A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

My Photo
Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, July 29, 2011

Countdown to Happy Depression!

Is everyone missing the recession that allegedly ended nearly two years ago? Do you feel cheated that you did not suffer enough so you could consider yourself equal to your long-suffering grandparents who would recount endless stories of woe from the Great Depression? Fear not! The next cataclysmic economic disaster is coming soon...very soon.

How does Tuesday, August 2, work for you? That’s Tuesday, as in next Tuesday!

You’ll want to pencil that date on your calendar to remind yourself not to do something stupid, like winning the lottery that day. It wouldn’t be very becoming to have one person possessing what could possibly be the only money left in the country while the rest of us spiral downward into a whirlpool of economic ruin.

See, we’re already ahead of grandma and grandpa! They didn’t get advanced warning when Black Tuesday happened in October, 1929! It was a big surprise for everyone! We’re so lucky! We’ve been warned about the apocalypse for a few months now! Nobody can rightly say, “Gee, I didn’t know anything about this! What will I do?”

Now, those of you who have been continuously unemployed through the last recession and this brief period of pseudo-prosperity are due for a hearty round of congratulations! You people are ahead of the game! Obviously, you planned well! Many of us - who were only unemployed a short period of time, only to be lulled into a false sense of economic security when we found work again — are in for a rude awakening when the US guvmint (intentional misspelling mine) defaults on everything come Tuesday!

So now that we know it’s coming, what can we do to survive this? What a stupid question! Surely our survival is not as important as figuring out who to blame for the mess.

There are potentially two parties to blame: the esteemed President Obama and the Democratic members in both chambers of Congress, or the sniveling, cowardly, pig-headed members of Congress who also just happen to be of the Republican persuasion.* Of course, we can heap an extra helping of blame on the Tea Party fringe of the GOP, who seem perfectly happy to see the country go out of business if it’ll make President Obama look bad. This is 100% selfishness, pure and simple.

GOP leaders Boehner, McConnell, Cantor, et al have been very eager to portray Obama as the one who won’t compromise. Excuse me, boys, but Obama compromised months ago when he reneged on his campaign promise to allow the Bush era tax cuts to expire for everyone except the very rich. He gave into you then so the very rich could keep creating the jobs which they have yet to create even though the Bush tax cuts have existed for the last 10 years. In other words, GOP, it’s your turn to give a little. Cough up a compromise or suffer the historical humiliation that it was your party that destroyed this great country of ours.

Some commentators have given a dismissive wave to all the gloom and doom scenarios of skyrocketing interest rates, devalued credit ratings, and massive unemployment. They argue that we survived a government shutdown before when Clinton was President, so there is nothing to worry about now. Yes, we did indeed survive that previous debt crisis, and if memory serves me correctly, I believe a particular Ms. Lewinsky of the Watergate Apartments in Washington, DC survived very well indeed. (Insert Groucho Marx wagging eyebrows here!)

These commentators are forgetting a few vital differences. The country was not coming out of a recession in 1996, like it is today. Also, unemployment was lower in 1996 and nowhere near the 9% with which we are dealing now. Considering all this, then perhaps the gloom and doom predictions might come true this time.

So, what can we expect come Tuesday morning? Social Security checks will likely be delayed, which should rile up the most powerful voting bloc in the country: the AARP! Come on, seniors, we’re depending on you! Grab your pitchforks and torches, and march on DC! Okay sorry, I forgot that you may not be able to march anymore. Let me amend that: grab your pitchforks and torches and roll your walkers on DC! There, that’s better!

Hopefully, a show of force from this constituency will convince our wonderful leaders to meet in the middle and play nice with each other. If not, then we may suffer even worse consequences when those holding the majority of our debt call for our loans. Of course, I’m referring to the Chinese who could very easily march in and foreclose on our asses!

Oh well, there is a silver lining to this worst case scenario. If the Chinese march in, then at least the buffets will stay open! It may behoove us to develop a taste for deep fried chicken feet and sweet and sour rodent quick...real quick!

*Oh come on! You knew damn well on which side this slightly left of center blog would come down!

(Thank you for reading! Have a happy depression everyone!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"That’s Funny"

So many fond memories running through my mind, cascading like torrents through the years...such as the time we were at the movies and sputtered in anticipatory glee when we realized that the campfire scene from Blazing Saddles was coming up. The people sitting around us probably wondered what the hell was the matter with us, but soon they were also laughing with us at what is possibly the funniest sound gag ever put on film.

Then there was our senior prom, and neither one of us went because neither one of us had a date. Oh, you could have had a date if your girlfriend hadn’t broken up with you a few months before. I could have had a date too, if it wasn’t for the fact that a close relationship with a member of the opposite sex was — at that point of my life — largely a hypothetical proposition.

There were the short summer vacations filled with a million or so hands of pinochle. We lived to play that game then. Funny how I can’t remember the last time I played any cards at all. Literally, it’s been decades.

Then there were the parties, with more eating than drinking. We liked to eat pizza with you, not so much because we enjoyed it as much we enjoyed making fun of how you pronounced it. For the last time it’s pronounced “peet-sa” not “pee-sa”!

We were the closest of friends, so close that we could see each others faults and not mind them at all. You liked to argue just for the sake of arguing too much for my taste. And, yes, alright, I could be a moody tempermental person at times. Could be? Alright, I’ll admit, I’m still a moody person!

We only had one big fight, and it was over a woman. I was so angry with you that I didn’t communicate with you for two years. Even now, I won’t admit you were right about her, but I now believe that in the end she wasn’t worth the trouble.

So now I’m remembering all this and laying out many of the details of our friendship for all to see. It’s my way of approaching, then retreating away from, something I hate to do. I’m dancing around every conceivable way to avoid doing the inevitable. That inevitability is saying good bye and letting go...

Your son followed your final instructions well. He called and left a message on my answering machine to tell me you had passed away that morning. I didn’t realize it at first, but when I played the message again I could hear a more gravelly version of your voice when he spoke. That fact is comforting to me. I see it as a sign that only your body gave out, but you’ll live on through him and your daughter.

I expected the phone call for nearly a year since when you told me that you had decided to forgo a transplant and living a less-than-ideal life on dialysis. You reached a point where you had lived your life and there was nothing more to do. Still, I couldn’t believe the news since I had last spoken to you only a few weeks ago. You were still your jovial, joking self on the phone then, with no trace of pain or regret in your voice.

Oh, then there was the time we saw Dylan and the Dead at that fiberglass-slivers- in-your-ass venue, JFK Stadium in South Philly. Oh, and a few midnight misadventures such as the time a parking meter “followed us home”. Or all those times when you would nearly laugh yourself into unconsciousness and exclaim at the end of your merry jag, “That’s funny!” Oh, and oh so many more tales to recount. Perhaps at some other time and some other blog...

I’ll never eat another slice of “pee-sa” without a mild chuckle at all these memories.

Nick, God Bless You and Rest In Peace.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

POTC: On Stranger Tides

I had an opportunity to go to the movies last weekend. While most of humanity was tripping over each other by the millions to see Harry Potter, I and a few dozen other movie goers caught a blockbuster from earlier in the season: Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides (hitherto known as POTC – OST). There’s my new motto: if a movie title takes longer to say than actually sit through the actual movie, then we should be able to acronym the hell out of it!

Movie fans are no different than patrons of the other arts; they come from all walks of life with varying degrees of different attributes, including race, sex, intellect and wealth. I dare say that, for most film patrons, their observance of whatever celluloid drama is unfolding in front of their eyes is nothing more than a pleasing way to pass a hot, humid, summer afternoon. They may or may not take away any deep meaning from the film. I, on the other hand, will always attempt to gather some sort of lesson from the performance.

I don’t believe I do this because I consider myself that much more of an intellectual than the average movie fan. No, I believe I look for a deeper understanding in the film because I want to get more out of an experience for which I paid $5.00 20 years ago, but have to plunk down my hard earned plastic for amounts nearly twice that amount now. Another reason I only go to the movies twice a year, but I digress.

So, the lessons that made an impression on me from POTC – OST (again, I remind you, an acronym) could all qualify as SPOLIER ALERTS (not an acronym) on the International Movie Data Base website:

1. Jack Sparrow, oh sorry, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) has commitment issues.

2. Barbossa, Sparrow’s adversary played to wonderful broadly comic effect by Geoffrey Rush, finds himself owning one show too many.

3. Mermaids are vicious, nasty bitches!

This latest entry in the POTC franchise (yes, I think we can officially label this a franchise now) has a potential romantic interest in Penelope Cruz, as opposed to being a losing corner in the romantic triangle that was Sparrow/Swann/Turner in the first three POTC. Now Sparrow has a chance to shine and show off for his lady love, whether he’s swashbuckling through the streets of London or screaming like a little girl when he jumps off a high cliff somewhere in the South Seas. Okay, so perhaps screaming like a little girl isn’t considered macho, but perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps we are ready to redefine the concept of “macho”. Or maybe not...

Sparrow’s and Barbossa’s relationship doesn’t break any new ground. They are the same old cranky enemies when each doesn’t have a ship under them, but the best of allies in special situations, like being tied to side-by-side coconut trees by a third party. At times like these, they trade quips like Hope and Crosby did 60 years ago. Scenes like this make one wonder if perhaps the whole enterprise could be entitled Pirates of the Caribbean: The Road to the Fountain of the Youth (AKA...oh, please do the acronym yourself, dear reader. It’s hot and I’m tired)!

Then there are the mermaids; those wonderful, beautiful creatures that can be an allegory for the relationships between the sexes through the ages. Yes, they are all smiles and come hither looks before they’ve got a man within their clutches, but once he’s there he’s as good as being dragged to the bottom of the sea. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times in real life. It’s happened to me a few times in my past, not that I want to admit to it now.

So much for deep meaning...

The action did bog down a few times, but the performances were wonderfully entertaining. Depp’s Sparrow can still show flashes of the earlier master Chaplin. Cruz was very enticing, even with her being photographed from the neck up so as to disguise the fact that she was pregnant throughout the shoot. A few scenes were enlivened with cameos by Dame Judi Dench (as a high society lady riding inside a coach invaded by Sparrow) and an elderly-looking Rolling Stone Keith Richards, who gets to deliver an instantly classic movie line that he was born to deliver.

In the end, we are all enriched by the spectacle of the conflict and the grand panorama of the chase. In the end, the Fountain of Youth is found and lost again, Barbossa gets a ship, and Sparrow abandons love for the life of a pirate. Naturally, fans of the franchise believe that the drama is not truly over until Sparrow utters the word Savvy at least once.

Yet the drama is not over, because this franchise has set a new standard for film endings tacked on after the closing credits have finished. This time — another patented IMDB SPOILER ALERT ahead — our spurned love interest finds a way to avenge her broken heart. Even though she is thousands of miles from civilization on a tiny island, she realizes that she holds Captain Sparrow’s wretched pirate life in the palm of her hands.

Oh yes, I see another grand sequel on the horizon...

(Thank you for reading! If nothing else, remember this: “Does this face look like it’s been to the Fountain of Youth?”)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Busy Summer Weekend

Most of my summer weekends during the last 10 years have been a harried series of events to complete outdoor work before Monday morning dawns. There is grass to be mowed, weeds to be pulled, shrubs and vegetables to be fed and more than the occasional indoor break in air-conditioned comfort between chores. These tasks fill the two day time span as many weekends I have nothing better to do.

This weekend is an interesting case. Normally, this time of year there would be a silent comedy film festival to attend in Arlington, Virginia. Event two: my niece by marriage is ending her bachelorette days this weekend when she walks down the aisle in Conshohocken. Event three: on my side, one of my cousins is celebrating his doctorate in physical therapy. And finally, event four: I also have my ongoing medical coding class to attend Saturday morning. So many choices, so many directions to go in, that I can’t make up my mind which to do.

Which is why I am staying home this weekend mowing grass, pulling weeds, etc.

The main reason is my school obligations. Oh, I could make the drive upstate after class to see my cousin and celebrate his academic achievement, but it would make for a very long day. The wedding is also a moot point: family circumstances would make our attendance a distraction and we never want to take the focus off the bride on her big day. My wife and I will be there in spirit if not in person.

The silent film festival is also a moot point: Slapsticon 2011 was canceled this year due to “contractual obligations”. I’m a bit bummed out by this, but it made it easier for me to forgo our annual trek to northern Virginia because of school and new job obligations. The Slapsticon organizers have come up with an alternative event for the weekend of July 16: the Al Joy National Fan Club meeting. It promises to be a multi-venue affair divided between screening rooms at the Library of Congress, homes of silent film enthusiasts in Washington DC, and Culpepper, Virginia. Okay, I can see the question on your lips now: who the hell is Al Joy?

Suffice to say he is one of thousands of thespians who ever dared to take a pie in the face just to make a living. His place in silent film history is several rungs down from the likes of Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd. Even many silent comedy fans (and historians for that matter) know very little about Al Joy, who made a series of comedies in the late 1920’s before disappearing into obscurity.

Staying home this weekend might give me more opportunities to blog, which would be true except for one thing: my editor is leaving town for a long weekend rest away from me and our cats. Yes, Anne Marie will be Amtraking north to visit an Internet friend in Boston who shares her passion for the needle arts, namely knitting. Oh, if I were going, I’d fill the weekend with activities I could only do there and nowhere else, like whale watching, take in the awesome view of the Maparium at the Christian Science Publishing Society, and attend an American League baseball game at Fenway.

Anne Marie will have none of this. Her fear of large bodies of water precludes her from taking an excursion to chase large mammals in the ocean. She’s not religious, so I doubt she will go anywhere near the Christian Science complex. As for baseball, there is only one team for my wife: the Phillies. All the other teams don't matter, regardless of their colorful historical heritage of the game.

I believe her weekend plans revolve around knitting, swilling wine, and eating. So be it! Sounds like a plan!

I will make do at home, just me and my cats. (Cue melancholy violin music.) Oh, I suppose I could venture out and treat myself to various gastronomic delights. In this pursuit, I will abide by the old philosophy, “So many Chinese buffets, so little time”. Or I could go on a historical excursion and seek out W.C. Fields birthplace in Darby, or the stomping grounds of the Sundance Kid in Mont Clair, both within driving distance from my house.

Or I could go to school, mow the grass, pull the weeds, feed my shrubs...and, oh yeah! Crank up the ABBA!

(Thank you for reading. Best Wishes and Good Luck with all our love to Carolyn and Jeff!)

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Zealots Are Coming! The Zealots Are Coming!

To arms, to arms! Beware all believers and non-believers! Organized religion is rearing its ugly ethnocentric head again!

Mark it on your calendars! The Response — a national day of prayer - is scheduled for August 6! The day is being declared by Texas Governor Rick Perry, and co-sponsored by the American Family Association. What? Rev. Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church bigots aren’t showing up? What about Terry Jones? Surely he’ll be asked to burn some sort of religious icon from one of the heathen faiths!

How can something that gives so many people the strength to carry on with their lives in the face of adversity be used for such intolerant purposes?

It certainly seems like a sweet, innocent gathering of Jesus’ faithful followers until you examine the various groups past agendas. For example, The American Family Association, allegedly a Christian faction, preaches regularly against homosexuals, Muslims, and — oh what the hell, let’s call the kettle black — everyone else that doesn’t believe in Jesus!

This event is being promoted by Perry as “a non-denominational, apolitical, Christian prayer meeting”. As some critics have pointed out, and allow me to pile on as well, how can an event be non-denominational and Christian at the same time? It does make one wonder if the governor doesn’t have ulterior motives.

It’s almost if he is promoting himself (not Jesus) to a narrow segment of the population who are narrow-minded in their ideals on how to move the country forward. Oh yes, of course, the Iowa straw poll - a Republican Party event that is heavily influenced by conservative Christians - takes place a week after The Response! So much for apolitical!

I really feel sorry for Jesus. Once again, his followers are using his teachings to justify their own prejudices. Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men? No problem as long as you are a man who doesn’t want to marry another man. Turn the other cheek and forgive your enemies? Have no fear as long as you truly are a Christian, but other believers need not apply. I hate to see Jesus given a black eye by anyone, but especially by those who profess to love him.

Unfortunately, those who love him come across as hypocrites more times than not. This particular voting bloc that Perry is trying to woo is prone to standing up for a literal interpretation of the Bible and the US Constitution. Ah, but in this case they seem to have overlooked the notion of keeping church and state separate in our grand federal document. The Founding Fathers (not including John Quincy Adams) believed that the establishment of one religion as the nationwide preference over all others was wrong. This doesn’t matter to the conservative Christians who like to cherry pick which federal laws should apply to them and which should be eliminated.

Or perhaps I’m overreacting. Maybe it will just be truly a gathering of Christ’s followers who will come together in harmonious fellowship, pray, bear witness to God’s great glory, and become invigorated with a renewed sense of faith and spiritual purpose in their lives. Then they might tuck into a nice ham supper that night.

Or...perhaps a few radical elements will overpower the glorious positiveness of the event, set down a series of edicts which every Christian is expected to obey, and formulate a series of policies which will adversely affect all non-believers (i.e., Jews, Muslims, gays, short middle-aged bloggers living in southeastern Pennsylvania, etc.) with actions of shunning, excommunications, isolationism, and, finally, total and profound destruction of entire cultures.

Of course nothing like that has ever happened in societies with one organized religious sect expressing majority rule over other sects in the entire history of mankind!

Oh...wait a minute...

On second thought, to arms! To arms! The narrow-minded zealots are coming! The narrow-minded zealots are coming!

(Thank you for reading. Please remember to exercise your beliefs wisely!)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Snort Notes – July 2011


Honestly, what were these people thinking? Did they need these items — mostly eating utensils — to complete their collection of Holocaust souvenirs back home? Can you imagine them saying, “Oh look, dear, that spoon will fit perfectly with our gold-embossed copy of Mein Kampf on our bookshelf.

DISCLAIMER: I do not know for certain if a gold-embossed edition of Hitler’s infamous screed does exist. But if it does exist, I’m sure Glenn Beck owns a copy. The whole Auschwitz theft episode can be summed up in one word: kinky!

Speaking of Glenn Beck...


In a move that both sides tried to make appear as amicable as possible, Glenn Beck signed off his nightly television show on June 30. That may explain the rising wailing and gnashing of teeth from the right, and the cheers and champagne toasts from the left.

Of course, this isn’t totally the end of Beck. He may have lost his prime media real estate spot on Fox, but that doesn’t mean he’s finished! He still has a large following who share his loony ideas of racism and national apocalypse. They were the ones that propelled his ideas to the top of the bestseller lists and radio and television ratings. How could Beck leave behind such an adoring public?

The answer is, “He won’t leave them.” In the closing days of his Fox News show, the coming of GBTV — wow, I wonder if they stayed up all night thinking up that name — was announced. His show will start on this subscription based Internet television network in September.

It’ll be interesting to see how many of his followers will be willing to plunk down more of their hard-earned “guvmint-keep-your-hands-off-my money” to hear his brand of rabid swill.

Speaking of Fox News...


Fox News is investigating how their network Twitter account was hacked during the Fourth of July weekend. The tweets — which gave details that President Obama had been assassinated while campaigning in Iowa — raised more than a few eyebrows, and got the attention of the Secret Service. The network released a statement that the reports were incorrect and apologized for any distress they may have caused.

My main problem with how Fox handled this: the tweets remained on their site for ten hours after they were first posted. Why did it take them so long to remove these messages? Did they actually spend time trying to confirm the false reports? Didn’t they — as a news organization that most likely has people watching the President’s every move 24/7 — know that Obama was nowhere near Iowa during the holiday weekend?

In retrospect, the incident is a tribute to Fox News’ dedication to accuracy and fairness in their news gathering operation. In case you’re wondering, I will admit that, yes, that last sentence was a snide comment.


Finally, we should note another milestone in civil rights was achieved last week when Governor Cuomo signed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in the Empire State. The event was celebrated at New York City’s gay pride parade with much cheering and champagne toasting from the left. Of course the right moaned, groaned and gnashed their teeth while decrying this latest example of moral decay in America.

Here’s some advice for the right: go cry on Glenn Beck’s shoulder. I hear he needs some friends right now.

(Thank you for reading. Now go forth and marry your true love, even if that love is the proverbial love that should not be spoken!)

Friday, July 01, 2011

Michele Bachmann and the Spirit of 1776

Tea Party icon Michele Bachmann has made several attempts to co-opt the rebellious spirit of the American Revolution in her quest for the White House. So far, her adventures resemble more comic horse opera than patriotic gala extravaganza.

Consider these missteps:

In a previous appearance in New Hampshire, the Tea Party leader placed the beginning of the revolutions conflict in that state, and not where it actually happened in Massachusetts;

She insists and continues to insist — inaccurately - that the Founding Fathers worked hard to abolish slavery in this country;

She insists and continues to insist - inaccurately again - that John QUINCY Adams is one of our country's Founding Fathers;

She tried to invoke cinematic icon John Wayne when she declared — again inaccurately — that they were both born in Waterloo, Iowa, only to be called out on the falsity by a historically conservative newspaper!

Perhaps we should give the old girl credit for trying, but she wants to lead this country, not entertain us just for a few laughs.

The New Hampshire incident showed up her lack of geographic knowledge. This is an unfortunate trait which she shares with too many Americans. Even more alarming is her understanding of American history, which again she shockingly shares with so many Americans.

Recently, one of my cardio rehab mates complained about a report he heard noting the number of people who don’t know why we fought World War II and the Korean Conflict. This hit close to home for him; he served in Korea. I shook my head along with him as he told me the story, and I could hear the tears in his voice. Ironically, he identifies himself with the political movement that Bachmann wants to lead to the White House. Go figure!

The notion that the Founding Fathers fought to abolish slavery is a knee-slapping howler! In truth, several of these revered figures did keep slaves, struggling privately with the hypocrisy of the reality of their entrepreneurial situation, even while they put forth ideas declaring that all men are created equal. The author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, is often cited as the worst offender. However, we should point out that he did make an honest attempt to include the idea of freeing slaves within the Declaration. He and his fellow patriots like John Adams and Benjamin Franklin did put up a fight for a while, but eventually conceded the point just to get all of the colonies united against the British monarchy. It is a concession that haunts this country to this day.

Bachmann tries hard to make the case that Adams’ son, John Quincy, a slavery foe, was a Founding Father. Quincy was eight years old at the time the Declaration was produced and signed! He could hardly be considered as one of the Founding Fathers! True, he would begin helping father John within a few years and thereby starting his own life-long career in diplomacy and politics. Otherwise, he should be considered the son of a Founding Father, who built his own legacy within American history.

Then there are Bachmann’s attempts to raise the spirit of American rugged individualism as embodied by Hollywood legend John Wayne. Her argument was that she and Wayne shared the same birthplace, Waterloo, Iowa. Unfortunately, truth was not on her side.

The Washington Times — a historically conservative newspaper which theoretically should have had her back — questioned her assertion. They noted that Wayne was born in Winterset, not Waterloo, Iowa. Then, perhaps to twist the knife, they helpfully pointed out that the only John Wayne associated with Waterloo was John Wayne Gacy, one of America’s more notorious serial killers.

So, let’s do our own comparison. John Wayne, American film actor whose film roles and highly publicized political activities elevated him to God-like status in the eyes of super patriots. John Wayne Gacy lured 33 young men to sex-related torture and death before stuffing their bodies into the crawlspace of his home.

Oh sure! I can see how Michele Bachmann could have confused the two men...NOT!

Bachmann’s misadventures are actually doing some good. They make Sarah Palin, no slouch herself in interpreting American history for her own political advantage, look like a genius. They are energizing some radical Republicans to follow her blindly, while most of the Republican establishment is left to scratch their heads as they try to figure what to do with this loose cannon.

Then, of course, there is the reaction among the liberals and Democrats who are rolling around on the ground laughing. There’s no denying that she is extremely entertaining. However, even this shtick will get old. We’ll all stop laughing next spring if she makes any headway at all in the early 2012 primaries.

Then we run the risk of seeing our most cherished ideals buried like John Wayne Gacy’s victims — in the crawlspace of our American psyche.

(Thank you for reading! Have a safe Fourth of July!)