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February 25, 2017

'16 Lists

Like every year:

Best films seen in 2016 (I watch most films on Sky television, so they will likely be from past years):
La vie en rose
The Signal
True Story
Zero Theorem

Best TV 2016: (besides last year's list)
Foyle's War
Dicte (Danish)

Best books 2016 (excepting research):
Later the Same Day, Grace Paley
The Little Disturbances of Man, Grace Paley
Make-Believe, David Mamet
The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sarah Orne Jewett
A Modern Instance, William Dean Howells
The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, George Saunders
Heart Goes Last, Margaret Atwood
Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer
Teaching a Stone to Talk, Annie Dillard
The Abundance, Annie Dillard

February 22, 2017

No, You're a Puppet!

Trump seems out of control (no, you're out of control!). Either he is or is not. If he is not, maybe it's all an act. In any case, the question these days seems to be: who is in control? When the president speaks that's usually policy, but infant Trump contradicts his staff and department heads (and reality) every day, says whatever, makes shit up. Then cooler heads prevail telling the media that what Trump said is not what he meant, often just the opposite. What gives?

Is most unlikely president, Donald J. Trump, a useful fool, somebody's stooge, a straw man? Doing who's bidding? Is Trump a Russian puppet as Hillary said? Sure looks like it. His sending kisses to Putin sure is weird. Or is he a life-size cardboard dummie for the Republican reactionary agenda (racist sexist xenophobic)? Or is Trump a White Nationalist puppet? Or a Wall Street puppet? Can we get an answer by looking at who he's favoring with his executive orders? It's not us. Is he a puppet of the radical Christian right? Or, more likely, is it the millionaire Super PACs that put words in his mouth? He doesn't seem to be having a problem reading the note cards they give him and sign the presidential binder in front of the cameras. His apparent problems come when he's cut loose. Then he seems like a coke-head. So whose puppet is he, who's the president's boss? Not the American people this time around, that's pretty sure.

Orrrrrr. Could it be that Trump is totally in control and playing us all for fools? Look at the Mike Flynn affair: he puts this joker in a key position, the scandal comes out about his plotting with the Rooskies, Flynn gets the axe, Trump sings him a love song, happy ending, simply a bad choice, do-overs. Then he picks this McMaster guy, and everybody left right and center falls over themselves to praise him as Mister Perfect. I feel like I just fell for the bait and switch, the three card monte, the oldest trick in the book. All that over the top show business wild man act could be a distraction tactic while the confederate picks your pocket. It seems fishy to me to write off Trump as the fool and puppet that he seems. What if it's all a set-up and we're the suckers?

Trump could merely be a terrible president and a stupid person (he can't spell, can barely talk, doesn't listen, paranoid delusional, an easy mark for comedy, etc.), or he might be the world's best con man, scamming the whole country pretending to let someone else pull his strings. Either way we need to watch out, be smart, keep up the resistance, look under the surface, and never let him get away with anything. And keep your hand on your wallet. The one that holds: human rights, the rule of law, the constitution, American integrity and diversity, and so on.

The world's laughing now, but I say: Watch out for this guy; he wants us to underestimate him.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt:  Whoever invented knock-knock jokes should get a no-bell prize.
Jeff:  Really? That's the best you can do?
Mutt:  Slow day. I did write a theatrical piece about puns.
Jeff:  Don't tell me, don't tell me. It was a play on words.
Mutt:  A man noted for telling puns was locked into a dark closet and told that he would not be released until he made up a pun about his situation. He immediately shouted, "Oh, pun the door!"
Jeff:  That's better. You know I heard that there was a ghost in a hotel.
Mutt:  So?
Jeff:  So the management called for an inn spectre.
Mutt:  The truth may ring out like a bell, but it is seldom ever tolled.
Jeff:  How true. Did you hear about the invisible man who married an invisible woman? The kids were nothing to look at either.
Mutt:  Did you hear about the bear that was hit by a truck and splattered all over the road? They said it was a grizzly accident.
Jeff:  Speaking of Secretary DeVos ... What did the Norwegian coach say to his losing team of snakes?
Mutt:  We're doing Norwegian jokes? Isn't that racist?
Jeff:  He said, "You can't venom all."
Mutt:  Okay, this kid--I don't know if he was Norwegian--was bagging groceries at a supermarket. One day the store installed a machine for squeezing fresh orange juice. Intrigued, the young man asked if he could be allowed to work the machine, but, alas, his request was denied. The store manager said, "Sorry kid, but baggers can't be juicers."
Jeff:  Alas.
Mutt:  I don't know. Alaska.

February 15, 2017

We the People Resist

I wanna thank President Agent Orange for perpetuating all the evil that you’ve been perpetuating throughout the United States. I wanna thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban. Now we come together! We the people!  Busta Rhymes

We the People by A Tribe Called Quest

[Verse 1: Q-Tip]
We don't believe you 'cause we the people
Are still here in the rear, ayo, we don't need you
You in the killing-off-good-young-nigga mood
When we get hungry we eat the same fucking food
The ramen noodle
Your simple voodoo is so maniacal, we're liable to pull a juju
The irony is that this bad bitch in my lap
She don't love me, she make money, she don't study that
She gon' give it to me, ain't gon' tell me run it back
She gon' take the brain to wetter plains, she spit on that
The doors have signs with, don't try to rhyme with
VH1 has a show that you can waste your time with
Guilty pleasures take the edge off reality
And for a salary I'd probably do that shit sporadically
The OG Gucci boots are smitten with iguanas
The IRS piranha see a nigga gettin' commas
Niggas in the hood living in a fishbowl
Gentrify here, now it's not a shit hole
Trendsetter, I know, my shit's cold
Ain't settling because I ain't so bold but ay

[Hook: Q-Tip]
All you Black folks, you must go
All you Mexicans, you must go
And all you poor folks, you must go
Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways
So all you bad folks, you must go

[Bridge: Phife Dawg & Q-Tip]
The fog and the smog of news media that logs
False narratives of Gods that came up against the odds
We're not just nigga rappers with the bars
It's kismet that we're cosmic with the stars

[Verse 2: Phife Dawg]
You bastards overlooking street art
Better yet, street smarts but you keep us off the charts
So motherfuck your numbers and your statisticians
Fuck y'all know about true competition?
That's like a AL pitcher on deck talking about he hittin'
The only one who's hitting are the ones that's currently spittin'
We got your missy smitten rubbing on her little kitten
Dreaming of a world that's equal for women with no division
Boy, I tell you that's vision
Like Tony Romo when he hitting Witten
The Tribe be the best in they division
Shaheed Muhammad cut it with precision
Who can come back years later, still hit the shot?
Still them tryna move we off the fucking block
Babylon, bloodclaat
Two pon yuh headtop

[Hook: Q-Tip]
All you Black folks, you must go
All you Mexicans, you must go
And all you poor folks, you must go
Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways
So all you bad folks, you must go

Music in Memorium, 2016

Al Caiola
Alirio Diaz
Bap Kennedy
Bernie Worrell
Billy Faier
Billy Paul
Bobby Hutcherson
Bobby Vee
Buckwheat Zydeco
Curly Putnam (songwriter)
Dave Swarbrick
Don Friedman
Dr. Ralph Stanley
Elliot Schwartz
Elliot Wolff
Fred Hellerman
Fred Stobaugh (songwriter)
Gato Barbieri
Gib Guilbeau (Flying Burrito Brothers)
Glenn Frey
Glenn Yarbrough
Greg Lake
Guy Clark
Holly Dunn
Jean Shepard
John D. Loudermilk
Kacey Jones
Kay Starr
Kitty Kallen
Leon Russell
Leonard Cohen
Lonnie Mack
Mack Rice
Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire)
Mentor Williams (songwriter)
Merle Haggard
Mic Gillette
Milt Okun
Mose Allison
Oscar Brand
Otis Clay
Paul Kantner
Penny Lang
Peter Zorn
Phil Chess (Chess Records)
Red Simpson
Richard Fagan
Rob Wasserman
Rod Templeton (songwriter)
Ruby Wilson
Scotty Moore
Sharon Jones
Signe Toly Anderson
Sir George Martin
Sir Jimmy Young
Sir Neville Marriner
Sonny Sanders (songwriter)
Stan Harper (harp-er)
Toots Thielemans
Lastly, I'll recognize David Bowie and Prince and George Michael for their contribution to pop music.

Alvin Toffler
Amy van Singel
Anthony Cronin
Bill Berkson
C. D. Wright
Carolyn See
Dario Fo
David Budbill
David Meltzer
Don Welch
Edward Albee
Eliot Tiber
Francisco X. Alarcón
Georgie Sicking (cowboy poet)
Huston Smith
James Alan McPherson
Jim Harrison
John Montague
Joyce Carol Thomas
Lucia Perillo
Maria Costa
Michael Herr
Michael S. Harper
Nahed Hattar (killed by a fanatic)
Pat Conroy
Richard Adams
Sir Geoffrey Hill
Sir Peter Shaffer
Stephen Levine
Sylvan Barnet
Thomas Steinbeck
W. P. Kinsella

Alan Rickman
Arnold Palmer
Bob Elliot
Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds
Daniel Berrigan
Edgar Mitchell (Apollo 14)
Elie Wiesel
Garry Shandling
Gene Wilder
Glen Dawson, 103 (mountaineer)
Gwen Ifill
Henry Heimlich
Hugh O’Brian
Janet Reno
Jerome Bruner
Jim Ray Hart
Jo Cox
Joe Browder
John Glenn
Ken Howard
Michael Cimino
Monte Irvin
Morley Safer
Muhammad Ali
Patty Duke
Ralph Branca
Robert Vaughn
Shimon Peres
Tom Hayden
Umberto Veronesi
Van Williams
Vera Rubin
William Schallert

February 12, 2017

$ Talks

The Power of the Almighty Dollar

It run/ruins our lives (more on that another time), and right now it's being used as a political tool, an instrument for change. The Democrats have virtually no power in Congress, maybe the dollar does. So, there are boycotts instated and immediately effective (see Nordstrom's). Behavior changed. The White House trembles, Don, Melania, Ivanka, their empires of gold teetering. Here's my take.

Say you are opposed to Trump as a person, businessman and president and the reactionary Republican agenda he's shoving through. Who to boycott?

WARNING: These lists are incomplete and possibly inaccurate and constantly changing, so send me comments to make them better.

His financiers:
Trump auto-financed, sometimes paying his own businesses (335m)
Rep. Party and MAGA committee (543m)
Super PACs (79m) -- Future45, Rebuilding America Now, Great America PAC, Make America Number 1, Reform America Now, Save America From Its Government and many others. Who are these people? If you find out, let me know.

The companies that supported his campaign:
Hobby Lobby
Yuengling Beer
New Balance
Home Depot
Jenny Craig

The companies that are working with him now (on his business advisory council):
General Motors
Uber (retracted)
General Electric
Patomak Global Partners
Global Infrastructure Partners
Cleveland Clinic
Boston Consulting Group
Hoover Institute
IHS Markit

The companies that sell/sold Trump family products:
Macy's (partially retracted)
Bed Bath & Beyond
Sears (retracted)
Saks Off Fifth
Wayfair (retracted)
Bellacor (retracted)
Kmart (retracted)
Lord & Taylor
Burlington Coat Factory
HSN (retracted)
Hudson's Bay
Marshalls (retracted)
Neiman Marcus (retracted)
Nordstrom (retracted)
TJ Maxx (retracted)
Zappos (retracted)
Belk (retracted)
Jet (retracted)
ShoeStyle (retracted)
Gilt (retracted)
Filene's Basement

The celebrities who support Trump:
Kanye West (retracted)
Jon Voight
Scott Adams (retracted)
Piers Morgan
Norman Podhoretz
David Duke
Roger Ailes
Sheldon Adelson
Steve Forbes
Bill Koch
Jack Welch (retracted)
Rupert Murdoch
Peter Thiel
Alex Jones
Jerry Falwell Jr.
Gennifer Flowers
Chuck Norris
Scott Baio
James Caan
Kelsey Grammer
Randy Quaid
Fred Williamson
George Brett
Johnny Damon
Curt Schilling
Dennis Rodman
Mike Tyson
Tom Brady
Tim Tebow
Jack Nicklaus
Paris Hilton
Pat Boone
Loretta Lynn
P Diddy
Clint Eastwood
Kirstie Alley (retracted)
Kid Rock
Pete Rose
Matthew McConaughey
Jeff Bridges (dude?)

What are the Mexicans doing? Many are boycotting all American products, especially those symbolic of the U.S. like Coke, Starbucks, Walmart, McDonald's, KFC, Costco. They are preferring local Mexican products. They have been terribly mistreated and are very upset and offended. The peso talks too.

What do I think? Boycotting companies like Starbucks that has never supported Trump is wrong ... but I'd do it anyway. I feel like buying from Nordstrom's the day after they announced they were pulling the Ivanka line (as soon as they sold remaining stock) is splitting hairs. This is not the time for splitting hairs; it is time for hitting the President by hitting the American economy as hard as possible. Buy local, buy from family owned businesses, buy from Trump opponents, and most of all stop buying. Whatever you need, apart from basic necessities, you can do without, at least for now. After the Impeachment we can all go on a shopping spree (or not). I feel radicalized by the current situation, and I'll return to normalcy when my country does.

Where to find out more: #GrabYourWallet #AdiosProductosGringos

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: Well, the boss sure is on his high horse again.
Jeff: Yeah, that was pretty extreme.
Mutt: Extreme boycotting.
Jeff: The only antidote is extreme humor.
Mutt: Well, The earthquake in Washington obviously was the government’s fault.
Jeff: Be kind to your dentist. She has fillings, too.
Mutt: What happened when the cow tried to jump over a barbed wire fence?
Jeff: I should know this.
Mutt: Udder destruction.
Jeff: Cannibals like to meat people.
Mutt: Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.
Jeff: What happened to the lawyer who was thrown out of a saloon? He was disbarred.
Mutt: Did you hear about the cannibal who was late for dinner?
Jeff: Can't say that I did.
Mutt: He got the cold shoulder.
Jeff: You know, Mutt, those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.
Mutt: This girl at the bank said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.
Jeff: What were you doing in a bank?
Mutt: It's air-conditioned.
Jeff: I was in a greasy spoon, somebody says: "Waiter! This coffee tastes like mud." He answers, "Yes sir, it's fresh ground."
Mutt: Ha! A dentist married a manicurist, but they fought tooth and nail.
Jeff: Yeah, when they bought a water bed, the couple started to drift apart.
Mutt: My first job was working in an orange juice factory, but I got canned because I couldn't concentrate.
Jeff: I used to work for a blanket factory, but the company folded.
Mutt: What kind of coat can be put on only when wet?
Jeff: A coat of paint. You liked nursery school, didn't you?
Mutt: And I had a photographic memory that was never developed.
Jeff: What musical is about a train conductor?
Mutt: "My Fare, Lady."
Jeff: Packing up and relocating to a new home can be a moving experience.
Mutt: A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, "No change yet."
Jeff: Change is good.
Mutt: Oh brother, right now regime change is good.
Jeff: Here's to hope.