Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

A Tale of Two Julias

May 5, 2012

It was the best of women.  It was the worst of women.

Let’s compare a couple of famous “Julias”, shall we?

Julia, a half-hour comedy premiering on NBC in September 1968, was an example of American network television’s attempt to address race issues during a period of heightened activism and turmoil over the position of African-Americans in U.S. society. The series was the first to star a black performer in the leading role since Beulah, Amos ‘n’ Andy, and The Nat “King” Cole Show all left the air in the early and mid-1950s. By the mid-1960s, a number of prime-time series began featuring blacks in supporting roles, but industry fears of mostly southern racial sensibilities discouraged any bold action by the networks to more fully represent African-Americans in entertainment television. Series creator, Hal Kanter, a Hollywood liberal and broadcasting veteran whose credits included writing for the Beulah radio show in the 1940s, initiated Julia’s challenge to what remained of television’s colour bar. Kanter had attended a luncheon organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and been inspired enough to propose the project to NBC. The network agreed to run the show, but programmers did not expect it to do well since it was scheduled opposite the hugely popular Red Skelton Show. The show proved to be a surprise hit, however, jumping into the top ten list of most watched programs during its first year, and continuing to be moderately successful during its remaining two seasons on the air.

The series revolved around the lives of Julia Baker, (Diahann Carroll) a widowed black nurse and her young son, Corey (Marc Copage). Julia’s husband had been killed in a helicopter crash in Vietnam, and the series began with the now fatherless Baker family moving into an integrated apartment building in Los Angeles while Julia secured employment at the medical offices of Astrospace Industries. She worked with a gruff but lovable elderly white physician, Dr. Chegley (Lloyd Nolan), and a homely but spirited white nurse, Hannah Yarby. Julia’s closest friends were her white neighbors, the Waggedorns–Marie, a scatter-brained housewife; Len, a police officer; and Earl J. Waggedorn, their son and Corey’s pal. While Julia lived in an almost exclusively white environment, she managed to find a series of impeccably refined African-American boyfriends. Paul Winfield played one of her more long-standing romantic partners. Performed with elegance and dignity by Carroll, Julia represented a completely assimilated–and thoroughly non-stereotyped–African-American image to prime-time viewers.

This week, desperate to show how wonderful a socialist society under “The Lightbringer” would be, the Obama Administration, last week, presented for our edification and illumination,the fictional, err, I mean compressed, life story of a young lady named Julia.

Rich Lowry, writing for nationalreview.com, summarizes it:

Julia begins her interaction with the welfare state as a little tot through the pre-kindergarten program Head Start. She then proceeds through all of life’s important phases, not Shakespeare’s progression from “mewling and puking” infant to “second childishness and mere oblivion,” but the Health and Human Services and Education Departments version: a Pell grant (age 18), surgery on insurance coverage guaranteed by Obamacare (22), a job where she can sue her employers for more pay thanks to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (23), free contraception (27), a Small Business Administration loan (42) and, finally, Medicare (65) and Social Security (67). (In a sci-fi touch, these entitlements are presumed to be blissfully unchanged sometime off in the 2070s.)

No doubt, the creators of Julia — imagine a dour and featureless version of Dora the Explorer who grows old through the years — weren’t seeking to make a major philosophical statement. But they inadvertently captured something important about the progressive vision.

Julia’s central relationship is to the state. It is her educator, banker, health-care provider, venture capitalist, and retirement fund. And she is, fundamentally, a taker. Every benefit she gets is cut-rate or free. She apparently doesn’t worry about paying taxes. It doesn’t enter her mind that the programs supporting her might add to the debt or might have unintended consequences. She has no moral qualms about forcing others to pay for her contraception, and her sense of patriotic duty is limited to getting as much government help as she can.

Back in October of 2009, 35,000 people were waiting in line outside of Cobo Hall in Detroit, Michigan when trouble ensued. These people were so desperate for help with mortgage and utility bills that threats were made, fights broke out, and people were nearly trampled.

Ken Rogulski was there, reporting on WJR in Michigan. He decided to interview two people there in line for Obama cash.

ROGULSKI: Why are you here?

WOMAN #1: To get some money.

ROGULSKI: What kind of money?

WOMAN #1: Obama money.

ROGULSKI: Where’s it coming from?

WOMAN #1: Obama.

ROGULSKI: And where did Obama get it?

WOMAN #1: I don’t know, his stash. I don’t know. (laughter) I don’t know where he got it from, but he givin’ it to us, to help us.

WOMAN #2: And we love him.

WOMAN #1: We love him. That’s why we voted for him!

WOMEN: (chanting) Obama! Obama! Obama! (laughing)

I wonder if they were “Julia’s” Aunts?

In the span of 24 years, we have gone from a Julia who was a successful, self-sufficient, hard-working, single, American mom, to a “Julia” who is a leech, living off the money of American taxpayers, and doesn’t know what the words “self-sufficient” mean.

We have to boot the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC out on his derriere on November 6th, 2012.

It will be a far, far better thing we do than we have ever done before.

The Origin of Easter Traditions Plus KJ’s Top 10 List

April 7, 2012

Here we are, the day before Easter Sunday.  Here in America, Christians will go to church in the morning, usually followed by a meal later in the day, and ABC’s annual four and one-half  hour airing that evening of the classic movie “The Ten Commandments”.

Cue Edward G. Robinson as Nathan:

Where’s your Moses, Naaaooow?

So, how did Easter Traditions begin?  And, where did they come from?

The origins of our Easter Traditions are quite fascinating, per infoplease.com:

According to the Venerable Bede, Easter derives its name from Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. A month corresponding to April had been named “Eostremonat,” or Eostre’s month, leading to “Easter” becoming applied to the Christian holiday that usually took place within it. Prior to that, the holiday had been called Pasch (Passover), which remains its name in most non-English languages.

(Based on the similarity of their names, some connect Eostre with Ishtar, the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess of love and fertility, but there is no solid evidence for this.)

It seems probable that around the second century A.D., Christian missionaries seeking to convert the tribes of northern Europe noticed that the Christian holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus roughly coincided with the Teutonic springtime celebrations, which emphasized the triumph of life over death. Christian Easter gradually absorbed the traditional symbols.

In Medieval Europe, eggs were forbidden during Lent. Eggs laid during that time were often boiled or otherwise preserved. Eggs were thus a mainstay of Easter meals, and a prized Easter gift for children and servants.

In addition, eggs have been viewed as symbols of new life and fertility through the ages. It is believed that for this reason many ancient cultures, including the Ancient Egyptians, Persians, and Romans, used eggs during their spring festivals.

…Orthodox Christians in the Middle East and in Greece painted eggs bright red to symbolize the blood of Christ. Hollow eggs (created by piercing the shell with a needle and blowing out the contents) were decorated with pictures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and other religious figures in Armenia.

Germans gave green eggs as gifts on Holy Thursday, and hung hollow eggs on trees. Austrians placed tiny plants around the egg and then boiled them. When the plants were removed, white patterns were created.

…Hares and rabbits have long been symbols of fertility. The inclusion of the hare into Easter customs appears to have originated in Germany, where tales were told of an “Easter hare” who laid eggs for children to find. German immigrants to America — particularly Pennsylvania — brought the tradition with them and spread it to a wider public. They also baked cakes for Easter in the shape of hares, and may have pioneered the practice of making chocolate bunnies and eggs.Easter cards arrived in Victorian England, when a stationer added a greeting to a drawing of a rabbit. According to American Greetings, Easter is now the fourth most popular holiday for sending cards, behind Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day.

After their baptisms, early Christians wore white robes all through Easter week to indicate their new lives. Those had already been baptized wore new clothes instead to symbolize their sharing a new life with Christ.

In Medieval Europe, churchgoers would take a walk after Easter Mass, led by a crucifix or the Easter candle. Today these walks endure as Easter Parades. People show off their spring finery, including lovely bonnets decorated for spring.

In honor of the holiday, I composed the following list:

The Top 10 Reasons I Miss an Old-Fashioned Easter

(Or, the Ruminations of a Cantankerous Old Man) 

Being an **ahem** older American, an empty nester, if you will, I have found my mind wandering back to memories of Easters past. Here is a list of those memories I’d like to share with you…in no particular order. 

  1. I truly miss the smell of boiled eggs and vinegar of Good Friday. 
  1. I miss dyeing eggs. Paas rules! 
  1. Why did my parents always hide my Easter Basket in the top of their closet? 
  1. Why did my Daddy always cut the yard on the Saturday before Easter? 
  1. Somewhere, there is an Easter picture of me wearing a crew cut, a blue and brown plaid sports coat and a blue bow tie. No. That wasn’t last year, I was in First Grade. 
  1. Who grieves for all of the ear-less Chocolate Bunnies? 
  1. Why did we always have deviled eggs with our Easter meal? Wasn’t dyeing the eggs enough? 
  1. The is nothing like the smell of an Easter Ham in the oven.
  1. When you’re a parent/grandparent hiding Easter eggs, you suddenly gain a new found respect for what your parents went through. 
  1. Why didn’t the preacher just go ahead and wish everyone a “Merry Christmas” to cover those he wouldn’t see again until next year? 

Happy Easter, everyone!


From Star Wars to The Hunger Games

March 25, 2012

The biggest box office hit in America right now is The Hunger Games.  In fact, it is setting records.

Deadline.com has the story:

Lionsgate’s record-shattering The Hunger Games opened with $68.25M grosses for Friday’s North American box office, including $19.75M in record-setting midnights. That should make for a first weekend of $140M with upside from 4,137 locations, with a screen count just under 10,000 prints. About 75% of those prints are in digital theaters, including 268 IMAX theaters across North America. Hunger Games records include: the highest non-sequel opening weekend ever, and the highest debut single day for a non-sequel ever, and the highest March opening ever, and the 5th highest opening day ever. Why is it doing so well? Because this brutal actioner about love and courage was based on Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy of post-apocalyptic young adult novels and made better than it had to be given all the omnipresent marketing and media hype.

Imdb.com summarizes the plot for us:

In a not-too-distant future, North America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss’ young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.

But, is this movie appropriate for children?

Commonsensemedia.org cautions parents:

Parents need to know that although the bestselling Hunger Games books are enormously popular with tweens, there’s a clear distinction between reading about violence and seeing it portrayed on screen. Developmentally, the 10- to 12-year-olds who’ve read the book may find the movie’s visceral, sometimes bloody teen-on-teen violence upsetting — especially the brutal scene that opens the Games, in which several teens are slaughtered by their fellow contestants. Even young teens need to be mature enough to deal with the 20+ deaths in The Hunger Games; characters are viciously dispatched with various weapons — including spears, arrows, and swords — as well as by having their necks broken, their skulls cracked, and their bodies ravaged by carnivorous and poisonous creatures. Despite the violence (which is, overall, less graphic than the novel’s descriptions but is still very intense), the movie explores thought-provoking themes about reality television, totalitarian government, and screen violence as entertainment. And Katniss, the main character, is a strong heroine who’s resourceful, selfless, and a true survivor. Her mentor, Haymitch, is initially depicted as a cynical drunk, but he ultimately proves to be a valuable ally.

So, the top box office hit in America features children killing other children?  

How callous have we become?  Okay.  Now, I’m depressed.

Back in my day (Here’s where I sound like my Daddy), we had great movies.  In 1975, we had Airplane!, one of the funniest movies of all time (Excuse me, Stewardess.  I speak Jive.) and Jaws (This was no boating accident!)

And in 1977, I attended the following premiere in the now-long-gone Paramount Theater in Eastgate Shopping Center in Memphis , Tennessee:

Part IV in George Lucas’ epic, Star Wars: A New Hope opens with a Rebel ship being boarded by the tyrannical Darth Vader. The plot then follows the life of a simple farm boy, Luke Skywalker, as he and his newly met allies (Han Solo, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi, C-3PO, R2-D2) attempt to rescue a Rebel leader, Princess Leia, from the clutches of the Empire. The conclusion is culminated as the Rebels, including Skywalker and flying ace Wedge Antilles make an attack on the Empire’s most powerful and ominous weapon, the Death Star.

It was a throwback to the old movie serials I used to watch on my parent’s blonde wood, black and white television set when I was a child.  It was an intergalatic cowboy movie, featuring heroes you cheered for, villains you booed, and good triumphing over evil.

The original Star Wars was an allegory, illuminating the hero in all of us.  Luke Skywalker was an average guy: a dreamer, longing for adventure, not wanting to settle for complacency, who received the opportunity for the adventure of a lifetime, and seized the moment, becoming a hero.

Sure, there was violence, but it was Saturday morning cartoon-style violence, featuring fight scenes such as American boys had already imagined while fighting invisible aliens in their bedrooms.

Nowadays, compared to The Hunger Games, it almost seems naive in its optimistic good spirits.

How did we get this coarse and brutal?  

Hold on.  Before you call me an old wuss, realize that I grew up watching Memphis ‘Rasslin’ on Saturday Mornings with my Daddy.  Heck, my Daddy and my Uncle “R” even took me to the Mid-South Coliseum, where I watched Jerry “The King” Lawler and Bill “Superstar” Dundee win the AWA World Tag Team Titles from Doug Summers and some huge “Russian”.

Plus, I lived in a neighborhood during my middle school years that was so rough, I had to carry a lead-filled bat around with me, because I was a little feller (and there was no government-mandated anti-bullying drive in the schools back then).

Anyway, I guess I’m just concerned that popular culture is forcing children to grow up too fast.  Middle school kids (‘tweens) are way beyond where we were, in terms of their social development.

And now, Hollyweird has them fighting to the death on a tarnished Silver screen.

And, they call this progress?

The ARM Chip: The Rise of the Machines

March 17, 2012

Soon, when you sit down in your easy chair to watch TV, your TV could be watching you back.

The story’s found at dailymail.co.uk:

When people download a film from Netflix to a flatscreen, or turn on web radio, they could be alerting unwanted watchers to exactly what they are doing and where they are.

Spies will no longer have to plant bugs in your home – the rise of ‘connected’ gadgets controlled by apps will mean that people ‘bug’ their own homes, says CIA director David Petraeus.

The CIA claims it will be able to ‘read’ these devices via the internet – and perhaps even via radio waves from outside the home.

Everything from remote controls to clock radios can now be controlled via apps – and chip company ARM recently unveiled low-powered, cheaper chips which will be used in everything from fridges and ovens to doorbells.

The resultant chorus of ‘connected’ gadgets will be able to be read like a book – and even remote-controlled, according to CIA CIA Director David Petraeus, according to a recent report by Wired’s ‘Danger Room’ blog.

Petraeus says that web-connected gadgets will ‘transform’ the art of spying – allowing spies to monitor people automatically without planting bugs, breaking and entering or even donning a tuxedo to infiltrate a dinner party.

‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,’ said Petraeus.

‘Particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft. Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters – all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing.’

Petraeus was speaking to a venture capital firm about new technologies which aim to add processors and web connections to previously ‘dumb’ home appliances such as fridges, ovens and lighting systems.

This week, one of the world’s biggest chip companies, ARM, has unveiled a new processor built to work inside ‘connected’ white goods.

The ARM chips are smaller, lower-powered and far cheaper than previous processors – and designed to add the internet to almost every kind of electrical appliance.

It’s a concept described as the ‘internet of things’.

The original article, found on wired.com, adds the following:

…On Tuesday, the company unveiled its new ARM Cortex-M0+ processor, a low-power chip designed to connect non-PC electronics and smart sensors across the home and office.

Previous iterations of the Cortex family of chips had the same goal, but with the new chip, ARM claims much greater power savings. According to the company, the 32-bit chip consumes just nine microamps per megahertz, an impressively low amount even for an 8- or 16-bit chip. Gary Atkinson, ARM’s director of embedded applications, says the chip is 40 percent more efficient than its predecessor. This reduction, he says, will finally allow “fixed function” chips to integrate with everyday devices — and start telling them what to do.

“If you look at the edge of the internet today, [it's] your mobile phone, your tablet, your PC. That’s what you interact with, and that’s what sends and receives data,” Atkinson tells Wired. “What we’re talking about with the ‘Internet of Things’ is extending that connectivity out, connecting every day devices to the internet.”

This is hardly a new idea. Tech companies and pundits have trumpeted this sort of thing for years, envisioning a world where smart sensors do everything from regulating your home’s air temperature to flipping the lights on and off. But Atkinson believes we’re finally on the verge of such a world, and he takes the vision a step further, imagining a world filled with things like “smart umbrellas.” Rather than checking the weather each morning for rain, you could buy an umbrella that beeps at you when it’s needed.

Today’s chips are small enough for this sort of thing. But, according to Atkinson, they consume too much power. With the Cortex-M0+ processor, he says, ARM has changed that, offering a chip that consumes virtually no power when it’s turned on but not actually doing work — i.e., when it’s in sleep mode. Geoff Lees, vice president of Freescale’s microcontroller division, who has partnered with ARM on the chip, says this power efficiency is crucial for devices that generate a lot of data, such as blood glucose monitors or underground flowmeters. Now you essentially “don’t need an on or off switch,” he says.

This gives “Big Brother” The ability to turn out household appliances against us.

Remember the movie, Maximum Overdrive, starring Emilio Estevez, and based on a Stephen King Novel?

For 8 days in 1986, the earth passed through the tail of a mysterious Rea-M rogue comet. During that time, machines on earth suddenly come to life and terrorize their human creators. A small group of people in a truck stop, surrounded by “alive” semi-trailers, set out to stop the machines before the machines stop them.

The problem was, it wasn’t just those trucks, it was soda machines, Cuisinarts,  electric knifes, and other machines that came to life and attacked humans.

And now, you tell me that my HD TV is going to be used to spy on me?

Perhaps that movie wasn’t so far-fetched after all.

I knew that Mickey Mouse clock was staring at me.

Generation XY: In Search of Free Room and Board

March 16, 2012

Jerry Clower, the late, great country comedian used to say:

Them kids you sent out in the wide world? They’ll be coming home (two beats) and they’s bringing more with’em!

He was a prophet.

The Christian Science Monitor has the story:

After graduating from Brown University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature and completing a Fulbright scholarship in Brazil, Cassie Owens was left with a few dollars on her stipend and no job in sight. So, Ms. Owens returned home to her mother in Philadelphia.

“I moved back home pretty much for lack of money and prospects,” she says. Owens’s cousin, Evon Burton, who also returned home after graduating from Morehouse College in 2009, adds, “The choice is to go out and be in debt or to pursue your dreams and save up money at home, in a safe, stable environment.”

Owens and Burton are among the scores of so-called “boomerang kids,” young adults who move out of the family home for school or work and then return home. Unable to find well-paying work in a weak economy, escalating numbers of young adults – as many as 3 in 10 – are returning home to the family nest, resulting in the highest share of young adults living in multigenerational households since the 1950s, according to a Pew Research Center report released Thursday.

“The rise in the boomerang phenomenon illustrates the effect the recession and the weak economy are having on young adults,” says Kim Parker, a senior researcher at Pew and the author of the study. “Young adults were hit particularly hard in the job market and are having to delay reaching some basic financial milestones of adulthood because of this.”

In 1980, some 11 percent of young adults lived in multigenerational households, suggesting that a strong economy helped youngsters gain independence more quickly. Today, some 29 percent of 25- to 34-year olds either never moved out of their parents’ home or say they returned home in recent years because of the economy, according to the Pew report. Among 18- to 24-year olds, that figure is even higher – 53 percent of young adults in that age group live at home.

“These statistics show that the recession has exacerbated a trend that was already under way since the 1980s … living at home longer and boomeranging back more frequently,” says Barbara Ray, coauthor of “Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood and Why It’s Good for Everyone.” The recession has hit this age group particularly hard, says Ms. Ray, and high unemployment among young adults, combined with growing college debt, means more youngsters are returning home.

Surprisingly, most “boomerang kids” don’t mind living with mom and dad. If ever there were a stigma about living with parents through one’s late twenties and thirties, the recession and, along with it, a practical dollars-and-cents outlook on life have all but erased that perception.

Of those living at home, some 78 percent say they’re upbeat about their living arrangements, according to the Pew study, and 24 percent say it’s been good for their relationships with their parents (48 percent say it hasn’t changed their relationship).

Owens says she’s happy to have an opportunity to look after her mother, who isn’t in good health.

“My parents love it and if they could keep me here forever they would,” says Erika Brunner, who moved back home to Lafayette, N.Y., in 2010 after completing her bachelor’s degree, working, and traveling in Europe for five months.

What are some of the secondary effects felt by the families whose young adults move back home?  OnlineUniversities.com reports that

One-third of parents have to remortgage their home to support adult children.

When kids boomerang back home, it often comes at a big financial cost to parents.

The help parents give boomerang kids often affects their own retirement savings.

In a time when it’s getting harder and harder to save enough for retirement (health care doesn’t come cheap), the plans of many parents are taking another hit.

Two in five parents are giving their adult children financial help.

The costs associated with caring for kids don’t end at 18 these days. In fact, many parents spend as much as 10% of their income to support their adult children.

Due to greater acceptance, 85% of college grads plan to move home after graduation.

Once upon a time, an adult child moving back home may have gotten the neighbors talking, but these days, it’s pretty common.

The millennial generation may be less likely to rebel against the values of their parents.

While not every young adult wants to live at home or gets along swimmingly with mom and dad, a Pew study found that millennials aren’t as rebellious as their parents were back in their early twenties.

Many 20-somethings now put off marriage.

Expectations for adult milestones are different today than they were in the past. Few young adults these days plan to be able to get married, buy a house, or have kids before they’re 30.

Boomers are now supporting both older and younger generations.

Boomers are taking a hit in both directions. Not only are they supporting or caring for their parents, but many are also providing financial support or housing to their children as well.

Many young adults increasingly rely on advice from adults.

There is no doubt that these are uncertain times, and for many new grads that can mean looking to parents for advice on how to manage careers and finance.

Boomeranging kids may be more likely to care for aging parents.

Adult children who receive help from their parents to get on their feet may be more willing to repay that help by caring for their parents in old age. Relationships forged when children move in with parents may just help pave the way for adult children helping out their parents down the road.

The phenomenon of boomeranging is changing the young adult demographic not only in the U.S., but also around the world.

Kids aren’t just boomeranging here in the U.S. As the economy takes a downturn around the world, college grads are shacking up with mom and dad in higher numbers just about everywhere you look. In the UK they call them “Yuckies,” in Italy “Bamboccini”. Whatever they’re called, boomeranging kids are popping up everywhere, changing how a whole generation of young people are entering their adult and professional lives.

Boomerangers may have spawned a new life stage called emerging adulthood.

In years past, psychologists were doubtful about the legitimacy of the life phase we now call adolescence. Clearly it’s gained some acceptance since then, and many see the same happening for the newly coined phase called “emerging adulthood.”

Many boomerang kids feel like they’re stuck in limbo.

Once, graduation from high school or college may have been the rite of passage between the world of an adolescent and a full-fledged adult, but that’s no longer the case. Many boomerangers feel trapped in a liminal space that’s somewhere in between.

Boomeranging only further entrenches the disparities between income.

Moving back home with mom and dad may be more advantageous to those from middle- or upper-class families. Studies show that they’re able to give more to struggling kids in college and afterward.

While having the kids move back in and sponge off of Mom and Dad may bring familial warm fuzzies, it does nothing to strengthen the survival skills of the young adults in question, nor is it very beneficial for Mom and Dad’s bank balance.

Is America producing a generation of Co-dependents?

Next thing you know, a 30 year old Law Student from Georgetown University, who dates the son of a wealth Democrat Donor, will be testifying before Congress that she wants us to pay for her yearly $3,000 supply of Condoms.

Oh, wait…

“Game Change” Same Old Liberal Propaganda

March 12, 2012

My bride and I dropped HBO a couple of years ago, to save money.  I’m glad that we did. The Liberals who run it have screwed up what used to be a very good movie channel.

They’ve turned it into a propaganda platform for their political ideology, featuring the misogynist rantings of the decidedly unfunny Bill Maher and made-for-HBO movies, such as Game Change, about the nomination of Former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as the Republican Vice-Presidential Nominee.

The Weekly Standard has the story:

Nicolle Wallace was the onetime consultant to CBS News and media aide to George W. Bush who was assigned to work with Sarah Palin after the Alaska governor was chosen as John McCain’s running mate. It was Wallace who assured the McCain campaign that her dear friend Katie Couric, a committed liberal with a history of interviewing Republicans and conservatives in a quietly nasty way, was the right journalist to conduct a major early interview with the extremely conservative vice-presidential nominee.

Palin has only herself to blame for how horribly she came off, but as she was the most hotly sought-after interview in the world at the time, the McCain campaign could have picked and chosen and been cleverly calculating about which journalist would win the prize. Wallace was responsible for one of the great blunders in political advance work of modern media history.

Now, imagine you’re making a movie about the Palin story, one that demonstrates a modicum of sympathy for Sarah Palin’s excoriation at the hands of the media. (I know, I’m talking crazy, but go with me here.) In such a movie, Nicolle Wallace’s catastrophic guidance could have been portrayed in several ways. It could have been played as a simple goof, a wrongheaded political calculation. Or as an example of a kind of golly-gee naïveté, with Wallace being snowed by a seductive Couric. Or as a careerist move killing two birds with one stone, with Wallace seeking to stay in the good graces of her former colleague Couric despite several years of working for Republicans.

Needless to say, that is not how Nicolle Wallace is portrayed in Game Change, the new HBO movie based on the John Heilemann-Mark Halperin bestseller. No, indeed. Wallace is the movie’s heroine. She is the voice of reason, the increasingly alarmed witness to the evil McCain has perpetrated by foisting Palin upon the world. It is through Wallace’s interactions with the vice-presidential candidate that we see confirmed every bad thing anyone has ever said about Palin (save that she is not the mother of Trig—it steers clear of that Sullivanian filth). Wallace (played by Sarah Paulson) delivers screenwriter Danny Strong’s inadvertently hilarious Blue State zinger when, dripping with righteous scorn during a confrontation with Palin, she says with disbelief, “Yeah, you’re just like Hillary.”

Wallace’s deeply principled revulsion is mirrored by that of Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson), the McCain campaign chief whose initial excitement at Palin’s political skills and smarts is fast superseded by his awareness of her religious fanaticism (Schmidt gets a horrified look on his face when she says she sees the hand of God at work) and her ignorance.

Yes, if ever you wanted circumstantial evidence that the sources within the McCain campaign who spent October 2008 dumping on Palin anonymously might have included Wallace and Schmidt, you need look no further than HBO’s Game Change. The movie presents a moral case for the disreputable conduct of aides who, we can presume, fearlessly drop dirty dimes anonymously to save their own standing in the liberal culture from which they desperately wish not to be excluded.

Those closest to Gov. Palin, and the Arctic Fox, herself, aren’t particularly impressed by the movie, to say the least.

According to ABC News:

In response to the movie “Game Change” focusing on her historic selection as the GOP vice presidential nominee in the 2008 campaign, Sarah Palin says in an email to ABC News that the film doesn’t matter to her.

“I believe my family has the right priorities and knows what really matters,” Palin emailed. “For instance, our son called from Afghanistan yesterday and he sounded good, and that’s what matters. Being in the good graces of Hollywood’s ‘Team Obama’ isn’t top of my list.”

Palin’s allies have dismissed ”Game Change,” which is based on the book that described the former Alaska governor’s lurch onto the national stage, as a bundle of lies. Her former aide Jason Recher called it a “false narrative cobbled together by a group of people who simply weren’t there.”

Randy Scheunemann, who advised Palin during the campaign, said that “to call this movie fiction gives fiction a bad name.”

Other aides who worked on the campaign – campaign manager Steven Schmidt and top aide Nicolle Wallace – have said the film is a generally accurate portrayal of Sen. John McCain’s selection of Palin, whom they allege was emotionally and intellectually not up for the job.

Of course, Schmidt is now working as a on-air contributor for MSNBC, where Ms. Wallace is a frequent guest as a Political Pundit.

No agendas here.  Nope.  Nothing to see at all…literally.

Requiem for a Bad Dog: John McCormack 1955-2011 (One Year Anniversary Edition)

March 10, 2012

Today marks the one year anniversary of the death of a Mid-South legend, larger-than-life Radio Personality John “Bad Dog” McCormack.  Here is a tribute which I wrote, upon hearing of his passing.  He is truly missed.

If, when we’re standing before God, the amount of good we do with our lives, and the amount of joy and happiness that we are able to bring to this world of pain is brought up, then, Thursday afternoon, the Pearly Gates shook with the infectious laughter of one giant of a man.

John “Bad Dog” McCormack lost his long battle with AML late Thursday Afternoon at Methodist University Hospital in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.  Bad Dog was an on-air personality for 22 years at WEGR Rock 103, a Classic Rock Station.

Bad Dog began as a part of the Wake-up Crew with Tim Spencer and Bev Hart.  Dog was basically a 14-year-old kid in a man’s body.  He was a natural-born prankster, and became known for his creation of “The Twilight Phone”, an anonymous prank call he would make to unsuspecting citizens.

In one memorable call, he impersonated an Apartment Manager, calling a guy who dumped his fiance’s dead pet Piranhas into the apartment lake, claiming that they came back to life and the poor sap had to reimburse the apartment $2,8000 for draining and restocking the lake.  And then, there was Bad Dog”s possibly most famous call, where he talked to an older gentleman named Mr. Lannum, impersonating a collector attempting to collect on a  past-due cable bill.  Mr. Lannum went ballistic, cussing a blue streak that is still talked of in hushed tones to this day, 20 tears later:

When he finally clued the individuals in to whom they had been talking to, each one of them eventually forgave him, because, after all, it was Bad Dog.

Another routine that Bad Dog came up with, was remarkable.  In a city known for racial polarization, he came up with the idea of numbering their show’s Black listeners, thinking that actual black listeners would be few and far between.  Well, Bad Dog received a big surprise.

The routine became very popular among Memphis’  Black Community, as people called in to talk to Bad Dog.  He would make up a hilarious “oath” for the listener to say, and from then on, whenever this individual would call in to talk about the subject of the day, they would self-identify as Black Listener Number So-and-So.  Everyone loved Bad Dog.

However, the most incredible thing that this man accomplished during his time with us started when he, Spencer, and Hart decided to begin a yearly Radiothon in support of St. Jude Hospital’s Ronald McDonald House.

Over the last 20 years, Bad Dog and his co-workers have raised over $7 million dollars to help build and maintain the refuge for cancer-stricken kids and their families, so they could have some semblance of normal life while they undergo treatment at St. Jude.

Bad Dog McCormack was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia in late October 2009.  He was still working mornings, though his new partner was Ric Chetter.  Clear Channel Communications, in their infinite wisdom, had split up the popular Wake Up Crew in November of 2006, firing Newsperson Bev Hart, and, eventually moving Rock 103 Program Director Tim Spencer to mid-days.

Bad Dog continued to work as he underwent treatment, as he felt that this was the best medicine for him and was what God had called him to do.  His courage in the face of his own mortality was an inspiration to the entire Mid-South, as his barrel-house laugh continued to reverberate through the car speakers of the Mid-South every morning.  He also continued to work the annual Rock103 Radiothon, letting nothing stand in his way of helping the kids.

Bad Dog underwent a bone marrow transplant in November of 2010.  He seemed to be doing better, and, in December, an online poll of Memphians voted him The Most Noteworthy Memphian of the Year.

On February 10-11th, Bad Dog was at the mic, around the clock, for the 20th Annual Rock103 Radiothon.  When it was over, he announced that more Leukemia had been found.  He remained upbeat, and said that this was just par for the course.

Meanwhile, Clear Channel Communications, again in its infinite wisdom, fired Ric Chetter, and moved Bad Dog and Tim Spencer to afternoons, while bringing in a morning show named Free Beer and Hot Wings, 5 guys syndicated out of the Great White North, whose humor about hockey games is about as relevant to the Mid-South as hunting moose.

Bad Dog took this change in his usual good-natured stride, happy to be back with his old partner-in-crime, Tim.

Then, last Thursday, Bad Dog took a turn for the worse.  He was rushed to Methodist University Hospital in Downtown Memphis, where he passed away from an aneurysm, brought about by his Leukemia.

In an interview with the Commercial Appeal, Bad Dog made this comment about his battle against Leukemia and his love for the kids at St. Jude:

When I see what they are going through, I have no reason to complain. They are so young and have so much pain. I’ve lived a blessed life. If I died tomorrow, I’d go with a smile on my face.

He also, in his usual big-hearted, gentle way, left a statement to be released after his death:

I have gone to be with God and he is holding me tightly and I am surrounded by many of the Ronald McDonald’s House kids. Do not say you have lost a friend… One is only lost when you don’t know where they are… you know where I am. I thank each and every one of you for your support and prayers. I love all of you and that will never go away. When you are having a bad day… think of my laugh or a Twilight phone or the time we met. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow, make every day great, be the spiritual leader of your family. May peace be with you. Your friend, Bad Dog.

John”Bad Dog” McCormack, 55,  leaves behind his two sons, Buck and Tucker, a huge family, and thousands of fans.

As one of those fans, please allow me to say thank you, Bad Dog, for brightening up a lot of dreary mornings.

A sign currently on display outside  a local jewelry store says it all:

BAD DOG MADE MEMPHIS A BETTER PLACE.

R.I.P. Davy Jones – December 30, 1945 – February 29, 2012

February 29, 2012

I remember it as if it was yesterday.  I was 8 years old, and this cool new television show was coming on.

It was about the adventures of an American Rock ‘n Roll Band, who lived in a beachfront house and drove a GTO convertible.  I mean, what could be cooler than that?

The guys were all American boys, except for one little short feller.  This guy quickly became one of the biggest teen idols of all time. The girls, old and young, went nuts for him.

And on top of that, he sang with such a pure voice, you just knew that he had some training, somewhere.

And now, today, some 46 years later, I found out that he has passed away from a heart attack…much too soon.  You guessed it.  The band was The Monkees.  The man was Davy Jones.

Here’s some information you may not know about him, courtesy of Biography.com:

…A member of the Monkees, Davy Jones became a popular teen idol of the late 1960s. He started his acting career at the age of 11, winning a role on the popular British soap opera Coronation Street.

For a time, Jones trained to become a jockey but he gave it up to perform in the theater. He played the Artful Dodger in a London production of the musical Oliver! In 1963, Jones reprised the role for his Broadway debut. He received a Tony Award nomination for his performance that same year.

Jones landed a few television guest appearances and other roles before getting his big break. Along with Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, and Mickey Dolenz, he was selected for a new television series about a rock group modeled after the Beatles. The Monkees debuted in September 1966 and audiences adored the humorous antics of this manufactured band. Jones especially attracted a lot of attention from fans for his charm and boyish good looks.

It wasn’t long before the Monkees scored on the music charts. Their version of Neil Diamond’s “I’m a Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville” were their first number one hits. More successful singles followed, including another Neil Diamond tune, “Little Bit Me, Little Bit You,” Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, and “Daydream Believer” by John Stewart of the Kingston Trio. Their albums sold millions of copies.

The Monkees even starred in their own feature film, Head (1968). Unfortunately for the so-called Pre-Fab Four, it was a dud at the box office. That same year, their series was canceled and Tork left the group. Jones and the remaining members soldiered on for a while, releasing 1969’s Instant Replay before splitting up.

After the Monkees, Jones continued acting and singing. He released a self-titled album in 1971. That same year, Jones made a memorable appearance on the hit family sitcom The Brady Bunch as himself. He was teenager Marsha Brady’s dream date for the prom. Jones had guest roles on a number of other shows, trading in on his popularity as a teen idol.

Returning to music, Jones teamed up with Dolenz and former Monkees songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. They released one album together in 1976, which failed to make much of an impression on the music buying public.

There was a renewed interest in the Monkees, however, in the 1980s. Some of their original recordings returned to the charts and Dolenz, Tork, and Jones reunited for a concert tour in 1986. That same year, the group released a greatest hits collection, Then and Now, which featured a new track, “That Was Then, This Is Now.” Reruns of the group’s series started airing on MTV in 1987, giving the band even more of a boost. That same year, the Monkees released the album Pool It!

Nesmith returned to the group in the mid-1990s for a successful tour and a new album, 1996’s Justus. While the new recording failed to make the charts, the Monkees previous albums have remained strong sellers over the years. The Best of the Monkees reached number 51 on the Billboard 200 chart in 2003.

Outside of his activities with the Monkees, Jones continued to act. He had a cameo in The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) and appeared on such shows as Boy Meets World, The Single Guy, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. On the London stage, Jones appeared in Oliver!—this time around playing Fagin. He also starred in a revival of Godspell as Jesus.

Known for his wit and warm sense of humor, Jones wrote several autobiographies, including 1987’s They Made a Monkee Out of Me. He also owned several thoroughbred race horses. Music, however, has remained his main passion. He has recorded several solo albums, including 2001’s Just Me.

In his later years, Jones spent much of the year on tour with his band. He released a collection of his most requested songs entitledIncredible Revisited in 2008. Jones also made numerous personal appearances to meet up with fans and participated in a number of sporting events for charity.

In 2009, Davy Jones was named Number 2 of the list of All Time Best Teen Idols

Active until the end, Jones died today of a heart attack, in Florida, at the age of 66.  He is survived by his wife Jessica; his four daughters from previous relationships, Annabel, Talia, Jessica, and Sarah; and several grandchildren.

As somebody who carried a Monkees lunch box to Elementary School and had a toy Monkeemobile in his bedroom, I just want to say thank you, Davy, for all those evenings I spent glued to the television and all of those hours I spent listening to my Monkees albums.

One of my step-sons gave me the Essential Monkees CD for Christmas, a few years ago.  I think I will go listen to it.

Whitney: A Musical Journey Ended, Much Too Soon

February 13, 2012

I love music.  Good music.  Growing up with a father who sang in the church choir and two sisters who took years of piano lessons, I was raised to the sound of hymns from the Cokesbury Hymnbook being sung to me, while my Daddy made my breakfast and the sound of my sisters playing the piano in the living room at night.

As I got older, I remember listening to Rick Dees and Ron Jordan on WMPS 680 AM in Memphis, Tennessee, hearing songs such as “The Night Chicago Died”  and “Hold On, I’m Coming.

Then came the glorious afternoon in 1974: my step-sister had an extra ticket for the top row of the Mid-South Coliseum, where we got to see The King himself –  Elvis Presley –  in front of a hometown crowd.  He wore a blue jumpsuit and had not yet begun to gain weight or diminish in talent. He was awesome.

Among the back-up singers performing with The King that afternoon was a trio of beautiful Black ladies named the Sweet Inspirations.  Their voices were amazing.  For a shining example of their work, I suggest you listen to one of Elvis’ greatest hits, “In the Ghetto,” written by Mac Davis.

The Sweet Inspirations were founded by Cissy Houston, who now faces the horrible reality of out-living her daughter.

Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music’s queen until her majestic voice was ravaged by drug use and her regal image was ruined by erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, died Saturday. She was 48.

Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen said Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. in her room on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton. A Los Angeles County coroner’s official said the body remained in the building late Saturday. “There were no obvious signs of any criminal intent,” Rosen said.

Rosen said police received a 911 call from hotel security about Houston at 3:43 p.m. Saturday. Paramedics who were already at the hotel because of a Grammy party were not able to resuscitate her, he said.

The Los Angeles Times provides more details:

Investigators probing the death of Whitney Houston are trying to determine whether she drowned while in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton on Saturday shortly before she was set to attend a pre-Grammy Awards gala, according to a source who has been briefed about the case.

The source, who spoke to the Los Angeles Times on the condition of anonymity because the case was ongoing, stressed investigators still have many unanswered questions, particularly about what Houston was doing in the hours before her death. Investigators are also interviewing family members and friends to determine whether Houston had any underlying medical conditions, a practice common in death investigations.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office is expected to perform an autopsy Sunday, but it’s likely that a final cause of death will be deferred until toxicology test results come in. The source said drowning is one of several scenarios that investigators are examining as they gather evidence.

Beverly Hills police said there was no indication of foul play in Houston’s death but also said it was premature to say that she had died of natural causes.

Houston had drug and alcohol problems for years, and last May her spokeswoman said she was going back into rehab.

The Times reported that days before her death Houston had been acting strangely, skipping around a ballroom and reportedly doing handstands near the hotel pool. According to The Times’ Gerrick D. Kennedy, Houston greeted people with a warm smile but appeared disheveled in mismatched clothes and hair that was dripping wet.

Police said that so far they do not have evidence that drugs played a role in Houston’s death.

The New York Times elaborates on this gifted vocalist:

Ms. Houston was R&B’s great modernizer, slowly but surely reconciling the ambition and praise of the church with the movements and needs of the body and the glow of the mainstream. Her voice was clean and strong, with barely any grit, well suited to the songs of love and aspiration that were the breakthrough hits from her first two albums, “Whitney Houston” and “Whitney,” the post-quiet-storm ballads “You Give Good Love” and “Saving All My Love for You”; and the naïve, bopping, flush-of-love dance tracks “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” and “So Emotional.” Only a few of her 1980s hits — “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” chief among them — explored love’s dark side.

Hers was a voice of triumph and achievement, and it made for any number of stunning, time-stopping vocal performances: her version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” from the soundtrack to “The Bodyguard,” which topped the Billboard singles chart for 14 weeks; her dazzling “Star-Spangled Banner,” sung before the 1991 Super Bowl; and huge, authoritative songs like “Greatest Love of All” and “One Moment in Time,” which sounded as if they could have been national anthems too.

Ms. Houston’s signature was to let her Brobdingnagian voice soar unfettered. From a lesser vocalist that would have been a gimmick, but from her it was par for the course, just a freakishly gifted athlete leapfrogging everyone around her.

And now that voice has been silenced.  Not by old age, but the lifestyle she chose – one that ranged from the summit of her unforgettable rendition of the National Anthem to the slo-mo train wreck abyss of her drug-addled marriage to Bobby Brown.

In the wake of this tragedy, an addle-brained, uber-liberal, octogenarian singer with a flair for blabbering the wrong thing at the wrong time just had to throw his two cents in:

When Tony Bennett took the stage at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy gala on Saturday, he offered more than just happy memories of the late Whitney Houston.

Bennett used the opportunity to ask that the U.S. government re-evaluate its stance on drugs, using Amsterdam as an example of a successful policy.

“First it was Michael Jackson, then Amy Winehouse, now the magnificent Whitney Houston,” he began. “I’d like every person in this room to campaign to legalize drugs.”

He continued: “Let’s legalize drugs like they did in Amsterdam. No one’s hiding or sneaking around corners to get it. They go to a doctor to get it.”

Sure, Tony – except that Whitney likely died after overdosing on legal drugs prescribed by her doctor…just like Elvis.

Football, Politics, and The Economy

February 5, 2012

It’s Super Bowl Sunday….A lot will be happening today, per yahoo.com:

According to Hallmark Cards, Inc., The Super Bowl represents the No. 1 at-home party event of the year. Believe it or not, it’s even bigger than New Year’s Eve. (One wonders when we might see cards celebrating the event not to mention Super Bowl Monday sympathy editions for the losing team’s fans.) Hallmark also figures the average number of people attending a Super Shindig to be 17 so, calculating with reference to per capita beer consumption, hosts should probably buy … a lot.

No matter how much the economy slumps, the week before the ‘Bowl sees a deluge of shoppers that could damn well carry the entire national economy. No fewer than $55 million is expected to be spent on food for The Big Game. After spending an estimated ten million man-hours (give or take a couple of seconds) preparing all that grub, Americans are expected to consume the lot within approximately fifteen minutes, well before the first touchdown is scored.

Yessir, the country will come to a virtual standstill, around 5:30 p.m. Central.

We’ll all watch as our modern-day gladiators meet on the field of battle, reminiscent of the halcyon days of the Roman Coliseum, without the lions. (Especially the ones from Detroit, who never make the Superbowl.)

Americans hold these football heroes in such esteem, I’ll bet one could even run for president.  Reuters.com was thinking along the same lines:

Asked which NFL playoff quarterback they would choose for president of the United States in the coming election, more than one in four voters go for Tebow, according to the results of a new Reuters/Ipsos poll of likely voters released on Friday.

Tebow’s success on the field in the past few months helped to make him a media sensation as he turned a struggling Denver Broncos team around. His open and oft-professed religious faith gained him huge support in the evangelical community.

But perhaps it is his famous post-touchdown knelt-in-prayer pose – known as “Tebowing” – that has most inspired fans around the world. Many have posted pictures of themselves “Tebowing” on sites such as Tebowing.com.

The online survey of 2,475 people was conducted earlier this week, just ahead of the Super Bowl, the annual championship for America’s most popular sport.

The precision of the Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

Tebow managed to do something in the poll he could not quite manage on the field – easily beat New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady, who is married to super model Gisele Bundchen, came third, one percentage point behind New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, ironic since they face each other this Sunday in the Super Bowl.

The only other quarterback to start in the playoffs this year who got into double digits in the poll was New Orleans’ Drew Brees, at 15 percent.

Of course, at 24, Tebow is too young by the standards of the U.S. Constitution to be president (you have to be at least 35). There might also be questions over whether he could be disqualified because he was born in the Philippines – his parents were American missionaries.

But this isn’t real life, this is football.

The way this presidential election is shaping up, it’s bearing no resemblance to real life, either.

As we are entering the home stretch, all of the sudden, unemployment percentages are going down….and the economy is, at least according to the Administration’s Propaganda Machine, improving.

Unfortunately, out here in the Heartland, things are still tough all over.  

Americans are looking desperately for work (those who haven’t given up) and scores of small businesses are closing their doors, while other businesses are laying off valued employees, just to keep their doors open.

One-sixth of Americans are still receiving SNAP (food stamps), while other adults have moved back in with their parents, children, pets, and all.

Robert Reich,  a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and, previously, the secretary of labor during the Clinton administration, writes on marketplayground.com that

Our working-age population has grown by nearly 10 million since the recession officially began in December 2007 but many of these people never entered the workforce. Millions of others are still too discouraged to look for work.

The most direct way of measuring the jobs deficit is to look at the share of the working-age population in jobs. Before the recession, 63.3 percent of working-age Americans had jobs. That employment-to-population ratio reached a low last summer of 58.2 percent. Now it’s 58.5 percent. That’s better than it was, but not by much. The trend line here isn’t quite as encouraging.

Given how many people have lost their jobs and how much larger the total working-age population is now, we’ve got a long road ahead. At January’s rate of job gains – 243,000 – the nation wouldn’t return to full employment for another seven years.

No wonder Americans participated in a survey comparing NFL Quarterbacks as president.  At least, they know how to reach a goal (line)…and it doesn’t take them 7 years, either.

Seriously, though, the next president, Scooter, Mittens, or whomever, needs to attack this horrible economy with a vengeance.  The dark clouds of despair are hanging over the shining city on the hill.

Americans deserve better than this.


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