Monday, February 27, 2017

Donald Trump and Cinnamon Toast Crunch

President Donald Trump achieved his electoral college victory by a wider margin than any President since Ronald Reagan (aside from Obama in 2012, Obama in 2008, Clinton in 1996, Clinton in 1992, and George H.W. Bush in 1988). But, can he see why his constituents love the taste of Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Check out the commercial below: 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Telemarketer Inquires About Home Owner Phobia

Clovis got a call from a scammer calling himself Phabian from U.S. Safe Savings Center looking to try and sell him on some kind of insurance scam. When "Phabian" asked Clovis if he was a home owner, Clovis reacted as if the rep was calling him a "homo". Despite Clovis' admonishment to the contrary, the rep continued on his script as if Clovis had been objecting to the idea of being sold something. Soon, the language barrier became too much to overcome, and the rep ended the call, seemingly indicating that he'd be calling again.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Bowling Green Memorial Fund

Apparently, mad props are due to Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the President. Had it not been for her, we would never have remembered the tragic events that transpired in Bowling Green at some unknown point in the past. Thanks to her citing the media cover-up of the Bowling Green Massacre, more Americans than ever are now aware that a Bowling Green Massacre did indeed take place. They don't know when it happened, who was involved or how many victims there were, but at least awareness was raised.

The efforts of Kellyanne Conway to bring the events of the Bowling Green Massacre to light have resulted in grass roots movements to memorialize those events. To that end, the Bowling Green Memorial Fund aims to help people remember that they somehow forgot all about it.

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a real commercial. No such fund exists. This is SATIRE.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Would You Rather Be Inside Dave Van Ronk or Inside Llewyn Davis?

In celebration of Valentine's Day, here's a clip of Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren putting aside their differences so that they can play a song with Justin Timberlake.

Seriously, though, the clip is from a movie called "Inside Llewyn Davis" which is loosely based on the career of Dave Von Ronk, one of the folk gurus of Greenwich Village. Van Ronk may not have gotten much fame in his own time, but his influence among other musicians at the time cannot be denied. Joni Mitchell often said that Van Ronk's rendition of "Both Sides Now" was the finest she'd ever heard. And Bob Dylan heaped praise on Van Ronk, saying "I'd heard Van Ronk back in the Midwest on records and thought he was pretty great, copied some of his recordings phrase for phrase. Van Ronk could howl and whisper, turn blues into ballads and ballads into blues. I loved his style. He was what the city was all about. In Greenwich Village, Van Ronk was king of the street, he reigned supreme."

The movie, Inside Llewyn Davis works very well as a Cohen Brothers concept, and as a primer for the kind of music that Dave Van Ronk played. However, if you're looking to get some insight into what kind of person Van Ronk was, Inside Llewyn Davis will disappoint. The movie, while incorporating some anecdotes from Van Ronk's life, portrays Llewyn Davis as an intelligent, arrogant asshole caught in a sisyphean cycle. Dave Van Ronk himself was a much different person. To truly get a feel for what he was like, check out his memoirs, "The Mayor Of MacDougal Street". It's worth a read.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

R.I.P. Richard Hatch

I grew up watching Battlestar Galactica. It was one of the many gems put together by Glen A. Larson whose resume included Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Fall Guy, Knight Rider, Quincy M.E. and B.J. and the Bear. There was something about Battlestar Galactica, though, that distinguished itself from Larson's other series. Battlestar Galactica, while still being your basic action-based sci-fi show, actually asked a number of deep questions. Where did humanity come from? Where are they going? What does it mean to be human?

One of the key components of Battlestar Galactica was the acting of Richard Hatch (not to be confused with that guy who won the first season of Survivor). When sharing a scene with the legendary Lorne Greene, Hatch evoked a humble optimism that paired so well with Greene's intimidating presence. Once Battlestar Galactica was cancelled, Hatch went on to try to revive the series in the 1990s, going so far as to mortgage his house in order to finance a trailer outlining his vision.

Universal Studios, who held the rights to Battlestar Galactica, were not interested in a continuation, opting instead to reboot the series with Ronald D. Moore at the helm. Hatch was bitterly disappointed and became overly critical of the new series (which, IMO, was actually a great show for the first two seasons). Despite this, Hatch invited Moore to appear at Galacticon, a Battlestar Galactica 25th anniversary convention hosted by Hatch. Moore endured tough questioning from hostile fans of the original series, but his grace under pressure earned Hatch's respect. Moore then offered Hatch a recurring role on the new series as Tom Zarek, a terrorist turned politician. So, instead of remaining indignant over his own vision not being made, Hatch decided to contribute his talent's so someone else's vision, which made the show better than it would have been without him.

Most recently, Hatch had starred as Klingon Supreme Commander Kharn the Undying in the Star Trek fan-film Prelude To Anaxar.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Hatch. You may be Tom Zarek to a generation of millenials, but you'll always be Captain Apollo, leader of Blue Squadron to me. So say we all.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Queen Elizabeth's Anniversary

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest reigning monarch, has spent 65 years on the throne. Poor lady. Sounds like she could use a prune or maybe some Metamucil.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Trump Wants To Build Walls

During his first week in the Oval Office, President Trump got to work right away on fulfilling his biggest campaign promise: The Border Wall. He signed an executive order last week calling for the building of a wall along the Mexican border as well as the expansion of border patrol and deportation agents. He then indicated that Mexico would somehow be made to foot the bill of building the wall, a claim that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto flat out denied. This led to the cancellation of a summit meeting between our two countries and a declaration from Trump that a 20% tariff on imports from Mexico would be explored in order to pay for the wall.

Later in the week, Trump signed an executive order keeping all refugees from entering the country for 120 days and keeping immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia) out for three months. The order also blocked nationals from those nations who had valid green cards and visas from entering the country. Many nationals who were in transit when the order was signed found that they were denied entry when they landed and were either detained or sent back to where they had flown in from. Protests erupted at major airports around the country and foreign leaders were quick to denounce the ban. Trump supporters, however, see the ban a necessary step to safeguard our country against people from nations known as hotspots of terrorism while the vetting process for allowing people in from those countries is tweaked. The concept of a border wall and a temporary travel ban sound like good ideas, right? After all, you can't be too careful. The safety of our country is at risk, isn't it? Democrats should be on board since it was Obama who identified those seven nations as hotspots of terror.

First off, if you support the travel ban, you should do so because you believe in the plan itself. Pointing to past administrations that have done vaguely similar things and crying "Whatabout..." is a cowardly deflection of the issue and makes you look like you don't have any faith in your own beliefs. It's like when you catch one of your kids misbehaving and he points to his older brother saying "Well, he did it first, you just didn't catch him!". Pointing to someone else's bad behavior doesn't excuse your own.

Second, I understand that a lot of people view politics like they view team sports. They throw their support behind their party in such a way that they've become little more than game day fans. Yet, I cannot stress enough the need for people to look beyond their party lines and to think critically about the best ways to handle our national security. We also have to consider the human costs of these programs and whether or not the benefits outweigh the costs. Don't take the Republicans at their word and don't take Democrats at their word about it either. Go out there and educate yourself. Read articles by people are are experts on the subjects you're interested in.

That being said, my own opinion on this whole thing is that Trump is acting on fear. We, as a nation, are starting to fear people who are different from us simply because they are different. Trump himself declared via his campaign site in 2015 that he supported "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States", so you'll have to excuse me if I am skeptical when Trump says that his latest move isn't "a Muslim ban". I hear people saying all the time that if immigrants are going to come here, then they need to integrate into our culture and learn the language. Sentiments like this make me think of my great-great grandfather. He came to this country from Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) after the failure of the tripartite agreement Austria-Hungry brought Bohemia under Austrian rule and made ethnic Czechs into second-class citizens. He settled briefly in Minnesota and then moved on to Chicago. By today's standards, he wasn't the type of immigrant most people would want living in this country. He never learned English beyond a few words and phrases. He didn't need to. He lived in a neighborhood where everyone spoke Czech. He attended a church that held services in Czech. He even subscribed to a Czech newspaper. What's worse, he was of a different religion than most of the rest of the country. He was a Catholic during an era when a number of groups were trying to limit Catholic immigration into the United States. He had at least 14 children (10 of whom survived to adulthood) all tucked into a tiny apartment and provided for them by doing odd jobs as a carpenter and sending his kids out to do the same. They were a poor family. So dirt poor that, when one of the children died due to a tragic, horrible accident, they couldn't afford to buy a burial plot for him. They had to rent it and live with the fact that someone would eventually be buried over him and that there would be no marker for his final resting place. My great-great grandfather may not have been what the mainstream saw as the ideal immigrant, but he planted himself firmly in the country and fought for his meager share of the American dream. From the roots he put down, generations of law-abiding, job holding American citizens sprung forth. Yet, had today's prejudicial attitudes towards refugees been applied to my great-great grandfather, I wouldn't be here writing this blog.

Meanwhile, one of my Irish ancestors who brought his family to this country embodied the sort of immigrant that we'd see as ideal in today's society. He was a Protestant, the predominant sect of Christianity in the U.S. at the time. He spoke English and even became a naturalized citizen. He was successful businessman who pitched in around his community in order to help out those less fortunate than him. On the surface, he was the ideal immigrant, yet he was involved in organized crime, grand larceny, jury tampering, bail jumping and murder. My point in telling these stories is to highlight the fact that, ultimately, we don't know what's in the heart of anyone who chooses to come to this country. We're quick to trust what's familiar, but we're even quicker to condemn what's different. Supposedly, Muslim nations want to attack us because they hate our freedom. If we keep making restrictions like this, then aren't we making our country less free and, thus, playing into the hands of the very people who want to tear us down?