Thursday, September 26, 2013

For God's Sake, What Do I Know?

Okay, people, the lawmakers in Washington DC are at it again.  They are a bunch of clucking chickens with nothing to say.  The Affordable Care Act is getting under way next month. It is a giant piece of legislation that the Republican Congress has tried to overturn over 70 times.  Really?  Isn't that like critiquing a movie or a book from heresay or better yet, nothing???  How many of the Washington blowhards have personally read the law?  I really want to know?  I am guessing most haven't, but they are still angry about it.  Maybe they think it's good enough to have aids read it and give their synopsis!  In any case, with or without their whining, it's happening.  Do I understand it?  Nope. Don't even pretend to get it.  The only thing that has sunken in is that parents get to cover their children under their health insurance policy until they're 26.  Good news and bad news, right?  Definitely good for this generation not to have that monkey on its back while beginning careers, but many families might be waiting for some relief with having grown up, self-reliant children.

Okay, so what is all the fighting and whining about?  Well, first off, it's Obama.  Second, the supposed cost.  What do I know?  I know that we pay through the nose for our healthcare and what they actually do or don't cover seems inconsistent or questionable, at best.  So, why are so many Republicans screaming?  I don't know. Can we see a show of hands who has read it?  Can we see a show of hands of anyone who proposed an alternative?  Didn't think so.  I haven't heard one Republican shoot down Obamacare  with any argument that holds any water.  Look, if the Affordable Care Act rolls out and needs tweaking, then tweak it.  Stop the harping and discourse. Something has to change with health care.  It's crazy expensive.  Insurance companies have only one thing on their minds and that is profit margins.  There is zero altruism in insurance.  Too many people use the emergency rooms at hospitals because they don't have any insurance, so who do you think pays?  Will this new legislation help that?  I have no idea, but there is no way that we could continue on the same downhill spiral that we've been on.  If the Republicans want to discuss changes or alternatives, fantastic. That is democracy. That is actually supposed to be the job.  Present, discuss, argue, re-assess, vote, pass legislation.

AND can you  believe that the do nothing Congress is talking about shutting down the government and not raising the debt ceiling??  Really?  We've heard this song before and it's bad for the Country. It's bad for the economy.  It's bad for the people.  Do they care?  No.  They just stick to an unyielding, uncompromising, arbitrary set of beliefs. Not facts.  I can't believe it's happening again.  My head is spinning.

Sidebars:  TV began rolling out the new season. Thought the NCIS premiere was not well-written and convoluted, but will continue on. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit seemed like Mariska Hargitay really wants another Emmy nod.  Over promo'd non-event.  Tonight, it's Glee, Grey's Anatomy, the new Michael J. Fox comedy and the Robin Williams sit-com.  It's Thursday and I get to see a screening of the new film Gravity tonight so all the DVR's are set and I can't wait to go see it.  Thanks to my friend, CZS, for making it possible.  A little scared, but....Chanukah is early this year so if you are looking for a great gift for that occasion or a birthday or Christmas or a "just because I love you" present, check out Neil Sedaka: Rock 'n' Roll Survivor.  It really is a great read and stories you've never heard.  I've been a fan for at least 40 years!  

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Oh, The Emmys....

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love nothing more than an awards show.  Although the older I get, the less of an event it has become, but ohhhh...The Emmys.  Television's big night.  All the shows that I don't watch getting tens upon tens of nominations.  That is a whole other story.  This year the fantastic Neil Patrick Harris (NPH) hosting.  Should be a wonderful show, right?

Well, from the get go there were controversies a-brewing. The memoriam segments caused a ruckus because Corey Monteith, who OD'd on drugs and alcohol, was being given a special nod, while others, such as, Jack Klugman who spent much of his career in one hit after another was lumped together with all the deceased talent of the year. Okay, okay, I thought let's take a wait and see point of view.  Give them a chance.  With NPH leading the charge, it will work.

Okay, gang, I gave it a chance.  I watched the show in its entirety and can deem it the worst produced Emmy show in history.  First of all, NPH is beginning to believe his own press.  He came off smug and narcissistic, which I don't think he is, but he did here.  I hope that worm isn't turning.  Maybe he's gotten just too cool to host.  He needs a breather; we need a breather.  The truth is hosting is a terribly difficult job and few are able to keep the audiences attention and keep the pace going.  NPH has always been very good, but he hit the wall.  The opening was irritating from the get go with all the past hosts "acting" like they were hosting, supposed to be hosting, snubbed for hosting, etc.  It was not funny and totally a clunker.  

The first award was given and it went to Merritt Weaver for her role in Nurse Jackie.  She is well deserving, but better yet, had the best and quickest speech of the night.  That was almost the highlight.  That was about 10 minutes in, which left 2 hours and 50 minutes and then some to fill.  And fill they did, but with what?  Elton John was trotted out to sing a new song he has coming out to "honor" Liberace.  It was a dirge, had no relationship to Liberace, and stretched it to fit in the segment without success.  Even the audience members looked like they had to force smiles and appreciation.  I mean, really, you have Elton John and he sings a song that no one knows and probably won't ever hear again!  Good plan.  I think a lot of people clicked over to NFL football.  

It was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  They gave it its due and showed the famous clip of Walter Cronkite's announcement, which then segued into the 50th anniversary of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.  What a fantastic event to honor.  So what did they do?  They brought out lovely, American Idol, Grammy Award winning, country star, Carrie Underwood to sing a Beatles song.  The producer, Ken Ehrlich managed to make Carrie Underwood suck.  It was the wrong song choice (Yesterday), the wrong arrangement, the wrong performer, and another dirge like performance.  Wrong, wrong, wrong!  Should have had the Fab Faux sing.  Could have only been better and they could use the national exposure.  

I'm not even sure where we are in the evening. The awards get handed out with little fanfare and excitement.  NPH or someone in his camp thought it would be a good idea to put a big production number at the half way point.  It was cheesy and if they were going for camp, didn't hit it at all.  The dancers were completely the Dean Martin Show cheese ball but it's 2013.  All white dance corps.  Again, it's 2013.  So now we get through that dull number and we get some more awards.  Finally, get to the choreographers award.  Seriously?  There's an award for best choreography?  Didn't know since the June Taylor Dancers.  So there are 5 choreographers from So You Think You Can Dance and 1 choreographer from Dancing With the Stars.  NPH made a big deal that this year they get to receive their Emmy live on TV and choreograph another big production number showing each of their talents.  OMG!  It was horrible.  And the Emmy goes to....Can you guess?  If you were a betting man, who would you put your money on??  Derek Hough one for Dancing With the Stars.  It was so predictable.  

Did anyone else think that it was weird that the director kept showing Scott Bakula?  Was his mother the director?  Couldn't they find someone else to show?  Clearly, they couldn't go back to Kevin Spacey.  He didn't want to have the camera on him, surprise, surprise.  I can go on and on.  I am sure that I missed things too.  Seriously, the awards themselves seemed incidental.  Another waste of air time.  Ken Ehrlich better re-examine what the viewing audience wants or the Emmys will be in jeopardy of getting tossed to The Learning Channel.  

Sidebars:  The Voice begins its 5th season tonight.  James Spader is back on prime time tonight at 10pm in The Blacklist.  Even if the writing is bad, he is always worth watching.  Here's to hoping it's a winner.  Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott have their season premiere opposite James Spader in Hostages.  Can't tell at all what it's about from the promos.  We shall see. It's the DVR'd show of the night.  There are many other premieres this week.  I say give every show a shot and then delete.  I love the new television season.  Always have; always will.  Hope springs eternal.  

And again, don't forget to order your copy of Neil Sedaka: A Rock and Roll Survivor. It's a great read by a great writer.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

At a Loss, Again!

I don't know what is wrong with this country.  Seriously.  We suffered another mass shooting.  Since President Obama took office, he has had to mourn the loss of too many Americans from senseless gun violence.  It's very disturbing.  Less than a year ago, we had the unthinkable tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.  The majority of Americans were shattered, devastated, and outraged.  We screamed for something to change.  We screamed for our lawmakers to listen.  We shouted as we begged for gun reforms.  Though we were the majority, we lost. A few with tons of money are killing us, literally.  For every dime the Koch brothers use to shoot down politicians that are for new gun laws, they should be directly charged with a crime.  The NRA is silent for every reckless and insane act of gun violence.  There answer after the Sandy Hook shooting was to arm schools with guns.  Wow, that worked yesterday.  The mass shooting yesterday was at the Navy Yard.  Lots of guns.  Did it help?  NO!!!!!!  Still 12 innocent people that just showed up for work were gunned down while they were getting their coffee and bagel.  Again, what did the NRA say?  Nothing. They can't. They have no defense.  They have no where to go with their outrageous rhetoric.  

Can you imagine if the "new" President of the NRA, Jim Porter, came to the table with a moderate stance and willing to compromise?  Can you imagine?  It won't happen.  Jim Porter is a blatant racist and nut job.  Calls the Civil War the war of Northern Aggression.  OMG!!  How can law abiding gun owners stand by such an organization?  Why can't the majority of gun owners make noise and take their organization back?  Start a new one?  Certainly burn their NRA cards and stop paying dues.  

I have to say I used to have much more empathy for gun owners and their right to bear arms, but as each new law keeps getting passed....Did you know that in Iowa they are voting for blind people to have guns?  Really??? How the hell is that going to work?  Maybe if you vote for that law to pass, you should have to go in front of a blind firing squad and see how that works for you!   The more these crazies push crazy laws, the less I give a rat's ass about their rights.  What about our rights for going to work or school and being safe?  What about our rights for going to work or school and coming home for dinner?  Why are our rights not more important than the 2nd Amendment?  This country is in a very precarious place in history.  What should be so simple to figure out is made impossible by many unforeseen forces.  It's not just the Koch brothers.  There are others manipulating and spending tons of money.  

The silence must stop from the law abiding gun owners.  The voices must be heard.  It can't just be those of us who never have owned again and never will!

Sidebars:  Newsroom had a very satisfying season finale.  Rizzoli and Isles did not.  Covert Affairs ends its season tonight.  Burn Notice ended its series.  No more.  Dancing With the Stars began last night.  Off to a strong start and who can't root for Valerie Harper?!  America's Got Talent is wrapping up tomorrow night.  Big Brother ends this week, too, thank goodness.  Still stunned by Julie Chen's admission and before and after photos. My birthday is this week.  I am one of the many Virgos that have to maneuver around the start of school and the Jewish holidays.  On a truly proud personal note, my husband's second book is now out and has been selling well.  If you haven't got yourself a copy, you must.  It's a great read about a great artist: Neil Sedaka.  Always been a huge fan of his and am now a bigger one.  
Here's the link:

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reflections of a Day

It is the twelfth anniversary of one of the greatest tragedies on American soil.  It is September 11th.  All the local stations take over programming every year and have moments of silence and victims family members read off the nearly 3000 names.  On the first anniversary it was important, powerful, and meaningful.  Each and every year since, it has lost its impact.  Clearly, not to the families and friends, but it doesn't need to be televised.  I am sure that the local television stations are too afraid to switch the programming or not air the remembrance in its entirety.  

So today, I wasn't ready to really begin my day.  I didn't want to watch the reading of the names again.  I noticed that MSNBC was airing the real time, as it happened, unedited day of 9/11/01 NBC account.  I thought that could be interesting and a better way to remember for me.  It began with the first plane hitting the first tower.  The on-air newscasters were Katie Couric and Matt Lauer because it happened during the Today Show.  They were thoughtful, careful, and shocked.  When the second tower was hit, it was clear that the United States of America was under attack though the circumstances were still unclear.  Was it a small plane into the first tower?  Was it commercial?  They captured the second plane live on air hitting the second tower.  It was extraordinary.  The live broadcast trying to piece meal the information was incredible.  They were able to reach eyewitnesses immediately. They were civilian witnesses, but as the morning went on there were trained newscasters watching what was going on.  

I was really seeing all of this in its entirety for the first time.  It was Primary day here. It was a work day. My kids were in nursery school and hadn't left for school yet.  I was so worried about their not seeing the horror, I missed so much.  I took them to visit a friend and I went to work.  Walking as I kept hearing the increasing tragedy and death toll.  It was unimaginable.  I was dancing as fast as I could.  Running on automatic, I didn't see the live footage.  We were all just trying to keep it together here and be as "normal" as we could be.  I know that I went into denial mode and didn't want to watch the news at all.  Started watching Everybody Loves Raymond and Friends instead of the news.  We wanted relief.  We didn't really want to dwell or focus on the horror.  

So, I really think today was the first time.  I watched as the top of the second tower toppled on live television, and then the entire building.  NBC showed the view from below Manhattan in the air or maybe it was from Jersey.  The black and grey clouds and smoke was so thick. Then the first tower when down.  In the middle of all this, the Pentagon was attacked by another plane.  The network did whatever they could to get information as fast as they could.  Careful not to give unconfirmed information.  Andrea Mitchell was the first to mention that Osama Bin Laden was a likely suspect because he had the ways and means.  I watched over three hours of the re-broadcast. I had just been bemoaning how I don't look forward to this day because I don't feel connected, but being able to re-live and watch that morning's 9/11 broadcast was well worth my time.  I did feel connected. Maybe the local stations should do the same thing.  The families can keep reading the names but the TV stations don't have to air it.  Let them show their real time re-broadcast of that day.  I think there is far more value in that for the rest of us.

No Sidebars today.

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Monday, September 9, 2013

F**k Robo Calls!!

Here in New York City we are in full throttle election mode for city offices.  Tomorrow is the primary election for Mayor, Public Advocate, City Council, Borough President, etc.  It has been both a grueling campaign season and yet lackluster.  We have heard all the candidates on commercials, debates, sound bites, and in the last week, robo calls.

Now, the first time I ever heard of a robo call was during the primary campaign between George W. Bush and John McCain in South Carolina.  Remember when calls were being made about John McCain's ethnic love child?  It was messy and destroyed his chances of becoming President in 2000.  It was one of the nastiest smear campaigns up to that point.  If facts actually mattered, the child in question was actually John and Cindy McCain's adopted daughter from Bangladesh.  The damage was done and so was he for the first time as a Presidential candidate.  

Since then, during every election cycle, the week before election day, we get calls from the campaigns that are automated recorded messages from the candidates, robo calls.  This past week, NYC candidates began their calls.  Bill DiBlasio has called us at least 5 times a day.  Without question his campaign has been the biggest offender in our house.  They even called on Rosh Hoshanah.  Seriously?  You want my vote?  That almost ended it for me right then and there.  The caller ID's come from all over and say different things.  It feels like even the campaigns are trying to trick the receivers with the phone numbers.  Some are 917-***-*** or 347-***-****.  Others are out of state or out of area.  These calls are cold, impersonal, and ineffective.  OR maybe I should say that they have the reverse effect.  I have been on the fence on DiBlasio but after all the calls all night long, it's turned me off.  We've heard from all the campaigns but less intensively.  Last night, received my first robo call from Christine Quinn's campaign, in Spanish.  Podolsky must sound like a Spanish name somewhere....

Campaign Managers and Consultants, if you can't call me with a real person to speak about real issues, lose my number.  I have no interest in your automated calls with your campaign points.  I can't be the only constituent who feels that way.  Stop it!!!! It doesn't work.  It annoys.  It turns off. 

Sidebars:   It was a ton of sports all weekend on this first full weekend of September: baseball, tennis, college football, pro-football.  All weekend, all the time. Newsroom season finale, part one aired.  Glad there is another episode.  Unforgettable concluded last night on CBS.  Sad because we were blacked out for most of their summer season.  The New York Times Sunday Arts and Leisure had its coveted Fall preview issue.  Here's the kicker, Broadway is becoming more like regional theatre with celebrities than ever before.  There are so many revivals of classics and non-classics it's painful.  Look, I love Shakespeare, O'Neill, Williams, etc. but not at Broadway prices.  It makes me sad.  Incredible shows to expose your children to but not for the dollar amount.  I found it to be a bleak upcoming season. School began today!!!  Fall is coming!!  If you live in NYC, VOTE on Tuesday, September 10th, even if the robocalls have assaulted you!!

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Cry Wolf

I have no doubt if it weren't for our war weary souls, we wouldn't be so wishy-washy on Syria.  We were fooled into the Iraq War.  We trusted with whole hearts General Colin Powell, only to discover that he didn't report truthful intelligence which sent our men and women into Iraq.  We heard the three letters WMD over and over again.  It was a broken record and if you hear something enough, you start to believe.  It is the brilliance of the Republican machine.  As it turned out, it wasn't true.  So much of what we were told by our trusted leaders wasn't true.  Remember when President G.W. Bush told us that the war wouldn't cost us anything?  The war would be paid for by all the oil in Iraq?  Again, believed it and so quickly realized it wasn't true.  Again, disappointment.  It's been over ten years since we first invaded Iraq.  We are still extricating ourselves from there.  We are still in Afghanistan, which I will never understand.  Ever.  Did anyone read the history books?  How did it work for Russia?    

So, here we are.  Syria has used sarin gas on its own civilians, many children, the future of its country.  According to the Geneva Convention, chemical warfare is not allowed and severe retribution will happen for anyone who uses it.  BUT, we are tired of war.  We are tired of sending our military to help others.  We are tired of the cost.  We are tired, tired, tired.  President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have done their best to lay down all the evidence and convince us that we must, must commit a military response to stop the chemical warfare.  They are not talking boots on the ground.  Air missiles to hit specific targets in Syria.  Sounds good, right?  It feels like deja vu.  It's a hard sell.  We've been down this path before.  We believe our leaders, but now our experience of the past is giving us a nagging doubt.  The voice inside is not sure what to do, whom to believe.  We are scarred.  If we hand't been through Iraq, I don't think we would've hesitated to react.  We would have responded quickly and concise.  Now?  Not so much.  It's a terrible position.  

I don't want to hear the talking heads use the term WMD's in this reporting.  Don't confuse the discussion.  We are talking about chemical warfare.  Talking about murdering one's own people. People in America mostly hang on sound bites.  Don't do the research.  We trust by nature.  Let's call it what it is: serin gas.  Unfortunately, this would have been the conflict to get involved in but now....Before we ever send our troops into a foreign country again, we will have to double check, triple check, quadruple check the facts.  Maybe that's not even enough. 

Sidebars:  Once again, the FDA is playing catch up on E-Cigarettes. They didn't see it coming.  They are behind the 8-ball.   E Cigs were invented for those smokers trying to quit and need a crutch.  Now it is over a billion dollar business.  Celebrity spokespeople are doing commercials.  My constant irritant, Jenny McCarthy, is one of the paid spokespersons.  She seems to jump on anything with gusto and little factual information.  I digress, but she bugs me and the fact that she's supporting ECigs....(Remember, she was the celebrity that rallied against childhood innoculations because it "causes" autism without scientific proof). So, the FDA now is looking into the safety of the electronic cigarettes.  Middle schoolers and high schoolers are now partaking.  It's a joke.  The FDA should be ashamed of themselves.  The warnings should have gone up first, not after the horse has left the barn.  It's tons of chemicals.  Could be harmful, could not, but shouldn't we know before it becomes a runaway moneymaker???

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day

Thirty two years ago I was sitting on 5th Avenue on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral watching and crying at the Labor Day Parade.  It was the year of the broken air traffic controllers union.  The fractured former members marched up 5th Avenue with their spouses and children.  It was without question one of the more human public displays I have witnessed.  It was painful and a very real reminder of the stronghold big business was gaining in the White House.  It hasn't gotten better since 1981.  Business and money are at the forefront of many political decisions, campaigns, and legislation.

Which brings me to the Affordable Care Act.  I do not presume to understand much of it, few do, I'm sure of that.  What I am sure of is that this country decades ago blew it.  We should have encouraged universal healthcare in this country.  Now, it's not possible with all the profits in the medical world.  Hospitals, drug  and insurance companies all have huge profit margins.  If they don't, they merge, close, or downsize.  It's all about the money.  Now, I have to believe that the onset of cancer center ads is another measure of profitability.  So, with all the money to be made by companies, board members, and shareholders, how can we ever get universal healthcare?

We didn't get what many of us wanted, but we got something.  We got something that the Republicans have been trying to overturn over 75 times in Congress.  The Supreme Court weighed in and said it was the law of the land, which must have killed the Justices. What we haven't gotten is an alternative.  Nothing. Rien. Nada. The Republicans just want to stop it and reverse it, but have never, not once, offered a solution of their own.  I have heard right wing citizens bitching and moaning about it.  I have heard Republican politicians complain session after session.  I want a new rule.  If you are on medicare, can afford insurance, have insurance provided by your employer or the taxpayer, shut up!  You shouldn't get a voice in this.  If you have no horse in this race, then you shouldn't get to sound off.  

It seems that only those that have nothing to gain out of Obamacare are the loudest.  Where are all the uninsured's voices.  I have repeatedly said that there is too much quiet from the groups that need the most.  Doesn't matter what the cause is.  I will keep shouting.  I will keep hoping that somebody hears.  

So, as I sit here, it is Labor Day again and there hasn't been a parade for years celebrating our work force and unions.  I don't know what happened and where it went, but maybe it's time to bring it back.  Maybe it is time to honor all the invisible people that make each day work for us.  Maybe it's time.

Sidebars:  If you haven't seen Lee Daniels' The Butler, run. Take your children. Take your parents.  It is a beautifully well made movie and a wonderful story.  Covers five decades of American history through the eyes of a butler in The White House.  CBS and Time Warner are still in a pissing contest here in NYC, L.A., and other cities.  Haven't had CBS for weeks.  Don't really care, but can feel the pinch inching closer.  Currently, we have the US Open tennis on CBS.  We can get some of it on other channels, but some of the big matches can only be seen on our computers.  What happens to Jets fans?  What happens if this goes into October and the premiere season?  The problem I see is that CBS keeps winning in the ratings without two of the biggest cities, so puts TW in a corner.  Two gigantic corporations fighting.  Who is losing?...

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