“Ernie at One Hundred”

January 20, 2019

ek 100

 

This week would have marked the 100th birthday of an American legend.

As Guglielmo Marconi invented radio, Ernie Kovacs invented television.

Ernest Edward Kovacs was born in a burst of cigar smoke on January 23, 1919 in Newark, New Jersey.

Later video icons such as Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel, as well as original cast members of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, Saturday Night Live and Monty Python’s Flying Circus have credited Kovacs with being a primary influence on their own efforts thanks to his wildly experimental and brilliantly spontaneous use of new technology at the very dawn of American TV.

Ernie started his broadcast career in radio, but then this late night DJ applied for his first television job wearing only boxer shorts and a barrel. What was television but radio with pictures? Pulitzer Prize winning television critic, William Henry III, writes — “Kovacs was more than another wide-eyed, self-ingratiating clown. He was television’s first significant video artist. He was its first surrealist… its most daring and imaginative writer. He was… television’s first and possibly only auteur. And he was a genius.”

Who else would have pet marmosets running around the set and wrestle a jaguar on live television? Or read poetry through a hole in his attractive assistant’s head? Or smoke cigars underwater? Or read an obituary with tiny women running up his arm?

Then there was “Howard, The World’s Strongest Ant.” Howard was too small to be seen, but could lift a ten ton barbell several feet in the air. A lisping “Percy Dovetonsils” would read tender lines of sweet poetry while getting thoroughly trashed on cheap wine or play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on a disappearing piano. The silent “Eugene” was a poor soul who never spoke or complained as he went through life suffering common misfortunes and embarrassing indignities never any fault of his own.

There was one Ernie Kovacs creation that remains to this day the funniest thing I have ever seen.

At the start of every show for the first four weeks during a ten week summer series in 1955, Kovacs would effusively promote the first ever prime time appearance of the “World Famous Nairobi Trio. ” At the end of each hour, Ernie would profoundly apologize for the absence of the group, declaring they had been “held up by custom agents” or had “fallen unexpectedly ill” or “had become lost in heavy traffic”, but he assured viewers “The Nairobi Trio” would positively be on the next program.”

Finally, after such a spectacularly prolonged buildup, there they were – three derby-hatted apes (Ernie and two others dressed in gorilla suits) miming as they played mechanically and rhythmically to the strains of Robert Maxwell’s “Solfeggio.” I would literally roll on the floor with laughter bordering hysteria. It was so outrageously silly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoLTFQsFswM

When grandson Owen turned 16, his Facebook profile proudly stated he was a noted Vanderbilt scholar, had formerly lived at the North Pole and was currently taking advantage of his educational triumphs and unique life experiences as cook and cashier at a local Waffle House

This prompted me to send Owen a book for his birthday about Ernie and some DVDs featuring Kovacs at his best and craziest. I also wrote, “Particularly aware of your abstractive comedy bent when at least a third of what one states may go over the minds of many, if not most, the work of a single individual comes to mind — a personal hero of mine through the years.”

Happy 100, Ernie Kovacs.

Remember, every first century is the hardest.

 

 

“A New “N-Word”

January 13, 2019

twit trump

He now has the longest one in human history. — tops for all time.

That’s possibly what the extended government shutdown was always about.

Our Demander-in-Chief is failing spectacularly in a colossal collapse, signaling a conspicuous, unmitigated, disastrous conclusion to the most injurious presidency in the lifetime of our Republic.

But that’s not news, so let’s move along to more interesting Oakhurst topics.

  • According to national averages, less than two percent of our Eastern Madera County pets enjoy adequate health insurance.
  • The Dirty Donkey is gone, soon to be replaced at its old location by the Elegant Elephant.
  • It is unadvisable to drive Highway 41 blindfolded.
  • Things are turning green around here. Where’s the snow?
  • Tom Wheeler should get more time on TV. That clean air commercial doesn’t do him justice.
  • Let’s have the homeless stay at Erna’s.
  • Can that young lady on the Oakhurst welcoming sign lap dance?
  • No one living in a Census Designated Place (CDP) should have to pay taxes.
  • Oakhurst is a Census Designated Place.
  • Dogs who meow should be considered bilingual.
  • I hate that commercial were some guy floats a pizza slice across the pool and looks proud. That’s a jerk smirk.
  • I also have no toleration for that wimp in the TV cell phone ads. You’ll never see his kind in a cozy biker bar.

Now – back to Trump.

It’s always a good thing to focus on the forest – not the trees. For Fox & Friends, this means looking at the big picture. As pieces fall into place and slowly present a puzzle finally solved after nearly two years of “witch hunting” – prepare to be astounded at the length and breadth of bitter betrayal by Donald and his disciples.

The list of enablers will have to include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and every Washington Republican who chose Party over Public Trust, including our own Fourth District Congressional Representative, Tom McClintock – all having “danced with the devil in the pale moonlight.” – those chilling words spoken by Jack Nicholson as The Joker in “Batman” (1989). Yeah. Thirty years ago. Some things don’t change.

The Trumpster loves being the center of attention and he’s got such a full spotlight forcefully burning with white hot glare from this point forward — he can throw away his tanning lamp. But I’ll miss those weird white circles around his beady little eyes providing him with an endearing raccoon-like visage. I like to imagine him thoughtfully washing his food in a cool mountain stream like Lewis Creek, starting with those two big scoops of ice cream. Yum.

When Eileen and I moved to Oakhurst from Michigan over a dozen years ago, I had never heard of Nancy Pelosi. That didn’t last long around these parts. That name kept coming up all the time in “Pelosi jokes” enthusiastically shared at pubic gatherings, her name replacing various nationalities normally on the receiving end of obviously spurious commentary.

How many Pelosi’s does it take to change a light bulb? Three. One to hold the light bulb and two to turn the ladder.

Why did Nancy Pelosi put lipstick on her head? She was trying to make up her mind.

99% of Pelosi’s give the rest a bad name.

Stuff like that.

Don’t look now, but guess who’s second in line for the presidency?

And she would be terrific.

When she used the “N-word” to Dear Leader Donald, he visibly cringed. He was not remotely prepared for a fierce and firm — “No!”

From a woman!

President Pelosi may yet have the very last laugh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Trump Supporter”

January 6, 2019

supporter

OK, Abe. Time to hop off that chair.

“How do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election of all time — and is the most popular Republican in party history?” – Donald J. Trump – January 4, 2019.

As the ground shook from subterranean spins at Abraham Lincoln’s burial site in Springfield, Illinois and as Trump trash piled halfway up to Half-Dome, there was clarity in confusion. Only a toddler tantrum can beget such whiney wrath.

But why do so many still appear deaf, dumb and blind, playing a mean pinball?

Dr. Bobby Azarian, Ph.D, is a cognitive neuroscientist who wrote a rather brilliant article posted by Psychology Today in late December. His piece was bravely entitled, “A Complete Psychological Analysis of Trump’s Support” and was sent to me by a very good friend who shares my progressive perspectives, but stated Dr. Azarian’s summary  “spells out in painful detail why I think Trump will be re-elected in 2020.”  I sense this was wryly offered to spur my instant attention. It worked.

Here are bullet points distilled from several dozens studies in various analytical disciplines.

Practicality Trumps Morality. What’s in it for ”me” beats what’s there for “us.”

The Brain’s Attention System is More Strongly Engaged by Trump. A study monitoring brain activity as participants watched political ads and debate clips conclusively demonstrated that Trump was measurably more “interesting” than other candidates, like him or not. There are few things more entertaining than careening cartoons.

America’s Obsession with Entertainment and Celebrities. Kardashian is fashion.

Some Men Just Want to Watch the World Burn. Sigmund Freud called this the “Thanatos” or “death drive.”

 Conservatives Are More Sensitive to Threat.

Mortality Reminders. The well-accepted theory of “Terror Management” makes Trump’s fear mongering relentlessly effective in increasing group anxiety as wagons are circled against the perception of impending termination. We are primitively given to huddle together against hidden horrors. Beware all others.

Humans Often Overestimate Their Political Expertise.  The problem isn’t that people are misinformed, but that they are completely unaware they are being misinformed, especially in matters of political judgment. They can’t be reached since they are comfortably convinced they should be reaching others.

A Misguided Sense of Entitlement.

Lack of Exposure to Dissimilar Opinions.

Trump’s Conspiracy Theories Target the Mentally Vulnerable. A recent study published by Psychiatry Research reveals that “Magical Thinking” is quite prevalent in the population, connecting things unrelated in commonly accepted reality.

The Nation’s Collective Narcissism.

A Desire for Domination. Self-interest has enormous appeal, wherein high status groups control those of lower distinction. As in rule by the rich. As in America today,

Attraction to an Authoritarian Personality. Think Putin, Erdoğan, Caligula, Trump.

Racism and Bigotry. Certainly not all, but surely some. I love that quote by Florida gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Gillum. “Now, I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he is a racist.”

I wrote back to my friend, whom I will not name (Scott Hill) with the following:

Hi, Scott! That’s an excellent article and makes sense. The only thing that will save us is ourselves, I learned that from “Pogo.” Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Let’s hope the numbers stay on our side. If they don’t, I agree. We are doomed.” – PC

While Donald Trump’s absolute “base” displays amazing stability at a stubborn one-third of our population, the remaining two out of three of us remain ever more suffering from varying degrees of seething discontent.

Hold that thought.

Mueller’s almost done.

“The Talking Dog”

December 31, 2018

Albert

Trump will never make it through this year.

As the 116th Congress of the United States convenes for the first time, his goose is cooked. His cookie has crumbled. His Niagara has fallen.

Watch him end his days in shame.

The week before Christmas we witnessed a cascade of Trump-induced trauma. Whoops. There goes the stock market. Ouch. Indictments are piling up. Bye-Bye. Allies are backing away in disappointment and disgust. Who can trust us now? Not federal employees when the government shuts down.

The vanity wall now looks like the lifting end of a fork.

Highly respected and happily retiring General James Mattis had a few days leading the news, so he’s out two months early. Trump made Secretary of State Mike Pompeo do the dirty work. In the White House, stealing limelight is a capital crime. Another asylum seeking child dies in U.S. custody. Donald and Melania call other children from the White House Christmas Eve with holiday greetings. On camera, the President warned a few about the importance of border security. And assured them there was no collusion. He did.

Russia’s embarrassing infiltration and escalating influence is far past criminal and has been allowed to continue unabated. We have fallen behind too many other nations in preparation for the future. We have lost pace in the race, descending from occasional magnificence to chronic mediocrity.

Recovery, like democracy itself, will not be automatic.

Paying taxes is important. Paying attention is imperative. Getting in the game — essential.

Persist and insist.

Those last days of 2018 brought year-end summaries offering “Top 10’s” in various categories from music to movies — from people to pets. According to the Washington Post, the first 700 days of the Trump administration impressively racked up a list of “The Top 7,546 False or Misleading Statements of Donald J. Trump” – all documented and verified, increasing in monthly volume right up through December 31st.

Trump‘s like that talking dog.

This guy is walking down the street and suddenly sees a lawn sign saying, “Talking Dog For Sale – Ten Dollars.” He walks up to the house, knocks on the door and asks what the deal is. The dog’s owner says, “See for yourself. He’s out back.”

The guy runs around the house and sees this dog tied to a tree. The dog looks up and says, “Good afternoon. I hope you’ll buy me. I’m looking for a new home. I hate living here with my inferiors. I’m of royal blood, stolen by mercenaries from the castle grounds and subjected to impossible degradations.”

The guy can’t believe his ears, runs back and says to the owner — “That dog can actually speak. How can you sell him for ten dollars?

The owner says, “He’s useless. All he does is lie.”

I suspect the end will come with a presidential resignation well before the start of summer. Perhaps it will be much meaner and messier — like a jackhammer root canal.

It is becoming obvious to all but the staggeringly stupid or ignominiously ignorant that Trump has to go.

As a people we are divided. As a nation we are shattered.

Trump’s demise will be like pouring water on the Wicked Witch of the West. There’s Donald dissolving into oblivion with green smoke all around, whining, “Look what you’ve done! What a world! I’m going! ” All his flying monkeys will be glad – even John Bolton and Tom McClintock.

I believe the best New Year’s Resolution for all of us is to safely reach 2020 with the worst behind.

Right now – it’s straight ahead.

Hang on, Sloopy. Sloopy, hang on.

 

 

 

 

2019 – “Year of The Poodle.”

December 24, 2018

Poodel-Standard

Vice-President Mike “Poodle” Pence is ready to rock – or at least waltz feverishly.

Were my mother, Isabelle, alive today, she would call Poodle a “Goody-Two Shoes.” She used that expression as an unkind pejorative. Then again, were she still with us today and not in Heaven where she surely resides, she would be 115 years old and undoubtedly have her own column. Isabelle was quite the writer.

To Mom, a “Goody-Two Shoes” was an excessively virtuous person, given to pomp and pretense — a prudish pain. There is controversy regarding where the expression originated. Some say the phrase started in London as a children’s story published by John Newbery in 1765, while others insist it goes back to 1670 and Charles Cotton’s “Voyage to Ireland in Burlesque.”

With 17 separate investigations crashing in on his Lord and Master, it might not be long before Poodle dangles a pardon for the presidency and finds a ready taker when Donald can no longer duck.

Imagine. Trump resigns, Pence takes the Oath of Office, then yanks that pardon away like Lucy’s football. I wouldn’t put it past him. As Mom always said, “Never trust a man with perfect hair.”

The Vice President’s most recent public exposure came about as he stoically sat next to Trump during that impromptu, now famous meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer as they heatedly discussed the wall Mexico won’t pay for. Poodle was religiously rigid, absolutely speechless and perfectly motionless for the entire duration of the encounter. Human furniture.

Poodle was a conservative radio talk show host who rose to fame on the foot tails of Rush Limbaugh in the ‘90’s, preaching against abortion, sex education, LGBT rights, big government, taxes, and stem cell research. He endorsed abstinence education.

Many folks say that Poodle would be even more stringently conservative and ideological pure than his future predecessor. I sense that’s unlikely. Proving first and foremost to be a preening opportunist at his core, feeling the political winds blow with hurricane strength in a whole new direction, and having the moral compass of a spinning top, we may witness a miraculous conversion. He’s done it before.

Poodle was raised Roman Catholic, served as an altar boy and attended parochial school. He was born-again in 1978 and joined an evangelical mega church in 1995. That’s not spiritually recommended in the Catholic Catechism. Pence doesn’t believe in evolution or spending time alone with a woman who is not his wife. Lady doctors – stay away. He knows what you’re after.

But If Saul of Tarsus could be knocked off his ass by a flash of blinding light, changing sinner to saint (Acts 9:7), Michael of Indiana might discover salvation in a similar manner.

Particularly concerning in the new environment will be Pence’s efforts putting together that first Trump Team of “the very best people.” Before the votes were counted in November of 2016, Governor Chris Christy of New Jersey had been assigned to assemble candidates and did so. When it became evident that Trump had actually won, Christy was tossed overboard and Poodle was called upon to stock a brand new swamp with hand picked alligators, crawfish and lots of leaches. Many are gone. More than a few are prison bound.

President Michael Richard Pence will make his own moves as opportunities abound.

As Poodle stares pensively at the White House lawn from his desk in the Oval Office, gathered outside will be the highest paid lobbyists in history, all united in purpose and focused on one single thought.

How much is that doggie in the window?

 

“A Winter’s Day”

December 16, 2018

wintertree

Here we are at the very edge of deepest darkness.

Tomorrow (Friday) at exactly 2:23 PM OT (Oakhurst Time), the sun will appear to stand still above us at its sharpest angle, marking the precise point of the Winter Solstice, then shine more blessed light each day until the Summer Solstice arrives on Friday, June 21st at 8:54 AM OT.

The Winter Solstice brings our longest night of the year in Oakhurst. In the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, everyone copies us.

When is the earth closet to the sun?

13 days from Friday, on January 2, 2019 at 9:19 PM OT, it will be only 91,405,436 miles away. Compare that with the most distant separation of 94,506,462 miles that we may expect next year at 3:10 PM OT on the Fourth of July.

So there’s your bar bet.

“The sun is leaving us now and won’t come back till the 4th of July!”

Irrefutable proof is readily available via Google.

But way back before these happy Google days, who could be certain the sun wasn’t going away forever? You know how rumors start, especially those predicting the end of the world.

Early Mayans completed their ancient calendar with December of 2012 (OT), so some suspected that conclusion predicted the end of time. Nostradamus called for Armageddon in July of 1999. Camille Flammarion, a French astronomer, stated that Haley’s Comet was suddenly spewing deadly cyanogen gas and would end all life on earth as it passed by in 1910.

Christian broadcaster, author and evangelist, Harold Camping, although not an ordained minister, prophesied an exact date of the rapture and final cataclysm twelve separate times. He founded “Family Radio” which eventually owned 150 stations across the country by 2011. Camping had hundreds of thousands of followers. They just kept on believing.

All of these examples and hundreds more have been terrifying mankind through the centuries, but we’re still here. Pinch yourself. See?

Let’s face it. When the unexpected appears, when push comes to shove, when it’s fight versus flight — the usual winner is fright. Down through eternity comes the common cry of mortal men — “Feet, don’t fail me now!”

Beware the scare.

Yet imagine the ecstatic relief of primitive man each year when the sun began to return. Could there ever be a more miraculous event around the planet, uniting every soul in joyous celebration? Is it any wonder early Christians decided to celebrate Christ’s birth in tandem with the Winter Solstice, both being synonymous with salvation?

Biblical scholars believe Jesus was actually born on the first day of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles in the month of September. This explains why there was no room at the Inn. Bethlehem, only a few miles outside of Jerusalem, would have been overflowing with observant visitors because of The Feast.

December 25th was a Roman celebration called “Saturnalia”, commemorating the birth of Saturn, the Sun God. Druids and polytheistic (Fox worshipers – that means “many gods”) religions of Greece, Rome and other nations held major commemorations at or near the Winter Solstice. Pick your country. They partied.

Yuletide in pre-Christian Germany and Scandinavia started at the Winter Solstice when prayers were chanted, special rituals were held and a Yule log was lit — bringing the Sun back to life. This bedazzled the dim as almost everyone went along — at least offering lip service to the idea.

Native Americans regarded the Winter Solstice as a sacred time of birth and renewal.

This season is not the exclusive property of any single race, region or religion.

It is for all.

And to all — a good night.

Merry Christmas from Peter and Eileen Cavanaugh

 

 

 

 

“Balls of Holly”

December 9, 2018

Neptune's Daughter 1949 Directed by Edward Buzzell Shown: poster art

Donald Trump entered last at the National Cathedral.

With fumbling informality, he passed his bulky overcoat to a startled military escort like the poor man was a hatcheck girl.

There he sat for the world to see — surly and sullen on the aisle seat of the very first row — a mouse among men.

Things move quickly, then happen all at once.

As he lurched down the red carpet in Buenos Aires two weeks ago at the G-20 gathering of international leaders, one thing became embarrassingly clear. In less than two years, this aberrant American President has transitioned from leader of the free world to global loner, dragging us along for the steady slide.

Now he’s “Individual 1” – first on a looming list of losers as the sky darkens with so many chickens coming home to roost.

Although limited in content, last Friday’s separate court filings involving the sentencing of convicted felons Michael “Fixer” Cohen and Paul “Double Cross” Manafort depict “Individual 1” as being demonstrably involved in criminal intrigue – intent and extent to be shortly determined.

But it’s Christmas time, so that’s it for Trump for now.

Deck the halls.

I used to think the next few words were “with balls of Holly” until Sister Mary Catherine pointed out the proper word was “boughs.” This was 5th Grade. She never had a problem with “gay apparel”, perhaps being more open minded than she seemed at the time.

There is such an emotional pull in December with so many seasonal songs impacting our collective psyche, particularly on a subconscious level. This is the music of childhood, no matter our years. Some selections fill us with joy while others bring mysterious melancholy. There often seems no rhyme or reason.

Cultural shifts can be detected in the second half of the 20th Century as “Little Drummer Boy” in 1958 gave way to such festive ditties as Santa Clause and His Old Lady” in 1971 and “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” in ’78. These present evidence of a cynical reaction to the inherent discomforts of nostalgic sentimentality. Reluctant resignation to the commercialization of Christianity may bring similar unease.

I don’t know how “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (1944) became a Christmas classic, but it has now surfaced as the center of raging controversy, being excluded from holiday programming by many radio stations seeking not to offend. The allegation is that the lyrics suggest improper seduction. This is supposedly driven by the “Me Too” movement and WDOK in Cleveland, which made a big deal out of pulling the tune from airplay two weeks ago, generating plenty of national publicity in the process. This instantly brought about copycat imitation by many “me too” facilities bereft of originality, seeking similar distinction in their respective markets.

Come on.

In 1949 “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” won an Academy Award as Best Original Song after being prominently featured in “Neptune’s Daughter.” It was a “call and response” song. Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban sang it first in the film, then Betty Garrett and Red Skelton reversed the roles, offering the idea that either gender may properly initiate closer contact. Good thing. Many boys don’t relate to girls and become men afraid of women. Pass it on.

Even poor “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” has become the subject of debate with an article in “The Huntington Post” describing the annual TV video as “seriously problematic” due to “the bullying that Rudolph faces for his shiny nose” and “verbal abuse from his father for trying to cover things up.”

What’s next?

Is “Silent Night” depressing to the deaf?

 

 

 

 

 

“41”

December 2, 2018

41

I was honored shaking his hand on the tarmac at Toledo International Airport on August 27, 1992. That was before he lost his bid for a second term in office to Bill Clinton.

There were hecklers in the crowd loudly jeering credential-holding members of the media. This is what he said:

“We’ve got some good people traveling with us in the press. These are the good guys. Leave them alone. They’re just doing their job.”

 That was George Herbert Walker Bush – above all else — a gentle man.

The youngest aviator in the U.S. Navy at the age of 18, Lieutenant Bush was shot down over enemy waters in the South Pacific on September 2, 1944. He was miraculously rescued by a nearby U.S. submarine.

Count his major milestones:

 

  • Member of the House of Representatives (1967 – 1971)
  • Ambassador to the United Nations (1971 – 1973)
  • Chairman of the Republican National Committee (1973 – 1974)
  • Special Envoy to China (1974 – 1975)
  • Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (1976 – 1977)
  • 43rd Vice President of the United States (1981 – 1989)
  • 41st President of the United States (1989 – 1993)

 

George H.W. Bush was an exemplary practitioner of propriety, upholding tradition at each and every turn.

When President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, Jr. on March 30, 1981, Bush was immediately flown back to Washington from an engagement in Fort Worth. Aides suggested he be transported by helicopter from Andrews Air Force Base to the White House. Bush firmly rejected the idea, stating, “Only the President lands on the South Lawn.” President Reagan subsequently held George Bush, a former rival, in highest esteem, asking Bush to join him for regular Thursday lunches in the Oval Office throughout the Reagan years.

George H. W. Bush was a practical tactician.

After U.S. and coalition forces led by General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. swept through Kuwait and Southern Iraq with overwhelming force during 1991’s Gulf War, Bush halted the ground attack after the first 100 hours, resisting howling calls for a march on Bagdad. He correctly concluded that the aftermath of such overkill would ultimately cost the American people far, far more than anyone might imagine. He said that giving an order to overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein would “have incurred incalculable human and political costs. We would have been forced to occupy and, in fact, rule Iraq.”

Sadly, his successor son, George W. Bush, our 43rd President, proved his father right, but that was a dozen years, thousands of lives and trillions of dollars later.

George H.W. Bush again placed people over the party at the expense of his own political future by agreeing to address a rapidly accelerating national debt with federal tax increases necessitated by pressing circumstance.

Having achieved a popular Gallup Poll approval rating of 89% during his dramatic Gulf War win, this amazing number quickly plummeted to just 37% — suggesting that people had made it a point to “read his lips” when he had earlier promised not to do so.

George H.W. Bush was inclined to forgive and get on with it.

The man to whom he lost his presidency, Bill Clinton, had been a bitter and determined competitor. George, himself, was not afraid to put on the gloves and give better than he got. After both left office, they became fast friends, working together on many humanitarian projects around the globe.

George H. W. Bush (1924 – 2018) – 41st President of the United States – the brightest star in “A Thousand Points of Light.”

I still treasure that Presidential Press Pass here in my Oakhurst office.

 

 

“They’re Coming to Take Me Away!”

November 25, 2018

Mickey_going_crazy

Ho-Ho, Hee-Hee, Ha-Ha”

“They’re Coming to Take Me Away” – Napoleon the 14th – Warner Brothers Records — (1966)

It’s clear insanity has become fashionable.

Welcome to Trump Town – where life is beautiful all the time.

On Thanksgiving Day, our Fake President shattered the joyous peace of a hallowed morning as he roared before the world like a raving lunatic.

It started as a holiday greeting, quickly evolved into a tirade, then concluded with a promise to use lethal force against a huddled mass of poor and homeless at our southern border – human flotsam and jetsam churning in a sea of scorn.

Trump.

Our Pilgrim Fathers would have shackled him in stocks until Christmas, forbidden his name in church — perhaps even drowned him as a witch.

Yet latest polling suggests a third of our people still seem convinced the creature’s doing a splendid job. That’s after being soundly thrashed and trashed in November elections. Here comes a Trump-triggered Democratic House of Representatives in January, but not before the old Republican bunch take a final hit on Hillary.

The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) , has ordered former FBI Director, James Comey, and former Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, to testify in early December. Did they cover for Mrs. Clinton regarding her use of a private server for e-mails? Who did Hillary think she was — the president’s daughter? Disgraceful!

One would expect that Republicans about to take their leave from Washington would have better things to do – such as almost anything else. Even Curling.

Secretary of the Inferior, Ryan “Stash That Cash” Zinke, has taken issue with his Don over the cause of our deadly western wildfires. “It’s those environmental terrorist groups”, Mr. President, not raking.

Zinke’s behavior in office has made him the subject of multiple ethics investigations potentially involving tens of millions of dollars in questionable dealings. He passed much of Veterans’ Day Weekend drinking at a local bar in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana (Population – 7,700). He’s recently been spending more time there than in Washington.

Zinke doesn’t think much of folks who believe there’s danger in climate change. That puts him at odds with a long-awaited federal report from 13 separate agencies, including his own, authored by more than 300 researchers. It offers a formal consensus that the world is heading toward catastrophic consequences. There is more than ample evidence that climate change is real and driven by human carbon emissions. Look for California wildfires to triple in occurrence and intensity. What?

If you haven’t heard about this official governmental update, mandated by law, it’s probably because it was intentionally released last Friday over Thanksgiving Weekend. The White House tried to keep the news quiet – stuffing it in your turkey – making good use of the tryptophan. Relax. Close your eyes. Nothing is wrong. It’s crazy thinking otherwise.

How can anyone imagine both savage murder and dainty decorum not being one and the same – highly valued and commonly understood to be a sign of practical sophistication in this newly advanced geopolitical era?

Of course Prince Mohammed bin Salman had Jamal Khashoggi strangled and mangled. Khashoggi wrote for the Washington Post. He was annoying everyone, including their pets. President Trump looks forward to having dinner with Mohammed sometime soon. Maybe the Prince will pay. Case closed.

It is ill-advised seeking sense in the nonsensical or feigning faith in the unbelievable until those nice young men in their clean white coats come knocking on the door.

To maintain mental balance – there is a tipping point.

Even when the Emperor has no clothes, we need not undress ourselves.

 

“R.I.P. H.A.L.”

November 18, 2018

1811111-hal-9000-1155p_a6911350a03c931077af0ec13fbdc8ef.fit-560w

H.A.L. is now silenced in the emptiness of eternal space.

The Stratford Theater announced last week that acclaimed Shakespearean actor Douglas Rain has died at the age of 90.

Mr. Rain gave voice to H.A.L. 9000 in Stanley Kubrick’s unparalleled cinematic masterpiece, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Remember?

“Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”

“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

H.A.L. 9000 is an heuristically programmed algorithmic computer. He represents the epitome of artificial intelligence. While humanity is understood, humility is unknown.

“No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error.”

 That was H.A.L in 1968. Here’s the late Stephen Hawking in 2014:

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded.”

 “2001: A Space Odyssey” is now a full half-century old, making its debut on April 3rd, 1968. There is virtually no dialogue in the first and last 20 minutes. It is now regarded as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. I watch it once a year, discovering something new each time.

I first saw it in CINERAMA with my brother, Paul, at the Eckel Theater in Syracuse. CINERAMA was an experimental widescreen process beaming images simultaneously from three separate 35 mm projectors onto a huge, deeply curved surface with six track stereophonic sound. It was like IMAX – but ahead of its time.

As we speechlessly left the theater, Paul looked at me and said, “What the hell was that?” I made something up. It had staggered me, but I wasn’t sure why. I was certain it had something to do with God, but I needed to see it again — many times

Here’s a tiny tip for the borderline hip. During “The Dawn of Man”, don’t laugh at the monkeys. That’s not what they’re there for.

“2001: A Space Odyssey” was originally based on “The Sentinel” — a short story from science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke, about the discovery by American astronauts of an ancient monument on the moon. Scientific dating indicates it is four million years old, transmitting a powerful radio signal toward Jupiter. And off we go.

Clarke spent over four years working with Kubrick on the “2001” screenplay. Rotating sets developed to depict zero gravity and the uses of retro-reflective matting were just a few of the innovative, rule breaking techniques pioneered in production.

Gradually evolving with slowly increased tension and looming menace, the concluding “Star Gate” sequence wildly accelerates beyond the ferocious — exceeding light speed intensity — causing many an acid doused hippy of the day to run screaming from his theater.

Then – unimaginable resolution and promise.

The powerful “2001” theme music impacts twice — in the opening of the film and at its close. Its formal name is “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, composed in 1896 by Richard Strauss as a tone poem inspired by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s novel, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.”

Zarathustra (approximately 1200 B.C.) is a major figure in the history of world religions, proclaiming one God and endorsing dualism with a sharp distinction drawn between forces of good and evil. He was of considerable influence in the teachings of future Middle Eastern religions, including Judaism, then Christianity, then Islam.

One more thing about H.A.L.

Move each of the letters forward in the alphabet and you get – I.B.M.

“2001” is loaded with such coolness.

Happy Thanksgiving!