Thursday, March 31, 2016

Life In the Big City

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You! I'm Dave-El and I've got those little town blues. 

Today, this blog is going recount the epic tale of my daughter's encounter with....


LIFE IN THE BIG CITY


In this case, New York City

Yes, that New York City, the city that never sleeps.

Or bathes. 

To tell you more about this adventure, I'm turning (sorry, getting choked up a bit) this blog (my dear, sweet blog) to my daughter, Miranda (you better not break this blog!) who, like her dear old dad, has a nom de plume (French for "NO! Not the PLUME!") for the internet, Randie Brooks. Which is not as clever as, I don't know, using a Kryptonian name but who I'm to judge. It's just my blog. 

Sigh.  

OK, all right! Take it away....whoever you are! 

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Hi. I'm Randie. I guess you humans could call me Miranda, but I'd prefer you didn't. I'm not in the mood to kill anyone right now. So, we're gonna go through some of my favorite pictures from the trip and I'll try to explain the awesomeness of New York!


This is Times Square. It's very crowded and very loud. It's also really cool (once you get past all the strange people dressed in knock-off cartoon character outfits trying to take your picture and steal your cash).



























This is a view of the city from atop the Rock. 
That's Rockefeller Center which was ridiculously 
tall and has an ice rink downstairs. 
Why do they have an ice rink?
Because it's New York City, bro!
This is inside St. Patrick's Cathedral where apparently
it's very important to be very, very quiet. 
Well, somebody should've TOLD ME THAT
before I got hushed by an angry nun (I thought the Hallelujah Chorus would be a good thing in a church)!





















































This is an actual honest to God New York City
subway where I got to see an actual honest to God
New York City subway rat! It was so exciting!
The dude taking the picture was one of our chaperones.
He's taking a picture of me taking a picture of him
taking a picture of me taking a picture....
I should stop now.  




























This is at the 9/11 Memorial which is seriously 
a very moving experience to stand there and 
realize the terrible thing that happened that day
and all the lives lost. 



























OK, back to fun stuff! Well, sort of. 
We went to Madame Tussaud's wax museum place which was utterly terrifying. Everything about that place made me wish for the Times Square people, but I couldn't resist getting a picture with Will Smith as Agent J (MIB is seriously one of my favorite movies EVER!). 


























This is a photo with me and some of my friends at the Statue of Liberty which was kinda not that impressive. 
See how small it is. It fits on top of my head! 
All right, I'm kidding! Seeing the statue was super cool!














































I have a lot more pictures, but those are the main highlights of my trip. I enjoyed my time in New York and I enjoyed writing a post for this blog ^-^ 
  
I love you, Daddy!!!!!
(maybe he'll pay me if I suck up enough)


But on a serious note: I honestly admire you as a writer and I love your blog. It means a lot to me that you included me.  

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Thanks for sharing your story with us. It sounds like you had an amazing time doing something I've never done before, go to New York City. Well, if I ever get to go, maybe you can be my guide. 

I'm proud of you and I love you bunches.

And no, I'm not paying you to help write today's blog post.

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And that's that for today. In case you're wondering where the regular Thursday diatribe against Ted Cruz is, well, I've been doing some thinking about that and...

Well, check in tomorrow for a very important announcement. 

Until then, remember to be good to one another. 








Wow! The Statue of Liberty REALLY does fit right on top of Miranda's head!   

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Sunset of Me Giving a Damn)

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, a Batsignal against the Gotham night of the internet. I'm Dave-El and I thought she was with you.  

















The El family ventured forth from the Fortress of Ineptitude to go see this weekend's epic super hero blockbuster cinematic event, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. I will admit we did not necessarily do this willingly. The multi-review pile up on the movie interstate did not present a very flattering picture of this movie. And to be honest, various trailers had done little to alleviate my own misgivings about BVS. 

Still, I am...or rather was...a big DC Comics fan and there was a certain nostalgic lure that compelled me to see this movie, bad reviews be damned. It was the same thing that led me to go see Green Lantern even in the aftermath of very negative reviews. 

Also it was a Sunday afternoon, we didn't have anything better to do, we had some disposable income to dispose of so let's go see a movie. Since My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 was not considered an acceptable alternative, we went to see Batman and Superman beat the crap out of each other.

I want to set the right mood for this post so let's get some positive stuff out front first OK? 

The trailer for The Nice Guys with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling looks straight up off the hook gonzo. And my daughter is psyched by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel trailer (despite her deep and abiding hatred of all things Michael Bay). 

Oh, before the movie, I ate a really good hamburger at Applebee's. The El family haven't been to Applebee's in years. We actually had other dining plans for Easter Sunday but our favorite pizza place (Elizabeth's) was closed for Easter which I didn't know was a thing that could actually happen. Anyway, that hamburger was very juicy with a sweet mesquite type flavor that I quite enjoyed. 

And that is the positive portion of today's post. 

OK, I'm being a bit snarky. OK, a LOT snarky. There were some good things about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. 

  • Gal Gadot is quite enchanting as Wonder Woman
  • Jeremy Irons is perfectly acerbic as Alfred who does very little butlering and appears to be more Batman's tech support. 
  • And Ben Affleck haters, not to bring you down but Affleck does not suck as Bruce Wayne, aka Batman
  • Henry Cavill still looks convincing as Superman and Clark Kent although there's very little opportunity to explore much beyond his angst over Superman being loved and hated at pretty much the same time. 
  • I still like Amy Adams as Lois Lane who, despite being in a movie with 3 super heroes, still has quite a bit of stuff to do even if some of that "stuff to do" is to be a rescued damsel in distress (no less than three times).  
  • Action sequences are the lifeblood of a super hero movie and those moments in BVS do not disappoint. 

But what does in BVS is a very disjointed, almost scattershot story structure. Bringing Batman into the mix with, developing why Bruce Wayne is so determined to go after Superman, showing Alfred's frustration with Bruce and his mission, the Senate hearings into if Superman is a threat, Superman/Clark agonizing over his role in the world, Lex Luthor's shenanigans, checking in with the cast over at the Daily Planet, dream sequences of the past and premonitions of the future, bringing in Wonder Woman into the mix, planting the plot thread that there are other meta-humans on the planet (got to make sure we're setting up the sequels), introducing a super duper alien monster for everyone to fight...whew! 

It's the storytelling equivalent of Whack-A-Mole. 


And does every single scene in this movie have to be so dark? I mean not just in tone but in a very literal sense. This film is pervasive with overcast skies and muted colors.

The problem is that Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is less a movie and more a marketing device for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment to quickly brew up a movie universe for its comic book characters. There are boxes that have to be checked over over the course of BVS's 2.5 hour run time (and trust me, you will feel every minute of it ) if Warner Bros. and DC wants to have a cinematic universe like the one Disney and Marvel currently reap incredible benefits from. 

But the Marvel Cinematic Universe evolved organically from the first Iron Man movie and onward. There was a plan in place and Marvel, to it's credit, have followed that plan with each new movie adding a new piece to the puzzle. BVS tries to assemble a puzzle in one go because DC needs to catch up to Marvel and they need to do it NOW. 

Now there's one more thing I haven't addressed about Batman V Superman and that's the villain at the center of it all, Lex Luthor. First of all, I gotta give Jesse Eisenberg props for actually doing something different with Lex Luthor, different from Gene Hackman, Kevin Spacey, John Shea, Clancy Brown and Michael Rosenbaum who have brought Superman's nefarious super genius arch enemy to life in film and television. Without a doubt, Eisenberg's version of Luthor is most distinctive from all other versions. And to my mind, Eisenberg's interpretation of Luthor is a mistake. 

In BVS, Luthor teeters on the edge of insanity from the very first moment, making him immediately a character for everyone to be wary of. There is no effort at charm or effective engagement but instead Lex seems bereft of almost any social skills. Why would anyone want to do business with this guy? I mean, the audience knows Luthor's supposed to be bad guy but it shouldn't be that obvious to other characters around him. Yes, in a way, Eisenberg's Luthor makes a certain amount of sense, a super genius damaged in his youth by an abusive father. But his characterization does not bridge the gap between respectability and evil that Lex Luthor requires to be effective in Superman's world.  


And don't get me started on peeling away at the stinky onion that is Lex Luthor's master plan which was, as best I can figure it, manipulate Batman and Superman into fighting each other and whoever doesn't kill the other gets squashed by his alien Frankenmonster, Doomsday. I'm not sure what exactly Luthor was hoping to gain from all this plotting which relied on a lot of coincidences, happenstances and people being inordinately blind and/or stupid.


Oh for the days when all Luthor wanted to do was turn Arizona into beach front property by dropping California into the sea. Now THAT made sense.

In the end, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has many, many parts, any number of which have a case for being effective in their own way. But the sum of those parts is lacking. A super hero movie, even a really good one, is ultimately a movie time confection, a dessert more than a meal. But instead of an expertly layered cake, BVS leaves us with a messy mishmash of ingredients stirred randomly together.  

_________________________________________

Before I wrap this up, I want to give a shout out to a DC team up done right. This past Monday's episode of Supergirl with Grant Gustin guest starring as The Flash from his own series on the CW was amaze-balls! It was a perfect mix of action, drama and humor as Kara Danvers welcomes Barry Allen from an alternate Earth. 

And just in time too as Supergirl is getting double teamed by Livewire and Silver Banshee. Meanwhile the people of National City still hasn't quite come to terms with Supergirl's Red Kryptonite freak out from two weeks ago. This is a perfect time for a new super powered friend to show up and help out with things.  

Unlike Batman V Superman which ran on too long, Supergirl's team up with the Flash left me wanting to see more of this heroic duo in action. All told, I would say Monday's episode of Supergirl was among the best if not THE best episode of the series. 




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OK, that's all I've got for today. Another new post is on it's way tomorrow. Until then, remember to be good to one another. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Mitch McConnell: The Coward of Kentucky


As we discussed here on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has made a firm stand on what seems to me to be an untenable position: the Senate will not have hearings to confirm the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court…or anyone else that President Obama may care to nominate.


Obama’s opponents on the right are the one who consistently chastise the President for his alleged lack of fidelity to the US Constitution, particularly the use of Executive Orders to accomplish things that are left undone by a recalcitrant Congress. But on the matter of nominating judges to the Supreme Court, the US Constitution is quite clear: the President gets to nominate someone to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. And the President has done so in the person of Merrick Garland who, by almost any standard and in any other time would be considered a shoo-in for confirmation.


And that brings us to the next step of this process as established in the US Constitution, the role of the Senate to advise and consent on the President’s nominee. Herein lies the problem as Mitch McConnell is refusing to act on this Constitutional role because of this idea that the President shouldn’t be nominating people to the Supreme Court in his last year in office. At this late stage, the people should have a say in the nominee to the Supreme Court and thus should be left up to the next President.


As I also noted in Friday’s post, there are so many risks of this blowing up in the Republican’s faces. Can a hard right nominee from President Cruz have a chance to getting past the Senate any more than a liberal one would? Who knows what kind of person President Trump would nominate. And a President Sanders nominee would definitely be to the left and let’s face it, if Sanders were to win the Democratic nomination this summer and go on to win the general election, there’s a very good chance that the Senate majority would switch too with a Democratic majority more than willing to sign off that nominee. And President Hillary Clinton would not likely nominate anyone much different from Merrick Garland except to be a lot younger so he or she will be on the court longer.


The point is that President Obama’s chosen nominee to the Supreme Court really threads the needle for broad range support in the Senate. The only real objections I’ve heard have been from the extreme hard right who doubt Garland would vote to overturn Roe V. Wade and the extreme left wing who think Garland represents Obama forsaking liberal policies for the sake of seeking conservative consensus. 


Here’s something else that’s in the US Constitution: how long a President gets to be President which is at least four years but no more than eight, barring of course death, resignation or impeachment. In short, the President is still the President and gets to do what the President can do for as long as the President remains the President. The same thing, by the way, applies to US Senators. But while the President has done his job per the US Constitution, Senate Republicans are refusing to honor their responsibilities as per that same Constitution.


You might wonder why this happening. There are a lot of people who see this the way I do with overwhelming public opinion in favor of everyone doing what they are supposed to do.


But don’t expect Senate Republicans to cave to the pressure of overwhelming public opinion because there is a more powerful force at work here: the right wing.


Take a look at Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) who has broken from party leadership to say the Senate should get to work and take up hearings on Garland’s nomination. Immediately, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network and the Tea Party Patriots threatened action against the Senator in the form of negative advertising and backing a primary challenger in the next election.  In the meantime, those and other similar organization have spent millions of dollars in support of McConnell and other like minded Republicans. 


Get a load of this quote:  "If Republican senators can't fulfill the basic task of defending the Constitution, they should be defeated at the ballot box," said Ken Cuccinelli of the Senate Conservatives Fund. I’m not sure how NOT doing the work specified by the Constitution is considered defending the Constitution but that’s how these guys roll. Anyway, McConnell has gotten the message. While the majority of Americans want the Senate to do its job, it’s not about serving those Americans. It’s about appeasing the core constituencies back home who don’t want anyone in Congress to do anything Obama wants. And that, dear reader, is where the money is. 


Mitch McConnell is blocking the Senate from acting on its constitutional obligations in order to preserve his own job and he’s afraid he’ll lose his job if he doesn’t throw down with the hard right wing nuts who run the Republican Party these days.


This whole drama in the US Senate, this refusal to do the work of the people as set forth by the US Constitution, is simply because Mitch McConnell is a coward.

For more on this, click here.   


Everyone, be good to one another.

Dave-El
I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

One of these is a cold blooded reptile.
The other is a turtle. 


Monday, March 28, 2016

This (Non) Sporting Life: Crossing a Line

Hi there and welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the blog with a busted bracket. I'm Dave-El and I'm not even beating the point spread. 

Today is another installment of This (Non) Sporting Life, the blog post about sports written by a guy who does not know much about sports. Today's post is centered on the theme of crossing a line. Sometimes we do just one thing more than we should or say one more thing than we ought to and that is what gets us into trouble.  Here are a couple of instances of that happening recently in the world of sports.  

I've noted in this blog before that I am a fan of the Duke Blue Devils Men's Basketball team and a lot of that is owed to the wise and dedicated leadership of coach Mike Krzyzewski. However, after the recent loss in the NCAA Tournament to #1 seeded Oregon, Coach K got himself into some hot water regarding remarks he made to one of Oregon's players, Dillon Brooks, who capped his night with a three point shot to seal an 82-68 victory over Duke. Both the shot and the overall victory gave cause for Brooks to celebrate but a bit too boisterously in Krzyzewski's opinion. So he shares that opinion with Brooks in the post game handshake between teams. 

Typically, I greatly admire Mike Krzyzewski but I gotta call it as I see it and Coach K, that was kind of a dick move. Sorry but it's true. Whatever you thought of Dillon Brooks and his celebratory actions, its not your place to take that up with another team's player. That's crossing a line. 

Sadly, in the uproar erupted over this "instruction" of an Oregon player by Duke's coach, Mike Krzyzewski crossed another line by denying that the conversation went down like that despite video evidence to the contrary. 

Dude, really. 

To his credit, Coach Krzyzewski issued an apology on Saturday, saying "it is not my place to talk to another team's player" and he hoped he "did not create a distraction" for the team. He added that it "took the focus away from the terrific game that Dillon played."

In his apology, Mike Krzyzewski sounded like the Coach K that I've come respect over the last 30 years. But it is disconcerting how uncharacteristic it was for the coach to get into this mess in the first place. Just be cool, Coach K. There are lines that even a legendary all time most winning coach in NCAA basketball should not cross. 

By and by, Oregon went on to fall to Oklahoma in Saturday's game. 

Perhaps having a reputation of being really good in a sport and winning a lot helps to smooth things over when something does go wrong. Unfortunately, NASCAR driver Danica Patrick does not have that to fall back on after a recent dust up on the track. 

I admire the fact that Danica is a groundbreaker, being the first (and I think still only) female driver in NASCAR. However, to date, Danica has not translated her unique status to actually winning races. It may well be that Danica Patrick has opened the door for women drivers in NASCAR but it may have to fall to another woman to actually beat the checkered flag in a race. 

Anyway, as it is with these things in NASCAR races, one car made contact with another car, causing that car to spin out and wreck. This happened to Patrick who climbed out of her wrecked race car physically OK but mentally ready to give somebody what for over this accident. So she marched out on to the track to give someone a piece of her mind over this incident. 































Apparently this is against the rules. No, not giving someone a piece of your mind but marching back onto the track without a car. Seems being on a racetrack during a race without a car can be unsafe. So Patrick was fined $20,000 and put on probation for 4 races. In this case, the line Danica Patrick crossed was a literally crossing a line that the divides the track from the side of the track.  

Another line that has been crossed in the world of sports is using the image of a hot young woman in a low cut black mini dress to promote sports features online. 


















Like I did here. 

I sincerely apologize for posting such a flagrant display of sex appeal in an edition of This (Non) Sporting Life

Such prurient displays have no place on this blog. You know, displays like this one.























Yes, that is wrong. And I'm sorry for crossing that line. 

OK, that's enough for one day. Remember to be good to one another and I'll be back with another post tomorrow.   

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Doctor Who: One More For the Record Books

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the blog that is bigger on the inside that it is in the basement underneath the blog. I'm Dave-El and my chameleon circuit has left me trapped in the shape of a middle aged man. 

Yes, it's a Doctor Who post because it's Sunday and it's my blog so there! But what can I say, I love Doctor Who. And I far from the only one which brings us to the subject of today's post. 

Last weekend at the La Mole Comic Con in Mexico City, the Doctor himself, Peter Capaldi, was on hand to accept a most unusual Guiness World Record award: the world record for Largest Gathering of People Dressed As Doctor Who Characters.  



















A total of 492 people gathered in one spot, all dressed as Daleks, Cybermen and other aliens as well as various companions and the Doctor himself, all 13! And even fans dressed as the TARDIS! 

As a writer for the Radio Times noted, however, if a certain Scottish gentleman in attendance had brought his red lined black jacket, that number would've been 493. 

But can an actor who is playing or has played the Doctor showing up in costume be counted as "cosplay"? 

Anyway, good job, fellow Whovians in Mexico City but for all us Whovians elsewhere in the world, I say, "492? Challenge accepted!" 

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For Whovians who enjoyed watching Doctor Who through streaming services Hulu and Netflex, they have been bereft of their favorite TV show via the internet ever since the BBC pulled Doctor Who from those services over a month ago.

Now Doctor Who will be available for streaming through Amazon Prime starting March 27th. Immediately available will be Series 1 through 8 including all the Christmas specials. Series 9 will not be available until the fall. And there is no word on when or if classic series episodes will be available. 

So the fix is not quite all the way in but at least some Doctor Who is once more available to materialize on your laptops and phones. 

_____________________________

As I write this, the Mystery of the New Companion is still just that, a mystery. Both Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat have said the role has been cast and this character is going to bring something different to the TARDIS, a different tone for the show. 

Capaldi had said the actress was someone he has worked with which sent fans scanning his IMDb page for clues. But I think what he was referring to is that he's met with the new Doctor Who actress, working on their characters and how they'll interact. You know, actor stuff. 

I can assure you that as soon as the news breaks on who this new companion is, I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You will have that information here for you...several days later. 

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Let's call it a day for today's post. Thanks for dropping by. A new post will be up tomorrow. Until then, remember to be good to one another.  

All Things Must Pass

Hi there. Today is post # 1,600 to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You. I'm not sure I should count all of them since some were ...