I’m not saying that you should have a six-pack of frozen White Castle burgers in your freezer. I’m just saying that there are times in your life when you’re really happy to see them.

I’m not saying that one should choose one’s adult beverages on the basis of their luminescent translucence, but the Smirnoff “Ice” malt beverages - purchased because the store was out of my wife’s favorite, the Stoli Citrona - look quite nice on the top shelf of the fridge. They’re backlit. They glow. It’s the sort of vision you associate with the fridges of venture capitalists in an 80s movie, the sort of thing that suggests Kim Basinger will be over shortly for a night of strewing fruit on the kitchen floor. Of course, the effect is ruined if you actually take one. I fight this battle weekly; after grocery shopping, I dress the fridge like the set of a Broadway play. I take great pleasure in the order of the soda here, the beer there, the yogurt thus, the big bladders of milk arrayed just . . . so. I should take a picture.

My ideal fridge would be like the cooler in a grocery store - as you take one item, it’s immediately restocked by some unseen figure in the back. But then you’d have to provide for his room and board.

I’m really enjoying these bits on Hugh Hewitt’s show; hope America feels the same way. There’s no use preparing for them. Hugh just comes out of the gate and fires forty questions, and off we go. One of the rules of radio: nimble and facile is preferable to ponderous and slow. Fencing is preferable to chess. So far so good; should I cease to provide seven minutes of radiophonic alacrity I expect I will be cut. I’d hope so. The minute you act as though you’ve earned the listeners' ears, you start to lose them. But we’ll get to Bill O’Reilly in a moment.

“A loser robs a Brooklyn bank with his stupid buddy to pay for his lover’s sex change.” That’s Direct TV / TiVo’s priceless description of “Dog Day Afternoon.”

It’s odd how things change. When I first saw this movie as a teen, I was of course on Pacino’s side, because he was Al Pacino. The crowd on the streets rooted for him; the audience in the theater couldn’t help but be sympathetic, too. Now I wish the story had ended 37 minutes into the story when sharpshooters took out Loser and Stupid, who after all were holding terrified women at gunpoint. But then we wouldn’t have this movie - and it’s really quite a good movie, despite my kneejerkyism.

I see this film once a year. I always have conflicted emotions, mostly because it’s such a note-perfect reminder of the wretched 70s - the urban decay, the wide ties, the dull cars, the cops with pornstar ‘staches. Each time I watch it I fasten on a different detail - the way the movie presages the celebrity culture, the 60s architecture of the bank branch, the fabulous profanity in a mainstream movie, the matter-of-fact way the movie deals with the hero’s transsexual lover. (This is no small detail - the film turns on the moment when we learn that Pacino is robbing the bank to fund his lover’s sex change, and the subtle changes in tone and atmosphere are the stuff of textbook instruction in film school. Or should be.)

Anyway, if you’re interested in the real story behind the movie, it’s here. The pictures are priceless, especially the photo of the boyfriend in the bathrobe - Chris Sarandon must have seen these pictures, because he summed up the character in one simple gesture: a birdlike hand clutching a thin hospital robe to his neck. A man whose very hair was confused. Pauline Kael called “Dog Day Afternoon” one of the essential New York movies, and I think she’s right. I put it in the same category as “JFK” - movies I don’t love, and cannot not watch when they come on.

Bill O’Reilly is the political version of Dr. Laura. At least for me. When Dr. L first came on, I was amused and interested - in the Oprah era it was bracing to find someone who dealt in judgments, who would tell a woman who had three kids by four men that she shouldn’t be worried about man #5’s meth-addicted girlfriend, but should tend to the job of being a mom for her children. But there was something else at work with Dr. L, and it wasn’t long before I had no interest in hearing anything she had to say. For starters, she’s not a good radio talk-show host. She misunderstands the reason people listen to her show. Yes, people listen to watch the moral smack-downs. But they also listen for the sob stories, and these stories bore Dr. L. She had no time for the details, and details are what make shows like hers attractive to the person stuck in traffic, tuning in for a small short story sandwiched between commercials for Glucosomine and Gold Bond Medicated Powder.

The killer: the moral rigidity of the show got boring as soon as you knew where every call was going to go. Dr. L. made a Manichean look like a postmodernist.

O’Reilly was fun for a while, because it was the antithesis of the Sunday morning shows, and it wasn’t a panel of shouters. It was one guy mixing it up with guests who one did not usually see mixed. But the schtick grew weary for me fast, too, and beneath it all you could hear the rattling chains of Mort Downy Jr. - half of O’Reilly’s browbeating blusterfests could be edited down to “pabulum puking liberals.”

Now O’Reilly is angry about this thing called the Internet. (Link via Instapundit.)

The reason these net people get away with all kinds of stuff is that they work for no one.  They put stuff up with no restraints.  This, of course, is dangerous, but it symbolizes what the Internet is becoming.

People who do not work for major media outlets are writing things without corporate or governmental restraints. This, of course, is dangerous. It’s what the Internet is becoming. Also, Iran.

So all over the country, we have people posting the most vile stuff imaginable, hiding behind high tech capabilities.

You cannot whois me! I have high tech capabilities!

Sometimes the violators are punished, but most are not.  We have now have teenagers ruining the reputations of their peers in schools on the Internet. 

As opposed to doing it behind the school when they sneak out for a smoke, or in the locker room, or the lunch room, or in notes passed around the class. I’ve noticed that for some “on the Internet” is meant as some sort of sinister intensifier. Like this:

1. Bob Johnson is accused of torturing dogs and taking pictures.

2. Bob Johnson is accused of torturing dogs and taking pictures ON THE INTERNET.

The second one sounds worse; it makes you think of the Temple of Doom in the Indiana Jones movie, a dark fetid cave with people bowing to some mad leering priest showing them unspeakable acts.

Ideologues accusing public officials of the worst things imaginable. 

Mind you, this is Bill O’Reilly talking.

And creeps gossiping about celebrities in the crudest of ways.

Oh, get a grip. And give me a call; I’ll send you some back issues of Confidential from the 50s, or other sleazy gossip rags. ADAM CLAYTON POWELL JR.’S HARLEM SEX NEST and so forth, on newsstands in bus stations across the land.

The Internet has become a sewer of slander and libel, an unpatrolled polluted waterway, where just about anything goes. 

And you, Mr. Man of the People, Mr. People of the Man, Mr. Street, Mr. Champion of the Little Guy, Mr. Giving-It-Straight, want the Internet to be patrolled? Note: on most unpatrolled polluted waterway, everything does not go. In such a place things are dumped over the side, and after a moment bobbing unnoticed on the surface, they sink to the bottom.

For example, the guy who raped and murdered a 10-year old in Massachusetts says he got the idea from the NAMBLA Web site that he accessed from the Boston public library. 

Ergo, we should shut down Massachusetts. Or Boston. Or the library. No? Just the internet? Probably so. I live in fear of the day I visit a website that gives me the idea to abuse and kill a child; I’d be powerless to resist such a command, because I saw it ON THE INTERNET.

And hey, don’t forget that Factor website.

Back to work - column night - more tomorrow.

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