Fantasy Colbert League April 25th – 28th, 2011

FCL WeeklyWelcome back after our week’s break! I hope everyone who celebrated either Passover or Easter (or both!) had a happy holiday, with a liberating seder for the former and plenty of yummy chocolate eggs for the latter.

Have you all been missing Stephen and the ReporT? With the hiatus giving me some extra time, I’d hoped to get this FCL up much earlier. But at the moment I am suffering from some sort of back injury–don’t know how I got it–and sitting for long periods has been a bit agonizing. I’ve avoided it for the most part. Chiropractor, here I come…several times a week. I know what will make me happy, though, and wash away the pain: four new shows! So here goes…

Monday, 4/25: Ron Paul

Ron PaulOh, I know that from time to time, faux-conservative Colbert has to welcome real conservatives on his show. But I must admit they can be hard for me to stomach. And speaking of hard to stomach: Straight from the 14th District in Texas comes Ron Paul, who, on his congressional website, describes his beliefs thus: “Dr. Paul is the leading spokesman in Washington for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies based on commodity-backed currency.” (Shades of Glenn Beck, “commodity-backed currency” generally means gold these days.) The “Dr. Paul” used in that description, by the way, comes from the fact that he’s an actual medical doctor, who served as a flight surgeon and an obstetrician. He claims to have delivered 4,000 babies—creating a constituency from birth, perhaps? Paul also has a personal website for those who want more.

Paul is the author of the recent book, Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues that Affect Our Freedoms, published by Grand Central, the same company that released both Jon’s and Stephen’s glorious tomes. Paul’s focal issues apparently range from “abortion” (he’s anti, despite his views on “personal freedom,” which I guess are limited to the freedoms he believes in) to “Zionism” (pro). Some of Paul’s former books have reached the New York Times bestseller lists, including The Revolution: A Manifesto and End The Fed. In Congress, he holds positions on some of the most important committees, including: The House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Joint Economic Committee, the Committee on Financial Services and is Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy. Given his views on finance, I frankly find this scary. He founded a think tank in 1976, The Foundation for Rational Economics and Education (acronym “FREE”), and you can go to its site (aka the “Freedom Page”) to sign up for a monthly newsletter.

Congressman Paul has visited the Report before, in 2008 and before that in 2007.

Fract: Ron Paul became the first Representative to serve alongside a son or daughter in the Senate, when Rand Paul became a Senator for Kentucky earlier this year.

Tuesday: 4/26: A.C. Grayling

A.C. GraylingFor Zoners who enjoy Stephen discoursing on religion, tonight is the night. A.C. Grayling is author of The Good Book: A Humanist Bible, which examines humanity’s search for meaning in the universe in non-religious terms, such as science, philosophy, and literature. (Interestingly, in England, the subtitle is “A Secular Bible.”) Here’s a review from Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

Grayling is a Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London and author of more than 20 books, including Towards the Light: The Story of the Struggles for Liberty; Rights that Made the Modern West; Liberty in the Age of Terror: In Defense of Civil Society and the West’s Enlightenment Values; and Ideas That Matter: A Personal Guide for the 21st Century. His website features a number of articles both by and about him. He has claimed that “religion is in its death throes” and that the “Roman Catholic Church has perpetuated the biggest pack of lies that the world has seen.” (The particular article I linked to takes issue with Grayling’s point of view.)

As a philosopher, Grayling also ponders the fine points of morality, and one article of his that I found particularly fascinating and nuanced discusses the Roman Polanski case. As you might remember, Polanski was convicted of statutory rape against a 13-year-old, pleaded guilty, and then fled from the country before he could be punished. Here is Grayling’s commentary on the subject, written two years ago.

If you enjoy his appearance on The Colbert Report, you can give him a thumbs-up by going over to his Facebook page and clicking “Like.”

Fract: Grayling has also argued his ideas in theatrical form. He is coauthor of the play Grace, which was performed at the Lucille Lortel Theater in NYC. Here’s a video discussion of the work, featuring Lynn Regrave.

Wednesday, 4/27: Ice-T

Ice-THe once performed a song that may have encouraged shooting cops, but now he plays one on TV—and I, for one, am looking forward to seeing him. Singer and actor Ice-T came to fame in the 80s with his wittily titled album Rhyme Pays, but it was Original Gangster (1992) that really whipped up controversy. That album, recorded with his heavy metal band (NOT rap), Body Count, contained a song called “Cop Killer.” Here are two videos of the song–which you might not want to watch at work, depending on your job. One features the original recording, but no real performance, while the other captures a live version but misses the provocative opening statement. The lyrics ignited a national debate about freedom of speech and censorship, and the fallout from the uproar delayed his next album, Home Invasion, which Ice-T ultimately released on his own label after severing ties with Time Warner. Nonetheless, Original Gangster remains an influential work. I recommend taking a look though the Ice-T songbook, because it’s surprisingly wide-ranging in style. He did win a Grammy (shared by others on the track) for “Back on the Block,” a song produced by Quincy Jones.

In 1985, Ice-T began his acting career, first in music-related films (Breaking), then in Melvin Peebles’ seminal work, New Jack City. Just over a decade ago, he was cast as Detective Odafin Tutuola on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (click on the name to see a “police sketch” video with Ice-T), a role he has played ever since and which turned him into a household name. Question here for the younger Zoners: did you even know Ice-T was a singer/songwriter?

His new biography, Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption-from South Central to Hollywood (coauthored by Douglas Century), was just released last week. It received generally excellent reviews all around, including a starred review from the industry journal Booklist. Here’s the perspective from The New York Times. Since Ice-T had a fascinating life—orphaned at a young age, gang member, army recruit, and finally musician, actor, and writer—it promises to be a good read. (He had one earlier book in 1994 called The Ice Opinion: Who Gives a F&#k?, cowritten with Heidi Siegmund.) You can go to his website to learn more about him (although it doesn’t appear to have any recent updates) or follow him on Twitter.

Fract: Born Tracy Marrow, he chose the name Ice-T in honor of pimp-turned-author Iceberg Slim, who wrote about life on the streets.

Thursday, 4/28: Wade Graham

Wade GrahamAs Voltaire said, “Il faut cultiver notre jardin.” Do you have a garden—and how does it grow? With silver bells and cockle shells…or something else? Landscape artist Wade Graham believes that our gardens have more than surface beauty: they reveal deeper truths about our beliefs. Graham is the author of the highly praised book American Eden: From Monticello to Central Park to Our Backyards: What Our Gardens Tell Us About Who We Are.

In spite of his current focus on environmentalism Graham–a trustee of the non-profit Glen Canyon Institute who teaches in the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University—earned his BA in comparative literature from Columbia and his MA and PhD in American history from UCLA. He has written for various publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Harper’s, The New Yorker, and Outside, and has a previous book, Braided Waters: Environment, Economy and Community in Molokai, published by the University of Hawaii Press. You can find out more about his projects—and see some very beautiful home and garden photos—at his website.

Fract: There IS no fract! I can find no videos, nothing about his personal life…this man has been quiet till now. Maybe after his Colbert bump, we’ll learn more.

Everyone have a happy week, and let me know how you enjoyed your holiday (if you celebrated) and which guest you’re most eager to see. Cheers!


  1. Mr. Arkadin says:

    @Karenatasha-I’m sorry to hear about your back pains. I hope you feel better soon.

    I’m most looking forward to Ice-T. I remember the uproar Cop Killer caused back in the day. I sort of get a kick out of the fact that now, twenty years later, he’s on mainstream TV once a week playing a cop!
    And I’m interested in the potential debate between Stephen & Mr. Grayling about the Catholic church. I think that could be fun!

    • Karenatasha says:

      Thanks for the good wishes! Yes, I remember the uproar well, too. I also think the Grayling interview will be interesting, but I wonder if they’ll even get involved in discussing the church. Often, when I’m really expecting it, Stephen ignores that and goes off in another direction. We shall see.

  2. Oh no, Karenatasha! :( Hope you experience a speedy recovery and make sure to get plenty of rest! One of my best friends threw out his back doing Capoeira at the beginning of our senior year in college and he had to spend the whole year going to the chiropractor, doing stretches and not being able to go to the gym/take part in dance-heavy song numbers in the musical theatre troupe we were in. He was NOT a happy person, so I’m sure he’d understand your pain if he knew you.

    I don’t feel very enthused with the choice in guests. But if I had to choose one, I think I’m most interested about Ice-T, based on what I read here on FCL. Ron Paul starting off the week doesn’t really make me happy, but I’m happy for a new week of shows. TCR withdrawal is the WORST. I’ve really missed everyone here and having nothing to distract me from doing holiday homework at the very last minute before classes begin again, but I did have a good holiday even though I don’t celebrate Passover or Easter. Hope everyone else had a good holiday!

    • Karenatasha says:

      Thanks, Anais! And ah…capoeira! One of my favorite things to watch and something I always wanted to do. (But I can’t manage a darn cartwheel and that’s pretty basic to the dance. So it’s just samba, forro, and afoxe for me!) And yes…the chiropractor has gotten to know me very well.

      And I’m happy to hear you had a good holiday. Since I’m writing after Monday’s show, I promise not to give away anything…except to say there were some really amazing moments! Worth the week’s wake. I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks.

    • Me too (about hearing what other people have to say about the 1st show), once I see it myself later today (it’s 6:40am over here). And Capoeira IS fun; I was actually in the same class as my friend (we were both doing it as an elective), so I was bummed when he got hurt and had to drop the class. It’s really challenging, but having kickboxing experience, doing the various martial art turns, kicks and defenses was feasible for me. I’ll try any kind of dancing at least once, and I’ve tried many (Capoeira, Indian, Middle Eastern belly-dancing etc.), but my favourites will always be Viennese waltz and swing (though I would love to take up contemporary ballet again). Are Latin dances your favourite?

      • Karenatasha says:

        Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban are my favorites. I’m not really a dancer, but I’ve been a dance fan since I was a child, have studied various different forms at one point or another , and have written on dance (primarily dancefilm, though).

        I’m impressed you’ve done Indian–some of the traditional forms are very complex and beautiful. As for belly dance (or Oriental), I’ve never done it but friends of mine did, so I attended a lot of shows as a spectator.

        I’ve never done the ballroom dances (my samba is street samba!), but they are beautiful to watch. Since we’ve had various TV shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” airing in the US, they’ve become a little more popular than they’ve been in awhile. And by awhile, I mean since the days of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly!

  3. Just a quick shout-out before work to say please feel better Karenatasha! I’m looking forward to A.C. Grayling just to see whether he goes full-force “Stephen” (e.g., Mr. Grayling, I’ll see you in H*LL!), or allows for more introspective discussion. I’m cheering for the real Stephen to peek out a bit on this one. Didn’t watch Ron Paul last night. I’ve had an upset stomach all week, and didn’t need another one… but I will watch it later!
    It’s great to see a new thread here! Once again, feel better Karenatasha!

    • Karenatasha says:

      Thanks, SW! I am–and last night helped. Humor is healing. ;-)

      • Glad you’re feeling better. And you’re right, humor is the best pain reliever there is. I finally saw last night’s show, and I enjoyed it very much — although I would have loved to see “Stephen” catch Mr. Paul in some form of hypocrisy. He actually went a bit easy on him, I thought. Oh, but his character break in the beginning of the show was absolutely PRICELESS. That one goes down in history, for sure. Loved the um, “privacy” suit, too. Stephen has now given a new definition to a knight in shining ARMor. (Or make that 2 arms.)
        Stay well!

        • Karenatasha says:

          For the break, do you think that the staff surprised him with that picture of him? I thought perhaps that wasn’t what he expected to see.

        • Karenatasha says:

          Also, I felt he did catch Ron Paul…but very subtly. His” agreement” with some of Paul’s comments undermined them better than an argument could have done. Plus, he put Paul–who can be charming–in the position of not having anything to dispute, at the same time as he was being taken down.

          Rather masterly, I felt.

        • True, I agree with you Karenatasha. But I guess I was hoping for a big “aha!” moment. Selfish, I know. And I love Stephen’s way of letting “Stephen” agree in order to prove the opposite point. He’s brilliant. And masterly.
          Ron Paul would make a great “Wizard of Oz,” don’t you think? I guess I just wanted Stephen to pull the curtain with a bigger flourish.
          As to the character break, I’m not sure. He either hadn’t seen the photo, or hadn’t seen it completely. Then again, that photo will probably never stop being funny, even at second glance. His reaction said,”I’m dying of embarrassment,” which just made it even funnier.

If you're new to our Zoner community, please read the No Fact Zone Comment Policy before commenting. Thank you!