You Can't Make Fun of Reagan Anymore?




Sounds like bullshit to me, man:

Actor Will Ferrell has backed out of a movie that would have made light of President Ronald Reagan‘s battle with Alzheimer’s after the premise received condemnation.

“The REAGAN script is one of a number of scripts that had been submitted to Will Ferrell which he had considered,” Ferrell’s agenttold The New York Post. “While it is by no means a ‘Alzheimer’s comedy’ as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project.”

According to a report from Variety, Ferrell would have played Reaganat the beginning of his second term, when the fictional version of Reagan would develop dementia. A White House intern would then be charged with convincing the former actor that he was playing the role of the president for a film.

 If Hillary had Alzheimer's, all we'd see on Fox are Family Guy jokes where she sets the house on fire and tries to gay marry herself to the piano. The new rule is that you can't make fun of Reagan anymore? That's just bullshit.

I realize people want to be sensitive to the terrible disease of Alzheimer's, but that should not begin to dictate what you can and can't satirize for a larger purpose. If there's one discussion this country should have had in the 1980s, it should have centered around whether or not Reagan was too old and whether or not his public displays of confusion should have led someone to make the difficult choice of having him resign from office.

There are far too many people who are still walking around today who should have had the moral courage to do what was best for the country and have Reagan resign or not run for re-election in 1984. Those would have been the same people who had a helluva time laughing about people who were dying of AIDS. They had no moral compass. They advanced their own agendas because they were able to take advantage of a man suffering from dementia. Any piece of art that highlights this complete and utter failure of decency and compassion should wake people up to the fact that we should never, ever go back down that road again.

Go watch Robin Williams make fun of him and then tell me he's off limits.

Yeah, by all means. Let's not revisit a scenario where a president's enablers allowed him to hold onto the nuclear codes when they knew damned full and well he was suffering from dementia. That would cut a little too close to the bone for the people responsible for failing to do their duty to their country, wouldn't it?

Satire should never apologize for being right.








How Could Anyone Get Violent at a Trump Rally?




The question here is, why doesn't this happen every minute of every day and why don't these people save us the trouble and just punch themselves in the face?

J.J. Abrams Ruins Everything




One of the unintended consequences of rebooting Star Trek is the fact that it is basically Star Wars at a time when there are new Star Wars movies being released:

 

[...] there's also the issue of Star Trek's position inside the genre since its 2009 reboot in J.J. Abrams' first entry in the series.

In his attempts to bring more personal stakes and character-based stories to the franchise, he arguably moved it closer to Star Wars and diluted the more nuanced, difficult to describe appeal of the series as a whole. In other words, recent Star Trek has seemed more like Star Wars, and who needs that when the real thing is back and already on everyone's minds?

The obvious solution — and one which may already be chosen by Beyond, judging by recent comments by co-writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin — is to return the franchise to its roots as a vehicle for stories that are as intellectual as they are visceral, and embrace everything that makes Star Trek different from Star Wars. To go not towards the final frontier, but back to the series' roots, so to speak.

At its core, Star Trek is a procedural, not a character piece (despite having such great characters as Kirk, Spock, McCoy — and, in later incarnations, Picard, Data, Worf et al; the one exception to that rule is spinoff series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which broke many of the rules of the franchise). It's a series of stories intended to make commentary and ask questions about the world around us today through metaphor and allegory, and the majority of the most fondly remembered episodes of the various TV series do exactly that.

Despite the Abrams movies pivoting away from that core appeal — arguably building on something that has been part of the Trek movies since 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — it's the ability of Star Trek to look outwards that won the hearts of fans originally, and remains the franchise's unique selling point.

At its best, Star Trek does what literary sci-fi does so easily, but so much of TV and movie sci-fi stumbles with: It changes the way that its audience interacts with the world.

Whereas Star Wars is a series that speaks to the heart — it is, after all, inherently a story about relationships and families, both inherited and constructed — Star Trek is arguably at its best when it speaks to the brain, asking questions and introducing ideas that challenge the status quo. Viewed in that light, not only can the two co-exist, alternating between the two seems like a well-balanced diet of sorts.

The short answer is, J.J. Abrams ruined Star Wars after he ruined Star Trek. Everything he gets his hands on becomes a fan's nightmare and a studio executive's wet dream.

Other filmmakers are now going to have undo the damage done by retelling old story lines and abandoning the heart of each franchise. Star Trek is a cerebral examination of the archetypes in human nature; Star Wars is an adventure saga designed to make everyone forget they live in a world where there is no magic. Abrams turned them into large Hollywood movies that make kids go whee! and not much else.

Abstract 108




Abstract painting. Tempera paints on canvas board, 2016.

Abstract 107

You Can't Fight City Hall




People like to think they can make a difference:

Human
waste dumped

A bag of human waste was reported dumped at 2:50 p.m. Monday at Albert Lea City Hall. The incident reportedly happened shortly before 10 a.m.

I don't want to make a wild guess, but I think it was someone who is unhappy with the current direction of the city as a whole and probably not someone who set down their bag of human waste and forgot it.

Shaddup




No one ever considers this possibility--what if they were horrible singers and the cop was just trying to spare everyone else?

A group of North Carolina middle-schoolers were allegedly told by security guards at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City to stop singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” during a Friday visit. According to the kids’ teacher, the New York Post reported Monday, the guards implored the students to cease singing because it would be considered a “public demonstration,” something that requires a permit at the site of the 2001 attacks. Video of the truncated anthem shows the choir of wide-eyed kids singing before security guards interrupt and begin speaking with the music teacher, identified as Martha Brown.

I mean, damn, son. Middle schoolers can't sing. And whatever happened to showing reverence? It's not about you, after all. It's about something else sometimes.

They Are Full of Crap in Utah




Utah has declared war on pornography at just the right time for Ted Cruz to speak up and say something that will make everyone sick to their stomach. Just how much of a "public health crisis" is pornography? Not so damned much.

Biological examinations of so-called “porn addiction” have generally been fruitless. A2015 neuroscience study published in Biological Psychology found that electrical activity in the brains of people who felt their porn usage was problematic looked nothing like the patterns found in the brains of actual addicts. That didn’t stop the Utah state legislature from declaring that “recent research indicates that pornography is potentially biologically addictive.”

Why might someone believe in “porn addiction” without supporting evidence? Recentresearch in the Archives of Sexual Behavior has shown that “religiosity is robustly predictive of perceived [pornography] addiction.” This perception of addiction is unrelated to actual use. In other words, a religious person who watches pornography once a week is probably more likely to consider himself “addicted” than an atheist who indulges every night.

Relevant here is the fact that most Utah state legislators are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that one of the most frequently cited figures in anti-porn pseudoscience is Donald Hilton, a Mormon neurosurgeon. The Mormon Church itself has endorsed the concepts of “sexual addiction” and “porn addiction,” treating them under a 12-step model in its Addiction Recovery Program.

It does take a great deal of faith to believe many of the other unscientific claims in SCR9.

For instance, the resolution contends that pornography “can impact brain development.” This claim might appear credible based on a 2014 study that found an association between porn use and gray matter volume in one region of the brain but even the authors of the study note that the relationship may not be causal. The decreased gray matter volume, the authors acknowledge, could simply be “a precondition that makes pornography consumption more rewarding,” rather than a result of frequent viewing over time.

This is about codifying values and not so much about actually taking care of people. This is about modifying behavior through the imposition of values that not everyone shares. 

We have a mental health crisis in this country, that's a given. But there are two contributing factors to how this crisis threatens us as a nation. One, we don't spend enough money to take care of the mentally ill--that's a value judgement made by inept politicians who don't want to see their budgets go haywire and force them to tax the wealthy. Second, we allow too many mentally ill people access to guns because we don't have the courage to change those laws.

And porn is supposed to be an issue here? The puns write themselves--come on.

Abstract 106

Vincent Van Googh: Landschaft mit Bäumen und Figuren




I had a chance to see this painting at the Baltimore Museum of Art. This one was acquired in 1934 and was part of the Cone Collection, formed by Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland. It's remarkable when you see it up close and I don't think I have ever seen a Van Gogh before. Not one of his major works, but impressive, I must say.

Abstract 105




I used an infrared effect here, and then I just rendered the whole thing black and white because I liked the texture.

This is Not the Last You Will Hear of Him




I can't wait to see how all of these scores will be settled:

Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s campaign manager and notorious arm-grabber, has been demoted to a body man and a scheduler, according to a CBS News report. Paul Manafort, who was hired last week, will now run the GOP presidential frontrunner’s campaign in his stead. The number of staffers that report directly to Lewandowski, known for a history of yelling at employees and making demeaning comments to women, has been reduced considerably. The campaign’s national field director, Stuart Jolly, also resigned Monday.

Whoever "moved" Lewandowski out of his role and into his new one will be destroyed before the new moon if not sooner. This man operates as if the world is his personal toilet. He does not care what happens to the toilet because he's renting the house and the landlord is an asshole. He is a media-savvy Millennial and he knows how to dig the holes where the bodies will be buried.

Trump could not fire this man; that would be too dangerous. He has to be eased into something else and then handled carefully for the next twenty years. Lewandowski is something so toxic that he is beyond unemployable. He is someone you should never, ever come into contact with or form a business relationship with because he is a force unto himself. He will consume everything before him just as would a cloud of locusts.

Sounds LIke They're Scared




There's a market out there for people who hate the movie-going experience. The movie industry just doesn't want to accept it:

"If you've got it, flaunt it," said a confident Sony Motion Pictures Group chairman Tom Rothman when taking the stage at the annual gathering of cinema operators in Las Vegas, where the major Hollywood studios go to promote their upcoming slates.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas — except when it comes to CinemaCon, which is always certain to generate headlines and controversy as Hollywood promises theater owners that it's got the goods.

This year's convention, which ran from April 11-14, was no exception, offering up new trailers and footage for a wide array of films, a parade of top stars (including Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt and Will Smith), James Cameron's announcement on stage that he's making four Avatarsequels instead of three and much talk about Sean Parker's divisive proposal to make new movies in the home for $50.

They can fight it all they want, but television is producing better fare than most movies. And if television is working that well for people, the movie industry is going to be left behind and they'll be scrambling to release films to play at home before you know it. The only thing missing here is a quote from someone who thinks they know what's happening:

“We are not going to let a third party of middlemen come between us,” Warner Bros.chief Kevin Tsujihara said to strong applause from the audience of theater owners. 

Unless, of course, the consumers abandon your product and this ends up being the only way you can make money.

This Poor Kid




Isn't it time to ban the Disney Channel?

Debby Ryan, the 22-year-old star of Disney Channel show Jessie, was arrested for drunk driving in Los Angeles last week, TMZ revealed Wednesday. She reportedly hit another car, causing the other driver an injury. Authorities only charged her with a misdemeanor because the injury of the other driver was minor and Ryan only blew a .11 on a breathalyzer test.

The only reason why I even know who Debby Ryan is stems from the fact that I have children. And if you're like me, you watch what they watch so you can have an understanding of what it is they like. I did that then and I do that now--how did you think I ended up being an expert on Pokemon?

Plus, I was a stay-at-home dad when the kids were watching shows where Ryan appeared and I've always been uncomfortable watching what the Disney channel did with her as a performer.  Suffice it to say, they used to dress her to hide her figure. This was another example of cashing in on how a young girl looked without noticing that this is a really creepy thing to do because it tends to screw people up and make their lives unbearable.

The Disney Channel was happy to put her on television but refused to let her look like an actual person--kinda like what happened when Ariel Winter would show up in public to promote Modern Famly. They were happy with the fact that these actresses looked sexy but they were unwilling to be honest about it, and they weren't ready to deal with body shaming issues and things of that nature. In effect, they went with what they knew and they left these young women to deal with the consequences.

Does that mean Debby Ryan is screwed up? No, and this could be a one-off sort of thing. But, if you look back at all of the actors and actresses that have been eaten up by the tween show phenomenon, it's not hard to guess how this plays out. Yeah, I would regulate tween shows (they make 40 of these in a year? Really?) and I would make it so that there was a support mechanism in place to help young performers. And no kid of mine would ever be allowed within a thousand yards of whoever runs this industry.

Hillary Ruined Haiti? Give Me A Break




Come on, try harder:

Much of the blame for Haiti’s chaotic political scene can be pinned on Hillary Clinton’s State Department, whose handpicked president has only made things worse.

Last week Haiti’s Electoral Council postponed the nation’s current presidential election indefinitely. The present chaos is a fitting coda to the recent presidency of Michel Martelly, a novice politician who governed accordingly.

Amid the current upheaval, the name Mirlande Manigat is well worth recalling. As Haiti struggled to dig out from the disastrous 2010 earthquake, Manigat stood poised to become its first elected female president—until Hillary Clinton’s State Department intervened.

A former First Lady of Haiti and a respected university administrator, Manigat invoked Brazil’s Lula as she ran on a moderately left-wing platform championing universal public education. Manigat, who holds a Ph.D. from the Sorbonne, also campaigned in the U.S., detailing at length her vision for Haiti.

This is another ridiculous hit piece on Secretary Clinton's tenure at State. First of all, no one ruined Haiti - Haiti was already ruined. Second, she championed someone who let the NGOs come in and try to help. Third, she opposed a Sorbonne-educated candidate who, umm, went to New York City to campaign for the presidency of Haiti because that's where the money was. She made a judgement call based on what she was being told by the State Department's people in the region--the professionals who understand diplomacy.

So, in effect, you have someone criticizing Hillary because she rejected the candidate who was wallowing in outside money raised in another country. Tell me again how her ties to corrupt people are supposed to "disqualify" her from the presidency?

When it comes to Haiti, steel yourself for heartbreak. There have never been any great options for the place so blaming Hillary is really stretching it. Next up- an expose from Slate on how everything that went wrong everywhere in the world until modern times was also Hillary's fault.

Abstract 101




All I can see when I look at this one is a geopolitical map of the Former Soviet Union. Or whatever it might look like to you, of course.

Abstract 100




Purely by accident, this ended up looking like a fish. Or whatever you see.

Louis CK Loses Millions




Someday, we'll all brag about how we paid for Horace and Pete, even though nobody's been buying the show:

As often happens with the web, there’s good news and bad news as television shifts online. The spirit of the age tells us that everyone should go it alone, that entrepreneurial individualism is more important than being part of a larger team, that we all need to unbundle.

But Louis C.K. has learned the hard way that it doesn’t always work. Even with a series that’s smart, well-acted, topical, and ambitious.

C.K.’s show “Horace and Pete” is about as close to the classic American theater of Eugene O’Neill as television offers. Taking place in a century-old, family-run Brooklyn bar, it’s a show in which politics, class, race, gender, gentrification, tradition, family turmoil, and various painful aspects of the generation gap are worked out in natural, unforced ways. The kind of conflicts and honest talk that a lot of shows wait half an hour to build to come every few minutes on “Horace and Pete.” It features actors as good as Steve Buscemi, Alan Alda, Edie Falco, and Jessica Lange. And while it’s certainly not a comedy, it’s often funny in a kind of uncomfortable and revealing way. (The bar’s policy of charging hipsters more for their drinks is one of several brilliant bits.) It makes a barroom-set show as good as “Cheers” look shallow.

It even has an intermission.

But C.K. has apparently lost millions on the show, which costs about $500,000 per episode to make. He sells his standup performances as audio files online – you can buy his Madison Square Garden show, for instance, from his website for anything from $1 to $85. Episodes of “Horace and Pete” costs between $2 and $5 apiece. And not enough people bought them.

Vulture doesn’t sound terribly sympathetic:

Not one to suffer silently, Louis C.K. went ahead and spread his financial burdens around on The Howard Stern Show today, revealing that making Horace and Pete left him several million dollars in debt. Basically, his debt is our bad, C.K. explained, because fewer people bought the show than C.K. was (literally) banking on.

So what went wrong? According to Variety, it turns out C.K. turned down a chance to offer the show to FX – where he has a first-look deal — for financing, hoping that his own visibility on television and on his site would drive traffic. He’s one of the biggest stars in comedy, but apparently it’s not enough to make a show with sets, actors – a piece of theater – pay for itself.

Louis isn't a businessman--he's a content creator. He's really good at it! People should give him lots of money to make things! Someone should have given him better business advice. You can't leave yourself exposed like this in a business run by thieves and vicious throat-stabbing ghouls. Television is an industry where decency and ethics are killed simply because they showed up to work one day.

And it really is too bad--when someone takes a big risk, there should be a government program that kicks in and helps them out. PBS should buy Horace and Pete and run it, warts and all, and not send any notes.

I got all of those sad E-mails, asking me to buy Horace and Pete. I'm sorry! I had shit to do. I feel bad now.

How Did That Work Out For You?




If you've just made a widely panned sequel to three of the best adventure films ever made, why would you keep the one thing that people didn't like about it (aside from Shia Labeouf)?

Indiana Jones: Upcoming Film a Continuation of 2008's 'Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,' Producer Says

"This will be an original idea, but we have the character, and it's not prequel but continuing since the last one," Frank Marshall said Monday at CinemaCon in Las Vegas. Harrison Ford is set to star.

I think that the first thing they should have said was, "we're throwing everything out! This is a prequel that has nothing to do with weird magnetic spinning aliens! We're sorry! Please forgive us for the horrible, horrible shit we did."

Or, hey--maybe get new producers and come up with something good? Why wouldn't that be the logical move after a badly-reviewed misstep?

And, Good God--is Shia coming back or not? That's what everyone really wants to know.

Not Entirely Fair Reporting




The University of Missouri is hemorrhaging students:

Following a drop in students applying for housing, the University of Missouri will not be placing students in two dorms for the fall 2016 semester.

Mizzou will be closing the Respect and Excellence halls (ironic names, given the circumstances) in order to utilize dorm space "in the most efficient manner" to keep costs down.

In March, the university announced that it saw a sharp drop in admissions for the coming school year, and will have 1,500 fewer students. This will lead to a $32 million budget shortfall for the school, prompting the need to close the dorms in order to save money.

Of course, these two things won't happen:

1. They won't touch their endowment to make up the budget shortfall in a meaningful way.

2. They will blame former professor Melissa Click because she's the ready-made face of racial and social unrest at the university.

If the leadership at the school had been competent in any way, shape, or form, they would have already had in place a plan to deal with racial disputes between students. Instead, they were caught sitting on their hands. Now, nobody wants to go to school there.

What a shock.

And what's funny about this piece by Ashe Schow is that it reads like a condemnation of the students who decided that they were sick of going to a school where racism was ignored.  Hey, asshole--here's how capitalism really works. When you don't respond to your customers, they vote with their feet. The University of Missouri is about to learn how things really work.

The Pleasant Surprise of Zootopia




It may be late, but my review of Zootopia is positive on all fronts because of how much I enjoyed the film. I saw Zootopia over the weekend as an afterthought--we were bored, there wasn't anything else worth seeing, and so we figured, why not?

Spoilers ahead, so pause here and come back after you've seen it. And if you want to wait for the Blu-Ray or the on-demand version, go ahead. You won't be disappointed.

Zootopia is a Disney animated feature that picks up where almost no other Disney films leave off--with a hint of darkness and a tinge of the hopeless. It's not a bouncy, thoughtless romp through nonsensical product placement gags and Baby Boomer satire gags (although putting Tommy Chong in the film is as counter-culture as you can get without completely blowing minds and trampling through the fields of nostalgia). It's not fall down funny but it's amusing enough to see again.

And that's what I really liked about the film--it lived in its own world and didn't try too hard. It didn't go for the fart and gross-out jokes. No one sucked on a urinal cake. No one's ass explodes in a brown cloud of doom. There is a sick burn that weaves through the story line--it's called a hustle--and it works on a number of levels. It may be one of the first animated comedies that truly steps away from Baby Boomer humor and leaves the Simpsons era behind. That may explain why I liked it so much.

Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman have great chemistry as the leads in this. She plays an idealist and he plays an anti-hero and their collective backstory informs the plot without overwhelming anything. This did not play like an attempt for an actor to play something in a movie that their kids can see--the casting works out in the long run because of the banter they have and the conclusion to the film, which has a moment that is noticeably scarier--and more honest--than the usual Disney fare. 

Where does it fit in? Well, this was a smart film with some hard edges. I would put Zootopia just below The Princess and the Frog and Tangled, but that's very good company. I would say it's as good as Brave without the hard to parse accents. And Brave was a very, very good film that has been overlooked. These four animated films represent the best of the films that are not quite as good as Frozen, and if you haven't seen any of them, they're a pleasant discovery for anyone who enjoys animated films. This film was much, much better than Kung Fu Panda 3 and I preferred it to Inside Out (which I did not care for, but that means I'm merely an idiot, of course).

Really, this wasn't junk. We've seen a slew of junk animated films over the last few years and a handful of really strange and densely plotted things that should never have been made. This was a near murder mystery with more emphasis on the mystery aspect. There's even a twist at the end that works. How often can you say that?

Good to Know




In the midst of the worst banking scandal since the worldwide crash of 2008, you have this little nugget of wisdom:

The CEO of Austrian bank Hypo Landesbank Vorarlberg resigned Thursday, following the release of 11.5 million documents from a Panama law firm accused of setting up secret offshore accounts to evade scrutiny. According to local news, the bank was one of the many institutions around the globe named in the documents released. Executive Michael Grahammer said he was “100 percent convinced that the bank broke no laws or violated sanctions” but that he was still leaving the company, due to an alleged misrepresentation in the media. Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson of Iceland stepped away—but did not resign—from his post on Tuesday following protests over allegations that he and his wife own an undisclosed tax haven-based company with large claims on some of the country’s collapsed banks. In a new interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mossack Fonseca partner Jürgen Mossack also denied wrongdoing and said the controversy wouldn’t change its business model. “We’re not going to stop the services and go plant bananas or something,” he said.

That's good to know, but can you make money with a banana tree plantation nowadays? And don't you think that the shareholders of Mossack Fonseca are feeling a little nervous when they hear flip answers from the man in charge?

The New Republic is Hiring

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="800.0"]  via Gawker  via Gawker [/caption]


Are you looking for a gig handling the Twitter account of a media empire that has seen better days? The New Republic is going to be hiring, soon...

Sean Young Really is Crazy




I love Sean Young, but she's just a little nutty:

You’re also anti-vaccination, huh?

Yeah, I am.

There does seem to be evidence that as a result of that stance, whooping cough and measles are making a comeback.

Well, I wonder who’s spreading it. The thing is, you have a very big pharmacological industry, and they want those bucks to keep flowing. It’s definitely not impossible to imagine that there are agents that spread this kind of thing. Remember when the English came over with blankets that were laced with tuberculosis and they gave all those blankets to the Indians? You think that doesn’t happen today?

Thus your belief in chemtrails.

Yeah! Man, we’re getting it from all kinds of areas. I know people will call me a conspiracy nut or whatever, but the evidence is out there.

I wouldn't put it past her to be trolling the interviewer and to be looking to drum up interest in her latest project by grabbing some viral headlines. I wouldn't blame her, but, ouch. I guess you have to separate the art from the person. Excene Cervenka came out with a lot of nonsense that was similar to this. Love and adoration for both of them, but back away slowly when they start in with the kray-zee.

Fewer and Fewer Bums Out There




Thanks to President Obama, there are fewer bums out there:

The rest of the world economy and Wall Street may have been shaky, but American employers were full steam ahead in March, adding a stronger-than-expected 215,000 jobs, according to new figures Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Average hourly wages rose 0.3 percent, up from the 0.1 percent registered in February. However, the unemployment rate edged up to 5 percent, a slight bump from 4.9 percent a month ago. So far this year, average monthly job gain have averaged out at 209,000.

Now, there may be an uptick of hobos, but that simply means that Obamacare has given them the option of spending the summer on the lam from all the railroad dicks out there because they know that if they take a truncheon to the throat, they can spend a month in County Hospital eating that spread.

I used to think I would end up sleeping under a bridge, using the railroad tracks as a sidewalk. What happened to my dream? How did I end up respectable and bathed?