See complete original post (and much more) at: Evil Squirrel’s Nest Comic #250 — 2/9/17
See complete original post (and much more) at: Evil Squirrel’s Nest Comic #250 — 2/9/17
I almost never read the “professional” critics these days. By professional critics, I mean those men and women who are paid to review entertainment: television, movies, and books. Reviews by “the pros” never seem to have anything to do with me. I don’t know from what planet these folks are coming, but it isn’t my part of the galaxy.
Do they see the same movies? Read the same books? Watch the same TV shows? Almost all my favorite moves were panned by critics, though many have since achieved “classic” status. Many favorite books were ignored by critics but have ultimately done pretty well, if they had a publisher who believed in them.
It’s easy to slam something for its imperfections. It’s harder to find the good and put the less good into perspective. I have wondered why critics are so negative so much of the time. Is is laziness? Are they are just taking the cheap and fast way out? Are they jaded? Do they get paid more for bashing than praising? Are they completely out of touch with the idea that entertainment should be “fun” — and that entertaining fun is a legitimate “good thing” — not to mention that it’s the stuff most of us want from TV, books, and movies?
So here’s how it works. I read the review. If the critic totally hates it, I might love it or at least, enjoy it. If they love it, I might enjoy it, but probably won’t. If the words “poignant,” “sensitive,” “heart-rending,” or “artistic” appear up in the review, I’ll probably run screaming from the room.
And then, there are the movies and TV shows about which I have to ask: “Did they actually see this show/read this book — or did they write the review based on a summary provided by the publisher/producer/publicist?” I can’t help but wonder.
In the course of disconnecting, then reconnecting our telephone service, Charter also removed all of the settings and filters I had put on my phone. Everything from voice mail to blocking anonymous calls was wiped out. Including NOMOROBO, the add-on that makes having a telephone bearable in a world full of electronic phone calls from people I don’t know, for things I don’t want, for surveys I would never answer. Pitiful pleas for donations to “charities” that don’t exist. Bill collections for people who used to live here and are forever embedded in some calling service’s memory bank.
Without NOMOROBO, the phone rings several times every morning. Early. Always a robotic auto-dialer — no one who knows us would call before noon or minimally, eleven.
I spent several of today’s early hours trying to figure out how to reset my phone to the way it was. Trying to find the settings to stop the telephone from loudly announcing the ‘THIS CALL IS UNAVAILABLE” and mangling even the most ordinary words you’d think it impossible to mess up. I was not going to get any more sleep anyway because the phone was ringing off the damned hook.
Life is hard without filters. Harder for everyone than it ought to be.
Filters keep us on track. Filters on the phone get rid of junk callers and scammers. Filters on email eliminate spam. Filters on this blog keep the trolls from getting through our virtual gate. Our personal filters — the things we won’t say because it’s “not nice” or which we will deeply regret having said — and for which, apologizing is never enough because you can’t erase the memories or destruction left in the wake of a mouth gone rogue.
People complain about filters. They call it the “PC” police. They resent not being able to just say whatever awful stuff comes into their head, no matter who it insults, hurts, belittles. If you feel this way, you are probably a bigot and a racist, whether or not you know it. I applaud filters and refer to them as “good manners” and “civility.” They grease the squeaky wheels of society and make it possible for us to live in relative peace and harmony.
Today, we see how one too-powerful man with an unfiltered mouth can do an almost unlimited amount of damage. One man with neither manners nor civility — no filters — can cause life-threatening harm to millions of people. Did he grow up in a barn? Did no one teach him to say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me”?
He is ugly, cruel, and full of rage. It makes me speculate as to the kind of relationship he had with his parents. Did no one ever give him a hug and tell him he was a good boy? Was his childhood as loveless as the barren, mean-spirited, narcissist who rants daily on our television screens and all over the Internet?
Last night on the Daily Show, Laurence Fishburne, currently playing Mandela – Mandiba, on BET-TV, referred to our current White House occupant simply as “45.” Garry and I immediately realized Mr. Fishburne had given us the answer to a problem with which we have been wrestling. We can’t bear to say his name, but “45” is a tidy, neutral way to identify to whom we are referring without having that name pass our lips. Speaking the name requires excessive oral cleansing to remove that icky taste. Yuk.
I think people who play bridge are going to have a problem. Just saying.
I wrote a blog a few months ago when I first started using Facebook. I wrote about how disappointed I was because I didn’t feel as ‘connected’ after joining Facebook as I had hoped.
I realize now that my problem was that I didn’t really understand Facebook and had unrealistic expectations. My friends had told me that they felt much more connected and less isolated on Facebook. I assumed they were talking about emotional connection. So I naïvely expected to become more involved with my Facebook friends lives. To me, that meant regular comments, back and forth about our families, careers or hobbies, etc. I envisioned something more like texting, but with a wider range of people. I said I was naïve.
That’s how it may work for some people, millennials in particular. But my ‘friends’ are mostly in the Baby Boomer demographic. Some people post vacation photos or the odd family photo or announcement. Some even post about a particularly memorable meal. I see some cat and dog videos and photos and many wonderful humor posts. But mostly I get articles. And most of these are ‘political’ news items.
I’ve now developed a more realistic relationship with Facebook. I read it to find articles I wouldn’t have otherwise come across. I truly appreciate that. I also enjoy the comments my ‘friends’ make about the pieces, although I don’t usually read through the endless comments and rants written by strangers.
I particularly like the Facebook feature that tells me when someone has liked, commented on or shared an article that I have shared or posted. It is very gratifying to get a ‘like’ or a ‘share’ from someone. It’s like having a conversation about the piece and agreeing (or respectfully disagreeing) in that wonderfully bonding way. That actually does make me feel ‘connected’ on an intellectual level.
One of the major criticisms of Facebook is that you only talk to like-minded people. For me, that’s a plus. I read actual newspapers so I’m exposed to plenty of opposing views. I don’t need Facebook for that. But for those who rely solely on Facebook news, the lack of divergent views and ‘facts’ is a serious problem. On the other hand, I don’t understand why anyone would use Facebook as their primary news source. It’s content is fairly random and it is not designed to be comprehensive or unbiased, like a newspaper.
Now that I understand Facebook’s limitations and have adjusted my expectations, I am a big Facebook fan. I have interesting and intelligent Facebook ‘friends’. So I get to see a lot of fun, interesting, funny and informative things that I otherwise would have missed. I also get to share things that I find interesting – mostly articles from reputable news sources and funny videos and photos. And I get to learn about other people’s pet issues, just as they get to learn about mine.
I’m not really more involved in anyone’s life, but I am sharing mutually enjoyable content. It’s not what I went in hoping for. But Facebook has added an unexpected dimension to my life. For that I say, “Thank you, Facebook!”
I’ve figured out how to mentally and emotionally survive the next four years under Donald Trump. (If there is a God, please let it be only four years!). I’m not proud of the plan I’ve come up with. But I think it will work for me. It is not for the faint of heart, so for some of you, don’t try this at home.
Basically, I’m going to expect the worst from the Federal Government on most fronts. I have already mourned the loss of an environmental policy that fights climate change. Therefore, I will not bleed again and again as the environmental progress we’ve made is chipped away, bit by bit. At the end of Trump’s term, I’ll be thrilled if we can still safely breathe the air and drink the water in most of the country.
I have already surrendered the ideal that the U.S. government will promote individual rights – civil rights, right to choose, LGBT rights, freedom of speech and press, freedom from deportation, hate crimes and voter suppression, and so on. I will look only to the Blue states to protect individual rights, as many states have already promised to do. Selfishly, I live in a Blue state block so I hope to be shielded from the worst of the onslaught against rights that will take place elsewhere in the country.
I know that neither health care nor public schools will get the programs or the financial support I believe they should. I promise not to freak out at every attempt to destroy both systems. I’ll hope that the inertia of a huge bureaucracy — and the incompetence of the incoming administration — will at least mitigate the radical nature of the changes the Trumpettes want to make. But basically I will assume that for public education and national health insurance plans, the next four years will be like Moses’ time wandering in the desert. (At least this time it should be four years and not forty!)
As for foreign policy and the economy, if we don’t end up in a major recession, a nuclear war, or under martial law, I’ll consider it a win.
The one area where I can’t hide my head in the sand, is the media. My only hope that we will again function as an enlightened, progressive country, lies with the press and media. We can keep our ideals alive if at least some voices in publications, on television, and online remain sources of facts, truth, and real news. With their support we can fight back against the monsters roaming the land, trying to destroy everything about us that is decent and good. We will survive to triumph again — as long as progressive voices can to be heard, and continue to share ideas and plans for political resistance.
Other than keeping some form of resistance and truth alive, I have no hope for the Trump years. So I can’t be disappointed or surprised by pretty much anything. I won’t enjoy watching the world going to Hell in a hand basket. But I may be able to weather the experience without having a complete meltdown.
This the season to spread stupid rumors. It keeps coming up. I get madder each time I see it.
This is the season to spread the rumor that there’s a war against Christmas. That the same cabal consisting of “them – the unnamed conspirators that are doing bad things” want to ban the holiday. That there are movements afoot to make Christmas trees into “holiday” trees and thus ban Christ in Christmas. Worse, that people will get angry and maybe sue you if you wish them a merry Christmas.
Has that ever actually happened? To anyone? Anywhere?
It has never happened to me. I am not a Christian, but I like Christmas. It’s a nice holiday with pretty decorations, terrific music, and great lighting. Good food and drink and friends getting together to celebrate. What’s not to like?
I am an equal opportunity greeter. I will greet friends and strangers by saying whatever comes to tongue first. I have been doing this my entire life. Not once in all these decades has anyone objected to being wished Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday. Because people are not anti-Christmas. There is no war on Christmas.
There is a Constitutional, entirely legal (obligatory) separation of church and state. It suggests putting a crèche in the middle of town might be in poor taste or outright illegal, but is not a war on anything. It’s protecting my right to not be Christian while simultaneously protecting your right to go to the church, synagogue, mosque — or none of the above — of your choice. Separation of church and state protects all religions and non-believers equally.
If you want to a crèche in the middle of town, ask the nearest church to put one on their property — if they don’t already have one (and I bet they do). Enjoy it at the church because that’s where it belongs. It’s religious iconography and is entirely acceptable in a religious context.
The United States is not a Christian country. It is religiously unaffiliated. Even though the majority of the population may profess to be some kind of Christian, this includes millions of people who never go to church. One of the many thing that are protected is your right to say your are a Christian or anything else without actually having to do anything to prove it. Freedom of religion is a wonderful thing. It means the government has no stake in your personal belief system as long as it stays personal and doesn’t involve bombing other sects or non-believers.
Which means you can say you are a Christian, never go to church at all, complain how Christianity is being threatened by the “freedom and politically correct cabal” (who don’t exist) and no one will ever ask you to show your bona fides. It’s a great constitution we have. If we ditched everything else but kept that first amendment, we might just be okay anyhow.
If there’s a war on anything, it is on my right to not be Christian. Enforcing the first amendment is not a war. It’s what keeps us free.
Speaking of the first amendment, there is no law anywhere against greeting anyone in any manner you choose. The first amendment also protects your right to free speech including saying Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Or nothing at all. Whatever. It’s all good. I suggest the following response to any seasonal greeting: “Thank you!” Accompanied by a smile. Because someone is being nice and you should be nice, too. Now … that wasn’t so hard, was it?
Despite Facebook, there is no war on Christmas. No war on free speech. If you spread the rumor that this is true, who knows how much damage you can do? Unless that’s your intention, don’t do it.
No matter what you believe, it’s time to stop sharing, tweeting, and re-posting stuff that’s supposed to be true without first checking to make sure that it is true. How about we stop letting other people’s opinions substitute for facts? How about not passing rumors? How about we all make a commitment to fact-checking as a matter of course? Because the damage we do by spreading lies, rumors, and half-truths — intentional or not — is incalculable. This is something you can do to make the world better without getting out of your recliner.
If you don’t have time to check the facts, do not repeat it, share it, re-post it, publish it, or in any way pass it along. Unless you personally have checked the facts, assume it is not true. The world will be a better place no matter what politics you favor.
This is not an “us versus them” issue. It is a true versus untrue issue, a fact versus fiction issue. It affects everyone — including your children and grandchildren. Stand up for truth!
My inner demons had a blowout party last night. I wasn’t invited, but I was allowed to have the hangover. It was one hell of a party because I wound up with a helluva hangover.
Backtracking slightly, I take a lot of medications. More than half of them are to control my blood pressure. I had a lot of heart surgery a couple of years ago. New mitral valve. Redesigned left ventricle and aortic valve. Bypass. Pacemaker implanted. The whole nine yards of heart surgery. My job is to keep active to the best of my ability … and not get myself so wound up that my drugs can’t keep up with my angst. To say this week has been hyper-over-the-top-angst-o-rama would be no exaggeration.
Yesterday, I needed all the help I could get. Tranquility was hard to find. The political pundits — the same people whose predictions and polls were so horribly wrong — are now making new predictions. This time, about the dire consequences of the election they got wrong. I really favor the press. I believe a free press is the wall that stands between us and tyranny.
I also think they need to stop predicting the apocalypse. This is not helping. Guys? Gals? Take a breath and start over. Let’s work from what’s really happening this time rather than on what you fear, hope, or think will make a great headline, okay? Please? Let’s treat the news as fact-based, just for a while. Let’s not sling mud and spread rumors. It doesn’t make things better and raises everyone’s blood pressure.
Anyway, why should these people be more on target now than they were before the election? The answer is “no reason.” They know no more than you or me. Not yet. Nothing has happened. They are extrapolating and speculating to come up with what sounds like a reasonable scenario. Consider this before you leap from that tall building or when you’re getting ready to drink the Kool-Aid. Let’s not sing the death song quite yet. Are you with me? How about a couple of verses of “Kumbaya”? Or “We Shall Overcome”?
All this being said, by the time I hit the bed last night, I was worn to a frazzle. I have done my best to remain calm and stay in the car, as it were. To not leave my car bearing a paring knife to join the big gunfight.
As far a drugs go, I didn’t take any more than what is prescribed or anything I don’t usually take. Except when I lay me down to sleep, it all hit at the same time. The drugs, the day, the anxiety, the fear. Wham, bang. I was afraid to raise my head. I was sure I’d pass out.
Thus the party commenced. All my inner demons, physical and psychological, held a grand gala. They drank and danced. They laughed and spun as I lay wondering if I could get to the bathroom a dozen steps away to brush my teeth. Answer: no. I was in no fit shape to be upright. I gave in and went to sleep.
The demons had the party. I got the hangover.
I feel physically better this morning, so something got sorted out during those hours of darkness. If it seems like I’m working hard at staying centered and balanced, you’re correct. I cannot let those demons take over. The overnight shindig was enough. More than enough.
Meanwhile, back at the other laptop, Garry is suffering from Post-Election Trump-Induced Depression. Also known as PETID (PET-ID for the dog and cat enthusiasts). As opposed to the even worse buyer’s remorse that Trump’s voters are going to feel when they realize he isn’t going to do a damned thing to improve their lives.
That’s what you get when you follow a demagogue. That’s no garden path down which he is leading. There’s no better place at the other end of your journey. I guess a lot of people are about to learn this painful lesson. Too bad they didn’t learn it the easy way … from history books.
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