Beware the Modani Furniture Scam

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This table is probably sitting in some thieving douchebag’s living room right now.

Late last year I ordered several pieces of furniture from the Modani Furniture store on 3rd Avenue in Manhattan costing over $10,000, and had the load shipped to my house. Because I was not yet prepared to set all of it up, I had the shippers stack the many boxes in a side room. Although I ordered 14 items (three tables, eight chairs, a sectional sofa, a bed and a rug), the shippers arrived with 19 boxes as some of the items came disassembled in multiple boxes. The dining table, for instance came in three boxes for legs, top and glass surface.

After unloading their truck the shippers did a cursory inventory, pointing out some boxes against the wall that were obscured by other larger boxes. I signed off.

When the time came to set up the stuff, I learned that a coffee table I had ordered was not among the lot. Apparently I was duped into thinking one of the dining table boxes was the coffee table.

I appealed to Modani and got the expected form letter: you signed off on the order so go away. Rather disappointing given the amount I dropped with them, and my stated intention of purchasing additional pieces.

When I worked at a grocery store in my teenaged years I had to verify that loads brought into the store by deliverymen matched the invoice – and very often found them wanting. It might be a missing case of milk, a dozen bags of Doritos or a tray of hamburger buns. Never an amount that would draw instant attention – just enough to feed the deliveryman’s family for a week, or to trade with another driver who may have lifted a case of pop. When I called them out, they always acted perplexed. Sometimes they’d challenge my ability to count to 12, or try to fast-talk me with a double count, pointing out the whole milk, the butter, the cottage cheese, the skim milk, the eggs, and the whole milk again.

Ultimately, we’d go back to the truck and – amazing! – the missing inventory would be sitting there, half-hidden/half-in-the-open, no doubt for plausible deniability. “Oh, sorry, I must have missed that one,” came the usual lame reply.

The scam continues. Watch out for it. Even at supposedly upscale Manhattan establishments.

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The Least, to Say the Least

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Are you as smart as a first term president?

Trump underwent a physical exam this week where it was discovered that under that baggy suit and four foot long tie exists an obese blob consisting of 40 percent special sauce. No mention of the orange skin affliction, but overall, the examining doctor proclaimed Trump in excellent health. He went further to attest that Trump scored a perfect 30 on a cognitive test – a test that Trump requested so as to allay fears that he’s an addled fool.

Here is the test that Trump aced. Can you? (Note to Don, Jr. – do not attempt to shoot any of the animals on the page. They are not real.)

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The VSG Strikes Again

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Michael Wolff in his controversial new book “Fire and Fury” devotes a chapter to commenting on the rampant ineptitude of Trump’s skeleton-crew administration in the first few weeks following the inauguration. To make his point Wolff cites the hurried executive order banning travel to the U.S. by people from one of the so-called “countries of concern:” Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Not only did the rushed out order cause a shit storm of chaos, especially at the nation’s major airports, but it also quickly received blockage from federal judges. After the judicial beat-down, Trump’s crack staff massaged the order around the edges and reissued a new version a short time later – only to have it slapped down once more as a poorly disguised, and unconstitutional Muslim ban.

Naturally, Trump & team argued the order was devised strictly to protect Americans from harmful entities and in no way constituted a Muslim ban. To which the judge responded in essence: dude, you said it was a Muslim ban. Sure enough, the Trump campaign website specifically claimed “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Is that the kind of work you’d expect from a VSG – Very Stable Genius – like Trump? Pushing edgy doctrine while simultaneously undermining it with hackneyed comments and bald-faced lies?

The VSG showed his prowess early on when he fired FBI Director James Comey for the flatfooted and ill-advised announcements he made during the 2016 campaign. Then within days the VSG blithely admitted during a TV interview that he actually fired Comey because the Director was investigating Russia collusion – a statement that has only deepened the misery for Trump and his acolytes.

In his quest to Make America Choke Again, the VSG directed his Interior Department head Ryan Zinke to open virtually all United States coastal waters to oil and gas drilling. Merely days later heads spun to the news that Zinke had decided to exempt Florida where the VSG has a tony, ocean-front property and the governor there needs popular support in his political career quests. As expected, within hours of the flip-flop announcement almost every other governor of a state with a coastline demanded the same exemption Florida received, basing their arguments on the very capricious action directed by the VSG. The VSG struck again. Now it seems likely that the vast expansion of off-shore drilling will remain a wet dream for the extraction industry while lawsuits pile up in courts for decades.

And now, just the other day in face-to-face negotiations with Reps and Dems in Congress over plans to figure out immigration, the VSG opined that certain people from certain countries should receive lower priority when being considered for entry into the U.S. (if not kept out altogether.) Certain people, who as the VSG explained, hail from “shithole countries.” It was no doubt understood by those in the meeting that such “shithole” residents have a greater propensity than Norwegians to be smelly, ignorant, diseased, less-blonde, and consumers of weird foods.

Any hope for striking a good immigration deal for the country has likely been cast to the winds because the VSG just could not maintain a minimal sense of decorum.

What portends for 2018? Will a solution be hammered out for any of the myriad problems facing the country this year? Will North Korea behave itself? Can the stock market retain its upward trend? Could Trump play even more golf in 2018 than 2017?

Ask the VSG – then ask him again in five minutes.

Skidding the Friendly Skies

A Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737 skidded off the runway in Trabzon, Turkey, traveled over the edge of a cliff and stopped just short of plunging into the Black Sea. No doubt many of the 162 people aboard the plane needed time afterwards to change out of soiled underwear, but anyone reading the news story might wonder what all the fuss was about.

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Recounting the situation a Pegasus spokesman noted the 737 “had a runway excursion incident.” Sounds like something you might see at a fashion show.

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“Mudbound” – A Movie Based on a Novel that Did Not Write Itself

A pretty redhead took the barstool next to me at Gigi’s Trattoria located on a main thoroughfare of Rhinebeck, a tony escape village close to an Amtrak station affording seamless getaways for wealthy New Yorkers seeking bucolic environs. She sipped a cocktail. The year was 2006.

Something about her demeanor struck me as something akin to subdued elation. A little time passed before we became engaged in conversation. She introduced herself as Hillary Jordan, the author of a novel titled “Mudbound” which had just been published after winning the Bellwether Prize. The Bellwether was created by novelist Barbara Kingsolver to recognize an unpublished work of fiction that addresses issues of social justice.

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Hillary Jordan

Hillary gave me a spare yet tight plot summary of her debut novel that suggested she had been through the pitch dozens of times before – no doubt making the case for consideration to any number of literary agents and publishers. And she described the many trials and tribulations endured along the way: how the publisher made her excise hundreds of pages from the manuscript and directed her to rewrite sections wholesale. Hillary did take pride in maintaining control of at least one aspect: the name of the book. You see, the story takes place chiefly on a farm in the Mississippi delta right after World War II – a muddy plot of land that maintains a powerful grip on its occupants. To her, the word “mudbound” said it all. I don’t recall exactly what title the publisher preferred, but I’m sure it was unremarkable.

Sometime later I purchased a first edition copy at Oblong Books around the corner from Gigi’s. (I suspect Hillary was enjoying that cocktail following a satisfying meeting with the Oblong people about the details of her upcoming reading.) Hillary signed books at Oblong, read an excerpt from her novel, and answered questions. I posed one: would she write another book that continues the stories of the characters in “Mudbound.” After all, she had created memorable characters whose stories were not over when “Mudbound” concluded. Her body language indicated her relationship with the subject was largely over. “No,” she said, explaining that she had on the drawing board a completely different subject for her next book which would come out in 2011. Titled “When She Woke,” her second novel certainly was a departure from the first.

Ten years after that brief encounter at Gigi’s I read that “Mudbound” was going to be made into a Netflix movie – and yes, perhaps through Hillary’s persistence, the title of the story remained intact from book to film. “Mudbound” the movie has been nominated for several awards including a Golden Globe for best supporting actress, a SAG award for best ensemble cast, and a Writer Guild of America for best adapted screenplay.

In Friday’s edition of the New York Times, Netflix ran one of those “for your consideration” ads touting “Mudbound” as a candidate for best picture and best supporting actress. The ad also pushed the movie for consideration for best adapted screenplay by Dee Rees and Virgil Williams.

Nowhere in the full-page spread was there a mention of Hillary Jordan as the author of the novel on which the movie was based. And given that Netflix thinks the screenwriters are worthy of Oscars, it’s unseemly that the original writer would not merit a citation. But that often seems to be the lot of the writer whose sole contribution is merely the entire superstructure of the product on the screen.

Rolling Blunder

An elderly woman in a wheelchair tried to ride a descending escalator at Portland’s airport the other day with predictable results.

From the surveillance video it appears the woman hesitated for a second before concluding it was not worth the extra 30 seconds to seek out an elevator. Her family is suing Alaska Airlines which manages the concourse where the fatal tumble occurred. Many people might question how the family thinks they could prevail given that the recording shows no malfeasance or negligence on the part of the airline.

But forget that. The better question to ask would be, “How did someone so stupid manage to live so long?”

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Thanks Be to Trump

StTrumpThanks to Trump’s “very strict” approach to commercial aviation, no one died in a commercial plane crash in 2017. As is always the case with Trump’s boasts, it is unclear what he actually did to affect this particular outcome of a zero-death year in air travel – other than something “very strict.”

Nevertheless, for the miraculous results this past year we can all thank Lord Donald (and no one else, by the way, including those who worked for the several airlines that ply the unfriendly skies or the manufacturers who designed the vehicles that take flight thousands of times a day. And especially not someone who occupied a position of authority in the TSA, FAA, NTSB, FBI, ATF or CIA under Obama.)

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Some anti-Trump wags have excoriated the Orange Man for his juvenile braggadocio, taking credit for a positive result that he cluelessly stumbled upon like a meringue-coifed Forrest Gump. But consider these additional events that Trump positively affected but humbly decided to pass on taking credit for.

  • No asteroid struck the U.S. in 2017 thanks to Trump’s “very strict” approach to near-earth celestial bodies.
  • Russia didn’t annex Finland in 2017.
  • China went from a currency manipulator to a country that doesn’t manipulate its currency in 2017.
  • 2017 is a bigger and better prime number than 2011 when Obama was president.
  • No member of ISIS played on the PGA Tour in 2017.
  • NATO went from being obsolete to not being obsolete in 2017.
  • For the first time ever, America didn’t build a wall that Mexico didn’t pay for in 2017.
  • Other than Steven Paddock, no one gunned down 58 people to death in Las Vegas in 2017.

Marvin Shanks One

In a recent blog I cited the 25th anniversary of the publication of Cigar Aficianado magazine and remarked that “Editor’s Note” columns over the years tended to rant against perceived ill treatment of the rights of cigar smokers.

Sure enough in the latest January 2018 publication, editor Marvin Shanken has once again vented his sclerotic spleen against another cigar foe – this time it’s Apple. Apparently Cigar Aficiando staff developed an app called “Where to Smoke” that provides users info on the location of more than 2,600 shops and bars where one can enjoy a musty stogie without opprobrium. Alas, Apple refused to host the app on its platform because it violates their policy on apps that promote smoking.

Shanken argues that Apple is violating the first amendment, forgetting that Apple is not the government (yet), and that as a private communications platform – like Cigar Aficianado itself – is not obligated to publish anything that crosses its desk. Just like Shanken might refuse to publish a recruitment ad for NAMBLA in his magazine – maybe.

In any event, it’s pretty clear Shanken’s ire is driven chiefly by his wasted investment of a good chunk of money developing the app, only to have Apple ban it.

Note to Marvin: read Apple’s goddamn rules before you flush six figures down the shitter. Section 2.18 states “Apps that encourage excessive consumption of alcohol or illegal substances, or encourage minors to consume alcohol or smoke cigarettes, will be rejected.” You had to see it coming.

Lyrica Snake Oil

You can’t watch prime-time TV without being assaulted by ads for pharmaceutical products designed to cure or assuage ailments that no one ten years ago had ever heard of. One such drug is Lyrica which is supposed to help sufferers of fibromyalgia.

Quoting the ubiquitous ad, “fibromyalgia is thought to be the result of over-active nerves; Lyrica is believed to calm these nerves.”

Said another way, “We don’t know what the fuck is going on, we’re not sure if our drug does anything of value, but take it anyway – NOW!”

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“Not Qualified” is the New Qualification

PetersenTrump is lately having a hell of a time getting his nominees confirmed for important judicial assignments. Perhaps if his team nominated people who knew how to correctly spell “law” given three chances, he’d have better luck. The recent losers in the usually rubber-stamped Senate confirmation process include Brett Talley (never tried a case, lauded the KKK, failed to mention he’s married to the chief of staff for Trump’s White House counsel) and Jeffrey Mateer (responded to a transgender’s lawsuit by noting “it just shows you how Satan’s plan is working and the destruction that is going on.”) Other potential nominee losers include Damien Schiff who called Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy a “judicial prostitute,” and Thomas Farr who worked to suppress the black vote in North Carolina. Truly class acts.

(In Trump’s favor, the Senate did confirm Leonard Steven Grasz to serve on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals despite being rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association. Since 1988, no president has even nominated someone rated “not qualified” except George W. Bush and Trump.)

Perhaps the most egregious of Trump’s rogue’s gallery of nitwit nominees is Matthew Petersen, a commissioner with the useless, toothless Federal Election Commission. Petersen was nominated by Trump’s crack staff for a district court judgeship. You know, the kind of dude who sits in a bench wearing a black robe and running trials. Presumably Petersen believed the stamp that is rubber would press lightly upon him, providing him frictionless passage to a fancy promotion. Unfortunately for him, a Republican on the Judiciary Committee, John Kennedy who considers juris prudence something of import chose to challenge the “honorable” Matthew Petersen just a smidge. Here’s some of the painful back and forth.

KENNEDY: Mr. Petersen, have you ever tried a jury trial?
PETERSEN: I have not.
KENNEDY: Civil?
PETERSEN: No.
KENNEDY: Criminal?
PETERSEN: No.
KENNEDY: Bench?
PETERSEN: No.
KENNEDY: State or federal court?
PETERSEN: I have not.
KENNEDY: Have you ever tried a — taken a deposition by yourself?
PETERSEN: I believe not — no.
KENNEDY: Okay. Have you ever argued a motion in state court?
PETERSEN: I have not.
KENNEDY: Have you ever argued a motion in federal court?
PETERSEN: No.
KENNEDY: Well, as a trial judge, you’re obviously going to have witnesses. Can you tell me what the Daubert standard is?
PETERSEN: Sen. Kennedy, I don’t have that readily at my disposal but I would be happy to take a closer look at that. That is not something I’ve had to contend with.
KENNEDY: Do you know what a motion in limine is?
PETERSEN: I would probably not be able to give you a good definition right here at the table.
KENNEDY: Do you know what the Younger abstention doctrine is?
PETERSEN: I’ve heard of it, but I, again —
KENNEDY: How about the Pullman abstention doctrine?
PETERSEN: I — I —

Watch Petersen face the “murder board.”

By the way, the ABA had not rated Petersen “not qualified” – a position that is likely to change soon.

Unfortunately for viewers, video of Petersen’s testimony was cut short, but the transcript of the rest of Kennedy’s grilling was captured on tape.

KENNEDY: Who would you cite as someone that inspired you to pursue law?
PETERSEN: I liked Perry Mason until he had to use a wheelchair. Then I really got into law and such when I started watching Wapner. Big Fan. Judge Judy is another of my heroes – especially when she told that guy who stole his mother’s lawnmower that he’d be cutting grass in hell. Of course, that’s if grass could even grow in hell.
KENNEDY: Do you know what nolo contendere is?
PETERSEN: Fraid not.
KENNEDY: How about habeas corpus?
PETERSEN: Who?
KENNEDY: Do you know what subpoenas are?
PETERSEN: I believe that’s a smaller penis that grows below the main penis.
KENNEDY: If a prosecutor became strident with a witness, how would you handle it?
PETERSEN: YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!!
KENNEDY: Have you ever tried a capital case?
PETERSEN: No, but I’ve seen “My Cousin Vinnie” six times. Marissa Tomei is the best piece of ass.
KENNEDY: Pardon me?
PETERSEN: Sorry, only President-for-Life Trump can do that – I hope.

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Seven Words You Can’t Say at the CDC

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Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits.

Those are the seven words that could not be spoken on television as we learned in a skit by the late comedian George Carlin on his “Class Clown” opus – although he was riffing on censorship at a time when TV consisted of three networks broadcasting over public airwaves.

Now, what at first appeared to be a spoof by The Onion or SNL has been reliably reported as fact: the Centers for Disease Control has actually articulated their own set of seven taboo words that cannot be used by their employees in reports, websites and other communications. The offending list: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based and science-based.

That the CDC would do such a thing – and reveal exactly seven words, thus inviting scornful comparison to Carlin’s rant – proves their bureaucratic handlers suffer from some form of brain-eating parasite that remains undiscovered due to budget cuts at the agency.

The CDC offered no approved alternatives for the words except for “evidence-based and science-based “ which should be replace with the Orwellian phrase “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” Presumably in a community that believes dunking can identify who among them is a witch, the CDC will develop recommendations on proper dunking methods and offer remedies for controlling the disease of witchcraft.

It’s sad to watch the rapid decimation of the country’s once-admired science departments like CDC, EPA and DOE as they go down the shitter because ignorant political hacks and ideologues intrude where they don’t belong. Clearly dispatching “vulnerable, entitlement, diversity and transgender” from the lexicon is pure politics – the kind that encourages divisive tribalism and seeks to mollify the angst of tribe members who fear and loathe the unfortunate (“vulnerable”), the poor (“entitlement”), non-whites (“diversity”) and anyone who can’t be slotted solidly into the heterosexual camp (“transgender”).

As for “fetus”? I always hated that word myself. Sounds like something from another planet. Perhaps the CDC can recommend a replacement word, say “miniature-person-who-prefers-to-live-in-a-water-filled-sac.”

Time for a Remedial Class in Democracy

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Orrin “the Snatch” Hatch has been Utah’s senator since 1976 making him the longest serving Republican in U.S. history. The Snatch is also the current President pro tem of the Senate – the second highest ranking official in the august body. All of which would make you expect Orrin to be well-versed in the workings of American democracy. One who clearly understands and defends the fundamental separation of powers which places the executive, legislative and judicial branches on equal footings.

The other day when asked to comment on another of Trump’s oddball tweets, Orrin Snatch came to his Orangeness’s defense: “I’ll say this for you. He’s been one of the best presidents I’ve served under.”

“Served under?” Does Orrin see himself as Richard Rich to Trump’s corpulent Henry VIII – a venal supplicant who will do his master’s bidding at the urging of a heavy axe?

C’mon, Orrin. We all know there’s something strange in the water in Utah, but can’t you at least pretend to be a worthy of the title of President pro tem – whatever that is.

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Tax Tautologies

ryantaxBoth houses of Congress have voted to approve their respective Republican-led tax bills and now move to reconcile the differences in committee before defecating the final result onto Trump’s desk where he waits to sign anything that makes him look like he’s accomplished something. Factions on all sides have opinions on the soon-to-be-law ranging from it being the seed of greatest economic boom since Ramses III to a deficit-exploding give-a-way to no one but corporations and rich bastards. TV’s talking heads and radio’s blithering bloviators seek to lure feeble minded Americans to their points of view. But none of their shit an’ shinola means anything when you consider that taxation in America follows a well-worn trench of tautologies. To wit:

  • Tax cuts don’t pay for themselves.
  • Deficits and national debt don’t matter to Republicans unless a Democrat is president.
  • There is no tax policy so onerous that can’t be fixed with a special interest gift to a member of Congress.
  • Companies that get a tax cut will not use their increased net profits to reward their employees with raises.
  • In an equal and opposite reaction, federal tax cuts will be offset by state and local tax increases.
  • Tax policy follows the Pareto Rule on steroids: 95 percent of the benefits go to the top 5 percent.
  • Companies that bring back overseas profits during a low tax amnesty will not spend the money in creating new jobs or expanding investment, opting to buy back shares and paying dividends to their executives.
  • The number of small businesses and family farmers that pay the inheritance tax is about the same as the number of unicorns in Central Park.
  • For every tax loophole removed two more are created.

See how easy it is to understand “tax reform” when you realize all the important things are just a foregone conclusion?

Assholes of the Week

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In a toss-up for this ignominious accolade, Senators Orrin “the Snatch” Hatch and Charles Grassley have come out tied for asshole of the week by virtue of their head-shaking observations about the recent abortion known as “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”

When Snatch was asked why Republicans were about to pass tax cuts worth a trillion dollars for corporations and business owners while the Children’s Health Insurance Program remains unextended, the Senator from Utah explained: “The reason CHIP’s having trouble is we don’t have any money anymore.” Amazing. Snatch’s hands are tied in funding a vital program that helps deliver health care to kids from poor families due to a lack of money …. because he gave it all away to those far more deserving, like Exxon Mobil and Apple. Now that’s true asshole-dom.

But Chuck “the Fuck” Grassley was right there with Snatch – breathing down his neck vying for the Asshole of the Week award. Opining on the wisdom of eliminating the Inheritance – opps, I mean Death Tax, Grassley noted that wealthy people who make money from money deserve a break over the shlubs who opt to spend it. “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing … as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.” In other words, a guy who bought stocks and bonds in 1969 and sat on his hoard until he croaked should be rewarded with a tax-free transfer of his stash to an heir, but his neighbor who went to the Cineplex with a bottle of Ripple and a wench on his arm to watch “Hangover 3” should be punished – even beyond the pain of sitting through that pile-of-shit movie.

Coming from Iowa, Grassley could contend for both asshole and cornhole of the week.

Double Standard?

In a recent TV ad for Optimum Internet, soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo gets locked out of his hotel room, stranded in the hallway wearing just a pair of black briefs. A sexy hotel maid comes to the rescue, but not before taking a picture of the hottie forward and posting it onto social media. Thanks to the speed and reliability of Optimum Internet the photo rapidly goes viral among hundreds of ogling women who can barely stifle orgasm at the sight of Ronaldo’s chiseled bod. Quickly, the surreptitious photo makes it on national news. In the end, Ronaldo, back in his hotel room chuckles upon seeing his nearly naked body broadcast on live TV.

Now, imagine the ad with a sexy model in skimpy panties and bra. And a bellboy spreading a spycam shot of her to a thousand sweaty dudes. Then picture the head of the managing director of Optimum’s ad agency resting on a platter.

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Table Read: Double Blind Test


Watch a table read of a scene from Herb Schultz’s screenplay “Double Blind Test.”

The Thriller/Suspense Film and Writing Festival recently recognized “Double Blind Test” as having one of the best loglines and scenes among the many screenplays submitted for review.

Best Scene - Double Blind Test by Herb Schultz

The festival organizers assembled a group of actors to table read a scene in which the protagonist Tracy finally confronts the man who conned her out of a million dollars in an elaborate scheme involving his phantom twin brother. After you watch the table read, indulge yourself in the complete script available here.

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Logline: After a professional mediator is conned by identical twin businessmen who sought her help to resolve a dispute, she meets another woman in a suspiciously similar circumstance, and the two team up to take down the con artists.

CAST LIST:

NARRATION: Julie C. Sheppard
Marilyn – Katelyn Vanier
Calvin/Fletcher – Trevor Marlatt
Tracy – Vanessa Quagliara

Get to know the writer:

1. What is your screenplay about?

An independent, driven woman who mediates corporate disputes for a living is taken in a complex confidence scheme by a pair of identical twins. The twins portray themselves to the mediator as having a dispute between themselves over the future of an experimental drug they are developing to cure a rare disease – one that happens to afflict her father. Drawn in, she accepts the challenge to mediate the dispute in order to advance research on the drug. After the con, the mediator makes it her mission to find the perpetrators and exact some form of punishment. In her pursuit of leads she encounters another woman in a suspiciously similar situation. Once the other woman is convinced she’s vulnerable to an epic scam, the two team up to take down the bad guys.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

The con game. The revenge story. A twisty, noir tale of crime and punishment.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

First, the screenplay is intelligent and twisty, and reminiscent of movies that were once the mainstay of Hollywood during a period when people flocked to the theater. “Double Blind Test” could be the kind of movie that might help generate the resurgence of the 45+ demographic – as well as condition younger audiences to demand something more than fart jokes and exploding metal objects. It could serve as an antidote to the ever-expanding and tedious offering of leaden apocalyptic movies, comic book adaptations and stupid buddy comedies. Second, I can see the movie as a vehicle for one or more mid-career stars who have had trouble landing serious parts. Third, the screenplay ends with a fork in the road. If the movie were successful, a second movie could follow the thread. Perhaps the main character could become an enduring role.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Lex Talionis

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

Probably “Casablanca.” Or possibly “The Godfather.” If you consider the whole “Godfather” series as a unified movie, then that would most likely be the answer.

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I started working on “Double Blind Test” in 2011 shortly after the publication of my novel of the same name. As a script never seems to be done, I have been working on it for 6 years, but it was mostly written over the course of a year.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written three novels – “RonnieandLennie” about the lives of conjoined twins who become suddenly separated; “Architect’s Rendition” about a man who orchestrates an elaborate murder plot that includes the mutual killing of the murderers; and “Double Blind Test” – and a collection of short stories titled “Sometimes the Sun Doesn’t Shine There.” I’ve also written three scripts in addition to the screenplay for “Double Blind Test.”

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the
most times in your life?)

Favorite or not, I’ve definitely listened to Todd Rundgren’s “Hello it’s Me” more than any other song (even more than “Happy Birthday.”)

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

The story takes place in the current time when every movement is captured on video, every transaction is monitored, and even the most elusive forensic evidence cannot hide from scrutiny. So the development of the screenplay required careful construction so as not to rely on an action that would quickly lead to an unraveling of the plot. Unlike movies of the 1940s before cell phones, close-circuit TVs, credit cards, DNA evidence and the like, modern crime stories struggle to make a convincing case that the what the characters do is believable.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Reading, watching movies, swimming and biking, traveling, driving sports cars, architecture, technology.

***

Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

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Is Frottage a Family Value?

shorteyI used to enjoy the jolt of schadefreude that came with the inevitable next case of a bible-thumping, evangelical-type family-values pimp ignominiously revealed to be a randy hypocrite living exactly the lascivious life for which he would thoroughly and publicly condemn his lessers – especially those god-denying liberals residing in forlorn towns such as Sodom, NY and Gomorrah, CA.

Who wouldn’t take guilty pleasure in the foibles of such holier-than-thou cretins as David Vitter (prostitutes), Mark Sanford (adultery), Dennis Hastert (pedophilia) and Larry Craig (gay solicitation). It’s just too rich. [Note I didn’t cite Anthony Weiner and Bill Clinton because they never posed as holier-than-thou – and although they misbehaved, at least they didn’t have “hypocrite” on their resumes.]

But now, it seems the magic has worn off. We at Major Terata have simply tired of the relentless outing of right-wing scolds who harbor salacious skeletons in their over-stuffed closets. What was once a thrill has become sadly routine. No longer surprising. In fact, we’ve come to expect it. The vehement ire these sanctimonious nags have against gays and their lifestyles is directly proportional to their propensity to puff peter. It’s so predictable now that the shock and its commensurate charm have worn off.

Roy Moore has gobbled all the attention, but just under the radar a steady stream flows of hypocrites calling for the demolition of gay rights and the imposition of their narrow view of family values

Take for example 33 year old Wesley Goodman, an Ohio lawmaker who is staunchly against gay marriage and stands proudly for “the ideals of a loving father and mother” and “committed natural marriage.” We now know holier-than-thou Wesley also digs consensual sex with men of his gender.

And then it was reported the other day that former Oklahoma State Senator Ralph Shortey will plead guilty to charges related to his sexual encounter with a 17 year old boy in a room at the dazzling and chic Super 8 Motel. Shortey (coincidentally the nickname he gave his member) rose fast in state Republican politics, and with the help of the Baptist community funded an underdog campaign to win a seat in 2010. He’s pro-family and anti-abortion natch, and was instrumental in introducing a bill to ban food made with aborted fetuses. And here I thought it was OK to include fetus parts as long as they listed it among the ingredients.

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If Shortey gets his way, you’ll no longer be able to enjoy this staple of holiday meals

Just as the NRA and other special interests assign scores to politicians based on their fealty to the cause, someone should rate the same pols on their likelihood to tumble into scandal. Perhaps a consortium including Kik, Tinder, Grindr, Snapchat, Tango, Craigslist and WhatsApp can take up the challenge – given they hold all the salacious evidence in their mighty cloud.

Never Knew That

Shrapnel
Who invented this 18th century WMD?

I was working a New York Times crossword the other day and met up with this clue: “Henry ______ who invented the exploding shell.” I had no idea, but the beauty of crosswords is that you can solve unknown clues by filling in words running the opposite direction. Eventually I completed the puzzle – and in doing so learned something new. See below for Henry’s last name.

Trump’s Drinking Problem

In a Larry King interview in 2006 with Donald Trump the subject of the newly-launched Trump Vodka came up. Trump has touted it as the greatest vodka of all time – better than all the other top-shelf brands, predicting, “by the summer of 06, I fully expect the most called for cocktail in America to be the T&T or the Trump and Tonic.” I don’t think that ever happened – and today, when the name Trump is mentioned, it’s more likely people will think T&A.

Getting back to the King interview on CNN, sclerotic Larry asked, “How do you know how good it is?” And Trump, who doesn’t drink alcohol, replied, “I have been told that it’s a fantastic vodka.” Now that’s a tell: Trump extolling the virtues of something for which he personally knew nothing about. That would become one of his hallmark traits as president – spouting off boastfully about his unique insight on trade deals, health care, diplomacy, economics and much more, only to retreat with a variation of “no one knew how complicated it is.”

Trump doesn’t imbibe alcohol because he witnessed the sad decline and ultimate death of his older brother due to alcoholism. Nevertheless, Trump clearly has a drinking problem as you can see.

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Read here for more about Henry Shrapnel.

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Could Bannon Be That Smart?

bannonThe worrisome tale of Roy Moore’s alleged fondling and harassing of teenage girls (at least one who was only 14) when he was a 30-something prosecutor in Alabama raises questions about the brilliance of his chief benefactor, Steve Bannon.

After Alabama Senator and early Trump sycophant Jeff Sessions was relieved of duty to become the embattled Attorney General in Trump’s ass menagerie he calls an administration, his empty seat was filled by the appointment of the aptly named Luther Strange. Strange got to be Bama’s temporary junior senator filling Sessions’s seat until after a special election that will be held on December 12. Instead of coasting to victory as you would normally expect (after all, no way would the Democrat candidate, Doug Jones prevail in a blood-red state like Alabama), Strange got primaried by the bible-thumping Judge Roy Moore who was twice booted off the bench for fancying himself above the law.

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Moore in his Woody costume from “Toy Story”

Strange was supported by the so-called Republican Establishment led by Mitch “the Turtle” McConnell who directed hefty sums into Luther’s wobbly campaign. Bannon and his alt-right acolytes pushed hard for Moore – and simultaneously used the primary as a cudgel to beat up on McConnell and his errant establishment ways.

Trump was clearly conflicted. I’m sure his gut told him to follow Bannon’s lead and support Moore, but those around the Orange Man – sensing Moore too loose a cannon – talked him into backing Strange. Of course, Strange lost – as Bannon (the Oracle of Breitbart) predicted – and Moore became the Republican candidate. And true to form, never-wrong Trump essentially tweeted “Luther who?”

Shortly after Moore’s victory, five grown women came forward to accuse the creepy Judge of crossing the line when they were less than half his age.

Moore’s denials have been tepid at best, and now the tide in the Establishment has turned against him, with several top Senators calling for him to drop out – which ain’t gonna happen.

You might think that the Republicans are afraid Moore will lose to Jones, thus shrinking their lead in the Senate to just a single vote – but in reality, they more correctly fear he’ll win. There’s no doubt in my mind that the sloped-foreheads in Alabama will vote for any Republican no matter how heinous over a Democrat no matter how heavenly. These voters, had they lived in Jerusalem in 30 AD would have called on Pontius Pilate to free Barabas and Barabas’s evil twin over Jesus Christ.

Luther Strange can try a write-in campaign, but the Alabamans have already spoken. And to turn on Moore at this point would be tantamount to them knuckling under to the pressure of “elite” outsiders – something they could never countenance.

So, Moore wins. What then? The Republican Establishment – again flailing like amateurs against Bannon the chess-master – is suggesting they will refuse to seat Moore. Or maybe they’ll seat him, but immediately expel him. Maybe they think the Governor of Alabama would then appoint Sessions back into the seat he probably wishes he’d never given up.

But could Bannon be so smart as to have planned this whole thing to turn out exactly as it has? Once the Establishment Senators kick off their crusade to deny Moore, the right wing that aligns more closely with Bannon than with the old Turtle will demand McConnell’s head on a platter. Just what Bannon wants. And other Senators who have excoriated Moore – Lindsey Graham, Pat Toomey, Orrin Snatch, Chuck Grassley, Thad Cochran – will be frog-marched behind McConnell for similar punishment the next time they come up for re-election.

By putting McConnell and crew in the unenviable position of denying the rightful winner of an election from their own party, Bannon has cornered the Establishment’s king. Checkmate is assured.

End note: #MeToo #Please!

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NY Votes on a Constitutional Convention

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Would this be a thing if New York had a better constitution?

New York State is known widely – and legitimately – as one of the worst run states in America. Taxes are among the highest in the nation. New York ranks number one in highest total tax burden at nearly 13 percent, and individual income tax burden. When it comes to education, the average per student expenditure across the country in 2015–16 fall enrollment was $11,787; New York spent $21,606 – 83 percent higher than the average. New York State teachers receive the highest average salaries in the nation. And for all this largesse how does New York rank against the other states in pre-K through 12 grade? Number 23. Tops in spending – middle of the pack in results.

You want to visit a state park, drive on a highway, cross a bridge, stay in a hotel – be ready to open your wallet. It now costs $15 to cross the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan. If you’re stupid enough to smoke, you’ll pay $4.35 a pack in taxes – highest in the nation. New York City bumps it another $1.50. Gasoline taxes are 42.6 cents a gallon – third highest in the country.

More than any other state New York is the capital of political corruption. In just the past few years New York has seen a rogues gallery of so-called leaders go to prison and/or resign in disgrace, including Assembly Speaker (Sheldon Silver), Senate Majority Leader (Dean Skelos), The Majority Leader before him (Joe Bruno), Governor (Elliot Spitzer), Congressmen (Anthony Wiener, Michael Grimm), Comptroller (Alan Hevesi), and many more.

Some might argue that poverty-stricken states like Alabama or Tennessee are worse places to live – but damn, at least the people there get what they pay for. Tennessee ranks number 48 in total tax burden, so it should be expected that quality of life may suffer. But New York? Given the table stakes, you’d expect a personal podiatrist to come to your house three times a week to polish your calluses.

Today, Election Day, New Yorkers have the opportunity to vote “yes” on authorizing a Constitutional Convention. Such an opportunity comes but once every 20 years – the last time the state convened a “Con Con” was in 1967. The purpose is to allow voters to consider the state of their state, and if they conclude things need some tweaking to stunt corruption or straighten out finances, they can order a review and subsequent amendment of the constitution.

As you probably suspect, the current constitution contains a lot of stuff that would be better off in legislation. And that the state’s current status as worst run in the U.S. is an artifact of the clunky constitution.

Yet, all signs point to the electorate voting against the rare opportunity to reform the state. Apparently many people worry that the convention will be a waste of money (can’t have that going on in our state!) Others are afraid that special interests enshrined in the constitution may get scrubbed out during a convention.

But to us at Major Terata, the idea that we’re not long overdue to convene a Con Con is flat out stone cold stupid.

It’s like a terminally ill patient with three months to live refusing an experimental cure because it might make him worse.

Can’t Think of a Better Reason

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He also can’t remember where he hid the Easter eggs.

In 1985, Vernon Madison killed a man in Alabama and was sentenced to death (yes, Vernon is still alive 32 years later.) Now that the day of reckoning is closing in on Vernon, The New York Times reports that his lawyers are asking the court to stay the execution because their client can’t remember doing the crime.

After being booted about in lower courts, the Supreme Court decided against Vernon Madison, allowing the execution to proceed.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer described Mr. Madison’s current condition: “He is legally blind. His speech is slurred. He cannot walk independently. He is incontinent.”

Shit, Steve-o – you just made the best case for putting Ole Vernon down.

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Donna Brazile Serves Cheese with Grease

brazileI rarely read post-mortem books about political campaign intrigue written by minor players. They tend to be incidental, lack durability, tend toward the mundane, and usually include a flacid “bombshell” to attract the gullible partisan. Two weeks after hitting the bookstores, any remaining unsold material will be consigned to the remainder bins – or sent to the factory for pulping. (Sidebar: I did read Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened” and Katy Tur’s “Unbelievable” and found both to be interesting and enjoyable.)

Democratic operative Donna Brazile’s new book is out: “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.” Presumably we are supposed to believe that Brazile was a campaign insider and that the campaign staff that helped Clinton amass 3 million more votes than Trump were a bunch of hacks.

One hundred actual Clinton campaign staffers signed a letter in response to Brazile’s tome calling her out, saying “we do not recognize the campaign she portrays in the book.” They also take a swipe at Donna, stating in frustration at the end, “we are pretty tired of people who were not part of our campaign telling the world what it was like to be on the inside of our campaign and how we felt about it.” Ouch.

New reports say Brazile claims in the book that she was considering making a move to dump Hillary and VP candidate Tim Kaine from the slate and replace them with someone better – presumably in direct defiance of the millions of primary voters who had already cast ballots for her. Did she actually have such sweeping authority, and did she think for even a second that that would go down smoothly? Had she made such a bold move, I’m sure we’d see someone else publish a book titled “Whacked: The Inside Story of Donna Brazile’s Breakdown That Put Donald Trump in the White House.”

The big “bombshell” in “Hacks” is that through Hillary’s financial support of the Democratic National Committee she was able to tilt the rank and file her way. Brazile called this “unethical” if not “illegal.” I don’t know much about the inner workings of a national political committee, but I would assume that if you take the money, you are vulnerable. If Hillary giving contributions amounted to unethical behavior, what should accepting the money be called?

The weirdest reaction to the revelation that Hillary propped up the DNC and in return received favorable treatment came from the Bernie Sanders supporters who whined and moaned about how the game was rigged against their guy. Did they forget that Bernie is not a Democrat? It always seemed odd to me that a political party would even allow a non-member to seek nomination as their top candidate. Would the Republicans tolerate Michael Moore running for Governor of Michigan on their ticket?

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Note the lack of a “D” after Sanders’ name

If the dude wanted to run for president on the Democratic ticket and benefit from all the Democratic funding, support, logistics, polling and the like – then he should have joined the party.

On the Auction/Butcher Block

The Beatles’ eleventh American-released album was titled “Yesterday and Today,” a platter sandwiched between two of the greatest albums of all time: “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver.” It was a popular compilation album offering such classics as “Nowhere Man,” “Drive My Car,” “Day Tripper,” and “Yesterday.” Here’s the cover that 99+ percent of the fan base saw when the album hit the record stores in 1966.

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The original cover for “Yesterday and Today” however featured the Fab Four dressed in butcher smocks draped in pieces of meat and body parts from baby dolls. That photo was taken as part of an art project and was never intended to be an album cover – but Paul McCartney pushed for it, and so it was done. Capitol Records pressed about 750,000 copies but after receiving letters of nearly-unanimous revulsion they recalled the few copies that were distributed and pasted new covers over those that were still in the warehouse. Many were destroyed.

Naturally, those actions made the so-called “Butcher Cover” an instant collectible. Many people who bought the album with the alternate cover learned they could steam it off, but such instances are not highly valued by collectors. Only specimens that had not been sullied by the paste-job are truly valued – especially those still sealed in the original shrink wrap. Furthermore, for every stereo version of the Butcher Cover album that Capitol pressed, there were 10 mono versions – so a still-sealed stereo version of the Beatles’ “Yesterday and Today” with the Butcher Cover is among the most prized holy grails for record collectors. Last year one such example sold at auction for $125,000.

Now imagine the value of the rarer stereo version of an original Butcher Cover album containing original artwork by John Lennon and signed by McCartney and Ringo Starr.

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Heritage Auctions will be putting the so-called “rarest Beatle record in the world” on the block on November 11. Opening bid was $100,000 but that has already been surmounted on the Heritage website.

You have but six days to get your bid in. Start the paperwork on your second mortgage today!

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Oy Gevalt! Another Fakakta Promise Broken

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It helps to put on the tough guy face before lying through one’s teeth

During the election of 1992, Bill Clinton made a provocative promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – an ancient city under Israeli control that they considered its capital. It’s also considered the capital of a future Palestinian state, if such a thing ever materialized. Proving it’s easier to make a promise than it is to keep it, Clinton punted. In 1995, Congress responded by passing a law called the Jerusalem Embassy Act that called upon the president to make the physical move to the holy city. But knowing that the move could prove destabilizing they left an out for any president to waive the action every six months – something every president has done since, including Trump.

Trump was quite vocal on the campaign trail about the need to move the embassy – most certainly to suck up to the pro-Israel voting bloc. He made this a centerpiece of his limited foreign policy agenda, and used it to bolster his anti-Muslim bona fides.

Then when the semi-annual deadline for waiving the Jerusalem Embassy Act approached, Trump did what he does best: flipped his position and announced that the issue was more complex than anyone ever knew. So complex in fact that he assigned world-renowned diplomat and Middle East expert Jared Kushner to bring about peace to the region.

Expect Trump to quietly waive the law again this December – and every six months until he slouches out of office.

Cigar Aficianado Turns 25

Cigar Aficianado published its first issue in 1992. I remember picking up a copy and the clerk remarking that he never believed anyone would actually buy it. Too narrow a subject. Of course, the magazine majors on cigars, but like other life-style mags such as Wine Spectator and Modern Luxury, Cigar Aficianado prints light-weight pieces on wines and spirits, watches and sports cars, golf and tennis, horse racing and casino gambling, and a puffy interview with an athlete or movie star – the kinds of people cigar-smoking guys want to hang out with.

Marvin Shanken was and still is the editor and publisher, and it seemed that more than half his “Editor’s Note” columns ranted about the government’s overbearing control on the tobacco business. If he wasn’t railing about being prevented from lighting up a stogie in a restaurant, he was whining about not being able to buy Cuban cigars in America. Or how taxes were killing the business.

In any event, what could have been a very temporary run lasted 25 years – so congratulations Marvin Shanken.

By the way, this is what it looks like when you smoke three or four cigars a day for 25 years:

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Paul Newman’s Watch

In a September 5 blog I wrote about an upcoming auction of Paul Newman’s rare and unique Rolex timepiece lovingly inscribed by his wife, actress Joann Woodward. From the blog: “A rare Rolex Daytona watch given to Paul Newman by his actress wife Joann Woodward is set to go to auction on October 26. Auction house Phillips in New York whispered a target price of $10 million.”

I also predicted the watch would go for north of $15 mil.

The other day the watch went for a record $17.8 million.

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Weinstein Triggers an Avalanche of Sexual Harassment Charges

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Donald Trump was caught on tape bragging about forcibly kissing beautiful women and grabbing them by the pussy – something he could readily do because “when you’re a star they let you do it.” No one cared that much about it, and the bilious Trump was elected president. Bill Cosby has been accused by a multitude of women of sexually assaulting them – some after he slipped them a Quaalude-laced Mickey. The Cos went to trial and met a hung jury. No one seemed to care that much about the whole sordid affair. The Television Academy hasn’t asked for the return of Cosby’s Emmy awards. Fox TV cretins Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes were punished for their harassment by being forced to walk away with millions in severance compensation.

Then Harvey Weinstein appeared as the newest member of the sexual harassment rogues gallery and suddenly everything changed. Harvey was called out by dozens of Hollywood women – actresses, producers, and others – for misbehaving in the most juvenile and creepy ways. Three women accused him of rape. Despite all that, Harvey didn’t do anything that O’Reilly, Cosby and Trump didn’t also do – yet his story resonated more loudly than his predecessors. Maybe it’s because the accusers are famous (Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd), or that Weinstein is an ugly blob whose persona invites amplified opprobrium.

More likely, Harvey’s dalliances surfaced just when people had had enough of powerful mens’ bad behavior and he inadvertently became the 300 pound straw that broke the camel’s back.

In any event, post-Weinstein we’ve experienced an avalanche of new harassment revelations accompanied by stock apologies. (Sidebar: It’s almost becoming a sign of failure if a woman cannot reveal the name of a harasser.) Here’s just a few of the apologetic harassers who’ve been outed since the Weinstein debacle:

And then came the saddest new member of the sexual harassment rogues gallery: former President and wheel-chair bound nonagenarian George H. W. Bush who has had to apologize twice this week for playing grab-ass and telling rude jokes to Heather Lind and Jordana Grolnick, actresses who are a third his age. (It may also be the case that their ages are the same as George’s IQ at this point in his life.)

According to Grolnick who met Bush 41 and wife Barbara backstage after a performance of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the ex-Prez “reached his right hand around to my behind, and as we smiled for the photo he asked the group, ‘Do you want to know who my favorite magician is?’ As I felt his hand dig into my flesh, he said, ‘David Cop-a-Feel!’” At least George didn’t crack a joke about his favorite Bavarian masseuse, Heidi Salami.

Liberated by Weinstein’s shenanigans, thousands of harassed women will continue to come forward with tawdry tales dating back decades. I fully expect the estate of Rosemary Woods to reveal that Richard Nixon once tied her up with the 18 minutes worth of missing Watergate tape and forced her to French kiss his left nostril.

General Kelly’s Blarney

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According to the New York Times, “This past summer, the Trump administration debated lowering the annual cap on refugees admitted to the United States. Should it stay at 110,000, be cut to 50,000 or fall somewhere in between? John F. Kelly offered his opinion. If it were up to him, he said, the number would be between zero and one.”

It’s really too bad the number wasn’t between zero and one when Kelly’s ancestors immigrated to America from Ireland, because the last thing many people wanted at the time was another potato-eating, drunken Irish Catholic family to lay down roots here and, by taking orders from the Pope, crowd out real Americans with their multitude of ugly, slothful offspring. Right, General?

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An Empty Head Opines on an Empty Barrel

Are the assholes in the Trump administration ever going to conduct a modicum of due diligence before they plod along and once again spew out provably false assertions? These miscreants who bark “fake news” at anything that doesn’t comport to their skewed view of the world are in fact the biggest purveyors of all that is fake. And they are so inept that it takes but mere minutes for anyone with an internet connection to refute their falsehoods.

C’mon, alternative facters – try harder!

And still, even when caught red-handed and flat-footed, the shills in the White House comms department brazenly proceed in support of the falsehoods, doubling down in the hopes that listeners’ heads will explode, thus halting inconvenient inquiry. Presumably, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her ilk check their souls at the door when they punch the clock.

John Kelly, head of the Department of Homeland Security for 6 whole months before coming to Trump’s aid following the White House staff purge that swept away then Chief of Staff Reince Pubis, made an unusual appearance at a press briefing the other day to detail one of Trump’s condolence calls to the wife of a slain soldier.

He talked about honor and such stuff before railing on an unnamed “empty barrel” of a congresswoman for listening in on Trump’s condolence call to the wife of Sgt. La David Johnson who was killed in action in Niger – a tragedy that may be traceable back to Trump’s decision to bar travel from Chad, a one-time African nation partner in the war against terrorism that quit working with the U.S. following that executive order.

Kelly “recalled” some egotistical behavior on the part of the empty barrel – aka. Representative Frederica Wilson – in which said barrel got up in front of the audience at the 2015 dedication of a new FBI building to brag about bringing home some $20 million worth of bacon. He “recalled” how she took credit for twisting Obama’s arm for the money and then sat down. Kelly was “stunned” by Frederica the Empty Barrel’s “stunning” stunt.

Nevermind that Wilson wasn’t even in Congress when the funds for the building were appropriated (nice research, Kelly staff). Then the video (there’s always a video, Kelly staff) came out and guess what? What Kelly “recalled” about the Empty Barrel’s speech that day bore no resemblance to the facts revealed in the video tape.

In short, Kelly fabricated some shit which was easily and quickly proven to be fabricated shit. Why does the Trump clan continue to do this?

Presumably the price to pay for being within the Orbit of Orange is the devastation of your reputation for once being an honest human being. That doesn’t seem remotely close to a fair bargain – yet the sycophants continue to grovel for the jobs.

Such a sad state in which we live today.


Watch White House shill Sarah Huckabee Sanders squirm when confronted with the truth.

A Deficit of Deficit Tweets

Barely a month into his presidency, Trump was taking credit for some good news. It was February 25th and the Orange Man tweeted this missive:

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Then on October 20, the Treasury Department issued some news that Trump seemed less eager to take credit for.

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According to the NewYork Times, “The United States has recorded its largest annual budget deficit in four years, highlighting the nation’s worsening fiscal trajectory as lawmakers consider a $1.5 trillion tax cut. A Treasury Department report released on Friday showed that the budget deficit for fiscal 2017 grew by $80 billion, to $666 billion, as federal spending eclipsed revenues and economic growth remained tepid. The deficit also edged higher as a share of the economy, rising to 3.5 percent of gross domestic product from 3.2 percent last year.”

Although the news was troubling, you might still see Trump spin it into more evidence of how he’s beating Obama: “Best deficit EVER!”

35 Years in the Coal Mine for a Sofa and End Table

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Intellectual giants like Sarah Palin once derided Obama for using a teleprompter – but at least the guy could read.

Addressing the audience at the recent Values Voter Summit, Trump delivered a speech from the teleprompter and waxed poetic about how mothers and fathers sacrifice every day for the “furniture” of their children.

Fake news, you say? Read the transcript at the official White House website.

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Hannity: Hypocrisy’s Hypocrite


Hannity dons the blinders and amps up the outrage.

Last week, Fox TV personality and Trump’s favorite gerbil Sean Hannity went on a rant accusing Democrats of liberal hypocrisy over their hesitation to condemn former Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein who has been accused of sexual misconduct by just about every Hollywood actress under the age of 80.

As with every item they broadcast, the segment was introduced as “a Fox News Alert!” as if a conservative core dump on the left qualified as breaking news.

Hannity used Weinstein’s transgressions as a bludgeon against all the usual lefty boogiemen – in particular, Hollywood “elite” – that conservatives love (and truly need) to bash regularly. He started out briefly recapping the story that had appeared in detail in the New Yorker, including the part where the NY Police Department had secret recordings from 2015 of Weinstein harassing a model. Hannity reports, “on this recording, Weinstein – you can hear him – admitting to groping her.” Someone admitting on tape to groping women? Sounds vaguely familiar.

Of course, when someone is in as much shit as Weinstein is, they hire a lawyer. Or as Hannity put it, Weinstein is “taking a page out of the Clinton playbook; he’s now hiring a top Hollywood lawyer.” Hiring a lawyer when you’re in legal trouble is adhering to a Clinton playbook?

It becomes clear at this point that Sean is going to segue from Weinstein and turn his ire against the usual targets: Democrats, liberals and Hollywood elite. He makes the point over and over that Weinstein is a huge Democratic donor, which would seem to be inconsequential to the allegations he faces – but Sean likes to deal in guilt by association. Nevertheless, Hannity uses a significant portion of his “Fox News Alert” to cite all the donations received by various democrats from Weinstein, and even manages to insert Shariah Law into the monologue three or four times. Naturally, Sean can’t wait to go on to the next section: rehashing Bill Clinton’s dalliances and bashing Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. Hannity reads her perfectly acceptable statement on the Weinstein scandal…

hillary statement

…Then takes her to task for it. He bitches her out for not making a timely condemnation, and when she finally does, he bitches her out.

Remember, the piece started off as an indictment of Weinstein but quickly morphed into an attack on the Clinton’s. Hannity posted this photo to make the case that Hillary and Weinstein were buddies.

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But what about this one? Are we to believe that a media whore like Trump wasn’t enthralled to be in Weinstein’s presence? I guess the Fox editors left this pic on the cutting room floor.

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Hannity tries to make a feeble case that Dems like the Clintons and the Obamas waited too long (5 days from the point that the New Yorker first published the story) to condemn Weinstein publicly because they took so much money from him.

Then in an odd attempt to grab the righteous high ground, Hannity contrasts the “despicable” liberals for dragging their feet with the high moral stand conservatives have taken in supporting women – by trashing Shariah law. How Shariah law and Harvey Weinstein’s behavior align is a question best left for cryptographers.

Look, it’s as plain as the smug on his face. Partisan hack and shameless Trump cheerleader Sean Hannity doesn’t give a shit about the sexual misconduct of powerful men. If he did, he would have dished “Fox News Alerts” about his employer Roger Ailes, his colleagues Bill O’reilly and Eric Bolling, and his own master Trump. I guess each of these stories is what Hannity the Hypocrite calls a “Fox News Avert.”

Roger Ailes was accused by at least 20 women of sexual harassment and was drummed out of the company he ran for more than a decade. Roger once told Gretchen Carlson, “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better.” More likely she’d be “good and dead” if she had had sex with that corpulent fuck.

“No Spin” Bill O’Reilly quietly settled sexual harassment claims five times for a total of $13M. According to one victim’s deposition, she “complained about a wide range of behavior, including verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances and phone calls in which it sounded as if Mr. O’Reilly was masturbating.” Maybe Bill should have set up a “No Jerk Zone.”

And of course everyone knows about the Groper-in-Chief Trump who has left behind a snail’s slime trail of recorded evidence of harassment and outrageous behavior. The Access Hollywood tape featuring Billy Bush and a pussy-grabber running for President may be the highlight, but don’t forget Trump’s stewardship over the Miss Teen USA pageant: “You know they’re standing there with no clothes. Is everybody OK? And you see these incredible looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that.” Yeah, you do, fuck-face.

On Everyone’s Xmas List this Year

Time to shout “Merry Christmas” again. And who doesn’t want the hottest gift this season?

Click here to make sure your dream toy will become a reality before Jesus’s awesome birthday.

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Pencey the Puppet

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Trump performs his ventriloquist act with Pencey the Puppet

On orders from his marionette-master Trump, Vice Puppet Mike Pence briefly attended last Sunday’s NFL game between Indianapolis Colts and The SF 49ers – just long enough to be photographed standing for the national anthem accompanied by his doting wife before bolting to the next appointment on his busy calendar.

Clearly, it was pandering-patriot Trump who set the stage for the dramatic exeunt of Veep and Mrs. Veep.

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Pencey the Puppet was ordered to leave the game if any player on the field deigned to kneel during the playing of the anthem – an absolute guarantee given the oft-stated commitment of some players to do just that.

Sure enough a few 49ers knelt, allowing Pencey to head for the exits as planned. The Veep had flown from Las Vegas to Indianapolis just to perform a 5 minute stunt, then headed back West to LA. He even had a smug tweet pre-loaded to post 30 seconds after he left to board Air Force 2.

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Wouldn’t it have been great, though, had no player taken a knee just to fuck over Pencey the Puppet’s schedule. Imagine the angst on the faces of Pencey’s handlers who were charged with getting him off to LA, knowing that he now had to sit through the entire game – plus OT!

I’m sure every one of Pencey’s flaks would have scrambled down to the sidelines begging just one “brother” to defile the flag.

Flak: “C’mon Eric Reid, do it for the Vice President! Take a knee for your country!”
Reid: “This is what systemic oppression looks like.”
Flak: “Yeah, but Mr. Pence has a big meeting in LA. Can’t you disrespect the anthem – just this once?”
Reid” “Why do they play that fucking song at football games anyway? I don’t hear it before they tee off at the Masters.”
Flak: “It’s a great song. Y’know, Land of the free, home of the brave…“
Reid: “Don’t forget the other part– ‘No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.’”
Flak: “Good point.”

A Bridge too Far

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New York State Controller Thomas DiNapoli issued a report today indicating that the state needs $27 billion to repair hundreds of aging, locally owned bridges.

No doubt the rest of the country is in similar straits.

Only one thing to do: spend billions on infrastructure … in the form of a medieval style wall from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. That way we can keep illegals from crossing the Rio Grande, and New Yorkers from crossing the Susquehanna.

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Obama: Gun Makers’ Best Frenemy

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Perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to the gun industry was the expiration of Barack Obama’s term as president. As long as Obama could be held up as a roving maniac on a mission to confiscate every god-fearing American’s guns, the industry could count on buyers to scarf up ever more guns in an illogical quest to hoard the mother lode in advance of the inevitable descent of the black helicopters. (Read the 2013 Forbes story for more on this.)

This behavior was especially intense after a major gun massacre such as Sandy Hook, Aurora, San Bernardino and Orlando. After a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 at the packed Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on June 12, 2016, the stock price of Sturm, Ruger & Co. jumped 10 percent. Now, after the first major gun massacre during Trump’s reign – the horrific sniper attack in Las Vegas that killed 59 and injured more than 500 – Sturm, Ruger’s stock blipped up just 3 percent. Smith & Wesson stock spiked up 11.5 percent after the San Bernardino attack, but only 3 percent after Vegas.

(Sidebar: Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock purchased 33 guns in the past 12 months and enough ammunition to single-handedly re-enact the Battle of the Bulge. Talk about the kind of repeat customer any company would, uh, kill for.)

It’s still sad that the stock prices of gun manufacturers increase at all after a tragedy instead of cratering in the way Boeing stock would if one of their planes fell from the sky. But it seems clear that gun owners no longer irrationally fear national confiscation of guns and the repeal of the 2nd amendment.

The odd thing is that there was never anything to the canard that Obama or his minions sought to take away the guns. How did the fearful gun owner think such a sweeping action could be carried out – and on what authority? Clearly the angst was ginned up by the likes of the NRA which has long ceased being an advocate for gun owners, trading in the mission to be the advocate for gun makers.

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Gun manufacturers have done well under the enemy Obama. The big question now: how well will they do under a compliant Trump and a look-aside Republican Congress?

Dueling Heartbreakers

I’ve got nothing against the late Tom Petty who died (I guess) this past week, but when he popped on the scene in 1976 with his band The Heartbreakers I was a bit pissed. As a big fan of the burgeoning NYC punk music scene in the mid-70s I followed the likes of the New York Dolls, Television, Talking Heads, The Dictators, and Patti Smith. In 1975, Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan of the New York Dolls and Richard Hell of Television split away to form a new killer band called … The Heartbreakers.

I would mention a song from the first Heartbreakers’ album “L.A.M.F.” and I’d get a response like “that doesn’t sound like Tom Petty.” Too bad there’s no copyright protection for names of bands.

Presumably Tom Petty’s songs – “Breakdown,” “American Girl” – were easier on American ears than the hard-driving material produced by the bad boys of what became Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers, because Petty’s Heartbreakers far outlasted Thunder’s Heartbreakers and garnished infinitely more recognition and accolades.

Still, you have to ask yourself – which of these front-men strikes you as the bigger heartbreaker?

PettyThunders

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Rage Against the Machine Gun

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Room with a view

It appears that the maniac who shot and killed nearly 60 people at a Las Vegas country music concert from the comfort of his 32nd floor hotel room in the Mandalay Bay at some point during the massacre used a fully automatic machine gun.

Machine guns are one of the few remaining weapon types in America that are still somewhat hard to own – although not impossible, so says the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action which advises the following on Nevada law: “It is lawful to possess, purchase or sell a machine gun or silencer that is legally registered and possessed in compliance with all federal laws and regulations.”

(Oddly, in Nevada it is unlawful to carry concealed upon the person a handgun or other firearm without a permit to carry – so that gives the NRA at least something to work on in the Silver State.)

Because machine guns are hard to come by, shooting ranges on the outskirts of Las Vegas make a fortune offering the general public the unique thrill of firing M-16s and Uzis. One person who came out for some Uzi fun was a 9 year old girl who blew the head off her instructor when the military grade weapon got away from her girlish grip.

Questions will abound as to whether the Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, NV was permitted to possess the machine gun, and if not how did he come to acquire it. Did he have access to them through a connection at one of the shooting ranges? Did he modify a semi-automatic weapon as described on innumerable websites and Youtube videos? Did he suffer from an epileptic trigger finger?

In any event, the mandatory hand-wringing period has commenced about what to do about the gun situation in America – this time machine guns in particular. Expect much chatter on cable news and strident pushback from the NRA. But don’t worry – it should be over by Wednesday.

As a side note, Shooting Illustrated magazine should be commended on their impeccable timing in posting this tweet just a day or two before Paddock went nuts.

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The Comedic Case for Collusion

Jon Stewart demonstrated how comedy could deliver the news better than the conventional means dating back to Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.

In Stewart’s retirement we have Bill Maher who does a wonderful job making the most succinct, understandable case that Trump’s circle of family flunkies and sad sycophants worked in concert with Russians to rig the election.

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