Monday, May 30, 2016

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rachel Maddow Explains What Hillary Clinton's Official Email Policy Should Have Been

When people ponder Hillary Clinton's very tedious email "scandal" (and isn't the very word tedious, when attached to Clintons particularly?), if they're not being knee-jerk defensive, or knee-jerk offensive, they might ponder "why?" Why would the official way be undesirable (assuming there wasn't anything particularly nefarious intended, which I realize, many people would never, ever assume)? For the first time that I'm aware of, we have an explanation, courtesy of Rachel Maddow.

And don't get all, "well of course Rachel's shilling for Hillary," since she's just as likely to get criticized for being on Bernie's side, or even for allowing a Trump speech during her show, and just listen.


Clinton e-mail report illustrates antiquated IT system

Rachel Maddow looks at how a new inspector general's report on Hillary Clinton's violation of State Department e-mail rules describes the archaic archiving system Clinton was supposed to have followed.

Kinda nuts, right? But apparently, the rest of the MSNBC crew doesn't watch Rachel's show, because the Morning Joe crew seemed absolutely baffled at why Clinton wouldn't done this "for convenience." Maybe for the same reason her predecessors did? Nah, had to be nefarious, right?

Monday, May 23, 2016

John Oliver Explains Primaries and Caucuses to an Amnesiac America

Americans have a notoriously bad memory when it comes to politics. The cyclical nature of things ought to get us by sheer repetition, but they don't. Every four years, we have the same freak-outs over how these things happen. Though, truthfully, even having Sarah Palin on stage eight years ago couldn't possibly have prepared us for the Trump show. So, this year, we get a partial out for being just gobsmacked by THAT particular element.

SNL Season Finale Gives Us One More Hillary & Bernie Skit (with Larry David)

By the time Saturday Night Live returns for Season 42, the Hillary Clinton/Bernie Sanders fight will be far in the rear-view, and we'll be wrapping up the general election, one that promises terror for both sides. Seriously, when is the last time both candidates terrified the other side's constituents?

So, let's wring a few more laughs out of Larry David's Sanders. There are still plenty to be had.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

It's Time to Bury 2 Broke Girl$

Image from Wikipedia
I just watched the season finale of CBS' 2 Broke Girl$, which just wrapped up its fifth season, unbelievably. Now, I do realize that as a 50-year-old, I am not this program's target audience. Though I was a wee 45-year-old when it started, have been a fan of Garrett Morris since episode 1 of Saturday Night Live, and adored the show's prototype, Laverne & Shirley. Also, I'm of the gay persuasion--a demographic that the show manages to lampoon, insult, pander to and sometimes embodies the spirit of. So, I'm sort of in the mix after all.

But the show is terrible. Just awful. Oddly, even so, I probably saw the majority of the first four seasons, and a decent amount of season five. I don't even know why. I kept hoping its vortex of bad would stop sucking me in, but no. The awfulness of it, for some reason, compels me. And it's bad in so many ways, and on so many levels. The casting is bad. The acting is bad. The writing is bad. The jokes are bad. The storyline is bad. The continuity is bad. It's thorough, I'll give it that. But why is it so bad? That's a tougher nut. Because though all of what I just said is true, I really don't think the actors are bad, or that the creator (Whitney Cummings) or writers themselves are bad. It's just that somehow, the show is so tremendously less than the sum of its parts.

A horse in Georgetown. Seems legit.
The premise is simple. A Bernie Madoff type goes to jail, and leaves his rich bitch daughter broke and alone in New York. She's taken in by a lower class waitress, and the two embark on a dream to open a cupcake shop, while working in a diner. Nothing particularly bad about the premise. The diner is run by a short Korean man, who is the endless butt of jokes, generally about his height, alleged androgyny and/or boyishness. The jokes never evolve, get better, nor have ever been funny. The character hasn't improved from a one-note caricature either. Oleg, the repellent, horny, ethnic cook is equally undeveloped, non-evolving and unfunny. Kat Dennings is the streetwise Max, authentic broke girl, and Beth Behrs is the newly broke, blonde Caroline. Garrett Morris rounded out the original cast, and came off best, as the grizzled cashier of the diner.

Another wasted actor (Sandra Bernhard) in another
illogical (and ultimately aborted) story arc.
In season one, the immediate impression given by the show was that it was primarily a vehicle for big eyed, big boobed Dennings to crack wise, and deliver double- and single-entendre jokes about sex and body functions. At top volume. Dennings (and to be fair, most of the cast) seems to be unaware that the studio has microphones. Lines are shouted to the rafters, as in a high school play. And with nearly as much subtlety. The show does not do subtlety, and does not do hushed tones. At all. The decibel level is astonishingly grating.

Many episodes center around Max and Caroline trying to pick up extra work, or just extra money via schemes, part-time jobs, second or third jobs, going to pastry school, running a pastry shop, a cupcake window, working in an airport restaurant, in an upscale restaurant, and on and on. These side jobs and adventures can last an episode, a short arc, a season-long arc, aborted arc, you name it, and they seldom make a bit of sense scheduling-wise with their diner jobs. This sort of thing was easier to accept in the simpler 70s, when Laverne & Shirley would somehow keep their brewery jobs while joining the army, or becoming candy stripers. TV was simpler then, for one thing. The brewery was a day job, for another. And I was ten.

Laverne & Shirley wasn't perfect, and was just as loud,
but they were so much better.
L&S never tried to pass off a thoroughbred horse being kept as a pet, in the courtyard of an inner city apartment as normal or possible either. They did have loud and annoying secondary characters in Lenny & Squiggy. Girl$ has one, embodied by the (usually terrific) Jennifer Coolidge Sophie character, a brash, Polish, zaftig neighbor, greeted by whoops from the audience whenever she appears, in seam-bursting, over-stuffed dresses. Sophie has little reason to be in each episode, so they paired her, despite logic and lack of chemistry, with Oleg, and have not only made the couple over-sexed (and public about it), but have decided by season five to have 54-year-old Coolidge (depicted as a cougar in American Pie some 17 years ago) become pregnant.

Despite the show's many faults, I have, as I said, for some reason watched a majority of the show while it's been on. Occasionally, they've done something right. As when they've brought on love interests for the girls, notably Nick Zano's Johnny, Ryan Hansen's Candy Andy, Eric Andre's Deke and Ed Quinn's Randy (the best of the bunch, despite his nineteen-year age difference with Dennings). But as with the aborted storylines with all of the mini-careers the girls have started, each of these relationships seems to abruptly end, not because the storyline demands it, but because it seems the show is just like that.

Ed Quinn wasn't enough to make this a good show. But
it sure got my attention. Looking good for almost 50,
Ed! Well played, show.
2 Broke Girls loves the reset button. They love to have the girls in the diner, in those awful outfits, screaming their lines, ignoring no sexual pun, even stretched ones, still making fun of how short Han is, and how old Earl is. So, out with the boyfriend. Out with the gay waiter, or the Irish waiter, or any other staff at the diner. Out with the separate cupcake shop they somehow ran at night simultaneously with their night time diner jobs. Windfalls of money must be spent down to nearly (or past) zero. And no character development can take the characters out of their originally established one-note personality.

So, what spurred me to write about this terrible show, now renewed for its 6th year? Again, I don't know. I think checking in on it after missing several episodes, wondering why the impossibly good looking, talented, and much-too-old-for-the-part Ed Quinn was hanging around, and incredulous that the show manages to stay on the schedule, despite never improving. The show should be put down, as should poor, neglected Chestnut, the pet horse.

Mr. Tangerine Man (Another Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

It's been a while since I've posted a Rocky Mountain Mike song parody. Not because he stopped making them, or because he hasn't remained funny. But, because this campaign has ground me down to a little blogging nubbin. I'm finding the art of blogging isn't rewarding enough to pay more attention to all the foolishness going on. But this one caught my eye, lifted my spirits, and gave me the gumption to get it up on the ol' blog! A riff on The Byrds' Mr. Tambourine Man about the bloated pumpkin-headed Donald Trump was both obvious and genius. Good goin' Mike!

For more from Rocky Mountain Mike, please go here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Trump Half of General Election in Place. . .What About Hillary?

Badly written?
Much of the 2016 election cycle has played out like really, really bad writing. If this had all been merely a story, in a book, movie, TV show or even a comic book series, it would have had to have been as satire, or outright absurdist comedy. Trump's campaign alone plays like Springtime for Hitler from The Producers: an accidental runaway hit.

You've got an egotistical, eccentric, absurdly rich reality show TV star, who threatened to run for president for decades. Nobody took him seriously, and nobody thought if he ever called our bluff he'd amount to anything more than a curiosity. Even his handlers think it's an ego trip, a way to get even more famous/notorious/rich. Said celebrity finally goes ahead and does it, and begins by being as offensive as is possible to multiple groups of people. He manages to commit many, many "fatal" campaign flaws, any one of which would halt the ambitions of any and all presidential contenders.

But not Trump. Not only is he impervious to the ordinary rules of campaigning, his followers are willing to give up their bedrock issues to continue supporting him. They can even be "single issue voters" where Trump is wobbly at best, and they don't care. They  love him. They forget (or again, don't care) that many of the complaints they lobbed at Barack Obama ("arrogance," "celebrity," "narcissist," "inexperienced" and more) Trump embodies much more accurately. They ignore his obvious ignorance on crucial issues, they ignore that he has the extemporaneous vocabulary of a 5th grader, and the temperament of a 2nd grader. They ignore his utter disregard and contempt for political correctness ("manners"), his lack of diplomatic skills. They rechristen Trump's natural tendency to spout off as "telling it like it is," and "truth telling," when it is really braggadocio and a knack for bullshitting. And unbelievably, they ignore the fact that Trump is clearly irreligious (and religiously ignorant) at best, and very likely simply  atheist or agnostic.

Bernie and Hillary, early draft?
His supporters, again and again, love him even more. And he now has effectively won the nomination against sixteen other candidates, most of whom were far more likely candidates, Senators and Governors among them. See? Bad writing. The worst.

On t'other side, things are a little more toward normal. One Star Candidate, one Dark Horse, and a couple of extraneous nobodies. The Dark Horse started gaining some momentum, against-all-odds. That itself may be a trope or even a cliche, but it's not bad writing if done well. The Dark Horse's intended mission was to drive the star politician further to his aims and goals, and he did that. That's not bad writing. The Red Shirt candidates fell away, the special guest star (Martin O'Malley) finally dropped out, and our Dark Horse started catching up. There are two possible outcomes: Tortoise and Hare, with the star candidate getting lapped by the Dark Horse, in a major upset, or the happy ending, where the Dark Horse imparts his wisdom, and makes the Star Candidate a better candidate, and winner.

But somewhere toward the end of our story, the Dark Horse started to lose, but insisted it wasn't true. Occasionally, he'd surge, but not catch up, and would insist he was catching up anyway. He started to allege shenanigans and fraud. He complained about the pre-set rules. He continued to insist he was winning, while either losing, or facing increasingly poorer odds. All the while, the Star Candidate is taking on damage, and being criticized for becoming a better candidate for the Dark Horse's influence. That isn't to say that on its own, this couldn't become a good story in the hands of a decent writer. But it keeps getting more implausible. And we're quickly getting to the point where it would take a deus ex machina in order for the Dark Horse to somehow win.

Ted Cruz finally dropped out in our first storyline, setting up the final act, where our stories will converge. But despite having been written into a corner, Bernie Sanders vows to fight on to the convention in our other storyline, preventing a clean segue. His only play, by staying in, is to commit his own shenanigans, do the things he alleged the other side was doing, in order to usurp Hillary's almost certain nomination. Both sides are fractured, both sides are hoping against hope for someone to write them out of this mess.

Where's a dark and stormy night when you need one?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Unlikable Teddy Cruz Quits

Cruz prepares to eat his wife. Image from source, MSN
I didn't expect it, did you? No other embarrassing loss prior to tonight could shake Ted Cruz before Tuesday night. But there, right after one of his patented "victory from defeat" (and let's not forget God before country) speeches, Ted Cruz up and quit. And right after picking the equally unlikable Carly Fiorina as his running mate, too.

But there he goes. Old squiddy face is going back to the Senate, and leaving John Kasich to. . .what. . .tilt at a few more windmills? Try to swoop into the convention and steal the nomination? I can't see it.

But this whole thing has been so bizarre, end-to-end, who the hell knows anymore? The only thing we know for sure is that we don't know for sure.


Ted Cruz drops out of the Republican presidential race

Ted Cruz, the insurgent Texan whose presidential campaign was fueled by disdain for Washington, dropped out of the 2016 race Tuesday night, removing the last major hurdle in Donald Trump’s quest to become the Republican nominee for president. . .

Read more at: MSN
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