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October 10th, 2017

Fucking Weinstein

I was quietly blogging on Tumblr a few minutes ago, when I found on my longtime friend Anna's site the news that her idol, one Benedict Cumberbatch (aka BBC's Sherlock), tonight denounced the shithead (a gender-neutral term) Harvey Weinstein as a serisl sexual infractor.

I just congratulated her with the following:

Dear Anna, I was chatting about my new girlfriend Carrie, whom I'm gonna introduce personally quite soon! (Yay!).

But, in getting you on Tumblr, I discover your Nearly God, Benedict, has once more justified our faith and trust: this stupid Weinstein fiasco has incinerated a Hollywood fraud well deserving of utter ignominy! Not directly YOUR fight (or even BC's, since he misses a chromasome, or something), but what a pleasure to find ALL the "good-guys" (NB "guy" henceforth a gender-neutral word!) on OUR side!

The shithead henchforth loses "Harvey" as a name, and it reverts to its honorable existence as a 1940s celluloid alcoholic rabbit (sic). You can look it up...

September 29th, 2017

David Brooks is a busy journalist. He goes from being the Friday co-prophet on PBS Evening News to writing important op-eds in the New York Times. He picks pop music for today's column:

"Sometimes pop culture seems completely prepackaged and professionalized, so when somebody steps out and puts on a display of vulnerability, trust and humility, it takes your breath away.

"That’s what Chance the Rapper did on Monday on 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.' He debuted a new, untitled song... about the perils of stardom ...[The] artist humbly baring himself before his audience, trusting them to understand, sympathize and receive his bid for intimacy. There’s always something multilayered when people tell you a story about the ground that they have honestly walked.

"It’s interesting to compare Chance’s song with Taylor Swift’s new song, 'Look What You Made Me Do,' which is also about a young star coping with celebrity. The former stands out from the current cultural moment; the latter embodies it. Swift is a phenomenally talented and beautiful songwriter who has lost touch with herself and seems to have been swallowed by the ethos of the Trump era."

At least I give a fuck about Taylor... and may learn to like Chance. There is ZERO chance (heh heh!) I will ever sympathize with The Don.
Paul Krugman's NYTimes column ia great today.

He opens, "According to a new Quinnipiac poll, a majority of Americans believe that Donald Trump is unfit to be president." It is ALL downhill from there.

"The administration has refused to confirm whether it will pay crucial subsidies to [health-care] insurers that cover low-income customers. It has refused to clarify whether the requirement that healthy people buy insurance will be enforced. It has canceled or suspended outreach designed to get more people to sign up...

"Why are the Trumpists doing this? Is it a cynical calculation — make [Obamacare] fail, then claim that it was already doomed? I doubt it. For one thing, we’re not talking about people known for deep strategic calculations. For another, [Obamacare] won’t actually collapse; it will just become a program more focused on sicker, poorer Americans...

"No... sabotage is best seen not as a strategy, but as a tantrum. 'We can’t repeal Obamacare? Well, then, we’ll screw it up.' It’s not about achieving any clear goal, but about salving the president’s damaged self-esteem."

The miserable motherfucker!

September 22nd, 2017

Back in March 2016, I posted about Trump looking alarmingly viable as a candidate: https://devifemme.livejournal.com/2030252.html

A week ago, I received an anonymous comment re that posting; I opened the LJ screen (the sender evidently NOT an LJ member), and it read:

"learn your skills [subject line]
"Find out what you need to improve in yourself to become more effective!"

Below it, dated a day earlier, was a second reply, in Russian except for the title of my post:
"This is the 2016 outcome??
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Ooh, interesting: someone (presumably a Russian) commented on my year-and-a-half-old post on Trumpsky* being a new force in the primaries. THEN. he repeated it in [puzzlingly non-political] English.

Sadly, I was right about Trump!

I'd really LIKE to know who ferreted out this post at THIS time. I'm thinking it is a Russian speaker. I doubt it's Russian government or GRU, since -- well, why give up the "op" so needlessly.

Thanks, friends!

* I only nicknamed him "Trumpsky" a couple of months after this post, when the first reports of his collusion with the Russians came out.

September 21st, 2017

Sorry I haven't been posting in past weeks. Somehow wishing Trumpsky would evaporate HASN'T done the trick, so I'm looking for a new way.

Perhaps Kim Jong Un is onto something, or at least his translators have found a Middle English insult that works MUCH better than old Elton John songs. (C'mon, dudes, "Rocket Man" is fucking lame!)

Apart from its kinship to the delightful current coinage, "fucktard" (is there a hyphen??), the Koreans' "dotard" apparently has the same lineage as harmless "dotage" -- or simply old age. But Un's translators' choice of word also connotes losing one's marbles due to age -- which certainly applies to the erstwhile current occupant of the Oval.

I'm looking forwsrd to Un's hardworking translators reaching into their Chaucer for further suitable expressions of opprobrium.

September 7th, 2017

Impeach the bastard!

The new Atlntic magazine has an excellent article on how to impeach Trumpsky.But I specially liked the comparisons they make to Nixon and Watergate:

"...more and more evidence of collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia has come to light [and] the analogy to Watergate has grown ever stronger."

They note "a burglary of the Democratic National Committee, undertaken to influence the outcome of an election, ignited a burgeoning scandal.

[Plus] "Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and warnings to Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller conjure President Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre.

[Finally] "Trump echoes Nixon in raging against leaks and decrying the investigation of his office as a 'witch hunt.'”

Another case of "deja vu"...

Florida hurricanes

Well, friends, this seems like "deja vu all over again" in Florida, where we have a place in Vero Beach. I'm still in our Washington home -- which, as many of you know, is more like Joanne's preferred nest. (I do prefer Florida.) I had stuck around up here after we got back from Europe in mid-July: she had some medical issues, now resolved -- and so, a few days ago, I'd booked a flight for the 18th.

Ah, but now we suddenly have Hurricane Irma -- as of tonight's news, it looks likely to turn its path from west to north on Saturday, up Florida's east coast.

Not that we're strangers to hurricanes there: in 2004, Vero was hit with TWO of them, three weeks apart. Our place was badly damaged, as our neighbors reported. Joanne thought to ask a contractor we'd used for remodeling up here if he'd take his crew down to help with emergency repairs -- and he agreed to bring a truckload of equipment and 4 other guys (all Guatemalans).

We got there five days after the storm, quickly set to work replacing the shingle roofs and doing other urgent repairs. We performed minor miracles, even getting reconnected to the power grid so that we could run A/C and dry out the rain-soaked interior. We quickly learned -- as have the people of southeast Texas in the past week -- that the real enemy in post-hurricane situations is MOLD. We ripped out carpets, some cabinetry, but mainly soaked "drywall" in much of the house, though some rooms (including our guest house) were pretty much okay.

A week into the rebuild, 18 days after the first storm, a SECOND hurricane (Jeanne) -- which had gone east of us, but then did a bizarre pivot in the central Atlantic -- and came straight at us. We and the crew evacuated a day before it hit, heading for the Florida west coast, where we have friends living on Longboat Key, off Sarasota. We put up the crew in a motel in Sarasota, and we watched it all on our friends' TV. Neighbors who stayed in Vero phoned to report that the house had sustained more damage. We rented a UHaul trailer, filled it with construction materials from the Sarasota Home Depot, and returned to Vero.

Much of our work had been undone by Jeanne, including most of the new shingles. (One learns that new shingle roofing must "cure" in the sun for months before it becomes a serious barrier to wind and water.) Again, we had what is most needed to cope with heavy damage after a Florida storm: a hard-working crew -- since labor is suddenly in short supply (as we had earned from South Florida friends who survived Hurricane Andrew there in the mid-90s).

Long story short (six more months of working on and off -- the contractor and crew needed to go back north for other clients, but they returned to Vero several more times to complete the restoration by the following May), we got our lovely home back, collected on the insurance (Joanne created forty pages of spreadsheets with every damned shingle and hour the crew worked) -- and have enjoyed it for the past 12 years.

Now, as I wrote, "deja vu" is upon us -- as we talk to Vero neighbors looking at evaculation tomorrow, and watch the TV coverage. (The Houston chaos in the past few weeks had already reminded us pretty brutally just how vicious the wind and water can be.) It'll be a nervous few days as the forecasts evolve and we come to know more about the storm's likely path.

Wish us luck!

September 3rd, 2017

Not about Trumpsky!

Today Joanne and I spent the whole day at the "Page to Stage" Festival at Washington's always-wonderful Kennedy Center. It'll also be on tomorrow and Monday, with a vast calendar of offerings by over 60 smaller theater companies in our region. It's mainly new productions they will show in the coming season, sometimes simple script read-throughs by the tentative cast -- but often the whole production, minus costumes and sets. Often three or more offerings are going simultaneously, so all you can do is guess which will be most interesting.

We've faithfully attended ALL the annual extravaganzas in the past 15 years, thrilled at the sheer quality of the pieces we've seen. Often they are new plays by well-known writers, perhaps on their way to Broadway. This weekend there's no shortage of musicals -- like one today called "Into the Sun," based on several British college friends sucked into the horrid trench warfare in WWI. Some of the lyrics are from influential poetry of Rupert Brook, who was killed, and Siegfried ("Freddy") Sassoon, who never recovered from severe "shell-shock" (what we now call PTSD).

Not a promising subject for a musical, you say? Well, it was the BEST piece of theater I've seen in years, and I won't be surprised if it winds up a huge hit in a future engaement. The playwright, Michael Gubser, led a terrific post-show discussion of its recent genesis; this is the third full iteration (meaning a cast of some 20 and a fully scored production, in this case well done by the Theater Department of James Madison University). He expects to continue revamping it in further iterations in other venues -- and, who knows, by that point B'way talent scouts may grab it.

My other favorite today was "Blight" by John Bavose, done by the charmingly named Pinky Swear Productions -- about a lesbian couple buying a home in a small Delaware town. Alas, it had been the residence of a teenaged mass murderer... and the townfolk see it as a blight, needing to be torn down. Now, the tricky part is that the play's a comedy, and it stands up as such -- even the flashbacks showing the killer's spiral into insanity are handled deftly.

And I have to mention "The Raid," about white abolitionist John Brown preparing to attack the U.S. Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, WV, a precursor to the Civil War. It also was superbly cast. It takes a few historical liberties, including major roles for black leaders like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman -- trying to dissuade Brown from taking 20 men to their deaths (including by hanging after a notorious trial for treason).

Also seeing two lesser (but fascinating) plays, we were there from 11:00am to 9:30pm. Just to show how crowded the day was, there were no less than 35 productions we couldn't attend. There's a lighter schedule tomorrow, but Monday's 36 offerings will again challenge us.

Did I mention it's all FREE?

August 20th, 2017

I guess I'm getting jaded from all Trumpsky's outrages. I was totally surprised-- in a GOOD way -- by today's Washington Post.

There were no fewer than 22 articles that touched on the Charlottesville imbroglio. NOT repeating themselves in any way, but there's THAT much to say about what is possibly Trumpsky's FATAL error.

Front page: long piece on Bannon's ouster (lots of relevance to the alt-right, including the timing and what he'll do in league with white supremicists), plus a separate long article on impact on Republicans (more are "off the reservation" than you'd imagine)

Page A3: focus on Boston victory of counter-protest!

Pages A4 (cancellations of big events at Mar-a-Lago, etc.), A6-8 (continuation of front-page pieces, plus dynamite interviews with SIX far-rightists at C-ville from all over US -- scary), and A10 (17 white-nationalist groups present at C-ville).

Page A14 (European reaction, including German counter-protesters squelching Neo-Nazis trying to commemorate a long-forgotten Hitler deputy.)

Pages A19-21: editorial and op-eds, including "America's Unhappiest Employee" (ahem, Trumpsky himself, widely reported not to like the job) and several well-reasoned pieces by observers on why it's time to get rid of the remaining Confederate memorials.

(One is a descendant's letter to the editor, asking to remove a 1912 statue of a Tennessee general killed 50 years earlier -- "it has no historical value" since it glorifies "the fight to preserve slavery...")

THEN the separate Outlook section B, the front page of which was an (altered) photo of the White House, with black sky and Stars-and-Bars flag in full color over it. Polemical, sure, but it feels in tune with all the weekly- mag covers slamming Trumpsky.

There are 3 long pieces (one a stunning demand to take down Robert E. Lee monuments, by a descendant whose parents were hassled for their 1967 black/white marriage. Her grandmother had fought the marriage in Lee's name.)

Another notable piece argues that Obama could somehow have done more to warn/prepare us --actually a VERY timely book review of "Obama: the Call of History" by Peter Baker.
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