Carrie On

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Directly after Carrie Fisher’s funeral this week, her brother was spotted carrying away a sizeable urn in the shape of a giant Prozac pill containing her ashes.

I’d love to report this was her joke from the grave, a surprise last bit at her funeral for survivors and fans – both public and private. In actuality, the idea is credited to her brother Todd and her daughter, actress Billie Lourd.

It seems that one of Carrie’s prize possessions was this oversized tribute to the famed anti-depressant that she picked up years ago and she always treasured it as some sort of comic talisman (or taliswoman, as she might write, though probably in a much funnier way).

A true original

A true original

So after going through various other options that “didn’t seem quite right,” they figured why not permanently contain her in something that truly gave her joy – not to mention permanent stability, at least metaphorically.

Full Confession: The sight of this drug literally carrying Carrie around for all eternity made me laugh out loud. And more than once. Because I kept clicking on article after article just to keep getting more details and as many different perspectives of the image as I could.

It seriously never gets old

It seriously never gets old

See, renowned for her wit, her writing, her portrayal of Star Wars’ Princess Leia and her Hollywood pedigree, she also joked that she was equally famous for “being crazy.”

But what this really meant was that she was equally known as a tireless mental health advocate and for sharing her lifelong battles with her own bipolar disorder in books, interviews and pretty much any other avenue available to her in an attempt to help both herself, and perhaps one hundred thousands of others like her, cope with the seeming unreality of their realities.

You certainly brought it, Ms. Fisher. #thankyou

You certainly brought it, Ms. Fisher. #thankyou

There’s a lot of unreality floating around right now so it’s more important than ever to remember that even when everything is so serious you yourself can’t always be that way because it will literally make you crazy crazier. If nothing else, this is something Carrie Fisher leaves us and in her memory it would be a fitting tribute to act on it accordingly.    That is, aside from dressing like Princess Leia every so often on Halloween.

To this end, I often imagine what it must be like when Trump showers in his gold gilded marble bathroom – mirrors everywhere – and catches that magical 3-D reflective glance as his numerous selves get out of the shower. Delusional though he might be – what do you think he sees? Bradley Cooper? Jon Hamm? Even more age appropriate John Kerry? I don’t think so.

Please stop there!

Please stop there!

More like a balding Jabba the Hutt –the white fleshy overhangs of age moving every which way; a naked, liver-spotted pate up above topped not by a sea of combed over shining, swirling straw but by long limp clumps of sad, wet droopy side tresses of unruly human waste.  A forever Queens, NY version of Jabba the Hutt, twaddling around his newly chosen nest but never able to quite break free of what a lifelong indulgence of personal vices and himself have caused him to become. At least physically. Sure, it might be no longer than a second or two but that is enough. Daily. And as I imagine it during the tough weeks it amuses me endlessly and differently. Each time.

What.. too graphic? #ahhhhh

MAKE IT STOP!

Now perhaps this makes me a less than good person but I don’t think so. In some real sense, it just makes me human. For humor is very personal and I’m not Carrie. But neither are any of us. Point being, you’re not awful or unserious if you occasionally indulge your dark side (Note: And, um, Star Wars, duh!). Especially if it gives you fuel to keep fighting the good fight and relieves some tension.   And unlike drugs, drink, food or violence, the worst it will give you is a sick laugh. Imagine, that’s the absolute worst. My former worst was as a kid telling those god-awful Helen Keller jokes. And I bet most of you have done no worse – despite what you may advertise to the world or what the world thinks you or your secrets are guilty of.

On that note, what do you think they stored Antonin Scalia’s ashes in?

Too soon?

Oh Chairy #meanit #loveyou

Oh Chairy #meanit #loveyou

Okay, then imagine David Bowie. Or Nancy Reagan. How about Prince? Now c’mon, you know he’d have come up with something genius had he even put a fraction of that brilliant mind to it. But he had music and other stuff to keep him perpetually amused and entertained. Not all of us are so blessed.

There was that time he went on the Today Show dressed as Bryant Gumbel

There was that time he went on the Today Show dressed as Bryant Gumbel

This past week I watched Ava DuVernay’s thoughtful and troubling 13th, a documentary on the history of Black enslavement in the US, and I found myself talking and shouting back at almost all of the white people onscreen who, even when caught with their racism showing, figured out a way to rhetorically wrestle themselves away from reality. I see this same marginalization reflected by too many contemporary white supporters of Trump, not to mention others – though not all of them would look as repulsive as him getting out of the shower.

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no more Chairy! I just can’t take it! #myeyes #myeyes

So what do you do – that is aside from demonstrating, donating, ranting or running against them, and generally fighting against their regressive views of humanity?

Well, spewing a sea of snide retorts at them either virtually or in person when you get the chance helps immeasurably despite what most rational thinkers will advise. Don’t consider it the surefire thoughtful antidote or magical bullet. Rather a small but very, very useful tool among many in the arsenal of your survival.

Sort of like your own personal melon baller or kitchen paring knife.

Buh-Bye 2016

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There is a Yiddish/English expression called kenahora, which when loosely translated means putting a curse or the evil eye on something.   Of course, in usage it generally means the opposite – that is warding off fate from even glancing in your direction in a negative way.

How would this happen with mere words? Well, we Jews don’t like to tempt fate so our thought is that it usually occurs if we were to brag about even the tiniest of good fortune.

For example, at the holiday dinner table your mother says:

You know, I haven’t gotten sick all year. How great is that!

At which point her mother, your grandmother, quickly interrupts and shouts, Kenahora! And then goes one step further and throws salt over her shoulder.

giphy

The latter is a second more drastic step in warding off evil though in truth it actually means blinding the Devil, who we Jews don’t even believe in. So no, that makes no sense but well, historically, once again, better safe than sorry.

Why bring this up? Well, because I was going to open this piece with this declarative statement:

Could 2016 have been any worse????

And then quickly decided against it. With only less than a week left and given my heritage and what’s already happened in 2016 there is no point in taking what clearly is the very real risk of destroying us all. And yes, OF COURSE my mere words have every power to do so. Every religion teaches us that – doesn’t it???

So instead of pushing our luck and asking for any more trouble, kenahora, let’s look back to the year that is almost at its end (Note: No editorializing there) and try to focus on the best and worst of what each of us, in our own special way, have lived through and probably wrought. It’s a limited list, but so probably is our time left here. If you look at it objectively. Kenahora.

MOST SURPRISING POP CULTURE MOMENT OF THE YEAR:

Death

Not a great year for celebrities

Not a great year for celebrities

Let’s get this out of the way first. I mean, George Michael died on CHRISTMAS DAY, 2016 (and then Carrie Fisher dies two days later????). Counting back in no particular order we’ve also lost David Bowie, Edward Albee, Muhammed Ali, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Florence Henderson, Patty Duke, Phyllis Diller and even Zsa Zsa friggin’ Gabor who held on till 99! To say nothing of PBS’s Gwen Ifill, CBS’s Morley Safer, PGA’s Arnold Palmer, NASA’s John Glenn and Everyone’s Doris Roberts. There will also be no more future Alan Rickman performances, Pat Conroy books, Leon Russell songs or Phyllis Schlaffly lectures (thank the Devil). Not to mention, we no longer have the flesh and blood Elie Wiesel to turn to as a historical touchstone at a time when we may need him most.

Am I forgetting anyone? #shade

Am I forgetting anyone?

It also felt 2016 marked the death of logic, of science, of civility and most of all – TRUTH. Though unlike human beings, those last things can once again get reborn. And if you believe human beings can too, please re-read that last things list one more time and reconsider.

MOVIE/TV SHOW/PLAY I CAN’T BELIEVE I SAT THROUGH:

Tie: Nocturnal Animals & Jackie (in no particular order)

Ugh. Not again.

Ugh. Not again.

Both of these movies have absolutely no reason for being other than the egos of the filmmakers. Of course, that would apply to the majority of movies so perhaps it’s not a valid criticism. So let’s put it this way.

Nocturnal Animals has not a real emotion in its seemingly endless two plus hours and is an homage artifice – of human behavior, of reality and of depth. No one is saying that a designer can’t write and direct great films, just like I’ve never heard anyone claim that there is not some writer somewhere that couldn’t conceive and manufacture his or her own fabulous designer suit or even clothing line on demand. It’s just that it takes a great deal of skill and has not ever happened. Though we spring ever hopeful for 2017 and beyond – it’s doubtful.

Maybe stick to making JT look this dapper? #stayinyourlane

Maybe stick to making JT look this dapper? #stayinyourlane

As for Jackie, it’s the first pornographic film I’ve ever seen with nary a sex scene. Rather, it’s a leering, unjust, seedy little dance on the grave of one of the few American icons left who deserves better. Telling a no-holds barred story on the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis will make a fine film one day but this isn’t it. Unless you call watching her roam around the 1963 White House to the tune of Richard Burton singing Camelot as she tries on formal gowns, smokes cigarettes and drinks, some sort of new, cutting edge, cinema verite drama. Natalie Portman is terrific playing a construct of someone who looks and sounds a lot like the former First Lady as skewed fictional doppelganger trapped in the filmed pretention of a cinematic fun house mirror.

 

BEST INSURGENT

Keith Olbermann – GQ Videos The Resistance

Help me, KO, you're my only hope. #forreal

Help me, KO, you’re my only hope. #forreal

Once upon a time there was a sports commentator who became the host of a political show on a fledgling cable network called MSNBC and proved he was not only as smart and incisive as his contemporary counterparts but a lot bolder, uncensored, outrageous and articulate. This all happened during the George W. Bush presidency where he is often credited with being the first and longtime sole credible anti-Dubya voice of American outrage.

Keith eventually left politics and returned to sports casting but once the Pres. Elect who lost the popular vote by 2.85 million surfaced this year as the unleashed GOP candidate for the White House he listened to all my tweets to him and eventually stepped forward once more in a series of brilliantly researched, unvarnished and truth-telling 6-11 minute weekly ongoing video segments. Quite simply, he’s the best around at distilling the past, present and potential future horrors of our Birther-in-Chief and vows to continue to do so until such time as someone else steps up to heed the call. That doesn’t seem likely any time soon. Nor even possible at this point. Here’s a sample:

Click here to watch #RESIST

Click here to watch #RESIST

BEST COMEDIAN OF THE MOMENT

Wanda Sykes

It Girl

It Girl

It’s not only because she’s an out black lesbian married to a white woman in LA. raising kids in a house where one day she woke up and realized she is still and ever will be – “a Black woman who waits on White people.” Though moments like that certainly help.

It’s because she is another one of those people who can’ t help but be a truth teller and will do it at all costs. Like several months ago during a benefit standup performance in Boston where she told the crowd – This is not the first time we’ve elected a racist, sexist, homophobic president. He’s just the first confirmed one.

And when a small but loud group in the crowd booed she had the backbone to tell them to fk off and presented a bunch of examples to prove her point. At which time, they…Well, watch for yourself. Comedy, like tragedy, happens in the moment. It’s just that the take and the tone is different, depending on your audience.

BEST COOKBOOK

Small Victories by Julia Turshen

#DROOL

#DROOL

This cookbook was on the NY Times bestseller list for months this year but I would never have known about it had my friend Howard not got it for me as a birthday present. What makes it great? It’s the simplicity and depth of flavors all done in a homey, readable and self-effacing style.

Julia Turshen spent years as a personal chef and co-authored any number of well-known cookbooks with others. But in this solo effort she shows us the possibilities and accidents to be found either in our cupboards or with a perfunctory shopping list and the numerous choices and variations those foods and flavors hold. You often think – this sounds so simple and easy, how can that be? Well, it can – try the Turkey Ricotta Meatballs and Tomato Sauce.   Or you resist and say to yourself, that’ll be the day I spend any time roasting radishes, much less serving them to guests (Note: You should, with her Kalamata olive dressing Pg. 114).

Did i mention DROOOL?

Did i mention DROOOL?

No, I don’t know her and I don’t get commission. But I do know what’s good.

PERSON WE COULD SEE LESS OF IN 2017 (aka TOO MUCH OF THEM IN 2016)

Kellyanne Conway

Maybe I should have just put in a pic of Jon Hamm?

Maybe I should have just put in a pic of Jon Hamm?

She is the first woman to both manage a major candidate presidential campaign and emerge with a president-Elect. Winning – well, that’s in the eye of the beholder.

There is something about the Cheshire Cat grin, the constant verbal use of the word “Hashtag,” followed by her 49 year old self’s snide, self-satisfied, whiny delivery of the phrase He’s Your President Too, that makes me know she’d be the only one to cast as Lucy Van Pelt in a D.C. revival of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown.

But I love Peanuts too much to seriously suggest that. Just know that it is likely we will see less of her in the New Year. She’s poised to be working behind the scenes of what now looks to be key advisor to her Oval Office elect guy – a role similar to the one Valerie Jarrett played to President Obama.

God (or whatever you believe Him or Her to Be) Help Us.

MOST REVISITED SHOW (Netflix, Cable, or DVD)

The Twilight Zone

... but I'll take good care of my glasses #trumpamerica

… but I’ll take good care of my glasses #trumpamerica

See above, as well as #1 above. Need I say more? There’s something about it that, well, explains everything. And that’s soothing.

BEST VIRAL VIDEO OF THE YEAR

Chewbacca Mom

She just gives me hope for humanity. Such joy, such humanity, such…hysteria!!! For the longest time I wasn’t sure what it was. The joy of laughter? The ridiculousness of the mask? The iconography of Star Wars, suburbia, motherhood and mayhem?

That is for much bigger brains than me to decide, analyze and then write about in media journals. Here’s what I know – it was the top viral video of the year and was viewed more than 8 million times.

Stay with it.

And don’t pretend you did not laugh once.

And if you didn’t…you’re lying.

BEST GAY THING OF THE YEAR

Moonlight

YES

YES

Three time periods in the course of the life of a young, gay Black man. That’s the logline. But as any artist will tell you, a logline says little about the work it describes.

The majority of critics are calling it the movie of the year and certainly that’s debatable – as any choice would be. What’s inarguable is that it breaks new ground and is something we’ve never seen before – a chronicle of the type of young life in a segment of society that has never been seen onscreen and will be much needed in the 2017 and beyond days to come.

HEALING POP CULTURE MOMENT OF THE YEAR

What was it that Alan Alda’s character posited in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors –

Comedy is tragedy plus time

Well, screw that. And not only because this quote is also separately on record from both Steve Allen and Carol Burnett in printed interviews decades before.

Sometimes – well, actually rarely – do comedy and tragedy come together in one perfect moment to equally express the SADNESS AND HILARITY of what we’ve just endured. This solar eclipse-like occurrence is called true IRONY and when it happens it is truly lightning in a bottle on the pop cultural landscape.

This is what Kate McKinnon and SNL wrought several days after the shocking results of #Election2016. Almost THREE MILLION more in the country were equally devastated that Hillary Clinton would not become president and that an uncertified lunatic would. And a significant number of those SNL watchers were still upset at the recent passing of genius balladeer/songwriter Leonard Cohen, whose seminal Hallelujah has for decades emerged as the bittersweet parable of loss.

But it was not only KM at the piano singing that tuneful dirge with a tear and glint in her eye that brought it home. It was the one line message she delivered when the song was over when, clad in the iconic HRC white pantsuit and perfectly coiffed twelve shades of blonde helmets of hair, she turned to the camera and said:

I’m not giving up and neither should you. Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night (Live).

Amen to both statements.

And #HAPPY2017.

Make Lemonade (Not Orange-ade)

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How do you comprehend what on the surface feels incomprehensible? Well, the first thing you do is start with the facts.

Fact: The election of Donald Trump to president elect is NOT a MANDATE. It is shocking, disappointing to many of us, an upset (in more ways than one) and, and, and… But mandate – um, NO.

POPULAR VOTE TALLY – 2016 Presidential Election (as of 11/10, 8:00EST)

Hillary Clinton – 59,923,027

Donald Trump – 59,692,974

I am not a person who lives in denial. Decades of personal psychotherapy and watching Oprah have taught me one important lesson – OWN who you are and live in the truth, and your truth.

And here is THE TRUTH.

More people in the U.S. voted for Hillary Clinton to be president than voted for Donald Trump to be president.

Speechless

Speechless

House speaker Paul Ryan can go on television all he wants and talk about the “mandate.” Trump campaign manager Kelly Anne Conway can snidely gloat on CNN and MSNBC, as I saw her doing last night and this morning. The “crooked media” can continue to feed into the narrative of the upset (Note: And upset, it was – remember, truth) and the mass rejection of Hillary Clinton and her policies (Note: mass rejection, it was not – remember, the truth cuts both ways). But you cannot live in DENIAL. Well, of course you can – this is America, for now – but for argument’s sake (and our collective sakes), let’s not for now.

Our country’s president is determined by an Electoral College vote based on the popular vote but somewhat weighted to give a bit more balance of power to people who live outside major populated and/or geographical areas. Perhaps this needs to change or perhaps not. But the TRUTH is, math is math and numbers don’t lie.

Therefore –

TRUTH #1 – Donald Trump has won the electoral college vote to be president.

TRUTH #2 – Hillary Clinton has won the popular vote to be president.

Do we need to bring in Matt Damon for an assist here?

Do we need to bring in Matt Damon for an assist here?

Truth #2 is no small thing, no matter how the media or your Republican uncle, or frenemy next door neighbor, or contentious spouse or racist, sexist, homophobic social media troll, spins it.

It is no small thing because it means MORE PEOPLE in the U.S. preferred the direction Hillary Clinton wanted to lead the country than did in the road Donald Trump promised to lead us down. Again, REAL numbers DO NOT lie.

I am a liberal Democrat. I’m gay. I’m Jewish. I am a writer and a college professor. I guess what I’m saying is that I am technically the elite that the rural, working class voters have rallied against behind Trump.   Well, they can choose to believe that Pres. Elect Trump, a billionaire who freely admits he doesn’t always pay his bills to the working class people who do work for him, will improve their lives more than Hillary Clinton would have. They can believe many things about him. But what is  patently, factually true is that THEY ARE OUTNUMBERED.  More PEOPLE believe in Hillary Clinton’s policies. When the final tally is in it could be up to 500,000 – 1,000,000 more (for a live count, click here)

Every little bit helps

Every little bit helps

That should be more than heartening for those of us who are now claiming to be every form of devastated because it means the NUMBERS ARE ON OUR SIDE. No, seriously, this is the TRUTH. Retort all you want with but we lost, that’s not how it works, we’re screwed, maybe I can really move to Canada, what if there’s a nuclear war…but, once again, we need to live in truth. And the truth is that, good or bad, you have to accept what is before you can make changes for the better in your life – and the lives of others.

So here’s my conclusion – we losers, we deluded Hillary/Bernie supporters – actually have an advantage. There are more of US than there are of THEM. We just have to figure out a way to harness that and work within the system to elect other national leaders that share our points of view. This is the task of every election cycle and every generation. Consider the electoral map of just millennial voters

 

If only millennials voted (18-25)

If only millennials voted (18-25)

Now what does that tell you about our electoral futures???

So buck up, have a drink or two (or ten) this weekend. Or your vice of choice.   And tell someone off. Like I just did when a telemarketer called and asked:

Telemarketer: How are you today, Chair?

And I answered…

Chair: Awful, Donald Trump is president.

And he then paused for 10 seconds and replied:

Telemarketer: Well, maybe he has some positive thing to offer

And I then said:

Chair: No, he’s a racist, sexist, mentally ill homophobe who shouldn’t be trusted with the nuclear codes.

Upon which there was more silence. Until I hung up.

aftermath

aftermath

Lest you think I’m always this even-handed and perfect in real life.

That being said, we all fall off the wagon from time to time. Hell, two paragraphs ago I pretty much said US vs. THEM when I really do believe in STRONGER TOGETHER. But when you fall as my parents taught me long ago – and Hillary Clinton, a true patriot and brilliant woman, reiterated – you just have to brush yourself off and get back up again.

we will honor you hillary

we will honor you hillary

Consider this a fall.

But not a permanent injury.

And certainly not the end.

Not by a long shot.

 

To Post or Not To Post

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I can’t even…

This is millennial talk for phrases and feelings like:

  • If you talk about that one more time I’ll kill you or kill myself.
  • I can’t stand IT anymore. IT can refer to anything large or small you can’t deal with on a given day. For instance: Please stop talking about that cake! (Vintage Lily Tomlin – look it up – or better yet, click here)

And finally:

  • I WILL NOT deal with you, this situation or this subject one more time. And if YOU, or IT or the WORLD as it is right now persists in this way for one more second…

ill_kill_you_office

Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? In reality, what exactly are you, or I, or the collective WE going to do??? About reality???

I listened to a piece on NPR this week where a female journalist talked about the mass anxiety Americans are feeling about the upcoming presidential elections and how large a part social media is playing in exacerbating the symptoms.

Because it’s NPR and somewhat solution-oriented via an alternating avalanche of often times fascinating and sometimes overly dry information, much was discussed about what the average overwrought, overanxious and over stimulated citizen could do to counteract all the…tension.

Among the suggestions were:

1. Escape all wireless communication for at least an hour each day. For instance, said journalist related that at least four or five times a week she walked an hour on the beach alone with her dog and without her iPhone.

you know.. before I go for that walk.

you know.. before I go for that walk.

2. Before posting news stories or opinions or both about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or on any other political or social issue of the day on social media, stop yourself and ask –Is this absolutely necessary? Do I really need to say this? Perhaps I don’t want to go so far out of my way to fuel or start an argument.

RESIST!!!

RESIST!!!

3.  Consider the ways you can avoid listening to or engaging in political or social issue discourse with those whose views differ substantially from your own. For instance, it was offered that if you click on the right on your Facebook feed there is an option to unfollow someone. This means you will not see anything at all that your friend posts but that he or she (your friend) will never know you’ve chosen to ignore them. Thus the stress of an argument can be avoided and you’ve beaten the far more nuclear option of defriending unfriending – social media’s version of telling a person that yes, you and/or your views are just that odious and/or inconsequential to me that I just can’t with you anymore.

Get on this Zuckerberg. #hurry

Get on this Zuckerberg. #hurry

Much as I love and adore and respect journalists – both male and female – not to mention NPR – here’s the problem with their theories and suggestions.

The correct response to where the country and we as Americans are right now is not – I CAN’T ANYMORE.

The correct response to where we Americans and OUR country is now is – I MUST AS MUCH AS I CAN AND I WILL RIGHT NOW.

The time is.... well, you know!

The time is…. well, you know!

Is this ALL too upsetting and eating into your day? Wow. Imagine what it felt like in 1774, 5 and 6 if you lived in one of the original 13 colonies and were about to declare war on an empire as large as all of Europe in comparison to the land you owned at the time? Not to mention no electricity, running water or Beyonce. Or even the possibility of her. Yes, you know what I mean.

Anyone who reads notesfromachair or even vaguely knows me is very aware I’m a liberal Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter. I make no effort to hide it and, in fact, am proudly vocal about it. But what you might not know is that I listen to Donald Trump and read what he says very carefully. I also listen to what his supporters and surrogates say on air and in print pretty consistently. Yes, sometimes I want to throw the TV over or burn the newspaper but I figure it’s my obligation to listen and read if I’m going to speak about these subjects. Even if I decide not to speak, it’s my responsibility as a voter.

Ok now he's just baiting me!

Ok now he’s just baiting me!

So here’s a snippet of what Donald Trump bellowed just a few days ago before a crowd in Ohio of thousands of supporters screaming lock her up, fists raised in the air. 

THIS IS A MOMENT OF RECKONING FOR OUR SOCIETY..AND OURSELVES. AND I’M THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN FIX IT.

Here’s a Trump supporter and his friend in Virginia this past week, firearms exposed at their hips, standing outside for 12 HOURS into the campaign headquarters of Jane Dittmar, the female Democratic candidate for Congress who supports Hillary Clinton, as they stared menacingly into the window inside.

Real winners these two. #godhelpus #god?

Real winners these two. #godhelpus #god?

And now look at the T-shirt worn by a family man at a Trump rally – on his feet in Pennsylvania cheering his choice for president right beside his wife and three kids.

@#)#$*%&@!!!

@#)#$*%&@!!!

These are three reasons among many I can’t stand in support of the current non-engagement meme. And no, these are not outliers. This is business as usual at his festivities. I’ve been listening. And watching. All along.

Though I agree with Trump and his followers on absolutely nothing perhaps the one area we are vaguely at least on the same planet is the idea that we, as a nation, have gotten a bit…well, soft. Because since when is an argument a bad thing when you’re fighting for your collective soul? How is it that intellectual engagement and criticism and facts have become the enemy? When did it become more than acceptable to degrade and insult people based on their sex, appearance, skin color or orientation without being called out for it? And in what reality did it become too “politically correct” to consistently and categorically challenge people on their rudeness and inhumanity? From either side?   Family, friends or even non-followers.

3uif0d

OK well I didn’t say I always do it in the most effective way

What country are we in, anyway? I don’t get it. When did we become so complacent in the eye of an Orange sh-t show. It’s exactly when the dung hits the fan that you need to step up and fight. Not wait until you’ve drowned in a cesspool of your own isolation and indifference. Just what IS more pressing for the future of the WORLD than the election of the next US president in the next 28 days? Your shopping list? Your dentist appointment? The 30,000 mile checkup on your car? Your kid’s Halloween costume? Sorry, sit this one out and every day could be Halloween. And you might be locked up for not celebrating it in exactly the way the Great Orange Pumpkin dictates. Daily. Do you really want to be required to have a six foot gold gilt Jack-O-Lantern in your window or suspended from the flagpole on the Capitol steps reading Drumpf? And no, I’m only HALF-kidding.

Of course, those are just my views. Feel free to disagree. Or unfriend/unfollow me. I’d rather be aware of what I’m up against than be killed with indifference or a faux phony kindness. Or just be killed. For speaking out. You think it can’t happen. Lie back, do nothing and just wait until they’re wearing T-shirts about you, armed to the teeth and staring into your collective windows. Yes, I’m using the collective you. But only just barely.

My Night with Miss Universe

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I spent the night with Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, twenty years ago. Relax, nothing happened. I’m gay and she’s straight. And truth be known, it was just the evening, other people were around. Still, that means I know her better than 99.9% of you out there.

It was at a very small party to watch the Golden Globes at a friend’s house in Los Angeles. She came with her then good friend, the actress Maria Conchita Alonso. There were no more than 10 people.

Here’s what I remember:

— We teased her that we were disappointed she didn’t bring her crown. She laughed and endured various crown and scepter jokes throughout the evening by people who assumed they were the first to tell them to her.   Sometimes she even laughed. Now that’s what I call a good sport, not a nightmare.

and gurl, that is SOME serious headgear

and gurl, that is SOME serious headgear

— Food was served and she wasn’t an eating machine, as Mr. Trump has told you. In fact, there was plenty left for everyone and even leftovers. Though there usually is when we Jews and gays attend and host dinner parties. We like to overdo. Not to perpetuate any more stereotypes here. (Note: I can say this because I’m gay AND Jewish).

Our queen knows

Our queen knows

— She wasn’t fat or even overweight, not that it matters.   In fact, what I very distinctly recall thinking was how refreshing it was that she didn’t seem anorexic or look like a lollipop. Midway through her reign, she looked radiant and healthy. Little did I know that she did (or would have) an eating disorder some years later caused by the unseemly pressures put on her to look like something other than her gorgeous self.   And yes, she was gorgeous. Stunning, in fact. And not merely in a worshipful, gay guy way. (Yeah, I know that’s what some of you are thinking). Still, I wish there was a straight guy there who could confirm this. But it’s true.

— She was very sweet and very young. We tend to forget when we see beautiful young women in person and off the TV or movie screen that they are not sophisticated, larger than life glamour gals but no more than versions of your younger sister or tomboy best friend from high school or college. She seemed so genuine and trusting, I thought. Though her English wasn’t great it was enough to get by and understand. Yet I worried about what it must be like for her to navigate the many letches of this business. My now husband told me he thought she could probably take care of herself. Little did we both know back then that she could, but that it would take time and she would pay a price for it.

We'll see who has the last laugh #getemgirl

We’ll see who has the last laugh #getemgirl

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to come from the middle of Venezuela, with English as your second language, and as a teenager (she won the Miss Universe contest at the age of nineteen) have to deal with the likes of the 50 year-old version of Donald Trump. Past being prologue, that must have been the real nightmare.

I have not seen Alicia in 20 years except on television, like you. She appears more mature and worldly but the essence of the gal I’ve recently remembered appears the same – polite, lovely, respectful and intelligent. The fact that she would not repeat the racial slurs she said she heard Mr. Trump utter all those decades ago in a recent interview is exactly in keeping with what I remember – a person who didn’t unnecessarily want to hurt others if she didn’t have to.

... and we'll leave that to the New Yorker #snicker

… plus what could she say that would be better than this? #snicker

On the other hand, I’m not (at all) surprised Mr. Trump has tried to smear her for coming forward nor am I shocked that the only sex tape that anyone can find as it relates to the issue of Donald vs. Alicia is a soft core Playboy video where Mr. Trump pours champagne from a bottle over a bunny logo. Classy, right? Not that I’d fault her or anyone performing consensual sex on camera. It’s the leering adult male gaze at young women more than half your age surrounding you and some New York limousines as you pour booze over an image of an animal made to look like a young woman that is the sleazy part that gets me.

Did you really think I would post a pic of Drumpf in a Playboy video? #JonHamm4Ever #myeyesarenotbleeding

Did you really think I would post a pic of Drumpf in a Playboy video? #JonHamm4Ever #myeyesarenotbleeding

In the Oscar-winning movie Little Miss Sunshine seven year old Olive, an aspiring pageant contestant and charismatic innocent, is shamed by her father early on for eating ice cream. Later, Olive asks Miss America if she eats ice cream and she very definitively says yes.   When Olive takes this as confirmation that her appearance is actually pageant-level okay, it worries the male members of her family, particularly at the end of the film when Olive is about to perform in front of the judges and audience because each is afraid their beloved Olive with be laughed off the stage in humiliation. At that point Olive’s Mom finally steps up and very wisely admonishes them to, let Olive be Olive. She might get hurt but at the end of the day the truth will win out if you’re being honest about who you are.

Let Olive be Olive

Let Olive be Olive

Alicia Machado has always known this and tried to live this way, from what I’ve seen up close and recently onscreen. That’s more than I cay say for Donald Trump, someone I’ve seen a lot of recently onscreen but admittedly have never spent an up-close evening with – and hopefully will never have to.

UGH… White Guys

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Do you know what the hardest thing about being a white guy in America is these days? No, the answer is not NOTHING – though I know more than a few of you have already responded that way. The correct response is – OTHER WHITE GUYS.

We’re just awful with international white American male privilege this week. Truly, it’s off the chart. There’s the swimming doofus savant Ryan Lochte getting away with stupid drunk behavior at the Olympics in Rio and then going on TV to lie about it, thus ensuring the lie would mushroom into an international incident that pulled focus away from all athletes participating in the last week of the Games.

DING DING DING

DING DING DING

How about Kurt Metzger, actor and a writer for Inside Amy Schumer, who posted a bunch of snide, nasty rape joke/remarks on social media this week, not only sparking outrage from the entire comedy community but thus ensuring he will never write for Ms. Schumer again. Nor anyone else – at least in the near future.

Lastly, there is The Trump we call…well, many things. Making a major pitch to African Americans across the country to vote for him this week while speaking to an almost ALL-WHITE audience in the small (and almost all white) town of Dimondale, Michigan. Asking for the vote “of every African American” he tried to sway the Black community with phrases like “ …What have you got to lose? You’re living in poverty” when only 27% of US Blacks are in poverty and just 9% are, in fact, even unemployed.

Snow knows

Snow knows

See, there is no way to make up for this. None. Nada. I could work at the Sisterhood Bookstore in L.A. (if, indeed, it was still open – or if neighborhood bookstores even still existed) for the rest of my days and it would never counteract the mess Metzger continues to perpetrate.

If I volunteered to live in poverty in every thriving Black neighborhood in the country for the next 10 years it wouldn’t matter to any Black person I know nor would it change how insulted and marginalized most non-Whites I know are by the Orange Genius of Nothing but Himself.

As for swimming, there aren’t enough years at the gym, in the water or on a lobotomist’s table, that would allow me to substitute myself as a dumbass punching bag for elite athlete cliché behavior that would even approach Lochte himself.   The guy is millionaire several times over and couldn’t even get someone to dye his hair blonde the first time without turning it some bizarre tinted shade of green? Unless that was on purp…. OK, let’s not even go there.

Gurl.... NO

Gurl…. NO

I used think as a gay guy I was partly exempted from the white male privilege thing because, after all, what we’re really talking about is patriarchal STRAIGHT white male privilege, right? Yeah, but then I heard about that douchebag Milo Yiannopoulos who trolled the fabulous Leslie Jones online spouting a bunch of racist, sexist bile at her and the reboot of Ghostbusters that got him banned for life from Twitter. A writer for Breitbart News and a self-proclaimed cultural libertarian, Milo publicly reasons that he can say anything he wants to anyone and not be labeled a racist because he’d be “the first black-d*** sucking white supremacist in history.”

Nice. Not to mention Stephen K. Bannon, chairman of the entire Breitbart News website, was just named Orangina’s new campaign manager. That is just how incestuously awful this has all become. (Note: Aaargh, apologies for even using the word incestuous).

unsee, unsee, unsee, UNSEE #HELP

unsee, unsee, unsee, UNSEE #HELP

Listen, we white guys of any sexual persuasion can also be as likeable, seductive, and as fun as anyone else. I have met more than a female or two who publicly and privately confessed to be willing to overlook the fact that Flipper Ryan has been arrested twice for public urinating and disorderly conduct prior to his most recent arrest in Rio because there is “just something about him.” Sure, we all know what that is and it’s not the glossy black Rolls Royce Ghost he owns which is often seen with him driving behind the wheel in the gated community where he lives in Charlotte, NC.

Ugh. It gets worse.

Ugh. It gets worse. #isthisarequirement?

But these are exceptions to a rule of order that seems of late to be spreading like wildfire. Why just this past week I was appalled to see a Facebook posting from a very funny female student of mine who professionally lives in the comedy world. It seems that some “bro” who didn’t think one of her videos was amusing enough decided it would be appropriate to write to her and say: The ONLY thing you have going is that you’re cute. Zero value other than fuckability.

Rage Meter spike

Rage Meter spike

I was appalled. But the best I could do was comment that he was a sad, little boy. I considered trolling him back since I did have his contact info but you can’t reason with privilege. You can only hit them in the pocketbook/wallet or their nether regions and neither seemed likely from my vantage point. Though I have been and continue to be encouraging towards her – as if that makes up for anything.

Movies have tried to tackle this issue in roundabout comedic ways. Some Like It Hot, Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire all require white males of privilege to act as females in an effort to narratively prove to them in the end just how good they have it. In 1970 pioneering director Melvin Van Peebles did a movie called Watermelon Man centering on a bigoted white insurance salesman who wakes up one day to find out he’s Black. Heck, in 1964 there was a studio film called Goodbye, Charlie where blonde and beautiful Debbie Reynolds (Note: That’s Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia’s Mom) plays a chauvinistic womanizer lost at sea who is somehow reincarnated as a woman.

Really not sure how this would play to today's audiences #relic

Really not sure how this would play to today’s audiences #relic

So clearly, none of this has done any good at all.

What will make the difference? Hell if I know. Insight means nothing if it doesn’t happen to the right people. Which doesn’t mean conservatives, necessarily. Given the world we live in, all of us could stand to learn some lessons in understanding that however you were born you likely have some privileges over someone else.

Which begs the question of how I, a white male of privilege, will proceed through my remaining years of privilege that, every so often, seem anything but. How do I avoid playing the world’s smallest violin and indulging in too much whiiiiiiiiine? Well, I can’t, entirely. The best I can do is say on behalf of all of the other asshats in my tribe – I’m sorry. It’s not much but it’s heartfelt. Which, now that I think about it, is yet one more typical response from a male of privilege – thinking that a mere apology will do.

Please Bore Me

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Every semester I implore my writing students: please, don’t bore me. Not in a Miranda Priestly way. I like to think of myself as their sometimes nicely dressed angel rather than a devil in too hip designer duds waiting to take a bite out of their souls. They have plenty of time after school to experience the latter, if they haven’t already.

The same goes for my taste in art. I’d rather be offended by your creative output than have it put me to sleep. (Note: This actually happened during the second act of the Broadway musical Annie in the seventies but that’s another subject.). In truth, there is nothing that fires me up more and sparks my own creativity than a good homophobic, racist, or sexist rant.   Sure, I loathe them. But as a guy with ADD and a lifelong procrastination problem, I often need a push – make that a shove – in order to do anything about it.

Me at my most creative #differentsteven

Me at my most creative

This is what current Republican nominee Donald Trump delivered this past week and Hillary Clinton can never deliver.

But see, the actual world is not a fictional land that a writer (or any artist) can mold to their liking. That’s why one does creative work to begin with. So we can evoke the world as we see it – create one that reflects our point of view, that is of our choosing, not yours.

Nor are actual world leaders characters in a book, movie or TV show to root for or hate watch. Well, okay, you can hate watch them – as I did with Trump last week – or root for them – as I’ll do with Hillary this week – but that is not their primary function in our lives.

OK... but this was pretty funny

OK… but this was pretty funny

They exist to lead us, to enact and enforce a set of laws that bring people together and create some sort of existential order than enables us to achieve whatever we so choose and thus become the best of ourselves.

In other words, they’re not here to put on a show, they’re here to run the show.

And what they are also most certainly not put here for is our amusement.

I’ve always liked following politics but personally I’d find it as boring as Annie Act 2 if I were a real life politician – or worked for one. All the hand-shaking, broken promises, arm-twisting, behind-the- scenes maneuvering. Not to mention compromises. Constantly. Oh – and asking for money. Do you know politicians spend 50-75% of their time fundraising?

That's it, I'm going back to bed

That’s it, I’m going back to bed

And that’s the fun part. How about the endless hearings, crafting the legislation, engaging in ad infinitum drafts of bills that will look nothing like you imagined them to be – that is if they ever do get enacted. Not to mention you’ll also have to talk your bone-headed colleagues on the other side of the aisle into the milquetoast compromise you didn’t want in the first place and often smile sincerely enough for them to believe you at some point while you’re doing it.

Fine, this is not unlike being a screenwriter in the film business. Still, no one dies or goes hungry when our movies do or don’t get made. Not even us. Not really. And if an artist of any kind can go hungry or be permanently broke, the failure of our projects or constant unemployment do not have national or worldwide repercussions. Even though our egos are such that we are convinced this is the case on every single project we undertake.

A screenwriter's dinner isn't going to make itself!

A screenwriter’s dinner isn’t going to make itself!

Mr. Trump’s charm has always eluded me. Probably because I’ve always detested white, straight macho strongmen rich guys who flaunt their money with the same ease with which they flaunt the latest blonde on their arm. And honestly, I find gold–gilted anything quite tacky – especially when it’s a zillion feet high. No, I’m not talking about his hair.

Nevertheless, I got what he provided for others. A fantasy of luxury.   A mouthpiece to say all the things they couldn’t. Like – YOU’RE FIRED! Heck, who hasn’t wanted to say that at least once a week, or sometimes even once a day?

But experiencing Mr. Trump this past week and the foaming fervor of his supporters at the RNC grew from entertaining hate-watching to terror and panic once I got it through my head this was no longer just good badTV. The Washington Post breaks it down much better than I do so please click here and read.

... and just in case Trump wasn't scary enough, now we got this guy too #HELP

… and just in case Trump wasn’t scary enough, now we got this guy too #HELP

Suffice it to say 75 plus minutes of law and order rants in an undeniable Mussolini/Hitler like timbre was frightening – and not in the Dick Wolf-TV-Mariska Hargitay kind of way. It became much larger than life and certainly larger than any reality show that has ever been on TV. A man who alternately pleaded and shouted that he’d protect you and work for you as long as you gave him the keys and the codes to everything you own and didn’t ever ask him to give any details, or much of a clue, on how he’d do that.

Heck, I had lying, elusive, duplicitous boyfriends in my twenties (and more than a few) who gave me more actual specifics than that. Plus, they were a helluva lot better looking.

Then, on the other side, there is Hillary Clinton. We’ve known her for 25 years and, let’s face it, she’s seldom entertaining.   Okay, there was the Monica scandal and the dress and the brief period the country felt bad for her. And yes, there were those moments and memes as secretary of State when she was texting in her sunglasses pre-Benghazi when it seemed like she could never make a wrong move again. But mostly – not much fun on her own. Certainly not much fun to watch giving a speech.

... whereas this guy #goodspeech #wow

… whereas this guy #goodspeech #wow

Which does not mean she is not a good or effective politician. Or potential world leader.   Rather than getting into a litany of defense, here is the best compilation of facts and attributes I’ve seen in this dailykos article last month, which references other sources – both pro and con. But suffice it to say I remember 25 years ago when she was actually fighting for health care and telling the right wing to go stick it in their hats – a time they resented her simply for not staying home like a good, little first lady and tending the rose garden. Yeah, she was tough and mouthy but I was raised by women like that and always thought that behavior was kind of cool.

See, her kind doesn’t get cast as Secretary of State – we have the glamorous, desirable Tea Leoni for that. And if she does become our first female president, Julia-Louis Dreyfuss will be far more entertaining on Veep in any moment on any given part of the day to most of the world.

Lest we forget Miss Geena

Lest we forget Miss Geena

I can hear the naysayers from here – she lied, she’s crooked, she can’t be trusted! As opposed to um…the neighborhood billionaire? Any billionaire? This is not a defense of lying, or even an admission that Mrs. Clinton does or does not lie.   We’re simply making equivalencies here. The RNC didn’t just nominate Gandhi. Or even Ben Kingsley. Though their nominee is closer to an actor if he’s anything at all.

Which is the crux of the problem. We’re electing a commander-in-chief not an entertainer-in-chief. And certainly, not a clown – no matter how desperate we all are for a laugh. How desperate is that?   We’ll see.