Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Final Pitch Meeting...

This is a political post. 

Open on a cold but clear Washington DC morning. You can feel the excitement in the air, something was about to happen.

Then there, in the sky. It is a man, a single man hurtling to earth. All eyes turned skyward, enthralled by his daring. Who would be so bold, so daring as to interrupt the swearing in of Joe Biden? Less than five hundred feet from the earth his parachute opens, a grand American Flag with a soaring eagle superimposed upon it. Cut to outside the gates guarding the Capitol Building forlorn supporters of the outgoing President who had prayed for a miracle suddenly feel their hearts leap with joy. Cheering wildly. The shots from across the nation all channels, the entire internet, suddenly switch to a live feed from the capitol.

He lands firmly at the top of the steps leading to the dais. His golden mane is perfect, shirtless his perfectly sculpted pecs and eight pack abs glisten with sweat and dignity. He is the embodiment of all good and true in America, the living embodiment of the perfect man. He is so amazing. He storms, no, almost Fred Astaire like, he dances down the steps. You see the crowd is in shock so nobody moves. As he starts the dancing down, the women are swooning at his rampant masculinity, the men cowed by the same. You can see the fear on their faces. At the bottom of the steps a hapless Obama tries to intervene but he is easily disposed of, almost casually, knocked aside as though he were an errant piece of paper. The golden one pushes a frail, stammering Biden aside, lays his hand across the offered Bible and growls at the quivering Chief Justice John Roberts, who we show has wet his pants. And he says, get this, he says "Swear me back in, I'm not going anywhere!"

Outside the fence the crowd ejaculates in joy, grown real men weeping tears of happiness that the truth had finally been revealed. The soldiers look at each other and immediately realize their beaten, you can see it on their faces. And then....

What? No good? I think the Q-Anon crowd will eat it up. My audience will love it! This could work, I'm telling you...

That's how I pictured Cheato trying to convince the Network to renew his contract for the President gig. Him and Guli at one side of the table, him huffing and puffing his way through the scenario, Guli doing hyping him up and doing sound effects. He's the master of the deal, I mean, he just needs another season.

And with that, this cycle of President comes to a long overdue close.

The reunion show is scheduled for a Federal Pen near you!

Monday, January 18, 2021

A word about Dr. King

Please don’t act like everyone loved my father. He was assassinated. A 1967 poll reflected that he was one of the most hated men in America. Most hated. Many who quote him now and evoke him to deter justice today would likely hate, and may already hate, the authentic King.
~ Bernice King

As we are on the cusp of a beginning of a return to what we hope is some degree of normality, we're interrupted on threshold as those people who have been enabling Cheato for the past four years are now invoking the words of Martin Luther King Jr. in an attempt to seemingly disappear their recent past. I've seen quotes from the good doctor by Senator Lindsey Graham and so to be former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany as though when they hadn't lived lives in direct contradiction to the man's teachings. The term hypocrisy doesn't even begin to cover it. 

But let's put that, and hopefully them behind us. 

We as a people like to re-write history to suit our own ends. Since his death Dr. King has been lionized in popular culture, but in the end he was just an ordinary man on mission during difficult times. In his life he was threatened, vilified, shunned and insulted. But he didn't let those circumstances deter him from his service. And some of us need to stop acting like America was always with him.

Dr. King hoped for a better America, and worked diligently towards that idea during what could be considered the Racial Cold War. He wasn't perfect, but who among us is. However his work and his legacy have served as inspirations for us to build on. Not just Black people, but all of us. But while we admire him, let us not drift into the realm of fantasy in our memory of him or his time. It does not serve him or us well. 

Despite fifty years and our best efforts we have not traveled far enough from where he left us. That's a reality. But that should not deter us from our efforts to push on. Overnight successes sometimes take decades. And since our goal is better place for ourselves and our posterity all we can do is grit our teeth and lean into the wind going forward. We may not live to see the final outcome, but we ARE going forward from where we are now.

Let us march.  

Monday, January 11, 2021

Five minutes watching....The Watch

I don't watch a lot of movies because I didn't have a lot of time. A lot of movies and television of late have become more niche oriented and horrible, I'm trying to write this sequel to a first book I haven't even published and I have a ton of video games I bought on sale I still want to play so there. So, I watch a movie or a little TV when I get a chance.  You know, I guess I really don't watch a lot of movies or television. Go figure. 

Full disclosure: I am a Terry Pratchett fan. Excuse me, Sir Terry Pratchett. To me his Discworld series is really a series of essays and treatises on government, economy, society, gender identity, religion, tradition, belief and more all disguised as high fantasy. Or low fantasy depending on your point of view.

And when the BBC decided to create a series I got excited. Then I heard they would be updating the stories and characters I got nervous. Then I saw the promo photos and got confused. Then I saw the first episode and now I wish I never had. It went off the rails about thirty seconds in and never looked back. 

I own 31 books in the series and recognized two of these characters. One was the rock person.

So how bad was it? Very, very bad. Imagine if they had taken Harry Potter and instead of Hogwarts set it in an stereotypical Hollywood "inner city" school and claimed they'd made it better. It's like the people who made it didn't read the stories, or even if they had didn't understand what they were working with. What emerged here is, in perhaps a good-hearted attempt to be inclusive, is a ridiculous mess that can't even keep up with the basic architecture of the city Ankh-Morpork, which in the books is practically a character itself, much less create the setting need to tell the stories that come later. The stories that actually make you think, that make this a cut above just plain fantasy. 

From here down, SPOILERS. Not that I think you should ever watch this, but still, got to be fair.

This version of death sounded like Wendell Pierce from The Wire (when I wrote this honestly didn't know that was actually him). That's not terrible, but the characterization did not sound like an ethereal being curious about humanity. Its interaction with Vimes as a framing device was way too casual, too chummy. DEATH speaks in capital letters. DEATH is aloof.

This Sam Vimes looks like a dirty bum version of Jack Sparrow, and that alone says a lot. Maybe it was the black eye liner, but that was not a good first image to invoke. Vimes is a complex character, this guy feels more like Frank Gallagher from Shameless than someone competent just half in the bag.

Was that dog at the beginning supposed to be Gaspode?

Why does the Patrician's palace look like it's in the middle of a grand estate and not right in down the city off the river? What are the soaring peaks and tall hills littering in the background, isn't the city at the bottom of the Sto Plains where it meets the circle sea? This just feels so off. Later we get a crows eye view and it looks like the Unseen University is atop a lush green hill as well. The city is a part of the story, and here is feels like they cast it wrong. I mean, the books were written in part to so that you could follow along on a map. This looks like the visual designer just thought of how pretty and majestic this all would look.  

How is Cheery Littlebottom, a dwarf, almost as tall as Carrot Ironfounderson, who is a large human? And why is this person beardless? The entire dwarf story arc is discussion on gender identity, society and acceptance and here it's just rinse washed for clarity. The writers basically threw away a multi-season B story and perhaps a whole season if they ever got to go to Uberwald. This is what I meant when I said the people who did this either did not read the whole series or didn't understand it. How they did Angua I don't even want to talk about. Even worse how they did Detritus. And Lady Ramkin is not Batwoman despite how much I like the actress playing her,

And since I'm here, the whole series develops a number of strong female protagonists. Angua, Lady Ramkin and Cheery are just the tip of the iceberg, I mean had this been done well we might have gotten a Granny Weatherwax headed Witches series, but this show felt a need to stuff things in at the beginning and just ruins it. You want to make the Head of Assassin's Guild a woman? Fine. By the way, the producer needs to realize the point of some the stories was that ill informed old men were making all the less than intelligent decisions, which was discussion on bad governance, but hey, inclusion. Maybe they just chose the wrong actress to swap out the Patrician, so maybe that, but I would have preferred the Charles Dance version quite frankly, in the proper setting of course. But they swapped out Dibbler? What was the point of gender swapping Dibbler? Meat pies, guaranteed one hundred percent pig! You mean pork? I said one hundred percent pig.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly....No Nobby Nobbs? No Fred Colon? That's just not right. 

I want to be generous but so much of it didn't make sense, from the weird mix of sci-fi and fantasy to the how the story didn't want to respect the characters or the audience they'd obviously hoped to bring in by using characters "inspired by" the Discworld series. It's a series with millions of books sold and instead of at least an attempt at faithful adaption we're giving this. If it was going to go this far afield, twist it so much to update it and fix it, then why even use the Discworld names?

I am not amused.

If this all shows up on a streaming network four or five years from now and I'm holed up in the house unable to walk and can't find the remote, I'll give it another go. But for now this just isn't for me. 

Barkeep. I'm getting healthy now, thank you. I'll have my bourbon with branch water please, thank you

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

December 35th, 2020

This is a political post.

Is this just a holdover fate couldn't get on the schedule last year, or is 2021 gonna try to one-up 2020?

Following most election years, the final certification of the incoming president is usually a quiet affair. The previously announced and counted electoral college votes are brought forth in ceremonial boxes, re-counted in front of everyone and affirmed. I mean, we already watched the states cast them, can do math, so we know the outcome so there is little set piece. There is the occasional objection (democrats did object in the last election), but the ceremony proceeds with such regularity that most of us were not even aware of the requirement until this year.

That's them.
But after losing the election that seemed to take forever to count, refusing to concede, and getting 99% of his challenges for non-existent fraud thrown out (note that not a single lawyer when standing in front of judge argued fraud) and then getting caught on tape trying to Godfather a state officer to do him a solid, well, long story short let's just say this hasn't been a normal election. And since the Veep kindly informed el Cheato that he didn't have the power to pick which electoral college votes got counted, and declined to even try, things have gone even less well. So of course the orange one upped the ante and held a rally on the Ellipse to tell his rabid, and apparently constitutionally ignorant, followers to go down the lawn Capitol Building where the ballots were being counted and do something. And so they did.

It took a while but that old so-and-so from Carolina was exactly right. Under Cheato the Republicans have lost the Presidency, the House and as of this afternoon, the Senate. But instead of simply brushing themselves off and learning from their defeat they're...checks notes...storming the Capitol Building during session and making America look like a banana republic or backwater dictatorship to a worldwide audience. Yeah, sounds about right.

If this happened somewhere else we'd already be looking for a reason to invade. This is America, we're supposed to be the tsk-tsking as those less constitutionally created countries have things like this happen to them. This is supposed to happen over there, wherever there is. But that was then and this is now.

In the chamber of the House of Representatives furniture barricaded the door as security drew weapons and Congressmen put on gas masks. In the Senate the Veep was rushed out as protesters screamed through the doors. Senators were evacuated and somebody smartly grabbed the actual ballot certificates before rushing out. Broken windows, American flags thrown from the roof, protesters scuffling with police and later cavorting on the floor of the House screaming at the wind. Which is amazing because the Capitol building is a secure structure. Or it was supposed to be, except for the video of security opening gates and taking selfies with the rioters.
Yes. Rioters. Or Terrorists. Because the instant they broke through the security barricades in an attempt to incite terror in the hearts and minds of our elected officials they became the definition. Domestic, but still the definition. Yes, it's just that simple.

Curious I turned to Newsmax and OANN to see their coverage. As expected it took them less than a minute to pretend this was just a peaceful protest and respectful of the history despite images of people battling with the Capitol Police or hanging from the gallery in the House chamber. And they tried hard to compare it a hypothetical "Antifa" attack that they quickly assumed would have involved apocalyptic damage. Then as if taking a cue, on social media the type of people who watch these channels swore that the protests had be infiltrated by agents wishing to make them look bad. They asked that we ignore there t-shirts trumpeting revolution with the date just below, or the rioters screaming about how they were taking the building or intended to occupy it all night.
Because reasons. 
The saddest part is that no one will be held accountable for this. Well, in a stunning move Twitter did suspend Cheato's account for twelve hours, which has no doubt lead to a teeth gnashing rage that we'll all be spared from. That will be the long and the short of it. Despite the law, including ones that Cheato himself approved of, and despite there being hundreds of photos and by now hours of video, there is little likelihood of real punishment. That most of these terrorists are going to walk away from this free and clear is a different kind of appalling.

And you KNOW why.

And that's part of the problem. If we're going to be a country of law and order, it can't be law and order for just some people. The greatest country in the world can't be great for just a few. This day, along with the elections that turned Georgia blue was supposed to be the dawning of a new America. This would have been dawn, the inauguration more like fresh coffee or that first good stretch. But instead, because as it was so aptly pointed out this morning at the rally this is no longer the republicans versus democrats or conservative versus liberals, with all the machinations, footwashing and fawing by McConnell and the boys it's become Followers of Cheato versus Everybody who is not. Maybe karma will get them. Because I'm not even going to mention that I didn't see many Covid masks at all. But then the election is over. We weren't supposed to ever hear about it again. Remember?

This level of ridiculousness can't continue if we wish to remain America. Prosecution needs to happen. A lot of prosecution. If only to demonstrate we follow the law here. At all levels. And it's got to start with Cheato.

Friday, January 1, 2021

What I learned - Last Year

"We made it."

Sporty texted that to me about ten minutes after midnight. Last year that wouldn't have been a statement that meant the same thing. Even as I've gotten older and found that father time is an old tricky bastard who steadily robs us of fashion sense, vitality, and older relatives, the term "we made it" still wouldn't have had the same resonance twelve months ago. Because after the year that was last year the simple concept of getting here is still something a lot of us can't comprehend. 

If all you did last year was make it to this year, I'm proud of you. 

Last year this onslaught of a decade of events stuffed into twelve short blurry months stripped away the last of the veneer of the differences between who we are and who we say we are. It showed a lot us who we really are, like down deep. Because under normal circumstances we all like to adjust and tinker with the picture that we show the world. Not necessarily fix it, but gloss over or touch up our faults and flaws, putting a little dab of color on those ugly spots on the canvas that make up the whole of us. Most of the time we get away with it. Last year changed that. We were confronted by nature, from fires raging across Australia to pandemic that shut down whole countries. We were confronted by injustice, as the hypocrisy and violence that happens in the shadows came to video for eight minutes and forty-six seconds and woman died in her sleep because someone lied. We were confronted with inherent biases, arrogance and stupidity as we waged a war of ideas for the future of this country. I barely even remember the murder hornets. We were confronted and had to own up to who we really were.

As it turns out, stripped down to the barest of who are there are entirely too many of us that can't discern the difference between a want and a need. We need groceries. We want our nails done. I enjoy a night out as much as the next person, but an evening of drinks and dancing just isn't prudent right now. I love sports, but not if it means the end of careers in a season that will be remembered as meaningless. Too many of us can't handle the math of large numbers and still think of this pandemic as binary, as either life or death, when the truth is that the large grey area in the middle we're ignoring are organ damage that may never heal. Too many of us have been unable to learn from the mistakes of others, and only see the light once we've met the virus up close. And finally many of us have had to realize that talk is cheap if we're not doing what we said we're doing. And sometimes even when we are doing what we said we're doing. We supposedly care about others, but then it turns out some of us really don't if we won't do the minimum to help them. 

We also desperately need to believe that it's all behind us with the passing into the new year. But much like the national lines, state lines and county lines this virus ignores the calendar just like a short handed manager. Nobody knows how much longer until this is over, maybe weeks, or maybe we have a long way to go. Yes, we're all tired and frustrated, weary of the stories of death just over the hill or around the corner. But I don't need to see a dead body or find out how a ventilator works to be convinced. And I'm really hoping this is the start of the fourth quarter, not the end of the first half. 

You'll note, I haven't called that year by name anywhere in here. 

So what do I ask of you this year? The same as last year. The same as every year. To go and do something different. I know that last year forced a lot of us do just that by default. Work from home. Spend more time with our family. Explore new skills and hobbies if only to end the boredom. We've either built new bonds or torn down those false structures we'd come to hang our hats on. Life is funny like that. I started online Spanish Lessons this year. (Started...I'm still a novice, please to embarrass me.) And I've halfway explored a number of new dishes, read a couple books I regret, explored some new avenues of thought, started the second draft of one of the many novels I promised myself I would finish. We have time. I'm hoping I'm late with this advice. So go plant the garden, make the pie from the internet, read that book you swore you'd read, start your podcast, call your old college roommate, start walking, take on online class, renew your vows in the backyard in front of the dog. This pandemic thing isn't over yet. And with any luck we'll never get back to normal, but instead emerge into something new, better and more equitable going forward. 

Now, this year is more existential than normal. I live alone, and there were days this year where I didn't leave the house for two and a half weeks at a time. I've had a lot of conversations in my head. There have also been the occasional dance number and private concert, don't judge me. So the question here is, what have I learned...from inside my own head? 

There is no time like now. 

Win, lose or draw, success or failure, big money or snake eyes. Now is the time. 

Every contact counts. 

Living alone means every text, every zoom, every little bit of another person is a lot. Thank you. 

I would really like a hug. 

The things that we miss that we didn't realize we'd miss. There is a difference between an in-person conversation and and zoom. 

Reality is becoming less a thing. 

Far too often as of late our own little interpretation to suit our own ends and satisfy our own souls are replacing the actual facts. These little bubbles we've built are the next great cultural war. 

Cooking means cleaning. 

I have come to dislike building a meal from scratch, because it will involve cleaning everything I used. This wasn't so bad when I ate out a lot, but at one point I was cooking every meal.

Television is overrated. 

I have probably watched less television this year than any other. The medium just doesn't feel the same anymore. Too passive. Books and open ended video games. 

Lying to yourself is more harmful than having someone else lie to you. 

You know the truth and chose to act like it wasn't. Because reasons. It's self defeating. 

Fears are limits we gave ourselves. 

I have fears. Some big, some little, but all mine. And it's my responsibility to face those fears. Because that lying to myself does not work. 

Opportunity doesn't come with a bow. 

We asked the universe for more time for important things, with family, to focus on ourselves, to rest. And it came. Wasn't quite what you were expecting, eh? 

Commitment is key. 

If we agree to do something, then we do it until it is finished. That's not a hard concept. 

Consistency makes things easier. 

For those things we are committed to, we must engage them regularly, consistently, habitually, until they are done. 


Because it's always been about love. Every damn time.