Thursday, April 27, 2017

PANTALOONS

One of the great things about getting older is becoming detached from popular culture --
Coming to a theatre near you:
"I Was A 1980s Fashion Clone."
particularly fashion. Browsing through my photo albums provides proof that the last thing designers want to do is create a timeless look that doesn't make you say to yourself, What the hell was I thinking?


Nowhere is that more obvious than jeans, or "dungarees" as they were once called -- possibly because there was a time when the only people who wore them were covered in animal dung.

Bad enough the industry cashed in on '70s punk by selling pre-ripped jeans, a clothing staple still in demand. But now, Nordstrom's -- an alleged "luxury department store" -- is selling jeans covered in mud for $425. Or, as its PR department wrote while trying not to spit out their coffee from laughing, "Heavily distressed medium-blue denim jeans in a comfortable straight-leg fit embody rugged, Americana workwear that's seen some hard-working action with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you're not afraid to get down and dirty."



Construction workers don't get
this dirty.

That's some rich irony there, brother -- richer than even the dopes who will undoubtedly buy these to wear at the Whitney Biennial. For their hardest work comes in the form of convincing everyone that this is a fashion statement that doesn't say "I am an idiot."

Don't be concerned that the jeans will outlive their purpose after going through the wash a few times. These pants are covered in fake mud. The crap that went into making them, however, is real.

Wondering what to wear with muddy jeans? Nordstrom's got you covered -- in more faux-filth, that is, in the form a similar denim jacket which will set you back another 425 bucks. That's $850 total to look like the $15-an-hour shlub who works for your landscaper.


The emperor's new pants.

Lest you think this kind of habiliment bamboozlement is unique to the USA,  Britain's Topshop chain just introduced something they call MOTO Clear Plastic Straight Leg Jeans, a steal at $100.

This is misleading for two reasons. First, Mr. Moto had far better sartorial style. Second, jeans are supposed to be made of denim. These things are closer to Tupperware than any item of clothing currently hanging in your closet. If you ever wondered what happens when designers literally run out of ideas, wonder no more.

So what's the point of wearing something that, in a sense, doesn't exist? Let Topshop's website explain it to you dullards: "Think outside the box with these out-of-the-ordinary clear plastic jeans – guaranteed to get people talking." Yes, saying things like These are about as stupid as those fake-mud jeans.


Thank God for
modesty.
To give Topshop credit, at least they own up to the scam by suggesting you wear the pants to costume parties. The company doesn't explain what character you're supposed to be, however. Allow me to suggest "Nincompoop With Too Much Money To Drop."

Topshop isn't even being all that original. Nordstrom's -- you remember, the home of the deliberately dirty clothes -- already has something called Clear Knee Mom Jeans. As with Topshop's jeans, these, too, are misnamed. Not only do I not know any mom who wears clear knee jeans, if they did, they should have their children taken away from them, because they're crazy.

But give Nordstrom's and Topshop credit for being clever. They're using wool less for clothing and more for pulling over the eyes of consumers.

                                              ****************************

Friday, April 21, 2017

MOVIE OF THE DAY: "DELUGE" (1933)

Deluge is must-see viewing for movie fans and global-warming enthusiasts alike. For not only was Deluge considered lost for several decades, it also shows what happens when tides rise high enough to destroy the entire coast line of the U.S. -- even if global warming has nothing to do with it.

No, all the mass destruction is caused by an monstrous, 3,000-mile long earthquake triggered by a solar eclipse -- an event which captures the world's scientists by surprise. They obviously missed the newspaper headline featured in Deluge screaming WORLD DOOMED!


"Now you stay here, sweetheart, while
Daddy goes back to higher ground."
What remains of society post-destruction can be divided up into the good, the bad, and the horny. Among the former is Martin Webster (who decided it was a good idea to bring his family to the shoreline when the tsunami was approaching), and professional swimmer Claire Arlington, whose backstroke is good enough to make it through waves as high as the Empire State Building. I'd like to see Michael Phelps try that.

Because, well, why the hell not?
   Among the bad and the horny are louts Jepsen and Norwood, who discover the now-unconscious Claire clad only in her underwear. (Note to survivalists: this is the best way to survive those aforementioned skyscraper-sized waves. Well, that and the killer backstroke.) When Claire realizes that the guys have more on their mind than playing canasta, she does what any woman would do: take off her bra and swim away. This should be a new Olympic sport.


"Shoot now, sex later, right?"
Webster finds Claire washed-up near his cabin, and, having lost his wife and kids, immediately falls in love with her. Not only is she hot and athletic, her hair is perfect without a swimming cap. All this is enough for him to singlehandedly rescue her when she's kidnapped by a gang led by Jepsen (you remember, the lout). When Webster later staves them off in a cave armed only with one rifle, Claire rewards him by doing the deed with him. Boy, what a guy has to do for a little action!


"Darling! Thank God I interrupted your affair!"
Webster and Claire are in turn rescued by a friendly posse from a nearby town filled with other storm survivors. The happy couple are ready to start a new life together... until discovering Webster's wife Helen and their brats alive and well and waiting to reunite with him. Talk about buzzkill.

While Helen is ready to calmly work things out with her husband's girlfriend -- something all wives would do, right? -- Claire isn't so liberal-minded. Eventually, she decides to leave the same way she entered: half-naked in the ocean. This dame knows how to make an entrance and an exit, that's for sure.

Deluge's legendary status is due to its opening 20-minute mass-destruction scene, which climaxes with New York City being wiped out by an earthquake and tsunami that makes Fukushima look like a puddle of dog urine.



While it's not necessarily realistic to 21st-century eyes, the sequence is genuinely remarkable. The set is huge by 1933 standards, and the amount of water used to flood it is incalculable. No CGI here, folks; this was clearly one of those rare moments where the crew had only one chance to get it right.

Buildings shake and fall; railroads are destroyed; waves wipe out the Battery Park area, Midtown and the West Side. Only my Upper East Side neighborhood is apparently unscathed. I knew I lived here for a reason.




"Now let's get laid,  pronto."
Nothing in Deluge's remaining 50 minutes lives up to what we've just scene. In fact, despite the pre-credit Radio Pictures logo, the post-earthquake portion Deluge looks like nothing more than a low-budget, independent picture with a no-name cast, mediocre direction, an irritating score that literally never stops, and risible dialogue. (The most romantic thing Webster says to Claire is, "You mean more to me than a cure for loneliness," which women everywhere are just dying to hear from the men in their lives.)
Behind the scenes of Deluge: the crew puts finishing touches on the
Manhattan set before wiping it out.


As it turns out Deluge was indeed an indie production, with Radio Pictures providing only the distribution. Not having much skin in the game, Radio sold Deluge to Republic Pictures  four years later. Republic then incorporated the tsunami scene for its SOS Coast Guard serial, and junked the rest of the negative. Ah, sentimental Hollywood!

And so, Deluge was doomed to survive only in old movie magazines until a battered print with Italian subtitles turned up in 1988. A better, non-subtitled copy was discovered in 2016, and released on Blu-Ray last month. 

Despite Deluge's shortcomings, fans can take heart. First of all, it exists. When you consider that half of movies made before 1950 are allegedly missing, that alone is worth celebrating. 

Second, there's plenty of welcome pre-code hijinks to liven things up (semi-nudity, sex, violence, death by makeshift spike, etc.). And, of course, its rasion d'etre, the lengthy destruction of New York City, which can still electrify even today. Deluge might not quite live up to its legend, but it creates a flood of gratitude for movie fans today.



************************************

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

BREAKING NEWS 4/19/17: "SHATTERED"

Journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes interviewed over 100 insiders for their book Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign, which was published Tuesday by Crown.

During their research, the authors discovered that Clinton and her campaign refused to admit that they had anything to do with their loss, blaming it instead on several factors out of their control. They include:


  • Instead of going to the polls, many voters had to stay home to wait for the Comcast repairman to fix their cable. "You know how terrible their service is," said one Clinton adviser on background. "I'm convinced Comcast was donating millions to Trump, and pulled this stunt to ensure his victory."
  • Donald Trump's insistence on playing up to the voters' worst instincts by talking about jobs, the economy, and defeating terrorism rather than real-life "kitchen table" issues like electing Hillary Clinton.
  • Raising only a billion-and-a-quarter dollars in campaign funds. "If only we'd made it to two billion," a campaign insider sighed. "That would have put us over the top for sure!"
  • A lack of support by Democrats. The same insider fumed, "Just when we needed everyone in the party to be in lockstep with us, that SOB Bernie Sanders tried to give voters a choice!"
  • The overwhelming support of celebrities, and apparently television news reporters as well. Speaking on background, a Clinton friend told the authors, "They should have known the cardinal rule: the more people hear about Hillary Clinton, the less popular she is. She should have run with a paper bag over head like the Unknown Comic on The Gong Show."
  • Democracy itself. "If we had our way," the same unnamed friend admitted, "the presidency would have gone straight to Hillary in 2008, and stayed there until Chelsea turned 50. But no, people have to vote every four years because why? Some worn out piece of paper written by slave-owners says so? Straight-up paternal racist cisgender bullshit!" 
  • Clinton supporters being so depressed by Stephen Colbert trailing Jimmy Fallon in late-night ratings that they couldn't get out of bed on Election Day. "This is the irony," one of the interviewees explained. "Colbert's ratings soared when Trump got elected. If they stay that way, it's Hillary's to lose in 2020. Wait, did I say to lose?"
                                                             *****************

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

SIT. HEEL. HEIL.

Wow. A guy goes to work for a few days, and suddenly the world starts going to hell. The US and North Korea on the brink of nuclear war. France possibly withdrawing from the EU. The adventures of the Facebook killer. (Oh, if only someone would kill Facebook!)

Nothing to see here, move along.
Let all those pittances step aside, however, for the latest setback that the so-called "Furries" have to face. Furries , in case you've forgotten, are grown adults who just can't find peace of mind unless they're dressed up as animals. Doesn't that make your problems seem small by comparison?

Now, I've written about the guy who enjoys dressing as a Dalmatian, the woman who believes she's a cat in human form, and people who engage in sex with stuffed animals (no Kim Kardashian jokes, please).

These folks can be considered Furry off-shoots. But there are enough real Furries that they have their own conventions. Except this year. The Rocky Mountain Fur Con has been cancelled -- not because of lack of interest. Quite the opposite in fact.

It would be stupid if it wasn't so
imbecilic.

Yes, Virginia, there is an alt-fur movement.

As if "adults" dressing up and marching around as Nazis in 2017 isn't ridiculous enough, now they do it while dressed as wildlife. To be sure, they've replaced the swastika with the official Furry Raider paw insignia. But otherwise, there's something mighty 1933 Berlin about their get-up.

But try telling that the Furry Raider fuhrer -- er, leader, a fellow with the Merrie Melodies name of Foxler Miller. Forget that his first named is reminiscent of Hitler. Foxler claims not to see any similarity between the Raiders get-up and that of his Bavarian buddies.


You try training your dog to do this.


Herr Foxler, you see, claims not to know much about World War II. That photo of him with the outstretched arm? Merely an "accident". Kind of like the invasion of Poland.

As with political protests, violence was threatened by both sides if they met at the convention. While I'm no fan of physical altercations, I'd pay good money to see a bunch of people in animal costumes seriously punching out each other. It would merely reinforce my low opinion of my fellow humans, furry or shaven.

These are the greatest Furries ever.
                                                               It isn't just fascist foxes that have the Furries up in paws. There's a pro-Trump sub-culture as well, who presumably want to make wee-wee pads great again. Maybe they're the ones responsible for Trump's hairstyle.

The Fur Con folks aren't without sin, however, with tax evasion and sex crimes on their rap sheets. Crime, it seems, happens in the best of species.

If Cheetah were alive, he'd be hanging his head in sorrow... if he wasn't double over with laughter. 

                                          **************************************

Friday, April 7, 2017

ON THE DOWN-MANILOW

I've recently come off a mammoth shoot, working 12 to 15-hour days in a town 45 minutes north of Manhattan, spread over three weeks. Much had happened in the world during that time. The first thing I did after the end of the job was to sit in front of the TV, watching the news networks, paying close attention to the ticker-tape headlines at the bottom of the screen. 

There was plenty of shocking stuff to catch up with, but none more so than this item:SINGER BARRY MANILOW COMES OUT AS GAY.


Who'da thunk?
They might as well have said SCIENTISTS PROVE 1 + 1 = 2. Even if your local weatherman had predicted a blizzard immediately after three feet of snow had fallen, it wouldn't have been as unsurprising as this.

And if you had any questions about Barry Manilow's sexual orientation, all you needed to know was: He used to play piano for Bette Midler. 

The reason for Manilow's secrecy was simple yet silly: “I thought I would be disappointing [my fans] if they knew I was gay." 

What? It's not like he could be confused with Jack Nicholson, who's spent 99% of his life as a swinging bachelor. Frankly, I think they'd be more disappointed if they learned that the recording he's most famous for, "I Write the Songs," was actually written by one of the Beach Boys. 




It's what he's available for that his feminine fans don't know.
Manilow's attitude echoes that of Liberace, who seemed to think that his legions of fans -- like Manilow, all female -- believed he had his choice of women. Which he did, if they were over 60 and weren't interested in anything more than a wink and an autograph.

Of course, that was another time. In 1959, Liberace sued British newspaper columnist William Connor for libel. Connor had blithely described him as "a deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love". I'm not sure that would fit on a Tweet these days.

It's difficult to decide which is funnier: that Liberace denied under oath that he was gay; that Connor denied implying he was gay; or that Connor himself wrote under the name "Cassandra." Liberace won £8,000 in damages for successfully "proving" he was straight. He probably put the money toward more feather boas.

Liberace was 67 when he died of complications from AIDS, never having officially come out to his fans. So good for Barry for telling the truth. Hey, it's 2017; it's time, right? 

I mean, it couldn't be because everyone already knew he married a guy in 2014. And it certainly has nothing to do with having  a new album to plug. 

Whatever works, Barry. Like you said in the most famous jingle you ever wrote, You deserve a break today.

Oh, and Barry Manilow played for Bette Midler in a gay bathhouse.

                                                            ******************

Monday, March 20, 2017

STRICTLY ON BACKGROUND, PT. 7: THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL

When the call went out for a "Seedy 1950's Strip Club Patron," it didn't matter if it was the strip club or the patron that was supposed to be seedy. All I knew was that my ship had finally come in. Wearing tassels. 

I had been trying without success to get a gig on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel for a few weeks. It wasn't that I was a fan of the show. Not only didn't I have a subscription to Amazon Streaming, this was just the work-in-progress pilot episode.

No, Maisel was set in 1950s New York, and would involve cool clothes and props. This meant, for a few hours anyway, I would escape several decades into the past and, if I tried, pretend that the 21st-century was the stuff of science-fiction novels. And if you watch the news for five minutes, it still seems that way. 

But how would I finally convince them that I was the guy they were looking for?


Ready to rip off Chuck Berry's publishing rights.
A few weeks earlier, my wife had taken several photos of me for consideration for the photo atop my blog page. While the intention was to have a 1940s vibe, I thought one in particular could definitely pass for the '50s. 

The flowers in the background, I hoped, wouldn't offset by too much the low-rent fellow -- talent agent? used car dealer? after hours gambler? -- undoubtedly enjoying his 12th cigar of the morning. This, I was sure, looked like the kind of guy who took in burlesque shows for relaxation.

The Maisel folks agreed. At long last, I would be putting my inherent seediness to good use.

The shoot was going to happen somewhere off Avenue A, an area I hadn't gone near in 30 years. The aura of junkies, winos, and other disreputables had given way to hipsters, NYU students, and yuppies looking for the next neighborhood to turn into a Starbucks/Chase Bank/Gap paradise. Still, there was enough of the old character to remind you of what used to be.

Sorry, girls, he's married.
It was a small group of extras at the holding area, no more than 15. Over the course of an hour, what had been a bunch of present-day New Yorkers were transformed into Eisenhower-era lowlifes and their flashy dates. What was left of my hair was slicked down to give me that On the Waterfront look -- even if no dockworker would've ever smoked the herbal cigarettes that I was given. (The smokes were optional, but I was eager to go all in.)

Picture yourself on the Lower East Side. What would you have made of the sight of over a dozen men and women wearing authentic 1950s clothing, casually walking through Tompkins Square Park on a sunny October afternoon on their way to work?

Whatever it is, it wouldn't have matched the shock of turning a corner to see a street where several 1950s autos were parked. I had always wondered what it was like to live in a Twilight Zone episode. Now I knew.

But the best was yet to come. As we waited outside the club while the crew set up the camera and lights, we were joined by the great Gilbert Gottfried (and his wife), whose weekly podcast is my version of attending church.

I couldn't believe my eyes. Oh my God, what's Gilbert Gottfried doing here? And how did he get such a beautiful wife? 

And then I took a second look. He, too, was dressed in vintage clothes. Holy cow! I'm going to be in the same scene with one of my all-time favorite comedians and a stripper! Where has this job been my whole life?

We were soon ushered into the club. I was given a "date", a "drink" and six or seven cigarettes. We were placed at an elevated table against the wall, and given instructions: applaud the stripper and laugh at the jokes told by the MC (Gottfried) and the actor playing an up-and-coming comedian named Lenny Bruce. 

I'm the guy on the right not wearing a hat.
Just to make sure I did my part when it came to seediness, I kept the cigarette dangling from my lips for most of the scene, which appeared about five minutes into the episode. Mrs. Maisel thoughtfully returns one of the stripper's tassels that had fallen to the floor, as the camera catches me applauding and taking a drag off a cigarette.

As usual, I'm onscreen a matter of seconds; you can't even get a look good at my clothes. Yet it took long enough to shoot that I went through all but one of the cigarettes. And I didn't even inhale.

While all the background jobs have been fun in one way or another, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was a real treat. It was my first period piece. I got to see Gilbert Gottfried up close. If I squinted just a little, that really was Lenny Bruce doing his classic "Airplane Glue" routine. (The bit went on longer during the shoot than the final cut.) And I learned first hand that burlesque shows really were as seedy as they're made out to be. Yes, I felt right at home.

                                                    **********************

If you're interested, the episode can currently be seen for free on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06X9579J1/ref=s9_acss_bw_cg_317GPD_1c1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-5&pf_rd_r=YHB0PQVM0XYAFEZPND5W&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=40d364f0-73cf-4ecf-90ca-8141a69c045c&pf_rd_i=9940930011

Thursday, March 16, 2017

MACARTHUR'S PIPE IS MELTING IN THE DARK

"Or, as the kids say, I'm outta here!"
General Douglas MacArthur hit the nail on the head in his 1951 farewell speech to Congress. "Old soldiers never die," he intoned, "they just fade away." I mean, do you remember him? 

So it's kind of surprising that, 53 years after fading away for good, MacArthur is once again in the news -- and, as usual with celebrities, for all the wrong reasons:

"Fat" Jack E. Leonard is delighted for any publicity.
The "Fat Leonard" in question is not to be confused with insult comic "Fat" Jack E. Leonard from the '50s and '60s, who complained to his dying day that Don Rickles ripped off his act. 
This "Fat Leonard" refers to Leonard Glenn Francis, a defense contractor from Singapore, who bribed U.S. Navy personnel, including an Admiral, with the usual stuff, including "lavish gifts, prostitutes and luxury hotel stays." 
You'd think a guy who could drop two
grand on cigars could afford a gym
membership and a better tailor.
Have you ever noticed that newspapers always use "lavish" in connection with bribes? Surely there must be some other way to describe "watches worth $25,000, $2,000 boxes of Cohiba cigars, $2,000 bottles of cognac and $600-per-night hotel rooms." I'm partial toward "munificent," but "profligate" will do in a pinch.
But wither the Medal of Honor-winning, five-star General, the legendary hero of the Philippines Campaign during World War II? 
Well, it's not so much Douglas MacArthur as it is his name. The "luxury hotel" mentioned in the indictment refers to the Philippines' Manila Hotel, which has a suite named for him. A travel guide refers to it as  "impeccably restored" with mahogany chaise lounge chairs and brass chandeliers, evoking a feel straight out of 1935If someone's going to bribe me, that's where I want things to go down.
But not quite the way Fat Leonard planned things. For Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless and his Navy buddies used “historical memorabilia” in the room during sex acts.
Not to my mouth, you're not.
The specific "memorabilia" isn't mentioned. However, the suite includes 10,000 books, a brass gilded chair, marble-topped desk, fountain pens, family photos... and a replica of MacArthur's corncob pipe. 
Ding ding ding! I think we have a winner!
No wonder why other guests of the MacArthur Suite include Bill Clinton and Michael Jackson. They can't exactly be described as history buffs. 
The longer you look at Adm. Loveless, the
more you think, Yeah, I can picture it.
And even though charges are only just being brought against Loveless and company in the Pipegate scandal, this happened ten years agoTo put this in perspective, it took Generals MacArthur and Eisenhower less than four years to defeat Germany, Italy, and Japan. Clearly, a bribery investigation is more difficult than winning a goddamn world war. 
If your head hurts from wrapping it around that fact, try this: Loveless has been prevented from accessing classified information since the investigation started in 2013, but was still allowed to keep his job. Boy, I thought the Teachers Union had a great tenure policy! 
I've always considered myself incredibly dull, and this bribery case clinches it. For in my five decades of sexual activity, I've never been so creative -- or perhaps bored with sex -- as to think that a corncob pipe, historic replica or otherwise, would do the job. Maybe I need to get out more, I dunno. Or maybe it's because I'm not -- ahem -- a Rear Admiral.
The worst of it? Thanks to to the (aptly-named?) Loveless, future generations of women will feel compelled to tell their sons, boyfriends and husbands, Get that pipe out of your mouth! You don't know where it's been! 
Thank you for service, Admiral. Now go use some Listerine.
                                                        *****************

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A NON-TAXING SITUATION

Days after Donald Trump's election to Distractor-in-Chief, a pundit sagely opined: "While
C'mon, do you blame him for being smug?
people admiringly compare Pres. Obama's presidential style to three-dimensional chess, Trump is playing three-dimensional Battleship at 120 frames a second with 4K resolution: it's so clear and clean that it doesn't look real."

OK, so that pundit was me. But it doesn't mean I wasn't right, right? I was referring to the way Trump deflected bad news by throwing the press something entirely different to chew on in order to throw them off the track -- and that they fell for it every dagnabit time.

Like Trump's 1040, not as scary as it's
hyped to be.
Last night was no different. But in a way it was so different that it became headline news for the wrong reasons. 

Rachel Maddow, MSNBC's highest-rated prime time host, announced that she had Donald Trump's near-mythical tax returns -- a prize "get" similar to a movie historian stumbling upon a print of Lon Chaney's long-lost London After Midnight -- a movie every film lover wants to see despite its mediocre reputation.

Maddow's "get", alas, proved its equal in quality. 

Actually, it wasn't even her scoop as much as it was that of her guest, investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, who received photocopies of the first two pages of Trump's 2005 tax return in the mail. (By the way, how much investigating does it take to receive something that you didn't ask for?) 

And it wasn't even much of a scoop for him, either, because the White House Tweeted about it a full half-hour before Maddow's show, thus deflating what little air was left in that tire: Trump made $150-million in 2005, for which he paid $38-million in taxes.

Just put a little blond wig on it.
You would have thought that Maddow -- the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship from Oxford University -- would have been smart enough to know that while her fans would yell That's only 25% of his income!, Trump fans would think, Gee whiz, $38-million is a lotta dough! Especially when many reporters were speculating that he never paid a dime in taxes in his satsuma-faced life.

And the beauty part: Maddow and Johnston admitted that the 1040 might have come from Trump himself. You know, so that he could distract them from... oh, what is it now? The insurance reform debacle? Trump's belief that Obama wiretapped him? Investigations regarding Russian influence?

Maybe, just maybe, the stamp reading "Client Copy" might prove
the source of the 1040.
Hell,throw in Trump's penchant for ill-fitting suits and cheap neckties while you're at it. Take your pick folks -- it doesn't matter. What's important is: It worked! 

Because this morning, Rachel Maddow is waking up to bad reviews from the left -- for hyping an overdone, dried out nothingburger -- and the right -- for confirming their belief that the press is out to destroy President Trump by any means necessary.

And all that other negative news about Trump? It has, for the time being, been shoved aside so that reporters can talk about a 12 year-old tax return which shows that he paid more to the IRS in one year than they'll make in 10,000 lifetimes combined. Nice work!

To repeat: Donald Trump pulled the wool over the eyes of both an investigative reporter and a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate from Oxford. I don't want to hear anyone say how stupid Trump is.

Oh, one more thing. The Wall Street Journal already did a piece on Trump's 2005 tax return a year ago. And they got the information from public records. Maybe David Cay Johnston should have turned his investigative skills toward a Google search.

                                                      ********************

Monday, March 13, 2017

UNHACKABLE

If it were up to me, we'd have this
in our kitchen.
The recent Wikileaks documents detailing how the CIA has been hacking into "smart" appliances willy-nilly makes me glad just how hopelessly out of date our home is. The HDTV is seven years old; our refrigerator lacks wi-fi; and a toaster oven sits in the place of our microwave, which broke a decade ago.  

Not that we're completely in the clear. We've got a smart Blu-ray player. Since I purchase Blu-rays maybe once or twice a year, it's used primarily for Netflix, which, last I checked, isn't a conduit for ISIS. 



What passed for cool graphics under
President Brezhnev.
Of course, we've got a laptop, and a couple of tablets. And while I've covered the camera lens on the PC and Kindle Fire with a piece of Scotch Tape smeared with correction fluid, I'm aware that someone in the government could be following my surfing habits -- and for good reason. 

Way back in my younger days, you see, I listened to Radio Moscow's English-language programming via shortwave. Not that I was a budding Commie; it was just funny listening to ham-handed propaganda interspersed with the dullest music (mostly MOR and the occasional military march) ever recorded. I never understood how this was supposed to convert me from rock & roll, the First Amendment, and Mad magazine.

I figured there was no way anyone in Washington knew I was listening at home. But the envelope containing Radio Moscow's monthly guide was always open by the time it got to me. Either the USSR was going through a glue shortage circa 1970, or the Feds were doing a pretty piss-poor job of spying on me.

I think we're actually doing Washington a favor by our appliance choices. If we had a smart TV (something of an oxymoron), the gumshoes would hear conversations along these lines:


Some people's idea of hell.
ME: Oh boy! There's a 24-hour Wheeler & Woolsey festival on TCM next week!

WIFE: Legally Blonde is on TBS again tonight. I can't wait to see it for the 15th time this year!


Ditto.
ME: Look at this! TCM is running Vitaphone shorts all day!

WIFE: Hooray! The Matrix is on this afternoon. This is only the 12th time I've ever seen it!

ME: Holy cow! TCM is running Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler, restored to its original four-hour version for the first time since 1922!

WIFE: Quick, turn it to ABC. I want to watch The Sound of Music for the 37th time  -- and they pad it out to four hours with commercials!

Thank God the CIA never listened in to my wife and me. They'd have thrown us in Gitmo just to protect the rest of the country from us.

To sum up: by and large, we're unhackable. So you tell us whose appliances are really smart.

                                             ******************

Saturday, March 4, 2017

BREAKING NEWS: 3/4/17


Asked why she ordered the move, Minnelli said, "I hate to drink alone."







Informed of the tragedy, a local official reacted with shock. "Had we known she was alive, we would have raped and killed her first."



Reflecting on the cost, Ohh sighed, "Justin Beiber has no idea how easy he's had it."



As he looked in the mirror following the surgery, Alves said, "I've gotta thank Vinny Ohh for making me look normal."





Asked why the app is so popular, a user replied, "With guys like Vinnie Ohh and Rodrgio Alves around, do you blame us?"





Researchers also found that they'll live ten years longer if they don't.




"This study proves beyond any doubt," said their report, "that men have evolved very little over time."



Mr. Bannon and Mr. Trump were then returned safely to the White House.

                                                                                                                                               ******************************