Melania vs Nasty Women

(Scene 1 – White House West Wing)

President Trump (PT):  Schmoopy, schmoopy.  Where are you?

Melania Trump (MT):  Right here schmoopy.  I was just on-line buying a new summer house in Tokyo.  I am tired of the New York.  It is smelly and ugly and the mayor is the smelly, ugly, commie pinko.  I hate the barricade and the ugly, smelly, mean people who are mean to me and our son.

PT:  Who is being mean to our son, schmoopy?  I’ll have the secret service water board him.

MT:  You cannot schmoopy.  It is a mean girl from SNL and you cannot use the torture on girls.  They’re so mean, they do not even notice it.  It’s much better to get the National Enquirer to say that she has the herpes.

PT:  Fine, I’ll go with that.  Now I need your help.

MT:  Of course schmoopy.  We must all support the Commando of Cheap.

PT:  That’s Commander in Chief.

MT:  Oh.  Well, sure, why not?

PT:  Anyway, I need help with a problem.  There are millions of American women who think I mean to do them harm.  Did you see the news clips of the women with the hats in Washington?

MT:  These are the pussy-heads?

PT:  Yes.

MT:  Oh schmoopy, there is no help for that.  If your head is up there then you cannot hear anything, believe me.  It is like the American expression, “you have the head up the butthole.”

PT:  Yes, but we must try.  I want as much support for my policies as I can possibly get.

MT:  Schmoopy, I will try.  I will talk to the hat women.  I will ask them to take their heads out of their hats and hear the words.

PT:  Thank you schmoopy.  Now I must go and save the world from Prince Charles and Al Gore.  They’re using up so much jet fuel during their celebrity protests against global warming that the strategic petroleum reserve is on EMPTY and the blinking red light is about to come on.

(Scene 2 – Podium of the Pussy Hat Rally in Central Park)

Rosie O’Donnell (RO):  Sisters, we are here to resist the evil Trump regime with every fiber of our beings.  With our hats, we form a sisterhood of solidarity.  We are stronger than any man and we will not give up until we have conquered the enemy and his evil patriarchal rule.

Joy Beyhar (JB):  Thank you Rosie, and now ladies we have a controversial speaker.  Sort of a traitor to the sisterhood.  Let’s give polite attention to Melania Trump.

RO:  Booo!  Booo!  We hate you!

JB:  Quiet Rosie.  We have no time to waste.

MT:  Thank you Joy.  You are very kind to let me speak to these crazy women.  And Rosie, have some cheesecake right away.  You must be having the low energy.

RO:  AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

MT:  Hello Nasty Women.  I am the First Lady Melania Trump.  I know that you are angry with schmoopy because he said you are ugly and talk too much and because he gave the ass-kicking to Mrs. Clinton.

Crowd:  Booo!   Boooo!

MT:  Please nasty women.  Let me speak.  You must know the truth and stop putting your heads in the pussy.  Schmoopy does not mean you the harm.  He only wants you to shut up and make the sandwich.  I heard him say so.  And he is right.  If you do these things some of you may be able to find ugly husbands and produce ugly children.  I know these things because I have friends and relatives who are also ugly and they are doing these things and producing the children.  Go back to your homes.  Bath yourselves and clean your hair.  Put on the make-up and the push up bra and you will find the ugly men, I promise you.  And do not vote for the Hillary again.  She is very bad and her husband is a very creepy man.  He stared at me at the swearing in and he was very scary.  Now go away.  You are too close to the Trump Tower and may scare Barron.  He is frightened of the ugly women.  He is not used to them.


(Scene 3 – White House West Wing)

MT:  Schmoopy, I’m home.

PT:  Schmoopy!  The President of NOW has given up lesbianism and married Sylvester Stallone and Rosie O’Donnell has entered rehab.  My poll number with women has gone up 30 points.  How did you do it?

MT:  I told them the true things that my mother told me when I was a beautiful little girl.  She said Melania, for every ugly pot, there is an ugly lid.  But not for you.  You are beautiful and will marry the billionaire from America.

PT:  This really is the greatest country in the world.

Open Range – A Short Movie Review

True Grit: The Duke, The Dude and The Dutiful Daughter; Part I

True Grit – Part 2, Rooster Redux

Having been born in the fifties of the last century I am familiar with westerns from the early days of Hollywood and the later era in the sixties.  Now these two styles were as different as night and day.  The earlier movies represented a simpler more idealized version of the old west.  The sixties represented the era of the anti-hero and the anti-heroic west.  Both of these periods produced memorable films.  I have favorites from both periods and depending on the mood can enjoy either.  In the last twenty years, some good westerns have been made.  Interestingly they represent an evolution that contains aspects of both these earlier film types.  Unlike the earlier films, they do not represent an idealized world and at the same time they lack the relentlessly negative depiction of the sixties western.  Let’s say it’s a more balanced approach.  So, some of these new movies appeal to me for a variety of reasons.  Some are remakes of earlier classics.  One of these, True Grit, I’ve already reviewed.  Some are new stories like Open Range.  I’ll say what I like about this story and why.

The plot of the story is a familiar one.  It’s settlers versus herders.  A small herd owner passes through a town run by a rich tyrannical landowner, Denton Baxter (played to the hilt by Michael Gambon) who controls the sheriff and attacks and kills any free grazing herders that come through his land.  His men attack and kill one of the cowboys and injure another.  The herd owner, Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall), and his lead man, Charlie Waite (Kevin Costner), come back to the town to get a doctor for their shot friend and to get justice.  The narrative runs to a climactic gun fight.   Mixed in is a love story between Waite and the doctor’s sister, Sue Barlow (Annette Bening).  Seeing as Costner and Bening aren’t kids anymore, the love story is appealing to people of my generation and fits in with the theme of a changing world closing off one familiar lifestyle while opening up a better one to those willing to see.

So, this is a pretty standard plot.  Why do I like it?

First off, the look and feel of the movie.  It must have been filmed in the Canadian Rockies.  The panoramic views and the outdoor scenes are fantastic to look at.  The scenes in the town look good.  They spent enough money to make the sets look authentic.  The soundtrack is first rate.

Second, the portrayals by all the leads and many of the supporting characters are well done and very engaging.  I’m a fan of Duvall’s and the chemistry between him and Costner makes the movie work.  The Costner/Bening love story is understated and enjoyable.

Third and most important, the gun fight at the end is epic.  Our heroes Duvall and Costner line up against five men and then fight their way through the rest of the gang to stay alive and win the day.  So why is it so good?  Well first off, these have to be the loudest guns ever fired.  Even sitting in my living room, I can feel the percussion rattling my teeth.  Honestly, I doubt there were Iowa Class battleships with guns this robust.  Secondly, Kevin Costner was lucky enough to own revolvers that were twenty-five-shooters.  He would peel off ten shots at one adversary before moving on to another dozen shots at the next opponent.  This can be both dramatically useful and conducive to a gunfighter’s health.  And finally, the bad guys are so enjoyably bad.  One villain even brags about how much he enjoyed shooting someone in the head just as he himself gets shot practically right between the eyes.  The lead villain, Baxter is continuously issuing threats and insults at anyone he sees and is thoroughly despicable.  It’s truly a pleasure seeing him dispatched by our heroes’ thunderously loud and apparently infinitely loaded shooting irons.

Open Range is one of my favorite modern westerns.  In style, I think it throws back more to the pre-sixties westerns.  But it is so well-acted and generally well made that it actually updates many of the conventions it adheres to and gives them new life.  I highly recommend it.  And the ladies like it too.  So, throw it in for date night.  You can’t go wrong.


President Trump – The Greatest Show on Earth

A week or two ago I lamented the demise of the Barnum and Bailey Circus.  I hereby retract that sentiment.  If the initials in P.T. Barnum stood for President Trump instead of Phineas Taylor I wouldn’t be any surer that I am now witnessing the Greatest Show on Earth.

I have contributed to several republican presidential candidates in my life and sometimes felt I was repaid with the results.  But never had I imagined that my recompense for contributing to Trump would include laughter and amazement.

We are now surrounded by a show the likes of which Americans have never seen or imagined.  Compared to the glacial pace of most new administrations, Trump is a veritable juggernaut.  No sooner does he dismantle one Obama mess than he begins assaulting some other monstrosity.  And throughout the proceedings the press and the leftist crazies run around in circles decrying some off-hand remark about crowds at the inauguration or pink hat wearing harpies.  For the last two months, I have been hearing from happy right wingers that too much winning might actually be a medical condition with health risks associated.  I don’t know about that but I can attest that you can hurt your ribs from too much laughing.

Honestly, I can’t remember being this happy since the beginning of the millennium.  And I am aware that all good things will come to an end.  But it’s very difficult for me to worry about that now.  The giddiness that envelops me has started to effect my critical faculties and I find myself imagining all sorts of absurd possibilities.  What if PT launched a government television show (on PBS?) in which citizens could call in and recommend a particularly odious government regulation to eliminate.  Every week Americans could vote on line (like American Idol) and Trump could preside as the judge.

Or maybe he could amuse us like FDR did with fireside chats.  But instead of pep talks he could regale us with which reporter or which celebrity had told the biggest lies about his administration.  Maybe he could announce which American company had expanded employment.  Possibly there could be a lottery for some of these jobs.  Now that would sell.

Of course, this all sounds like a fever dream.  But it’s hardly crazier than the POTUS saying that Mexico will pay for a wall to keep its citizens out of the US.  And the best part about it is that he actually can do it.  We’ve always heard that the president was the most powerful man in the world.  And the strength of the American armed forces and up until recently of its industry made that true.  But who ever imagined that the president could also be this much fun?

Anyway, eventually all this will come back to earth.  But right now, it feels like anything is possible and things keeping going from good to better.  Seeing those leftist ghouls shrieking and running in circles and Trump just telling them off is like the scene in the Lord of the Rings where Saruman discovers that his voice can no longer confuse or seduce his enemies and leads him to resort to insult until he is broken and dismissed by his new boss.

So here is my hat off to you PT.  You truly have become the greatest show on earth and without any danger of exaggeration, the show is absolutely huuuuge!

Trump vs The MSM (Part II)

Trump vs The MSM (Part I)


Scene: White House West Wing


David Muir (DM):  Good evening, I’m David Muir of ABC News reporting from the White House with an exclusive interview with newly inaugurated President Donald Trump.  Good evening Mr. President.

President Trump (PT):  Hello David.

(DM):  Mr. President, all of America is asking what will your administration do next.  Your actions this week to build the wall and reverse so many of President Obama’s executive orders have surprised many people and frightened a good many of those.

(PT):  Well David, I understand there are a percentage of Americans who disagree with my agenda.  Those people are called democrats.  But it doesn’t make much sense for them to be surprised.  I’ve been saying for a year and a half that I would do all these things.

(DM):  Many thought you were exaggerating.

(PT):  So much for that.  Look, I have a very aggressive agenda and time passes quickly in this town.  It takes forever to just get rolling.  For someone used to getting things done it’s very frustrating.  So, no one should be surprised if I ram these changes through as quickly as humanly possible.

(DM):  But what can you say to allay the fears of these people?

(PM):  See a headshrinker.  He’ll be able to explain that reality is sometimes different from your delusions.

(DM):  That seems like a callous way of treating these people.

(PT):  Not at all.  Lying to people is much crueler.  Like those crazy women who were shrieking about me while wearing those stupid hats.  Telling people that they were the resistance instead of just posers.  Look at that idiot Madonna.  Talking about blowing up the White House.  That’s the talk of a petulant child or a lunatic.  She’s much better off seeing a shrink or taking a vacation or even taking care of her kids.

(DM):  Mr. President, a lot of Americans think you’ve been lying about many things.  For instance, you claim that your inauguration crowd was larger than President Obama’s.

(PT):  Well David, if anyone should be worried about telling lies to the American people it should be the television and print press.  Your colleagues Brian Williams and Dan Rather were both fired for fabricating stories.  And even the ones who haven’t been fired know that they spend an enormous amount of time spinning facts to fit a narrative they want the viewers to believe.  I mean, how is it that if a high government official knowingly disobeys the security laws for safeguarding government secrets and because of that a foreign government obtains that information the press doesn’t do their job and alert the people of the seriousness of the situation.  And if the government at the time colludes to allow this crime to go unpunished how can the press not trumpet this from the front page as a major scandal?  Isn’t that wholesale lying or even journalistic malfeasance.

(DM):  But we’re not the US government we’re just in business.

(PT):  From what I learned in grammar school, the press has a very important role to play in the American system.  It seems that lying about the facts to the American people when it involves their government should be considered a serious offense.  I think I’ll have my justice department review the record of your industry over the course of the last couple of presidents and see if any RICO laws have been violated.

(DM):  Mr. President, I’m not sure I like the way this interview is going.

(PT):  Relax David.  The truth shall set you free. Maybe.

Trump vs The MSM (Part I)

Trump vs The MSM (Part II)


Scene: Oval Office

President Trump (PT):  Spicer, get in here will ya?  I’ve got a bone to pick with you.

Press Secretary Spicer (PSS):  How can I help you Mr. President?

PT:  I was just watching your presser with those news yahoos.  Why didn’t you blast those imbeciles?  Polite speech is wasted on these losers.

PSS:  Well, Mr. President, I am trying to maintain the dignity of our offices.

PT:  Under most circumstances that would make sense.  But these cretins are true villains.  Treating them humanely is a mistake.

PSS:  But how can you be sure that that strategy won’t boomerang against us?

PT:  That’s where tactics come into play.

PSS:  I confess I’ll need all the help on this I can get.

PT:  Relax, I’ve looked into the resources available to the White House and I’ve set up a command center for you.  You’ll have about forty men on your crew.  It’ll be their job to collect counter intelligence on the news rats and set up the audio-visual show.

PSS:  Sir, is that even legal?

PT:  Son, all it requires is enough manpower to research the earlier news reports of these blithering idiots to show just what kind of duplicitous hypocrites they really are.

PSS:  But is this not excessive?

PT:  That is dead wrong.  Even though the main stream media is barely credible with a good percentage of the population it is a mistake to let them lie about us and our work.  Now get together with your crew and start setting up the technical equipment in advance of the next press conference.

PSS:  Yes Mr. President.  Do you happen to have anything available on the NBC crew?  They’ve been especially annoying today.

PT:  Are you kidding?  I’ve got a reel of them throwing softballs to Obama about Reverend Wright that will have them running for the exits.

PSS:  Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of weasels.


Trump vs The MSM (Part II)

Sony Photography – January 2017 Perspective

Back in August 2016 I gave a retrospective of my 5 years as a Sony photography equipment shooter.  Well it’s about six months later and I guess it’s time to update my opinion and look ahead.

Since then, Sony has not issued another full frame e-mount camera.  In fact, the last full frame e-mount announced was the A7S II back in September 2015.  As a sort of qualifier, I will note that a full frame A mount camera (Sony A-99 II) was launched in late 2016.  This launch combined with the damage to Sony’s factory in April 2016 probably explain this slower release schedule.  During this time, Sony released a couple of APS-C e-mount cameras that exhibited many interesting improvements in auto-focus ability and other important features.  In addition, Sony has announced an impressive number of very good full frame lenses for the e-mount.  So, taking all these mitigating circumstances into consideration you could completely excuse Sony for this slower schedule.

Well, maybe you could but I can’t!  As a certified Sony fanatic, I excuse nothing.  I consider that Sony owes me the impossible each and every day!  Okay, rant over.

Basically, we are still at about the same point of Sony mirrorless evolution as we were back then.  Granted, the APS-C cameras claim to have improved moving subject auto-focus greatly.  And more powerful processing chips have been added to the A-99 II.  But until Sony provides a full-frame that matches the auto-focus of the top end Canon and Nikon cameras from even 5 years ago I don’t think Sony can declare themselves a legitimate option for professional photographers.

In fact, lately it sounds like some of the other mirrorless manufacturers (Fuji and Panasonic) have really solved the auto-focus issues for mirrorless.  Now granted these are not full-frame cameras but it highlights the defect of the A7 cameras in this department.  On top of this I saw an article on a popular rumor site that stated that Sony lost quite a bit of sales ground to its competitors this last year.  Taking this all together it sounds like Sony needs to play some catch up to be seen as a competitor for Canon and Nikon.

Sounds sort of bad.  Well actually, I think Sony has learned that they need to stop churning out cameras with only minor improvements.  I think they are preparing to launch a significant upgrade to the A7 line.  Whether they will launch this series simultaneously with an A9 (professional model) is unclear.  From the perspective of maximizing overall sales I think releasing the A9 later would make sense.  But to get this high-end product out quickly into the market place I rather think launching the A9 at the same time is much more exciting.  Plus, assuming that an A9 would be greatly more expensive I don’t see that these cameras would interfere with each other’s sales.

So what insider knowledge do I possess that allows me to predict the imminent release of these new cameras?  None!

I’m going strictly on gut feeling that Sony knows they have to bust out a really compelling camera (or cameras) now to stay relevant and profitable.  So, there you have it.  I am putting my incredible reputation as a soothsayer on the line and predicting that Sony will announce a ground-breaking full-frame mirrorless camera in 2017.  It will have professional level auto-focus and all the other required characteristics (dual memory cards, good battery life, weatherproof construction) that a professional camera requires.

If I’m wrong may I be forced to take no other photos but selfies with smartphones for a year!

He Begins Well

I had to work on Inauguration Day.  When I took a break, I had a chance to hear the speech.  The words are good.  Whoever wrote it earned his pay.  There is no soaring rhetoric.  Its power is in its relevance.  I heard a few simple messages.  The time for talk is over.  The time for action is now.  Buy American, hire American.  America first.

I am no longer an overly enthusiastic or optimistic man.  I do not assume that good intentions are enough to solve problems.  But I note that just as Trump spoke during the campaign to the underlying blindness that republican leaders exhibited to the concerns of the people on the right so his speech here cleaves to his primary message.  He declares his mission.  Restore America for Americans.

I’ll keep this short and sweet.  He begins well.

Making the Greatest Show On Earth Again

When I was about eight years old my father took me and my brothers and sister to see Ringling Brothers’ Barnum and Bailey Circus at the old Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.  Before the performance, we walked through the menagerie and saw lions, tigers, zebras, a huge bored gorilla and most importantly the elephants.  They were the stars of the circus and from the point of view of a little boy, the real reason to go to the circus.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I liked the other acts too, the tightrope walkers, the clowns, the lion tamers and the trapeze acrobats.  They were fun and some were exciting.  But what I wanted to see were the elephants.  Watching these giants go through their routines and seeing the trainers perform their acrobatics on the backs and heads of these amazing monsters was thrilling.

When I had kids of my own, I would bring them every year to the circus.  At this point I preferred the Big Apple Circus because they provided a retro and more intimate experience.  And of course, they had elephants.  My kids loved the clowns and the trapeze acts but what always brought the oohs and aahs was the elephants.  There weren’t as many or as big as the ones I remember from my childhood but they did the trick.  When my kids were a little older I decided to bring them one last time to see the circus.  Much to everybody’s surprise and disappointment there were no elephants.  I assumed that the Big Apple Circus had fallen on hard times and couldn’t afford them anymore.

Over the last few years I had heard that animal rights activists were the reason that circuses had been forced to eliminate the elephants.  They worked to get municipal laws passed making elephant training and control equipment illegal.  They picketed the circuses and harassed the patrons.  Among all the other outrages of the Social Justice Warriors I never considered how this particular campaign would impact the world I live in.  A few years ago, I went with my grandsons to the Ringling Brothers show and there were the elephants.  All was as it should be.

Today I read that Ringling Brothers’ Barnum and Bailey Circus was going out of business this year.  The last performance will be this spring.  Reading the article I discovered that the last year or two the circus finally caved in to the pressure and eliminated the elephants from the circus.  The circus officials attributed the large drop in attendance to this change.  The article said the Barnum and Bailey Circus was 146 years old and was actually older than baseball.  So, the SJWs killed the circus.

Well, that’s about the perfect emblem of our era.  Politically correct harassment and knee-jerk regulation strangled one of the most legendary symbols of happiness and childhood adventure.

For the activists who supposedly did all this for the sake of the elephants, I think it might be interesting to consider what the law of unexpected consequences might have to say about this development.  Now that children won’t be thinking about elephants as much anymore there’s a chance they won’t grow up quite as interested in elephants.  Currently, elephant populations are under enormous pressure in their native ranges.  In fact, both Asian and African elephants are being decimated by the combined pressures of habitat destruction and poaching.  A time may come when only a concerted effort by conservationists using heroic efforts will preserve a population of elephants.  This would require a large amount of money on a continuous basis.  This money will not come from Asia or Africa.  I think it is entirely possible that if governments aren’t in a position to underwrite something like this for political and financial reasons it will require the sympathy of individuals in first-world countries to make this effort possible.  However, if elephants are no longer a popular or common concept perhaps there will be little interest in underwriting their well-being.  So, if Dumbo isn’t a figure that parents remember fondly, maybe they won’t bring their kids to see the new version.  And one day the kids will be unaware that elephants are any more interesting than sewer rats.  And when they drop off the face of the earth the activists can rail against the callous ignorance and selfishness of people.  And no one will know or care.

In the weeks and months going forward President Trump may be able to make many American institutions and aspects of life “great again.”  Unfortunately, I don’t see any hope of making the Greatest Show on Earth “great again” or even making it again at all.  And we are all poorer for it.

The Puppies of 2017

On Monday, I received an e-mail from “Hugo Awards 2017” that said, “I’m very glad to be able to tell you that nominations for the 2017 Hugo Awards are now open! As a member of MAC2, you are eligible to nominate in the 17 Hugo ballot categories covering the best of the genre in the last year, and for the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer.”  And, so continues a five-year tradition of melodrama and degradation almost unparalleled in the annals of genre literature buffoonery.  Yes, the pageantry and butt-hurt that is the puppy-era Hugo Awards is back again.  Huzzah!

And I think we have reached a new stage in this evolution.  Everyone realizes that rapprochement is impossible and now it’s just a matter of how much infamy can be heaped on your opponents.  From the point of view of the puppies’ side (sides?), winning Hugos isn’t seriously considered as an objective.  The folks at Tor have shown that their allies in the media can crank out a blitz of news pieces tarring the puppy side as deplorables and this will inspire enough people into battling the reprobates with no-award votes and assuring that some of the Tor books will win.  And the puppies (mostly the rabid variety) will be able to slate a number of bizarre nominations (Space Raptor Butt Invaders!) to make the Hugos appear ridiculous and simultaneously put a monkey wrench in Tor’s system of rewarding lower level authors with unsuccessful Hugo nominations.

So, there is a sort of a stand-off.  It’s like one of those Three Stooges routines where Moe, Larry and Curly are locked down into some kind of circle-slap-fest.  They’re each almost exhausted but there’s no way to exit the contest.  Now I say this in full realization that I’m Curly and, of course, I want to beat Moe so, let the eye poking proceed.

Actually, there’s kind of a comforting feel to the procedure.  It must have been like this in the middle stages of the trench warfare during WWI.  You had progressed past the belief that a charge would result in anything but mass casualties so you settled down to lobbing shells and poison gas canisters.  You knew your script and hating the Hun was easy and kinda fun (except for the dysentery and shrapnel).

This year I’ll follow the venomous fun and nominate the stories I’ve enjoyed.  But I can’t care very much if the cabal gets a few awful stories awarded.  On the other hand I’m looking forward to the Dragons.  Last year was surprising.  Without the negativity I felt almost disoriented.  An award ceremony without pomposity.  It seemed like some guilty pleasure.

Anyway, I have to confess that after the vote in November it’s a little difficult to get upset about the Hugos.  What I’m hoping for this year is a Trump themed campaign.  Maybe a YouTube video entitled “Make the Hugos Great Again.”  Possibly Milo Yiannopoulis could write a novella entitled “If You Were a Deplorable My Love.”

So there it is.  The Hugos have become a kind of tradition where the event is almost completely antithetical to the intent.  Sort of like watching Dick Clark’s Rocking New Years’ Eve after there’s no Dick Clark or Rock and Roll and you really can’t remember why you want to stay up on New Year’s Eve and watch Mariah Carey lip-synch her songs in a spandex sausage casing.    So, the Hugos aren’t actually about picking the best sf&f stories anymore but instead a cautionary tale about what happens when the patients take over the asylum.

But in the words of George Constanza, “You wanna get nuts?  Let’s get nuts!”