Friday, February 27, 2015

You're Either With Us or Against Us

Rudy Guiliani stepped in it. Questioning President Obama's love for this country; he wasn't raised like Rudy.  Whatever the hell that means.  Dog whistles anyone?  Why have we become a country that judges others so harshly.  Well, I think it can be traced back to President Cowboy Bush.  When we were attacked by terrorists, President Bush stood up at the microphone and said you're either with us or you're against us.  No grey area.  Black and white.  No time for questions.  You believe like us or your don't love this country.  Patriotism hadn't been questioned this much since the l950's and the McCarthy hearings.  

I wasn't alive then, but can't imagine that it could be any worse than it's become here.  The Republicans see everything in absolutes.  There are no variances.  They stick to the scripts, which are rock solid.  No matter what happens there are few criticisms, unless it's towards the "others."  The Democrats don't work in absolutes at all.  There is no reigning in talking points.  They are disorganized and spineless.  Whether the Democrats are right, they do not back up their beliefs.  Can you imagine a Republican saying anything derogatory towards the Republicans?  It doesn't happen for worse.  It's never for better.  I can appreciate, on one level, sticking together, but to what end?  

We are currently in another bulls**t session with Congress voting to fund Homeland Security.  What's holding it up?  The Republicans don't like what Obama did unilaterally with immigration.  If the Republicans would have come to the table with any ideas what to do with all the illegal immigrants in this country, it wouldn't have had to happen. Do you get that?  If the people elected and paid to make laws for this country actually did their jobs, we wouldn't have unilateral decision making by the White House.  The fact that the Republican Congress has held the funding hostage in the words of many across the aisle...unpatriotic!  Why do we, the people of the United States of America, allow this kind of irresponsible behavior to go on and on and on.

I live in New York City.  I am sure you all know that by now. We are always on high alert in some way here.  We have the constant, "see something, say something" all over the subways.  There are many announcements about backpacks can be randomly checked by cops in the subways.  If we see a lone bag, we are all trained to be suspicious.  So, the fact that the FBI just foiled another plot here in NYC and the Congress is holding budget dollars for Homeland Security for ransom, is unconscionable.  Rudy, you were Mayor here for 8 years.  You were Mayor on 9/11.  Why aren't you as a self-proclaimed lover for this Country, which is better than our President's love for this Country, standing up and shouting at Congress and telling them to give the damn money??!!  WHY??
Why isn't there some sense that keeping Americans safe should trump your egos?  

Why isn't it more patriotic to care about America than re-election?  Isn't that how it's supposed to be?  You run for office, you win, and, while you get paid, you do your damnedest to make your district, State, and Country a  better place.  If you lose re-election, then, so be it.  Isn't that really patriotism?  Not doing the bidding of all your special interests?  

I am having a harder and harder time writing because our elected officials are all corrupted by all the money.  BUT if you all can't set aside your petty differences to fund our safety, you are all against us.

Sidebars:  Have you noticed all the movie actors taking over series television?  In the past week, I've seen ads for new series with, new Oscar winner, Patricia Arquette, Josh Duhamel, Juliette Lewis, and Ryan Phillipe.  Already 3 episodes into an 8 episode series, The Slap, boasts an amazing cast of actors.  Maybe it's the trend. Steady work, but could be taking more work away from the journeymen who never were "too good" for TV. It certainly makes the projects seem more credible.  We shall see.  The Voice began this week with a bang.  How many great singers are there in America and how many can have careers?  The judges still delight with their banter. February sweeps are over and now re-runs are rampant again.  The good news: CBS' lineup is finally back Sunday night.  The bad news: it's the final episode for this winter of Downton Abbey.  T.G.I.F. wherever you are.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Hang Up the Host

The Oscars have come and gone.  At 8:30pm EST, Neil Patrick Harris took the challenging mantel as host and kicked off the show with a huge production number.  It set the tone for mediocrity and very questionable humor.  There's no doubt that Neil Patrick Harris (NPH) is extraordinarily talented.  He has now spanned decades in this business and he's only 41 years old, but, and, this is a serious but, it is time for him to take a vacation.  I have been feeling since his previous hosting gig, that he is believing his own press.  The once seemingly humble and adorable man, seems cockier and cockier.  

Last night's hosting gig, may go down as the classless hosting of all.  The writing was way below par. The jokes were far too much toilet humor, literally.  He spoke about peeing multiple times to Octavia Spencer.  I felt sorry for her.  I guess she knew that he would harangue her about his dumb prediction bit, but I really felt her discomfort as the evening went on.  NPH also spoke to someone (and I can't remember who) about pooping.  Ugh!  Hated that he came out in his underwear.  Really took the show down, down, down.  It felt far too narcissistic a routine.  Look at me and how great I look and my big package.  Me, me, me.  It's supposed to be about them, them, them.  (Even Michael Strahan asked him this morning if he was stuffed).  Really?  That's the focus on the Oscars?  

Highlights  of the show were some of the great acceptance speeches.  First up, JK Simmons winning for Whiplash, best supporting actor.  Loved his speech. Love him.  Thrilled for him.  Patricia Arquette's acceptance speech (about two hours later)  was extraordinary.  She took the moment to say something.  Did you hear it? It is worth YouTubing.  Meryl Streep almost jumped out of her seat.  Patricia Arquette declared that it was time for women's rights and equal pay for women*.  Fantastic moment.  Common and John Legend singing Glory from Selma was stunning.  A great meaningful moment.  Their acceptance speeches for Best Song were stellar.  Lady Gaga singing the tribute to The 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music took many by surprise.  Many had no idea that she was really a singer's singer. Juilliard trained.  She sounded glorious.  Shondra Rimes, creator of Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder, needs to get educated.  For some inexplicable reason tweeted something nasty, such as, didn't anyone see Idina Menzel there?  Why wouldn't she be singing and not Gaga.  Idina can't sing that, Shondra. (I will save my rant about Shondra for another time).  

The producers that put together the In Memoriam segment slighted two of the most beloved New York icons that we lost this past year.  No Joan Rivers and no Elaine Stritch. Shocking omissions.  They both deserve to be honored and remembered.  I always look forward to the In Memoriam segment.  I am always surprised by someone that I didn't know died or I didn't remember.  Take your pick.  This year's segment left me cold. I didn't like the artful drawings of the people and not photos.  Robin Williams didn't even look like Robin Williams and was just stuck somewhere in the middle.  They gave the last spot to Mike Nichols.  The producers of In Memoriam should be ashamed of themselves.  How hard is it to go through the obits for the year so no one is left out?  Was it intentional?  Explain, please.

The 87th Academy Awards are behind us.  If they can't get Ellen DeGeneres for the 88th, then rethink things. Neil Patrick Harris was a big fail.  Seriously, one of the most classless hosting jobs.  The Oscars are the ultimate awards show.  It can't go down the toilet.  

So for the few of you who raised the bar last night, I thank you.  If it hadn't been for you, I would've gone to bed.

*Here's part of Patricia Arquette's speech: “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” shouted a fiery Arquette. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

Sidebars:  The Bachelor tonight.  Hometown dates for the three women left.  Always revealing, but ultimately, no one will ever marry Chris and live in that no horse town.  I have never seen a duller place, ever.  He lives in the middle of nowheresville, Iowa.  No movie theatre, no lunch counter, nothing.  When they showed the town, everything was locked in the middle of the day, including the church.  Wow!  The Voice returns tonight.  Christina Aguilera is back judging.  She has big shoes to fill.  Night Shift begins its second season right after The Voice.  The Oscar winning documentary, CitizenFour, airs on HBO tonight.  We are back in the deep freeze after a taste of Spring yesterday here.  Happy Monday!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Brain Freeze

It's been very difficult to put complete thoughts together. It is colder here in New York City than it's been in twenty years.  I always judge cold by my nose hairs.  If I feel them burning and freezing, it is really cold.  I've only had that experience three times.  The first was around 30 years ago, second, a trip to Toronto in the dead of Winter, and third, Sunday night.  It was so bloody cold.  Three degrees at 8:00pm and a wind chill below zero.  Forehead frozen even with a hat on and we aren't getting the worst of it.  

The good news, there's been lots of great television to get us through the weekend.  I loved the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary.  It wasn't perfection, but for a show that was 3 1/2 hours long, it was fantastic.  In recent years, I can hardly make it through their usual Saturday Night show clocking in at 90 minutes, so 3 1/2 hours....Amazingly entertaining.  The old clips were by far better than anything in recent memory.  Really sad to see the stream of people that died from the show, really sad.  I, personally, haven't gotten over losing Gilda Radner.  One of the great comic geniuses of my lifetime and left too soon.  If you missed it, it's definitely worth trying to get On Demand.

Downton Abbey and Spoiler Alert....Lord Grantham's dog is dying. At the end of this past week's episode, he won't make it through the night.  People are so upset with the turn of events, but I don't think they had a choice. Unfortunately, when the show began they couldn't have foreseen the future.  The sweet beautiful, loyal dog's name...?  Isis.  I haven't read anything, but can only figure that they didn't want that name attached to the show, interpreted as an homage, or any other subtle honor to the most heinous, evil group of men since Adolf Hitler's regime.  It's so sad for the storyline and the fans.  All of us dog owners felt this so deeply, but I don't think they had a choice.  I'm willing to be wrong, but don't think so.  If anyone reads anything contrary, let me know.

The Bachelor is winding down, but this past weekend we got five hours of glorious, embarrassing, television.  It's hard to pick out one single moment, but when Jade, one of four women left, admitted to and showed Chris, the bachelor, her Playboy photo shoot...awkward doesn't cut it.  She sat with her laptop and showed him photo after photo.  He said it didn't matter, but come on....He lives in a town with 450 people!  No chance could she be the chosen one.  By the way, no matter what happens in the end, there's no possibility that any one of the women left will survive Arlington, Iowa.  There is nothing and, I mean, nothing.  It is almost three hours from Des Moines.  It is in the middle of nowhere. No restaurant. No movie theatre.  When the girls made a surprise visit, all the doors were locked on the two blocks of downtown, including the church.  No way.  It's a total handicap.

Still catching up on John Oliver and Episodes.  Tonight is the final night of the Westminster Dog Show.  I wonder who will be Best in Show.  Heard that Patty Hearst has the winning toy breed.  Never ceases to surprise me where she shows up.  What's next?  Maybe she can do Dancing With the Stars....

For the people in the Boston area and North, I know that as cold and snowy as it's been here, it pales in comparison.  May your cars start, your roofs hold, and your pipes stay whole.  This has been some Winter AND heard that other than the Northeast and upper midwest, this has been one of the warmest winters.  Hard to believe, isn't it?  

I feel remiss if I don't mention the terror and anti-semitic attacks over the weekend.  The first in Copenhagen.    At a seminar/speech about freedom of speech led by the cartoonist and satirist, Lars Vilks, multiple shots fired. One dead, plus injuries.  They didn't get Lars Vilks, who, as you may remember, was the cartoonist who drew a controversial cartoon about Muhammad that got some Islamists calling for his death years ago.  Then a synagogue was shot up and a Jewish man guarding the synagogue was killed. In all there were three dead and five wounded. In France, vandals/terrorists destroyed a Jewish cemetery.  In both cases, the leaders of the countries stood up loudly and immediately.  

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Who Always Gets Screwed?

It's tough being a fan.  It's tough be a ticket subscriber. We, the fans, are always getting the short end of the stick, always!  We are the only people that are not part of a union.  We have no power.  If you are an athlete, you are backed by your teammates, your union, the owners or the coach.  The system is all slanted towards the good of the player and the owner.  Just look at the disastrous decade plus with the New York Knicks.  Since James Dolan purchased the Knicks, the fan has been left out of the cold, game after game, year after year.  If you are a season ticket holder, it's been worse.  The ticket prices have soared and the product has gotten worse.  The "renovation" to the Garden, shifted the seats and what were once fantastic, roomy seats are now closer together, further up, zero leg room.  The tickets?  More expensive.  Who wins?  The Garden and James Dolan.  This week, James Dolan chose to reply publicly to a fan that dared to complain and criticize his ownership, the Knicks, etc.  He is a disgrace, but we, the fans, are powerless.  

The owners in all the leagues continue to take down the fans.  There are die hard fans that return year in and year out.  They were raised fans by their parents, grandparents and friends.  It is a ritual to root for the hometown team, but in return, what do the fans get?  Nothing.  We don't get refunds for crappy years of play.  We don't get rebates for bad trades.  You may say, well stop going, stop buying tickets.  You're right. After more than 25 years, we had to give up our Knicks tickets.  You can't give them away and they went from $60/seat to over $300/seat.  No championship.  Once you give up your tickets, you can't get back in.  Corporations have taken over sports tickets.  They don't care if they spend a zillion on season tickets and no one sits in the seats.  Have you seen games on television?  Doesn't matter which sport, there are lots of empty seats; they're sold seats so owners don't care.

Long gone are the days when regular folk can take a family of four to the ballpark, stadium, arena.  The tickets are a fortune.  The food and beverage that much more.  If you think going to the movies is expensive....The food vendors are taking all the money you earn in a week or a month.  Let's not even talk about the jersey's being sold.  Gone are the days that teams are committed to the jerseys of last year.  They change styles and colors without thought to all the millions of people that bought and wear their team jerseys.  It's all about money.  It's not about the fans.  With all the television money, owners don't care, players don't care, coaches don't care.  As long as they can squeeze more money out of the working stiffs, they're good.  

What's the answer?  Not really sure.  Can fans unionize?  The only fans that seem happy and part of the system are the Green Bay Packers' fans.  That team is publicly owned by the townsfolk.  They are the owners.  There's no James Dolan or Robert Kraft.  And, let's not forget that championship owners throw crumbs to the fans with parades for thousands to line the streets while the owners pockets get lined.  If the fans, particularly individual season ticket sufferers, participated someway in the success of the team, maybe there would be some fairness, but as it stands now, ticket holders are at the mercy of the decision makers during strikes, "inflation," and egomaniacs.  

The other day, listening to Jeff Van Gundy announcing an NBA game, he said ticket buyers should know before the games who will be playing.  The new methodology is sitting out a game here or there.  Just don't feel like it or they're resting up for a bigger game.  He stood up for the fans.  There needs to be more of that.  The media talking heads should call out players and owners more, but they can't.  They are always kowtowing so they can get into locker rooms, get that all important interview, etc.  So?  Who gets screwed year in and year out?  You guessed it, the fans.  The loyal, hardworking fans.  Can we create a union?  A Fans Bill of Rights?  Adam Silver? Roger Goodell? Rob Manfred? Gary Bettman?  Anyone listening...?  I think not.

Sidebars:  Okay, too sad about Bobbi Kristina.  Pulling life support tomorrow on the same day that Whitney died.  Too sad.  Still pondering face down in the tub....---Poor Bruce Jenner.  Hounded by paparazzi, rumors, and innuendo and then part of a fatal car crash.  Bad week. --- Thrilled and sad that Joan Rivers won a Grammy.  She should've been there. ---  I think that the sports talking heads totally missed out on the interview about Bill Bellichik.  They still haven't interviewed Don Shula!  He called him Bill Bellicheat before deflate gate. --- A friend has really tried to get me to weigh in on Brian Williams.  I just can't.  I have to wait if this huge embellishment/lie is a one off or we find out that he lied about many more things.  The New York Post has pounced on this and hung him out.  Funny coming from the brotherhood of Fox News. They've never lied.  ---The Bachelor has hit new lows.  Chris Soules is a douche.  Thought he was better than he is.  Now we know it wasn't the town of 450 that turned Andi Dorfman off. --- Kanye West should never be given a microphone again.  I just started to soften on him and then he acts like an asshole again. True to form.  Grammys are always interesting. Best to watch it on DVR.  The interesting combinations of singers is fascinating. --- Can't get enough of Downton Abbey and I fear this season is almost over.... --- Colder and colder in NYC.  

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Jonas Salk Is Turning Over in His Grave

Okay, people, it's time to get a grip.  I get it that parents are trying not to blindly trust professionals that are trained and know more than you do.  Movies that have shown insurmountable odds for children dying with mysterious diseases and the parents study, read, and research and help find a cure for their child (Lorenzo's Oil) maybe have emboldened some parents to think they know more.  You don't!

The recent outbreak of measles is illustrating just how ridiculous adults can be.  Look, I understand it.  Before I had children, a friend of a friend had a child and refused to immunize him.  I was young and impressionable, so I thought, "hmmmm, maybe they know more than I do."   It gave me pause. My mother and I had a heated discussion about it.  I just wanted to think about the ramifications and not blindly do something when it came to children.  Of course, I had my children and fully immunized them.  Why?  Because the diseases that had been fully eradicated by vaccines, were hellacious and painful.  Why in the world would I want to put my children or anyone else's children  in jeopardy?  

Ten years-ish, a British "doctor" came out with a study and said that childhood vaccines and autism were connected, cause and effect.  The Playboy bunny, Jenny McCarthy, glommed onto this study.  Her son had issues and she went on a publicity tour saying that this study is valid, wrote books, did talk shows, magazines, radio, and people believed her.  They took her espousing over medical doctors!  She was the then girlfriend of Jim Carrey so finding airtime and newspaper space was easy.  The British "doctor," was shown to be the fraud that he was, the study invalid, and was stripped of his medical license.  Jenny McCarthy didn't have to retract.  She didn't lose her "mom license."  She still had her megaphone.  She was never made to publicly apologize for her misinformation tour.  She got off scot-free. 

The children have not.  There have been more and more cases of measles today than there have been in the last 50 years.  Never in my lifetime can I remember anyone having measles. Why is that?  Parents thinking that they have a choice in the matter.  Look what their selfish choices has cost us.  With their misguided decisions, an otherwise eradicated disease is back.  How f**king dumb can you be?  Look, if you don't want to vaccinate your child, then keep them in the home.  Home school your child, no playdates in public, don't travel, no vacations.  The above mentioned child, which was my introduction to this "choice," said they could get a doctor to lie so that they could go to school.  Wow, really?  So you can endanger other children?  If doctor's are lying to get kids into schools, they should be stripped of their licenses immediately, maybe jail time if anyone of their patients infects someone else's child.

OMG, Chris Christie came out in favor of choosing or not choosing to vaccinate in 2009, now he's re-writing his statements.  Is he running for President?  What an ass!  Look, if you want to make these irresponsible choices for your children, then you can't partake in society.  There's no Disneyland for you.  Maybe you should start your own island community.  All the ignoramus parents that choose not to vaccinate your kids can live there.  See how long your community lasts.  Fine with me as long as you stay on your land and don't come out.  

My friend, Holly, posted this yesterday and it's well worth reading:

Sidelines:  One of my serious pet peeves: have you noticed how many men's jackets aren't fitting properly?  On television all the time, Awards shows, talk shows, you name it, no matter how much money you have or who designed the suit, there are more ill fitting jackets today than ever before.  Have the men put on weight between fittings?  Start noticing, really.  The buttons are too tight and there are creases and lines that the tailor never saw or fixed. Terrible....So Super Bowl XLIX is over, thankfully.  One of the dullest games in recent memory.  Though Patriot fans are wildly happy, they didn't win this one.  The Seahawks lost it. Not much great football from either side.  A couple of exciting plays.  Nationwide's commercial is something they wish they could get a re-do.  Started trending immediately after airing.  Horrible commercial for the Super Bowl.  They may have had their insurance heart in the right place, but it was the wrong time.  Budweiser Clydesdale/puppy commercial big winner.  Idina Menzel was fantastic.  Very happy for her.  That isn't always the case for her so glass she was triumphant.  Katy Perry's halftime show was great but is looking too much like the Olympics and not Super Bowl halftime.  It's cold and icy here in NYC. Stay warm wherever you are.  

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