March 2015

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If there were any justice, Chief Dan George would have gotten an Oscar for The Outlaw Josie Wales.

If there were any justice, Chief Dan George would have gotten an Oscar for The Outlaw Josie Wales.

I’m famous, with my wife at least, for being intractably unwilling to watch movies a second time. Once you know how the plot turns out, why bother? Never felt that way about books when I was young. Dozens that I read multiple times. But I’m not young anymore. And movies tend to be Point A to Point Q or S kind of stuff. If they ever got to Z maybe you could stand watching again. Maybe a lot of you are the same way.

But even I have movies that fall into a special category. If you happen across them while channel flipping, you fall into them and watch them to the end. They don’t have to be the best movies. They’re just the most seductive ones. “I’ll wait till this next great scene.” Then, “The next great scene will be in just a few more minutes.” And finally, “Oh hell. In for a Penny, in for a pound. I’ll stay to the end.”

Saw one last night I hadn’t realized had made this rare list. The Outlaw Josie Wales.

Others? On the Waterfront. Scarface. Die Hard. Fort Apache. Shane. The Big Sleep. Casablanca. There may be others, but it’s a short list.

How about you? Be strict with yourselves. Not movies you like and have on DVD. Only movies you keep getting sucked into because you suddenly discover them playing on TV, even if it’s past your bedtime.

I know nobody’s reading this, but I guess this is another kind of confession. The power of certain films to reach out of the box and grab you by the throat.

So give me your confessions. There’s a special place in movie eternity for phenomena like this. Help me document it. Or don’t.

Life changing lessons for men

Life changing lessons for men

File this under the category of things married men learn AFTER they’re married. Guys watch Duck Dynasty, Top Shot, and Bad Girls Club. They never watch Say Yes to the Dress, which is about women trying to find the right wedding dress. They should definitely, absolutely watch this show long before they rent the Jumbotron at the Meadowlands to propose to their chosen helpmeet.

There’s a lot to wade through in getting to the lessons. Oceans of estrogen secreted by brides, mothers, mothers-in-law, bitchy controlling sisters, bitchy controlling gay fashionista ‘friends,’ and even bullying fathers. But the lessons are there, both hopeful and cautionary.

1. This is the best and most important lesson. They show the bride awaiting her shopping experience. More often than not (not always) she’s quite attractive. They ask her about the groom. She always says he’s her best friend and the only person she could imagine spending her life with. Then we get a picture of him. Lordy, Lordy, Lordy. They’re ugly, fat, slovenly, and are usually wearing a backwards baseball cap. Apparently, any guy with a functioning heart and lungs can find an attractive woman willing to marry him. At the end of the show, they always screen clips of an actual wedding. And the guy, often as not, is wearing sneakers with his lame tuxedo. LESSON: Don’t give up. Even a slob like you can get lucky.

2. Pay attention to the mothers, sisters, and aunts and grandmothers. They have far more influence than the anticipated groom does. They cow her, intimidate her into changing her mind even about what she absolutely loves, reduce her to tears, and sometimes make her run away from the most important decision confronting her at the moment. LESSON: Before you pop the question, make sure you know who the women in your intended’s life are. They can and will kill you if you let them.

3. Pay attention to the men too. The bossy brothers, possessive papas, and gay guides, er, confidantes. They can do you in too before you’re even aware of them. Very important to find out about these influences before you walk down the aisle. LESSON: You think because you’re compatible in bed and on the couch in front of a cool DVD you’re the big man in her life. Ha!

4. Just because you love and desire and like her doesn’t mean she would make you, or anyone, a good wife. Most often, for very good reason, they ban the groom from the wedding dress shopping. The ones who insist on being there are invariably controlling assholes no girl should marry and you can see the future domestic abuse calls to 911 right there on the entourage couch. But that shouldn’t obscure what the brides show about themselves in the shopping process. Some of them are completely impossible — budget busting narcissists, hopelessly indecisive Barbie dolls who should never mother children, preening sluts who would rather show off their boobs to one and all than honor the impending ceremony or their husbands, tattooed trash with no taste and no sense of anything beyond a sense of escape from a bad early life to the home run of a husband, whoever he is. LESSON: Be very careful you really know who and what you’re marrying.

5. There are good women, sweet, genuinely in love, ready to make or renew vows with lifetime partners, knowing full well what that means. These women, not all of them naturally beautiful, are life’s great prizes. Amazingly, when they find the right dress, and put on the veil and tiara, and weep with love and joy, they are nevertheless beautiful. LESSON: find one of these women, propose in private, and spend the rest of your life trying to live up to her.

Here endeth the lessons. Say yes to watching ‘Say Yes to the Dress.’

Don't want to belong to any movement that would have as a member.

Don’t want to belong to any movement that would have as a member.

This will be after the fashion of Jay Nordlinger’s Impromptus, with no attempt at transitions and thereby enduring the risk of seeming to be stringing non sequiturs together. So be it.

I really do get some of the lefties’s points. Where to begin?

When the Arab Spring started, I suspected what it would lead to, namely dissolution of whatever stability existed in the Middle East. But given what has eventuated from Obama’s essentially isolationist policy in foreign affairs, I find myself agreeing that putting “American boots on the ground” against ISIS is a waste of time. I’m for defending Israel, with nuclear weapons if necessary, but as to the rest of it, the barbarian regimes of the Middle East have made their own bed and they can lie in it. The American people are tired of war, or more precisely, they are tired of wars their government will not support to any successful conclusion. Too much blood shed for victories that are rendered meaningless by self-serving politicians.

I can understand why black people are mad at the police and the criminal justice system. My quarrel is not as much with their indignation as with their methods. I’m a Jersey motorhead. None of us likes the cops. Some are okay. Many are thugs, not necessarily racist but control freaks who like strutting around with guns and bullying people. I believe the DOJ’s report about the Ferguson police department. The Michael Brown affair was a spark that lit waiting tinder. My biggest problem is with politicians who fanned those first sparks into flaming riots and police murders. That was a cynical and unforgivable tactic by a party that is absolutely in the pocket of attorneys who prosecute selectively, unethically, probably illegally, and for the exclusive purpose of building their own political careers and wallets.

Income inequality has become grotesque. Corporate CEO’s are overpaid by factors of ten or higher. Their pay rises as they collude with lobbyists and politicians to eliminate the risk that is supposed to be the basis for reward in a capitalist system. Wall Street really is the epicenter of this phenomenon. I dropped out of graduate business school because I didn’t want to become an officer in the army of those who make nothing and profit by manipulating those who do make things. I met those guys when they were in training. Cynical, selfish, worthless, despite expensive educations that should have taught them better. I just don’t think the answer to the problem is letting the government that connives with robber barons decide who can make how much or who should make at least this much. That’s just more power to the same crooks.

I understand the frustrations and desire for assistance of our astoundingly high population of single mothers. I think of them, all of them, as lost little girls. They’ve been sold a bill of goods. Keep the iPod earbuds in, ignore your own parents, and do whatever the hell you want. That’s liberation, right? That’s freedom, right. Wrong. But there is no law government can pass that will lay down the necessary rules. No, don’t marry an ex-con who will beat you the day after your wedding. No, don’t be careless or promiscuous about premarital sex; someday the condom will break. No, don’t divorce him the first time you realize that your life is not a Disney movie.

So much is broken in our culture, and has been for such a long time, that I also understand the craving for unfettered abortion rights. I get the resentment of men that hard-core feminists have. But it still does take two to tango, and there’s no government in the history of governments that can repeal the anatomical certainty of woman’s greater stake in pregnancy than man’s. I would love to see a lessening of personal pain, blighted lives of both women and children, but I disagree that abortion is the answer. Better behavior is. That makes me a prig, a chauvinist, and an apologist for the predator sex, I know, but these are issues civilization has been grappling with since before recorded human history.

Yet I also recognize the contradictions in conservative positions that even the left finds hard to surface because of the contradictions in its own positions. We conservatives are choleric about fatherless families among the poor, even as we insist that abortion is never an answer. Well, it is an answer in all too many instances. Only problem being, it begins to look like Sanger-esque eugenics when the overwhelming percentage of abortions occur among the poor. That’s the liberal contradiction. If you want social justice, how is it justice that so many poor babies are killed are on their way out of the womb? Neither side has bellied up to this dilemma.

I even get the Hating America pose of so many leftists. They may not know it it, but their animus is an outgrowth of American exceptionalism. If we’re really the best that ever was, how can there be so much injustice? We have to fix this and this and this. The irony is that the precedent for this kind of constant, grinding self criticism arises from exactly the group that they are presently coalescing to hate as much as they seem to hate America: the Jews. It’s part of the Talmudic tradition to go back and back and back to quibble, quarrel, and otherwise question absolutely everything that’s supposed to be written in stone. Why not even Israel is unanimous about its own right to exist. Problem is, the ancient government which spawned this tradition was led by authoritarian kings. Why the contemporary left is so in love with authoritarian answers to human problems. Again, I understand the impulse and the origins, but I disagree profoundly with the methods and proposed answers.

Immigration. Hospitality to strangers is also a Biblical postulate. I sympathize with the desire. But the notion that you should let strangers despoil your own families is ultimately suicidal.

Gay marriage? Try as I might, I can’t get too worked up about anything but it’s hypocrisies. I have no desire to punish homosexuals. But I despise their insistence on requiring by law that we all have to subjugate our religious and other faiths to their whims. That doesn’t make me a homophobe. If anything, it makes me a vandalphobe. Don’t tell me I have to love a lifestyle I believe is wrong. And don’t force me to imagine or see what you do in bed with each other. But if you want two brides in wedding dresses or two grooms in tuxedos, I really truly don’t care at all as long as there is no legal requirement to attend the ceremony.

Well, I could go on, and maybe I’ll add more later on. But my point is that it’s wrong of leftists to think no conservatives ever understand their penchant and ideals. And it’s wrong of conservatives to think there’s no good that can come out of intensive debate. Who’s more wrong that there’s no debate at all but only opposing armies? As a conservative I admit I blame the left more than the right, but I also admit I blame both sides.

Mercedes Petronas

Mercedes Petronas

The Australian Grand Prix is completed. Winner: Lewis Hamilton. Runner up, the German Rosberg. The Brit sportscasters seem disappointed that Hamilton is picking up right where he left off last year. They led off their pre-race show with a ten minute paean to Rosberg. Like this was finally supposed to be his year with Mercedes.

Actually, Lady Laird and I didn’t know Hamilton was Jewish. (Oh. He isn’t?) Regardless, she’s delighted, as am I. He led from pole to finish line. And pretty soon now, we’ll be over it and go to bed.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

It used to be she liked football and baseball players, usually from Philadelphia. But things happen and times change. Football fades and baseball recedes. Now it’s the thrill, the sound, the drama and divas of Formula 1 Racing. She loves Lewis Hamilton, the winner of last year’s World Championship after a close and intense rivalry against the aristocratic German driver on his own Mercedes team, Nikki Rosberg. All Hamilton had going for him was total determination to win.

It begins all over again right now, in Australia, and this year Ferrari is back in the running. She’s staying up in the middle of the night to watch. Because it’s so much more exciting than the divas of the NFL.

If you’re still up, join the party on NBC Sports Channel.

Who could forget "the O'Really [Bracket]?

Who could forget “The O’Really [Bracket]?

I’ve had a lot of fun over the years spoofing the Fox News Channel. Quick, tell me how many libs and progs have amused themselves by making fun of MSNBC and the Daily Show. Not to worry. I’m still willing to share the odd fact that conservatives have a sense of humor.

Actually, there are a lot of old posts at my various sites making fun of Fox News directly. Like this one.

Comfortably Dumb.

Do a search at Instapunk.com for others, but today we’re concerned with an offshoot of the FNC phenomenon. It’s called XOFF News. Hadn’t realized but it’s probably a book by now.

Scooping Drudge

Fox News Scandal?

Live8. Bigger by the Minute.

Jessica Simpson to Be Nominated to Supreme Court [Ignore the lede. XOFF News often employed Fox News interns to type copy.]

Warning Signs.

Michael Moore Update.

God Blames Bush

Rita Arrested.

CNN Blames Fifth Dimension.

The Alito Hearings: Live Television Feed.

The Short List.

The Carschach Test.

Springtime for Clooney.

Beheading Error Exposed at NYT.

French Troops Arrive in Lebanon.

The Importance of Being Ernesto.

Handling Korea.

Lawn Jockey Slams Malkin, Steele, and the Republicans.

Presidential Election Indefinitely Postponed.

Mars Image Not an Alien, NASA Says.

Man Proven JFK’s Secret Son.

(Un)Expected Developments.

Archbishop of Canterbury Planning U.S. Tour.

Obama Decides on a New Church.

Nancy Pelosi Quits Congress.

The Advertising Begins…

W. Races his Book to Market.

Swine Flu: The Interview.

The Morris-Hannity Poll.

Hillary Guts it Out.

You’d think all that would have scratched my itch about Fox News, but it didn’t. I created my own animated version of the whole prime time lineup, which I’m still trying to rescue from incompatibility hell. Until that happens, you’ll have to content yourself with my Thurber quality drawings of the XOFF stars.

John Gypsum.

John Gypsum.

John Metropolitano.

John Metropolitano.

Brit Humorous of Special Report...

Brit Humorous of Special Report…

...and his All-Star Panel.

…and his All-Star Panel.

Two aliens at ten o'clock.

Two aliens at ten o’clock.

Greater Von Cistern.

Gretel Von Cistern.

Inveterate right wing war horse, Ann Coulter.

Inveterate right wing war horse, Ann Coulter.

And, er, the Gerraldo moron.

And, er, the Gerraldo moron.

Of course, throughout, there's always The News Between the News.

Of course, throughout, there’s always The News Between the News. Starring Laurie Doo.

There you have it. I’ll let you know when the animated files are available.

A good guy and an asshole.

A good guy and an asshole.

A not too bright hero. Just had to give me a hard time at someone else’s Facebook page.

Couldn’t be bothered to read my ten years of writing. Because he’s — what? — the smartest vet in the room.

Let’s think. Just a little. I admire what he’s done. But he’s a bit harsh. I didn’t get drafted because they ended the draft when I was finally eligible. Vietnam. I was willing.

Before that my dad was in WWII, my granddad was in the trenches of WWI, Rainbow Division, and my family belongs to the DAR and Colonial Dames, on both maternal and paternal sides.

He’s a bit of a bully, I’m thinking. Typical.

But he gets my thanks. Why don’t I get his?

UPDATE. All is now clear. He’s a phony, a Stolen Valor Type. That’s not even his picture.

I'm not as cool as life, but I'm close.

I’m not as cool as life, but I’m close.

I’m 62. Done everything. Life is not life. Living is.

See all these old dudes on Facebook. Rotting carcasses. Old guys. Nothing to remember. Just detritus.

Who am I? My knees hurt. My wife wants me to see a doctor. She’s probably right. My knees hurt.

But who’s going to help? You? Thinking not.

Changed my mind, I did.

Changed my mind, I did.

These are muddy waters. Oops. Is that a white micro-aggression? Who gives a damn. I’ve noticed that black people rarely get Oscars except when they’re playing roles that are about being black. That sucks and it’s a kind of racism they have every right to object to. That said, there’s a kind of movie I watch — dare I say it? — religiously. The kind of movie with a predominantly black cast that’s about inspiring young black people to challenge themselves intellectually and achieve.

These movies almost always bring a tear to my eye. I live in a predominantly black town and most of what I see is hopelessness. My wife grew up elsewhere and doesn’t fully comprehend my complicated relationship with my hometown. “Don’t tell me you’re crying again,” she says. “Yes,” I tell her defiantly. “I want these hopes to come true.”

Here are the movies that make me cheer and hope and weep. I’ll have something to say about the lot at the end of this post.

They’re not all great movies. I fault the Great Debaters in particular because of a giant missed opportunity. In every single debate shown, the underdog kids were arguing the proposition they would be expected to advocate. Not how debate works. I so yearned to see them clean the clock of an Ivy team by winning an argument against their own expected belief system.

But it doesn’t matter in the end. What’s common to these movies is reinforcement of the idea that intellectual aspiration and achievement are the birthright of blacks as well as whites. I find it fascinating that notoriously lefty Samuel Jackson stars in the hardest of this small list of movies because it’s the one that touches on the third rail of black school experience, basketball. I understand his political rage, but I also admire his commitment to intellectual ambition as the way out of a dark place. He went to Morehouse College. He’s a highly educated man. And when he makes movies like these, he’s not doing it for the money. He’s doing it for love.

Up top, I told you I had changed up my mind. Not about race. About chess. I have always always hated chess. Hated the game itself since my brilliant grandfather taught me the moves of the individual pieces and confessed that he, too, didn’t quite see the point. Call it a bias, a prejudice, an irrational aversion. Always ticked me off that there are three categories in which prodigies appear at an impossibly early age: math, music, and chess. I get the first two. But why chess?

I had a friend in college who got higher SAT scores than I did, but he was black and couldn’t get into the clubs, even though he was a Grottlesex classmate of my well connected roommate. He didn’t want into the clubs, though. He wanted to play chess. I told him I was no good, knew nothing more than the mechanics of the moves, but he didn’t believe me until we played a game. When he said, “Oh. You weren’t kidding. You’re not any good.” He was so disappointed. Me too.

I failed him. Maybe that was part of my building resentment about the easy Hollywood meme that you can tell a brilliant black guy because he’s so good at — what? — chess.

Why the best movie on this list is “Life of a King.” First time I ever understood the meaning of chess as an agent of education. How shallow is that? The biggest learning point of the game I’d ever taken was the knowledge that Napoleon won at chess by cheating. Made it seem to excuse my own indolence and indifference in the easiest way possible. This movie makes it clear that “not cheating” is the whole point. Which includes understanding that the only important position on the board is the King, however you conceive him.

He is the principle you are willing to fight and sacrifice yourself for. He is the measure of your measure as a person. Are you a pawn, a knight, a bishop, a rook, a queen? And by all means, see the whole board, the long game, the end game.

None of this ever occurred to me. My bad. Why some movies are better than other movies. Watch these ones. You won’t be sorry.

image

Still trying to figure out how to put my Fox News parody online again. Nothing is working so far. But I’m pretty confident my “Bill O’Really” talking points are the best take anyone’s done on him. Also pretty pleased with my versions of Brit Hume and Judge Napolitano. Especially the bolts in Brit’s neck. Just saying.

Is this what anyone really wants?

Is this what anyone really wants?

If she were elected, she’d be a few months shy of 70 when she takes an oath of office she can be counted on to ignore.

And if there’s anything worse than a King of the United States, it’s a Queen of the United States, a credentialed woman of no accomplishment whatsoever still seeking approval by demanding it.

People comment on the weakness of the Democrat “bench.” Does anybody ask why the bench is so weak? Biden’s as old as Hillary and suffering from dirty old man dementia to boot. Elizabeth Warren is a default candidate for those who suspect that a party with no ideas needs to run yet another symbolic victim of white male oppression. Other than that, she’s just a joke, an affirmative action success whose main claim to fame is a ridiculous assertion of sharing the blood of Geronimo. She’ll be laughed off the national stage as soon as people discover she has no political or managerial experience, no charisma, and no knowledge of life in these United States outside the U.K. province called Massachusetts.

Who else is sitting in the dugout rubbing resin on his bat? A one term ex-governor of Maryland and a one-term ex-senator from Virginia. That’s it? Really?

Why all roads keep leading back to Hillary. Which, when you think about it, is entirely just and proper. Hillary is the perfect exemplar of what the Democrat Party has become. An Ivy League lawyer who never really practiced law, whose primary political credential is that she was married to a president of the United States and somehow managed to have almost as many scandals in that capacity as her husband did. She’s lived a privileged life devoid of actual achievement but filled with empty titles. She won a senate seat as a carpetbagger, did nothing, ran for president and lost, humiliatingly, brokered a deal to become Secretary of State, did nothing or possibly far worse than nothing, and is now entitled, based on name recognition alone, to become president of a nation she has always regarded as a mark to be conned and exploited.

The Democrats have no ideas at all. They have what remains of the 80 year old FDR electoral coalition. That’s all they have. Unless you count the lockstep viciousness of their determination to destroy every voice that opposes their entitlement to power in perpetuity.

Have you ever killed a snake with a hoe? The snake is dead but it keeps writhing, on and on and on. That’s the party of Hillary. It doesn’t matter what happens with the most currentest scandal of this sleazy harridan. She will survive to be nominated or she will be replaced with another empty headed loser, and whichever it is, the Democrat nominee might actually win, blessed from beyond by the criminal ghost of St. Franklin Roosevelt.

But there is nothing in the world that can reinvigorate the Democrat Party with good ideas, decency, or moral authority. We’ll have to provide these on our own and save the best nation in recorded history despite a broken and corrupted federal government.

Who cares who they nominate? I don’t. And neither should you.

Annika. The fantasy of Scandinavian women in charge.

Annika. The fantasy of Scandy women in charge.

Dodge. The reality of useless Scandinavian women.

Dicte. The reality of useless Scandinavian women.

So. We’ve been watching Scandinavian TV shows and movies. It really is a different culture. Our favorite so far is Annika Bengtzon, a journalist who pursues her mission to the detriment of her family and everything else that might get in the way.

She’s Swedish, beautiful, only slightly a slut, and fearless. Best of all, she seems to know what to do when the crap hits the fan. As opposed to her Danish rival Dicte, who is also a journalist, a major slut, and fatally hesitant when she gets into the kinds of situations Annika excels at.

I probably wouldn’t have dreamed up this post except for a user review at IMDB.com, which said this.

Really?

Really?

What a crock. Americans have it in their heads that Europeans, perhaps especially Scandinavians, are more sophisticated than we are about sex and the sexes generally. Yeah, the women go to bed at the drop of a hat, but there’s nothing sophisticated about the culture. There’s a weird affect in play. The men have ceased to be men, but the women are, well, infantile, hostage to every stray emotion with no men around to tell them to grow up. Bizarre.

Oh. You wanted specifics? Annika versus Dicte. Both charge blindly into bad situations. Annika has a good jab and fine left hook. Dicte has paralysis, weeping, and usually a bloody nose. Annika walks out on family gatherings to pursue a story. So does Dicte. Annika gets the story. Dicte gets upset, accuses her friends of things she is guilty of, and succeeds in making everything she encounters about her and her alone. She’s also a total idiot. Annika is, impossibly somehow, smart.

We’ve watched a lot of these Scandinavian productions. As with all such things, patterns emerge. The shows tend to be slow, excepting Annika. And the protagonists, men and women both, tend to be slow to react, slow to figure out what’s going on, slow to respond when action is required right now. Immensely frustrating for Americans to watch. They’re lollygagging beside the Saab while the incomprehensibly beautiful blonde teenager is being tortured inside the bleak building and you’re yelling, “Go, go, go go, go!” And they just go, “Yah, Yah,” at each other and make more phone calls.

We liked Wallander because he had an excuse for his dilatory, befuddled ways. He had Alzheimer’s. Well, maybe they all do. Except Annika. Did we mention she’s beautiful?

We like Fortitude. It’s the apotheosis of Scandinavian dramas. Everybody is sleeping with everybody, everybody’s guilty of something, nobody believes in anything, and nothing is ever going to work out right.

Funny. Americans think Lillyhammer is funny because it reminds them of the Sopranos. We think it’s funny because it reminds us of the difference between Americans and Scandinavians. I mean, if you happened on a place of passive, neutered men and moronic women, how much damage could you do?

But to be fair, it’s not just Scandinavians. The French are the same way. The women are nuts. The men are sleazy pantywaists, except for the terrorists. Same thing.

C’est la guerre.

No. Not that guy. Honey.

No. Not that guy. Hiney.

People think everything is on the Internet. It isn’t. The guy above isn’t. But he was a big guy, meaning a big man, in the best sense of the word. Big heart above all.

Got started on this line of thought because I was sparring with a friend whose daughter is close to a Yalie, and Harvard lost to Yale at basketball last night, which I couldn’t care less about. I made a dumb joke about Harvard yelling “safety school” at Yale in the closing seconds the way Princeton actually does when it loses to Penn.

You have to understand I’m not too fond of either Harvard or Yale these days, what with Bill and Hillary, the Bushes, Obama, Al Gore, and all the minions who support them and sport degrees from these two schools.

But my friend had reminded me that her daughter was friendly with a Yalie, and I had to ask myself if I had ever liked a Yalie. Hmmm. Him? No. Him? No, definitely not. Him? Are you kidding? Bunch of pseudo-intellectual second-raters who never had a thought worth thinking unless it involved money.

And then, like a shaft of sunlight I felt the warm glow of Francis Lyman Hine, whom I knew as Uncle Hine.

Let’s get the White Privilege charge out of the way forthwith. He had it. He was it. And never was it better bestowed. His friends called him Hiney, with all the connotations you think you invented implicit, and he upped them by naming his rural estate “Hine Quarters.”

If Gatsby had lived to be 50, he might have become Hiney. He had a funny and magnetic wife everyone called “Sis,” five children, two daughters, one son, and two daughters in that order. He had a 400 acre spread which included a rambling 1750s house, an Olympic pool, a brick bathhouse the size of a suburban home, a tournament quality tennis court, and a standing invitation to everyone in the neighborhood to use all of the above with a simple call ahead.

One of the places I grew up. The other was the woods in the back of my parents’ house, where I hunted Indians all alone and later drove my truck at the age of 13 more than 40 mph or faster when I knew I was observable. But when Uncle Hine threw a party, we went as a family. We weren’t rich. But riches didn’t matter at Hine Quarters. He liked everybody.

And he liked my sister and me in particular. Because we and his own children went to the school my grandfather founded and he — basically, er, essentially, er, completely — funded. So my sis and I were close to Helen, Louise, Lyman, Marion, and Priscilla. We didn’t know about money. Funny, huh? They were just our nearest neighbors and the kids we went to school with. My sister and Marion became best friends before there was such a thing as cell phones.

A man with five children doesn’t spend a lot of time with each one. He was the same way with my sister and me. He was loudly pleased when we showed up, wanted to know how we were doing, and then invariably got distracted by the hordes of guests who wanted something more from him than how we were doing.

He was a rich man, you see. His fortune came from something that rhymes with Boca Bola, and he was really truly trying to live his life away from New York’s “400” society families. He was living in the backwoods of southern New Jersey, for God’s sake. But the socialites showed up anyway.

Our elementary school wasn’t the only thing he dreamed up out of thin air. He made up a whole company out of the same gossamer element. Why my sister and I had the unique privilege of growing up in a backward, semi-literate backwater of south Jersey underneath a subset of 1960s jet set society.

Uncle Hine had not served in the armed forces during World War II. He had played four years as an academic freshman on the Yale football line, but something broke in that time which prevented him from joining the military. So he turned his fortune to his St. Paul’s classmates who had served as pilots. Their company reconditioned aircraft motors at the Millville airport, where P-47 pilots had been trained in the war. My dad was a P-47 pilot. Uncle Hine called him Lord Laird. But my dad wasn’t the only pilot in the bunch. There was even a bomber pilot from Princeton who drove a 1956 Thunderbird.

They were all friends. They maybe all drank too much, which is what PTSD was then, but I was there and I never saw any hanky panky. Although there was the time that Uncle Hine was in the pool with the reigning Miss Sweden and Sis got pretty mad.

The thing I always thought was the most exotic was Uncle Hine’s mother, Mrs. Clark, who had a Mark IX Jaguar. I met her once. She looked like Vanessa Redgrave the way she looks now.

You know they don't actually work, don't you?

You know they don’t actually work, don’t you?

I was a motorhead even then. But it was always breaking down. Uncle Hine was constantly having to rescue her from strange places, but she refused to give up the Jag. I could understand that.

And then we — and all the Hine kids — went away to school — and by the time we returned, there was no more Gatsby time. No more lobster-glutted clambakes at the private lake, no more tennis showdowns between local queens and Smith grads, no more silvery children swimming in the grand pool. All done. I saw Priscilla just two times after eighth grade. Once at a dance between our two boarding schools, where I almost kissed her, and once at her wedding. She is dead now. Note that we didn’t get to go to high school together or to a pep rally or a prom like all the subjugated ones.

White privilege. I won’t apologize. Don’t care who you are or were. If you’d been in the vicinity of Hine Quarters in the 1960s, you’d have been welcome. Just call first.

He didn’t die like Gatsby because he was never a fake. I miss him. And all those of you who never met him or anyone like him should miss him too.

P.S. Only telling this part because my wife insisted on an ending. Heard at some point that he was in the hospital having a leg amputated on account of Diabetes. So I called a florist and sent him flowers. He called me from his hospital room to thank me. Mine were the only flowers. Not easy being a rich man with a million friends. Didn’t want to end on this note. But sometimes that’s the note things end on. He died months later.

Actually he helped get us there.

I could have gone my whole life without seeing this, but my wife started watching while I was engaged with a dingbat on the Internet.

We’ll skip past the slow start, the incomprehensibly complicated plot, and the no acting to the part where Obama picks up an automatic weapon and starts gunning down his enemies.

If you like ugly women, Maggie Gyllenhaal is in it. What else? Jamie Foxx is ridiculous as the commander in chief. But he seems to be enjoying himself. Channing Tatum is there too, a couple hundred burgers over his prime fighting weight. Probably why the President of the United States has to keep saving his ass in the second and third acts.

It’s all messy, stupid, incoherent, illogical, and pointlessly lacking any point. Why is the president’s daughter white? Oh. It’s not the president’s daughter. It’s Channing Tatum’s. But why is James Woods in this movie? Why is a movie so full of explosions so boring? There are no good answers.

I’ve been trying to stay up to watch, but I just can’t. Don’t know what’s going to happen. Don’t care.

Sorry. Worst movie ever made. Walking out now… with about an hour left to go. Almost never do that. No reason to watch any longer.

Nighty night.

When you wonder who's the guy, I'm the guy.

When you wonder who’s the guy, I’m the guy.

Last week, somebody posted 11 truths about greyhounds. So today we’re going to give you 11 truths about deerhounds. Meaning, what deerhounds would say if they weren’t constantly pretending that they don’t understand a word of English. It’s called the Scottish Way. I pretend I don’t understand you because it’s so obvious you don’t understand me.

1. Your Couch Are Belong to Us.

2. Cheetos.

3. Let’s face it. I’m pretty much always going to get my way.

4.

5.

6.

7. I don’t walk on slippery things.

8.

9.

10. Are you going to finish that?

11. You see?

Actually, there’s another eleven things about deerhounds, and eleven more after that, but he’s sleeping right now, which is a good thing. Trust us. They are, by the way, all of them, gray.

You like to see good movies? Even when the whole world is collapsing around our ears? How about a movie about the world collapsing around your ears?

Found one. Another Norwegian gem. It breaks my rules. I normally don’t do movies about criminals and lawbreakers who get into jams. Made an exception because I had run out of Scandinavian TV series to show my beloved. But it got a high Metascore at IMDB.com, and there was nothing on while the snow was coming down in heaps. What’s a poor boy to do?

Good caption for the movie. We get this guy who is not a hero. In fact, he’s like a human rat, a corporate headhunter living beyond his means and married to a supermodel who is WAY beyond his expected reach. He’s also an art thief. Maybe the most admirable thing about him.

What happens next is funny, tragic, violent, and ironic. He recruits the wrong guy, who both cuckolds him and sets him up for complete loss. A headhunter of a different kind. Our guy really does lose everything, up to and including having to throw all his clothes and other personal items into a winter Norwegian river. Twice.

Rebirth sometimes requires more than one take. But the fun part [SPOILER ALERT!] is that when it comes down to ruthless ruthlessness, a corporate headhunter is more ruthlessly full of ruthless ruthlessness than a special forces hitman.

As we all knew from before.

Watch. It’s a good recommendation, subtitles and all.

The world didn't used to be full of black SUVs full of Feds.

The world didn’t used to be full of black SUVs full of Feds.

Now every government organization has a fleet of black SUVs stuffed with heavily armed, ruthless guys in black suits. Every movie, every TV show, every political motorcade, every federal agency, every moment of America’s button-busting display of impotent power.

The answer? Simple.

image

Sugar in the gas tank. Of all of them.

Getting our country back, one dead truck at a time.


I actually don’t mind this one. But I wish it were more than an anomaly.

Somehow, even miraculously, I’ve been spared the ordeal of tinnitus, despite the countless hours I’ve spent listening to rock and roll at high volume. Also despite the fact that hearing is a vulnerability on both sides of my lineage. My mother wound up nearly deaf. Her father spent 40 years in a glass factory and then down in a basement full of power tools, receiving the unexpected benefit of tuning out my grandmother’s nagging by the simple expedient of removing his hearing aid. My dad had the ringing from his days as a fighter pilot. Engines too loud for the ear to recover from ever.

Regardless, my hearing is still perfect. My own wife suffers from tinnitus, and we have to calibrate volumes carefully between what is inaudible to her and what is too loud for me. We use onscreen captions a lot. But however loud it is, I can still hear the mail Jeep stopping at our mailbox, and I can also identify almost all the celebrity voiceovers on TV commercials. I have a trick auditory memory, it seems. I am blessed.

I am also cursed. These days everybody is in the business of inventing syndromes — Restless Leg, Dry Eye, and others. Permit me to add one more. A distant cousin of tinnitus I’ll call Repititus.

It’s the song or the jingle that enters your head and refuses to leave, settling in on the couch of your frontal lobes and elbowing everything and everyone else out of the way. Awake, asleep, doesn’t matter. Can’t be silenced or displaced until the next interloper moves in.

I don’t mind (as much) when the invader is one I’ve consciously looked up and listened to. If I get two days of “Winning Ugly” (‘the other side is screeeaaming!’) or “no retreat, baby, no surrender,” I can accept that it’s largely my own fault.

Occasionally, the offender is welcome. Mozart’s clarinet concerto in A major or Philip Glass’s The Hours. They’re their own cushion on the couch, one you can ride on like a cloud.

But that’s not the usual case. There’s no defense against something like the “Hot Pockets” jingle. Hot Pockets. That’s the whole thing. Hot Pockets. Over and over and, you know.

Or you’re listening to the radio and some host’s bumper music comes crashing in, Eleanor Rigby or Crazy or What is Love (this, like the whole post, is mean — when you see the original video, you WILL be stuck). You didn’t ask for this, but by golly you’ve got it now.

Worse, much worse, when it’s a song you never liked in the first place. The Repititus gods don’t care at all. It’s like telling someone not to think of an elephant. Say the name and suddenly you’re stuck with Barry Manilow, Karen Carpenter, or (hell on earth) Barbra Streisand. “People who need people… Aaaaah!”

Mostly it’s just a constant low grade irritant, like, well, tinnitus, and I’m not making a federal case out of it, except that I guess I am at that because it represents a huge chunk of my subconscious time I’d rather have to myself, thank you. Why I’m calling for it to be named an official syndrome. Maybe there’s a palliative drug with hundreds of fatal side effects they could advertise on TV with an unmemorable soundtrack.

I’ll close with the one that’s occupying my otherwise prodigious brain right now. Saw a Leonard Nimoy obit that referred to him as a West End Boy. What? Was he British? No. He was a Boston kid. No matter. The damage, as they say, was done. The Pet Shop Boys’s monotonous song sailed into my brain and took up residence, eating all the potato chips and driving Raebert into the bedroom. Nothing I can do about it.

Unless… I can, on bended knee, beg for a better replacement.

Just popped into my head, that one. Don’t think it’s going anywhere. Welcome to my world.

Time marches on.

Time marches on.

Jon Stewart announced his retirement from the most tedious non-comedy show on TV.

Now Gutfeld is leaving Redeye. The landscape is changing. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Neither.

Truth is, they’re both gadflies. Ephemera. Neither one carries more weight than an insect. For completely opposite reasons. Yes, Gutfeld really is three times smarter than Stewart. But both of them are cripples. Stewart uses comedy to push politics. Gutfeld uses politics to push comedy. Ultimately, they’re nihilists. It’s always only about them when all is said and done. And the wings of their equally mighty egos are transparently thin. Stewart pretends he doesn’t have an ego. A lie. Gutfeld satirizes his ego by painting self deprecating word pictures meant to be seen as humility when his purpose is the exact opposite. Another, more subtle lie.

Tonight’s farewell performance by Gutfeld on Redeye was profoundly disappointing. Made me feel I’d been fooled all these years. I have seen good, insightful political commentary from right and left on the show over the years, leavened by humor. Yet when given the chance to characterize the show at the end of his run, Gutfeld chose to dwell on moments of outrage, excess, crudity, and absurdity. While he insisted that the show was never about him, he drove home the point that it was always about him, and his guests praised him lavishly for being such a generous host.

I guess you can take the kid out of Berkeley, but you can never take the Berkeley out of the kid. He’s not just physically short. He’s stunted morally and personally as well. He remains, a lot like Stewart, a little kid goofing on a grownup world he hasn’t the stature to comprehend. So committed to showing us he doesn’t take himself seriously that he ultimately fails to show he’s committed to anything beyond the next punchline.

So it doesn’t really matter that the two poles of comedic political commentary are moving on. After all these years, they were nothing but vaudeville, lacking substance, faith, and any purpose beyond parading their own egos on top of the waves of current events.

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