Happy Birthday America!

What do you say about someone – or something – on its 245th birthday?  I’ve been stumped other than to say –

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!!!

Sure, OK, this.

Which begs the question: what do you get a 245 year-old?  Though it seems to me we actually gave the United States its birthday gift months ago by voting out #45 and installing as #46 someone who none other than Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) once called as good a man as God ever created.

That would be Joe Biden.

I think you mean… Joe Cool!

I, for one, don’t go in for the God stuff as it relates to human beings, or actually anything at all.  Still, it seems like a universally appropriate compliment.  Joe’s the kind of guy no one can truly bring themselves to hate or proclaim as evil, or even bad.

The best they can do is label him slow or incompetent or a puppet that is controlled by a vast left wing conspiracy of gays and Jews (Note: That’s ME!) with space lasers and indoctrination pamphlets. 

Or they might say he’s at the mercy of gaggles of black and brown people bent on erasing white culture and bankrupting the country with endless financial reparations based on critical race theory.

But personally evil or bad – nah!

Plus — He’s Dr. Jill Biden’s husband!

Considering these times vs. #45’s times, that’s one HUGE step towards reuniting these United States.  And as we’ve heard Joe say so often by now – there is nothing this country can’t accomplish when we do it together and that it’s never a good bet to bet against the United States.

So —

LET’S HEAR IT FOR JOE!!!!

Well, I’m cheering, anyway.

USA! USA! USA!

In less than six months he’s taken a country closed down and paralyzed by a worldwide pandemic to a place where almost 70% of the population will soon be vaccinated (Note:  Probably in the next few weeks).  Cities have opened up, millions of jobs have been added since he’s taken office AND he signed a $1.9 trillion economic aid package into law in March that has rushed money out the door to the citizens who need it most.

What’s been the principle criticism on all of this from his opposition?  Well, it’s that all those extended unemployment benefits are discouraging people from returning to work.

I don’t know about any of you, but NO ONE I know is dying to get back into an office, with or without masks, and it has nothing to do with laziness or unemployment checks.

I swear it’s not because of my mask tan

It’s actually more like they don’t want to get sick and perhaps actually die (Note: Delta Variant, fear of the unmasked if you’re medically vulnerable) or they can’t get the child care of elder care they need to take care of those in their family that they’ve been taking care of.

Still, let’s not make this political, tempting as it is to do so on this Fourth of July in particular.

Instead, let’s consider that our 245-year history is rooted in our disagreements – political, judicial, social and way too many more to mention.

Just in case you need a reminder

On the downside this week – Cosby’s out of jail on a technicality and the US Supreme Court says it’s okay to repeal voting rights in states with laws where the historically disenfranchised in mostly non-white areas face additional obstacles to vote.

On the other hand, at least some (and one in particular) racist cops AND Capitol Hill cop killers are getting convicted of serious crimes.  Not to mention, even large-scale crime rings masquerading as hospitality businesses run by former presidents and their family members and enablers are being chased down and tried for grand larceny and likely worse.

Me trying not to be smug

In addition to that, my congressman, Adam Schiff (D-CA), and a Republican politician whose name I could never imagine uttering out loud without wanting to vomit… Liz Cheney (WY-R) are teaming up with a bunch of others to get to the bottom of the January 6th 2021 insurrection.

You might not be optimistic but I will remind you that people scoffed back in 1980 when Barbra Streisand and the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb teamed up to do her Guilty album.  Yet it is still her biggest selling album internationally out of the near SEVENTY she has released to this day and netted them a Grammy AND a string of Billboard hit singles.

So suck on that awhile, America!!

Plus as a bonus: So much good hair!

Of course, I josh, but only slightly.  Because in America it is the unlikeliest of pairings and the unlikeliest of people that have led us out of the dark times into brighter days.

On the other hand, it is also the likeliest of people that we knew would lead us straight down into hell that did so, and then often down further into a rabbit hole of what felt like certain and eternal Armageddon. 

Who me???

Or so it seemed at the time.

As we writers know, these are the consistent narrative choices that await us every time we sit down to face the blank, or partially filled page.  Dark vs. light, surefire damnation vs. as good of a man (or woman) that God ever created.

What was it Martin Luther King, Jr. once said?

The arc of the moral universe is long…but it bends towards justice….

In our 246th year, let’s hope so.

Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb – “Guilty”

Bad Behaviour

There’s an old saying;

People get the government they deserve.

Let’s table that for a moment.

A less troubling but equally important question to ask ourselves during the 2018 holiday season is:

Do we get the movies we deserve?

I mention this because essentially the saying and the question broach the same issue. They ask us to consider whether the situations we now find ourselves in are inextricably linked to and reflective of:

 Who we really are.

Yeah, I’m not ready to look either.

The stock market has just cratered to its lowest December since the Great Depression (Note: The one in 1929).

Our Electoral College POTUS has just announced the US is leaving Syria (against the advice of all our top military brass) to be picked apart by a JUBILANT Russia and China. #YoureWelcomeVlad.

And our government has been arbitrarily shut down this holiday weekend by said EC POTUS, who tweeted the Democrats now own the shutdown! after last week publicly stating  he would be proud to own the shutdown if he didn’t get the money to build his Border Wall Slats Whatever.

I’m with you Charlie Brown

Oh my, it’s confusing.

But not as confusing as to why so many of us will be spending our holidays watching nasty big screen dramedies about such inspiring figures as Dick Cheney (Vice) and England’s Queen Anne (The Favourite).

And yes, this IS much easier to talk about.  And write about.

An Oscar for Rachel Weisz’s eyepatch please #earlypredictions

The latter was a 17th century monarch mired in self-loathing, as well as a toxic lesbian triangle entirely of her own making – and manipulation.

The former was  (in case memory fails) an oil chief who grunted his way into power and self-created a war in Iraq based on “specious” facts.   A man who survives to this day after numerous heart attacks, a pacemaker, and finally someone else’s heart entirely  – all the while reveling in the ominous nickname the majority of the country have for him – Darth Vader.

Pretty much

Well, Merry Christmas to all of you, too!

And — HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

VICE and THE FAVOURITE are certainly not the only movies to see this week but they are among the newest, most touted and certainly most noteworthy.  They’re considered to be prestige pictures and must-see films.

They are also both rotten to their cores – celebrating a kind of ruthless, sociopathic lust to get power and remain in power during which time their “heroes” all wittily revel in the massive carnage they create around them as they crush anyone who dares to question their power.

It’s good to clarify

These films don’t so much take a look at the individuals at their center but serve up their extreme behaviors as a brooding, bloody kind of entertainment spectacle for the masses.  They are in so many ways both Grand Guignol yukfests and serious historical biopics,  each masquerading as the other when it’s most convenient.

When important dramatic questions beg to be answered, better to evaporate into fringe conduct peppered with either hysterical shrieks or guttural grunts.  On the other hand, when an important issue is reduced to egocentric flippancy, what better way is there than to evoke the trappings of the Crown or the White House, amid the deaths of their respective soldiers, in order to drag us back into the urgency of the situation at hand.

Ugh, along with bonus 80s drag #yuck

Just as it might be too soon to laugh at Dick Cheney and his antics in and around Iraq and the Capitol Building it feels faux cheeky to watch three  17th century ruling class lesbians mire around in the mud and curse like sailors for our own amusement.

Yeah, yeah – they said naughty words back then but never to such syncopated snappy effect.  And sure, sure, it was a scream and a half when Cheney shot that guy in the face but what is the point of watching him and his wife get hot for each other in bed while reciting Shakespeare??  God, I’d like to unsee that.

Agh Ew No!

Not to get all Hollywood movie executive – but can’t we at least have SOMEONE to root for or feel sorry for or just plain want to be with for two plus hours?  Even Bale’s Patrick Bateman was more sympathetic than Cheney.  Certainly, he was a lot easier to look at.

Yes, it’s an amazing parlor trick to see a handsome guy like Christian Bale transformed into a bald, bloated bellicose VICE slithering his way to the top with no discernible guilt or crisis of conscience for his misdeeds even as a plethora of facts confront him to the contrary.  It sort of reminds you of….well, turn on the news.

IS IT OVER YET?!

At the same time, watching three ladies so cleverly bitch at each other is a unique screen treat these days, if not quite politically correct.  Though one supposes if you are going to have three  (count ‘em!) lesbian characters engage power in a major motion picture where men are relegated to nothing but sex objects, impotent fools or embattled warriors as mere pawns, you should be given credit for a certain progressiveness – a kind of reversal of gender destinies.

Still, one can’t help but feel like it’s all a crock and we’ve simply devolved into a sadly reflective state.  A period in our culture where we need to minimize real life bad behavior by peppering it with enough humor and absurdity to make it go down easier.  A kind of whistling at the gallows.

What more timely message can the movies give us through which to close 2018?

Jill Scott – “Hate On Me”