Death Race 2018: Rise of the Machines

ped1Elaine Herzberg has the dubious distinction of being the first pedestrian killed by an autonomously-driven Uber vehicle which was undergoing tests in Tempe, AZ. Apparently Herzberg was in the process of crossing a busy street while walking her bicycle when she was struck. Although the Uber car was monitored by a human in the driver seat (who was not paying attention, according to video from inside the car), the self-driving system did not respond in time.

Uber temporarily suspended tests in Arizona and California, and then quickly settled with Herzberg’s family – presumably to avoid a court case that could have set ugly precedents for dealing with accidents involving autonomous vehicles.

Clearly, the specter of imperfect robotic vehicles barreling down the road has instilled fear in many who call for a moratorium on testing – and even a ban on deploying the technology altogether.

It’s unfortunate that a shitty company like Uber has invested in autonomous R&D, because they are bound to cut corners and deviate from safety standards which will invariably lead to more negative stories like Herzberg’s – and to more calls to slow down or stop the research. No one is better positioned to scuttle peoples’ confidence than the inept fools at Uber.

That would be too bad. As the technology improves and finds itself embedded into more and more vehicles, allowing them to communicate with each other and share data, highway safety will improve.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “In 2013, there were 4,735 pedestrians killed and an estimated 66,000 injured in traffic crashes in the United States. A total of 4,653 traffic crashes each had one or more pedestrian fatalities. On average, a pedestrian was killed every 2 hours and injured every 8 minutes in traffic crashes.”

Strangely, none of this generated a call to ban human drivers.

A fatality every 2 hours, and yet no one is calling for human-operated vehicles to be banned. In fact, the trend seems to be leaning toward increasing punishment of the jaywalking pedestrian rather than the motorist. Last December, a guy in Saugerties, NY stepped into traffic from between two park cars, was struck by a car, went to the hospital for shoulder and hip injuries, and received a ticket for failure to yield right of way to vehicle.

So let’s be cool when autonomous vehicles occasionally mow down granny, and think instead of the wonders to come.

Just offer free Amazon Prime and shut him up


Trump is upset at Amazon for not paying enough taxes. This from a guy who said minimizing taxes makes a person smart, and probably paid nothing in federal taxes for more than a decade. He also doesn’t like that Amazon sends some of its products using the US Postal Service, deriding the on-line retailer for treating the USPS like a “delivery boy.” The Postal Service hasn’t weighed in on whether it feels like a delivery boy, but they have stated plainly that the contracts they have with Amazon cover costs (which is a concept you rarely connect with the Postal Service.)

Trump has a boner for Amazon for shirking taxes, but he’s flaccid when it comes to other profitable corporations that paid no federal taxes in recent years, such as International Paper,, General Electric, and Duke Energy.

Most likely Trump is pissed because he hates the coverage he gets from the Washington Post which is owned by Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. In fact, Trump has often tweeted about negative WaPo articles as fake news and sometimes ends his 140 character tirades with #AmazonWashingtonPost – as if Amazon owns the newspaper.

As with much of what Trump says and does, his attacks on Amazon – because he hates the coverage he gets from a newspaper tangentially connected to the company – are bad for the country. As are his slams against the NY Times, and CNN, as well as his cocksucking endorsements of Fox News and (of all things) grocery store faveThe National Enquirer.

When an insecure, narcissist leader like Trump gets to punish and reward companies based on the level to which they are willing to lick his ass, real trouble abounds.

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Zuck You!

Mark Zuckerberg holds his cock for you

Although the mesmerizing 2010 film “The Social Network” is not a documentary, it’s clear from the portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg that the Facebook founder was an anti-social douchebag who likely stole ideas from others and fucked over friends so as to develop a Harvard campus-wide platform for picking up girls and humiliating those who chose not to play along. At no time did Zuckerberg seem to envision a time when Facebook would grow to a level that would cross into terrain requiring adult supervision – even as he pressed hard to expand Facebook off the Harvard campus onto other colleges, and eventually across the universe.

As with any entity that takes venture capital and makes an IPO, Facebook eventually had to satisfy investors by making and growing revenue at a dizzying clip. Recognizing that the users of Facebook were not the customers, but rather the product, Zuckerberg and his lieutenants embarked on an aggressive strategy to make money the only way it conceivably could: through advertising. Any advertising. Especially advertising that compelled Facebook users to log in more often, for longer periods of time so they could consume more of it.

For years, Facebook has fooled around with its terms of use and privacy policies – so much so that the users mostly shrugged and complied. After all, the addictive Facebook had become for millions not so much a forum for ideas or a cool way to communicate, but rather a tool for self-validation. Accumulating “friends” and capturing “likes” was proof of existence. Similarly, “unfriending” became the ultimate insult, the most damning form of disrespect (although some might argue that changing one’s status from “in a relationship with X” to “single” without notifying X is more insidious.) The user base gladly, if irresponsibly, shared enormous amounts of personal and psychographic data just so they could give a thumbs up to a gif of a masturbating monkey.

The recent revelation that Cambridge Analytica – founded by the cretinous Steve Bannon, Robert Mercer, and Mercer’s amply-foreheaded daughter Rebecca – vacuumed up detailed profile info on 50 million users without their knowledge or consent just adds further evidence that Facebook is a nefarious entity with no scruples and little interest in maintaining integrity.

Rebecca Mercer shines up her forehead before the drive-in movie is projected on it

And it’s through Facebook that the Trump campaign most likely colluded with Russians to influence the 2016 election. It is no secret that Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Prince Jared of Kushner investigated the idea of micro-targeting pliable voters in swing precincts so as to target them with materials that could sway them toward the Orange Man. Here is Jared speaking to Forbes right after the election: “We brought in Cambridge Analytica. I called some of my friends from Silicon Valley who were some of the best digital marketers in the world. And I asked them how to scale this stuff. We basically had to build a $400 million operation with 1,500 people operating in 50 states, in five months to then be taken apart. We started really from scratch.”

Okay, so we know that Trump’s campaign – like others before it – sought to use big data analytics to influence specific voters. But influence them with what information? And when? That’s where the Russians come in. We at Major Terata are convinced that Russians developed phony stories and memes trashing Hillary Clinton that were posted on the Facebook feeds of pliable users chosen by Kushner’s team, and delivered on a schedule determined by the Trump campaign.

Sadly, some Trump voters believe this

The granularity of those chosen to receive bullshit stories was down to the precinct level. So rather than blanket the entire U.S. Facebook population with patently ludicrous messages, the Trump campaign was able to direct the Russians to pinpoint the propaganda and avoid broad opprobrium from less-gullible voters.

And what did the Facebook company do while this subterfuge was taking place? Other than counting profits, nothing.

Zuck you, America!

Weapon of Mass Distraction

Twenty years ago the names Linda Tripp, Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky were spoken ubiquitously on cable news shows. Viewers were bombarded by reportage on a cum-stained dress and moist cigars, the meaning of “is,” and Ken Starr’s fetishes. Meanwhile a little known facial-hair club for men called Al Qaeda was plotting to blow up embassies, sink a U.S. naval destroyer, and hijack planes in an unlikely attempt to destroy iconic buildings. Who knows how much the distractions related to Bill Clinton’s dalliances and subsequent impeachment led to blindness on the looming reign of terror that would peak on September 11, 2001.

I can’t help harkening back to that time when I see non-stop coverage of the lurid stories revolving around Trump, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal on CNN and MSNBC (but not Fox which is smitten instead with Obama and Clinton). As before, should we expect a shitstorm of evil and incivility to follow in the wake of America’s single-minded, idiotic obsession with presidential sex?

Can anyone answer this question: Why are so many men interested in these women?


What is this man offering to the young boy in this statue situated at the Adelaide Catholic school in Australia? Is it perhaps Jared from Subway and his foot-long hero?


Tee Shirts by Major Terata

Order yours today! Made in America for Americans. Choose from XXL, XXXL, XXXXL, and XnL


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Stroke the Orange Ego – Win a Prize

horsebackIf Trump meets up with Kim Jong-Un – and that’s a big “if” despite Trump’s giddy announcement the other day that he’d do just that – expect the roly-poly North Korean dictator to play the Orange Man with a carefully concocted brew of conspicuous compliments, over-the-top ceremony, expensive gifts, and maybe even an allusion to a future Trump Tower Pyong-Yang.

There’s no way feeble narcissist Trump could resist the pomp and circumstance. Left to his own devices, Trump would pull out the troops from Seoul, give KJU (yes, people now refer to Mr. Un by his initials) a lifetime membership to Mar-a-Lago, and arrange a three-way with Stormy Daniels and his choice of Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders or someone named Tiffany.

And he’d do all those things in exchange for a commitment written in pencil to denuclearize someday, or a declaration that Trump the bestest president in all of history (way better than that Kenyan Obama) – whichever comes first.

Consider what Trump said about Putin during an interview with Bill O’Reilly in April 2016: “I think he said some really nice things. He called me a genius. He said Trump’s a genius. Okay. So, you know, that’s nice.” In return for the disputed “genius” comment Trump has turned a complete blind eye to Russia’s demonstrated affronts to U.S. and European democratic institutions, and their flagrant incursions into neighboring countries.

Philippines president and self-confessed murderer Rodrigo Duterte said in a speech, “Trump is a realist, a pragmatic thinker,” adding “Trump wouldn’t become a billionaire if he were stupid.” Such asslicking has its benefits. Instead of marginalizing Duterte for his thuggish behavior and moronic policies, Trump praises the dictator for his fine work on dealing with the country’s drug problem (by gunning down anyone who might be a drug dealer or user.)

Egypt’s hard-hearted leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi with appropriate obsequiousness proclaimed this about Trump, “Since we met last September, I have had a deep appreciation and admiration of your unique personality.” Trump paid it right back. “I just want to let everybody know, in case there was any doubt, that we are very much behind president el-Sisi. He has done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt, and the people of Egypt.” (Sidebar; Trump also slobbered over el-Sisi’s shoes.)

Other world leaders who have traded no-cost ego-stroking for valuable concessions from Orange-man include Recep Erdogan of Turkey, Chinese president-for-life Xi Jinping, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

In reality, what little competent diplomatic and military staff remains will do whatever they can to dissuade Trump from meeting KJU because they know Trump will fold like a cheap card table. They know that all Little Rocket Man has to do to get Trump off his back AND keep his nukes is hold his nose and stroke Trump’s furry pate.

No doubt the White House comms team has already fabricated stories to spring on the press explaining away Trump’s eagerness to meet KJU. Maybe they can weave in the Stormy Daniels affair somehow.



We at Major Terata do not believe Cynthia Nixon has the right experience to become the governor of New York. The former co-star of “Sex and the City” is probably not even qualified to be the mayor of Callicoon, NY. Likewise we are not convinced Oprah Winfrey would make a good POTUS (although we’ve come to know that “good” is a very fluid attribute.) These observations put us in the camp of the New York Post’s Maureen Callahan who penned an opinion piece titled “When we will get over celebrity politicians like Oprah and Cynthia Nixon?”

The gist of her column is that untested, unqualified left-wing celebs have a lot of nerve deigning to believe they deserve to jump into top level political jobs.

Oddly, Maureen makes only a passing mention of the ultimate, unqualified celebrity hack who aspired to and won top office. And she had nothing to say about right-wing entertainers who have gone directly from the movies or music studios into politics – Clint Eastwood, Sonny Bono, Schwarzenegger – or have toyed around with the idea – Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, Antonio Sabato.

Callahan also picks on Chelsea Clinton, even though the former first daughter hasn’t made any moves to compete for an elected position. Yet she overlooks the political aspirations of another first daughter, Ivanka Trump.

Come on, Maureen, you started out so well only to fall into the NY Post hypocrisy hole.

Get Out … of TD Ameritrade


If you’re a black man and you meet this dude from the TD Ameritrade TV commercial, run away! – or your brain will be harvested for insertion into the cranium of an old, white hedge fund manager whose portfolio hasn’t beaten the S&P 500 for five straight years.

End note: Best synopsis yet for Oscar-winning film “The Shape of Water”

Grinding Nemo.

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Doping & Curling. What’s Next, Pine Tar on Those Little Brooms?

Aleksandr Krushelnitckii snorts human growth hormone off his bronze medal.

Curling may not appear to be a difficult game, but precise deployment of a heavy object on a slippery surface combined with the need to follow the object so as to polish the ice in front of it can pose significant challenge to the less adept. Just check out this particular curling fail involving a man whose ability to shuffle down the ice is markedly impaired.

Still, despite the frictionless ice, the special shoes, and the glorified floor scrubber, it would appear that curling is much like golf – a challenging game of skill but not really an endeavor requiring any particular store of strength, endurance or stamina. So it came as a surprise when Russian curler Aleksandr Krushelnitckii and his playing partner wife lost out on a bronze medal after the Court of Arbitration for Sport officially ruled Krushelnitckii guilty of doping.

What possible reason could there be for a curler to dope? Mainlining Moosehead Ale to appear more like a Canadian?

Guns and Cheese

Trump sure knows how to convey empathy as exemplified by his cheesy grin and erect thumb in this official photo taken at the hospital where students are recovering from wounds inflicted by a mass shooter at Marjory Stoneham Douglas high school. Maybe he’s thinking something like “Shot at your high school? Get three free credits at Trump University (if you live to graduation.)”


Humira Horror Show

Someone please tell the little girl in this Humira ad (which is titled “Missing” by the way) to watch “Get Out” – and then run awaaaaaaay!!!!!

Term Unlimited

Now that China is moving to rescind its limit of two terms for its leader, let’s start the countdown clock to how long it takes for crazy Trumpsters to start calling in earnest for the same in the U.S. so as to Keep America Orange forever.

We at Major Terata give it to mid-March.

After all, what American wouldn’t want to return to a monarchy under the House of Trump. Next up in 2032, Queen Ivanka I.

Sleepwalking Sarah Sanders

After a full day of prevaricating in front of the cameras, White House spokesblob Sarah Huckabee Sanders likes to take a dreamy walk on the High Line.


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Pass Out the Pistols

In a memorable episode of “All in the Family” Archie takes to the airwaves to deliver his opinions on gun control, which, as you would expect, are decidedly negative. But what made his appearance on TV so ridiculous was his solution to airline hijackings: arm all the passengers. At the time such a proposal was understood to be so outlandish that it transcended debate. Archie’s idea was patently foolish and everyone in the audience knew it.

Now, however, following another mass shooting last week, this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, some have proposed a similar solution to a societal ill: arm the teachers (or hire professionally-trained armed hall monitors). Trump made his case for arming some teachers and giving them bonuses for doing so, and then channeled the NRA (or perhaps the porn industry), declaring, “You want a hardened school, and I want a hardened school, too.”

Here are the reasons why it won’t catch on.

There are about 90,000 elementary schools in the U.S. and another 22,000 high schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school systems employed about 3.2 million full-time-equivalent teachers in the fall of 2017. Although the NRA would have multiple consecutive orgasms if school districts around the country went on a bender to purchase guns for millions of teachers, is it really feasible to outfit, train and compensate such a large, inexperienced group in the finer points of handling weapons and shooting humans? And what about the cost? Will taxpayers passively accept the inevitable hike in taxes to fund such a program?

Perhaps some schools will opt to hire armed guards. For all intents and purposes this would constitute a serious increase in payroll – on the order of tens of thousands of new employees taking paychecks, paid vacations, health benefits and pensions. I’m sure that will go over well with fixed-income seniors who shoulder a good chunk of the school tax burden.

Add to the expense of arming and training teachers to pack heat the inevitable increase in the costs of insurance. Insurance companies don’t care one way or the other about such things as Second Amendments – they only care about one thing: risk. And a school full of teachers in possession of guns is at higher risk for disaster than one that is free from weaponry. You can guarantee that on a daily basis some teachers around the country will leave their guns unattended in an unlocked desk to be pilfered by wily students. Will the next mass shooting take place with a gun stolen from a teacher? You can also guarantee that in the course of a school year dozens of teachers will accidentally discharge weapons, perhaps with tragic results.

Here is a cop lecturing students about gun safety. If it can happen to him . . .

Insurance companies will not like this, and push up premiums accordingly – to the consternation of taxpayers, many of whom are no doubt pro-gun.
I think it’s also realistic to worry about the effect of false positives. How many people will be shot by armed teachers who mistakenly perceive a mass shooting threat? It’s a very real concern knowing how many people have been shot and killed by police who mistook a cell phone for a gun. It’s easy to imagine a teacher pulling a pistol on a distraught student when in the past he would have taken a subtler approach as an unarmed counselor. And it’s easy to image multi-million dollar lawsuits brought by grieving parents prevailing in court – and the subsequent increase in taxes and insurance premiums to cover the penalties.

Now consider the mind of a would-be mass shooter. It’s well-known that many mass shooters desire to go out in a blaze of glory by so-called “suicide by cop.” Will the presence of an armed professional roaming the hallways actually attract mass shooters? A middle-aged former cop sitting at a desk with a rifle just might make the mass shooting all the more daring – just what a warped teenager on a death wish might hope for.

But if it works is it worth doing? Would the presence of armed adults in a school stop or cut short an armed assault? Columbine High School employed an armed guard, and his involvement was obviously limited, as two armed students successfully massacred more than a dozen kids. Scot Peterson, the armed sheriff’s deputy assigned to Stoneman Douglas where 17 people were killed took cover outside rather than charging into the building when the massacre began, according to the Broward County sheriff.

So much for counting on the good guy with a gun.

If the NRA was the lobbying arm for the auto industry

  • Cars would not have airbags, or seatbelts, or shatterproof glass, or any other safety features that add unnecessary costs (or give the impression there is something dangerous about cars.)
  • Anyone could own and drive a car anywhere they want to. And they wouldn’t be required to register it.
  • Reckless driving would be blamed on mental illness.
  • Drunk drivers would not lose their licenses to drive, because there would be no such thing as a license to drive.
  • Auto makers would never recall a vehicle because they would be immune from lawsuits over shoddy construction.
  • After every pile-up on the freeway, word would go out that the government wants to take away your car. You would then go out and buy two more cars.
  • The best way to deal with bad drivers would be for good drivers to run them off the road.
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Trump Falls for the Columbo Treatment

muellercolumboThose old enough to remember watching the TV series “Columbo” will recall with head-shaking amazement how the eponymous, bumbling, trenchcoat-wearing detective always cracked the week’s criminal case by luring the perp into a false sense of security that he was dealing with an idiot – when in fact Columbo was a mastermind of detection. Columbo – played with blithering aplomb by Peter Falk – would stammer, fumble, scratch his head, and otherwise act the fool, all the while ensnaring his prey. There was always just one more thing to ask the suspect.

Early in an episode the criminal would acquire a sense of invincibility in the face of Columbo’s perceived ineptitude – then fall hard in the end when the evidence was piled high in front of him. Columbo essentially solved crimes by wearing down the suspect into exasperation, driving him to the point of practically begging to be arrested just so he didn’t have to entertain anymore of Columbo’s irritating questions.

Watch Columbo do his shtick.

I now think Trump is that type of suspect. Imagine an episode with special prosecutor Robert Mueller as Columbo and Trump as the arrogant criminal. True to the formula, Trump goes over the top to protest his innocence, presuming that the flunky Mueller and his dumbass staff will quickly veer from the trail and fold up the futile investigation. For someone who professes innocence at every turn, and throws shade at the likes of Hillary Clinton, Obama, Rod Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions, Trump sure as hell sounds like a guilty man.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for an innocent Trump to step aside and let Mueller come to the conclusion that no collusion with Russia took place and that no crime was committed? Why continue to denigrate the investigation and seek to shut it down if you’re innocent when letting it play out is the best way to achieve complete and incontrovertible exoneration?

The answer must be that Trump fears Mueller will slog along like the rumpled Columbo and methodically back him and his team of nitwits into a corner. This will proceed post haste should Trump ever come to be interviewed bu Mueller.

Of course, Trump could deviate from the “Columbo” script and take out his inquisitor – but something tells me Mueller has a package ready to publish should a firing be in the offing.

Like the old TV series, expect to see Trump’s ashen face when Mueller slams the steel filing cabinet shut.

Thoughts and Prayers

“Thoughts and prayers” translated: “Sorry – now please go away.”


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Cut, Cap and Balance: A promise right up there with Repeal and Replace

Deficit-hawk and V.S.G. Trump grabs a slice before signing another piece of Republican-devised debt-laden legislation.

Trump signed a bill this week that hikes spending, increases the deficit and raises the debt ceiling.

Now for a trip down memory-hole lane.







The Straight Poop

Unlike most companies, toilet paper manufacturers can’t advertise on TV by depicting the proper use of their product for the purposes for which it is intended. Dodge can demonstrate Ram trucks scaling the steep, red mesas of the American Southwest without getting ticketed by the National Park Service, TaylorMade can highlight Jason Day beating golf balls 350 yards so as to convince a 30-handicapper that he can do likewise, and Sonic can show two bi-curious simpletons in their car deep-throating a Chili Cheese Coney.

But the makers of toilet paper really can’t depict some guy wiping his ass after taking a nice, satisfying shit. That’s a road too far. Instead, the ads invariably skirt the obvious by showing people (or cute animals) caressing the paper, absorbing liquids with it, or in probably the most famous TV ad campaign for toilet paper, squeezing it.

Charmin got the point across that their paper is softer than a corn cob by introducing Mr. Whipple, a skeezy grocery store manager who harps on female customers for squeezing the product, only to be caught molesting the rolls himself in the end. This foolishness went on for many years.

Now, we have a new form of toilet paper ad that seeks to weave the many uses of toilet paper (except ass-wiping) into the fabric of our lives. Consider this ad for AngelSoft:

The piece features a progression of vignettes starting with a doting single father (who looks like a stereotype liberal from central casting) holding his baby daughter while waiting to enter the women’s bathroom so he can change her diaper and ending with him comforting his grown-up and bawling teenaged daughter after her date went badly. AngelSoft manages to somehow insert toilet paper into each vignette. In the middle, the father teaches his daughter how to shave her legs by demonstrating the task on his own hairy appendage – and when he nicks himself, AngelSoft comes to the rescue.

The big question: does this guy have no adult female friends who could step in once in awhile to help with the “girl” stuff? And does the daughter have no friends who can share grooming tips?

Because if they don’t, I’d hate to imagine how good old dad personally demonstrates for his daughter the proper way to use feminine hygiene products.

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Zip for Brains

In a new TV ad from ZipRecuiter, we learn – according to the title of the spot – that “the smartest way to hire” is to engage the vaunted online head-hunting firm . . . and to conduct employment interviews with women candidates in a sports bar. Perhaps this venue allows the recruiter to test the applicant’s capacity for downing tequila shots, or her ability to detect the presence of a roofie in a Cosmo. (Note that the big interview takes place when the entire bar is empty with the presumed exception of a randy barback.)

I predict the geniuses at ZipRecruiter have a follow-up spot that takes place in a Hooters, and they got the Cos to be the spokesman. “Hey hey hey – welcome to UnzipRecruiter. Have a drink – but stir it first.”

C’mon, Zip. If your ad agency is this stupid at least instruct your marketing department to pay attention to the headlines.

Less Than Zero

During an off-the-cuff encounter over immigration with the press yesterday, Trump said this about his sacred wall: “I’m going to build it way under budget, but we’re putting down $25 billion for the wall … we will build it way under.”

That’s gonna be a tough claim to meet, given that Trump reminded Americans repeatedly the budget for the beautiful wall would be all of zero.

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Beware the Modani Furniture Scam

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













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


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.


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.

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.)


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: Criminal?
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?
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?

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?
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?
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


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


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


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.


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.


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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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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