Is there a cure for Oprah Winfrey?

Alison D. wants to know:

As you seem to have very little patience for some aspects of the modern world I was wondering what are your thoughts on Oprah Winfrey? Personally I think finding a cure for her is one of the most important challenges of the 21st century.
I was going to write something about Oprah a while back, then I thought, oh, hell, it's only television, a self-inflicted evil, that's what the remote control is for. At the moment my attitude to the modern world is to ignore it completely and hope it goes away.

But there was a slothful period a year or so back when I would find myself lying in bed of an afternoon waiting for the films and Aussie soaps to come on and inadvertantly find myself staring at Mrs. Wingnut's show, open-mouthed with disbelief. I remember one show where she was expounding her belief that if you are grateful for what you have, the universe will reward you by giving you more. And that conversely if you are unhappy and complain about your lot, you will be punished by cosmic forces. And to demonstrate this she had some woman in the audience stand up and go, 'Yes, that's true, I was never grateful for what I had, I used to whine and moan, and I was punished for it because my son died.' And Oprah was nodding like, yeah, see, that's what happens. Now I hate an ingrate as much as anyone, but that's taking it too far.

(It puts a new slant on 'Saving Private Ryan.' 'This woman has had four of her sons killed in the war. She must have been one ungrateful bitch. We want you to find her one remaining son, and shoot him, give her something to really whine about.')

Far worse than that kind of nuttiness, though, is when she's in Safety-Nazi mode. Like once she was in someone's back garden telling them to put a wire mesh over their bloody two-foot koi pond in case the neighbours' children broke in and tried to drown themselves in it like lemmings. The best one I remember was the time she had a drive on to persuade college football teams to buy defibrillators in case one of the players had a heart attack. (Is defibrillators the right word? Those things that give you an electric jolt to re-start your heart, like on ER when they go 'Clear!') And they had a college American football coach on who'd raised money for twenty-two defibrillators - TWENTY-TWO of the buggers - that they lugged to each and every game, home and away. 22! All right, one, fair enough, just to be on the safe side, if you happen to care about keeping jocks alive. And I suppose, you know, if you wanted to be a worry-wart, you could have a spare one, in case two players collided and both their hearts stopped. But TWENTY-TWO?! What are the chances of every player in both teams simultaneously smashing into each other and keeling over in some terrible jock apocalypse?

'Argh! My heart! I'm dying!'

'I'm dying too!'

'Todd! Chad! No!...oh, no, me too...Urk!'

'Tommy! Speak to me...Argh! Now I'm dying!'

'Jesus God! What is happening on the pitch? Every single player is in cardiac arrest! I've been commentating for twenty years...I was in 'Nam...but I've never seen anything like this...this is a holocaust...the horror, the horror...oh, no, now I'm having a heart attack too...eek...'

'This is the relief commentator speaking. I, too, am about to expire from a coronary...and both coaches have flatlined too, and half the spectators are having heart attacks as well...Our senseless deaths could have been prevented if only there were 186 defibrillators at every football game. Oh no! Now the main grandstand has been struck by lightning! Oh, how the fates conspire against us! THERE IS NO GOD! The crowd has been struck by lightning, and all those who had not already succumbed to heart attacks are now in cardiac arrest. Of course, those who already were in cardiac arrest have had their hearts re-started by the electricity. Unfortunately, they have been clinically dead so long that their souls have departed, to be replaced by dark powers from the other side, and they are now flesh-eating zombies. Jesus God! They've just eaten the hot-dog man. This is a scene from Dante...the screams of the dying mingle with the unearthly mumbling of the undead...This should have been foreseen! There's a lawsuit here.'

Anyway, in answer to your question, the capital of Peru is 'Lima'.

November 2002

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