has taken its toll.

      • dirigo says:

        Hag, remember, a lot of geeks don’t know the business end of a dry wall trowel either.

        • cocktailhag says:

          I do take solace in that. The weather here is taking a similar turn to what happened in NY right after you left. Paradise to sideways monsoon. Guess I can get some work done now.

          • dirigo says:

            It’s still crappy here in Connecticut. Fifties and cloudy, with a threat of rain.

            It’s Naomi’s fault.

          • dirigo says:

            While she’s getting all this moisture for her new plants, she might also advise MoDo on a new image.

            A backyard Brooklyn chat.

  7. cocktailhag says:

    I wasted valuable luggage space with clothes for the dreary weather I’d come home to, and it was 85 and sunny that day. Nicer than LA. Natch, things would turn when I got home. Summer here begins on July 5.

  8. sysprog says:

    Doinel’s Syndrome By Proxy.

    “Teacher, I swear I wasn’t stealing from Balzac!”

    “I was stealing from my friend, who was stealing from Balzac!”

    * * *

    Hmm. My revised jokes’s still not working. So I will plagiarize.

    In all fairness, Maureen Dowd has next to nothing to do with the production of Maureen Dowd’s column.

  9. dirigo says:

    It’s well worth looking at the appearance (on Monday?) by Jesse Ventura on “The View”, where the pseudo journalist/interrogator Elizabeth Hasselbeck seemed to regard Ventura as one damn, disgusting yellow belly coward for taking issue with the efficacy of torture.

    I was trying to put myself in Hasselbeck’s gold slippers – sitting on the deck of her little condo, looking out on the world, like Sarah Palin, peering at Russia through slitted eyes from her magnificent country home in Wasilla – as she analyzes threat assessments, prepping for the show.

    And then, recalling that Jesse is one of my mates from long ago and far away, I checked myself and realized that Elizabeth probably could not hit the South China Sea on a map from ten feet if given a handful of darts.

    It’s really a sad commentary.

    • dirigo says:

      Harlan Harrington, our crack Cocktail News stringer in Italy, called the New York CHNN assignment desk before dawn eastern time this morning to suggest a double-team assignment in support of his relentless efforts to get to the bottom of the Silvio Berlusconi story.

      Harlan says sending both Maureen Dowd and Elizabeth Hasselbeck to Naples (near the coastal village of Portici, home to Berlusconi’s favorite teenager, 18-year old Noemi Letizia)) would give him some flexibility in covering things from the Italian capital.

      Harlan suggests Elizabeth, a blonde bombshell in her own right, would prove irresistible to the Italian leader for in-depth interview purposes. She might, as Harlan suggests, act initially as a “good cop” with a mike, batting her eyes and showing a little leg, softening the prime minister up for tougher, follow-up questioning by the red-haired, plagiarizing harridan, Dowd. Harlan feels that Dowd, now under pressure due to her egregious error in last Sunday’s otherwise above average New York Times column, is hungry and more than ready – nay, panting as it were – to do some edgy work, in an ambush interview format if necessary. Harlan stipulates he’s had no contact with Times editors in New York about using Dowd, but he did indicate he had a late night meeting in Rome over a bit of lasagna and wine with a Times intern within the last twenty-four hours.

      Harlan also feels this would free him to stay in Rome and attempt to get around the entire Berlusconi-controlled Italian media, to perhaps set up a satellite link for uninterrupted coverage from an undisclosed location, perhaps from one of the old gladiatorial prep rooms under the Coliseum.

      In this connection, Harlan says he will probably have to increase his cost estimates for sustained coverage, including a request for immediate payments from the CHNN business manager to cover dock fees for the CHNN flying boat, now sitting in Naples harbor.

      Harlan says there’s plenty of room for him, Elizabeth, Maureen, and the rag tag Italian crew he has hired for the job there, should a quick getaway be necessary.

      • dirigo says:

        Oh, and the pilot of the flying boat is overseeing security for the craft, 24/7. Fortunately, for the benefit of the larger coverage objectives of the network, he’s economizing by sleeping in the craft itself and buying staples locally, while cooking on a Weber grill, which is strapped to the dockside pontoon.

        It’s quite a sacrifice! – yet, the captain concedes, with a crooked grin, he’s had some extra time to work on his tan, adding that he’s grateful for that. But he also assures Harlan he’ll be ready to strap himself into the command chair of the flying boat and, at Harlan’s signal, have engines revved for emergency take-off, should it come to that.

  10. Well, I knew that the spruce goose wound up in Oregon, because I’ve seen it there, sitting somewhat forlornly out in the open under tarps, before it was reassembled. What I didn’t realize is that CHNN had managed to steal it and fly it to the land of Caproni and Savoia-Marchetti. Do send us a picture of it floating peacefully in the bay, will you, preferably with Vesuvio in the distance, so we can be sure that la Dowd isn’t the only one making stuff up.

    • dirigo says:

      Oh this isn’t THE spruce goose, W.T., but a commuter model, which, as I noted in my longer pieces on the Opera la Berlusconi!!!, was rented from a retired Sikorsky Aircraft worker in Hackensack and plunked by helicopter into the Hudson to await the intrepid Harlan Harrington.

      It’s one of many rolled out in the thirties by Sikorsky. It’s old and very dented, and kinda resembles the Phoenix, that beat up old thing that Jimmy Stewart flew out of the desert once with Ronald Reagan, Mickey Rooney, and Hedy Lamarr; but it’s done the trick for us thus far, while Harlan has been ensconced in Rome to cover this saga.

      And think of the triumphal return home, in due time, after the great team of Harlan, Elizabeth, and Maureen settle Silvio’s hash, and regale us all with pictures, video, raw notes and other intimate anecdotes of their great time digging the dirt, while enjoying the sun in fair Portici.

      • An S-42? CHNN has an S-42? God, don’t tell the Smithsonian. They’d hunt you down like dogs.

        • dirigo says:

          It’s usually stored deep in the bowels of Hackensack. The feds don’t go there very often.

          CHNN may have an option on it, if that cheapskate CEO hag will spring for it.

          Pulling out the Belusconi story, as we’re doing, with Maureen on board as a (pardon the expression) cherry on top, will prove the wisdom of such a buy for BIG BANG stories that no one wants to do.

          Think of it!

          A fade, jaded, former Times columnist, spanning the globe in a thirties-era flying boat, red hair and silk scarf flapping out of the cockpit, notebook in hand, also trimmed in RED! It’s a publicist’s dream.

          If we nail this story and then get this old bird, no one will be able to touch us; and, I think, with her presumed great success, MoDo will sign with us!

  11. Jim White says:

    Geez, Hag. Looks like you messed up the weather everywhere. It’s been 60 and raining here for over 24 hours, with the prospect that tomorrow is more of the same. This is the coldest I’ve seen in May around here. The only consolation is that the last few Mays have been bone dry, so at least my pastures are happy.

    I see one flaw in your plan to advertise for new columnists at the NYTimes. How could they get paid? Those guys are broke!

  12. cocktailhag says:

    Well, the new applicants would be drawing much lower salaries, natch. The weather continues to be dreadful.

  13. Karen M says:

    Poor MoDo!

    No, actually, I mean poor Kate!

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