A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.
- Name: todd gunther
- Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States
Monday, May 30, 2016
Memorial Day 2016, ushering in what promises to be the most contentious political summer since 1968. The day arrives with constant Facebook reminders about the true meaning of the day. No, younguns, it’s not about charcoaled burgers and a tall cool one on the beach. It’s about remembering those who served and died to preserve the ideals our country was founded.
The ideals survive somehow despite how they are twisted to and fro depending on who claims power at the moment. Of course we the people have never totally agreed upon any one particular direction 100% of the time, but what would be the point even if we did agree all the time. It would take all the fun out of democracy.
In the last eight years American society has taken great strides forward in the name of cultural progress. Unfortunately, the progressive elements never totally won over the hearts and minds of the more culturally traditional segment of the population. That segment is now rising up to make itself heard. There’s nothing wrong with voicing your concerns; that’s guaranteed with the First Amendment. On the other hand, the current attitude amongst the newly empowered segment would seem to run counter to the ideals which millions have sacrificed all to preserve.
As an example, the latest in a long line of clichés to become the sound bite mantra of the moment: “Make America Great Again.” I reject the premise of this bite. While I have disagreed with the how the people running the country at certain times have interpreted the American ideals to their advantage, I never lost faith in the country itself.
Okay, so we should address the concerns of those who now feel disaffected by the progress of the last eight years. Just don’t turn the clock back so much that we don’t recognize, or worse, refuse, the potential in each one of us as an American citizen.
Then on the other side of the coin there are those who have shared the life experience that leaves them feeling that:”America Was Never Great”. An African American woman has taken a lot of condemnation on social media for wearing a cap with this slogan during her shift at a Home Depot on Staten Island. I don’t totally agree with her slogan either, but knowing what I know about American history I can see her point of view is valid for her. The country has its flaws and there is always room for improvement. That is a fact of life and true for all of us.
As for those who are calling for her dismissal I can only ask, “What part of the First Amendment don’t you understand?” In case they don’t know, the First Amendment applies to all points of view. I admit that this is an inconvenience at times, but it is the right thing to do.
The truth, the right thing is somewhere between these two slogans. America has always been great, but we shouldn’t be so arrogant to dismiss the idea that we have never made a mistake. We have made mistakes, and that is the wonderful thing about history. It gives us the ability to look back, see events which could be regretful, then use that knowledge to guide our actions in the future.
In the past, one country took the lives of many American servicemen in an attack on Pearl Harbor. We responded with the most powerful weapon mankind has ever witnessed, and its use on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has discouraged its use ever since. For some reason many saw the President’s recent trip to Hiroshima as an apology for the dropping of the atomic bomb. I have not come across the words, “America is sorry” or “We apologize for this incident” anywhere in his statements.
Those condemning the President appear to endorse the opposite of the cliché “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” They seem to believe that two wrongs (Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima) do make a right. Okay, whatever!
So far I’ve concentrated on ideals; I’ve mentioned no names or personalities in this essay, rant, manifesto, or whatever. The President, the Home Depot retail worker, or this thing that believes he can ride to power by convincing that he will “Make America Great Again.” All nameless, not faceless, much like the millions of Americans we honor today. No, they should not be nameless, but beyond those who loved them in life, many of their names will not be known to the majority of Americans.
All the same we should be grateful for their sacrifice in the name of the ideals we hold so dear and forever strive to achieve. So for now I will try to be hopeful that we will agree to do the right thing. Although I must admit to a gnawing feeling of despair that as we did step forward in the last eight years, we are about to take two steps back.
(Thank you for reading. Now it’s time for a tall cool one.)
Sunday, May 22, 2016
I do not go to the movies often. I always go to be entertained, but others I will definitely expect to be uplifting for my spirit. Still others I know will not uplift me, but they are a guilty pleasure. We all know the type, whether its food or some other type of nourishment that we are told is bad for us, we enjoy it anyway.
And so it is with Keanu, starring the cutest kitten ever.
Our hero is living a good life at the start in an abandoned church converted to an LA meth lab. A few rivals come for a visit and before you know it all of the bipeds are slaughtered, but our plucky, four-pawed feline escapes. The film producers would have us believe that he makes his way across the length and breadth of Los Angeles without so much as a misplaced hair on his furry back. He ends up meowing pitifully at the steps of Rell (Jordan Peele), a photographer who must be living in Cheech and Chong’s old crib. We can assume this because of the two foot high yellow bong on Rell’s coffee table, which he uses to get over his girlfriend breaking up with him.
Rell decides that Keanu’s sudden appearance in his life is a good sign. It jump starts his creativity: he poses Keanu in several states of dress for a calendar honoring the film world’s more recent iconic achievements. Reservoir Dogs, Point Break, et al all get the cute kitty calendar treatment. Keanu even makes The Shining look adorable!
Rell’s cousin, Clarence, (Keagen Michael Key) is too wrapped up in his career to see Rell’s love for Keanu, but hell, he can’t seem to know how to love his family. Even Clarence’s daughter is more annoyed than the typical sullen teenager should be with her father. Before his wife and daughter go away for the weekend with daughter’s best friend and best friend’s father, she tells him to relax a bit.
She should be careful what she wishes for….
The cousins enjoy a night on the town and return to find Rell’s house has been burglarized, ransacked and Keanu missing. The police come, investigate, but don’t sound encouraging when it comes to the idea of Keanu being found…ever. The cousins turn to Rell’s neighbor, who is also his dope dealer (how convenient is that?) to see if he noticed any suspicious characters hanging around Ralph’s place in recent days. The neighbor is not sure since he’s a little spaced out on his own products (think Dick Shawn’s LSD character from The Producers 50 years later). Despite the drug haze and the fact that he woke his mother up (yes, the drug dealer lives with his mommy!) he points the cousins in the directions of a gang known as The 17th Street Blips. If you’re not good enough to a Blood or a Crip, then you join the Blips!
The cousins are directed to the Blips hideout fronted by a topless bar which advertises a buffet all day Tuesdays. (I’ll be there Tuesdays, dudes!) Keanu is readily found among the gang leader’s other pet (a boa constrictor), but Blip leader Cheddar doesn’t want to give Keanu up. Every hardened bad ass in East LA can’t help but be smitten with Keanu.
Have I mentioned how g-d cute Keanu is?
The next forty-eight hours or so are a series of drug deals, kidnappings, catnappings, and other mishaps (aka gun battles) the cousins connive their way through just so Rell can get Keanu back. It’s basically a fish out of water story with the two middle class cousins descending into the harsh world of illegal drugs where the “n” word is tossed about as casually as Keanu side steps all the violence happening around him.
The kitten is charmed: he even manages to avoid being eaten by Cheddar’s pet boa.
Key and Peele’s big screen debut is mildly amusing. It’s at its funniest when Clarence turns a van full of bad mothers onto the music of George Michael (as in Faith, as in Father Figure, as in yes, that George Michael). Clarence has turned so middle-class that he forsakes smoking a joint and the whole rap culture for Wham. As Clarence tells his new homeboys on the break-up of Wham: “And. Andrew. Ridgely. Was. Never. Seen. Again.”
Unfortunately, the comedy succumbs to the frequent (four of five by my count) displays of gangster gun play. The movie audience doesn’t know whether to laugh at the stereotypes being busted one minute, only to have the stereotypes murder each other in cold blood the next. It’s still a culture clash, but one in which the white community is on the periphery. They are seen as being the meth lab's best customers. Or is that another stereotype which needs to be exploded?
Keanu is part Colors, part Scarface (the Brian dePalma version), part Matrix, part okay, what the hell, Uptown Saturday Night, and 100% cute! Have I mentioned how g-d, mother-effin’ cute Keanu is?
In the end, not everyone is what they seem. Gangsters dig the whitest of music and one of these gangstas is an undercover cop. The hardest hearts can be melted by pitiful meowing, but they still have to serve time for the consequences of their actions during a wild weekend. All the humans, black and white, get to throw off their macho shells of middle-class success (legal and illegal) and get in touch with those they love or should love.
Awww, Keanu! Good kitty!
(Thank you for reading. And that’s my guilty pleasure. That’s guilty! Guilty! Guilty!)
Sunday, May 15, 2016
The Dirty Donald
This weekend, The New York Times published an article detailing Donald Trump’s treatment of women in private over the years. It is an exhaustively researched piece, laced with first-hand accounts of the women who have had the pleasure/dismay of dealing with The Donald during the last 25 years. The article can be accessed on The Huffington Post.
The article is timely, since Trump will have to make himself more appealing to the female voter for the November election. This article won’t help. In recent weeks, he has been criticizing his presumed opponent Hillary Clinton (a woman) by going after her husband, Bill, who just happened to have served two terms as Commander in Chief. Trump has ranted on the campaign trail how Clinton (Bill) treated women. I have no idea what this has to do with Hillary’s leadership skills, but this is, after all, Trump talking.
Spoiler alert: The New York Timess article about Trump's treatment of women makes Bill Clinton look like a Franciscan Monk who actually followed his vows of forsaking all corporeal pleasures.
We here at arteejee believe that we have outdone The New York Times. We have acquired exclusive video evidence of Donald Trump at work. I cannot take all the credit for this scoop. I need to give credit to my muses who doggedly pursued this story angle until they found this damaging piece of evidence.
Okay, obviously I’ve been duped by my own muses. Damn bitches!
(Thank you for reading, and watching. Tee hee! He said “tits”.)
Sunday, May 08, 2016
Faster Than the Speed of Satire
I posted something on my Facebook timeline which seemed to encapsulate recent events on our American political stage nicely. It is a photo of George W. Bush giving a shy wave of his hand and a shit-eating grin. The photo's caption summarizes the accomplishments of the Bush regime: two disastrous wars, millions losing their jobs, crashing the housing market, and creating a trillion dollar deficit from a surplus left to him by his predecessor. The caption also notes the results of all these failed policies: “And instead of blaming me, Republicans lost their minds and blamed Obama and nominated Donald Trump.” Then the kicker, knock 'em dead punch line: “You can’t make this stuff up.”
No, we can’t make this stuff up. Some of us wish we had, and thereby claim it’s a work of fiction, based on some fantasy. Sadly, tragically, whatever, we can’t declare this as a safe haven from the insanity swallowing the American political system. Reality is stranger than ever, and it is moving at a speed faster than mortal comprehension. It’s moving so fast that a blogger can’t even joke about events before the joke comes true, and therefore loses its momentum.
For example, this last week saw Trump ascending to be the presumptive nominee and his two opponents Cruz and Kasich bowing out within a day of each other. These two had earlier vowed to oppose Trump to the end, turning the Republican National Convention into a contested meeting. It now seems it won’t be much of a convention anyway: many of the more traditional conservative leaders of the party (among then all three Bushes, H.W., George W., and Jeb) are finding excuses not to attend.
For his part, Cruz essentially committed public political suicide when he named another failed nominee, Carly Fiorina, to be his running mate before he even got the nomination. This was a little like putting the cart before the horse, or given Carly’s equine facial features*, putting a horse in front of another (dead) horse. This was a political match made in Liberal Heaven and Conservative Hell.
Her spot as vice president running mate lasted little more than a week. Now she can go home and update her resume, which must look very interesting. To wit:
- CEO and Chairperson of Hewlett Packard
- Oversaw the laying
off of 30,000 employees and subsequently ran the company into the ground
- Among my other failed gigs was a run for the Senate, a run for President (nine months) and a run for Vice-President (one week).
Perhaps she’ll make all this look better for herself as a positive learning experience. These failures have demonstrated her vulnerability to gravity. Her most noteworthy achievement as Cruz’s running mate? Falling off the stage at a Cruz rally! Talk about vulnerability to gravity!
Guys, we were depending on you to take the lead in opposing Trump at the convention. Now you’re wussing out on us! Thanks a lot!
This time last year, political leaders and pundits did not believe Trump had a shot at gaining the nomination. All of them, including yours truly, vastly underestimated the vast - and I can think of no other delicate way to put this - stupidity of the American electorate. Now these same conservatives are taking steps to stop Trump in his tracks by either with holding support, finding someone to run as a third party candidate (another wet dream for liberals), or just holding their breaths until they turn blue.
Yes, sir! You can’t make this stuff up!
Yes, sir! You can’t make this stuff up!
* I apologize for making the cheap shot of basing a woman’s political success on her physical looks, but it makes the horse punch line work.
(Thank you for reading. Can we help you up, Carly? No, I don’t really want to. I’m just asking to be nice and civil.)