Here's the dirty little secret of writing a weekly column.
Sometimes you have to work at it.
Those weeks are never pleasant. It's like an actual job.
The worst part of writing a weekly column is thinking of an idea.
People ask me where I get my ideas. I tell them that I get some from reading and watching the news. Some I get from life experiences. And some I get from browsing through the Wikipedia Guide to Column Ideas.
But if you've lived a good life, and I'd like to think that I have, sometimes column ideas just fall in your lap.
For instance, Larry Flynt and Joe Francis dropped one in my lap this week, and I am ever so grateful.
Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine and head of the Hustler casino and merchandising empire, and Francis, who started the "Girls Gone Wild" video phenomenon, asked the federal government for a US$5 billion bailout on behalf of the nation's adult entertainment industry.
According to Flynt, the sale of DVD porn is down 22 percent, so he wants the government to use bailout money to help "rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America."
I didn't make this up. Perhaps Larry and Joe heard I needed a column idea, and came up with this scheme.
They might even be serious about a federal bailout, but I don't really care.
A columnist doesn't turn down a gift like this.
If Flynt and Francis get their bailout, then I have a few more industries that surely could use a federal bailout. Why stop with Wall Street, Detroit and the San Fernando Valley?
The movie popcorn industry: This is a revolt waiting to happen. How long can the public be expected to subsidize theaters because the studios are cheating them out of their fair share of the ticket revenues? That's the excuse the theaters give us for the exorbitant popcorn prices, and a charitable public has played along. But these are desperate times, and desperate times call for home-popped corn.
The fine arts industry: Very few people think of legitimate theater, classical music, dance and art as a single entity but we might as well lump them together as one industry because they're all going to die as one industry unless the federal government steps in and bails them out. Although you might support the arts by actually attending a performance or visiting a museum, the rest of you must acknowledge that the fine arts are as important to our culture as Britney Spears and P Diddy.
The "American Idol" industry: Oh, it might have one last hurrah this season, but it's clear to anyone with half a brain that this television program has seen its best days. I'm not sure what an infusion of federal money could do, but I believe "Idol" has served the public well and deserves a chance to revitalize itself and run another seven seasons. Perhaps they could use the money to find more talented performers or get professional help for Paula?
The celebutante industry: What has happened to Paris Hilton? Who is the public going to ridicule if these young, spoiled rich kids are not bailed out? And if the public has no rich kids to ridicule, how is the public going to feel better about itself? No one realized what a public service these celebutantes were providing until they were gone. With none of them around to mock, then people can no longer say that "money doesn't bring happiness."
The gambling industry: Specifically, I'm talking about Las Vegas. While it's true that Sin City turned its back on the foundation upon which it was created (cheap drinks, cheap hotel rooms and cheap table stakes) to try to impress the world with top chefs, exotic hotels and expensive Broadway shows, it needs a federal bailout to get back to its roots. We all have a stake in Las Vegas, whether we gamble or not. The city in the desert is a major tourist attraction. In fact, some foreign visitors probably think of Las Vegas when they think of the United States. Shouldn't we bail out the face of America?
The newspaper industry: Yes, I'm talking about a bailout to save my job. Does that come off as selfish? I don't mean for it to sound that way, but you've probably heard about our financial difficulties. It seems that some people, who shall remain nameless, have chosen to take their business elsewhere. That's fine. Hope you enjoy the funnies on Craigslist. But we've been around a long time. Some might say we are an American institution. Certainly, an American institution deserves a bailout. If they can bail out porn, they can bail out newspapers.