Wednesday, January 24

Shove That Crystal Ball Straight Up Your Chute.

Sylvia Browne.
An Open Letter To Sylvia Browne - By: The CDP.

Dear Sylvia,

Hello there. My name is the CDP. I want to talk to you about your job.

You know, Sylvia, people don't believe in you because they think you have a gift. They believe in you because they want to think you have a gift. They may not know this, but it's true.

Your gift gives them hope for the future. It allows them to think they'll see deceased loved ones again. It allows them to think they'll find their missing car keys. You are in the business of selling hope, which is always a hot commodity. Who doesn't want something to believe in? Who doesn't want to know there's something else beyond their homemaker status, dumbass husband and filthy children? (Most of your fans are women, because men are less apt to put blind faith into something that isn't a football team.)

Personally, I believe in a lot of things. I believe in logic, knowledge and understanding. Don't get me wrong, I have my faith and spirituality, but I'm fairly certain that the God I know wouldn't bestow such a phenomenal gift upon a 14 pack-a-day smoker with 4-inch fingernails. He's got a sense of humor and all, but there's no way that he'd feel good about his decisions after watching you and your cement-mixer voice on Montel for a few minutes.

That all being said, people take pleasure in your words because it gives them something that they cannot get without you.

Well, sort of.

I mean, I could stand on stage and do the same exact thing that you do for an hour or two, and end up with a similar percentage of accuracy. Why? Because I'm good at psychology, magic and perception, and I can read people just as good as you can. There's no doubt in my mind that with the right marketing and Minor key theme music, I could have a whole slew of followers hanging on my every word.

We don't need to tell them it's a trick; they're not going to listen to logic anyways. Believe me, I've tried. People that believe in your gift are a stubborn lot, and for good reason. After all the money, all the hope and all the faith these people have put into you, it would be pretty disheartening to find out that you're a fraud. That's why your followers ignore your glaring examples of fault. Even a broken clock is right two times a day, and that's all people need to cling to you like a dryer sheet to a down comforter.

Damn. Sylvia, your followers are more loyal than Cubs fans.

Here's one thing I just don't get, though. You also take a lot of pleasure in destroying lives. Never mind all of the money you've taken from losers, spiritualists and the terminally ill. You also seem to get a kick out of telling mothers that their missing children are dead, regardless of if this is the truth or not. I don't know what kind of enjoyment you can take out of watching someone crumple in a heap, but you're the psychic, not me.

You've blown a lot of calls, though. A whole lot. Way more than you've been correct. If you're rattling off the names of spirit guides to a room full of nodding heads, it's impossible to disprove your findings. Good work; you can't be wrong if nobody can prove that you're right. However, there have been a few times where you've told someone that their kid was dead, only to have them pop up the next week, alive and well. It's a great ending to the story, and no doubt, the family will let you off the hook for speculating that their son or daughter was a corpse.

It pains me to see the look in someone's face when they realize that you're nothing. To watch the years of loyalty and faith melt off of their faces is a great awakening, but it comes at a depressing and somber price. Just yesterday, I watched a clip of a woman asking you if they would ever find the remains of her husband. You told her that he drown in the ocean, so no, they would never find him. She then informed you that he was a firefighter that died during 9-11. In an effort to save face, you told her that she was wrong.

Just before she sat back down, I saw the look in her eyes. The look that people get when they realize they have been duped. The look that people get when they realize that they have sacrificed their intelligence, credibility and emotional worth in exchange for false hope and faith. I'm sure you've never felt that, but it's a bad feeling, I can assure you.

I'm not going to get into exactly why you're a fraud, because most decent and intelligent people have already figured that out by now. You're intuitive, you read a lot and keep abreast of current events. Cold reads and educated guesses are all you need to write a book, as John Edwards and many others have figured out. It's a pretty sweet gig being a medium; but I guess you already know that.

Every year, me and my wife stay at a bed & breakfast that's owned by a self-proclaimed psychic, and I've had three readings with her in the past three years. I enjoy these readings because the psychic in question is an incredibly intuitive and deep human being. For the most part, we talk about things in our lives and what we can do to better them for ourselves. Anything that she brings up concerning 'the future' is always taken with a grain of salt, and considered more of a suggestion than a fact. She makes certain that we know that, as human beings are capable of changing their lives any way they please.

Does this make her a fraud? Absolutely not. People pay her money for therapy, entertainment and guidance, NOT because they should shape their lives around her words and accept them as the gospel truth. Even she dislikes you, because ripping off the gullible isn't her motive. She's in the market of getting people to see that we can all be as happy as we choose to be, and I like that.

You know, in a strange and perverse way, I very much envy you. There are many days when I wish that I was cold and ruthless enough to take advantage of the stupid, faithful and grieving. There's always money to be made at the hands of disaster and folly, and it's all there for the taking; provided you have the unmitigated gall and lack of conscience required to snatch it all up. Yes, you most certainly have a gift that's shared by very few people, but it ain't predicting the future.

It's almost not your fault. As long as there are people more than willing to give you money in exchange for hope, it would be silly of you not to take it. Hucksters have been around since biblical times, and they will be here until the end of the world. Preachers, faith healers, pyramid schemers, psychics, sideshow barkers, tonic salesmen and magicians make the world go round. I'm sure the money is great, but how can you sleep at night knowing what your job is? I can barely sleep as is, and I grade tests for a living.

In conclusion, I hope that your years of smoking give you a baseball-sized tumor right in the center of your chest. I also hope that it grows out in 9 different directions and you get the New Age doctor that doesn't believe in anesthesia.

Bet you didn't see that one coming.

There's a special place in hell for people like you,

How did she die?
(Watch Sylvia blow the call with grieving parents.)

Where did he die?
(Watch Sylvia blow the call big time with a 9/11 widow.)

Is he really dead?
(Watch Sylvia tell parents that their son is dead. He's not.)

Stop Sylvia Browne
(One of the better collections on the web.)

James Randi Foundation
(The greatest skeptic site in the world.)

Tuesday, January 23

Once More With Feeling.

Never let it be said that I'm not looking out for you.

Today, new albums have been released by Of Montreal and The Shins; arguably the two best Indie bands on the planet. They both have released videos for their respective debut singles, both of which share a 'school play' setting and are featured right here at the CDP.

The Of Montreal video was directed by The Brothers Chaps, the duo responsible for Please watch it before the Internet explodes, because it's the most surreal and wonderful thing you're going to see today.

Of Montreal
"Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse"
Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

The Shins' video is decidedly more somber and beautiful; a welcome introduction to this amazing group if there ever was one.

The Shins
"Phantom Limb"
Wincing The Night Away

I'm off to Best Buy. Sound off in the comments section and tell me that my tastes in music are horrible.

Monday, January 22

It's Not Unusual.

Me Sing Like Fool.

Karaoke + Tom Jones + The CDP = Goodness.

This was probably the last gathering that Ben & Sherry were to throw in Green Bay, as they will be packing up and heading to Madison (home of the CDP and anything good about Wisconsin) in about a month.

Me Sing And Dance Like Fool.

When it was my turn to sing, I delivered. What I lacked in any sort of musical talent, I more than made up for with devastating dance moves. Ben served as my 'hype-man.'

Franklin Sip Like Fool.

Franklin drank Sprite until he passed out. Cats are not supposed to drink carbonated beverages.

Sherry Sing Like Fool.

This all continued until about 4:30am on Saturday/Sunday. I was more than a little intoxicated, but not nearly as bad as Sherry, here. I think she peed her pants at one point.

Me Sing And Dance Like Fool Again.

American Idol Presents: Karaoke Revolution. Ask for it by name.

I fell asleep on Ben's floor from about 5am until 1pm on Sunday. Me and the Missus grabbed lunch, got back home to Madison at around 6:30pm, ate and went to bed. I'm currently sitting in my office with the lights off, trying very hard not to move. I think I burned more calories swinging the microphone around and screaming than I normally do during a 90 minute workout.

So, how did you spend your weekend? Sound off in the comments section, and enjoy your Monday.

(NOTE: This is the coolest thing I've seen in a long, long time. The Arcade Fire, who just sold out 5 shows in London, Montreal and New York in 2 minutes, played a secret show in a High School cafeteria, which was only open to students and guests.)