James Garner

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Posted by on July 20, 2014 in Pop Life


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More Gun Deaths…

The Utah shooting is yet another in the number of routine killings in the U.S. these days. Gun advocates tell us these incidents are rare, which is why they receive media attention, and we slowly become accustomed to a climate of sweltering violence, to the point that many take up arms in fear of that violence spreading to them. Swell.

(The shooter) is reported to have sent a series of unanswered text messages to Mackenzie Madden before he kicked down the door of her apartment two blocks from Utah State University shortly after midnight.

He then fired an assault rifle multiple times at Madden and a 25-year-old man, both people he knew, police said.

Madden, 19, was a sociology major at the university in Logan, a city of about 48,000 people 80 miles north of Salt Lake City. Officers responding to 911 calls found her and Johnathon Jacob Sadler dead inside the unit.

Let’s not also ignore the misogyny at the root of this specific act of violence. Men in this country are raised to believe they are entitled to the female body, and their ease of access is how they measure their self-worth. They then rage at the unfortunate women who have “diminished” them, denied them their Y-chromosome-given rights, by daring to say “no.”

The word “no” should not end in death but too often it does. And it has to stop.


Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Social Commentary


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Another entry in the “not an Onion article” series:

Jeremiah Heaton was playing with his daughter in their Abingdon, Va., home last winter when she asked whether she could be a real princess.

Heaton, a father of three who works in the mining industry, didn’t want to make any false promises to Emily, then 6, who was “big on being a princess.” But he still said yes.

“As a parent you sometimes go down paths you never thought you would,” Heaton said.

Within months, Heaton was journeying through the desolate southern stretches of Egypt and into an unclaimed 800-square-mile patch of arid desert. There, on June 16 — Emily’s seventh birthday — he planted a blue flag with four stars and a crown on a rocky hill. The area, a sandy expanse sitting along the Sudanese border, morphed from what locals call Bir Tawil into what Heaton and his family call the “Kingdom of North Sudan.”

Kee-rist. When your goofy, spoiled kid asks if she can be a princess, a sane person should say, “No.” She is a citizen of a country that has no monarchy. Why is that fantasy still acceptable after all the trouble your ancestors went through to fight a revolution, make hypocritical statements about democracy, and displace the indigenous population? I guess tea and taxes are the only things Americans won’t forgive.

Why not go all out and marry her off, without her consultation, to the in-bred future ruler of some other country as an act of diplomacy? That’s what being a princess was all about, after all.

And, young men of the future, whatever you do, no matter how initially tempted, do not under any circumstance date a woman whose father made her a “real” princess when she was a seven. She will never let that go, and she will never carry her own luggage or shopping bags, or take out garbage or even comprehend the concept of waste products. Move on. Find a nice serf. Those wenches know how to party.

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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in Social Commentary



The best “Transformers” review… no, the best review of all time…

A quirky young woman with an English accent (who apparently plays pajamas in her pajamas, which I can respect) reviews Transformers: Age of Extinction. It is as if Morrissey had a teenage daughter with access to YouTube and a fascination for transforming robots.

“I am not gonna sugarcoat it: This film was really, really, really, really, really bad… It was worse than Transformers 3, which was really bad in itself. If possible, I’d want to completely erase it from my mind, along with the disappointment and bitterness I am currently experiencing after the letdown that this film was. Not just as a Transformers fan and along with my childhood that has been completely destroyed… like my memories for what the actual Transformers are and what they stand for and the franchise as a whole, but just as a moviegoer, this film really sucked!”



Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Pop Life


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Scene from a baby shower…

April 15, 2007

The women gathered in Sara and Matt’s living room where waves of “oohs” and “awes” crashed and settled around the furniture as the presents were opened. Dana and Gina perched regally in identical high-backed wing chairs separated by the wood-burning fireplace. Sara had pulled a club chair next to Gina, and she jotted down in a legal pad pressed against her thigh a description of each gift and the guest responsible for it. Cindy’s handwriting was easier to read, but Sara was more detailed-oriented and didn’t punctuate her sentences with smiley faces, so Gina had delegated the administrative task to her.

Dana Cody retrieved a digital camera from her bag and handed it to Cindy, who sat on the four-cushioned sofa opposite her with Abby, Brenda, Margaret, and Jane.

“Could you please take a quick photo of me and my baby sister?” she asked, as if suddenly remembering to have her parking validated.

Wiping her hands on a pink napkin, Cindy put down her plate of food and accepted the assignment graciously.

Dana draped a threadbare arm around Gina, and they posed with her shower gift: A pink onesie with the image of an American flag, of which Gina approved, and a blue-tinted donkey with the words “Tiny Democrat” smeared underneath. Gina’s pert nose scrunched up at the sight, as if her unborn child had already soiled herself while wearing it. The sour expression became instantly cordial with a click of the camera, but her posture remained stiff and formal, like a celebrity posing with a slightly repellent fan at a convention.

“Thank you, Dana,” Gina said, handing off the onesie to Sara with the tip of her fingers. “Not on the registry,” she whispered.

Gina considered the Afghan Whigs tee-shirt Tom and Dana gave her two year old benign enough for one polite photo before being banished to the attic. This onesie, however, would never come in contact with her child. The socialism might seep into the skin.

Dana patted her sister-in-law on her trousered knee.

“Regina doesn’t mind if Tom and I put our liberal stamp on our nieces, right?” She then said, with brittle laughter, to the rest of the group, “We used to call Regina ‘Alexis P. Keaton’.”

Gina moved a strand of wavy blonde hair from one end of her forehead to the other. As a child, she’d developed this habit as a polite replacement for eye rolling.

“Why?” Sara asked.

Attributing Sara’s lack of recognition to their seven-year age difference, Dana kindly explained to her the premise of the TV series Family Ties.

“Progressive politics runs in my family,” she continued. “I’m related to Rebecca Felton on my mother’s side.”

The other women were more familiar with Alex Keaton, so Dana proudly declared, “She was the first woman senator.”

Sara reached for the sterling silver tea service, a gift for the occasion from Matt’s mother, and started to pour herself a cup of Darjeeling.

“She served for just one day.”

“Oh, you’ve heard of her?”

“Yes,” Sara replied as she diverted a stream of her cool blonde hair from the path of hot tea. “She was a slave owner and white supremacist who supported the lynching of Sam Hose in 1899. He was dismembered and burned alive. His knuckles were sold at Atlanta grocery stores.”

Jane Hind slowly and dramatically lowered her dish containing an untouched lady finger onto the coffee table.

“Well, we don’t talk about that,” Dana said with a rhetorical sweep of the matter under the nearest afghan. “We focus on the positive. She did a lot for the woman’s suffrage movement. That’s how history remembers her. Not the other stuff. She’s a Georgia woman of achievement. Her papers are at Athens.”

Teresa Bryan, sloshing out of a slipper chair, asked, “Greece?”

“No,” Gina clarified, “the University of Georgia. In the South, Athens means UGA and UPS means packages.”

“I dated a black guy once,” Jane announced, straightening up in her seat as though addressing the Nobel committee. The ladies’ heads snapped back from the force of the non-sequitur.

“African-American,” Brenda corrected in a nervous whisper, as if speaking louder might summon one to tea.

“Oh, she’s entitled,” Gina wryly insisted, “she gives to Save the Children.”

Wiggles sat cross-legged in rolled-up yoga pants on the floor where she wrapped a piece of smoked salmon around a cinnamon-raisin scone. Gina turned away from the sight and asked Jane, “Would you like to share with the congregation?”

“It was fine for a while, but… ” Jane had retrieved her lady finger and now wiped off crumbs from her own french-tipped fingers. “Whenever we were around babies — my friends’ kids; he never met my family — they would freak out or just stare oddly at him. It was impossible to know if it was because of… you know…” She completed the thought with a twirl of her hand. “Or if they just sensed something off about him.”

“What did you do?” Brenda asked.

“I couldn’t take any chances, you see. Five years ago, it might have been edgy, but there are more parents and kids in my social circle now. It’s like a real thing.”

Wiggles’s broad flat nose trembled in agreement.

“And he was really obsessed with race, which is kinda unfortunate in this day and age. For instance, it bothered him that I believe Michael Jackson’s a child molester but Woody Allen isn’t. I don’t even see race, but he made a big deal about it.”

“Really?” Margaret wondered. “Why? There’s like zero racism out here.”

“Yeah, it’s not like it’s the South,” Abby said, and upon the twin glare from the Cody sisters, quickly added, “You know, like, Alabama.”

– from The Wrong Questions

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Posted by on June 22, 2014 in The Wrong Questions


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Impeaching like it’s 1999

Jonathan Capehart rallies Democrats with the fear that a GOP-controlled House and Senate will impeach and remove President Obama from office.

Writing about Rep. Eric Cantor’s  (R-Va.) stunning primary defeat last week, I warned Democrats that the House majority leader’s loss was as much a wake-up call for them as it was for the GOP. Well, now I want to warn them about a very real possibility: President Obama will be impeached if the Democrats lose control of the U.S. Senate.

It’s a noble get-out-the vote effort, but is it a rational consideration? I suppose when considering the current state of the GOP, it’s rational to bet on their collective irrationality. In the forty years since President Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment, we no longer discuss the procedure on legal grounds of any sort but basically whether there are enough votes for a party to overturn the results of an election. At least with President Clinton, there was a lengthy independent counsel investigation and a corresponding official report that beat 50 Shades of Grey to the erotica punch.

So, the Republicans need an actual crime or at least a stained dress. Would they proceed without one? Who knows with these guys. The House has become a telenovela — we don’t even expect reasonable behaviors and predictable motivations. I do disagree with Capehart’s math regarding the Senate. Even if it flips to the GOP, they won’t have two-thirds of the vote to remove the president from office.

Actually, impeachment is a two-step process that starts in the House. All it takes is a simple majority of that chamber to approve a single article of impeachment against the president for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Once that happens, a president is forever branded as having been impeached. President Andrew Johnson (1868) and President Bill Clinton (1998) share that distinction.

I doubt the average high school student or even Game of Thrones-watching adult remembers Clinton was impeached or even who Andrew Johnson is (no, not the guy on the $20). The impeachment “brand” was so devastating to the Clinton brand that allowed his wife to successfully run for the Senate in 2000. And Bill Clinton is more an active public figure than his successor. He’s hardly hiding away in the shadows.

No, I think the true question is whether the GOP wants to do Obama the favor of impeaching him. Or maybe they just think that’s what you do to two-term Democratic presidents.

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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Political Theatre


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Obvious Child…

I thought the female lead in this film was developmentally disabled, but it turns out that she’s just “edgy.” NPR describes Donna Stern as “an aspiring standup comic in her late 20s who’s out of her depth in the grown-up world.” Huh? She’s almost thirty. She is in fact a member of the adult world. She is an adult. She has been for more than a decade. There are soldiers who went off to Iraq at eighteen and served a few tours who are in fact younger than this film’s titular woman child.

Per NPR: “She’s a big baby, someone who can’t take care of herself, let alone a little baby.”

Dear God. Also, screenwriters attempting to model your characters’ speech patterns after Buffy and Juno, those characters were teenagers.




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