Seven Words You Can’t Say at the CDC

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

snatchtrump

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.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , | Comments Off

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

snatch

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.

Posted in Politics, TV | Tagged , , | Comments Off

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.

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

Posted in Movies | Comments Off

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.

campbells
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.

————————–
Read here for more about Henry Shrapnel.

Posted in History, Politics | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

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.

roy
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!

8473b83377640df517a6a914cb9d5b6d--funny-mugshots-mug-shots

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , | Comments Off

NY Votes on a Constitutional Convention

orange2
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

vernon
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.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , | Comments Off

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?

sanders
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.

beatlesyesterday2nd

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.

butcher

butcherback

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!

Posted in books, Music, Politics | Tagged , | Comments Off

Oy Gevalt! Another Fakakta Promise Broken

DAeyYFFWAAIdgc7
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:

shanken

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.

Posted in Entertainment, Politics | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Weinstein Triggers an Avalanche of Sexual Harassment Charges

arno
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

kelly

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?

Posted in Entertainment, Politics | Tagged , , | Comments Off

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:

trumpdeficit

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

deficithead

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

teleprompter

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.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

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.

171009105637-harvey-weinstein-hillary-clinton-2012-large-169

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.

Donald+Trump+Harvey+Weinstein+New+York+Premiere+cb8oOG4XzZUl

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.

trump-nude-troll-doll-chuck-williams-2

Posted in Entertainment, Politics | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Pencey the Puppet

pencepuppet
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.

nfl

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.

bye

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

bridge

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.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Obama: Gun Makers’ Best Frenemy

obamaguns

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.

gunsusa

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

Posted in Business, Guns, Music | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Rage Against the Machine Gun

mandalay
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.

machinegun

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.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Repeal, Replace, Repulse, Repeat


Trump proves he’s no Nostradamus.

You gotta love the hard-headed, hard-hearted Republicans who continue to serve up the same gruel to a clientele that has already thrown it up twice before. Most sentient beings have called out the continual and vapid repeal and replace attempts as a shameful charade. Nevertheless, they persisted.

Never expecting they would actually have to deal with repealing Obamacare, the Republicans were forced to dream up some kind of plan in just a few weeks after having pulled their puds for seven years.

Trump on the campaign trail (his favorite venue) boasted of delivering health care that would be better, cheaper, and cover more people. Knowing deep down this was impossible, his Republicans in Congress decided to go with health care that would be shittier, more expensive and cover fewer people. Consistent with his affliction of having zero principles, Trump praised their work even though it violated every promise he boldly made.

After the Trumpcare bill passed the House, Trump threw a party at the White House.

trump-ahca
A representative cross-section of Americans celebrate the trashing of health care.

Now for the second time the Senate under leadership of an antiquarian turtle has been unable to summon 50 votes out of their 52-member caucus to pass an even uglier version of Trumpcare cobbled together by Bill Cassidy and lovely Lindsey Graham. A wacky element of the bill involved taking away Medicaid funding from states that were smart enough to accept it, and rewarding it to the states whose cavemen governors rejected free money to the detriment of their constituents.

Perhaps it’s because the Republicans never sincerely cared about the health care problems in the country that they continued to conjure up abortion after abortion. It can be said with certainty that they put almost no effort into creating a viable plan and building support for it.

To get a sense of Republican malpractice, just look at how the making of health care sausage contracts between Obamacare and Trumpcare.

MzJEOep

Guggenheim Pulls “Art”

If you have to torture animals to make art, you’re doing it wrong. That’s the consensus here at Major Terata.

Under pressure from animal rights people, the Guggenheim Museum pulled some works from an upcoming exhibition. One such work titled “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other” is a video showing pairs of vicious pit bulls snarling and frothing at each other, prodded into a frenzy but restrained from actually attacking one another. The dogs, you see, were placed face to face but restrained on treadmills. Yes, the pit bulls never engaged in a dog fight, no flesh was torn, no blood was shed. Still, it strikes us as a cruel provocation that no doubt caused the dogs stress – even if they cannot touch each other.

(The original 2003 installment of “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other” by Chinese artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu was an actual live performance of the dogs.)

Artists and others slammed the Gug for folding. The argument was the usual one: that offensive art should not be censored just because it offends. We agree.

But in the case of “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other,” it’s not a question of whether the piece is offensive or not, but that the piece was created by abusing animals.

Although the Gug probably wrung its hands waffling about the pros and cons of pulling the piece, they came up with the right decision.

Tom Eccles of Bard College said, “Museums are here to show works that are difficult, uncomfortable, provocative. The chilling effect of this of course is museums will now look to make exhibitions that won’t in any way offend.”

We seriously doubt this is the beginning of the end for museums exhibiting provocative art. We also doubt Eccles would be okay with showing, say, a live re-enactment of Joseph Mengele’s difficult, uncomfortable, provocative experiments on the bucolic Bard campus.

The Feminine Side of Jared Kushner

kushwoman

Soft and fair Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner has pulled his share of boners in the past 12 months.

He’s had to refile federal documents more than once because of false entries, omissions and oversights. The kind of stuff that carries stiff penalties (for other people.)

Jared was also outed for using a private email account to conduct official White House business – something that was at one time a mortal sin in Trump-land, but now downgraded to a nothing-burger.

Then it was discovered the other day that Jared registered to vote as a woman.

So, the next time someone mentions the name of Jared Kushner, shout “Lock her up!”

Posted in Art, Politics | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Trump’s Land Grab

border
Cheerful park rangers invite visitors to Trump’s newly designated national monument.

If there is such a thing as a Trump agenda it consists of nothing more than denigrating Obama’s actions and undoing his decisions regardless of the merits. You can see it at the EPA, in health care, the military, the budget, government websites. Clearly Obama got deep under Trump’s thin skin when he roasted the orange man at that White House Correspondents’ Dinner back in 2011.

Now we have the Department of the Interior led by Ryan Zinke, at the behest of Trump, taking aim at shrinking national monuments and loosening restrictions on the kinds of “extraction” that can take place there. One monument on the hit list is Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which Obama established at the end of his term. Zinke is recommending changing the borders so as to bring the 1.35 million acre parcel down to 160,000 acres (a reduction of almost 90 percent). Cutting the size of this monument so yugely would break all records – another thing to assuage Trump’s ego.

Republican state representative of Utah, Mike Noel, is pissed that Obama set aside so much land that could be better used for drilling, mining and grazing. And given that the U.S. government routinely leases this kind of land for a fraction of its value, ranchers and so-called extraction companies are on Noel’s side. Noel said, “When you turn the management over to the tree-huggers, the bird and bunny lovers and the rock lickers, you turn your heritage over.” Bunny lovers and rock lickers? Is that an offshoot of NAMBLA?

Trump ordered Zinke to review 553 million acres of land and sea – most of which was set aside by Obama and hence must be reversed. The Republicans have long had a hard on for limiting designation of public lands and monuments and parks because their constituents tend toward rock breakers, not rock lickers.

So it’s odd that an administration that wants to get the country out of the land grab business would be so eager to confiscate the land of private citizens sitting in the path of the “beautiful” border wall. Trump’s Department of Justice has already notified 200 land owners in Texas that their property will be taken by eminent domain. Who knows how many acres of private land will be needed to build the wall (or fence, or whatever), but it’s easy to imagine the number being larger than many of the national monuments and parks already designated.

And knowing that Mexico will never pay for – in the words of former Mexican president Vicente Fox – “that fucking wall,” American taxpayers will be funding the confiscation of their fellow Americans’ land.

Maybe what Trump needs to do is pull an Obama and designate a couple hundred thousand acre strip of land from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean called Xenophobia National Park and Driving Range.

Whacking Weiner

weinerbubble

Terminal sexter and rampant pud-puller Anthony Wiener is facing prison time after his felony conviction for transferring obscene material to a minor. The crime could bring 10 years in the slammer; the prosecution is suggesting about 2 years. Of course, Weiner and his lawyers are asking for probation only – which at this point seems unlikely.

It’s hard to identify a bigger loser than Weiner who squandered his political career, his marriage and his reputation all over an obsession with texting dick pics to accidental voyeurs.

As a United States Representative once proclaimed, “Sadly, the Internet is the predator’s venue of choice today. We need to update our strategies and our laws to stop these offenders who are a mere click away from our children.” That Representative, perhaps anticipating the actions of Weiner, co-sponsored the “Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act.”

Read the press release to learn more about the legislation.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , | Comments Off

The Heist Movie

killing-posterAs a fan of heist movies, I saw Logan Lucky last week and was, as expected, disappointed – for too many heist movies suffer from the same problems: major plot holes and all-too-convenient twists that turn certain doom into success whose odds are less likely than winning Powerball twice in a row. Despite killer ensemble casts, exotic locations, cool cars and clothes, the heist genre usually involves an outlandish script that, in the end, leaves the viewer wishing things could have been better.

Directed by heist-meister Steven Soderbergh (Oceans 11, 12 & 13), the action in Logan Lucky is fast and exhilarating, and the cast of characters involved in the heist all have their requisite unique quirks. In fact, the pace is so fast you often don’t realize how ridiculous the action is until hours after you’ve left the theater. Without giving anything material away, the Logan family – Jimmy (Channing Tatum), Clyde (Adam Driver), and Mellie (Riley Keough) – are among a long line of Logan’s who have a black cloud of bad luck hovering over their heads. After Jimmy loses his job working underground construction at a Nascar track, he conjures a plan to steal money from the track. It’s time to turn the Logan luck around.

He comes to this point after learning on the job that the track stores cash from concession stands in an underground vault – and that the cash is transported automatically from POS terminals through a network of pneumatic tubes. Jimmy needs a demolitions expert (mandatory for all heist movies) who happens to be incarcerated in a local jail. All Jimmy needs to do is break his demo buddy Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) out of jail on the day of the job, and secretly return him to serve out his sentence afterwards. If that’s not enough, the plan requires Clyde to go to jail on purpose to accompany Joe in the plan- and he too must be broken in and out. Although by the end of the movie it’s not clear why it was necessary for Clyde to go inside.

Anyway, that’s enough bullshit right there to make you shake your head. But it only gets crazier as additional conspirators join the heist. They’re able to masquerade as exterminators, garbage haulers, maintenance workers – anyone you need them to be to waltz into a place unchallenged. In fact, everyone on the team seems be able to saunter anywhere they want without worrying about security guards, locks, fences, surveillance cameras, motion detectors – all the kinds of things you’d expect to thwart penetration of the track vault, and none that exist.

Do they get the money? Can they get Joe and Clyde in and out of jail undetected? Can Mellie the hot chick drive better than Richard Petty? Watch the movie – but don’t be shocked if your suspended belief doesn’t come back from the dead. Oh, another question to ask yourself at the right time: Did they even need the demolitions expert which prompted the whole idiotic break-in/break-out scheme in the first place?

The heist movie genre tends to be fairly formulaic in that several elements appear in just about every attempt. Here are a few:

  • The place where the loot is stored must be absolutely impenetrable – so impenetrable that no human being need monitor it. It can be underground encased in 100 foot thick concrete, guarded by a lattice of lasers, submerged beneath the ocean floor – yet in the end not so impenetrable after all.
  • If the vault is monitored by security guards watching on closed circuit TV, one of the following weak spots will exist: there will be a corner of the vault that is out of sight of any camera, the closed circuit TV system can be disabled with a wire cutter, someone can hack the system and put up a visual façade that fools the monitors that all is well in the vault.
  • Trained personnel overseeing the security of phenomenal wealth are easily distracted, easily fooled and remarkably gullible. Every heist movie includes characters that waltz right past shady behavior and blow off suspicious interactions.
  • Sixty seconds in a heist movie takes 10 minutes of screen time.
  • The heist gang must acquire a device that does not really exist, pull off a stunt that mortal, earth-bound humans cannot perform, or rely on a total breakdown of internationally accepted norms of behavior.
  • If the heist movie was made before 1970, the robbers must get jammed in the end; after 1975 they must get away with it.
  • Finally and thankfully, most heist movies feature a delightful ensemble cast which usually makes a disappointing movie enjoyable.

Now, here are some examples:

Oceans 11 (1960)
Slick movie featuring the Rat Pack. Requires the heroes to knock out the electricity of the entire Vegas strip on New Years Eve. Yes, it requires a demolition man. They get the loot out in a garbage truck which passes swiftly thru a police roadblock – maybe because it’s driven by a shuckin’ black guy (Sammy Davis, Jr.). In the end, the loot – which they store in a dead co-conspirator’s coffin – is burned up when the dude is cremated.

Oceans 11 (2001)

Modern-day substitute Rat Pack-ish actors redo the original. This time it takes a thing called the “pinch” to knock out Vegas’ juice. Really? This pinch is something you can actually obtain? And it’s theft doesn’t spur a national dragnet?

Oceans 13

The gist of this heist is to cause full mayhem at a ritzy casino owned by a dirtbag. The plan is to rig the casino’s myriad games to pay out in unusually generous quantities, then encourage all the winners to leave before they can lose their winnings back. The heist team includes guys who go to a factory that make casino dice so they can trick them out to come up 7’s. And they get the casino owner to carry a cellphone that disrupts a key security element of the casino. More unbelievable shit occurs climaxing with the boys simulating a scary earthquake with a gigantic drilling machine. Don’t ask.

Sexy Beast

The team must extract enormous wealth by breaking into a vault from under water via a pool in a next door bathhouse. Funny how often banks build their impenetrable vaults adjacent to easily accessible structures. In the end the lead character is allowed to keep a pair of ruby earrings and 10 pounds while his psychopathic tormentor winds up buried beneath a swimming pool.

Heist

The goal of David Mamet’s intricately crafted heist: steal gold bullion from a Swissair jet right before it’s scheduled to take off. The diversion: blow up a radar unit on the grounds causing the taxi-ing plane to stop on the tarmac. The heist: remove the gold while no one in the airport does a fucking thing. By the way, the robbers are able to bring a van onto the runway without the bat of a lash from anyone in authority. And as in Oceans 11, the robbers drive the loot off the property past a phalanx of law enforcement who have no imagination and nary a hint of curiosity.

The Killing

Directed by Stanley Kubrick and released in 19xx, this heist movie has moxy. Since this is 1956 all it takes for the robbers to enter the sanctum sanctorum is a knock on the door. In the end the mastermind gets away with it – almost. Just before he boards a plane his luggage with the loot breaks open on the tarmac.

The Usual Suspects

A handful of guys overwhelm 30+ armed men to board a ship full of … nothing. Well, nothing except Keyser Sose.

Mob Movie Alumni Succumb

mobsters

In just a couple days three actors who played in critically acclaimed mob movies died:

Frank Vincent (Goodfellas, The Sopranos) – Played Billy Batts in Martin Scorcese’s award-winning Goodfellas and then had to wait a few years before he could join the cast of The Sopranos because David Chase thought Vincent had been too identifiable as Batts. In the end, Frank Vincent as Phil Leotardo fleshed out the final years of the TV series in fine fashion.

Gastone Moschin (Godfather Part 2) – Moschin – a well-regarded Italian actor in his native country – played the manipulative Don Fannuci who eventually gets the bullet in the head from young Vito Corleone.

Harry Dean Stanton (Godfather Part 2) – Harry Dean went on to play an amazing array of characters, so his brief stint in GF2 is not that impactful. Still he was a member of an extraordinary cast. His role as an FBI agent was to oversee the turncoat Mafioso Frank Pentangeli. Of course, why he needed to continue to provide protection after Frank decided not to help the prosecution of Michael Corleone remains a mystery.

Posted in Movies, Obits, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

This Week Through the Looking Glass

looking
Alice encounters Tweedle Paul and Tweedle Ryan

Many people in the past several days have made pretzel-logic comments worthy of Lewis Carroll. Here is a sampling.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

During a press conference in which the main topic was Trump’s gutsy decision to shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (aka. DACA), Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended her boss for “upholding the law.” DACA was an Obama nod to reality that spending big bucks to dog children who had been brought to America illegally by their parents was not the best use of limited immigration enforcement resources. After all, these kids known as “Dreamers” had no say in the decision to come here, and in the meantime had grown up like every other American kid: going to school, playing sports, working and paying taxes. Their threat level is certainly lower than that of Eric Bolling. Regardless, many people see Dreamers’ presence on US soil as an affront that must be dealt with through expensive tracking, lengthy judicial review and ultimate deportation.

Still, Sanders fell through the looking glass when she said this: “We are a nation of law and order. And the day that we start to ignore the fact that we are that, then we throw away everything that gives these people a reason to want to come to our country.”

In other words, the very existence of a DACA policy keeps young people from wanting to come to the U.S. Although it sounds absurd – like something from the mouth of the Red Queen – it makes sense why Trump may ultimately change his mind and support DACA.

Scott Pruitt

Following the devastation visited upon Florida by Hurricane Irma, EPA head Scott Pruitt said this about the inevitable chatter linking a super-storm to climate change: “To use time and effort to address it at this point is very, very insensitive to this people in Florida.” Mr. Pruitt meet the Mad Hatter.

Bringing up climate change after a major weather event most likely exacerbated by the effects of climate change (ocean warming, rising sea levels) is “insensitive”? Are Floridians softer than the cheeks of Jared Kushner?

Following Pruitt’s logic, we shouldn’t mention terrorism on 9/11 lest we force sensitive New Yorkers into underground safe spaces. C’mon, Scott. Come up with a better way to perpetuate denial and resurrect phrenology.

Martin Shkreli

Out on $5 million bail and suffering from shkrelitis (a rare disease in which a person is born without a soul), former hedge fund scammer and pharmaceutical scrooge Martin Shkreli posted a bizarre challenge on Facebook: grab a strand of hair from Hillary Clinton’s head during her upcoming book tour and receive a $5,000 award. Although Shkreli’s lawyer noted “He says things that are stupid. I don’t think stupid makes you violent,” the judge in the case thought otherwise and revoked the massive bail. Given that Clinton is protected by Secret Service, and attempt to yank out one of her hairs would no doubt cause a slight fracas.

The smirking Shkreli can now play the Cheshire Donkey in prison while he awaits trial in January.

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan on Trump’s plan to end DACA (September 1 version): “I actually don’t think he should do that. I believe that this is something that Congress has to fix.”

Paul Ryan on Trump’s plan to end DACA (September 6 version): “President Trump was right in his decision. He made the right call.”

Ryan: both Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.

End Note: Fuck you Equifax

equifux

By now half of America knows Equifax – the collector and disseminator of personal information under the ruse of doing a service known as calculating a credit score – is a sham operation with no scruples, no technical competence and no ability to manage crisis. Why do they even exist, given that two other companies, Experian and TransUnion, provide redundancy?

Several weeks ago Equifax learned that detailed personal records of a mere 143 million Americans were confiscated by hackers, and in the ensuing days in which they kept the breach a secret at least a few Equifax execs dumped their company stock. Since going public with the debacle Equifax has behaved worse than Uber on steroids. The minimum they could do is to help people lock their files so further damage is reduced – but no. These hollow-souled corporate miscreants can’t or won’t even provide basic support. Equifax stock has justifiably plummeted $30 a share to $114 in the past week.

In any event, as suggested by several news outlets I visited an Equifax website where I was supposed to be able to request a credit freeze which would thwart would-be criminals from initiating an unauthorized raid on my family jewels. Sure enough I met more Equifax incompetence. After putting in my last name and last 6 digits of my social, I had to pass one of those irritating Captcha tests. You know – the ones that challenge you to click on the blocks in an array that contain a picture of a storefront, or a road sign, or an Equifax exec drinking Louis Roederer Cristal in Monaco.

Sure enough, every time I successfully satisfied Captcha, I was presented with another Captcha to navigate. After four or five tries, I peered around my office looking for a peephole and waiting for Allen Funt to emerge and yell, “Smile – you’re on candid camera!”

Fuck you Equifax.

Posted in Business, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Make it Snappy, Texas

Secede05_33

Texas has experienced a whirlwind of sovereignty in its 600 year history starting out as a territory of Spain, then of France and later Mexico, then as a separate country known as the Republic of Texas, followed by entry into the United States of America (1845) and a subsequent exit to join the short-lived Confederate States of America (1861), and finally re-entry into the US of A in 1865 where they have bided their time, stewing until the opportune moment arrives when they will bolt once again. It’s not called the Lone Star State for nothing – these people harbor smoldering grievance over what they consider the looting of their wealth by the Federal government. Here is the rationale for secession as explained on the Texas Secede website.

In many ways. Over the past century-and-a-half the United States government has awarded itself ever more power (but not the lawful authority) to meddle with the lives, liberty, and property of the People of Texas (as well as those of the other States).

Sapping Texans’ wealth into a myriad of bureaucratic, socialist schemes both in the U.S. and abroad, the bipartisan despots in Washington persist in expanding the federal debt and budget deficits every year. Texans would indeed gain much by reclaiming control of their State, their property, their liberty, and their very lives, by refusing to participate further in the fraud perpetrated by the Washington politicians and bureaucrats.

By restoring Texas to an independent republic, Texans would truly reclaim a treasure for themselves and their progeny.

Lately the fervor in Texas for an exit strategy has increased. For example, the Washington Post reported in June that “a secession bill won overwhelming support from the mock legislature in Texas Boys State, the American Legion’s summer program where youth leaders create and run their own government.” This was the first time since the Boys State (which is kind of like the Model UN) was founded 80 years ago that one of its chapters voted to bolt the union.

This came a couple months after the Texas Republican Party was almost forced to vote on putting pro-secession language in its platform after the demand fell just two votes short. Tanya Robertson, a Texas State Senator and avid proponent for secession said “there’s been a big groundswell of Texans that are getting into the Texas independence issue. I believe conservatives in Texas should have a choice to voice their opinion.”

She also told the Houston Chronicle that the big reason Texas should leave the US is the overall dissatisfaction with politicians in Washington D.C. and dismay with federal spending.

And therein lies the irony, for Ms. Robertson represents parts of Harris County and Galveston – recent victims of Hurricane Harvey.

What’s an ungrateful secessionist to do when her state is devastated by a monster hurricane like Harvey and needs to slurp up $100 billion from the bad old Federal government – besides contend for Hypocrite of the Century Award? Will she be able to get over the dismay of accepting federal spending? My guess is she’ll take the money -and the credit – and be sure to remember to vote against aid to other states that suffer similarly in the future.

Residing in New York – one of the most highly-taxed states among the 50 (for now) – I only wish Texas had seceded before the Harvey devastation occurred.

Then they could get on line behind Bangladesh, Angola, South Sudan and all the other sovereign nations begging for clean water and a bag of rice.

Unpredictable or Just Tragically Non-strategic?
Donald-Trump-1053758
Trump shoulders the white man’s burden.

Kim Jong-Un continues to emanate his noxious farts across the Pacific Rim, taunting his biggest enemy the United States with threats to nuke a major city or reduce Guam to a rock pile. And with each salvo, the Washington intelligentsia wrings its tiny hands. What does Un want? What can we do? Have we run out of road to kick a can down? Is “Fire and Fury” an ultimatum or the next Vin Diesel movie?

The analysts at Major Terata have mostly figured it out. Mr. Un wants to reunify the Korean peninsula to avenge his father’s defeat at the hands of the Yankees in ’53. And His Portliness plans to do it once he’s confident no one will stop him. He doesn’t want to turn LA or Chicago into a smoldering miasma of radioactive dust and steam. He doesn’t want to be left alone. He certainly doesn’t give a shit about handouts of food and oil.

China’s not going to do anything constructive, and no bullying from Trump is going to change that. The Un-ster is biding his time, puffing up his assault weapons, waiting for the day the US withdraws the 30,000 military personnel from Seoul – then he invades. And what can anyone do about it? Is the US going to risk the loss of San Francisco to save Taejon?

In view of this gloomy outlook, Trump seems intent on fucking up the situation even more.

He parades around boasting of his unpredictability, head-faking his opponents into submission. But he’s really a strategic simpleton. Consider this buffoonery:

  • He threatens to shut down all commerce with any country that does business with North Korea -which essentially means China, a trading partner that does hundreds of billions with the US. The goal? Shut off NK’s supply of oil. Last time someone did that to a country, that country attacked Pearl Harbor and introduced America to WWII. In other words, Trump seems bent on delivering a double-patty shit sandwich of a Great Depression and World War III.
  • Trump continues to excoriate the Iran nuclear deal even though all evidence suggests the plan is working. Iran is not violating the deal, yet Mr. Orange demands his team fabricate a reason for the US to withdraw. Why? Because to do otherwise would amount to an admission that Obama had gotten it right. In the meantime, Trump sends a message to Kim Jong-Un that the US doesn’t abide by its deals – thus shutting down any avenue for a negotiation.
  • Who among the Pacific Rim countries does the US need most to stay cool in the face of intimidation? How about South Korea whose citizens share a border with the Hermit Nation and who would be quickly devastated should a provoked Un decide to push the button down. So what does unpredictable Trump do? He calls out the South Korean government as “appeasers” and threatens to blow up a significant bi-lateral trade deal. If that’s not non-strategic I don’t know what is.

And then he tweets this out!

untweet

Paul Newman’s Rolex

1504494237855

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. That buys a lot of Casios. In fact, you could probably buy the whole Casio watch factory for that sum. But the Newman Rolex is in a class by itself.

The watch is stunning by itself; but add in the Newman effect – engraved with a loving phrase from Joann, featured in several photos upon Paul’s wrist, worn in top class auto races – and you have an auctioneer’s wet dream.

1504439035293
Prediction: the watch goes for north of $15 mil.

Posted in Business, Politics | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Resign with Honesty – Please

kammen

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer endured unrelenting opprobrium and ridicule during his short stint in the job – much of it coming from his malignant boss Trump. Day after day, week after week the man could do no right. Yes, he self-immolated regularly, but he also was dealt one after another shit hand. Trump would make some lofty pronouncement that Sean was forced to defend, only to learn that Mr. Unpredictable had renounced it contemporaneously.

So when Spicer finally concluded resignation was the only path forward, he explained that it was in response to Trump’s decision to bring in a new Communications Director – the vile Anthony Scaramucci. Everyone knew Spicer had 1,001 real reasons to leave, but he chose to shamelessly blame it on the Mooch.

A few days ago, top American CEOs warming the bench on a couple of Trump’s fig-leaf business advisory boards resigned en masse. IBM’s Ginni Rometty lead the exodus and explained it this way:

The despicable conduct of hate groups in Charlottesville last weekend, and the violence and death that resulted from it, shows yet again that our nation needs to focus on unity, inclusion, and tolerance. For more than a century and in more than 170 countries, IBM has been committed to these values. … We have always believed that dialogue is critical to progress; that is why I joined the President’s Forum earlier this year. But this group can no longer serve the purpose for which it was formed.

Again, the resignation was blamed on some bad alt-right behavior in Virginia instead of the real reason which is Trump ‘s instability and racism. And when it comes to issues facing the economic health of the nation, Trump is a buzzkill. To wit: his desire to simply walk away from NAFTA with no plan for the fallout, his willingness to shut down the government unless his asinine wall gets funded, his suggestion that it’s OK for the government can default on its debts, his maniacal focus on resurrecting 19th century industries while ignoring those of the future. Despite his so-called CEO bona-fides, the man is a menace to big business.

But Rometty and gang could not bring themselves to cite their real reasons for disbanding the economic forum. Hell, they didn’t even lay blame for Charlottesville even tangentially on Trump’s ante-bellum rhetoric.

Now we learn that Dan Kammen resigned his position as Science Envoy for the State Department because … Trump screwed up on Charlottesville. Really? That’s why Kammen is bagging his 20 year career in government?

Kammen has been a scientist in the employ of the Department of Energy, the EPA and the State Department – and he also holds a directorship at UC Berkeley. Why couldn’t he just cite the real reason for his resignation: that Trump and his addled deputies are the most anti-science Luddites to run a government since Pope Urban VIII and his Vatican vagabonds castigated Galileo for daring to suggest the earth revolves around the sun. (How do you say “fake news” in Latin?)

Otherwise you’d have to believe that eminent scientist Dan Kammen was willing to accept Trump’s ignorant war on science forever as long as he kept his rancid racism in check.

C’mon all future resigners: have the guts to say it loud and proud exactly why you’re leaving the stink factory. Because it stinks.

The Day the Clown Died

clown

The death of comedian, actor, writer, director and TV huckster Jerry Lewis revived discussion of his never-screened, rarely-seen debacle of a movie titled “The Day the Clown Cried.” The Lewis production – which deals with imprisoned children, Nazi gas chambers…and a clown – is legendary for being perhaps the worst movie of all time. And we’re not talking bad in a good way like the films of Ed Wood and John Waters. Or even low budget stinkers like “Squirm” and “Porky’s 23.”

If you believe those who were involved in its production, or the handful of people close to Jerry who got to scope some dailies, “The Day the Clown Cried” is an inadvertently tasteless clump of poor acting, bad cinematography and nauseating storyline.

Jerry plays over-the-hill circus clown Helmut Dorque (pronounced Doork according to the script) who is arrested by the Gestapo after a couple of their agents spotted him drunkly insulting a framed photo of Adolf Hitler. Deep into the story Dorque suffers the wrath of fellow inmates who challenge him to perform his supposedly world-class clown act, only to watch him fail miserably. (Sidebar: The movie may have done better as a half hour “Twilight Zone” episode – but reading the script it’s clear Jerry tried to stretch a thin tale into a full-length epic.) Could there be anything more pathetic than watching a clown be unfunny? Here is some of the treacly dialog:

PRISONER: If he’s Germany’s greatest clown, God help the Fatherland. Doork, the Great! You got paid for that? To go without food is bad enough, but to have to watch that!
2ND NEW PRISONER (accusingly): You’re not the clown I saw. You lied. You’re big all right. A big liar.
4TH NEW PRISONER (contemptuously): And I was going to tell my kids!
UHLMANN: He’s no clown. Not even a bad one.
HELMUT: I am. I am a clown! Give me a chance. I just got started.
But the men continue to walk away. Helmut tries to do a hand stand, but his hands slip in the mud, and he lands ignominiously on all fours. When he looks up, only Adolf, Galt and Uhlmann remain.
ADOLF (sadly): That’s what we’ve been eating our hearts out to see! You stink. You really stink.
HELMUT: I… I slipped. I can do it.

Someone kicks mud into Dorque’s face and soon the clown sn on his knees in complete humiliation. Suddenly a small child approaches and, naturally, finds Dorque’s antics hilarious.

Soon enough the Nazis discover that Dorque’s abilities to charm young children with his goofy antics can be useful in keeping them calm before their ultimate demise in the gas chambers. Yikes! What a concept – and probably the main reason Lewis decided after the movie was in the can to keep it there.

In the end, Dorque – like the Pied Piper of Hamlin – escorts his young fans into the chamber and goes down along with them.

Someday, maybe soon, now that Jerry is gone, this artifact will play somewhere for cinephiles to ogle and debate. Will the audience sentiment be that “The Day the Clown Cried” was far ahead of its time – or will they exclaim “I’ve seen better film on teeth”?

End Note

eclipse

Trump tweeted out this meme the other day. Clearly it’s another in a long swipe by Trump to boast of his (white?) superiority over Obama. But another interpretation is that Trump is a mere moon in a solar system centered around the brilliant Obama.

Also, even though Trump looked directly at the obscured sun, is he that ignorant not know that eclipses last only a few minutes? Where’s the rest of the meme where Trump’s smug face slides off to the right never to be seen again in our lifetimes?

Posted in Movies, Obits, Politics | Tagged , , | Comments Off