Our Never-Ending Story

I love movies and the theatre. Always have. The story you can’t second-guess. Memorable characters. Unforeseen, angry, funny and generally snide and/or uncomfortable conflicts.

They tell me stories I can BELIEVE and somehow they have always informed me, metaphorically at least, about my life.

So why am I having so much trouble turning off cable news these days?

Because no play, film or even TV series can touch the Mueller vs. Trump countdown that is being broadcast 24/7 on your small, medium or perhaps even big screen in your home.

Me, watching Rachel Maddow, EVERYDAY

Don’t get me wrong – I’d be thrilled to not have this particular story. But now that it’s here, I can’t turn away.

People say:

You’ve got to do it – for your own sanity! Actually, they don’t say it – they admonish it – and me.

To which I say/admonish back:

WHAT SANITY????

I keep repeating to anyone who asks or who will listen:

These are insane times. Is the proper response to continue life as you have always known it???

Luckily, I don’t have children. Not so much because I wouldn’t be there for them. But more like —

What if one of them was a Trump supporter??????

I honestly don’t know how the Keatons did it.

Oh, don’t reassure yourself. I absolutely would NOT leave them alone. And if they pushed it too far I most certainly COULD leave them. Or at least stop talking to them. My mother stopped talking to me for four months after I relocated to Los Angeles for a job and temporarily moved in with my Dad and stepmom. And this was 10 years after they BOTH remarried!! And Jimmy Carter was president!!

So DO NOT say that I don’t have it in me.  I have a lot in me.

And more.

The Never-Ending Story is not a fantasy novel or an OLD movie from 1984.

A different white, hairy monster

(Note: Yeah – 1984 is 34 years ago so it now qualifies as OLD. And Note the year – 1984??? George Orwell? The David Bowie song? AND – yes, I AM seeing connections that make perfect sense that YOU. ARE. MISSING).

#THEREALDONALDTRUMP is the malevolent force in OUR NEVER-ENDING STORY and the only one who can stop IT from permeating the globe and destroying US is not a BULLIED CHILD – as it is in the book (Note: Ahem, ANOTHER magical connection you didn’t see or won’t acknowledge – bullies? Children?). It is the former head of the Globe’s chief law enforcement agency – ROBERT MUELLER.

And another SIDE NOTE: Just know that if this is over soon (though as Carrie Fisher once wrote: Wishful Drinking) it is NOT too late for Harrison Ford to play him in the movie. Mueller will be 74 next month and Mr. Ford just turned 76. So by Hollywood standards Mr. Ford is actually a bit young for the part. Nevertheless, I am SURE he would take it —

…If he got final script approval.

…And his choice of director.

… and if he can’t, we know De Niro is game #efftrump

Yeah, IF this is ever over (Note: A BIG if) AND we all survive, the movie industry will be back to business as usual.   Even I would like to dream that we’ll all be a lot more benevolent by then but if the post Drumpf years really do turn out to exist the one bromide we’ll all be well-advised to even more strenuously live by will be to watch our backs.

Even the Harrison Fords among us.

I had two favorite snippets this week from our ongoing, ad-infinitum, never-ending narrative. One occurred during the 10-hour testimony of my new fantasy boyfriend, FBI agent Peter Strzok, before the House of Representatives.

Hey Pete… DM me. <wink>

Mr. Strzok was called on the carpet by countless Republican congressmen for sending text messages criticizing Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign to his former mistress, Justice Department attorney Lisa Page, which were no more inflammatory than numerous public statements made by some of those very same sitting Republican Congressman at the time about the sheer guttural horror of allowing Trump anywhere near the Republican nomination for president, much less the White House.

Still, each elected official kept coming, trying to rattle, corner and otherwise grandstand Mr. Chair Strzok into admitting his political bias disqualified him from doing his job properly just as they simultaneously and continuously disproved this theory by showing their own extreme right leaning biases over and over again with each heated accusation they threw his way.

Disgusted that his grilling of Strzok was not even slightly cracking the trained-to-be-uncrackable veteran FBI man, Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican Christian conservative from Texas long referred to as…well…any number of pejorative terms for crazed by his House colleagues, at one point angrily stared at Strzok and sputtered:

I can’t help but wonder, when I see you looking there with a little smirk — How many times did you look so innocent in your wife’s eye and lie to her about Lisa Page!?….

um… YIKES

To which Rep. Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-NJ) finally shouted back at him:

….What is wrong with….You need your medication!!!

And you wonder why I can’t, okay won’t, turn away.

The other example was a soundless 30-second video snippet that encapsulates everything one needs to know about the ways in which Trump is able to insult everything not only within inches of his grasp but many millions of miles beyond.

After dodging 250,000 protestors in London demonstrating against him and his policies with various sizes of Baby Trump floats in diapers, our Electoral College president was scheduled the next day to meet 92 year old Queen Elizabeth for a brief tea at Windsor Castle.

It’s real.. and it’s spectacular

As the Monarch stood outside under a canopy, periodically glancing from side to side, dressed in her signature suit, gloves, hat and handbag, #Drumpf arrived a full 15 minutes late, not only leaving the nonagenarian waiting in an overly bright daytime sun but causing her to check her watch several times. Even after he finally arrived he couldn’t find a way to walk gentlemanly beside, near or behind her – only in front.

seems about right… #chompchomp

This is not only a grievous mistake in Royal protocol but, as everyone but him knows, a common courtesy when you find yourself beside 92 year olds of any station.

It is also one more reason I can’t turn off cable news. That daily reality check is the ONLY thing that is keeping my thoughts and me from TRULY going INSANE and not falling into some awful alternative universe of a dreaded NEW NORMAL.

That said, I guess I could cut down. A little.

Blondie – “One Way Or Another”

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The Truth is in the Lies

Sometimes truth is, well, too truthful.

Stuff happens in real life that you wouldn’t dare make up. On the other hand, there are a number of stories that ring hopelessly false.

It is the job of a writer to be able to navigate events, turn them into stories and convince you that the false is indeed true, the truth is actually quite false and that, in the end, it really doesn’t matter because every yarn we spin (not to mention everything we ever tell you in real life, but that’s another story) will contain elements of both.

click clack lie lie

And really, what difference does it make as long as you were entertained, i.e., laughed, escaped, brought to tears, learned something or just distracted from the inevitability of those looming Swords of Damocles hanging over your head that you do your best to never have to think about.

We Americans have showered the world with our ability to produce mass entertainment to worldwide audiences for decades.   We’ve had a knack for creating unreal reality in a way so specific, personal and sometimes quite silly or tragic that most of the planet couldn’t resist and even aspire to create the kind of yarns that we were selling.

One could argue that we’re still doing it now with the much too true as to be false, bizarre shit show of what is passing for our government. But let’s #Resist sidetracking down that rabbit hole of crazy just this once.

America 2018

Except to say this –

When people stop trying to decipher fact from fiction they have become patsies to adept storytellers. Like a well-trained hypnotist, we can seduce you into believing ANYTHING, and if we’re good enough and experienced enough, you could easily wake up fleeced of your valuables.

Quicker than a game of 3 card Monte on the streets of Manhattan. #LetTheTouristBeware.

If you don’t believe this is true – that a plurality of the U.S. are perhaps getting fleeced of their money, their values and more than likely their democracy by a flim-flam demagogue – then you are discounting the power of stories and even the moderately talented storytellers.

This passes for logic

Meaning – this is not about kids in cages, the right to choice or life, more cash or factory jobs per family. It is also not about the gaying, browning or Sodom and Gommorah-izing of our culture felt by a plurality of left-behinds or gimme mores.

In fact, it is about the plurality of those people, and perhaps more, falling for the outrageous and often non-specific solutions to those issues by a charlatan/storyteller. (Note: We storytellers are ALL charlatans of a sort).   Ask any decent writer or weaver of tall tales when they’ve had an extra glass of wine, or at 3am post coitus, and they will freely admit that all they do is take some combination of truths – that is to say people they’ve met or incidents they’ve witnessed or heard about – add a few of their own secret spices – and voila – you are in the palm of their hands. Or worse.

Live in your truth.. and lies

It is not their muse, their magic or their superhuman ability to problem solve for a generation of audiences.

It is, instead, a SKILL that is practiced. A TALENT that is honed through experience and failure. All in the package of a person/storyteller that is so dogged and determined to be THE PERSON to manipulate you into their world – to CONVINCE you of something you NEVER thought of – and often for their own benefit – that you will actually PAY them for the pleasure of being lied to.

Yes, lied to. Meaning manipulated into a world with a specific point of view of THEIR world as it applies to you.

can’t really argue with that math

There is, of course, nothing wrong with indulging in this kind of sorcery either by yourself or, if the stories are commercially mainstream enough, with your entire extended family.

But it is absolutely LETHAL to voluntarily line up in real life and swallow the entire magic show. No lady gets sawed in half and really lives.

No glitter-costumed young woman doesn’t bleed to death when she’s pinned against a dartboard and someone hurls knives at her head.

And if you think you can eat fire or be shot out of a cannon using just any blade or your enemy’s artillery fire of choice, know you will not live long enough to ever see Paul Rudd age OR know the results of the Mueller investigation. (Note: Whichever comes first – your pick – but I know which one my money is on).

These pictures span over 20 years.. so I mean, I think you know the answer #paulruddisimmortal

If you still doubt any of the above, take this dare. This week go to Netflix and watch:

Nanette – A 70 minute show by monologist/storyteller Hannah Gadsby that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen and yet, oddly familiar.

Or to Amazon and view:

A Very English Scandal A 3-hour miniseries starring Hugh Grant and directed by Stephen Frears, about sex, attempted murder and backroom politics.

must stream TV

Both of them are superior works of art done by master storytellers who will recount for you a series of absolutely true events, some of which might seem strange but all of which will likely feel both real AND familiar.

Then it will be up to you – when they’re over and your mind is clear – to put your hand on a bible or swear to a judge on the record in a court of law what exactly IS true, IS false or exists in some seductive faux nether region in between.

Nervous yet? Don’t be. It’s just a voluntary mind game offered by your friendly (Note: Sometimes) neighborhood blogger.

What should instead be more scary is when this kind of challenge is posed to us by news stations and/or elected government officials who masterfully and daily lure and tempt us with manipulated truisms masquerading as stone cold facts.

Oh there’s a lot of interest

The type of stories they offer are not mere entertainment but an especially complicated mix of false, true and in-between hybrids specifically designed to persuade us all to make REAL LIFE choices that will change not only our lives but tens of thousands, perhaps millions, of others all around the world. And not necessarily for the better.

And they are nowhere near as amusing or thoughtful as either Nanette or A Very English Scandal.  Not even close.

Of course none of that matters if enough of us buy what they’re selling. An especially troubling thought when one considers the most popular form of American entertainment has always been escapist.

Annie Lennox – “I Put a Spell on You”

What Price?

It’s been said many times that everyone has a price.

What this means is that people will do anything if they are paid enough money or given what they want.

So the question we all need to seriously ask ourselves during these very turbulent times is:

What is YOUR price?

Is it safety from real or imagined enemies, foreign or domestic?

That is to say, doing whatever it takes to bar morally unknowable immigrants (Note: nee…all of them?) from entering our country? Or is it prohibiting any morally questionable person in support of such a policy from dining in your restaurant, not to mention, continuing as president?

Perspective

What is YOUR price?

Is it about ensuring our country thrives financially, as well as ethically?

That is to say, making sure you have a president whose first priority is cutting taxes, creating old-fashioned jobs for the long ignored and appointing Supreme Court justices who will once it again make it difficult or illegal for women to get an abortion? Or is it ceasing communication with family and now former friends who believe in all of the above, while screaming at the top of your lungs in their faces, or from the rooftops or on our airwaves, to counter their selling out our most precious American ideals of freedom, equality and democracy for all?

What is YOUR price?

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

You see where this is going. I had planned on continuing but the list and the metaphors could be – and are – endless as we approach July 4, 2018 – the 242nd anniversary of American independence.

Several days ago I watched What Price Hollywood a 1932 film directed by George Cukor about a spunky waitress who serves drinks to a charming, drunken Hollywood director that gives her a bit part in his movie, guides her to stardom and then dissipates into a state of alcoholic disrepair as her life blossoms.

The plot has since been appropriated by numerous movies, including the many versions of A Star Is Born (Note: The new Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga one opens Oct. 5, and yes, I’m counting the days). Still, this does not mean it is any less ironic or timely.

Click for the OFFICIAL countdown (to the minute) #really #REALLY

There is no reality where you can get everything you want without it costing you something. It wasn’t the waitress’ fault the director became a hopeless alcoholic and ruined his life but because he was such a great mentor and friend it breaks her heart. That is the way the drama works because that is the way the world is – we achieve things and the norms and/or people we counted on and loved quite suddenly, at least to us, fall by the wayside.

A more contemporary comparison might be Indecent Proposal, a 1993 film where billionaire Robert Redford offers happily married Demi Moore a flat $1,000,000 to spend the night with him, no strings attached. After discussing it with her high school sweetheart husband, the financially strapped Woody Harrelson, and reassuring him of their forever love, the couple agrees to the Faustian bargain and… well… it goes as Faustian bargains go if not for test marketing and a somewhat tacked on Hollywood ending.

Girl how did you think this was going to pan out? #dowagergetsreal

Meaning, if someone is going to pay you $1,000,000 suffice it to say it IS going to cost YOU – a lot – and it may not be measurable by mere currency.

It certainly seems like US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, has the right to retire from the bench anytime he wants. Yet when I read this week that he was not so subtly reassured of his legacy beforehand by the White House, and that his eldest son worked for years with Trump on real estate deals at Deutsche Bank, the institution that loaned Trump a BILLION dollars, I couldn’t help but cynically and rhetorically ask the justice, and myself, – what price?

Me… all week

Of course I will never know if a price was exacted or if this justice – the Republican who was actually the swing vote in making gay marriage the law of the land – was swayed by any of it, or by them.

So it’s instead easier for me to stew over the millions of Americans (Note: And perhaps a handful of Russian bots) who voted for and still support a president who consistently calls the press the enemy of the American people or very bad people on the very day that five journalists were gunned down in their Maryland newsroom by a crazed shooter with a vendetta against their paper. Did Trump’s words contribute to egging the guy on in that particular moment? Again, we’ll never know. But for any of his supporters who still get joy from and continue to revel in how he’s characterized one of the foundations of our democracy – the free press – again I ask – what price?

And then – well, there are the immigrant kids in those cages. Mostly brown. Many fleeing violence in their home country – the way my grandparents and friends’ relatives did when they escaped the Nazis and came here in the 1930s and early forties. Or the way my internist’s family did when he was smuggled out of war torn southeast Asia in the 1970s. Or how my dental hygienist managed it when her family ran for their lives from Iran in the 1980s.

Today in America

None of them were forcibly separated from their parents by the US government when they arrived at our borders seeking asylum (Note: The latter a legal right of ANYONE arriving at our shores. Asylum, that is).

So for those currently chuckling with satisfaction at or apoplectically angered by those of us marching in the streets who are outraged that non-English speaking three year olds are being forced to appear ALONE in court at a hearing where they are responsible for telling their own immigration story THEMSELVES before an adult in a big BLACK ROBE who towers above them, I ask – to every last one – again – what price?

And to consider if what they’re losing is worth what they’re getting in return. Financially, morally or, really, even in practical terms.

Broadway United – “We Are The World”

It’s Been a Hard Day’s Night

What a week, right?

No, but seriously.

This was a week where the writing on the back of a $39 military green, short trench coat spoke volumes:

I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?

It was fitting that First Lady Melania Trump wore this as she boarded a U.S. government plane down to the Texas border to visit caged immigrant kids separated from their parents.

Staying on message indeed

Though she only managed to make it to the “dorms” with teenagers who tried to sneak-migrate into the U.S. alone.

Bad weather kept her away from the places where they keep the toddlers (six months is the youngest) and all others under 10 years of age who actually did travel here with Mom and/or Dad…or an aunt, uncle, or friend.

Churchgoers might see this as an act of God but I fully believe it was literally MOTHER Nature stepping in and saying enough is enough in her own unique language.

As all of us with powerful mothers understand, a play date is likely to end the second She sniffs something fishy is going on.

We call that the Betty Draper test #sheisnothavingit

And everything was odious about this week – from the cages, to the secret middle of the night evacuations of ankle monitored youngsters to seventeen unnamed U.S. cities they’d never been in, to the presidential press conference dragging out surviving family members of those killed by drunk, illegal adult immigrants and trying to connect it to the recordings of jailed crying orphaned babies everyone in the country had heard or heard about except Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen.

Well… she eventually heard them. #nojustice #nosleep

All the way down to that Zara trench.

At one point Holly, our @notesfromachair editor, even texted me to ask, Why even wear a coat when it’s 80 degrees and humid in every city she was in that day?

My only thought was her mate likes every abode and any plane they travel in to be ice cold because, these days especially, he’s sweating a lot.

#hurryup

Well, it’s better than any explanation being offered about the coat. Certainly, it’s more believable.

We like to tell ourselves it’s different when children are involved. Staunch liberals will counter and say, um, NO, you mean WHITE children – it’s ONLY different when WHITE children are involved.

Sure, that may be part of it. But really, that’s also an um, no. Because there were 20 six and seven year olds killed by an unbalanced young man wielding an assault weapon at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, ALL but one of them lily WHITE, and NOTHING changed about guns, gun control or school shootings on a national level. Except that they multiplied.

So truly the children – brown, black, striped or white – can’t be the primary scapegoat on this. This one is on us – the adults in the room.

We WANT what WE want WHEN we WANT IT – and when we have the POWER to get it.

Or we WANT what WE HAVE and DON’T WANT to give an inch or two or three to ANYONE ELSE for fear that we will lose OUR power and MORE will be taken away FROM US.

we all have an inner moustache twirler #dontdenyit

This could be erroneous thinking. A compelling counter thesis could easily be argued convincingly from the other side and at the very least shift topic or more fully win you over with one or more better examples or theories.

Well, that’s all well and good on the high school debate team – where I remember they always used to assign you to argue for something you loathed in an effort to get you to open your mind to another way of thinking.

OK.. maybe I wasn’t the best on my debate team #canthelpit

Hmm, perhaps that’s the answer. Treat us all like h.s. debate students, but — the remedial kind!

Um, NO. Again. That strategy is already being used nationally – heck, it even explains the coat – but has only driven us further apart.

I took any number of classes in school that involved persuasion (Note: OK, stop rolling your eyes) and there is one basic strategy offered from most of them. There will always be a significant group of people who will ALWAYS DISAGREE with you. You will NEVER CONVINCE THEM. In fact, they probably WILL NOT HEAR ANYTHING you say.

Forget them.

TRUTH

On the same token, those who ALWAYS AGREE with you will only get you so FAR. They’re great to hang out with or grab a meal with or build an idea on, but they WON’T DO MUCH either in furthering your agenda.

What you WANT TO DO is to reach out to those who YOU DON’T KNOW, or those who are scared or hiding or disengaged for THEIR OWN REASONS. LISTEN TO THEM. They are reachable if you INCLUDE THEM, ENCOURAGE THEM to become part of your argument.

And for those of you LESS HOSTILE at the moment THAN MYSELF, there is still yet another group of people. Those with whom YOU DISAGREE on MANY THINGS but are STILL OPEN to HEAR YOU on INDIVIDUAL ISSUES.

Consider this an early valentine

They are in the PERSUADABLE GROUP if you approach them without a Zara coat and with the kind of patience you’d want exhibited towards you if your way of life was being questioned on some alien planet by any number of judgmental ETs.

I will resist the obvious metaphors about the latter. Suffice it to say they are personal and, in moments like this, often got me benched on the debate team.

Just know that any world in which Paul McCartney still sings Beatles songs, as he did this week in Liverpool, is one that is worth saving.

James Corden / Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke

Making an Impact

I want to make a difference, says just about everybody at least once.

This is especially the case lately in these Un-United States.

Though ALL OF OF US, every last one, do still live in a country that now rips children from the arms of their parents crossing the border and cages them in holding facilities where they see an hour of sunlight a day.

This, by the way, while our attorney general smiles creepily about it as he gleefully quotes a Bible passage used previously by the Third Reich (Note: aka The Nazis) to defend it.

Yes, we have to own our current failures and keep repeating these facts whenever we can even if SINGELHANDLEDLY we can’t change them.

If only because historically it takes A LOT for Americans to make political change but as a people we DO CHANGE – though usually only when our backs are against the wall and there is no other alternative.

Or, as one oft quoted line goes:

Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing – after they have exhausted all other possibilities.

Over the years this has been attributed to everyone from Winston Churchill to Israeli politician Abba Eban, to an unnamed “Irishman” to, well, any amalgamation of sources.  Which makes it no less true.

There is, of course, an argument to be made that everybody thinks they are making a difference because they themselves are different. Every Instagram photo, each Facebook post, all the Twitter rants undisputedly reach people and can be a catalyst to GREAT CHANGE.

… and that’s why there are 96 colors in the box

Or simply deflation when one realizes it didn’t matter as much to everyone else as it did to us. And that even though one or more people than you thought noticed or followed or commented you will NEVER in ten lifetimes match Katy Perry’s 110 MILLION Twitter followers or even Trump’s 52 million.

If only Katy were twice as powerful.

disney princess today… President tomorrow? #itcouldhappen #noreallyitcould

Still, it is essential to remember that each of us has A LOT more power than we think. In fact, every day we hold in our hands the possibility of affecting pivotal decisions, sometimes even life and death ones, among others that cross our paths.

And if you think this isn’t so you have never been a teacher, a mentor, a friend, a lover, a parent or even enemy to anyone.

This, of course, is impossible. In those areas we are ALL double-hyphenates – at the very least.

It is not an exaggeration to say that you never know the full effect you are having on someone you forge any sort of relationship with. Sure, you know what YOU get from them but you don’t truly know how your thoughts, deeds, actions or lack of them served as a catalyst to another person’s change – which then precipitates others, who in turn go on to inspire many others, and then go on to create ______________.

You flatter me so #imblushing

Well, you get the picture. Though perhaps you don’t.

I myself have to be reminded of this every so often, usually when my psyche is at an all time low after seeing kids, usually non-white and poor, taken away from their parents for no other crime than fleeing to the one country where they were told there was an opportunity for freedom – an equal playing field where anyone, even them, could make something of their lives.

Even if this were never true for all (and most especially them in 2018) is beside the point. The United States was always more an idea than a reality. It is no different than the honest advice you might give to a beloved friend or the warm feelings you can’t help but share with a mysterious potential lover who never dreamed anyone would dare think of them the way that you do.

Paging your inner Eliza Dolittle #Icouldhavedancedallnight

Sometimes all any of us have to do is say what we feel (or believe) to someone else, give them something to think about, and change can begin to happen for them, and us, right before our eyes. Other times the timing is wrong but it doesn’t mean there won’t be a great result when we’re not around. In still other cases, we might reach no one but the mere fact that we attempted to finally connect might immeasurably help ourselves, giving us just a little more courage to speak up in different circumstances where the connection we’re trying to make could be much more significant. Or perhaps in the end it’s just another baby step towards, well, something else.

This week I attended an event in honor of the 125th anniversary of Ithaca College held at Walt Disney Studios. It was a big blowout hosted by I.C. alum Robert Iger, Disney’s chairman and chief executive officer – a guy who is arguably one of the top 10 most powerful people in the entertainment industry.

After me… of course #wink

Aside from the fact that he looks great while somehow being even OLDER than I am (Note: And let’s face it, that’s all that we in L.A. really care about, right?), it was fascinating to see the face of this guy brighten when he talked about the meaningful human connections HIS COLLEGE LIFE gave him and taught him – so much so that forty plus years later he agreed to show up and host the gala festivities on his own studio’s back lot the very day he lost his much publicized attempt to acquire 20th Century Fox, to one of his rivals, Comcast.

I’ve held an endowed CHAIR (ahem) position, taught writing and mentored countless students and graduates at the school’s L.A. campus for more than 15 years and in that evening found myself face to face with more grown up versions of people that I will always remember fondly as the not quite adults Mr. Iger once was than you can count.

Feeling very proud #channelingmyinnerMaggie

Forget that some of them now have kids who are teenagers and know a lot more about so many things relevant to today’s world than I do.

What I will always remember from that evening are the numerous instances someone came up to me and recalled some pivotal time where I managed to somehow say something that made them not give up, imparted some little piece of craft (Note: That, no doubt, someone had taught me) that fixed a problem with their work which felt insurmountable or imparted some tiny piece of life advice or social statement (Note: Likely perched on the soapbox I carry around with me, along with my manifesto of liberal talking points) that gave them the confidence to engage in the battle of the world to get what THEY really wanted.

OK.. maybe channeling my inner Ron Burgundy

I mean, who KNEW? At this point, it’s not as if I can remember 85% of the things I’ve said in the past – or even in the very recent present. Though I will confidently proclaim that in every case, whether I remembered it or not, I had NO IDEA what I was saying was even being listened to, much less important to anyone I was saying it to.

It was merely spontaneous engagement on a topic with a group of people sitting in a room and sort of willing (Note: Yeah, sometimes it is tough) to engage.

That’s not the stuff of great teaching. It’s more the talent we all have – of being a thoughtful, decent, listening and reactive human being. At the end of the day it’s only the give and take and exchange of ideas with others that ultimately makes any real difference at all. Or has the chance to.

Four Tops – “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)”

Pink Polka Dots and a Zesty Meal

Kate Spade designed fun stuff – all pink and polka dots. Anthony Bourdain ate finger licking, down and dirty zesty meals – sampling and cooking or both.

And yet here we are and there they went.

Gone but not forgotten. 😦

There is discordance in the zeitgeist over the suicides of two famous people at the height of their games who had made it in the old-fashioned American tradition of building something from nothing.

They made it. They were wealthy from creative work they loved. They were at the top of their fields – respected, world-renowned and, likely, their names were even answers to a random category question on Jeopardy!   Or a particular up or down series of spaces in a N.Y. Times crossword puzzle.

Not a joke: This aired the night BEFORE her death. #unreal

In fact, it might even have been the N.Y. Times Sunday puzzle or a special Tournament of Champions Jeopardy!

Of course, this means nothing – none of it is the answer to anything when it comes to depression or even circumstantial deep sadness. You can’t dig yourself out of a hole on a ladder of thousand dollar bills or bottle admiration or viewership into a magical elixir that will cure the brain of a person who has become so isolated and overcome with their disease that the only answer they can see to end their pain is their literal end.

So very sad, and so very true

Both were parents who loved their kids, so that didn’t do it. Both had been loved and/or were loved by special someones in their lives and that couldn’t fix it. Were all their personal relationships perfect? Certainly not. But whose are? And if that were the reason, why now?

Why toss it all away on that Tuesday and that Friday of this past week when on so many others they were able to soldier on and persevere to much more than most any of their peers – certainly a lot more than so many of us.

Though…was what they had A LOT more?

Think on it

We are living in very strange times. For the first time in our history we have as our acting POTUS a billionaire (Note: Debatable though the numbers may be) with a penchant for gold gild and a measuring stick of great deals solely by tangible profit.

Succeeding means big numbers for the economy, the BEST deals – WINNING at the cost of anything.

Trump’s latest budget drastically cuts public health funds for 70 million low income and disabled people by slashing Medicaid. Its Department of Education budget grant program will be reduced to $42.5 million from $67.5 million – a whopping 36% decrease. So much for safer schools and more mentally stable students – or poor adults.

Promises kept, eh?

There is a method to their madness and that is – personal responsibility. Privatize everything because if people can afford it (nee work hard) they will get better medical care and will be less sick. Certainly, they will be less mentally ill. If you throw enough money at most problems, you can make them go away.

Um, not really. Not even close to really. Working hard and making more money is not a bad thing. But it’s not the answer.

Mike Drucker is a comedian and writer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and after the suicides of Ms. Spade and Mr. Bourdain this week he tweeted:

He then went on to say:

In a world of budget cutting and moneymaking quick fixes, that’s a bummer, isn’t it? You have to put in years and years of emotional time and amorphous work – the same kind of sweat you use to build a skyscraper or a bridge or a bank account without any of their physical representations.

Worse yet, there are no guarantees all of that time will have produced ANYTHING worthwhile. This is the kind of strategy that actually asks us to make believe that lending a consistent helping hand to those less fortunate, choosing to forsake profit in order to preserve what nature has given us or welcoming other worlds (world views) into ours might also, just perhaps, produce numerous, beneficial dividends. A bottom line we can’t necessarily SEE but one we most certainly will FEEL

I’m not giving up. Just laying down.. right?

It’s a lot like talk therapy. No one is saying you have to do it solely without meds but to forego it altogether and only operate on what we can see on the surface will most certainly produce only surface results.

Nothing wrong with pleasant, tasty, shiny surfaces but they do have their limits, as the loved ones of Mr. Bourdain and Ms. Spade – both private and public – can tell you.

This is not to say either one could have been saved merely by a bit more talk. Nor could they be saved only by money or by their talent. There are no quick solutions and no one person who ALONE can fix it.

Which is also not to say pink polka dots and a zesty great meal don’t create momentary jolts of happiness and treasured memories. They and much more are components to the entire WHOLE.

Lady Gaga – “You’ve Got A Friend”

A Bee in our Biden

You don’t get heart attacks, you give heart attacks!

             — An Exasperated Aunt Nan arguing with my Mom

Samantha Bee looked beleaguered – not quite heart attack but trying to hold it together, a fascinating comic stew of emotions – as she picked up a Television Academy honor on Thursday for her TBS show Full Frontal’s coverage of the #MeToo movement.

At least that was my take and I was there – an invited plus one guest of the husband – standing on the sidelines, unable to take my eyes off Ms. Bee’s black and shiny silver striped pants for fear that I’d catch her eye and bore her with too many thank yous and words of encouragement from one more member of the #Resistance she was serving at her own peril.

We’re here for you Sam

By way of explanation for all those lucky enough to be lying under a rock this week – and not being trampled by the many species of vermin who’ve somehow all crawled out from under their own —

On this day Ms. Bee also drew international headlines for publicly taking Ivanka Trump to task for the Downy Ad-Worthy family image she posted on Twitter of a very blonde and beige Ivanka holding up her equally blonde and equally beige young son against a marbled backdrop and smiling dreamily into his eyes. This because it stood in stark, tone-deaf contrast to the numerous other heartbreaking images on Twitter and elsewhere of some 1500 other less lucky immigrant children being pried out of the arms of their parents and placed in temporary non-marbled holding spots (nee who knows where) by armed border guards under orders from the Trump administration.

Right? #tonedeaf

This is, of course, all a polite way of saying that in talking about the immigration issue the night before on the latest episode of Full Frontal Ms. Bee leaned into the camera, admonished Ivanka for being a feckless c-nt, and ordered her to put on something tight and low cut, march into her father’s office and talk some sense into him.

Sounds like a plan to me.

I mean, do you all have anything better?

I didn’t think so.

GURL AMENNNNN

And lest you think Hollywood Democrats, liberals or whatever we all are or aren’t stand together on this, Ms. Bee or anything else, here’s a choice excerpt of the curt, apoplectic rage I boiled over with during cocktail hour beforehand when someone challenged me on that subject:

– So you support what she did?

Yes. Absolutely.

– Well, I just don’t see how this helps. To be nasty to each other.

It helps to keep it on people’s minds. So they’re moved to ACT in some way.

– But two wrongs don’t make a right. Why can’t we be nice to each other?

These aren’t nice times. (And are you kidding, you dickwad?)

– I don’t see how it changes anything.

No single action does. It’s a cumulative effect. (And why didn’t you at least get your suit cleaned – or steamed. Slob).

– What about Congress?

– What about them? Not a lot of activity there. (Pick up a tablet and read, why don’t you).

– I agree (pause) Oh, and don’t get me wrong. I don’t like Him either. (You’re gonna tell me you have a Black friend now, aren’t you?). I’m just saying that….

Blah, blah blah. Blah, blah….blah, blah. Blah.

The polite version

By the end I wanted to rip the guy’s head off along with my own and if I were not a plus one or was unmarried (or wanted to be), I might have done both right there. And this was before Trump called on TBS to fire Ms. Bee. (Note: Or as she’s undoubtedly known at the Oval Office, That F-ckNg CU-T!!).

Somehow this all bled into this year’s #1 hit ABC series Roseanne getting cancelled this week for the racist tweet the real Roseanne sent days earlier where she called former Obama administration senior advisor (and woman of color), Valerie Jarrett, a cross between an ape and a radical Muslim group. (And yes, I’m paraphrasing).

You surprised? #really?

Not very articulate but it did the job. ABC promptly fired her for it. Though it might have been better to not have hired someone who has for years posted racist thoughts, rants and conspiracy theories online under the cover of comedy, the first amendment and/or mental illness – take your pick. #TweetersChoice.

Still, if you take a step back you can see the conundrum for entertainment conglomerates and, in a broader sense, all of corporate America.

If you only do business with the certifiably sane you will be swimming in a very small pool – talent or otherwise.

Limit yourself to only the products found only in your household, well, as comedian Steven Wright once said: You can’t have everything, where would you put it?

So that’s not a strategy for the broader market. Which is why for a moment, if you squint and turn yourself into a pretzel, you can see the Roseanne/Roseanne reasoning.

Oh right, and this too.

After all, the reboot was Sara Gilbert’s idea and she’s an out lesbian, Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman are great actors people love, Wanda Sykes is gonna come on as a writer and consultant and she gets it. Plus, we’ve got Whitney Cummings as…co-head writer!!

I, for one, can see…A LOT of pay or play checks being written. But what if it DOES work? Then we’ve got buckets of money AND the REAL ROSEANNE for years. And years. What price #YourHeartAttack?

Speaking of what makes my blood thin, Bernie Sanders showed up on Real Time with Bill Maher Friday night droning on about income equality and the top 1% and smiling goofily when Mr. Maher told him not to let age stop him from running for president again if he was feeling good – right after Sen. Sanders assured him he was, indeed, feeling good. Oh, Bernie.   Oh, Bill. You’re both so coy.

Bromance.

Of course I’d vote for Bernie in a second if I felt my socialist college professor from the seventies could lead the country out of the current shithole we’re in – or that most of Trump America at the end of the day truly understood or believed on a gut level any policy, or even anything, he was saying. But I don’t. Nor should you.

The inverse of Trump’s Electoral College, Russian abetted takeover of the United States is not a national Red, White and Blue Socialist Wave for Bernie. So at this point, he’s just plain aggravating – like one of the relatives I used to find amusing the first 32 times I heard his stories at Passover dinner but now makes me want to run from the room screaming or stuff a piece of my Mom’s gefilte fish in his mouth until we can all get our bearings.

My face.. for about 5 years

Much as I miss him, Pres. Obama’s calm tweets about his faith in young people taking over the world and how we are all still more alike than different are beginning to wear thin as well. OMG, of course he comforts US! Me! Sometimes.

But Kumbaya gentility felt more right 10 years ago – when a Russian villain from a 1960s James Bond film might have tried but failed miserably to hack into our elections and a North Korean hacker-billionaire murderer being welcomed into a now literally White House that we all pay to upkeep could only be part of a staged scene in a sequel to Wag the Dog.

Look even some of the cast is back!

No, the only person who in my mind has measured the pulse of the times correctly is former Vice President Joe Biden when several months ago he explained what he’d like to do with our current American president, albeit outside the Oval Office.

A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, ‘I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it’…They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said ‘no.’ I said, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him….I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life. I’m a pretty damn good athlete. Any guy that talked that way was usually the fattest, ugliest S.O.B. in the room…..Sexual assault is about power and the abuse of power more than it is about sex.

Now that’s a message that will sell to Middle America. And all across America.   Even Trump America. Wherever the hell it is.

Joe Cool

Sometimes policy can be good. There are other times when a bad joke makes people think. And maybe one, two, three…four times in history an overarching inspirational message motivates millions, if not billions, to do better.

But other times – well, you have to call a c-nt, a c-nt, meet them where they live, and fight fire with fire – bloodying them up along the way in order to save the rest of the kids in the playground – not to mention the whole neighborhood.

In those situations, making nice doesn’t cut it. Making nice is what will give all of us heart attacks.

“Flight of the Bumblebees”