Monday, November 07, 2005

Maher pulls no punches in valley visit 

Celebrity Autographs And Celebrity Addresses

PALM SPRINGS - President Bush's approval rating hit an all-time low in polls last week, with an indictment in his White House, a war languishing in Iraq and his first choice for the Supreme Court withdrawing in a hailstorm of criticism.

"Good," Bill Maher said.

The author, comedian, television host and thorn in the side of conservatives signed his new book, "New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer," at Peppertree Books in downtown Palm Springs on Saturday. A sold-out concert at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert was to follow.

Hundreds waited for a photo or handshake and a signed book from Maher.

Judy Graham of Palm Desert was in line three hours before the book-signing.

"He's so exceedingly intelligent, but he's gifted in being able to deliver his message in a comedic way," she said.

That's Maher's magic, said Chris Johnson, owner of Peppertree Books.

"He's able to be politically charged and also very funny," he said. "When he hits home with certain truths, if you're laughing, it's hard to get upset. The comedy aspect opens doors of discussion, and that isn't easy, particularly in the current political climate in this country."

Maher, host of the HBO series "Real Time with Bill Maher," had a question for the growing number of Americans dissatisfied with Bush's job performance - where you been?

"There's a saying about the Roman Empire - the amazing thing isn't that it fell; it's that it lasted so long," Maher said.

"It's the same thing with the Bush administration. It's not that they're having so many problems now; it's that it took so many people five years to catch on."

"Dittoes!" said Jim Benzie of Cathedral City as he got his book signed, spoofing a slogan used by callers to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh. That prompted a mock-outraged "Hey!" from Maher.

Book-signings aren't a chore, Maher said.

"I enjoy meeting my people; just not people in general," he said.

Some getting their book signed urged Maher to run for president. Won't happen, he said.

"When you tell it like it is, you can never run for president," he said.

Those who think Maher doesn't love his country because he's often critical of what its leaders do are guilty of "rank stupidity," he said.

"It's like Al Franken said: Conservatives love their country like a 4-year-old loves her Mommy - unconditionally; she can do no wrong.

"We love our country like two adults in a mature relationship. It's not perfect, but you work to make it better."

Celebrity Autographs And Celebrity Addresses 

H.I.M. to Sign Autographs in Toronto

Finnish band H.I.M. will meet fans at HMV (333 Yonge Street) in Toronto on Sunday, before playing in front of a sold-out audience at the Kool Haus later that night.

Making their first trip to Canada, the members of H.I.M. will sign copies of their latest album, "Dark Light." The band will arrive at the HMV location at 3 p.m. The first 300 fans in line will be given wristbands, guaranteeing them an autograph.

H.I.M. has sold millions of albums in Europe and Asia, but has yet to make a big impact in North America.

That could all change as the band makes its way to Canada. H.I.M. will play in Montreal the next night, on Monday, Nov. 14.

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