Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Will it Go Round in Circles?


A new American demagogue is on the verge of rising to the presidency.

What makes for such fertile ground for demagogues? Fear and loathing. Whether it is fear of communists, or loathing of Islam, it was and remains the antithesis of American values.

There never was an excuse for it, and there is still no excuse for it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

75 Years Young


Last night, my union Local 751 IATSE, had it's 75th Anniversary celebration. It was a wonderful night and a great turnout. It was great seeing everyone in our union, and it was also a treat to see some of our retirees.

Our 50th Anniversary was a memorable party, and so was last night's 75th. The 100th promises to be a blowout!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Real Deplorables

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People get very upset when they hear something unpleasant. The truth hurts, by golly.

When Hillary Clinton called out half of Trump supporters as a "basket of deplorables, racists, homophobes, xenophobes etc." there was quite an uproar. Apparently, it is impolitic to call racists, homophobes xenophobes, et.al, what they are. It must hurt their feelings. Clinton backed off, but only on her reckoning of the percentage.

Racists, homophobes, xenophobes and islamophobes all propelled Trump to the Republican presidential nomination. That was clear for all to see, no doubt about it. Deplorable is as deplorable does, when it's the Republican base.

What we are seeing now in the general election, is how deplorable the general electorate of this country is. As Trump narrows the gap, by some polls measurements, it becomes clear that those unaffiliated voters, the "undecideds" (or low information voters) are actually coming close to crowning Trump as the next president.

These people are being persuaded by Trump's cold reading of scripted speeches and posturing. They appear to be completely unaware of the lies and the racism that is the Trump candidacy.

Now THAT, is what's truly deplorable. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Come Set a Spell


This is a lame commercial for the Empire Casino at Yonkers Raceway. The casino touts its electronic blackjack games, because the law prevents live tables there.

The thought of betting $25 a hand on these machines is unnerving enough. What really gets me queasy is how at the end of the commercial, the machine is dealing out a perfect blackjack, as the commercial chops through images of "exciting casino action".

How do you get an electronic blackjack machine to deal a blackjack on command while filming a commercial? Hmm?

It doesn't seem like a player has any chance at all. The house edge is total.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Mean Streets

Image result for new york 1970s eighth avenue

Way back in the storied 1970's in New York City, the town was very different. The Disneyification of Times Square was years away, The city was a dangerous and gritty place. Even so, to many that lived through that era, it is looked back upon as a sort of a golden era.

Squeegee men, pimps and hookers operated in the open. It was like running a gauntlet just to get to a theater and see a Broadway show, or a kung fu flick in a movie theater on 42nd Street with floors that were beyond sticky with who knows what.

One time, I was walking down Eighth Avenue near Times Square with a friend of mine. Stopping at a corner to wait for the light, a hooker approached us and, in the way of avoiding inadvertently propositioning a cop, called out to us, "Hey, are you guys dating?"

I answered in the only way I could. "No, we're just friends." With that the light changed, and the two of us continued on our way.

I think she hollered out to us something not very nice. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bye, Gene

            Image result for willy wonka and the chocolate factory movie poster

So many folks paying tribute to Gene Wilder upon his death yesterday, he was loved by his millions of fans. Being one of them, I've enjoyed Wilder's movies through the years. So many classic and funny ones. One in particular, holds a special meaning for me.

Surprise, it was his iconic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Why? This whimsically sweet movie happened to be the very first movie that I went to see all by my nine your old self (no adult supervision!), along with my younger brother, Spence.

In those days, we lived in Jamaica, Queens. At the time, our neighborhood was a major shopping hub, and was well into the turbulent times of that volatile era. We lived a block off of Jamaica Avenue, where there were two old time movie palaces, the Loews Valencia and the RKO Alden.

After sufficient begging and pleading, my mother relented and allowed me to go with Spence to see the new Willy Wonka movie ourselves. My mother gave me the money and off we went on the adventure of our, to that point, short lives.

RKO Alden Theatre

Successfully accomplishing our task, I was one less task needing to be fulfilled on the way to big kid land.

Interestingly enough, and I wasn't aware of this until recent years, the RKO Alden, one of my cherished local movie palaces, and where I first met Gene Wilder and Willy Wonka, began life in the late twenties as the Shubert Jamaica Theater! It didn't do very well, and after a few years it was converted to a movie theater and sold to RKO. All these years later, I find myself working at a different Shubert theater. It's funny how things work out.

At the time, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was a bit of a flop. It disappeared into the background for years, but it was always one of my favorites. Like many other movies, it was resurrected in later years with the advent of home VCRs and it went on to achieve the great popularity that it enjoys today.

It also became one of my mother's favorites, though she missed out on its initial run.

Thanks, Gene!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Throwing Stones in The Glass Houses

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The famous don't always have it easier. They suffer from the same human flaws and foibles as everyone else. Two disparate cases are on view for our inspection.

Dwight Gooden, the storied baseball player brought down by repeated bouts of substance abuse, was in the news last week. He missed a media event and public speculation was that Gooden had slipped back into using drugs. Though he vehemently denied it, Gooden's behaviour, fitting the pattern of a drug abuser, is likely in trouble yet again.

Anthony Weiner, ex-congressman, brought down by repeated public sex scandals, once again was found to be indulging in the behaviour that brought his career in public service to a crashing end. His wife has announced that she will be ending their marriage.

It's easy to pass judgement on these guys and these types of cases. Personalities with the world at their feet, but unable to overcome addictive urges that only served to destroy their reputations, their families, and ultimately their lives are easily dismissed as stupid and foolish. What other explanation could there be? It's fun to feel superior to these famous "losers".

The reality is much messier. Everyday people grapple with these same psychologically destructive behaviours and impulses. These are cautionary tales, not entertainment.  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Return of the Nativist

Image result for trump immigration

Now Trump has realized that with less than 2% support of blacks, he has belatedly shifted into a belated and false appeal to black voters. He's doing it with his usual verve. He is promising jobs, education, crime reduction, rainbows and unicorns. "Just believe me!" is the tired mantra.

He also buttresses these claims by trying to pit blacks against hispanics by dragging out his xenophobic anti-immigration and racist plans. We've heard all this bupkis before, and it remains as muddled and fairy tale-esque as before.

Cycling through new advisors at a dizzying rate, there is a limit to what you can do with the hot mess that is Donald Trump. 

Morning Choke

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MSNBC, long known for it's unapologetically liberal bent, has an odd situation in the morning. Ex- Congressman Joe Scarborough, he of the "Contract with America" Republican obstructionists hosts Morning Joe, a public affairs/news show. It's an interesting format, more like a salon with interesting guests and long form discussions on the issues and events of the day.

Sadly, the show is patently unwatchable. Scarborough, along with his feckless co-host Mika Brzezinski, do all they can to dominate the discourse and only allow the radical conservative Scarborough the first and last word on all subjects. Guests are allowed only to agree with Morning Joe, or be quiet. When she isn't faux disagreeing with Scarborough, Mika meekly comes along for the ride.

I would recommend they rename the show (or find someone else named Joe) and jettison the hostly duo in favor of someone that can bring a coherent performance to the table. It certainly need not be a liberal, only someone with a brain that can stand to have intelligent guests without feeling threatened by them. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rogue's Gallery


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Donald Trump:   Republican Presidential Nominee . Admirer and apologist for Vladimir Putin, Russian Dictator, Kim Jong-Il, North Korean Dictator, Saddam Hussein, ex-Iraqi Dictator. Undercutter of NATO. Invited Russian espionage and hacking of U.S. election opponent. Supports Russian annexation of Crimea. Purports to negotiate in Mid East at the expense of Israel. 

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Paul Manafort: Campaign manager of Trump candidacy. Worked for Russian backed forces in Ukraine. Appears to have been paid cash from Russian factions in Ukraine. 

                                      Image result for Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn : Foreign policy adviser to Trump, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General ex-Director of Defense Intelligence. Received payments from Russian media company with close ties to Putin. 

Have the Republicans no shame at all?