Friday, April 17, 2015

Aaand... Here Is Why Dick Cheney Is NOT Going to Miss Jon Stewart

Check this out, in case you missed The Daily Show yesterday:

Fuck, that is both brilliant comedy gold and incisive -- the incisivestTM -- political commentary, all wrapped up in one delicious ten-minute bite of meat-wrapped chocolate-dipped snark!

While I practically busted a gut from laughing while I was watching it, it also drove up my blood pressure to dangerous levels, from the wrathful rage I harbor for Dick Cheney.

The guy is a bully and a thug and an über-hypocritical asshole. He is also a Republican -- but I repeat myself.

How can someone consistently be that out of touch with who he is and what he has done? That new heart didn't do anything for him except keep him needlessly above the dirt. But, if you are doing the work of The Devil, I guess you don't really think about that stuff...

Here's Why I'm Going to Miss John Stewart

When John Stewart leaves The Daily Show sometime this year, this is the kind of thing we are going to miss:

I'm not at all sure that the new guy can deliver this kind of acerbic commentary on the American political scene. I wish him the best of luck and I will give his show a fair chance. But I gotta tell ya, I'm major-disappointed with Larry Wilmore's show. I hope Trevor Noah will be able to pull it off.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

If It Sounds Too Good to be True...

... it really isn't.

According to an email making the rounds, fellatio decreases the risk of breast cancer for women.

Yeah, sounds legit!

Everything, except the name of the "scientist" who "discovered" this breakthrough:  Dr. B. J. Sooner...

Well, That Backfired

It's clear that Washington State's own Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Blithering Idiot), like most Republicans, lives in a different reality, on a whole other planet.

If you recall, she was the "official" Republican Party anti-Obama ranter after his 2014 State of the Union. During her rebuttal, she brought up one "constituent" of hers, someone she called "Bette from Spokane" who had an enraging tale of woe regarding the Affordable Care Act.

According to this Wonkette story, "Bette from Spokane"

... was kicked off her wonderful health insurance and would have to spend $700 more a month for a new plan under the ACA. Except none of that turned out to be true: Bette’s old “affordable” plan only covered catastrophic care, with a $10,000 annual deductible — though it did include four (4) free office visits a year. And the replacement plan she complained about to McMorris Rodgers was one of the priciest plans offered by her insurer when it canceled her junk insurance — Bette didn’t even bother looking on “that Obama website at all,” because it was communist, although she’d have found several options providing better coverage at the same price as her junk plan.
No one really knows what happened to "Bette from Spokane" -- or if she was even a real person -- but that didn't stop Little Cathy from her vituperative rage against Obamacare. Even though that same trick didn't work for Ted Cruz a year ago, Little Cathy forged ahead and asked her many Facebook followers to help her expose the evil that is Obamacare:
Whether it’s turned your tax filing into a nightmare, you’re facing skyrocketing premiums, or your employer has reduced your work hours, I want to hear about it.
Please share your story with me so that I can better understand the challenges you’re facing:
And share they did! People flooded her Facebook page with "stories of how they’d finally gotten insurance after being denied due to pre-existing conditions, or how their previous private plans covered practically nothing, or how they were healthcare workers who were seeing a lot of new patients who otherwise might have gone to the ER for unaffordable care. Oops."

Actual Facebook screen captures show these responses, too numerous to adequately quote here. Take a look for yourself.

You gotta wonder about the sanity of the Republican Party in general. Is Obamacare perfect? No, but it's the best we've got right now, until we can put Medicare for All into effect.

And that's why it's important to elect Democrats next year. Send the Republican Party where it belongs, into the dustbin of history.

And before you ask, yes that means voting for Hillary Clinton. If we have to. Just to keep another Bush out of the White House...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Must-See Cinema: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948

This week's must-see cinema feature is The Treasure of the Sierra Madre from 1948, directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt and Bruce Bennett.


This happens to be one of my very favorite movies of all time. It was based on a 1927 book of the same name (terrific book as well) by the odd mystery-man of American letters B. Traven, and has the dubious distinction of being the likely source for the well-known phrase from the late 60s and early 70s, "don't Bogart that joint". In a famous scene from the movie, one that used to be routinely edited out for television, Bogart and Walter Huston are sharing a "peace pipe" (nudge-nudge-wink-wink) with a bunch of Indios and Bogart says something to the effect of "Why are we passing this around? Why doesn't everybody just have his own?"

Etymology sites will inform you, pedantically, that the phrase comes from Bogart's habit of holding a cigarette between his lips, but I think that it too general, and that the most reliable theory stems from this scene in this movie.

Anyway, the film centers on a group of ne'er-do-well hangers on, barely existing on the scrappy edges of expat life in Mexico, who luck out and find gold -- a lot of gold -- in the mountains. Fred C. Dobbs, the Bogart character, representing Mister Average Man, allows his lust for gold to color his reality, with tragic results which were predicted by The Old Man.

The name Fred C. Dobbs kind of took on a life of its own after the release of this movie, to the point where it made an appearance as the name of a character in, of all things, the television series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and M*A*S*H.

Other references to the movie occur regularly, featuring  the famous line, "I don't got to show you no stinking badges!" Even if you've never even heard of this movie, you will recognize that line.

Directed by Walter Huston, starring Humphrey Bogart and Huston's own father, John Huston. Huston fils won two Academy Awards (Directing and Adaptation) and Huston père won Best Supporting Actor. The film was nominated for Best Picture but lost to Hamlet. Old B. Traven himself, in disguise as his agent Hal Croves, was present for most of the filming.

Watch for a young Robert Blake as the kid who sells Bogart a lottery ticket early in the movie, and a cameo by John Huston himself as the rich American in the white suit that Bogart keeps begging money from in the town square.

More reading:
  · The Treasure of the Sierra Madre on the IMDB.
  · The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  on Rotten Tomatoes
  · The Treasure of the Sierra Madre -- Rent it on Netflix

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Exploitation Movies: Reefer Madness (1936)

The 1930s produced a cornucopia of grindhouse exploitation films (aka "sexploitation" movies), usually disguised as "educational" movies that were ostensible cautionary tales about one social problem or another.

Today we have the granddaddy of all exploitation moves, and certainly the most notorious. It's the celebrated Reefer Madness from 1936.

Full movie:

It has all the usual stuff -- 25-year-old high school students smoking the dreaded "reefer", hooked on it by nefarious members of a well-dressed gang who maintain an apartment "dope house" where the kids can come and take a break. It doesn't take long for things to fall apart -- as usual in these movies -- and we see in rapid succession the "violence" that marijuana is so well-noted for. A hit and run in a teenagers car is followed by an accidental shooting of the teenager's sister, while all the time we cut to shots of the piano player, "Hotfingers", getting more and more frantic as the dope hits him, and then even more insane when it wears off and he is desperate for his "fix".

It's so perniciously difficult to control because it grows wild in every state, we are told by the stern narrator, and for the addict, it is worse than heroin!

As a casual observer, I was struck by the amount of marijuana smoke being exhaled. It looked quite cinematic with the lights behind it, but nobody ever seemed to inhale it. It must have been some good shit if they all got that high just from a mouth hit.

The money shot: No nudity, but it's a treat to watch Hophead Ralph turn rapidly into rank, raving insanity from the effects of his addiction to marijuana.

Lessons learned: Don't take that cigarette, even if the person offering it looks trustworthy. Don't trust people in suits maintaining an apartment just for high school kids to hang out. And of course, the big boss of the dope ring has a mustache.

I first saw this in a smoke-filled art theater in Isla Vista CA, just off the UC Santa Barbara campus in 1974. The smoke was so thick that you could barely see the screen, and the audience was so loud with its catcalls that you could hardly hear the dialogue.

Directed by: Louis Gastner. The original move was a straight informative documentary-type presentation intended to "warn the children" until our old buddy, Dwain Esper got hold of it. He recut it to make it seem more salacious and bring in better box office on the exploitation circuit.

This is the film that went missing for 30 some years, until was rediscovered in the spring of 1972 by the founder of NORML, Keith Stroup, who found a copy of the film in the Library of Congress archives and bought a print for $297. It became an instant hit among the youthful college student hippie-types of the world. and it also ushered in a new Golden Era for exploitation films in general. It was named by film critics as one of the worst films ever made -- and when you look at the list, that is some impressive company..

Taglines:  SEE youthful marijuana victims - what actually happens! Sin - degradation - vice - insanity! Tell your children! Women Cry For It - Men Die For It! The Sweet "Pill" That Makes Life BITTER! Adults Only! Drug Crazed Abandon! 65 years later, audiences are still hooked! It's Public Enemy, Number One!

Also known as Tell Your Children (Original title), Dope Addict, Doped Youth, Love Madness, The Burning Question

More reading:
   · Reefer Madness on the IMDB
   · Reefer Madness on Rotten Tomatoes

Monday, April 13, 2015

President Dick Cheney? RUFKM??!!

Now that the Republican Clown Car is getting more and more riders, it's apparently time to insert the most tragically laughable candidate of all: Dick Cheney.

Yes, you read that right. Over the weekend George "I'm-not-a-liberal-but-I-play-one-on-television" Stephanopoulos asked his "round table" guests, who is the "most promising Republican" who is not already in the race for the White House in 2016. "Most promising Republican"??? Yes, really.

A surprise nomination: Dick Cheney! 

According to the rightwing eminence-grise and always-wrong Billy Kristol, “If they get to nominate Hillary Clinton, why don’t we get to nominate Dick Cheney? I mean, he has a much – he has a much better record. He has a much better record.” (I can almost hear the schoolyard "if she gets it then we get it, it's not fair!" whine)

A record of what? Encouraging Baby Doc Bush to invade the Middle East in a new Crusade? Pimping lies to the media about the totally "there can be no doubt" non-existent connections between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda? Expounding in mightily-grave tones about the mysteriously-vanishing weapons of mass destruction that Saddam had, then didn't have, then had again, then put onto Greyhound buses or something and shipped off to Syria where, presumably, they've now fallen into the hands of ISIL/ISIS, who inexplicably have not yet deployed them (am I the only person who's been paying attention to this shit...)?

Okay, by now everyone knows how I feel about Dick Cheney. But a President Dick Cheney? It boggles the mind. I'm really not ready for another Clinton, but if it's another (even if "another" means "the original") Cheney... Well, given my outspoken hatred for the man, it's probably best if I start looking for some foreign clime that doesn't have an extradition treaty with the United States.

Not that it will matter much. It's a simple task to "disappear" someone off the streets of any urban area, anywhere on the globe, and whisk them away to an unknown location for "enhanced interrogation".

If, by some weird happenstance, the next president is Dick Cheney, WASF. Just remember I said that, after I vanish into seemingly thin air...

Monday Music Break: The Rabbit of Seville and That's Opera Doc

To keep the opera theme going for a third week, I proudly present Looney Tunes The Rabbit of Seville from 1950, starring Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.

The Barber of Seville was the very first opera She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and I saw at Seattle Opera's McCaw Hall many years ago. Naturally, I was especially interested in seeing how it compared to "the original" (i.e., this version). My verdict? Not bad, but a lot longer...

Sorry about the kind of odd-looking colors. This was the best one I could find. It has all the zany anarchy of a regular Looney Tune cartoon, with the added bonus of music from the overture to the Barber of Seville. It is hilarious, one of the best cartoons in the Looney Tunes catalog. I never get tired of watching it. And, interestingly enough, in 1950 no one panicked when a little bald guy with a gun started shooting at a rabbit on the stage -- it really was a different time. So different that barber shops such as the one suggested in this cartoon hardly exist any more. I think there are maybe one or two old-school barber shops left in my whole county.

The only other time that the great Chuck Jones and his group of brilliant animators tackled opera again was in 1957 with What's Opera Doc? where they take on Richard Wagner and primarily Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung):

I guess it was too hard to animate a 6-minute short set to opera music and make it conform to the traditional Looney Tunes visual craziness, so we are left with only two examples of what could have been an incredible body of musical parody masterpieces.

To the people that turned them into an Internet-friendly format and posted them on YouTube: Thanks, guys! Now  we'll have them forever!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Vermont to Capture 70s Counterculture

In another story, I see that the Vermont State Historical Society is collecting memorabilia and other things for a projected museum piece on Vermont's hippies and the 70s Counterculture.

Aside from peace signs and food cooperatives, the 1970s influx of longhaired youth to Vermont brought experimental communes to the hillsides and social activism, as well as drug use and fears of a hippie invasion.
Now the Vermont Historical Society is collecting stories and artifacts in a two-year study to document the lasting influence the decade has had on the state. It's holding forums around the state for people to tell their stories, good and bad, about that era in Vermont.
"The hippie generation is not just drugs, sex and rock and roll, as we all can attest to," Ann Taylor, 63, said at a forum last week in Burlington. "What I truly love is that we were involved politically, back to earth. We care about nature, we understand the wellness concept and what that is."
Sounds like fun. I can't wait to see the final product Of course actually getting to Vermont might be a problem for an elderly shut-in on a fixed income...

Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have "Daddy Issues"?

Say it ain't so, daddy!

Yeah, you don't have to be an armchair psychologist to know that, but Ana Marie Cox has the inside dope over at The Daily Beast. It's the inverse of that famous and lasting Republican wet-dream, that Obama suckled on the mother's milk of International Communism from his daddy-surrogate, Frank Davis, flipped on its head and reversed in the mirror.

But if you think it’s even possible that sitting at the knee of Frank Marshall Davis could turn Obama into the Manchurian Candidate, then shouldn’t you care that in the Cruz and Rand households, the ideological indoctrination was intentional, specific, and continued long into adulthood?
Fuck, it's gonna be a long election season. At least we have the early passengers in the Republican Clown Car to laugh at, with the potential for so many more climbing in before, as I say, the adults take over and anoint their fair-haired boy/heir apparent, Jeb Bush. Or, since he thinks he is "Hispanic" (at least when it comes to voting), maybe I should say "Heb" Bush...

Sharia Law

For those who, like me, are concerned that Sharia Law (The Law of ISLAM!!!)  is being brought to America:

Saturday, April 11, 2015

An Act of Mormon Courage

The Mormon Church has always made a big deal of getting their true believers to buy into their shit. In every regular meeting, let alone things like the General Conference, they demand that everyone display their fealty to the cult leaders but "voting" en masse to support and sustain "The Prophet, Seer and Revelator" and the so-called First Presidency (which consists of the Prophet and two of his minions). Not only that, they are expected to vote to support and sustain the Twelve Apostles, and pretty much everyone down a lengthy hierarchy, including their own "ward" or "branch" leaders. To which they "signify" by a showing of hands.

But at the last General Conference of the church, all was not well in Zion.

Seven people actually went against the massive flow of "supporting and sustaining" and shouted, in answer to the regular pro-forma question of supporting the Prophet, "Opposed!"

In the tight-knit conservative, über-conformist cult that is modern Mormonism, that was an act of astounding courage. My hat is off to those seven people who were willing to stand up and call "bullshit" on what they clearly saw, and what clearly was and clearly remains, "bullshit".

Oh, and any of you Mormons who are reading this and who are questioning your faith, you don't have to suffer your spiritual crisis all by yourself. Drop by and they will help you. You are not alone.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Without a Trace of Irony -- or Embarrassment

I note that one "L. Tom" (who calls themselves that?) Perry, of The Twelve -- the twelve Mormon apostles, that is -- made an interesting comment at the One True ChurchTM annual conference last weekend:

Speaker after Mormon speaker warned Saturday about the need to defend "traditional families" — a legally married mother and father, who rear their children together — and about the dangers of "counterfeit and alternative lifestyles."
. . .
Perry, who at age 92 is the oldest Mormon apostle, lamented the media's glorification of "immorality and amorality," suggesting that it makes it harder to keep marriages and families intact.
"Despite what much of media and entertainment outlets may suggest, however, and despite the very real decline in the marriage and family orientation of some," he said, "the solid majority of mankind still believes that marriage should be between one man and one woman." [emphasis added]
Are you fucking kidding me? One man and one woman? Counterfeit and alternative lifestyles? This coming from the prime purveyor and practitioner of polygamy in this country for most of the 19th Century?

Yes, I mean the Mormon Church!!!

Jesus wept...

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Damn "Gotcha" Journalism

Rand Paul thinks he needs to "mansplain" things to a CNBC interviewer who practices "gotcha" journalism. You know, the kind of journalism where "reporters" ask "questions".

Wonkette has the the whole sordid tale, along with the full video interview that shows Rand Paul's bubbly personality and total sincerity and complete consistency in his stated views over the years.

Oh, and vaccines are good unless they are bad and parents should have the choice to let their children die from preventable diseases. Because, duh, freedom!

Plus, as Wonkette points out, he's being kind of a dick about it.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Must-See Cinema: Going Clear 2015

By now you've probably heard of the HBO documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief that premiered last week. If you haven't watched it, track it down and see it. If you don't have HBO at home already, this is the best reason to get it. If not, you can wait until Netflix gets it at some undetermined date in the future -- at least you can put it into your "I Want This When It Is Released" queue.


This film does a complete exposé on the cult that is Scientology, based on interviews with a number of high-level defectors, showing how founder L. Ron Hubbard -- significantly a science-fiction writer -- cobbled together his weird system of belief out of his own paranoia, and was able to seduce a huge number of people -- mostly disaffected youth at the beginning -- into joining his secret brotherhood. It also explains how Scientology was able to convince the IRS that it was really a church, and thereby protect its over one billion dollars -- yes, over ONE BILLION -- in assets from being taxed.

As you would expect, the famous Scientologists are covered -- Tom Cruise and John Travolta especially, who are the celebrity faces of Scientology. The movie goes into some detail as to why they still remain in the cult and why they appear to have accepted and condoned the abuses of Scientology leaders of other members.

It's an enlightening and scary look into the inner workings of Scientology, and enough to piss you off that so many people can be taken in by simple brainwashing techniques applied to them expertly by their "auditors". These secrets are exposed by actual former cult members, many of them high-level, who came out and who are not afraid to speak out despite the many threats and legal actions the cult is willing to take towards them.

The one thing that they all feel -- and this is common among former members of any cult -- is how embarrassed they are by their former lives in the cult.

Not for the faint of heart, but still a must-see documentary.

More reading:
  · Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief on the IMDB.
  · 10 Bizarre Snapshots from the World of Scientology on Listverse
  · Top 10 Problems with Scientology on Listverse
  · Top 10 Evils of Scientology on Listverse.