Tuesday, August 23, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: 8/23/16

Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed a bill which no longer requires New York cabdrivers to speak English.

A quick survey found most New Yorkers asking, "Did they ever?"







Students in North Korean are being taught classes about “doom” and preparing for the end of the world.

In related news, Hillary Clinton is ahead in most polls.


At a city council meeting in Austin, Texas, council member Don Zimmerman told a group of visiting Latino high school students to "do something useful" so they didn't have to "live off others."

In response, the students pledged not to enter politics.


Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson has suggested that cities could save money by replacing history teachers with Ken Burns' documentaries and Google searches.

Wisconsin voters have suggested replacing Senator Johnson with a Blu-Ray of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.



New Jersey is reporting a spike in people addicted to loperamide, the active ingredient in Imodium A-D, with many taking up to 24 tablets a day.

On the positive side, these same people have reported saving a lot of money on toilet paper.




Izzat Artykov, a weightlifter from Kyrgyzstan, was stripped of his bronze medal at the Olympics after testing positive for rat poison.

Asked why he ingested it, Artykov said it was cheaper than Raid.



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Monday, August 22, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: 8/22/16



In Dayton, Ohio, Michael Henson, 35,was arrested for attempting to have sexual intercourse with a red van.

"In Henson's defense," said Dayton Police spokesman Brad Lanes, "it was easy to confuse it with Kim Kardashian."



Pastor Tony Perkins, who calls natural disasters God's punishment of gays, saw his home destroyed by floods in Louisiana last week.

"While there's a lot of damage," Perkins told reporters, "I'm just grateful that my collection of Joan Crawford movies was saved."



Barbara Streisand successfully demanded that Apple CEO Tim Cook fix Suri's pronunciation of her last name on iPads and iPhones.

Going forward, Suri will pronounce "Streisand" as "Obnoxious Yenta."





One of Donald Trump's spiritual advisers, Frank Amedia, says God told him the GOP presidential candidate will bring about the Second Coming.

Informed of this, Melania Trump said, "That's one more than I've gotten since being married."


In related news, Joseph Schmitz, one of the Trump campaign advisers, is accused of bragging about firing Jewish employees during his time as Defense Dept. Inspector General, as well as being a Holocaust denier.

"This is typical of Schmitz," a press release from Hillary Clinton said, "taking a good idea and not shutting up about it."


In Rio, BBC-TV Olympics reporter Dan Walker was interrupted during his broadcast by a couple in the background having sex in the beach.

The man was later disqualified by judges after testing positive for Viagra. 



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Friday, August 19, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: THE KID IN THE CHAIR EDITION

The world briefly stopped what it was doing yesterday when a photo of a Syrian boy who barely survived an airstrike in his hometown of Aleppo hit newspapers, television and the internet.

The five year-old, Omran Daqneesh, immediately became a symbol of the long, bloody civil war raging in Syria between President Bashar al-Assad's army and rebel forces. When asked about being an overnight celebrity, Omran smiled.

"Oh, come on," he chuckled. "Me? What about those American swimmers in Rio who pissed all over the bathroom floor and tore a door of its hinges? That's what you guys should be putting on page one. That's a real international incident, not a civil war in a country nobody else could find on a map even you spotted them an "S", a "Y" and an "R" and pointed their finger in the right direction!"

Asked if he was being overly-modest, Omran, brushing rubble out of his hair, replied, "Look, those swimmers just threw away a bundle in endorsement deals in five minutes. Me? I never had a shot, period. I'm five years old, this war is all I know. Those guys came this close to the good life, and dropped the ball, if I can mix sports metaphors."

"And I'm not trying to eat humble felafel here," Omran continued, as doctors rushed past him, attending to those even more seriously wounded. "Look at it from my point of view. Something like 400,000 Syrians have been killed in the last five years. Half the population are refugees somewhere else. I'm still alive with my parents. At least I think they're still alive, fingers crossed!" he laughed. Unable to physically cross his fingers due to his injuries, Omran added, "You get what I'm saying."

Informed that Kate Bolduan of CNN cried on air over video footage of the child, Omran shook his head. "A couple of things. First, that's pretty unprofessional behavior for a news anchor. Their job is to give the news, not pluck on heartstrings. Second, you know how many kids have been injured during this war? I'm just the one who got his picture taken. Call it the luck of the draw."

Apparently taken back by his own reaction, Omran coughed up some blood and quickly apologized for his outburst. "I'm sorry, I'm a little tired. I haven't gotten a good night's sleep in, oh, my entire life." Asked if he was angry, Omran said, "Angry? That's kind of pointless, right?  Why should I be mad at your president and that lady who used to be secretary of state? I mean, I know they lit the fuse that blew up this whole country by saying 'Assad must go' -- and, by the way, it's 'al-Assad,' let's get that straight. But me sitting here saying, 'Oh, I hate you, Obama and Clinton!' -- that only hurts me. if I want to hurt them, there are better ways of doing it."

As interns came by with a stretcher, Omran told reporters, "In fact, if I survive the next 15 years, I'd like to visit America with some of my friends. We'd like to go to one of your important cities and see the big buildings. I hear you have a new World Trade Center! That would be very interesting to visit. Yes, you'll be hearing from us, if... if... oh what's the phrase?..."

Placed on the stretcher, the words came to him. "Oh yes, now I remember. Allah willing!" As he was whisked down the hall past dozens of injured Syrians, he called back, "Be on the lookout for us!"

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: 8/18/16

Europe's growing army of robot workers could be classed as 'electronic persons' and their owners liable to paying social security for them if the European Union adopts a draft plan to address the new industrial revolution.

Observers say that this proves robots and politicians are more alike than we'd like to admit, since both possess artificial intelligence.



Brunhilde Pomsel, 105, is the subject of a new documentary titled A German Life, having been Josef Goebbels' personal secretary from 1942 to his death in 1945.

Pomsel has been offered a job with Donald Trump's campaign, since she has first-hand knowledge of "extreme vetting."





"This doesn't mean, however," he quickly added, "that all men are jihadis."




A study by Cancer Research UK found that cancer survivors have as much sex as those who never had the disease.

They also found that the spouses of those who died had even more sex with younger, better-looking partners.



Rumors are swirling over Hillary Clinton's physical health, as she requires a large pillow for her back whenever she's sitting in a chair.

Insiders say that the injury was caused from incessantly bending over backwards to avoid giving a straight answer to any question.




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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

MOVIE OF THE DAY: "THE CLAIRVOYANT" (1934)

The Clairvoyant, a classy British production, takes no moral or scientific stand on the concept of telepathy. Therefore, believers and non-believers alike will find it alternately consoling and irritating. All in all, an excellent idea.

A charlatan named Maximus and his wife Rene are touring the British music halls with a phony mind-reading act. One night, a sympathetic fan named Christine channels her own real telepathic gift through Maximus, turning his life upside down. 

While his salary and acclaim rise dramatically, his personal life falls apart, as he spends more time with Christine; neither can work without the other. And in their wake lies a stream of tragedy. By the end, Maximus is on trial for the deaths of hundreds of workers in a subway tunnel disaster. They really should have seen that coming, right?

The unanswered mystery looming over the The Clairvoyant's climax is if Maximus predicted these events, or if Christine caused them to happen by using Maximus as her telepathic receiver, for her own nefarious reasons. (Did I mention that her father is the publisher of the biggest newspaper in London?) Max, just hang up on her!


"Hello all you people in radio land. I hope you haven't
made any long-term plans."
The Clairvoyant's poster promises "The Eternal Triangle," but it's more like two-and-a-half sides. While Christine is clearly enamored of Maximus, even behaving like his wife in front of Rene, the love is never returned. He might be spending time with her, but he really is working late -- honest!



The eyes have it.
Director Maurice Elvey heightens the drama with quick edits and extreme close-ups, especially of the always-wonderful Claude Rains (as Maximus). Somehow, in the pre-CGI age, Rains' eyes positively glow when he goes into a trance. Technicians had to work at these things back then. 

Modern audiences would probably find much of The Clairvoyant a bit unsubtle. I think that's the point. This movie is about a phony who discovers that he's the real deal -- and has the body count to prove it. How subtle would their reaction be? Even if their eyes didn't glow.


For its stateside release, The Clairvoyant was re-titled The Evil Mind, probably because the studio didn't think Americans knew what "clairvoyant" meant. But it can also refer to Christine. Almost all the prognostications she sends to him wind up with people killed. And I thought I use to have annoying work colleagues.
Cheer up, Rene! You finally found a guy who thinks
the same way you do.

But perhaps that's why Jane Baxter plays Christine with an almost constant look of melancholy, even when she's allegedly happy, as if she can't help but destroy not only Maximus' life, but that of complete strangers. Like I always say: Dames, hunh?



If my wife wore a coat three sizes too big,
 
I'd look pretty stunned, too.
While the making of The Clairvoyant was a brief return home for Claude Rains -- it was only his fourth movie after his star-making turn in The Invisible Man -- it's American actress Fay Wray who plays his wife Rene with a proper British accent. Either Wray was box office insurance for the US release, or she came cheaper than British leading ladies.

These days, when far-fetched "based on a true story" movies are accepted without question, it's refreshing that the entirely fictional The Clairvoyant offers no answers or explanations; the viewer is left to figure out the hows and whys. Like why co-star Athole Stewart was given that first name. I mean, anybody could have predicted that he would grow up with kids yelling, "Hey, Athole!"

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

LEWIS ON THE LOOSE

Because you may have been distracted by a political campaign where one candidate is selling the Department of Justice (and a certain "Foundation") to the highest bidders, and the other is urging his supporters to blow her brains out, you probably missed a modest little primary election last week.
If a person could look like more of
an idiot, I'd like to know how.
Actually, I take that back.

Meet Jason Lewis, the Republican nominee for Minnesota's 2nd District. In his former life, Lewis was a radio talk show host, which is apparently all the experience you need to create federal laws.

To his credit, he likes the idea of states seceding easily from the Union. I say "to his credit" because Minnesota should scram ASAP, because it just nominated a guy who not only trots out the risible "theory" that the Civil War was about states rights, he also believes the government lacks the authority to outlaw slavery. Now he tells us! 

Not that he's exactly yearning to re-open the slave markets of yore. As he's said:



Undoubtedly, Lewis would be appalled at being considered racistSee, he's one of those Ayn Rand fans who use her crackpot writings to justify thought and behavior similar to that of a spoiled five year-old. A spoiled racist five year-old. While the USA is a nation of laws, Lewis and his ilk take it a step further -- a nation of laws that should be ignored if you don't like them. Unless they decide you can't.

As you can guess, Lewis draws a red line with his absolute freedom mantra at sexuality:


Don't get mad, ladies -- remember, he wasn't being pejorative. (I'm shocked he even knows what that means.)

As in the case of Robert Morrow in Texas, Lewis is such a nut that the local Republican Party actively helped his primary opponent. But now that he's gotten the nod from the voters, they're obliged to help him get elected come November, even though they think he's unelectable


When they call it the "Party of Lincoln," I think
they mean this Lincoln.
I think I've heard that song before. In fact, I'm hearing it every day about one presidential candidate in particular, and the chorus keeps growing.

You can be sure that someone from the GOP hierarchy will say that Jason Lewis "doesn't represent the views of the Republican Party." Question: how often do you have to say that about your candidates and their supporters until you realize... maybe they do?

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Monday, August 15, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: 8/15/16


She then added, "And would someone tell Anthony Weiner to knock it off?"



McGovern's lawyer, Chester Hooten, said, "This was an unfortunate incident. Monsignor McGovern meant to send it to the man's son."



Kenny Baker, the actor who portrayed RD-D2 in Star Wars, has died at the age of 81.

According to his family, Baker's final words were, "Bee-boo-BEEP-bip-boop-beep-bap."







However, Citigroup said that Time Warner Cable can continue to say "Fuck You" to its customers.



After thanking Hadley for no longer selling the shirts, the estate was sued by Citigroup.





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Friday, August 12, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: 8/12/16


In related news, Google noticed a search spike for "Where is Pyongyang and how do I get there" in Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas.




Explaining how such a thing could happen, Coel said, "I thought she was playing an unarmed black teenager."





Informed of the incident, Hillary Clinton said, "Didn't I tell you it takes a village to raise a child?"



Republican Alabama Governor Robert J. Bentley said, "I look forward to Mr. Blanton campaigning with me next year."





In the latest issue of Harper's Bazaar, Kanye West calls his wife Kim Kardashian "the new Marie Antoinette."

The magazine's entire readership agreed, and immediately offered to guillotine her.



Their final episode was sponsored by the letters FU.





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Thursday, August 11, 2016

A WORLD OF 'TOONS

No, the other Huntoon.
Shortly before I entered college in Boston, one of the city's labor unions was holding an election. An office holder, likely unpopular with the rank and file, was a fellow by the name of Huntoon.

At the time, I was unaware of this mundane information. All I knew was that no matter where I walked around town, I'd see the mysterious graffiti GUTLESS HUNTOON scrawled on walls or sidewalks.

It immediately struck a chord with me. "Gutless huntoon" -- without its history, it was just an wacky way to tell off somebody without actually saying anything. Pretty soon, it entered my regular vocabulary. 

What a gutless huntoon that guy is.

Did you hear what that gutless huntoon said?

Never mind him, he's just a gutless huntoon. 

A target didn't necessarily have to be gutless to earn the sobriquet. Any minor infraction, real or imagined, was enough. Annoying people on the street or on TV. It wasn't unusual for a friend to be on the receiving end of a "gutless huntoon" if the mood was right. Nobody took offense, because nobody knew what the hell it meant. "Gutless huntoon"? Whatever you say, Kuz.

I've been thinking about gutless huntoons lately. They're the talking heads, politicians and candidate "surrogates" you see these days. Not all of them. Just most of them. You know they type of person I'm talking about. The ones who have a desperate need to keep their jobs, either in politics or TV, at the cost of their pride, dignity and humanity. 

Turn on MSNBC, CNN or Fox News, right now. I guarantee, within 15 minutes, you'll find yourself muttering, "Gutless huntoon." The more you watch, the more you'll say it, whether alone or with a loved one.


He's not even trying to hide it.
Right now, Paul Ryan is the gold standard, bullshitting his way through mush-mouthed comments about whatever idiotic statement Trump uttered today, condemning him on one hand, supporting him on the other. Gutless huntoon.

And on the other side, Democrats pooh-poohing the pay-to-play connection between donors to the Clinton Foundation and the State Department. Gutless huntoons.

Women who rightly encourage us to take charges of sexual assault seriously, except when it comes to Bill Clinton. Gutless huntoons.

Republicans who claim Hillary Clinton will "take away" the Second Amendment when they know that it would take a super majority of Congress and voters to do such a thing, which they know will never happen. Gutless huntoons.

You can be a hero and still be a gutless huntoon. In fact, it's worse that way. Donald Trump ridicules John McCain's POW status. McCain's response? "I'm voting for the nominee." C'mon, John, you're 80 years old, do you really need to get re-elected so badly that you'd sacrifice whatever integrity you have left on the altar of Trump? Gutless huntoon.

What hurts most is when somebody whom I otherwise like qualifies. Bill Maher didn't condemn his good friend, the human badger Ann Coulter, for her hideous tweet regarding the Muslim parents of the soldier killed in combat. Bill, you're one of the few reasons we have HBO. But that night -- gutless huntoon all over the place.

Watch. Listen. Say it aloud when you see them: Gutless huntoon. Pretty soon, it'll be as natural as breathing. You'll have to control yourself not to say it.


Don't be fooled by that
tough look.
News anchors qualify, of course. During the primaries, I saw a Clinton surrogate tell MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that Hillary Clinton was speaking to crowds just as large and enthusiastic as those for Bernie Sanders. Did Mitchell call her out on that blatant falsehood, even when she had video to prove it? What do you think? Gutless huntoon.

Just once, after the Sandy Hook massacre, I wanted to see a reporter ask a pro-gun Congressman, "If one of your children had been killed, would you be for tighter restrictions on assault weapons? Yes or no." Gutless huntoons, every jack one of them.

Next time I'm glad-handed by a local representative looking for my vote, I'd like to put him or her on the spot with a hard hitting question that has them squirming. But I probably won't, because... well, we won't go into that.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: 8/10/16


The man known only as the "Imperial Wizard" of Virginia's Rebel Brigade of the Ku Klux Klan has come out in support of Donald Trump for president, telling WWBT News, "The reason a lot of Klan members like Trump is because a lot of what he believes in, we believe in."

In response, Trump spokesman Chester Hooten told reporters, "Hey, it could be worse. I mean, we could have the Nazis on our side!"


In a radio interview earlier this week, Rocky Suhayda, the leader of the American Nazi Party, said that Donald Trump's election would provide "a real opportunity" for them to grow in strength and influence.

Trump spokesman Chester Hooten pooh-poohed the comment. "Nazis, Shmazis! They're so 1939! Now, Communists, those people would be dangerous!"



The official news website of the American Communist Party, People's World, has come out in support of Hillary Clinton.

Clinton spokesman Brad Lanes laughed off the editorial with, "Big deal! What is this, the 1950s? The pro-terrorist crowd supporting us, that would be a problem."








Clinton spokesman Brad Lanes brushed off Mateen's appearance, adding, "Hey, he's just one person. At least no one's saying Democrats endorse killings for political reasons!"


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange suggested that the Democratic National Committee killed Seth Rich, a DNC staffer for allegedly being a "source" for Hillary Clinton's leaked emails.

Trump spokesman Chester Hooten tweeted, "Wiki assertion should be looked into.
Donald Trump would never be accused of such a thing!"


In what sounded like a call for the assassination of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump suggested that "Second Amendment people" could prevent her from appointing anti-gun Supreme Court judges if she were to become president.

Trump spokesman Chester Hooten laughed off the interpretation, noting, "Trust me, the voters know exactly what he meant."


Trump adviser Al Baldasaro called Hillary Clinton "a piece of garbage" who should be "put in the firing line and shot for treason."

Trump spokesman Chester Hooten, informed of the comments, told reporters, "I said voters, not advisers!"




In the latest RealClear Politics polling average, Donald Trump has a 60.9% unfavorable rating, while Hillary Clinton's unfavorables are at 53.3% .

When it was pointed out to the site that the unfavorables total to over 100% of the voters, a spokesman asked, "And your point is?"



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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

WALK ON THE DECREPIT SIDE

The 28-mile Waterfront Greenway bike path circles the island of Manhattan. About 95% of it goes along rivers and parks; the rest runs along city streets, and makes for a delightful ride.

But for some reason, from 90th to 125th, it goes straight to hell, or at least purgatory. It's as if the city decided that the people who lived in the Yorkville/East Harlem areas just weren't worth the maintenance. 

Sure, workers could actually fix the problems, but it's so much easier to simply drag out a fence and couple of cones, and forget about it. Most have been there for several months; others, for years. Let's take a guided tour you'll never see from the top of a doubledecker CitySights bus.

At 88th Street, right outside Gracie Mansion, is this little beauty, which theoretically prevents pets and crawling babies from falling into the East River, but, in fact, really wouldn't. The wall under the edge of the path is falling apart, probably due to hurricanes and storms over the decades. Maybe that's the excuse for not fixing it -- Hey, it'll only happen again!


A closer look from another angle. You'd think the cone would be outside the fence, but I think it's covering another hole. The message this sends is that the city cares, but not enough to really do anything meaningful about it.



Look in the river just below that area, and you'll see this. Either it's the handiwork of delinquents, or workers who brought one too many fence sections, and decided it was easier to dump it than to bring it back to the truck. No matter. Maybe it's a future coral reef.



About a block further north is another large hole. Like the other one, the ground appears to have rotted away due to water damage. This is one of the more recent fenced-off areas. Welcome to the neighborhood!







They've appeared to gather some replacement blocks for it, however. But what's the rush? 



Hurricane Sandy socked the area pretty hard, coinciding as it did with an unusually large high tide. The East River overflowed the walk, and continued onto the streets in the low 90s. That might have caused the slow, gradual decay here. This area completely collapsed a few months ago. This is worthy of large plastic tubes rather than cones. We're very proud.


A close-up of the above area. It's difficult to tell from the photo, but this section is sloping down several feet. Had it not been fenced off, it would cause major damage to bikes and bones alike. If you're ever in need for a few hexagrams, look no further. Believe me, this thing isn't going to be fixed before ISIS is eliminated.



Did a tree fall down? No need to plant a new one in its place. Just let the grass grow, and cross your fingers that a jogger doesn't break their ankle when they go six inches down.



Another empty tree pit. It cries out for a tree, right? Or, at the very least, a little cement. Nah! Bring out the fences!







The walkway is lined with 19th-century style street lights. Except for this. Which will never be repaired.


Another fence mystery, this time along the FDR Drive. Judging by the condition of the cement wall, I guess this section was torn down by funsters on a Saturday night. The word came from the NY Public Works Department: Just leave it; it'll make it that much faster to cut the grass around there.





Now this is no mystery. This section of the FDR Drive fence was the victim of a car accident. But while the car was presumably repaired, the fence will remain a wreck for the rest of its life.








Pier 107: built in 1931, deteriorated in the 1960s, closed in 2014, expected to completely fall apart by 2022.
You can walk around it, though. Just be careful of the cracks, splits and holes.




There's talk of a $12-million renovation of Pier 107. Kind of a shame. It's the only place in Manhattan that I know of where you can see stalactites. No need for traveling to any damp cave! 



This part of the Pier 107 ceiling is the home for folded up cardboard boxes. They've gotta go somewhere.





And judging by the big garbage bags glimpsed through a hole in the ceiling, the roof seems to be a home for people. They've gotta go somewhere, too. But if the pier's refurbished, they'll have a spanking-new roof to live on.





This part of the walkway was so badly damaged that the city actually had to do something about it. Building a wooden bridge over the hole was actually a charming idea -- and, more importantly, a lot cheaper. 





Look to the side of the bridge and you can see that the damage itself remains. They could have put down one more piece of wood to completely cover it. But if the city had done that, it would have ruined its reputation for doing a half-assed job on the walkway.

This is the official end of the path at 125th St. You can't tell by this shot, but it's behind a fence that's supposed to keep people out. This is ironic for two reasons. 1) A sign identifies it as a park. 2) There's an opening to the right of the fence that's easy to get through. Note how the guardrail just comes to a stop, allowing anyone to fall in the East River. Well, it is a good way to cool off in the summer.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the project at the opposite end of this part of the Greenway. Until recently, there was a stairway at the 81st Street entrance that went down to the section of the path that runs along the FDR Drive. 

Because it wasn't handicap accessible, construction began on a ramp. (You can see the pillars on the left of the photo.) The rich folk who live close to the construction suddenly choked on their martinis, as the path would allegedly "block their view" of the East River. Coincidentally or not, work on the ramp soon came to a halt. No official reason has been given, although there's talk of a turf war between the Parks and Transportation committees. 

You won't believe it but there's no word on when construction will resume. Bring on the fence, boys!



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