Sunday, July 31, 2016

Doctor Who: Time For a Woman

Art by Cherry Barrie

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, a yo-yo blog in a sonic screwdriver internet. I'm Dave-El and I'm not wearing a dress today.

Last week, we addressed the subject of an impossible (well, not very likely) casting option for the role of the Doctor. That option? Getting someone who played the Doctor to come back as the Doctor; in other words, have the Doctor regenerate into a face he had before.

However, another option for casting a new Doctor that has been dubbed as “impossible” in the past seems to be gaining more traction of late, the idea that the next Doctor could be a woman.

Click here for my theory on not only casting a woman as the Doctor but who that woman might be.

What brings this topic around once more is, ironically, Matt Smith. After being at the center of the rumor of wanting to come back and be the Doctor again (totally unfounded), it was Matt who broached the subject of a female Doctor. When a fan asked him how her daughter could become the Doctor, Smith said, "Well, she has a chance. I think a lady Doctor could be close. And would be fun. So practice, practice, practice. And talk really fast. And think really fast. And be really brave. And mad. And silly. And good luck maybe it will be you!"

Maybe Matt still keeps in touch with the Doctor Who gang and is letting slip some behind the scenes intel. Or maybe (and this is more likely) he’s got a play to promote and talking up the idea of Doctor Who starring a woman would definitely get some headline space.

But there is no denying that the subject of the Doctor regenerating into a woman keeps coming around and it’s not being pushed away. British actresses have expressed interest in not just being on Doctor Who as a companion but actually being the Doctor.  Current producer Steven Moffat is OK with it. Former cast members including Jenna Coleman, Catherine Tate and Colin Baker have said the time is right for a woman Doctor.

Incoming producer Chris Chibnall has kept his counsel on the subject but as I mentioned in the earlier post, there is some potential motivation on his part to roll the dice and be the one who makes the leap to present a female Doctor.

Joanna Lumley as the Doctor from
Curse of the Fatal Death

The problem with talking about a next Doctor is it feels like one is trying to hurry along the current Doctor. And I’m in no hurry to lose Peter Capaldi. My family recently began a rewatch of Series 9 and as much as I enjoyed Capaldi’s first year as the Doctor, he really kicks it up to a whole other level. I’m really looking forward to what he brings to Series 10 next year.

And speaking of Series 10, here is a pic of Peter with Pearl Mackie on location in Valencia, Spain filming an episode of Doctor Who.

I do enjoy when Doctor Who gets to spend some time outside of its own backyard and film in other countries. It really helps open the show up in a way that is different from shooting in Cardiff pretending to be London. It would be nice if Doctor Who could come back to America for a bit. Can you imagine the irascible 12th Doctor dealing with Americans?  

And speaking of America, Comic Con was last weekend and I was disappointed that Doctor Who did not have a presence there this year. I mean, Moffat was there but that was for Sherlock. (By the way, the new episodes won’t be coming our way until 2017 as well.) I had really hoped Doctor Who would have a panel and perhaps finally show us some sneak previews of the 2016 Christmas special and perhaps announce the return of John Barrowman’s Capt. Jack Harkness. But alas, ‘twas not to be.

And speaking of John Barrowman (this is the last of these “And speaking of..” bits, I promise), the man himself was on hand for Comic Con. The man is going to busy in DC Comics’ TV universe appearing once more on Arrow but also on The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. And who knows, maybe even Supergirl? But while Barrowman may be a DC guy, he does know his Marvel as we see here.

Yes, that’s John Barrowman cosplaying as Squirrel Girl.


OK, that’s that for today’s post. Another new post is on the blog tomorrow and I’ll be back with more Doctor Who stuff next Sunday. Until next time, remember to be good to one another.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Philadelphia Rolled

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, your internet source for pants suits. I'm Dave-El and I've been waiting for this moment since I was a little girl. 

Last week, Cleveland Rocked

This week, Philadelphia Rolled! 

The Democratic National Convention was held in Philadelphia whose city motto is "No! Fuck YOU!" Now the city is being Febreeze'd while dump trucks cart away tons of empty Starsbucks cups along with the broken dreams and battered protest signs of #BernieOrBust fanatics.

The DNC was like an office party: you're only going because there's an open bar and there might be a chance to hook up with that cute girl who works the phones. Hell, that's why Bill Clinton was there. But the woman who owns the office keeps hogging the karaoke machine. 

So how did the coronation of Hillary Clinton progress? Let's take a look back, shall we?

Yes, let's shall.

DNC Day One

Holy freakin’ hell, people! After the hot mess that was the Republican’s convention last week, the bar was pretty damn low for the Democrats to put on a better show. And out of the starting gate, the Dems failed to clear that bar. The outrage of the #BernieOrBust hold outs got seriously stoked by the scandal swirling around the DNC email hack and the revelations that the Democratic National Committee were definitely leaning pro-Hillary during the primary season. The only thing worse than an angry paranoid person is an angry paranoid person who is right and the convention was packed with these guys. 

Everybody got booed. No matter who tried to speak, there were angry boos coming from the crowd. Hell, someone dredged up that Republican anti-Hillary chant, “Lock her up! Lock her up!”  Meanwhile, even Bernie Sanders was getting booed. He got ‘em riled up during the primaries but even he couldn’t shut ‘em down come convention time.  (For more on Bernie, check out yesterday's post.) 

Was anybody paying attention to Demi Lovato singing “What’s Wrong With Being Confident?” Did they boo that too? They better not! Demi Lovato is a national treasure! A treasure, I tells ya! 

It got to the point where comedian Sarah Silverman had enough. An ardent Sanders supporter herself, she told the assembled throng that the #BernieOrBust people were “being ridiculous”. And they booed that.  

And then…. 

<cue heavenly light from above>

<cue angels singing>

 …there was Michelle Obama! 

The First Lady, resplendently beautiful and poised as always, delivered a strong, passionate speech that cut away at the messages of hate and fear that have dominated our political landscape and spoke of the greatness of the American spirit and the potential of all of us to pursue our dreams in peace and freedom.  

Oh God, I’m going to miss her.  And if anyone dared booed during this wonderful woman’s speech, they deserved to be slapped upside the head with the greatness of the back of my American hand.  

DNC Day Two 
And lo upon the coming of the 2nd day, the people were still pissed but slightly less so. Maybe the harsh cold reality was setting in for some of the delegates: "I hate Hillary Clinton but I really fucking HATE Donald Trump!"

Tuesday is when a political convention takes a vote from the delegates to formally nominate the nominee. That's the part where a delegate gets to shout something inane like "FROM THE GREAT STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA, HOME OF THE LARGEST EAR OF CORN IN AMERICA, WE CAST OUR VOTE FOR..."

And this is where things could've gotten dicey. The #BernieOrBust crowd could've made a big stink about things. But Bernie Sanders had stayed on message throughout the convention and that message was, "Hillary is the nominee. Support her or we're getting Trump for a President." There was an aberration to Bernie's appeal for togetherness as 200 delegates walked off the floor in protest. But no one paid them any mind and Bernie himself pledged all the delegates he had won to Hillary Clinton. A sincerely classy gesture from Hillary's former rival.

So much like the Republicans last week, the Democrats avoided the drama and smoothly, efficiently and officially declared Hillary Clinton as the nominee of their party to the office of President of the United States of America, the first time ever that a woman has secured the nomination of a major political party for the highest office in this country.

You would think that would be a bigger deal. Oh well.

DNC Day Three
The cloud of the email scandal still hung over things as attention turned from what was in the emails to how they got out in the first place. Early intelligence indicated the hackers were Russian. A lot of fingers were pointing at Putin, accusing Russia's leader of trying to influence the US election in favor of his good friend Donald Trump. Trump denied knowing Putin but then adding that if Russian has any more of Hillary's emails, they should turn those over too.

Yes, Donald Trump was appealing to a foreign government to do opposition research for him. And yes, Republican VP nominee My Pants...Mike Pence, dammit!... ran as hard as he could in the opposite direction of that statement.

So the black cloud of the email scandal gave a glimmer of a silver lining for the Democrats, yet another question mark about Donald's character and capabilities of being President.

Tim Kaine, Clinton's VP running mate, gave a speech. Gosh darn it, he is quite a nice fellow, isn't he? He's like a really friendly neighborhood dad. But boy are they really pushing that Spanish speaking thing. Por favor! We get it!

Outgoing VP Joe Biden gave perhaps the best speech of his career. Joe is so cool, he can use words like "malarkey" and get away with it.

But the big story was the Big Dog himself, the current President, Barack Obama, addressing the convention. To chants of "Four More Years" (oh, if only), the President spent most of his time on stage being reflective and if anybody has the right to do that, it's an outgoing President. But Obama made a very strong assertion that the future is in good hands with Hillary Clinton who came out to give the Prez a big ol' hug.

Shhhh! They're sleeping.

DNC Day Four
The fires of protest were still burning but it was more of a smolder by the time Thursday rolled around.

Thursday was Hillary's big night but earlier in the evening, a soft spoken unassuming Muslim immigrant from Pakistan named Khizr Kahn stole everyone's hearts with an emotional take down of Donald Trump. Kahn lost his son who served with the US Army in Iraq. Kahn chastised Trump for his divisiveness and his ignorance. Waving a copy of the US Constitution, Kahn berated Trump with the question if Trump had ever actually read it. Kahn added, "You have sacrificed nothing and no one."

It was a powerful moment but time could not linger for long upon it because the hour came around when it was time for...

Hillary! The Movie!

It was a pleasant excursion into the life Hillary Clinton and her dedication to public service narrated by no less than Morgan Freeman. Morgan freakin' Freeman! That man should narrate everything!

Then Hillary Clinton herself came on stage and gave... well, a pretty good speech. OK, she's no Barack Obama or Bill Clinton or even Joe Biden. But she made her case for why people should vote for her and her case for people should not vote for Trump. She's not picky, all right? And then she got to do for real what she first practiced doing when she was a little girl: she accepted the nomination for President of the United States.

And...we're off! General election time! Around 100 days between now and election day and boy is going to get rough. Donald Trump is already snarling and jerking at the chain to be set loose on Crooked Hillary. And Hillary has the daunting task of trying to convince voters she is not a she-harpy from the pits of hell and they should vote for her and not the Oompa Loompa on steroids.

Guys and gals, it's going to be a scary as hell 100 days.

Everyone, be especially good to one another. I'll be back with another post tomorrow.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Bernie Sanders' Revolution

Before we get started today, let me urge you to click on this link right here. It is post I wrote in August of last year. Before the first debate, before the first vote was cast, Bernie Sanders was lighting a fire under the Democratic electorate.

A year later, where are we now? 

Yesterday, the Democratic National Convention for 2016 came to a close. Over the course of the week, a lot of people raged in the cages of their dissatisfaction. A lot of people growled as they pulled on the chains of their frustration. They shook their fists at the unyielding wall of a system that defied their hopes and aspirations.

They were the supporters of Bernie Sanders, a man who gave voice to their pain, to their anger. A man who spoke the unvarnished truth about the source of power in this country, in this world and how it must be fought against. A man who spoke to fevered dreams of young people who face an uncertain future, that he would help make that future more certain, more prosperous for all people, not just a few.

In the end, Bernie Sanders was defeated in his quest. He ultimately accepted that defeat and vowed to turn his efforts to supporting his rival towards victory over Donald Trump. His followers, however, were not all prepared to make the journey with him.

In the end, Bernie Sanders could not contain the fire he started.

Of course the leak of the DNC emails and the revelations of the party's considerable bias against Bernie Sanders' campaign for the presidency stoked a lot of anger at the start of the convention. But that scandal was merely fuel. The fire was already burning before that story broke.

When Bernie Sanders entered the race for President in 2015, he was decidedly the odd man out. The cranky old dude in the rumpled suit and even more rumpled white hair, no one gave him a chance. By the time the primary season was over, he had won 22 contests. Over the course of that time, Bernie drew larger and larger crowds of people, young people, passionate and energized.

What was Bernie's appeal to this galvanized group of supporters?

Let's start with that unquiet dread that lurks in the backs of our minds, that the world is spinning out of our control and that more and more power is being held by fewer and fewer hands. We're told by politicians, cookie cutter copies in black suits and manicured hair that they can make things better. And then they don't.

Bernie did not look like those other guys and certainly didn't talk like them either. He gave voice to that communal dread but he also spoke to the power to stand up to those forces that would take our country, our world away from the people for the sake of the super wealthy and their corporations.

Older voters knew Bernie was speaking the truth but heard no solid, sustainable plans to shift the balance of power. Bernie was basically about breaking up the banks and paying for everyone to go to college. It sounds good but how can you make that happen without serious consequences to the stability of our economy and our government?

Younger voters knew Bernie was speaking the truth but didn't care about the details. Boom! Break up the banks! Boom! Free college! Boom! Everything's fixed! It seems simple! Let's go do that!

Bernie Sanders' mixture of rage against the system and pipe dreams for the future was a potent combination and it sustained Bernie's campaign for President far longer than anyone had ever imagined possible. To his credit, Sanders energized a block of voters that otherwise would've sat on the sidelines. The problem was when it was time to go, Sanders could not direct them to willingly support Hillary Clinton.

For Sanders supporters, Hillary Clinton was seen as part of the system and thus part of the problem. Hillary wants to be President for the sake of being President. She can't be trusted. 

Early on, Bernie Sanders mostly eschewed negative, personal attacks on Hillary Clinton. But as the campaign wore on, Bernie began questioning Hillary's experience and her integrity, her ability to actually serve as President. It was hard to watch. Bernie Sanders started a revolution for something, to make the lives of Americans better. By the end, he was leading a revolt against Hillary Clinton and the rest of the Democratic Party. 

It was a hard time for Clinton and the party. On the other side of the hedge, the Republicans began the campaign season with a crowed field of also rans and nobodies. Oh and Donald Trump but nobody was taking him seriously. The GOP was a fractured mess. The rivals for the Democratic nomination were by comparison the grown ups in the room, holding debates on actual policy issues as opposed to discussions of penis size.

But faster than anyone anticipated, the GOP contenders all fell way and only Donald Trump was left standing. Truly a nightmare scenario if there ever was one. But just when Clinton expected to be wrapping things up and could turn her focus on Trump, Bernie Sanders was still stirring the pot, turning up the heat. 

It has been said that Bernie Sanders did Hillary Clinton a favor by running such a brisk and energetic campaign, forcing her to improve her game and not fall into complacency. But Bernie wasn't running to give Hillary a work out. He was running because he believed in his revolution. The big mistake came when he came to believe he and he alone could lead it. 

Because in any campaign, someone must win which means by default someone must lose whether its by a lot or a little. The numbers ultimately fell short for Bernie but he wouldn't concede defeat for himself because he couldn't concede defeat for his revolution.

But what hope is there for the ideals of that revolution? If Hillary Clinton came out of the fire he created more cracked than tempered, what chances do the ideals of Bernie Sanders and his followers have under a Trump Presidency?

November will tell the tale if Bernie Sanders was a worthy opponent of Hillary Clinton who furthered the just and righteous cause of giving power back to the people. Or if Bernie was the one who lit the match that burned the whole damn thing to the ground.

Tomorrow, more political fun than you can stick a shake at.

Until then, remember to be good to one another.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Pixar Project: The Incredibles

Hi there! Today's post is an installment of The Pixar Project as my family goes through a re-watch in chronological order of Pixar's animated features. Today brings us to what may be one of the best...of not THE best film from Pixar, The Incredibles. 

The Incredibles marks a significant break with the Pixar movie making method.

  • The film was written and directed by one person.
  • That one person was recruited from outside the Pixar team.
  • It was Pixar’s first film with a predominantly human cast.
  • At two hours long, it was longer than the average animated feature.
  • The tone and themes of The Incredibles skewed to an older demographic than previous Pixar productions.

But while The Incredibles was different from what had come before, it was still a culmination of what Pixar had been building towards in their previous 5 movies. Sweeping kinetic action sequences, nuanced character development, humor and heart as well as a fearlessness to tackle dark moments or adult themes. 
The Incredibles opens with a quiet montage of interviews with Mr. Incredible, Elasti-Girl and Frozone. Mr. Incredible expresses a desire to settle down while Elasti-Girl still so psyched using her powers to fight crime. And after that quiet and somewhat awkward opening, it’s time for ACTION! Mr. Incredible is needed to save the day. But over the course of several action packed minutes, the seeds are sown for Mr. Incredible’s downfall and the end of all super heroes

15 years later. Mr. Incredible is just Bob Parr, a lowly drone working in an insurance company and he’s not coping very well with settling down. Meanwhile, Helen Parr, the erstwhile Elasti-Girl, is the proverbial happy homemaker with an infant son named Jack-Jack. We later meet two more kids, elementary school student Dash who has super speed and is very frustrated he can’t use his powers openly; and Violet, a high schooler with force field powers, the ability to turn invisible and a total lack of self-confidence. There’s a lot of tension at the family dinner table with this group.
Events transpire to send Bob on a secret mission, to be Mr. Incredible once more. After taking out a super killer robot, Mr. Incredible is promised there will  be more work for him in the future. But the tables turn when Mr. Incredible is trapped by the nefarious Syndrome who has been working on a very big burning hot pile of hate ever since Mr. Incredible refused him as a sidekick 15 years before.
Not sure what the hell is going, Helen Parr goes to find her husband. She is forced to bring her older kids along after they secretly followed her. On Syndrome’s deadly island compound, the Parr family is reunited as they use their powers to fight off armed henchmen but Syndrome captures them and then heads off to attack the city with his super duper killer robot.  But the Incredibles escape, stop the robot (with some help from Frozone) and Syndrome (with some help from Jack-Jack). And in the end, it seems the world might be ready for super heroes again. 
And that really glosses over a LOT of stuff that makes this movie so good. But The Incredibles is jam packed with so many good things. It's hard to know where to start.

The Incredibles defies what we expect from an animated film.

It’s an action adventure movie. It’s a James Bond spy thriller. OMG, the bad guy has a massive secret island base inside a volcano! (Seriously, what are the costs for building such a thing? The infrastructure requirements alone are staggering to conceive.)

It’s a drama about a dysfunctional family hiding beneath a fracturing veneer of normality. Helen Parr’s trying to hold it all together but her husband’s frustration is pushing his limits like stressed seems of his button down shirts. And the kids are struggling with their roles in life, chafing at the restrictions of not using their powers as well as the limits that any kid feels when they’re young.

There’s elements of film noir with Bob Parr as a central male character being led astray by an alluring woman into a mystery he can’t begin  to understand that has killed too many of his friends.

There are any number of movie archetypes at play in The Incredibles, all of which we know so well from live action films. And here they are, being acted out by computer drawings. The Incredibles amazes as it merges animation with what we would expect from live action films to create something unexpected, something new.

The Incredibles is many things at once: funny and sad, dark and joyful. It has an epic sweep but is firmly rooted in the strength and the love of family.

Wow. It is hard to distill what makes The Incredibles such a wonderful entry in the list of Pixar films. And I haven’t even mentioned Edna Mode?

Simply put, The Incredibles is… incredible. 

Tomorrow, we're back to politics as reflect on the man who saved the Democratic Party... or burned it to the ground.

Saturday, I post a wrap up of the week's Democratic National Convention. Feel the love! Hear the boos!

Sunday, we're back with a  Doctor Who post so it will be about something less ridiculous than politics.

Until next time, remember to be good to one another.

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sex and the Killing Joke

First there were comic books. Then there was Alan Moore.

OK, a whole bunch of stuff happened between the development of the medium we call comic books and the advent of writer Alan Moore in the American comic book scene. But such was the shock to the system that madman from across the water had on the way we read comic books, the way we thought about them.  It’s been over 30 years since Alan Moore first made his mark in America, taking over as writer of DC’s Swamp Thing series. Yet his influence holds sway over fans and professionals to this day. Watchmen. V For Vendetta. Miracleman. These are significant touchpoints in the history of comics where Moore changed the very definition of what makes a protagonist in a comic book.

One particularly significant work from Alan Moore for DC Comics was the graphic novel, The Killing Joke. 

Produced with fellow Brit superstar artist Brian Bolland, The Killing Joke is an ultimate confrontation between the Batman and the Joker. Moore reveals that like Batman, the Joker was born from the emotional scars of a very bad day. But where Batman seeks to bring order, the Joker brings chaos. The Batman expects the world to make sense; the Joker expects the world to not make any sense at all.  Moore’s examination of the dichotomy between Batman and Joker is moving and thought provoking. Paired with the gorgeous artwork of Brian Bolland with colorist John Higgins, The Killing Jokes rightfully stands as a classic.

But it is not without controversy.

Early on, there is a sequence where the Joker invades the home of Commissioner Gordon and he shoots his daughter Barbara through the spine, paralyzing her. While she is helpless, the Joker strips Barbara of her clothes and takes photos of her. It is a very uneasy sequence to witness. Barbara’s trauma is taken further than anything we were used to. The overtones of sexual violence are very disturbing. 

Moore’s intent was to show a Joker going further than ever before. He wants to show Commissioner Gordon his own very, very bad day and drive him to madness. Because madness is the only response that makes sense from the Joker’s perspective. Any other response is just crazy. 

Still, the assault on Barbara Gordon (who had only recently given up her crime fighting career as Batgirl) has troubling connotations, however unintentional. Within the pages of The Killing Joke, Barbara is only one of two female characters and she exists to get shot by the Joker to motivate the subsequent actions of her father and Batman. Barbara is reduced to victim and plot device.

There is another woman in the story; we see her in flashbacks to a time before the Joker was the Joker. A struggling comedian gets roped into a life of crime to provide for his pregnant wife who ultimately winds up being killed in a freak accident. So there’s that.

To be fair, The Killing Joke is a sparsely populated story. We have Batman, Barbara, the Commissioner, the Joker plus the pre-Joker comedian and his wife as well as assorted hoods. The fact that two people who need to drive the story forward are both women and both wind up being victims is unfortunate but I’m sure was unintentional. I believe Alan Moore has himself expressed regret about that circumstance of the story.

This weekend saw the debut of the new animated film based on The Killing Joke. It is an adaption with a pretty amazing pedigree. 

  • Bruce Timm, famed producer of the legendary Batman: The Animated Series. 
  • Voice actors Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker. 
  • Noted comic book writer Brian Azzarello co-writing the adaption. 

The Killing Joke is notable for being the first animated super hero movie to earn an R rating. It has also earned a lot of scorn. 

The negative feedback stems from a good intention. Bruce Timm noted that The Killing Joke did not provide enough material for a full movie so a decision was made to bolster the role of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, to actually have her involved in the action of the film instead of just showing up to get shot by the Joker. The idea was to develop Barbara within the movie and make us care about her as a character.

So the 1st third of the movie is an extended prologue that establishes a working relationship between Batman and Batgirl. Except Batgirl comes off as not particularly well skilled but appears to be in this super hero game to be close to her crush, a certain Caped Crusader. It is a crush that gives in to lust when Batman and Batgirl have sex on a rooftop.

Hold on. Did I just write “Batman and Batgirl have sex on a rooftop”?  

Yes. Yes, I did. 

After that sexual encounter, Batman tries to shut Batgirl out. Yes, Batman’s being a total dick about it. Meanwhile, Batgirl is telling Batman to stop being a dick about it, it was just sex, it doesn’t mean anything.

Yes, this is how The Killing Joke earned that R rating.

Then the story picks up where the original comic starts. And poor Barbara gets shot by the Joker.

Except now she’s the girl Batman had sex with and he feels guilty about that which I guess adds extra motivation to the Batman beating the crap out of the Joker. Because male super heroes only really get riled up at bad guys who have done bad things to the hero’s wife/girlfriend/girl he had sex with.   

So Barbara Gordon becomes even more of a plot device than before. 

Never mind the relative “ick” factor of Batman and Batgirl having a sexual relationship. In most stories, Batman has at best a father/daughter rapport with Batgirl. In other stories, he barely tolerates her.  So the idea of Batman and Batgirl having sex is virtually inconceivable.*

*Though not 100% unheard of. In the Batman Beyond comic, Bruce Wayne gets Barbara Gordon pregnant which drives a wedge between Bruce and Dick Grayson.

The sad thing is that all the people associated with this seemed to think they were doing right by Barbara Gordon, that these additions were improvements to her story. But all it does is take Barbara from being a victim once to being a victim twice.

Barbara and The Killing Joke both deserved better. 


Tomorrow, a subject more fun to talk about as The Pixar Project continues with The Incredibles. 

And Friday and Saturday, I catch up with the political stories for the week coming out of the Democratic National Convention. 

Until next time, remember to be good to one another.

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

North Carolina Is Not an All Star

Earlier this year, the legislature of North Carolina (the state where I reside in my Fortress of Ineptitude) passed a law known as House Bill 2 which among other things gutted legal protections for the LGBT community. At the center of this bill was a provision prohibiting using a bathroom for a gender other than the one you were biologically born with. This so-called "bathroom bill" has so far brought a lot of negative publicity to North Carolina and resulted in millions of dollars moving away from the state.  Entertainers have cancelled concerts, businesses have stopped plans to build or expand in the state.  

The latest blow to North Carolina's economic health came last week from the NBA who announced that the 2017 All Star Game that was going to be played in Charlotte NC would be withdrawn from that city and played elsewhere. The cost to the state economy? $100 million! 

The NBA's withdrawal of this game is only the latest negative consequence that the state has suffered as a result of HB2. Meanwhile, more than 200 major CEOs and business leaders signed an open letter calling for full repeal of HB2, including many of North Carolina’s largest employers.

The letter said in part, "Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in North Carolina or anywhere in our country. As  companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you and the  leadership of North Carolina’s legislature to repeal this law in the upcoming legislative session."

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewsi called HB2 an embarrassment to the state.  HB2 has already interfered with Duke's basketball schedule with certain schools unable to play games in North Carolina as a result of boycotts and travel bans in protest of HB2.  

HB2 was a poorly thought out solution to a problem that did not exist. It is a political tool that exists to energize the ultra conservative base of the Republican party.  Take a look at the response from North Carolina governor Pat McCrory who signed HB2 and continues to stand beside the bill.   

“The sports and entertainment elite, Attorney General Roy Cooper and the liberal media have for months misrepresented our laws and maligned the people of North Carolina."   

McCrory is running for re-election against Cooper for governor. And note the use of "elite" (people who think they are better than you) and "liberal media" (any media that doesn't fall in line with conservative views). HB2 is a great tool for getting the base all worked up to come out and vote in November. "All that stands between your little girl in a bathroom with a pervert is Pat McCrory" is the message here, loud and clear.  

McCrory goes on to say that "American families should be on notice that the selective corporate elite are imposing their political will on communities in which they do business, thus bypassing the democratic and legal process.”

I am intrigued by this statement (and there's that code word again, "elite"). These corporations are imposing their economic will which they have every right to do. If someone doesn't want to do business in North Carolina because of your silly law, governor, then they don't have to. And if you feel strongly enough in the rightness of your cause, then you need to suck it up and accept there's a price to pay for your support of that law.  

The thing is that Gov. McCrory and others like him make this about bathrooms and that's not what's at stake here. North Carolina has enacted a law that is designed to discriminate against a specific set of citizens. And anytime government intervenes to do that, that needs to be called into question. The governor of Georgia, when confronted with the same kind of bill in his state, vetoed it. Yeah, there were threats of economic harm to the state but he also noted he could not be part of restricting the rights of a certain group of citizens. As an American and as a Christian, it did not seem to be the right thing to do.  

But Gov. McCrory has stubbornly stuck by HB2 even as the costs keep mounting, not just in dollars but in reputation. North Carolina is seen as a state that legally condones discrimination. There is no effective way to enforce HB2 unless someone is stationed at every public restroom for a quick crotch grope. It is the fact of HB2's very existence that is anathema to people who believe this country is for all citizens and not just the people who are like us. 

Thanks for reading. I'll be back with another post tomorrow. Until then, remember to be good to one another. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Very Summertime Sort Of Day

Dave-El and his wife Andrea at the ball game
while their daughter Miranda looks for any avenue of escape.

I'm not a big being outside kind of person. All the stuff I really like to do (reading, writing, watching TV/movies/internet stuff) are best accomplished within the hermetically sealed air conditioned environs of my home that I call the Fortress of Ineptitude. And there is no time of the year that I really appreciate being inside than in the good old summertime. 

Outside is where the bugs are. 

And the heat. 

And the humidity. 

And other people. Hot, sweaty other people.  

But sometimes, summertime demands you go out and actually do summertime stuff. So it was on Saturday that the El family ventured forth from the Fortress into the sun- 


,<deep breath>

Let's try that again.  

So it was on Saturday that the El family ventured forth from the Fortress into the sun to spend a most summertime sort of day.  

We went to the pool for a few hours. I have to admit, I enjoy a trip to the pool, particularly if I can find a nice spot along a wall somewhere and I can be left alone to just gently bob in the water.  

I should point out I can't swim. 

It's not that I don't have the ability to swim. You just stick your arms out in front of you and propel yourself through the water. It's just like flying. Well, that's how Aquaman does it. OK, I understand there's some kind of movement required. But it's COORDINATED movement and I'm just not that good at choreography. 

But the main thing that impedes my ability to swim is my skeletal structure which lacks sufficient buoyancy to facilitate proper swimming. 

What do you mean that's not true? I have a disability. Don't mock me for my disability. That's bullying. Yes, a skeletal structure which lacks sufficient buoyancy is a disability. Yes, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

Despite my disability (Shut up!), I do enjoy spending time in the pool. Granted, there are other people in the pool, some in closer proximity that I am necessarily comfortable with. There I am, bobbing in the water, nearly naked, within feet (inches, even!) of another nearly naked person that I don't know and don't want to know. Thankfully, the pool we went to on Saturday is fairly large and I was able to minimize interactions with other human persons.  

When my family goes to the pool, we spend our entire time in the pool. None of this laying out on a towel or a deck chair to get some sun. I paid good money to spend time in a large concrete structure filled with thousands of gallons of chlorinated water and I'll be damned if I'm not going to spend every possible second in that large concrete structure filled with thousands of gallons of chlorinated water. If I wanted to just lay out in the sun, I could do that at home except I'm not going to do that at home because I don't want to do that at home, I don't want to do that at all, I want to submerge in thousands of gallons of chlorinated water which I can't do at home so I'm staying in that friggin' pool until I'm friggin' wrinkled like friggin' Yoda! 

I really like the pool. 

The other summertime thing we did on Saturday was go to a baseball game. Our local minor league team is the Greensboro Grasshoppers and we try to go to at least 1 game a year. This time we had really good seats, about 8 rows back behind home plate. 

Of course we had tickets for the hottest day of the summer so far. The temperate dropped to 92 degrees by the time the game started. The humidity was at 156%. 

Just our luck, the theme for Saturday's game was Christmas in July which I absolutely hate. There was a Christmas tree on the concourse and Christmas carols blasting over the sound system. Various Hoppers staffers where in Santa hats, joyfully expiring from heat exhaustion. Everything was awash in the fuzzy warm glow of the Yuletide season and excessive perspiration.  

Santa makes an appearance to kvetch about the humidity. 

The game was filled with the usual shenanigans: racing sausages, sumo wrestlers, human hamburgers. Oh  and baseball. There was baseball. 

As I noted here last year, the main draw for my family is the post games fireworks show and that means I don't want the game to go on any longer than it has to. To that end, the Grasshoppers need to be winning so that the game ends at the bottom of the 9th inning. Which looked good for awhile with Greensboro up 3 to 0. Then in the 7th inning, the Augusta Greenjackets (really!) loaded the bases and then hit a home run. This is called a Grand Slam and it's not just a breakfast special at Denny's. I had never seen one before. (The baseball thing, I mean although that also applies to the Denny's special. I've never eaten at Denny's. Maybe one day if I lose a bet or something.)  

So now Greensboro is down by one but comes roaring back at the bottom of the 7th with 3 more runs and now the score is 6 to 4. August pops one off at the top of the 9th but can do no more damage and the Grasshoppers win which means we can get to our fireworks faster! 

Guilford the Grasshopper leads the crowd in a wave
or is flailing about in the throes of heat stroke, one or the other. 

During the game, we have chances to score a free biscuit at Biscuitville if the pitcher strikes out the batter. Biscuitville is a fast food chain in the southern United States that specializes in (get this!) biscuits. So whenever one of these opportunities come around, you will hear a crowd of 4 to 5 thousand people start chanting, "Biscuits! Biscuits! Biscuits! Biscuits!" Hey, it's a free biscuit and Biscuitville makes really good (hold on to your hats!) biscuits.  

This blog post is being brought to you by: 

I received no paid consideration for this sponsorship but I wouldn't say no to a free biscuit.  

At Saturday's game, I don't think I would've said no to free anything. We barely sat down in our seats and it was immediately apparent we were going to need some liquid. Before the first pitch, I've spent $10.50 on bottled water for the three of us. $10.50? Later there were the hot dogs and popcorn. And after that, Dipping Dots. What are Dipping Dots? They are the Ice Cream of the Future! I really don't see the big deal with Dipping Dots but other than the fireworks, that's probably the #1 thing my wife and daughter go on about. Are we going to get Dipping Dots? Is it time for Dipping Dots? Can we go get Dipping Dots now? Geez!

On to the fireworks which were spectacular as always.  

And thus ended our very summertime sort of day.  Outside in the sun, with the people, enjoying life. 

We spent the entire day Sunday inside in order to recover from our ordeal.

And I'm so glad my suffering amuses you.

And now... fireworks! 




Tinkerbell! NOOOOOOOO!!!

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