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

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Sunday Morning Post (V.1; #10): Happy Birthday, Doris Day!

Okay, it’s been a rough week for liberals.  The Mueller Report was released and a 4-page summary by AG William Barr has given everyone the impression that the President did not commit any crimes.  The left has been wringing their hands that no smoking gun was found.  Meanwhile, the sight of the President gloating at a rally in Michigan (post-release of the summary of the Mueller Report) was nauseating.

Will this man ever reach the emotional maturity of a six-year-old?  I’m not holding my breath.

At the same time, a few commentators – Marc A. Thiessen of The Washington Post and Christine Flowers of The Philadelphia Inquirer — have scolded the left for acting so disappointed that Mueller did not call the President out as a traitor. They say we should be grateful that the President is not a traitor.

This would be all well and good if there wasn’t widely broadcast videotape evidence of the President calling on Russia to release e-mails that would damage his opponent’s chances of becoming the first women elected President.

Proof of treason?  Perhaps not found yet, but the release of the Mueller Report is only the end of the first act.  No smoking gun yet, but we need to allow that branch of the government (i.e., Congress) who are Constitutionally-appointed to serve as the check to the powers of the Executive Branch to do their investigative work.  As I recall, l the smoking gun in Watergate wasn’t found until Congress investigated Nixon’s misdeeds.  It will most likely unfold the same way this time.

As the President might say, “Just watch!”

So, fellow liberals, let us take heart that the investigation is far from over and hopefully will end with as little trauma as possible to our national psyche.  We should adopt a more philosophical stance towards all this if nothing else than to prevent whatever is left of our sanity from spilling out as we foam with moral outrage.  We should take counsel in the wise words of Doris Day: “Que Sera Sera.” *

Ms. Day will be having another birthday this week.  It would be impolite to publish her exact age, but suffice it to say she is well north of 90.  I am including a video tribute of, arguably, her greatest hit.  My parents chose this song as their song, and it served them well through the years.

So be of good cheer.  Whatever will be, the best will be.

*Holy hard left turn segue, Batman!!

(Thank you for reading.  Thank you, Ms. Day.)

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Sunday Morning Post (V.1; #9*): Does This Blog Make Me Look Fat?

I, like many civilized people in the world, was raised to believe if you cannot say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.  They are wise words, but, like anything else, the concept should be used when situations warrant that saying bad things is offensive to others which will cause harm and pain.  It should not be used as a wall against telling the truth.  Lord knows the truth is always desirable.

Others, on the other hand, have never met this concept.  Yes, I mean you, Mr. President.

There are ways to be honest, I think the term is “couching the truth”, to get the point across without doing harm or grievous offense.   

Unfortunately, this requires thinking to choose the correct words for the situation.  Thinking leads to a pause in communication.  Since the truth is supposed to be obvious, there is a belief that it should be expressed spontaneously without question.

Many people who believe in God were responsible for placing a crooked sexual deviant in the White House. So much for beliefs!

Sadly, life does not allow us the luxury to stop communicating long enough to think through what we should say to each other.  Think Lucy Van Pelt in Peanuts: “You didn’t answer right away!  You had to think about it.” Yes, sometimes we have to think about it.  This is called the art of diplomacy.

Diplomacy, another concept lost on the current occupant of the Oval Office.

I’ve written on this subject before**, but it’s time for an update, given that our leaders have somehow managed to lower the bar for civility in western culture. This time I will offer different scenarios and possible outcomes in a situation when a beloved one asks you for your opinion about their looks, namely, “Does this shirt/skirt/pants make me look fat?”

Before I get to these scenarios, I would like to throw out my own speculations why people feel this question is important.  First of all, we have to recognize that cultures set their own standards for beauty and desirability.  In western culture, the standard is women should have long, skinny legs and ample bosoms.  This is not always possible and, in many cases, biologically inconvenient.  Yet society demands that women have these perfect features.  I can appreciate how women, particularly the younger ones, struggle with this absurdity that the outer features are more important than the inner self.  Any realizations to the contrary require time and, more to the point, maturity.

Ladies, I must be fair to advise that men struggle with their own cultural demons.  We are expected to be muscular, possess well-sculpted facial features, and ample genitalia.   

Again, by and large, not happening.  I emphasize that these ideas are largely culturally driven and, in many cases, the expectations can vary with each individual.    

In any case, many people have been asked for an opinion on how good something looks on a person.  They approach you with the question, “Does this make me look fat?”

Scenario #1: You answer “No dear, you look fine.”

The traditional answer which does not require thought or cause a pause in conversation.  We should allow for the situation when this answer is totally honest and correct.  In which case, kudos to you for marrying a Barbie doll! The rest of us may want to formulate an answer to avoid the awkward pause, keep a written version of the answer on an index card, or better yet, keep it somewhere in a file on your iPhone.  In any case, the person who answers the question with these words can rest assured that they will live to see another day.

Scenario #2: You answer ”Dear, that does not look good on you, but it’s not the best part about you…”

The answerer can then go into a litany (again keep written version handy if needed) of the questioner’s fine qualities.  They may make you wonderful meals, they are always looking out for your well-being, they are conscientious about doing things to make live more comfortable…and so on.  This may also be the truthful answer they were looking for when asking about this particular garment.  They may be debating wearing this garment against wearing another garment and this answer may be construed as “helpful”.

Scenario #3: You answer ”No, dear, that dress does not make you look fat. It’s the excessive cellulite under your skin that makes you look fat.  Lord, woman, have mercy on that material.”

Anyone who answers this way should expect that VIOLENT DEATH IS IMMINENT.  Run as fast as you can.  Consider registering for a government sponsored protection program anywhere.

In the interest of full disclosure: Warrior Queen and I are both fat, know we are fat, and have accepted that our inner qualities balance out this contrary societal constraint.

*As in “Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine…”

**In 2010.  I may republish it in the future.

(Thank you for reading.  And now I must go 
into hiding…)

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sunday Morning Post (V.1; #8): Stan and Ollie

The 1950s were not kind to the comedy icons of Hollywood’s Golden Era.  The old guard was aging rapidly; their bodies could no longer withstand the rigors of slapstick comedy.  At least one, Chaplin, grappled with the psychological realization that he was no longer reaching his audience.  This led to the creation of his artistic triumph, Limelight, even as his perceived political views and private sexual escapades exiled him from America. 
Worse still was the growing phenomenon known as television.  This newfangled invention made stars of a new generation of comedians, Berle and Gleason.  Many of the older folk adapted as best they could, but ultimately their time was passing in front of their eyes.

Enter Stan and Ollie as they embark on a stage tour of the United Kingdom, biding their time while a producer raises funding for their next film.  Nothing goes as planned: the tour nearly fizzles, the team parts ways for a time, and the film financing never materializes.  With no future gigs, the team makes the best of what we now know, and they slowly realize during the tour that this will be Stan and Ollie’s last hurrah.

The film largely introduces the private side of these two comedians to the public for the first time.  Both men have multiple marriages in their past, and Ollie spends a bit too much of his salary at the races.  These facts were long known to the most devoted film historians, but not to many others who cared only enough to laugh at their characters on the screen.

Laurel is clearly the leader.  He is always “on”, even in private.  A quick ready wit was his choice of weaponry against the absurdities of the world.  Stan uses it to diffuse any number of tense situations, regardless if his audience is only a receptionist preventing from seeing a film producer, or a room full of reception attendees witnessing Stan and Ollie’s very public breakup.  Even when Laurel is not on, his mind is forever thinking up new routines for himself and his partner.  This continued long after Hardy’s death in 1957; a practical endeavor, but it demonstrated Laurel’s realization that he could not go on without his partner by his side.

Make no mistake: both men were immensely talented on their own.  Hardy could be a wonderful foil for any number of top billed clowns in the silent era.  Likewise, Laurel had a good career before meeting Hardy (This reminds me to plead: can someone, anyone, put the extant fragment of Laurel’s When Knights Were Cold on DVD or YouTube?  Please?)  Ah, but together, the magic happened.  The routines and jokes flowed effortlessly.

Together they were more of a team on stage, behaving like an old married couple off stage.  Laurel knows exactly how Ollie takes his tea, and has no compunction about sitting up in bed with his partner to keep him warm. 

Ollie always deferred to Laurel in comedy matters.  He always looked to his partner to verify what his next move should be. Indeed, when Stan breaks the bad news that their new film won’t be made, their exchange turns into one of their routines of who knew what first.  Perhaps it is Ollie diffusing the tension this time when he asks Stan, “What’s my next line?”

Stan and Ollie is not as depressing as I am making it out to be.  True there are poignant moments when Stan realizes the end for himself and his partner are near.  The most memorable shot has Stan turning the street corner walking home from the meeting where he learned their precious Robin Hood project would not come to fruition, and confronting a huge poster advertising the latest Abbott and Costello film.  It is also laden with irony:  Abbott and Costello were another team who were also on the wane at that time, but had not realized that yet.

Stan and Ollie hit all the right emotional buttons: sadness, comedy, tragedy, all wrapped up in a nice affectionate bouquet to one of the world’s long beloved comedy acts.  Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly are marvelous and very convincing as the leads.  Yes, this is the same Reilly who played a corrupt cop in Scorsese’s Gangs Of New York and more recently a worthy team mate for Will Ferrell. 

The gentlemen’s performances are matched by Shirley Henderson as the loving, devoted, arguably over-protective Lucille Hardy, and Nina Arianda as the equally devoted and protective of her man, Ida Laurel. 

The film shows the team reprising their best bits, even with the melancholy tone of one last time hanging over them.  No matter, it is fun to watch again even if it is not the originals, but a pair of modern impersonators perpetuating the wonderfulness of the golden comedy era. 

We’ve long laughed at their public displays; now we have glimpsed their private struggles.  Again, no matter.  We no longer think of them in the formal as biographer John McCabe’s Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy.   To us, they have always been and always will be just Stan and Ollie.

(Thank you for reading.  So much for “…another fine mess!”)