TELEVISION

I watch it, but the commercials are stupid, lame, offensive or not applicable – thus irrelevant, boring and odd. Imagine the condition of bad bowels made into a viewable commercial. Buy this product for the remainder of your life (it never cures), or until your body tires of it, or a side effect kicks in – toes fall off. Think about bowel ads with Warren Buffett’s Gecko commercials. An alimentary canal seems the perfect place for a Gecko.

Watching sporting events is now driven by commercials. Don’t play any game too fast because too much commercial time is wasted. Fit in that 15 second spot for a car part while the team lines up and signals are called. A flash trademark covers the screen and fades just as the ball is snapped. Viewers get the play, penalty but never the replay. The broadcasters flounder, flubbing names and plays, losing the ball and wondering about the next ad – beer, insurance or tires while also wondering which sideline-babe-announcer should get equal air time. I rarely watch and never a full game because commercials interrupt the game and the pace of play. It is no longer football, basketball or base ball. Waits for commercials must be very frustrating for the paid audience, persons in attendance at the event. 

More ridiculous are American viewers who pay to get sports packages on cable. Getting that service does not let anyone avoid watching every commercial from here to eternity. So rooted are commercials in the American mind, that the following anecdote is instructive: In the late Sixties a wife soon to become a widow was at her husband’s death bed. She also learned why the romance was gone from the marriage. She leaned in, touched his cheek, pressed his hand and kissed him saying, “I love you.” His response: “You have bad breath.” Now you know why hippies hit that decade. Ronald Reagan described hippies best: “Dress like Tarzan, have long hair like Jane and smell like Cheetah.”

Americans are stuck with commercials dictating program-TV. It was once that commercial time was limited, I believe six minutes per hour. But today commercial breaks last three or four minutes. I know this because I DRV all commercial TV shows to watch without commercials. There’s three minutes at the end; there’s possibly four minutes at minute 44 of each hour, to gear up for the big finale. The commercial break at the beginning of the show can be 2 minutes, but the next near minute 18 is 3 minutes.

I suppose commercials have some instructional value. Somebody else living here decided time to buy salted sunflower seeds. There are no commercials showing how to consume and enjoy sunflower seeds – it’s better just to put a little salt on the tongue. Sunflower seeds are still the pain in the neck they always were, spitting out husks and seeds and getting debris between my teeth. 

So I don’t watch TV shows when broadcast. Too many commercials advertising sleeping potions and pills: Get hooked on our drugs and pay a fortune. It’s American life – the American way.

LAUGH ABOUT A BLACK KID

MSNBC, leaning forward like Hitler’s Army in World War II, got its chuckles.

Mitt Romney is the grandfather of a black child. The New York Citiers on MSNBC are laughing about it and making loads of politically incorrect comments about this adoption.

Fortunately, the Romney family can protect the child from these vile, scornful, hateful remarks and give the child love, hope and security.

But MSNBC: Other than ridding itself of everyone on this show or news program – producers, hosts, guests – and never showing their mugs on TV again as well as shutting them out forever, the host of every MSNBC show/program/news hour and every NBC newsperson should apologize publicly to the Romney family and to the American people.  

SPORTS & POLITICS

It seems American politics has become much like watching sporting events. Everyone play is the same; every pitch is the same; every dunk is the same; every hole is the same. Or if you’re watching car racing and the world go in circles, every lap is the same.

I no longer watch sports on TV or in person. [I’ll watch kids play sports because it’s fun. Most of them are out there for the fun.] Professional sports is bad entertainment and a horrible waste of time. I’ve seen games before, and today nothing seems new, better or improved. Going to the park is a rip-off – expensive seats, expensive parking with delays, slow play, expensive and poor concessions. And by going to the park the fan doesn’t avoid advertising, which allows big salaries and great profits but long, boring performances. There is no telling why a long-haired, unkempt, fat, unshaven slob takes as long as a minute between pitches unless he’s as slow and stupid as he looks. Hasn’t any pitcher watched Sandy Koufax in a 20 second delivery routine: Strike out. If batters took their time with Koufax, they could strike out slowly. In the 1963 World Series Koufax pitched the first game, struck out 15 Yankees and won a complete game. Reportedly, Yogi Berra said after the game, “How did he ever lose five [games]” [Koufax was 23-5 during the 1963 season.]

I watch pitchers today and wonder, how come he didn’t lose 15 [games]. Complete games are rare. PItchers are unprepared and pampered. Nothing is expected of them beyond six innings, when a bunch of relief pitchers with concocted names [titles] handle the remainder of the game. It is no wonder why many pitchers can’t get beyond four innings and allow no runs: Reduced expectations + reduced performance + reduced abilities = mediocrity. The New World Order protects the pitcher’s arm. 1963 when Koufax won 23, Warren Spahn was 23 -7 and 42 years old. Spahn weighed 170, was six feet tall and disciplined, unlike the hairy, disheveled, drooling, drug-cursed, mama’s goons pitching on the mound today.

The first point about sports today is, mediocrity is punctuated by advertising to make it palpable. There are readers who don’t believe it. Anyone who saw Wilt Chamberlain play, who saw the speed, maneuverability and strength, knows that if Walt were playing basketball using today’s rules, he’s score 100 points a game. If the strong men today got tough, Wilt would slam dunk them. 

What do we have in Washington DC: Executive, Legislature and Supreme Court: Mediocrity punctuated by cable TV favoring one group of Ordinaries or another. We expect no excellence in sports; why expect any extraordinary in government.

Has anyone listened to today’s sportscasters? Their speech is an insult to human beings, unintelligent and incoherent, and long exposure will reduce the IQ of any listener a point every month. Listeners learn the cliches, to replace intelligence, reason and cogency. Sportscasters use cliches as emotional nuggets which lack any bearing to what’s happening on the court, diamond, field, course or track. 

There are exceptions. Chick Hearn – “air ball,” “no harm, no foul,” ‘pop-corn machine.”  Hearn was absent from the radio for a while. Upon returning he used cliches which had originated with him. The reaction of listeners: Why doesn’t he say something original?

I wrote a screenplay about baseball announcers, and I’ll compliment myself: It is very funny. The research was torturous. I listened to baseball announcers for a season, and took down as much nonsense, stupidity and irrelevance as I could: About the pitcher looking at the catcher before tossing the ball: “He wants the next pitch to be a strike.” OR, “The score is Giants 4, Reds 2.” Immediately the announcer does the arithmetic: “The Giants have a two-run lead.” Because nobody bought this screenplay, I concluded, the whole country needs to stop taking itself so seriously and improve its sense of humor.

The problem with selling that screenplay was (1) Everyone in the hometown was mortally offended, once they realized the local favorites were being accurately targeted and fairly portrayed. (2) Everyone out of town believed the whole scenario improbable.

But sports fans and watchers are swamped in cliches. That’s all they hear and think about. They remember nothing else but, is the running back going left or right; is the quarterback going to pass? Frequently cliches are ironically nonsensical. Marv Albert, sports announcer and backbiter yelled, “Yes. Yes! YES!” when a basketball player made a basket, I assume.1/  Frequently, the cameraman missed the shot, and Marv was so overwhelmed with the thrill, that he didn’t mention the change of score. Or course, I’ve heard that exclamation from women under much different circumstances.  To me “Yes. Yes! YES!” is a confusing, meaningless cliche when referring to action on the basketball court, but Marv may have different experiences.

Cliche thinking, cliche uttering, cliches in the heart, Americans know nothing else; they remember nothing else. Should the Congress of the United States review all programs and pass a budget every year? Note, the last budget passed was in 2008. The Democrats want a Clean Continuing Resolution. The Republicans want to cut the budget, or what’s left of it. Cutting a clean continuing resolution sounds messy. What do Americans think? Consult the cliches. Another situation: Obamacare – Website Failure is just like a football team that has three downs and punts. It happens all the time. Considering the Administration has had three years to put it into place, Obama’s claims about creating high tech jobs doesn’t ring true.

Why do I feel “fourth down and 25 yards to go” are upon us in America. Peyton Manning is not at quarterback. Barack Obama has the ball, and everyone knows but is unwilling to tell him, “Barack, you can’t play no ball!” He knows it. His game has become golf, a one man effort against the elements, letting the President hide undesirable traits: impatience and a poor team play. How often does he call anyone? Democrats say, not too often.

Who are the announcers in the political arena? An example. An American was watching MSNBC and laughing. “I thought Chris Matthews was going to have a heart attack or a stroke.” Terrific! I thought. Just what America needs. Announcers having heart attacks and strokes on TV.

I next considered it might be a good idea. The 100 or so announcers on cable TV should all have heart attacks or strokes and be off the air a while. Reporting and news will be better.

Today there is no reason to watch cable TV and the announcers. There is no NEWS, just loads of talking from opinionated, dogmatic, overwrought, emotional clowns mugging to Americans. It is bad news and also bad entertainment. [For good entertainment watch the movie, Network, and as a game figure out who on cable TV best plays Peter Finch’s character. Who plays Sybil the Soothsayer. Guess who’s going to sponsor the new reality show, Revolution – not the Steven Spielberg knockoff.] Today, there are empty suits and straw women on cable TV aping one group or pleasing another.

 

I have nothing against Chris Matthews. I know he can’t be as irrational and wild as he acts. He has to have some sane moments. {Replace Chris Matthews’s name with the name of any other Cable TV person.}

What all these Cable guys and gals should know is, stick to the news and give it. If you slide into entertainment, you may end up naked, and Miley Cyrus will be your co-host. 

Where does this leave Americans? Most situations in politics and sports cannot be described, and for most fans, spectators and observers, they hear no reason, intellect or logic. There are cliches to explain the emotion of everything but leave people empty and discontent.

1/ Marv Albert was at the leading edge of the vampire craze. Today his actions may noteworthy and prescient rather than be proscribed by ancient laws.

“GRAVITY” – Sequel, Duh!

The movie, “Gravity,” got the largest U.S. box office last week. It is about two astronauts [George Clooney and Sandra Bullock] floating in space after their space craft or the space station is destroyed, or after their Virgin Atlantic spaceflight went awry. Ed Harris is in the movie as flight control, Houston, I suppose. After being in “The Right Stuff,” Harris adds credibility to any space movie. I have not seen the movie, but after the big October box office, it’s never too early to talk sequel.

Missing from Movie One because I’ve heard no ditties, is a song. This is outer space so Andy Williams or Perry Cuomo have to sing it. No one can have Janis Joplin belt it out – she’s too down to earth. The song not in the movie but should be is, “Dancing on the Atmosphere.” When an object enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it burns up. When “Gravity” causes our astronaut duo to get close to the atmosphere, they perform movie tricks, bounce off and don’t burn. That move and song are called “Dancing on the Atmosphere.”

The atmosphere is separate and apart from the burning, the chemistry, that the youngsters, Sandra and George have for one another. [This is all from press reports. We know how accurate that is. Marriage tomorrow, divorce by the weekend.]

The SEQUEL. George and Sandra have not been impaired or traumatized enough. They’re on a second space flight together, which is also jinxed. A sun flair destroys their spaceship, but [a contrivance] they avoid death by riding a wave of energy. [The accompanying music and song “Radiation Waltz.”] During the waltz they are protected in a thermal blanket, where fortunately everything including all movement remains uncover. The audience never sees the ill-effects of gamma [not grandma] rays.

Passing by a comet and our astronautic duo grabs the tail and rides. [SONG – Catch a comet by the tail.] Two songs, they ought to make this a musical. JOB OPENING: Seeking songwriter. Good platform. Lyric and music for movie/musical. Contact this blog.

After the music ends George and Sandra realize they’re going the wrong way and they’ve gone too far. They are in the Astroid Belt beyond Mars. They got off on an astroid and disagree. He wants to put all the rocks in the Belt together and form a planet; she want to return to mother earth. It’s the first time George has taken a good look at Sandra; she is shriveled. [Song: Summer Peach in the Fall] They locate a supply of oxygen in the astroid. With released energy the rock races toward Earth, the only bullseye in the Universe.[SONG: Target Earth] As they fly by the moon, hydrogen bombs explode near them. The countries with nuclear capabilities are sending bombs to blow up the astroid.

ALTERNATIVE ENDINGS:

1. George and Sandra die in a nuclear explosion. [Song: Direct Hit – I love you.] This is a bad way to kill off a movie franchise. The audience wants to see George and Sandra in space again, and again, and again. Also, there’s no happy ending for a big musical flourish. 

2. It’s a nice astroid, darting among H-Bombs. It finally stops and drops George and Sandra off near a space station. [Song, Welcome Home] The astroid becomes a new earth satellite which hosts network equipment from Time, Warner Cable & Internet.

3. The most exciting ending [Song: Jump Off] As they approach Earth, George and Sandra jump off the astroid and float to a space station where they knock. They get on and watch: The astroid skirts the Earth and the atmosphere and heads for the Sun. It smacks that burning orb, [Song: Space is a Blast] causing a massive flair to stream toward earth but missing it. However, the Space Station/craft? Sequel 3.[Song: History Repeats.]

If all this sounds silly and stupid, remember it is the magic of Hollywood, and we’re talking big bucks: Platforms, actors and sequels!

 

 

 

Summing Up

SUMMING UP

The Summing Up, Somerset Maugham, was written when the author was in his sixties before World War Two. It is a book of interest by a capable writer who can develop a point without being realistic or accurate in his assessments. Consider his analysis of being old:

“For the complete life, the perfect pattern, includes old age as well as youth and maturity. The beauty of a morning and the radiance of noon are good, but it would be a very silly person who drew the curtains and turned on the light in order to shut out the tranquility of the evening. Old age has its pleasures, which, though different, are not less than the pleasures of youth. The philosophers have always told us that we are the slaves of our passions, and is it so small a thing to be liberated from their sway? The fool’s old age will be foolish, but so was his youth… It is true that the old man will no longer be able to climb an Alp or tumble a pretty girl on a bed; it is true that he can no longer arouse the concupiscence of others. It is something to be free from the pangs of unrequited love and the torment of jealously. It is something that envy, which so often poisons youth, should be assuaged by the extinction of desire. But these are negative compensations; the old age has positive compensations also. Paradoxical as it may sound it has more time. …Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long. In old age the taste improves, and it is possible to enjoy art and literature without the personal bias that in youth warps the judgment. It has the satisfaction of its own fulfillment. It is liberated from the trammels of human egoism; free at last, the soul delights in the passing moment, but does not bid it away. It has completed the pattern.

(Penguin Books, NY, 1963, p. 190-191)

Maugham is very hopeful about what lies ahead (lived into his nineties), but fears and forces of age are to be observed. Loss of energy, loss of ability, loss of senses are major deficits in any human being, whether young and old. They are common with age. There may seem to be more time, but remember each act takes longer. Secondary symptoms accompany these deficiencies: loss of confidence, reduced sense of fitting in, being inflexible and frequently misunderstanding.

Maugham writes about a small percentage of people when he assumes as a person ages responsibilities, hatreds, prejudices and states of mind can change more easily. Age frequently ossifies points of view, sets biases, and gives obligations an anchor while limiting choices, augmenting burdens and submitting to predilection. The long and short of Maugham’s aging theory is, success in fulfilling it for all people happens long before they reach old age. If persons have no ability or inclination to change or learn from life and its experiences at 20 years or at 40 years, it can be assumed that people will not change at 60 years or at 80 years. Will people “undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long?” Are persons with no sense of passion and no desire capable of mastering new learning, seeing new perspectives on life, and taking new efforts to reach satisfaction?

It is more likely that most elderly will disappear quietly, except they vote. They get the most benefits from the government; they claim they have contributed and they are owed. That is true if they remain active. If they are passive and do nothing for themselves, for Americans and the country, that is the worst result. The old can participate and become elders – have a satisfactory life in old age, but that is a role to be earned.

Today is a situation that the Boomer and more recent generations must face, and it might be considered a joke like an earlier incident. Miley Cyrus did a skit. Apparently everyone was offended, but what is disgusting about it? I’ve not seen but heard about it. [My eyes are too sensitive. Having written a long novel about the Nixon years in Berkeley, I’ve seen more than I can imagine, about anatomy, bodies and activities arising from each.] About the skit Mothers and Fathers, throughout America deplore that it was broadcast without any rating: INAPPROPRIATE FOR TEENAGERS AND CHILDREN WHO WILL SEE IT ON THE INTERNET. Someone asked why the MTV producers allowed it on the air?

Is this the first time parents have talked to their kids about sex, love, life, drugs and the commercialism about all those topics? If it happened this morning and this week, it is too late. The idea that Miley Cyrus has presented a defining moment in American history is nonsense. As part of raising children, parents have the responsibility to be parents, just like all other animals do, and teach the young what is important, how to act, what to do, and how to get and use protection against culture and society. The skit is not Pearl Harbor, 9-1-1, or The Free Speech Movement.

Did Cyrus do this out of the blue? NO, she grew up with it. Remember Bill and Monica, a couple that will live in celebrity, in notoriety, in infamy. There were cigars, the acts and gyrations, no “sex-with-that-woman” and the other lies, the blue dress. Front page news for a few years, and Bill Clinton was a punch line while arguing that he had prerogatives, privileges and immunities to lie in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a third woman he victimized. The women were right; Bill was wrong, as is reflected in the large settlement he paid. However, the third woman was referred to generously by Clinton supporters as trailer trash. Apparently any woman bringing a sexual harassment charge against Bill was trailer trash, and no one defended those women; no one complained about the belittling, mocking, deriding “the third woman” or “that woman,” either. Just throw those women and all other like women under the bus. I wonder if the women who were subjected to Bob Filner’s (San Diego mayor) advances, affections and moves should be so labeled. Filner complained he was targeted in Republican San Diego because he is a Democrat.

There was some hope after Bill and Monica. Apparently Al Gore had indiscretions, and his wife, Tipper, divorced the asshole. I voted for Al, but in one way, I’m happy he lost: Any politician who can’t keep his indiscretions confidential should not be president. It is said that the French nation laughs at American shock and dismay that our politicians have affairs. That is incorrect. The French laugh because American politicians are indiscrete and like to be found with their pants down.

So what of the skit that Cyrus acted. First, there are no lies and no lawsuit; anything she did is less serious. Second, it is probably bad entertainment just like it was bad news 15 years ago. Third, if the content was all right for America in 1997, what is the difference in 2013? PBS, NBC, CBS, ABC, cable news and (All the news that is fit to print) The New York Times versus MTV, today? It is sour grapes that MTV did it first. Fourth, if the perpetrators and the acts themselves were not condemned in 1997, why are people spouting off, hypocritically, today?

What does this have to do with age? Reason, judgment, logic, thinking don’t improve with age unless each human being reflects, thinks and knows. A twenty year old can know as much as a sixty year old. Memories and memory don’t always play well in human beings, young, middle aged or old. Why cringe at sex today and yet when younger, not be startled or alarmed by lies, lawsuits, sex and abuse of power in 1997? I don’t condone Miley Cyrus, but I’m not shocked or surprised anyone would overlook the chance to do her skit. Anything to keep the name before the public benefits her. However, gaining a name by being a-serial-killer-want-to-be-musician appears to be the limit.

Charles Manson didn’t have the charisma, the savoir faire or grace to use older words. He didn’t talk well; he was a poor singer; he danced badly, he sneered when he smiled. He lacked the cherished traits to pass and get the attention and love from other human beings. Anyone who can do those needs no talent, no training, no ability and no mind. Just show the audience you’re willing to do anything to get the face and name into lights, on TV, before the public, on the Internet – chatter, sing, smile and dance senselessly.

Being old only allows people to forget what happened 15, 33, 50 years ago; there is no virtue or benefit in a poor memory or an inability to communicate accurately or with wisdom. Some people were causal 15 years ago, and are shocked today, and Americans may only say, we have learned nothing over the course of our lives. We should know our reactions to the Cyrus skit should not now be astonishment and horror. That should have happened in 1997 and 1998. Today we be ashamed.

 

MY OUTLOOK

I watch the world daily, and sometimes doubt whether the sun will rise tomorrow. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be so bad. Each day world wide seems a catastrophe. The reasons are primarily – too many people live on Earth – with much better communications so we learn everything immediately – we see indicators of disaster in our own society.

About 200 years ago in 1815 Mt. Tambora in Indonesia erupted, and in 1816 the United States had a year without summer. It snowed in New England in July; no one knew why. Today that eruption would be on the news and INSTANT CONCERN! Prices for agricultural prices would rise; other commodities would rise or fall. Vacation plans would change – no surf, no sun, no sand. Humans would lose a season of bikini fashions. More fabric would be used go ward off the cold.

Academians, journalists and analysts, chattering away, would make projections, forecasts and predications. Some might blame man for the geological disaster, like the actor who blamed the Haitian earthquake on global warming. Other people would say it’s God’s punishment. Many would say or imply this is a new situation – it has never happened before. All those people are WRONG – talk is frequently WRONG. Those people make livings from WRONGNESS.

Disasters have happened before, whatever the force or the cause: God, gravity, geology or Gaia. This planet is not stable; the weather is not predictable, for five days let alone temperatures in 100 years. Human beings cannot survive without struggle. Some disasters in the past killed only a few human beings: 1857 quake along the San Andres Fault; the 1809 New Madrid earthquake; the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980. Change the time or the location (a little) and Los Angeles could be devastated by the southern San Andres Fault moving; the Mississippi River Valley would be greatly altered by a 9.0 earthquake. If Mt. Raneir, 150 miles north of Helens, goes, wipe Seattle from the map.

The disaster themselves seem horrible, but worse today everyone in the world would see it and the aftermath on TV or the Internet. We saw the aftermath of the Indonesians 2004 earthquake/tsunami and the 2011 Japan earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster. Seeing it in real time is significant, but doesn’t make the reporting better: There are still the questions: “How do you feel?” “What were you thinking?” “Were you scared?”

A neighbor was holding a video camera during a 1994 earthquake, and he yelled, “Holy Shit!” I believe that is a legitimate response to any disaster and as an answer to any of those questions. But the TV stations didn’t want to report it. Newspapers tried to make the news fit.

Man made disasters could have been avoided without misses. No way. There has been the easy reporting of global warming and scores of incidences and thousands of theories coming from scientists seeking government research money. It’s a disaster, theoretically in 100 years, provided the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse don’t show up. I notice there is little research to prevent that appearance.

Since 1994, Rwanda, Clinton didn’t see it, sorry. Didn’t see Darfur/Sudan, sorry; missed the USS Cole, sorry. Bush 9-11, who’s calling, huh? Why fight in Afghanistan, Duh? WMD, Iraq war, Huh? The corrupt narco state of Afghanistan is no worse than Chicago, Obama, 2009.