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Wow, I could write an entire book about this one, thirty-minute episode. If it shows how little about television I know, I never heard of this series, "Bullshit!", hosted by Penn & Teller, until a couple of days ago, and I'd never seen an episode until just now - after it was over, I could not believe that this ran on Showtime for 7 seasons, with 89 episodes being aired. I guess this is what 24-hour cable television did to things. I first saw Penn & Teller at the National Theater in June, 1989, and remember thinking to myself that Penn came across as being a real jerk. We could buy programs about the show, and wait in line to get Penn's autograph, and he was just a loud, pompous, ass out there on the sidewalk, not even acknowledging people, or looking at anyone - just standing there and screaming like a lout, as he mindlessly grabbed peoples' pamphlets, scribbled his name, and threw them back. Over the years, I remember seeing articles about him - one in particular in Time Magazine, I believe, and he came across to me as creepy to the point of off-the-charts, don't-leave-your-child-with-him creepy. I can't be sure it was Time Magazine, but I distinctly remember a section about him beginning his days with watching porn in the morning (this is in the VCR days), and there was a picture of him crouching over a TV set with a creepy grin, and a blurred-out porn movie in the background. If anyone else has read this article, I can't imagine that they'd forget it, and (exact magazine aside - it might not have been Time), I'm pretty sure my memory is accurate - that said, I can't find *any* reference to it on the internet, so I can't prove it. Okay, *so what* if the guy wants to spend his private time watching porn first thing in the morning, but is that something you want to say in a national magazine as an important part of a feature article? Really? I'm sorry, but that defines "creepy." And then I discovered he was an Atheist. But not just an Athiest; a militant, in-your-face, Angry Atheist. I have no problems with anyone's religious beliefs (or absence of religious beliefs), as long as they don't hurt anyone, or impose their views, but he strongly imposes his views of Atheism. I guess George Carlin did, too, and I kind of like George Carlin, so I'm ambivalent on this issue. Anyway, in the past couple of years, I've seen Jillette pop up from time to time - in a sketch, or a story, or an interview, and my feelings about him being an unabridged asshole started to soften - the man was becoming more-and-more thoughtful, and underneath the very large, very loud, veneer of a big doofus doing nothing but screaming, seems to lie something of a thoughtful person. Opinionated? Oh my goodness, yes. But so what? He listens to people, and tries to reason; I just wish he wouldn't come to conclusions about things so quickly, when the answers aren't readily apparent. Well anyway, there's this series called "Bullshit!" which consists of - you can pretty much guess - challenging widely held viewpoints (and yes, it's a very one-sided and biased show). And there's one episode that caught my eye because it involves a person that I've often (silently) called bullshit on: Maddox. Maddox (whose real name is George Ouzounian), as many of you know, was an internet pioneer, hosting a supposedly popular website called "The Best Page In The Universe," which is geared towards a fraternity-level mindset and sophistication. That's all fine, but way back before DonRocks existed, I never quite understood why he was so popular - some of his stuff was funny in a "Diceman" sort-of way, but it got old very quickly. His idea of comedy is to make fun of people (including the elderly) while trying to act "manly," all justified, of course, by the fact that it's just parody, and his critics don't understand him. Well, I understand him, and he's just not very funny, and he's not very smart either. Season 8, Episode 8 of "Bullshit!" is entitled "Old People," and sets out to debunk commonly held beliefs about old people - a sector of the population which is, and has always been, particularly dear to me. And a sector of the population that, in my opinion, our culture should be hanging its head in shame about when it comes to how they're treated. Old people are a common target of Maddox's high-school humor, and unfortunately for him, he got caught in the crosshairs of someone bigger, louder, more opinionated, and more famous than he is: Penn Jillette, and Jillette, in this episode, makes him look like the exact opposite of the image Maddox so desperately wants to portray: I have no doubt that he was selectively edited (and therefore hosed in the process), but he comes across as a wavering nerd - the absolute opposite of "manly" - in fact, he comes across as a shy, scrawny little kid, who makes impossibly stupid, generic, cruel remarks about the elderly, and is then made to look like a complete ass - which is what I've always thought he was. He's not funny at all; in fact, he's probably the kid who got bullied in grade school. Of course it's all satire and parody, so none of this matters, right? Let me ask you all this: Does *anyone* think this guy is funny? He has this supposed "legion of followers" that claim people are "too dimwitted to understand his style of comedy." To borrow a phrase from the show: Bullshit! He has no talent, and someone needs to pull him aside, and gently tell him that he desperately needs to take a public speaking course. Thus Penn Jillette, once a Maddox-like lout in my eyes, continues to redeem himself to some degree. Here's the episode. I must warn you: It's pretty boring, and not particularly good TV, but at least you get to watch a jerk - who does what he does under the guise of "comedy," "satire," and "parody," - being decisively slapped down, and for that alone, it's worth watching (although you can see the entire take-down in my previous link). Train wreck on track nine - beware: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxJt0ynGshQ
A bit late for local theaters--today was the last day in the last DC area theater, in Fairfax. but this film is bound to come up on Netflix, On Demand etc. and is really worth watching. A brilliant design and video technology geek develops an obsession with figuring out and recreating how Johannes Vermeer was able to paint photo-realistic paintings in the 17th century. Amazing, gripping, and entertaining.