TV: Shopping channels
As detestable as they are, someone loves those shopping channels on TV. They bring in more than $10 billion a year to the washed-up non-celebrities pitching second-rate knives, dresses, jewelry, and cleaning supplies.

There is, however, a very compelling reason you, too, should love the shopping channels, and thank your lucky stars they exist: your cable bill would be higher than it is now — by as much as a few bucks a month, depending on where you live — if the “basic cable” package did not include shopping channels.

In many markets, cable companies are required by federal regulations to carry shopping channels. As a result, the cable companies don’t pay to transmit shopping channels (just as they don’t pay to carry other local broadcast stations or community-access channels). But unlike those other channels, shopping networks kick back a percentage of their sales revenues. So the more knives sold, the less likely your cable bill is to rise.

(Sure, nothing is stopping your cable company from racking the rates, except competition from satellite TV and Internet video, but if the feds require cable companies to sell channels individually, you’ll pay more for the same channels, and losing that shopping-network revenue is part of why.)

So every now and again, when you’re feeling bored, check out a shopping channel, and make sure you have a knife for every occasion. If you’re missing one for, say, cutting out your own appendix, go ahead and buy it. It’s just $9.99, you can pay in 15 easy installments of just 67 cents each, and you’ll keep your future cable bills down, too.

— Jeff Inglis


Comedian: Tom Green
Does Tom Green look back on his relationship with Drew Barrymore and wonder whether it was all a dream? Look at the dude: a squirrel-faced spaz from the wilds of white-bread Ottawa. A guy who humps dead moose and whose best friend is named Glenn Humplik has no business canoodling with The Wedding Singer’s Julia Gulia. Surely, such an unholy union could not last. (It didn’t.) But the amazing thing is that he dumped her. Green (if you believe Wikipedia) was bugged by Barrymore’s “increasingly neurotic behavior.” That’s rich. He’s also said to have been peeved that, at their wedding, most of her showbiz friends “paid no attention to Green’s own friends and family, since they ‘weren’t famous.’ ”

Green has never pretended to be something he’s not. Of course, millions upon millions have decided that what he is — puerile, scatological, deranged — is excruciatingly irritating. But if one of Green’s virtues is loyalty to his humble roots, another is his unappreciated knack for a slyly intellectual strain of comedy that has a whiff of Duchamp about it. Yes, really. Johnny Knoxville may have stolen Green’s conceit of fucking with sympathetic, unsuspecting passersby — feigning horrific disability, placing a baby doll atop a moving car — but did anyone from Jackass ever think to hang their own painting on the walls of the National Gallery of Canada? (Green’s hung there unmolested for several days.)

Performing frottage with deceased woodland beasts doesn’t require much imagination. Nor does slurping from a cow’s teat. But if the “Bum Bum Song” was the nadir of Western civilization, Freddie Got Fingered — as Roger Ebert wrote in his zero-star review — may one day be appreciated as a “milestone of neo-surrealism.” It takes a fearless artist to airbrush a graphic tableau of lesbian cunnilingus on the hood of your buttoned-down dad’s company car. It takes a fearless man to laugh in cancer’s face, poking at his excised and dissected testicle and saying, “looks like chicken.”

— Mike Miliard

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