Monday, December 26, 2016

2016 Claims Another Legend: George Michael Dead at 53

Breaking my silence of late to note the terrible news that George Michael, 80s/90s pop legend, has died at the too young age of 53. It's a rare year that claims the lives of multiple legends. Bowie. . .Prince. . . It may not be quite accurate to put Michael in their category, given the waning of his star since his heyday. He seemed to sputter out while transitioning from closeted to out gay man, and had apparently quite a few demons he couldn't slay. But there is no doubt that Michael's talent was in their league, and possibly surpassed it. There is no doubt that he can claim a sex appeal in his prime beyond either of them.

There was something obvious about Michael's talents even in his cheesy stateside debut with Wham!'s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. You could see it and hear it, there was more to this guy than a novelty hit. His voice and vocal range were astonishing. Clear as a bell, total control. And he could dance. I'm at best an awkward and rhythm-challenged white guy, but what I could manage, I learned by watching him. It didn't hurt that he had a mesmerizing physique, naturally.

And it was that beauty and sudden white-hot fame that seemed to trouble him. He seemed to unravel quickly, and never quite re-ravelled. I think we're all a little cheated for that, though it's surely not his fault. We're certainly cheated by his early passing. RIP, Mr. Panayiotou.

The first song I knew by George Michael:

The sexy George Michael:

The sexier George Michael:

My favorite George Michael song:

The Other Half's favorite George Michael song:

The song that helped me learn how to (sort of) dance:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Resistance with Keith Olbermann Is There a Russian Coup Underway in America?

Keith Olbermann has been largely off of the radar since his most recent departure from ESPN. With a long list of high-profile and bridge-burning departures in his wake, Olbarmann is known for being "difficult to work with." But we don't have to work with him. We should listen to him. The following clip made enough of a splash to trend on Twitter this morning, so maybe more people are.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

SNL: Kellyanne Conway with Jake Tapper on CNN

This week's Saturday Night Live didn't tap Alec Baldwin for his Donald Trump impression. Instead, shining cast member of the moment, Kate McKinnon, does her best Kellyanne Conway impression, blithely spinning away the nonsense that is the daily news from the Trump transition team. Very funny when it's not scary. Bryan Cranston shines as the natural pick for Trump's DEA.

SNL: The World Through Donald Trump's Eyes

Perfect. This filmed bit from this weekend's Saturday Night Live shows the
world from Donald Trump's perspective, as many of us imagine he really lives it.
A world where his reflection shows a magnificently handsome visage, massive hands
(made even funnier by the prop hands put over guest host's John Cena's already
massive hands), great hair, an adoring throng of supporters. . .and when reality
creeps in, he starts to get sleepy, starts to tune out, starts losing interest.

His hands shrink, words become noise. Until someone (like Kellyanne Conway or Mike Pence) struggle to bring him back to attention. Really masterfully done,
funny. . .and sad. Sad.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Right Wing World: Alt-Rightspeak: New Version of Political Correctness

I've had a hard time blogging of late, mostly due to the changing ways I experience the internet itself. I find myself engaging more in social media, message boards and the like, in shorter bites, than I do sitting down to write long blog posts. But the habit has its drawbacks, not the least of which is letting my blog run fallow.

One of those drawbacks is enduring the sheer repetitive asshattedness of many people on what I'd consider "the other side." Short on imagination, but long on conformity, it has always been true that folks on the right latch onto key words, phrases and turns of phrases that light their fire. Maybe that's just human nature, but on the right, it takes a) a hard, mean edge and b) a slavish repetition of an annoyingly unclever nature.

Image from
The best pre-Trumpian example I can think of, is the conservative response to any story featuring or related to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. Maddow is a darling on the left, a personal favorite, and as only your 90-year-old aunt might not know, a famous lesbian. The last part goes without saying in mainstream and left-leaning sites and stories. But on the right, it must be acknowledged, and it must be in the form of (what they consider) snarky put-downs, and mock-incredulous questions. But it always takes the same form: she looks like a man and her name is easily distorted to "Mad Cow" or "Man Cow." Though it's true that they do this in a variety of ways, it's a very small topic list, and the variations can be counted on your fingers and toes. They're repeated every time as though they're the most clever thing in the world, often (even usually) in place of actual arguments against her points.

And that's what I run across daily in Right Wing World, a maddening repetition of words, phrases, euphemisms and terminology that thinks it's clever (but isn't very clever), and worst, finds itself hilarious, though it wasn't funny the first time. Beyond that, much of the time, this language, this Alt-rightspeak is itself every bit the thing they rail against with Political Correctness.

Political Correctness (PC), is a badly-named, rather archaic concept, because the PC label applies whether liberals (allegedly the PC Police) are in power, or if conservatives are.  It began as an attempt to be more inclusive, accurate and considerate with language. Basically, it's not talking like a dick, about other people. Treating them as they'd like to be treated. Using terminology that people would like to have used about them, rather than terms they find inaccurate, insulting, degrading or just irritating. Unfortunately, as with absolutely everything in human history, it can be taken to extremes. Equally unfortunately--again, as with everything--it is the extremes that are used as examples of what is so "wrong" with political correctness. Which set us up for the Trump Era, where being anti-PC is "in," as is being a dick with supposed impunity.

But Trumpers have their own set of pet words, their own euphemisms, their own codes, which could accurately be called Political Correctness itself, because these are the people in power at the moment. It's just our lot in life that this new PC, this alt-rightspeak, is repetitive and irritating.

Special snowflake. Safe space. Cuck (and endless, clunky, awkward variations of cuck). SJW (social justice warrior). Libtard (and many variations of "tard," regardless of its backlash).  These terms are thrown at people like me on social media as though they are withering insults, and the height of cleverness. They don't know that most liberals don't know what they're even talking about. Without looking the terms up, most of us have never heard of a "safe space," have never considered ourselves special snowflakes. Don't attach the same meaning to "cuck" if we have any idea what they're even saying. And we don't find fighting for social justice to be a bad thing (and still have to look up SJW because we've never heard of it). Still, they fancy themselves to be wordsmiths on the leading edge with their debating skills.

What they're missing is that they themselves are every bit as over-sensitive to criticism as they accuse others. They're just as apt to react with high emotion if the wrong language is leveled at them. Insults of Trump, for example, are just as likely to turn them into "special snowflakes" themselves, as anyone. And their own code words can be just as goofy as anything they rail against. Worse, we don't need to find extreme examples, they're all extreme!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Conspiracy Corner: #PizzaGate: Fake Pedophile Conspiracy Theory Won't Die in Post-truth Trump America

It's not difficult to get sucked into a conspiracy theory. I've written a few times about my brief dalliance with 9/11 Truthers. It was between the infancy of the movement, and when they started to get fairly nutty.  Which is a pretty short space of time. At first, you feel like you've discovered something. Next, you start to see a few "aha!" type puzzle pieces that fit into a fascinating narrative, then those moments pile up with surprising speed. "How deep does this go?" you wonder to yourself, and then--if you are lucky--you start to notice the holes in the theory. And the "fact"-spackle that doesn't quite fit. Eventually, if you don't get sucked in completely, you abandon the whole thing, because they've basically spoiled the soup with crazy.
Image from source, New Yorker
For me, it was "there were no planes."  Which barely scratches the surface of the crazy to be found if you continue to follow with a more skeptical eye. Most conspiracy theories work on exactly the same sort of structure. And you could probably argue that you shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. But that's assuming there is a baby.

And if I used that particular old cliche to describe the #PizzaGate conspiracy theory, they'd all probably say that I'm in on it. Because oddly enough, the latest conspiracy theory to take political junkies by storm has managed to tie Wikileaks, Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, David Brock, MediaMatters and more to a child prostitution/kiddie porn/pedophile sex ring. Seriously. And, according to every fact-checking source out there, it's utterly baseless. As in: nothing to it.

But the #PizzaGate Truthers will not be swayed, and they're deluging the fact checkers with even more adamant "proof" that they're right. They will not be persuaded that it's untrue. What's worse, it's already lead to a crazy guy attacking the place, not to mention death threats and other harassment. Over an invented, "fake news" generated conspiracy theory. Which totally makes sense in post-truth Donald Trump's America.

On a side note, I can't help but notice that the exact same personality profile of your typical PizzaGate Truther matches that of the many of thousands of Josh Duggar supporters of several months ago. So, apparently outrage about fake child molestation by liberals is far more outrageous than real child molestation by conservatives. Or something.



When trying to understand what has befallen Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C., over the past few weeks, should one start with the gun or with the lies? Both are durable; both are dangerous. The gun is an AR-15-style assault rifle that a man, reportedly a twenty-eight-year-old named Edgar Maddison Welch, carried into the restaurant on Sunday. According to press accounts, Welch waved the gun, pointed it at an employee, and then fired, thankfully not hitting anyone. . .

Read more at: The New Yorker
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