Monday, August 29, 2016

Gene Wilder Dead at 83

Well, crap. I knew he was getting old, and frail. And we hadn't seen him much lately. But dammit, mortality sucks. Gene Wilder is probably in my top five all time favorite performers. His late wife Gilda Radner ranked even higher. But Gene had far more success, and left so many marks in my pop culture database, this one hurts almost as much. Blazing Saddles. Young Frankenstein. Willy Wonka. Silver Streak. Stir Crazy. The Producers. His heyday may have been too long ago for Millennials and late Gen-Xers to remember, but even then, his Wonka character has been one of the most successful and versatile memes out there:
















And the one quote that resonates so well as an answer to anyone bested:


But for me, there are those iconic roles in some of my favorite movies, not to mention appearances in oddball features like The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, and many others. I didn't expect he'd probably be well enough to ever make new contributions to culture. But there's something about knowing that he never will that makes me very sad. RIP, Mr. Wilder. You will truly never be forgotten.




[Excerpt]

Gene Wilder, ‘Willy Wonka’ Star and Comedic Icon, Dies at 83

Gene Wilder, who regularly stole the show in such comedic gems as “The Producers,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “Stir Crazy,” died Monday at his home in Stamford, Conn. His nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman said he died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83. . .

Read more at: Variety

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Public vs. Anonymous, and Partisanship in the Age of Trump

Nope, didn't get the appeal way back then either.
Image from World of Wonder.
I got myself into a little bit of trouble yesterday. Someone I work with was either alarmed, offended or simply disagreed with something I had written online that appeared on their Facebook newsfeed.* I don't know what it was--I actually hadn't posted anything overtly political directly on my Facebook wall in some time--and we quickly dropped the subject. But it opened my eyes a bit about the pros and cons of being "open" online, vs. being anonymous, as well as the difficulty in holding your online tongue in an age of hyper partisanship.

I've been blogging since 2007, and before that, had an online presence stretching back to the days of Prodigy. But it wasn't until the beginning of the blog that I became transparent, and easily searchable. Much of the world is the same way. We write under our own names, with our own pictures and much of our own bios easily readable and knowable. We don't hide behind cute internet handles or pseudonyms. Which can give a person a bit of credibility, and accountability. But also, it can take away privacy (nothing on the internet is ever really gone). And it can get you into trouble if you say something that runs contrary to the beliefs, politics or sensibilities of other people you know.

Likewise, I didn't (and don't) understand the Clinton hate in 1992.
Image from ABC News.
So, I have a bit of a problem. I'm too entrenched in my behavior, and have already written too much publicly, to try to change my stripes now.  I mean, I can be more thoughtful and careful about what I say and how I say it. In fact, I probably will consider my words a bit more carefully, at least while this incident remains fresh in mind. But, what I've said is already out there. And my behavior patterns are difficult to break. I tweeted two or three things later that day, and only pondered their content afterward. Oops. But, also, we live in an environment of extreme partisanship on virtually every issue. And there are times when holding back, and not contributing is very difficult for a person who has political blogging as a hobby!

And let's talk about the political side for just a second. Everybody knows that in business and personal relationships, politics and religion are conversational minefields. But I think that it is obvious that this political season is quite simply different. It has elements that aren't simply right vs. left, conservative vs. liberal. The two main figures in the presidential battle are individuals widely loathed by huge segments the public. But while one, Hillary Clinton, is despised through an almost completely political prism, the other has only become explicitly political relatively recently.

Yes, Donald Trump has been in the media spotlight for decades. Until 2015, it was perfectly reasonable and acceptable to despise him as a superficial reality TV star, a libidinous, philandering shyster, with an abrasive personality. I personally have never understood his appeal, except as a curiosity and a target for humor. I didn't like him during the Ivana era, the Marla Maples days, The Art of the Deal, his many media utterances, and his more recent career as host of The Apprentice/The Celebrity Apprentice. If anything, my estimation of the man went down along the way.

Both loathed, but for different reasons.
Image from Restate.
And now here we are with Trump as the Republican candidate for president, and all of that baggage follows. If I were a Republican (still), I'd still despise Trump. I think this is borne out by the turmoil his candidacy has put the GOP through. So, I don't see my anti-Trump attitudes, beliefs and advocacy as a purely political thing. Yes, if the candidate was Jeb Bush or Ted Cruze, I'd still be for Hillary Clinton. But the arguments, the advocacy, everything would be very, very different.

If I were seeing Jeb! or Cruz signs in yards, I wouldn't question the judgment, taste or intelligence of the folks who put them there. With Trump, I can't help it. How does someone look at this guy, listen to this guy, and say, "Yeah! That's my guy!" I can't see it. And I do understand that there are people who say the same thing about Hillary Clinton, but the difference is, that's almost entirely politically based. Also accumulated over decades, but overtly partisan, and drenched thoroughly with questionable sourcing, innuendo, and opposition research.

So, the antipathy toward both candidates is similar in that it has been fostered for almost exactly the same amount of time (Trump has actually been nationally known for longer, probably), but comes from an entirely different place. Could my loathing of Donald Trump be colored by vague discomfort with his public persona, just as "colored" by perception as the political sourness a conservative might feel against Clinton? Maybe. I'll concede that, but only to a degree. Because I can honestly say that absent politics, I'd still have a strong negative reaction to Trump, in virtually any context.

Despite the honest disliking of this individual going back decades, it is unfortunately true that my personal anti-Trump campaign will be seen by many or most as a purely political position. Everything these days comes down to a black and white, binary partisan divide. But since I am a transparently open internet presence (if only to the random people who might look me up), I thought this explanation might at least provide context.

*On a tangent, the problem with being public on Facebook, and commenting transparently, is that Facebook itself will "feed" commentary made on other pages, even other websites, to Facebook followers and friends. Most people will never see your comment over at Huffington Post, but it could appear on anyone's at any time. Apparently, this time, something I said that was maybe particularly pointed landed upon this person's feed. I still don't know what it was, but am relatively certain it was pro-Clinton or anti-Trump. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hillary Clinton Looking Well on Jimmy Kimmel

Funny, where is she hiding her IV drip bag, hospital bed and heart monitor? Huh, they must've pumped her up and propped her well enough to fool me!



Much more available at Jimmy Kimmel Live!'s YouTube Channel.

False Equivalency: Both Sides Do It! And Other Campaign Eye-Rollers

Image from source, MSN
In this ridiculous--and ridiculously long presidential campaign--there are still some old-school rules of thumb that are still in play. There is the media fascination with and desperation to maintain the horse race over substance. And in service to that, there is the need for "balance," accomplished by boiling everything down to "both sides do it," even if it takes a false equivalency to get there. Rarely are we dealing with apples and oranges. In fact, often, it's just Bad Analogy Theater.

Here's how it works. The media, naturally, will focus on whatever has just exploded into the news cycle, this time it's usually something outrageous that Donald Trump either said or did. Often, that something occurs at a time when something negative has happened to Hillary (or at least, the media thinks it ought to be a negative for her). The Trump story has more oomph, and gets more attention, and then Right Wing World starts squawking that the media is "in the tank" for Hillary, and only focusing on Trump's woes (ignoring, of course, the countless hours of free press Trump gets in that same media.

In an effort to try to balance things out though, the media will often play up the Hillary thing. Right now, one of those non-equivalent things is The Clinton Foundation vs. Trump Inc. One is a multi-billion dollar charity that helps poor people, and which has disclosed its donors. The other is a multi-billion dollar for-profit multi-national corporation, that pointedly does not disclose its business ties.

The Clinton Foundation has attracted scrutiny to the point of absurdity over its donors, with so far baseless accusations of pay-for-play access between the charity and the State Department, when Clinton was Secretary of State. Meanwhile, the Trump business has attracted far less focused attention, even though it is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, and has even bigger financial ties to foreign entities, including the Bank of China. But it's the Clinton Foundation getting clobbered by innuendo, while Trump's businesses get passing mention.

That's par for the course this go-around though. There is so much going on in Trumpland that no one thing tends to stick, or get enough traction. With the Clinton side, it's a one-two-three punch of 1) Clinton Foundation, 2) E-mail "scandal," 3) Benghazi. Throw in a little "Mrs. Clinton has mystery diseases" rumor mongering, and you've basically got the counter-weight to the blizzard of Trump dumps. Donald calls group X a bunch of losers? Pick one of the above about Hillary, and pick at that as a counterpunch. Doesn't matter if it's baseless, pointless, or barely worth mentioning, just make sure it sounds bad for Hillary.

It's really no wonder that Hillary is keeping a relatively low profile these days. I wouldn't give a press conference either, when these old, stale topics keep getting dusted off and asked again. Everything has been asked and answered. Why risk giving a slightly different wording in an answer to have that dissected for three days, when Trump does something obnoxious daily? I'd keep my head down too. Though I'd be mightily pissed off at the double standard. And here we have--again--15,000 more emails. Doesn't matter what's in them, the insulation is that they were bad, and they were hidden. At this point, I really couldn't care less if one or six out of 15,000  maybe, could be interpreted as being classified after the fact. Sick. Of. It.

[Excerpt]

FBI uncovers 14,900 more documents in Clinton email probe

The FBI’s year-long investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server uncovered 14,900 emails and documents from her time as secretary of state that had not been disclosed by her attorneys, and a federal judge on Monday pressed the State Department to begin releasing emails sooner than mid-October as it planned. . .

Read more at: MSN

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Says Who?

Trump's doofy attorney, image from source, NY Daily News
This clip is everywhere, but it brings me so much schadenfreude, I have to run it. For one thing, this Trump attorney, Michael Cohen, comes off as a supreme ass. If I had to guess, I'd say he is a dyed-in-the-wool bully, and has exactly the countenance you love to see "get theirs." But it's just so comical (and refreshing) to see the journalist, Brianna Keilar, being tenacious, and rattling the guy. "Says who?" Says everybody!

[Excerpt]

SEE IT: Donald Trump’s attorney keeps asking ‘Says who’ when confronted with polls that the billionaire is losing

Change the name to the “Says Who” Room.

Appearing on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” Donald Trump’s tough-talking attorney jumped on the defensive when confronted with the candidate’s dismal polling numbers. . .

Read more (with video) at: NY Daily News

Emperor Trump Has No Clothes

It's a tremendous likeness. Tremendous likeness. Tremendous.

Parts of it are huge. Other parts not so much, that I can tell you.

[Excerpt]


This Naked Donald Trump Statue Cannot Be Unseen

Warning: Images in this post feature graphic depictions of male nudity.

You may feel like you’ve already seen and heard enough of Donald Trump these past few months to last a vampire’s eternal lifetime. . .

Read more at: The Huffington Post

Trump Dump

Well, another week went by just that quickly, and then some. Had some family in here at Casa Greenlee, and some medical things to tend to as well, and before you know it, 10 days go by. Sorry, blogisphere, it's sometimes just like that 'round here.

But I wanted to weigh in on this most recent Trump revamp, the Trump Dump of late that has people scratching their heads. While the candidate continues to confound people, making them vacillate between thinking he's serious, and then wondering if this is all just a scam to start some new venture, he makes decisions that further that confusion, rather than clearing it up.

For one, he hires the Breitbart guy, Steve Bannon, to run the campaign. This signals a hard right turn, with a fringey, conspiracy theory-spinning entity behind it. It makes you think it's going to be just balls-to-the-wall nutty from here on out, a merger of Crazy Right Wing World and the GOP.  This would either be a batshit crazy way to think you could win, or a way to shore up your bona fides with the hard right, in preparation for your new media venture.

But then you've got Kellyanne Conway--as far as I know, a kind of C-list but tenacious campaign strategist--and she seems determined to make him a real, viable candidate. Maybe a little of column A, a little from column B? I don't know. I still can't imagine that Trump really wants this job, not the daily grind of it. But I can believe that he's in so deep, he can't see a way out, and may be plotting both routes, both a "maybe I can win," route, and a "here's what I'll do if I lose" route?

[Excerpt]

Donald Trump's shakeup gamble

Donald Trump's reshuffling of his staff this week portends a risky pivot: a bare-knuckled, outsider-focused effort where no tactic for taking down Hillary Clinton will be off limits. . .

Read more (with video) at: CNN

Monday, August 8, 2016

Over Time with Bill Maher, August 5, 2016

Bill and his in-studio guests – Rob Reiner, Rick Santorum, Tara Setmayer and Jeff Ross – answer viewer questions after the show.

Oh, Blogger, Where Have You Gone?

Here I am! Dammit, another week got away from me, and I let this here blog thingy just lie here, didn't I? I've really been meaning to rev this thing up again, at least through the election. It's funny, when I started this thing, waaayyyy back in 2007, it didn't seem like we had as many outlets for creativity and personal political frustration. Starting a blog was the perfect medicine, giving me a platform and self-therapy wrapped up in one. And so much more seemly than muttering to myself and yelling back at the TV.

Well, frankly, I still do those things. But I do so with my laptop flipped open, my phone at my side, and sometimes my tablet on nearby too. I'm inundated with screens, information at the ready all around me.  But right now, I'm alternately worn out by what I'm seeing, or so stunned, I'm kind of unsure what to write! And it's so easy to fire off a tweet, respond in a short, quick comment, or otherwise sound off on social media, rather than opening the Blogger software to write a whole post about it.

Still, I have no intention of abandoning the blog. But I keep forgetting it's there. Here's hoping I can get back on track. I've got a lot to say, and it's longer than a tweet!

Back with more as the week brings news. Meanwhile, here's something hilarious....

 Trump as Liberace

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Over Time with Bill Maher, July 27, 2016

Bill and his in-studio guests – Cornel West, Alex Wagner, Matt Welch, and former Rep. Barney Frank answer viewer questions after the show.


The Simpsons Rips Donald Trump

The Donald isn't going to be saying "excellent," that I can tell you.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Keith Olbermann Runs Donald Trump's Personality Through Psychopath Test

This is tremendous. I miss Keith Olbermann a helluva lot. We could use him right now.

[Excerpt]

COULD DONALD TRUMP PASS A SANITY TEST?

Short answer: probably not.

First, several important caveats. There is little worse and nothing cheesier than questioning the psychological stability of a public figure, especially a candidate for president, even in this case.

Except that in his year of campaigning, Donald Trump has called Lindsey Graham “a nut job,” Glenn Beck “a real nut job,” and Bernie Sanders “a wacko.” Trump has insisted Ben Carson’s got a “pathological disease,” and asked of Barack Obama: “Is our president insane?” He called Ted Cruz “unstable,” “unhinged,” “a little bit of a maniac,” and “crazy or very dishonest.” He also called the entire CNBC network “crazy.” He called Megyn Kelly “crazy”—at least six times. . .

Read more (or better yet, watch the video) at: Vanity Fair

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bombshell: Trump Would Delegate Presidency to Vice-President if Elected, According to Kasich

Future "Vice President" Mike Pence?
This should disqualify Donald J. Trump for the presidency, should in fact effectively end his candidacy. If Ohio Governor John Kasich is to be believed--and why shouldn't he be--Trump's plan is to become a figurehead president, essentially in charge of American morale, while his Vice President does the work.

This is hardly a complete surprise as an eventuality. But it is a shocking thing to find out in advance. Nobody ought to really believe that Trump wants the day-to-day grind of the job of the Presidency. He wants the title, the prestige, the ego-stroking, the political "happy ending" (double-entendre intended and encouraged). But this means this cult of personality frothing at the mouth for Donald J. Trump, celebrity? Would be getting TRUMP stamped on the front of the White House, while President Pence runs things.

That ought to freak out anyone who isn't a far right-wing social conservative. That ought to become the biggest news story going. It should be drowning out Mike Pence's speech (which is happening as I type this). Hillary Clinton should hit this, and hit it hard: Donald Trump has no intention of doing the job of president.

[Excerpt]

Trump's offer to Kasich to be running mate: Be in charge of both domestic, foreign policy 

CLEVELAND — John Kasich could've become America's chief operating officer, the most powerful vice president in U.S. history, if only he'd said yes to becoming Donald Trump's running mate, several Kasich sources told The Dispatch.. .

Read more at: The Columbus Dispatch

Stephen Colbert Resurrects Character, "The Word," Jon Stewart and Coins "Trumpiness"

Perfect. I've been saying for months (seems like years) that the whole Donald J. Trump phenomenon seemed to hinge upon "truthiness," and "gut-feel," a form of fact-free-but-feels-right politics, practiced by arch Republicans. But it never felt like enough to explain it. After all, truthiness has been a Republican thing going back to the beginning of the Dubya era, at least. The Trump thing, this unbelievably unqualified, unexplainable famous-for-being-famous, reality star turned politician as an actual candidate for president? It's so strange, so out of explainable historical context, it just seems like bad writing. Who would have believed it, if it was foretold twenty years ago? Ten?

But, having been prescient before, Stephen Colbert has resurrected his arch conservative character (also called Stephen Colbert), brought along retired Jon Stewart, and his character-defining comedy segment, The Word, the bit that brought truthiness into being, in his very first show. And the new Word is:

TRUMPINESS.





[Excerpt]

Stephen Colbert Brought Back “Stephen Colbert”—and Jon Stewart—to Explain the Rise of Trump
 
The 2016 Republican National Convention is a scary time for many Americans—including many Republicans—and so on the Late Show on Monday night, Stephen Colbert brought back two figures from the in-retrospect quite comforting era of the mid-to-late 2000s: Stephen Colbert (the character) and Jon Stewart. . .

Read more at: Slate

Garry Marshall, ‘Pretty Woman’ Director and Creator of ‘Happy Days,’ Dies at 81

Marshall with Julia Roberts, from source, Variety

Awwww. Damn you, 2016! I've been a fan of Garry Marshall since before I knew who he was. Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy were pop culture touchstones of my childhood. I loved his acting appearances (he could seemingly turn up anywhere), particulrly in Soapdish, and his sister Penny's Jumpin' Jack Flash. Garry Marshall just knew FUNNY. RIP, Mr. Marshall. Maybe Chachi jumping the shark at the RNC is what did it?

[Excerpt]

Garry Marshall, ‘Pretty Woman’ Director and Creator of ‘Happy Days,’ Dies at 81

Garry Marshall, who created some of the 1970s’ most iconic sitcoms including “Happy Days,” “The Odd Couple,” “Laverne and Shirley” and “Mork and Mindy” and went on to direct hit movies including “Pretty Woman” and “The Princess Diaries,” died Tuesday of complications from pneumonia. He was 81. The news was first reported by Access Hollywood. . .

Read more at: Variety

Roger Ailes Out at FOX "News"

Grab-ass Murdoch, from source, Reuters
I'll bet Jabba Roger Ailes never thought that positively ancient Rupert Murdoch would live long enough to outlast him at FOX "News," and probably was more worried about doing battle with Murdoch's kids, should they inherit the place. But it looks like the loathsome toad (Ailes, not Murdoch) is going to be out on his ass, and very soon!

[Excerpt]

Murdochs decide to oust Fox News chief Ailes: report

Rupert Murdoch, executive co-chairman of 21st Century Fox Inc (FOXA.O), and his sons James and Lachlan agree that Fox News Channel boss Roger Ailes should leave the company but they have not settled on the timing, New York magazine reported on Monday, citing anonymous sources. . .

Read more at: Reuters

Monday, July 18, 2016

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Does Anybody Really Know What Crime it is? (Another Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

Rocky Mountain Mike's inspiration, maybe?
(See what I did there?)


Now that Hillary Clinton's email "scandal" is behind her, along with Bernie's overdue endorsement and the sputtering out of the most recent Benghazi report, she can finally, finally focus on the national election. But it won't stop the die-hards from sputtering and fuming that the email thing didn't pan out. So, just like Benghazi, they'll probably keep at it, trying to turn it into something. And maybe--as when Ken Starr turned an unrelated investigation of real estate dealings into one about cigars and blowjobs--something will eventually stick.

But don't tell me anyone is actually outraged about emails or servers. Liberals are outraged at a) conservatives who can't drop a bone, and b) Hillary for making such a rookie mistake. Conservatives are only outraged that they couldn't dredge anything up to hang her with. And they've hung Comey up to dry, right next to where the #BernieOrBusters put Bernie himself after his "sellout" to Hillary. But, does anyone really know what the crime is Mrs. Clinton is alleged to have committed? Glad you asked.

Just George W. Bush, Acting Goofy, at a FUNERAL

Michelle Obama trying gamely to play along with the goofball.
Politics is weird, and getting weirder. There are double-standards, and then there are stark, bold-letter, hypocritical double-standards, you know? I mean, think about what it must feel like to be these presidential contenders, listed with the thing that pretty much ended their chance to be president:

- Michael Dukakis: filmed driving a tank, wearing a helmet
- John Kerry: wore a hazmat suit at a science facility, went windsurfing that one time
- Howard Dean: screamed enthusiastically at a rally, magnified by a unidirectional microphone
- Al Gore: sighed audibly at a debate

Why is one of these things not like the other?
Yup. Almost universally, people would agree, those men's hopes of election were stopped by those little events. Matched up against the lengthy list of foibles, flubs, and downright outrageous things said and done by Donald Trump, they don't amount to anything. But that was it for them. For all the whining about there being a double-standard for Bill and Hillary Clinton, Trump seems to have a permanent "SKIP" UNO card when it comes to disqualifying events. Nothing shakes his base, and virtually nothing goes beyond a couple days in the news cycle, before they reset to default.

But here is another double-standard, and it goes to the double-standard for Clintons that is much more rarely addressed. For all of the certainty so many claim to have that the media and the system are "in the tank" for the Clintons, the fact is, they're held to a tougher standard than most. Making it more remarkable when they do manage to bounce back, or shrug off the brutal treatment they get. Case in point.

Bill Clinton was at a funeral for Sec. Ron Brown, and was seen on camera smiling and walking with someone. When he noticed a camera trained in his direction, he did what your grandmother would scold you to do: he wiped that smile off his face right quick, and tried to look somber. This was and remains fodder for right-wingers to this day, as an example of Clinton disingenuousness. When in fact, it's something probably anyone might do. Contrast that with yesterday's memorial for the police officers slain in Dallas this past week.



Presidents Bush and Barack Obama both gave stirring speeches. Dubya's was much shorter, obviously prepared for him, and rehearsed. And he couldn't help but keep his colloquial Texas twang. But it was fine. But check him out later, while holding hands with his much more mannered wife, and our current first lady (who, poor lady, is fairly trapped there with this goon) dancing around and acting goofy. At a funeral.

Think this will be brought up endlessly--or ever--by conservatives? Or even make more than a light ripple on the news before going down the memory hole?

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