Monkey Business?

There is no escape.

Not from Trump metaphors in art generally or in movie sequels specifically.   Even if all you want is a good summer film.

Of course, this also means there is no running from the news of the day, even if you don’t care a whit about the future generally or the human species specifically.

Stay with me… I’m about to get there

You might think you can turn it off by reading a classic novel and transporting yourself into another world. But try it. Chances are there will be some authoritarian figure somewhere bellowing belligerently from the rafters about what’s good for you, your neighborhood or your country in a voice you want to stab to death at any given moment. This being might be the voice of a dictator but, trust me, it can also be your parent, a friend or even your own inner voice.

Sure, I could be talking about just me but, truly, I don’t think so. When one lives in extreme circumstances one unfortunately finds resonance everywhere – and often in the most unlikely of places.

This weekend I went to a Writer’s Guild screening of War for the Planet of The Apes.

GURLLLL

Well, why not?

Sure, it’s the NINTH film of the Apes series, I don’t like sequels and reboots generally and, more specifically, I missed the last two. But I did read some synopses to catch up and there were the stellar written and word of mouth reviews for this new one

I heard it’s fantastic!, related a good friend who spoke to a good friend who knew someone who saw it.

Jeez, did you read this? It’s a rave, yelled my husband across the room over breakfast and our printed newspaper this past Friday morning. An eschewer of movie sequels generally and franchise action films specifically, I got the sense if he wasn’t working on a deadline to finish his new book he might have even joined me and paid the price of admission at a real movie theatre to see it.

And it doesn’t even have Dr. Zaius!

For the NINTH Planet of the Apes movie???? Yes. As I said, we all need our fantasy escapes – unless of course our backs are up against the wall with work and we have discipline. Well, one of us has to.

Besides, if I didn’t go to the new Apes film I would have missed:

Where to begin…

  • Woody Harrelson ordering droves of shackled apes to BUILD A WALL to keep all the bad guys out.
  • Metaphorical strong man father figures who stick by their families at all costs and lash out when their first-born sons are threatened, mutilated and/or killed. (Note: So be careful out there on Twitter).

Well… he would if it were Ivanka

  • Whole tribes of people willing to follow a certifiably CRAZY GUY because times are tough, he talks a good game and seems to have some sort of vague plan that will save them.

Of course, this could just be me reading into the movie but, truly, I don’t think so.

By the way, know you are reading no Apes snob here. The original Planet of The Apes was one of my favorite films as a child because it confirmed all of my worst prepubescent fears about the future of the planet. Even back then I knew we were probably doomed and the best that I could hope for is that some hot guy in a loincloth who looked like a youngish Charlton Heston would take pity on me and “save” me. (Note: This was well before I was aware of his politics, not that this would have mattered to my 12 year old self).

OK well I was looking at his other “guns” #shameless

After the screening of the new Apes film the director/co-screenwriter Matt Reeves spoke to a room full of us writers and related how he wanted to marry a mythic story with the technology of the day in creating the reality of the apes. Well, fair enough, I thought, even if at 142 minutes it all felt a bit overwrought and Woody Harrelson’s nutsy bald-headed villain reminded me too much of Marlon Brando’s Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now without the sick wit. Or it all evoked a type of Bridge Over The River Kwai 2 with simians. Or The Ten Commandments without the presence of God or Charlton Heston – at any age.

I’ll keep the leopard clad Edward G. Robinson though #fabulous

But then Mr. Reeves made the mistake too many of us do when referring to our work – he began to explain it. He actually called his film as a “Darwinian biblical epic” and noted he screened the movies Apocalypse Now, The Ten Commandments and Bridge Over the River Kwai for inspiration. Oh, he did also mention The Outlaw Josey Wales, which I never saw, and now I guess probably won’t have to.

Sorry Clinty #stillanemptychair

All of this is to say, the difference between movie and real life auteurs these days is that the real life ones feel no need to truthfully explain themselves. We get codified messages from The Trump Of It All like build a wall and my (39 YEAR OLD) son is a good boy but not a lot of honest reflection about how he (It?) got to the decisions he made or why he made them. In fact, none.

And so far it’s working.

This should be a lesson for every movie director and writer out there. The moment you begin explaining what you do and why you do/did it is the precise time where you can begin to sew the seeds of your own downfall in the eyes of your audience. At least in the world we live in nowadays. Or, well, my world. A world from which there is no escape – even on a 2000 plus square foot movie screen.

or… RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!

Though —

You (I?) might want to hang on to these results just in from a new Washington Post/ABC News pollThe Trump Of It All’s approval rating has just dropped six points to 36% from its previous 42% in April. Its/His disapproval rating has also risen 5 points to 58%. These are levels only reached once before: by George W. Bush near the end of his second term – after the economy crashed.

Yes, this is a slim, slim lifeline but is probably better than what you’ll get anywhere else. Of course, this could be just me but, truly, I don’t think so.

Dusty Springfield – Wishin’ and Hopin’

SPECIAL NOTE: We will be taking a brief stay-cation next week and notesfromachair will return in two weeks. During that time, our beloved Holly, the editor, caption writer and image chooser of all things notes will be giving birth to her second child – better known as Sam’s sibling – and we can’t do any of this without her. Or choose not to. Though why explain any further.

Can’t wait for you to meet her!

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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.

Drunk in Trump

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When poet-songwriter Gil Scott-Heron wrote the iconic anthem The Revolution Will Not Be Televised for his 1970 debut album it was in response to everything the small screen was NOT showing about the civil unrest of the late sixties.   It was also a not so gentle reminder to his peers to get out into the streets and to participate. Racial inequality, campus unrest over social issues – none of it could be addressed if the people who wanted change the most simply sat there and watched only small snippets of action of what broadcasters chose to show them.

Needless to say, times have changed.

In 2016, the Revolution IS being televised, tweeted, snap chatted, vimeo’d, texted and emailed – 24/7. In fact, we are getting so much revolution these days that it has created a new normal of constant change and unrest that we get to see happening everywhere at any time that we so choose.

Me, every time I turn on the TV

Me, every time I turn on the TV

Turkey in the streets, 84 plowed down by a truck-driving terrorist in Nice, the premiere of an all female Ghostbusters, world leaders on parade, celebrities undressed and regular people having sex – it’s all available. In fact, it’s often unavoidable.   All you have to do is click on one key or website you had or hadn’t intended and you will likely stumble upon any or all of the above.

That’s why it’s now time to DRINK.

Yes, drink.

It doesn’t have to be liquor. Or wine or beer.

A malted will do. Even an ice cream soda, a Mountain Dew or a Tab – yes, Tab.

Gurl, it's gonna be a long week

Gurl, it’s gonna be a long week

That was what my Mom and her friends drank back in the sixties when they wanted to escape from reality and lose weight at the same time. Sure, it was infinitely unhealthy in large doses – just like booze – but also like booze it somehow made you feel better and tasted good on ice. Not to mention, it had the added plus of coming in a pink can. How gay (meaning happy) is that???

I’m going to need a SH*T TON OF TAB this week to get through The Republican National Convention. Or as you all will soon be calling it – MEET THE TRUMPS! Though it’s tempting to now refer to the Donald as Mrs. Pence, in honor of the off-brand safe choice he made this past week when he selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his professional spouse and running mate, let’s resist the urge. Since Pence, just like the governor’s botched attempt to legalize discrimination against LGBT people with his heinous religious freedom law last year, will quickly fade into the background.

Because in the coming days it will be: ALL TRUMPS, ALL THE TIME.

Time to fire up the grill! #gagme

Time to fire up the grill! #gagme

This is opposed to Donald Trump, most of the time.

An abridged speaking list (courtesy of the NY Times) on the revolutionary Big Four Networks’ TV this week, all of whom will be broadcasting the Republican National Convention live in prime-time, reads:

Monday Night: Melania Trump (the romantic spouse)

Tuesday Night: Donald Trump, Jr. (aka Patrick Bateman 2.0a) and Tiffany Trump (aka Marla Maples’ daughter though named after Tiffany & Co.), Instagram star and model.

Watch out Kylie! #getitgurl

Watch out Kylie! #getitgurl

Wednesday Night: Eric Trump (aka Patrick Bateman 2.0b and renowned big game hunter)

Thursday Night: Ivanka Trump (the favorite progeny though not necessarily mine, even if she is married to a too smart for his own good Jewish boy). And finally, DT himself, which could give you the DTs if you weren’t already so used to him.

It almost makes you long for the halcyon days of Ivana, doesn’t it? Though not quite.

Clearly, it is impossible to run away from them since you take your life in your hands these days travelling out of the country on a plane, not to mention your patience. So here are some games, suggestions and strategies on how to cope – or to at least get through it.

Monday Night: As a prelude, go to this link and watch Maya Rudolph tell you about Melania Trump’s Edible Diamonds. This is to be done prior to her speaking so whatever words she does manage to say, will wash down more easily.

Extra crispy

Extra crispy

And if that doesn’t work, you might try a White Russian. Of course she isn’t Russian. She is from Slovenia. The drink is in deference to her husband’s admiration for Putin.

Tuesday Night: Prior to any family member you’re gonna get Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s talk so you might want to start the evening with a bowl of turtle soup. But don’t have too much because, as my Dad always tells me, ‘soup fills you up.’ Though you don’t want to hear Donald, Jr. on an empty stomach. Instead, perhaps this clip of Oscar winner Christian Bale in American Psycho?

Drink of choice? What else, scotch neat. Down it in five gulps – one for each of DTjr’s children – yes, HE has five kids – five. More. future. Trumps. On second thought – try five scotch neats. Every time he says – well, anything.

Which should prepare you for Tiffany.   Just stare at her twitter photo below and note that aside from being a model and social media star she is a student at the University of Pennsylvania. Then have a soy mocha latte – half caf – in her honor. You need to sober up but you also need to sleep tonight. You’re only half-way through this…schedule.

Wednesday Night: Newt Gingrich opens up the prime time slot and will no doubt tout his support of Trump(s) to speak for the silent majority of real America. Both Ted Cruz and Gov. Pence, each of whom will follow, will no doubt echo this thought. To keep yourself alert, make a list of all six wives that combined Newt and Donald have wed and answer for yourself this question under each name – What were/ARE they thinking? Meaning the wives, not the two older men – whose combined ages are now a sprightly 143.

Of course, nothing can truly prepare you for a speech by Eric Trump. He’s 6’5” tall and a big game hunter who likes to pose for pictures with dead animals he’s shot, sometimes along with his brother.

I JUST CANT

I JUST CANT

Perhaps a…Bloody Mary to wash him down? (Note: Virgin, if you’re not old enough to drink or have sworn off alcohol, though that’s inadvisable at this point). Every time the name Trump is mentioned all night. That should get you nice and lubricated, or at least give you enough of a sugar high to not care about anything else except yourself for the rest of the evening. Which, in some way, is keeping with the true theme of the night, isn’t it?

Thursday Night: The Finale. Time to break out the champagne when Ivanka comes on. Seriously. She’s the ideal. The beautiful daughter her father desires would she not be his beautiful daughter. The heiress, the smart female corporate tigress, the new Mom. Heck, she’s even friends with Chelsea Clinton! Or is she? Perhaps, they merely know each other and are cordial. Though it is not entirely inconceivable that at some point in the future their children will have a play/nanny date.

Ew Ew Ew Ew Ew Ew Ew EWWWWWWWW

Ew Ew Ew Ew Ew Ew Ew EWWWWWWWW

Still, it does seem like Cristal (that’s champagne at its best) is in order. Or maybe even Korbel if that’s all you can afford. That seems likely given how good the economy is for the average person. Which is what the message of the week will be, anyway. Cristal for everyone by 2020!!! We Are All Trumps!

This will take you right into Donald, Sr. In order to soften the blow of him either reading from the teleprompter or talking off the cuff – because each is equally painful –prepare a picture of Mariska Hargitay beforehand and kiss it every time he says Law and Order.   Or bellows it. Then chug back some more Cristal, put on Madonna singing Like A Prayer whenever Hillary Clinton is derided for being weak and stupid and pray that there is, indeed a God. And that SHE is listening to you. And not Mrs. Pence.