Monday, March 23, 2009

Politics, again???

As much as I loathe politics, and really don’t like to make this a political blog, I almost can’t help it. They really do shove politics down your throat, and by “down your throat”, I really mean “up your ass”; and by “they”, I really mean “the media”. It’s bad enough that you can’t escape the nonstop political coverage continually harassing you when you’re just trying and live your life, and get through your day. But the fact that the media outlets basically have thrown out all vestiges of objectivity, abandoned what was once considered a quest for the truth, and unashamedly turned into a propaganda vessel. It would be one thing if they held both sides accountable; if they really did truthfully and fairly act as watchdogs for the public’s behalf, as they purport to be. Holding equally accountable Democrats as well as Republicans, and pursuing the abuses of power and erosions of freedoms on both sides with the same fervor. But that’s not the case. Instead, we basically get 24/7 Obama-love blasting at us, in a non-stop Orwellian campaign to force us to embrace him; selling us on the idea that he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to America, the world, you, me, and our children’ children. YOU… WILL… LOVE… THIS MAN!

Which leads me to ask the question, why is it that when Obama takes a public crap (such as asking a wounded soldier on the battlefield to hand the medic an insurance card, or cracking a Special Olympics joke—two recent examples) and then apologizes or retracts it, it vanishes almost instantly; whereas if any Republican—particularly George Bush, but really any Republican—makes any kind of misstep, or misspeak, or even proposes an unpopular policy decision, the chorus of petulant outrage blares throughout the land for weeks on end, relentlessly? They know they do it, our “news” anchors, reporters, and pundits. But do they feel any ethic shame for having abandoned core principles like that? Do these “journalists” have any shred of recalcitrance for basically regarding the American public as a bunch of submissive, irrelevant imbeciles? Sadly, after several generations of graduates from the indoctrination centers known as our public schools demonstrate, many of them are. But I still love America. I love the American people—all our quirkiness, superficiality, and stupid reality TV shows aside. I find it difficult to grasp that as a nation, we have all become the idiots that these media people treat us like. We are still a great nation, despite what the media and the Democrats try to portray us as.

My dear readers who personally know me, know that I’m not a disgruntled Republican with a petulant axe to grind. I’m a solid Libertarian, with a principled belief in adhering to constitutional tenets, and a deep concern for the preservation of individual freedoms. I almost never vote for Republicans, rather against Democrats. My gripe in today’s blog is that the press should hold both parties equally accountable, and bring back the journalistic standards they abandoned somewhere around the Kennedy administration. Is that a lot to ask? It seems to be almost impossibility these days.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Celebrity Apprentice-- the Diceman Goeth

I like NBC’s “The Apprentice”. Not only do I find it an entertaining show, I have a couple of connections to it as well. First of all I worked on the season that they came to L.A. (I was a transpo driver. Yay! It was a blast!). Secondly, my awesome company, ACN has a relationship with Donald Trump. He’s not only tried to purchase our company several times (Imagine saying no to Donald Trump? I love ACN!), he’s a staunch endorser of our products and our company. So much so, that he’s featuring us and our flagship product, the IRIS 300 videophone, on March 22nd’s episode of “Apprentice”.
So last night I tuned in to see the show, having missed last week’s season opening, just to get primed, and make an assessment of the show. I think Mr. Trump and Mark Burnett made a really good decision when they modified the format to become a celebrity/charity show. I think after several seasons of watching unknown M.B.A.’s vying for a top executive position in TrumpWorld, we were all ready for something new. Kudos on this new format, that’s for sure.
So as I watched this season unfold, and perused this season’s lineup of “celebrities”, I found a few that raised my eyebrows, and left me questioning. Some of the choices were great. Clint Black, Scott Hamilton, Bryan McKnight, even Playmate Brande Roderick were nice picks, and you feel that they bring something to the table. Then you got poker champion Annie Duke, whom at first I thought, “Why her? She’s a celebrity now?” But I realized that I had seen her play before, and in the poker universe, which is huge, she is very well-known and recognizable. Plus, the very nature of her livelihood depends on her being sharp, ruthless, and highly competitive. That made sense. Jesse James added a hip, lowbrow attitude, and certainly fits the contestant profile, having created a successful business before becoming a celebrity (also thanks to a “reality” show). Herschel Walker and Dennis Rodman add a dimension that they bring over from the sports world that is perfect for the show. Both at the top of their respective sports—Walker being no-nonsense, Rodman being pretty much all-nonsense. Ersatz comedian Tom Green was a pleasant surprise. At first I balked at his appearance in the game. I never liked his comedic work; never really understood the guy, and he always seemed to be just kinda out there, like Crispin Glover (who, thank God, is not in this season’s show). But he comes off in the show as being very likeable, and down-to-earth, as well as a serious competitor. He may just be my new favorite contestant. We’ll see… Now we finally get to some of my more questionable picks. First off, a “Deal-Or-No-Deal” model? OK, she’s hot. I mean, really, really hot. But a celebrity? Shrug... Then we get to Khloe Kardashian. This choice totally smacks of her publicist pulling favors to get her some visibility. For some ungodly reason, her sister Kim is now a celebrity, and dammit it’s her turn! OK, I do believe she owns a clothing store, so maybe there is a modicum of reason to bring her onboard, but it still really seems like a publicist’s coup, and nothing more. (By the way, who is her publicist? I need a publicist like that, too!) Ah, next up—Joan Rivers and her now symbiotic daughter, Melissa. What is the deal with these two? Is there no bigger example of unabashed coat-tail riding than this? Having one, and only one of the two would have been fine. Joan is a comedic legend, and a tried-and-true New Yorker, just like The Donald. (Do they still call him that?) Casting Melissa alone, would’ve at least demonstrated that she’s at last made it. The umbilical’s cut. Finally, she’s attained the caché of at least a “Deal-Or-No-Deal” model, or a top female poker player. But to have both Rivers and Rivers on the show together just seems self-indulgent, unnecessary, and let’s face it— kinda creepy.
But, I’ve saved the best for last. Let me preface this by saying that there’s a difference between staying consistent and true to yourself, and just plain being an unevolved, one-note song. Andrew Dice Clay, who made me roll on the floor in hysterical laughter in 1989, seemed about as pointless and irrelevant on 2009’s “Celebrity Apprentice” as anything I could imagine. Despite his best attempts, there was absolutely nothing funny about the guy, and actually, he seemed rather bitter. At the same time, he was acting as a complete primadonna, as if he were still some kind of A-list talent. Actually griping directly to Mr. Trump that there were no free bagels laid out, in a city where you can throw a rock blindfolded and hit a bagel shop! (Pettiness, party of one—your table’s ready!) During a challenge to sell cupcakes, he contributed nothing to the team, and was more concerned about looking cool than suiting up in baking attire with his team; finally ducking out to do a radio show appearance—telling his team he’d promote and bring crowds to their cupcake truck. Because you just can not find crowds in New York City. Subsequently the team lost the cupcake challenge. “The Diceman” also painfully—not once, but twice—directly threw jabs at Mr. Trump that were met with an embarrassing silence, as Donald quickly shifted focus away from Dice. Not only was the embarrassing silence felt in the boardroom, but in the living rooms of millions of Americans watching the show, too. Defending his position, he reminded people that he sold out Madison Square Garden like, three times (in 1989) and finally tried to stave off being ceremoniously “fired” by Mr. Trump by doing mediocre impressions of John Travolta’s “Barbarino” character, and Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky” character. Timely, cutting-edge stuff. Thankfully, Mr. Trump spared us another week of this torture by dropping his trademark “You’re fired!” on Mr. Diceman. On his way out, a receptionist in Trump Tower shot him down when he asked her for a date as well. Utterly painful—and yet, I feel a certain pity for this deluded has-been. This man is completely clueless.
Hey, Dice—1989 called. They want you back!

A real tough cookie!

As usual, on this season’s 24, if everyone just listened to Jack Bauer for a change, they wouldn’t be in this mess. You’d think after countless presidents and agency heads, they’d learn to at least hear Jack out, but no…
I came into 24 kinda late. When the series first debuted in 2001, I found it hard to get into. The big sell of the show, at the time, was “Oooh, it’s in real-time! Minute-by-minute action!” Yawn. Really? And then the few times I would catch a segment of the show, and see the unstoppable Jack Bauer drive from Northridge down to Long Beach in 10 minutes right in the middle of the day, left me asking, “Have these writers even been on the 405?” It wasn’t until several years later, around 2005 or 2006 to be exact, when I happened to catch a rerun of a later season, with Jack in a stressful chase in the dead of night—with the loveably cute, perennially pouty Chloe O’Brien running comm—did I get reeled in. I then had to go back, and load up my Netflix with all previous seasons to get myself up to speed. I couldn’t watch those episodes fast enough. I learned to throw out all realism, and improbabilities, and just lock into the storylines, plot twists, and action. (Although I still entertain myself with the idea of one of the characters stuck in traffic for an entire episode, and while the action is ongoing, we keep cutting back to him sitting in his car, stressed out and looking at his watch.) I even bought into the idea that Presidents of the United States hang out in hip, chic L.A. way more than stodgy ol’ D.C. Hey, why not?
So I think the writers and producers finally said, “Y’know, after eleventeen seasons of Jack chasing terrorists and embarrassing presidents all over L.A., we should really consider shooting at least one season in D.C.” Which brings us to the current season, where as of this writing, six African soldiers have broken in and taken over the White House, bitch-slapping President Allison Taylor right on cable news! While the plot definitely has me inextricably hooked, I think the problem that I’m having with this season is the portrayal of (presumably) the first female president. Since this hasn’t happened in real life yet (Hang in there Sarah Palin; keep the dream alive!), Hollywood writers are basically left to create a character based on speculation, and a little bit of wishful thinking. So to counter the image of a soft, nurturing and motherly type, the writers have to come up with a strong female figure to portray what they think a female president should be like. I’ve also seen this in other portrayals of female presidents. They try to make her out to be some kind of “tough cookie” no-nonsense type. But it’s not real strength, like a Margaret Thatcher or a Golda Meir. It’s Hollywood toughness, which is basically constant yelling, and chewing out your subordinates. It’s being stubborn and unreasonable just to prove a point. It’s for the actress to always look stern and cold, as though she’s in a constant state of disdain. And don’t forget that she always occupies the moral high ground. By invading the fictitious African nation of Sengala to stop a sadistic general’s genocidal army, President Allison Taylor is showing us how we should’ve handled Rwanda and Darfour. (Not Iraq, of course, with its discoveries of mass graves all over the country. There’s oil in Iraq, so therefore it’s strictly hands off.) When trying to catch the main terrorist in a city of 5 million, she barks at her staff, “I don’t care how you find him, just get it done! (Except, don’t let Jack torture anybody. Or break any rules. Or leave a carbon footprint.)” The eunuch that’s running the F.B.I. section of this case is a perfect example of this flaccid method of dealing with evil in our nation.
As usual, Jack Bauer has the last laugh. Although he doesn’t laugh, cuz everyone’s dead. I kinda hope they kill off this president. That would be the kind of shock and intrigue that makes this show so gripping to watch. Maybe, next season, Jack Bauer will be president! He has my vote!