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[California Seething] 2016. Ugh.

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Once upon a time, when I was a ambitious young know-it-all moron in New York, I worked at the Strand Bookstore. The slogan for the bookstore was Eight Miles of Books (no cal-seething-010317-strandrelation to the Eminem movie. I know, I was disappointed too). My job was to shelve books along with an army of other ambitious young know-it-all morons. The Strand was constantly buying used books for resale. Every day New York’s Desperate Class would line up with hungry eyes, hoping to trade books for cash and, like an eight-mile long coiled python, the Strand would spit out loose change, devour the books and deposit them in some corner of its endless belly. Our job was to help the serpent digest.

Every day we walked in to work with dreams in our hearts and crumbs in our beards and were assigned a section of the store. No matter what the section was, there was a waist high stack of books lining the aisles. Our job was to find room for these books in the alphabetically correct position on the already bulging shelves. After a few hours of this, when we were about half way through the stack, we’d go to lunch. And when we returned 30 minutes later, the stack was exactly as high as it had been in the morning and while there were more crumbs in our beards- the dreams were gone. When I asked my boss if I could put “Sisyphus” on my nametag, her cold, dead eyes told me that she’d heard that joke. A lot. I didn’t last.

Anyhow, I bring up this unpleasant chapter of my work history as way of explaining why I haven’t written much in 2016.

Every day last year, I woke up with my head crammed full of information in various sections- Family Tragedy, Syria, Celebrity Death and, of course, Election.  And just as I was in the midst of formulating a coherent (by my standards) reply- another load of horrible news would be dumped in the section I was working on, and I had to start over. And so my mind is filled with fragments of posts that chart the mood of 2016- grief, numb horror, outrage, frustration, exhaustion, cautious optimism, fleeting hope, crushing disappointment, grief, daily mortification, rage, terror, grief, grief.

And now I find myself wanting to write something funny and wise or at the very least comprehensible (again, by my standards) which will wrap up this terrible year- but what to say? Usually, one can rely on Top 10 lists in these situations- but what kind of list would suit 2016? “Top 10 Deaths that Ripped the Heart Out of My Chest Still Beating Temple of Doom Style”? Or maybe “Holy Crap! These 10 People ACTUALLY Survived!” or maybe the “Top 10 Totally Inappropriate Tweets that Demonstrate the Terrifying Degree to Which Trump is Not Suited to be President Sent Since 3:35 This Morning”?

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I mean, sure- all good- options- but I think I’ll cut right to the chase and go with the “Top 10 People or Groups in 2016 Who Can Seriously GO FUCK THEMSELVES”cal-seething-010317-trumpcave

  1. Who Else? The most dangerously underqualified person to ever be elected to any public office in the entirety of human history since Og beat Zog by a landslide promising to “make cave not stink again.” Even though Og failed to keep this promise by constantly farting in the cave, his supporters called his shameless flatulence “refreshing” and said “his butt say what people are thinking”. And he was still soooo much more qualified than the brainless hateful demagogue who won. And so before he fucks the country like he wishes he could fuck his daughter- he should go fuck himself.
  2. The idiotic idiot racist idiots who voted for Trump and are also idiots. Now – I know that you Trump voters resent us coastal liberal elite types for looking down on you and thinking you’re dumb. But the only reason we  think you’re dumb is that you actually are.  And the way we know for sure you’re dumb is that you’re TRUMP VOTERS.
    Also – I know that you get upset when we accuse of being racists- but….I mean…..you did vote for the dude who was endorsed by the Klan. Which cal-seething-010317-fluttershyis….you must…admit…kinda racist. I mean, if he was endorsed by My Little Pony, I’d say you were Futtershy fans, but it’s the fucking KLAN. And it wasn’t just some half-assed, obligatory “oh, I guess he’s the lesser of two evils for the white race” kind of endorsement. No- they gave Trump their full throated, whole hearted support. Hell, if the Berniecrats supported Hillary like the Nazis supported Trump we would have WON THIS GODDAMN THING. So- yeah- I’m calling you racists and worse. Cause if you walk like a duck and quack like a duck and Sieg Heil like a duck and degrade women like a duck and support conversion therapy like a duck and rip of Hijabs like a duck and deface synagogues with feces and Swastikas like a duck AND VOTE LIKE A DUCK then yes, yes you’re a misogynistic, xenophobic, gay bashing, hate mongering, anti-Semitic RACIST ASSHOLE DUCK and that’s exactly what I’m gonna call you (also- I’d like to apologize to ducks- not sure why I dragged you guys into this). Oh- and- yes- as I mentioned earlier- you’re also quite dumb.And don’t give me any of this cutesy-pie “Alt-Right” nonsense. This isn’t “Alt Country”. You’re not Wilco fans- you’re Nazis and you should all go fuck yourselves. Oh- and- right- did I mention already that you’re all very dumb?
  3. Anyone over the past few months who uttered the phrase “Clinton and Trump are basically the same”- especially if you didn’t vote or voted third cal-seething-010317-cokeparty.I know that in America we’re often asked to choose between two products that are basically the same- but let’s be very clear- Clinton vs Trump was NOT Coke vs Pepsi. No- Clinton vs Trump was Coke vs shoving your face over a streaming geyser of raw sewage and holding it there with your mouth forced open by Kellyanne Conway for four years – taking breaks only to go bobbing for bullshit in a tub full of Mike Pence’s puke. Boy – I bet that can of Coke sounds pretty refreshing right about now doesn’t it, sugar, carcinogens and all? Well- it’s too bad- you didn’t think it mattered- so it’s sewage for everyone! So- yeah- thanks a lot. When nobody has healthcare, Russian tanks roll over Europe, Exxon is drilling in Yosemite, Muslims are rounded up, Planned Parenthood has been replaced by a wire hanger and a punch in the gut and you shake your fist at the heavens (Facebook-wise) and say “oh- if only there was something I could do to stop all this!” – just remember- there was – and you didn’t. So go fuck yourself.
  4. Hillary bashing liberals. Hey guys- remember the Primaries? Weren’t those fun! Posting all those memes about how lame Hilary was, spreading right-wing Clinton basing propaganda repurposed for the left, crucifying her on Facebook because she gave a couple of speeches to stock-brokers and GASP helped raise money for Malaria drugs, cal-seething-010317-hilarymemelambasting the DNC for being annoyed with your petulance. Sigh. Good times. So many fine memories to look back on between waterboarding sessions at the internment camp. Oh- but wait- I forgot- you’re a white, straight male- so you won’t actually experience any consequences for the reckless role you played in destroying American democracy. Why your 401(k) might even go up! Hell, the closest you’ll come to internment camps  is reading about them while you’re in the doctor’s office waiting for the free physical that comes with your employer sponsored health insurance. But boy you sure will be outraged when you find out about them! You’ll sign all sorts of petitions on Change.org and share links from USUncut and DemocracyNow! And all your little Bernie Bro Buds are just gonna be so impressed with you that they won’t be able to resist responding to your post with Outrage Face Emoji. There’s sticking it to the man! The power elite is simply shaking in their boots thinking about how many Likes you get from your skinny-jeans friends and I can’t wait to hear all about it while I’m busting up rocks in Jew Camp and thinking just how much you should all really go fuck yourselves.
  5. The thieves who steal email, the crooks that put them up to it, the sleezeballs who publish the emails and us suckers for lapping it up. So- you know how like 44 years ago a couple of burglars broke into the DNC headquarters to steal some documents and the nation was so aghast when we discovered the President was involved that he had to resign in shame? I know right- how adorable we were! Clearly we hadn’t yet learned that the right way to react when confidential information is stolen cal-seething-010317-julianis to scrutinize it for petty, irrelevant nonsense scandals while totally ignoring the criminality of the act committed and rampaging corruption behind it.
    Let me put this differently- let’s say your credit card number was stolen and used fraudulently. Which of these two responses would you prefer?

    1. Bank contacts you immediately asking to confirm charges. If you can’t, the account is closed and flagged in case there are any future uses, the fraudulent charges are reversed and a new card is sent out with an apology.
    2. Credit card thieves publish your entire purchase history which is promptly scrutinized by everyone in America. Outraged imbeciles share click bait headlines with fake scandals (“These FIVE purchases by Eric will PUT HIM IN JAIL FOR SURE!” like there’s some law in this country against a 44 year old man visiting the American Girl Store and Build a Bear Workshop which of course there only is in North Carolina and we’re hoping it gets repealed). The credit card company does nothing cause they don’t want to seem like sore losers and the scumbags who ripped you off are hailed as folk-heroes and “whistle blowers.”
      Oh, shut up, you would pick A and you know it. But that’s not the choice we made during the election, is it? We chose to be outraged by the stolen emails so now we get to be terrified by Donald Trump’s tweets- lucky fucking us. And for that we should all go fuck ourselves.
  6. James Comey. Oh, go fuck yourself
  7. Vladimir Putin. Oh- you- SERIOUSLY go fuck yourself
  8. Jimmy Fallon. This one hurts. I really liked you but you just couldn’t stop humanizing Trump. I mean – bringing him on the show during the height of the campaign after all the terrible shit he said, so you can ruffle his hair like a lovable golden retriever? That’s like bringing Hitler on after kristilnacht and doing Movember bits about his mustache. And cal-seething-010317-fallontrumpI know you don’t want to live in Trump’s America any more than the rest of us – you just can’t help yourself. Ass kissing is heroin to you. So now make it up to us- use your show for the next four years to spread the message of love, equality and acceptance. Show us with joyous enthusiasm how great this country can be when we celebrate our diversity and play together. Or just bring Billy Ocean back on. That would be cool too. Meanwhile, I’ve sadly got to ask you to go fuck yourself.
  9. Colin Kaepernick. So let me get this straight- you kneel during the anthem to protest injustice but you can’t even be bothered to vote? Fuck that. It means nothing to be “woke” when you sleep through election day. You want to be a leader- lead to the polls. Now you might as well take pride in your choices and stand tall during the anthem- cause  like it or not- this is the country YOU made through inaction. Thankfully you’re a terrible quarterback and nobody’s gonna care next year if you kneel for the anthem while you’re eating Cracker Jacks in the stands. Meanwhile, please go fuck yourself.
  10. The Grim Reaper. Dude- you were off the chain this year. How about giving us a fighting chance next year? Like maybe instead of chess, we could play vintage Atari? Cause you may be able to checkmate us into the grave- but we will kick your bony ass in Frogger.
    And I’m not just talking about all the beloved childhood icons you took or the artists and leaders whose voices will be sorely missed during the difficult years ahead. I mean, that all sucked, but I’m particularly referring to the two people I love that you took within a week of each other.
    Mike & Sheila – you each deserve a much fuller and more articulate tribute (by any standards) than I can give you right now 2000 words deep in this post. Suffice it to say that we love you, we miss you, and we feel you absence every day. The world is a better place for the time you spent here, but God, it could be so much better if you were with us still.
    And so Mr Reaper, for everyone you took this year and all the sorrow you left behind, you can seriously go fuck yourself.

So, yeah- that’s my list. There are a lot more people I could have put on- Kellyanne Conway (the answer to the SAT question _____ is to Ann Coulter as W. is to Trump), the Fox News Legion of Doom being considered for the cabinet, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for mostly sucking at her job and, of course, GFY list perennial Bill Belichick – Trump’s pick for the Director of the Bureau of Weights and Measures.  But I’d like to wrap this up on a positive note and I need to finish before the end of 2017.

So….here we go:

Ending on a positive note!

Yellow emoticon cartoon character eps 10 vector

This past Hanukkah, I lit candles with my parents on Facetime every night. This may not seem like such a big deal- but my dad’s had Parinkson’s for 25 years, and this year was particularly difficult (cause of course it was.) There were times back in the spring that I doubted that on December 31st we’d be singing the blessings together.  And yet- there we were. And it was a miracle. That we’re lighting candles together while thousands of miles apart. That another year has passed and we’re singing the blessings off-key- thanking God for the gift of the candle lighting ritual, for making miracles, for sustaining life. And I was, in that moment, truly thankful for the miracle we were experiencing. And I will be thankful for it always.

Yes, there are many lights which are extinguished much too soon. But Hanukkah we remember: sometimes there’s only oil enough for one day but it miraculously lasts for eight. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Alright- so 2016- we’re done with you- go fuck yourself. Bring it on 2017- death, injustice, love and miracles. We’re ready for you.  No matter how bad things get- they could be a lot worse. I could still be working at the Strand.

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Ugh indeed.

[California Seething] The Very Best Part of a Very Crappy Year

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Look, who are we kidding? 2016 is a horrible fucking year to be an American. OK, well, to be more precise, it’s a horrible fucking year to be ANYONE. Seriously, 2016- what the fuck? One minute you’re cute little baby new year, the next you’re a moustache twirling black-clad villain tying our hopes and dreams down to the tracks so they can be run over by the freight train of despair. Fuck you, 2016. You want to know how we feel about you? Just take a look at this:

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And, while every county in the world has experienced it’s own brand of crappiness- in the US we’ve had to endure the sickening dread brought on by this god-awful presidential election. I was really struck by this a couple of weeks ago when the fires from the Santa Clarita valley were raging out of control. There I was- going about my business, running errands while the sky was darkened with smoke and lit with an eerie orange glow from the flames and I thought- yup, that’s being an American in 2016- trying like everything’s normal while a toxic orange cloud hangs over our heads.Cal Seething- 082116- trump

Now, he may be a Crypto-Fascist Oompa Loompa (“what do you get when illegals come in/killing and raping and dealing in sin/let’s build a wall and let’s make it real tall/and Mexico will pay for it a-a-all/Oh yeah, you’d better bet they will/ Truma lumpa drumphidie drumph/do lies sound like truth when you shout them enough?/Tumpa drumpha and Mike Pensey, too/ Jesus would never vote for you-oo-oo/he’d so be a Bernie guy”) but he certainly does have the crowds eating out of the palms of his tiny hands. And oh, what, fun they seem to be having! Frothing at the mouth, screaming “Mexico”, taking incomprehensible loyalty oaths, shouting down protestors- why is it any wonder that leftists decided to create a crazy pants movement of their own?

And so, Bernie or Bust was born! Now, for those that don’t know, the Bernie or Bust movement consists of Bernie Sanders’ most passionate and devoted followers- followers so loyal that they will do absolutely anything Bernie tells them to, except, vote for Hillary which is literally the only thing he’s telling them to do. These folks don’t care if they Nader the election and allow the most progressive Democratic platform in 50 years to be defeated by a hate mongering lunatic- they’re having too much fun! Complaining about how no one listens to them at the DNC while booing Cal Seething- 082116- throwmoneyElizabeth Warren so no one can listen to her, sharing links from Fox News about Hillary’s email, throwing money at cars as they drive to a Democratic fundraiser at George Clooney’s house- cause nothing says “I deserve higher wages and debt relief” like throwing your fucking money in the streets.

And now there are some Bernie Busters who insist their gonna vote Third Party- cause that just went so well  in 2000! Thanks, guys! How did you ever get so much student loan debt and stay so fucking dumb?

So- yeah- 2016 has been a terrible, horrible no good year, but that’s OK because the Olympics are here and the Olympics make everything better! That’s right- the Olympics- that magical event that occurs once every four years when the world comes together to Cal Seething-082116-lafingercelebrate peace and brotherhood by kicking poor people out of their homes to build wasteful sports venues nobody needs. Which, again, is why LA would make the perfect host city- hell, we threw our poor people out of their homes to build wasteful sports venues YEARS ago. And if we need to build more- no problem- just say the word and the Boyle Heights Equestrian Center is DONE. And the Athlete’s Village- well shit, we can just give them any under occupied mixed use luxury mega complex in Downtown LA with more gastropubs than parking spots. I mean, no one can afford to live there- might as well give ito the Serbian handball team.

Still- I love the Olympics. It’s the only time I get to feel good about feeling good about being an American. Because most days, I just feel smug about how bad I feel about being an American (like when we’re bombing someone) or guilty about how Cal-Seething--082116--unclesecretly psyched I am to be an American (like when it’s not us getting bombed). But during the Olympics I’m as unabashedly happy to be an American as a NASCAR fan in Florida eating Chick-Fil-A and blasting Kenny Chesney in his F-150 on the way to the gun show before hitting the Trump rally and getting dinner at Golden Corral (but only cause it’s Jeff Foxworthy’s favorite) then pounding down an ice cold can of Belgian made America beer. And that’s because the Olympics is the only time America can beat the living shit out of other nations and nobody dies or joins ISIS. Hell, the only consequence of American victory is that we get to pose on a podium looking fierce in shiny new jewelry and mouthing the words to a familiar song. It’s how wars would be won if Ru Paul ran the world! Say what you will about the Iraq War- we all agree that the Middle East would be safer if Sadaam had been deposed using balance beam and floor exercise scores. Cause if point deductions could kill, they probably will in games without frontiers, war without tears.

Anyhow, the US has been kicking ass at the Olympics and all the other countries are swimming pool green with envy. But even when the Americans aren’t demolishing much poorer nations, the Olympics are pretty great. Because the Olympics aren’t just a sporting event- they’re a two week orgy of non-stop Inspiration Porn. Just look at how fucking inspiring everything is! The historic accomplishments of Biles, Ledeckey and Phelps (BOOM! Named the women first. How ya like me now, Jezebel? (they don’t)); Simone Manuel shattering expectations and boundaries; Fiji winning their first medal- a gold in their beloved national sport of Rugby which was last played at the Olympics almost 50 years before Fiji’s independence.

And then there are the profound moments of inspiration which transcend competition- the Refugee Team marching proudly into the Cal Seething- 082116- selfieOpening Ceremonies, the South Korean & North Korean gymnast sharing a care free selfie, showing the world how easy it can be sometimes to do the impossible.  Yes, it seems the Olympics are a time when political differences are put aside and everyone is treated with dignity and respect, except of course for the Israeli team which is snubbed and insulted by athletes from Arab nations at every event they go and no one on the IOC says boo about it. But, hey- anti-Semitism is the only prejudice that the left and right can agree on- so the Jews are just bringing the world together!

Of course, the problem with all this inspiring crap is that it makes us dumb. Wait- no- maybe “dumb” is too harsh a word- let’s go with “generous of spirit”…..which, you know, means “dumb”. You see, for advertisers, selling us products on TV is like feeding a restless toddler- so they see Olympic competition is like moving a spoon through the air saying “look at the diver. Look at the pretty diver flying through the air!!! Now open up the swimming pool, cause here comes the diver” and then, Bam! We open up our minds and they shove in a big spoonful of University of Phoenix messaging all pureed up with a Maya Angelou poem. Speaking of diving, if you’re wondering why the Olympic diving pool turned green, it’s cause one of Rio’s finest pool technicians (sadly I’m not being sarcastic- he really was one of the best) dumped 160 gallons of Hydrogen Peroxide in to the pool which neutralized the chlorine and caused algae to grow. And if you’re wondering who the hell needs that much Peroxide at the Olympics- well, maybe take that up with the Shelly Fraser Pryce. Go on. I dare you.

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Anyhow, for companies like Sea World, it makes sense to exploit the feel-good spirit of the Olympics to improve their brand image. Cause if you’re watching the Olympics with your family, and thinking about where to go on vacation, you’re much more likely to consider SeaWorld if it’s “America’s foremost marine mammal rescue center and theme park” as opposed to “Auschwitz for Orcas”.

Of course, McDonald’s was one of the pioneers of using the Olympics to boost their brand image. Sure they’re plugging the white meat nuggets and Apple Dippers now- but as soon as Michelle’s gone, it’s Big Mac time, baby- cause Bubba’s back!

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So- sure, I get why some companies would advertise. Like Subway, which is still trying get out of Jared’s pants with their Cal Seething- 082116- subway#SearchforBackgroundChecks…I mean….#SearchforBetter campaign. But the real head scratchers are companies like Exxon which has spent millions of dollars on their “Energy Lives Here” campaign. These ads feature self-consciously diverse mix of their most bright-eyed, earnest and not-evil-at-all employees talking about all the humanitarian, beneficial and totally not-at-all-evil things they do like studying biodiversity or fighting Cal Seething- 082116- exxonmalaria…none of which makes a damn bit of difference to me when I’m deciding where to buy gas. After all, if I wanted to do what was best for the planet, I wouldn’t buy gas at all- but since I need it to feed my car’s addiction all I care about it who’s closest, who’s cheapest and who takes damn Ralph’s Rewards points. What they are doing to combat malaria never enters into it- it’s like choosing a meth dealer for his 401k plan. Come on, Exxon, you’re a scumbag oil company- just own it. Don’t get all needy and weird. It’s like JR Ewing standing outside my house playing In Your Eyes on a boombox- not a good look for you. You want my respect- keep it real. Show me bloated executives lighting $100 bills on fire after dipping them in gasoline and tag it with “Yeah, we’re Exxon. Fuck you gonna do about it?” Or, better yet, skip the advertising altogether and TAKE MY RALPH’S REWARDS POINTS.

And GE is advertising a lot, which is really confusing because I never thought of them as especially evil…but now I’m starting to wonder what they’ve done! I mean, sure, there were all those kids who got stuck in discarded fridges back in the day, but that was when kids used to play outside and Apple solved that problem. And yet, still GE keeps running commercials to try and convince millennials that GE is a cool place to get a job while millennials are like, “dude- you had me at ‘job’.”

Frankly, I’m surprised Monsanto isn’t running commercials. They could show scientists working hard in labs inter-cut with gauzy, sunrise footage of Cal Seething- 082116- tomatofarmers in fields, happy kids around the world eating disturbingly oversized vegetables, then kids running in fields and city squares, then teenagers running on high school tracks, and finally adults running at the Olympics while a slowed-down, female-sung, acoustic version of “Feed the World” plays and a craggy American voice says “Get More Olympians with G.M.O’s”. Huh. That’s really satire. I swear.

But the most hateful ads during the Olympics are for NBC’s own programming. Look, you may think that the most powerful person in America is the President or the Chief Justice- but really it’s the NBC executive who can sit in a room full Cal Seething- 082116- kristenof otherwise intelligent people at the top of their field and say “hey- you know what we need- a snarky sitcom about the afterlife with Ted Danson and Kirsten Bell- where she plays a dead person who’s kind of a bitch and Heaven is just like the Grove!” and in the very long moments of dead silence that follows, not a single person in the room says “Are you out of your goddamn mind??? That’s the WORST FUCKING IDEA I’ve ever heard.” Instead they are all like  “I smell a hit!”, “Everyone loves Danson!”, “we can cram it down everyone’s throat during the Olympics!” Yeah- cause that strategy worked out soooo well for The New Normal. Remember The New Normal? No? OF COURSE YOU DON’T. NOBODY DOES. The only reason I do is that NBC spent two weeks trying to cram that ill conceived shit pile down my throat during the LAST OLYMPICS.

Then again, maybe the truly powerful person in this scenario is not the executive who greenlit the show, but the Svengali like producer who pitched it. I can just hear the pitch in TV-speak: “It’s like Cheers meets Touched by an Angel in a Samsung commercial” delivered in a peppy upbeat tone as if it’s not the most Cal Seething- 082116- pmbhorrifying combination of three things that the human mind has conceived since Puppy-Monkey-Baby. Just think of someone with these powers of persuasion could accomplish: bringing peace to the Middle East, reunifying North & South Korea, getting Republicans in Congress to do their damn jobs. And all of that miraculous potential wasted making terrible TV shows and earning lots and lots of money. I am horrified and disgusted and very, very jealous.

The other big show NBC is pushing is This Is Us- which appears to be a drama about people born in 1980 all turning Cal Seething- 082116- thisisus36 and finding themselves at a cross roads in their lives. And that means that….yes….wait for it…..millennials now have their own version of thirtysomething. As if Prince & David Bowie dying wasn’t bad enough, now we’ve got this little nugget to ponder when contemplating our mortality at 4 AM. Thanks, NBC for making 2016 even more depressing. I’d consider killing myself, but I’m terrified I’ll wind up in a Kristen Bell / Ted Danson vehicle.

Anyhow- I’m not sure why I’m acting so shocked that NBC’s programming is terrible. What more can I expect when everyone involved with the network who’s not named Wier, Lipinski or Questlove is hot garbage (as the kids say) (the “kids” are in their 30’s) (goddamn it) pretty much all of the time.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the Olympics, NBC is the only game in town. Mind you- there are a lot of different channels showing the Olympics- there’s NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, NBC Sports…uhm…NBC Basketball, NBC Soccer, NBC Universo- all sorts of options we can choose from to give ourselves the illusion of choice- late capitalism at its finest!  And because they have us by the balls, NBC has an interesting relationship with their Olympic viewers- it’s not as much “entertainer” and “audience” or “business” and “valued customer” as it is “bank robber” and “hostage”. They know we’re not going anywhere, so they feed us just enough Olympic action to keep us docile while they collect their ransom money from advertisers. And then, just for fun, they sadistically torment us with human interest stories and the inane blather of Al Michaels, Mike Tirico and Ryan Seacrest- the Three Amigos of Announcing Awfulness. And I know some of you are saying- “Hey wait- I love Al Michaels” but that’s just the Stockholm Syndrome talking. Cal Seething- 082116- alcrisThe only way to love Al Michaels is the way Patty Hearst loved the SLA- just ask Cris Collinsworth, if they ever get him deprogrammed.

Of course, NBC executives would deny that they are deliberately torturing viewers and would insist that they are just giving viewers what they really want. And, if these executives actually believe that’s the case- well, I have even less respect for them than ever.

You see, NBC’s research team discovered that more women watch the Olympics than men- and NBC wasn’t really sure what to do with this information. So they turned it over to their cracker jack team of all male team executives who brilliantly deduced that women who watch the Olympics aren’t actually interested in “watching the Olympics”. No- what they’re really interested in is the human drama- who the athletes are, where they come from, how much their moms had to sacrifice for their success, the extent to which having babies has changed their perspective on sports (but only if they’re women, natch- boys don’t change when they have babies, silly), the vital role played by their husbands/fiances in their success (also- only if they’re women or Tom Daley). Female viewers don’t actually want to watch “sporting events”- no! For those gals, the Olympics is just one big reality show, like The Bachelor with medals or the Real Athletes of Rio, so it’s important to cram the broadcast as full as possible of human interest stories, interviews and extended shots of swimmers between events sitting in the ready room – cause there’s nothing more exciting than watching the best athletes in the world at the Cal Seething- 082116- readyroompeak of their abilities sitting in folding chairs listening to Coldplay- can’t you just feel the drama?? “She’s sitting in a chair….She’s glowering straight ahead…wait…yes… she might be….YES…she put on her earbuds! She’s listening to music!!! She’s listening to COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD play.” And it doesn’t matter if they air events long after they end and the whole world knows the score. Everyone knows women don’t care about scores- why all those big scary numbers just boggle their scatterbrained little heads!

 

And what’s really impressive about these NBC executives is that they were able to gain such insight into the minds of female viewers without talking to any actual females. I’m not sure what, exactly, their stringent research protocol was to gain such a scientific understanding of the female mind- but I can only assume it had something to do with sitting in the parking lot of a gas n’ sip drinking beer on a Friday night saying “Bitches, man” (when asked why they didn’t consult any female viewers- they responded “by choice, man. Personal choice”.)Cal Seething- 082116- final5

Ironically, the real story of these games is that women- and particularly US women have been kicking huge amounts of ass which I’m sure NBC would notice if they weren’t so focused on their marriage proposals. I’m sure every young girl in America who watched the US Gymnastics team was totally inspired to follow her dreams and achieve greatness– that is, assuming her parents let her watch gymnastics at midnight- which a questionable timeslot for family inspirational togetherness viewing but a great one for lonely guys on the couch eating Pringles in their underwear and wondering when Beach Volleyball is coming on already.

Look, NBC- the Olympics don’t need you to make them great any more than American needs Tumpa-Lumpa. Trust me on this- I’ve been holed up in Palm Springs watching 12-14 hours of Olympic action each day subsisting on a strict Cal Seething- 082116- drinkregimen of breakfast cocktails and blender drinks (the Lochte diet.) And the daytime programming is way better because the focus is on the sports not inane blather, human interest schmaltz and inspirational advertising. I guess the evil corporations of the world figure that if you’re watching team table tennis in your underwear at 11 AM drinking pina coladas, then a lack of inspiration isn’t really as pressing a problem for you as, say, updating your LinkedIn profile or getting the hell out of Rio before the cops come for your passport.

But I think they’re just jealous- I proudly watched the Team Table Tennis finals and they were fantastic even though I had no idea which country was which or what gender they were or how many points were in a game or how many games in a set or how many sets in a match or why they kept switching between Singles and Doubles or how they would possibly know who won and when they won and how much they won by or how the hell Ping Pong ended up in the Olympics when the far superior games of Air Hockey and Skee-Ball still languish on the sidelines. And the announcer was no help- he just kept explaining the format by saying, “you know, it’s just like Davis Cup!’ – which is like giving directions to East Bumfuck by saying “you know, it’s just east of Bumfuck!” All I know is that it was crazy and fast moving and for that moment in time in that one place in the universe there was absolutely nothing more important than who came out on top. And as much as I love theatre- if I could produce or even see just one play that meant this much the people watching it or involved, then I could walk away happy except then I would have to get a real job and seriously, fuck that.

And it’s not even like I’m some huge table tennis fan. I much prefer Rugby 7’s – where, as my wife said, the whole game is like the last five Cal Seething- 082116- hockeyseconds of a football game when the whole thing just devolves into a crazy series of laterals – and who doesn’t want 14 straight minutes of the Music City Miracle (Bills fans excluded). And then there’s field hockey- where the field is as blue as the diving pool should be; and handball, invented by an alcoholic Yugolslavian gym teacher in the dead of winter who was running out of ideas for what to do inside and clearly getting desperate. Years later on his death bed, he was heard to mutter repeatedly “Goddamn it, Dodge Ball!! I forgot about Dodge Ball!!” And then there’s soccer, basketball, volleyball and all the running, jumping, twisting, turning, throwing, thrusting, stabbing, slashing, splashing, paddling, peddling, punching, rassling, riding, rowing, ribbon tossing, gun shooting and, I guess, whatever, golf. All of which has made of a terrific distraction from the floods, fires and fuckwads which have fouled up 2016.

But all things must end, except NBC’s contract with the Olympics. Just two weeks ago, the Olympics began with a festive tribute to slavery using a human hamster wheel and an earnest segment about how the earth is getting hotter because of the actions of man. Specifically this man:

Cal Seething- 082116- shirtless

 

Holy crap! What’s Tongalese for “hubba hubba”? I hope you’re watching Exxon- Cause THAT’s an ad for oil!

In all seriousness, though, sustainability is an important theme of the Olympics which is why the medal winners are getting little Cal Seething- 082116- riostatueplastic statues of the Olympic logo instead of flowers. After all, flowers are wasteful cause they die and decompose but these plastic statues will last forever in a landfill! Oh well- at least the Olympic venues are sustainable since as soon as the games are over, they’ll be recycled into homeless encampments.

And that’s going to be pretty soon- because the games are just about over. The Closing Ceremonies are upon us, and Simone Biles will be carrying the flag for the US (Ryan Lochte was invited to do it but the invite came from the Rio police.) And the team she leads out reflects not only what is great about the Olympics- with their athletic prowess, sheer determination and mostly non-douchey behavior- but what’s actually great about America. Because it is a team that reflects the population of our country- and that in turn is a reflection of the entire world. And all of you that are composing angry messages to me in your heads about how that’s a load of crap because the team is still WAY TOO WHITE and all the power is in the hands of WHITE MEN and we still have a WHOLE LOT OF WORK TO DO- well- you guys also make America great since, like Subway, you’re always #StrivingforBetter and I totally mean that in the least patronizing way possible, no matter what Jezebel says about me.

And that gives us something to shoot for in 2020- or better yet, 2024 in LA! Just picture it- President Clinton enjoying the games as her second term winds down- and why shouldn’t she? She’s done a great job and once her granddaughter taught her Snapchat her presidency was scandal free. And she can be confident knowing that her legacy will be secure- after all Michelle is kicking ass in the polls- and while that may not be great news for McDonalds- it sure is great for America (not the beer, the country. You DO NOT want to hear Michelle’s opinion of beer).

And where will I be for the 2024 LA Olympics? Where do you think? In Palm Springs, of course, watching NBC and complaining about it (a Ted Danson / Elle Fanning sitcom about the Rapture? Are you kidding me????) with a pitcher of pina coladas and a mimosa.

Cal Seething- 082116- mimosa

Oh yeah. That sounds pretty great to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[California Seething] Year End Wrap Up: Top Four Reasons I Avoided Reality in 2015

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Recently my dad’s been obsessed with watching Perry Mason. I’m not talking about some hip new reboot/prequel on the CW network starring Ben McKenzie as a young P-Mas in which the character is “updated” from the square jawed All-American defender of innocence to a tortured little whiny, millennial Emo Kylo Ren version of himself. Nope- I’m talking about the original show from the 1950’s- black and white film, black and white values and all white cast.

I mean- how ridiculous is it that with all the hundreds of content streams to choose from, he’s watching a show that’s 60 years old? My wife and I laugh about it all the time while we’re watching Card Sharks in the morning on Game Show Network. Of course, we stop once $25,000 Pyramid comes on- cause that shit takes FOCUS. Trust me- you do not want to screw up- especially when you’re playing for the big money- because, if you do, once time expires, Dick Clark will come down from his mighty podium like a vengeful yet strangely avuncular God and force you to keep guessing meaninglessly until you figure outCal Seething- 010415- dick the category you missed just to rub in your face what a moron you are. It’s like- if you were a little smarter or a little quicker you could have guessed that when the gay neighbor from Webster was saying “an old photo, a shot in a movie, your chances of winning” the category was “things that fade” not “things that look good” – but you botched it and so instead of winning $25,000 you’re walking away with a measly $750 which in 1986 was just barely enough money to buy a medium sized house- and Clark’s gonna make sure you feel as lousy as possible about it. Gives new meaning to “Dick move”.

Look, I’m not naive enough to think the past was perfect. The 50’s was a great time, if you were a white guy (but has there ever been a bad time?) The 70’s had Cher, wide lapels and disco- and that was the good stuff! It was also a decade full of disturbing and unsettling developments- Watergate, Cal Seething- 010416- quincythe Iran hostage crisis, Jack Klugman being considered a sex symbol. And the 80’s? Hell, we didn’t think we would get out of the 80’s alive. We were positive that if it wasn’t crack or AIDS or Reaganomics then surely it would be the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb that would kill us.

But, of course, it didn’t. Turns out the Russians loved their children too (Putin doesn’t) and we managed to make it through the 80’s alive. And while this was a bit of a rude awakening for those of us who spent the decade not doing our homework and sneering at guidance counselors cause “what does it matter man?? We’re all gonna die!!!” it was probably all for the best.

And maybe that’s why we’re so drawn to TV from past decades. Because we know how the story ends. Look, we’re here! We made it! We can look back with a smile at those things that once terrified us and talk about them with bemused detachment like we’re telling the story of a turbulent flight at a warm dinner party with friends.

Or maybe it’s cause everything about 2015 was scary and horrible and the only way to maintain our sanity in the face of almost certain cultural and global collapse is to bury our heads in old game shows and black and white courtroom dramas. Yeah- it’s probably that.

Anyhow- 2015 has ended, and I have, despite my best intentions paid a little bit of attention- so here were the the four best reasons to avoid reality in last year.

Reason #1- The Dumb Shit that College Students Believe These Days Which is Even Dumber than the Dumb Shit I Believed When I Was a Dumb Shit College Student

When I was at SUNY Albany back in the early 1930’s, our school was voted as having the worst food in the country. We were also voted #1 party school- which gave rise to the popular joke “the food’s not nice but you taste it twice!” (NOTE: this joke was never popular). Anyhow, things got particularly dire towards the end of the semester when they were running short on cash- having blown their budget on sumptuous feasts like hot open faced Oscar Mayer turkey sandwiches with beige mucus gravy and toxic cranberry goo, and they began to get creative… or rather, moreCal Seething- 010416- taconug creative. And one of the byproducts of their creativity was the “taco nugget”….which is…exactly as terrible as you think it is. Now, at the time, we were not as enlightened as college students today, so we simply thought of these taco nuggets as “gross” or “grody” or ” nastachious to the extreme” but now, looking back on it from a more fully aware view point I recognize that what was truly nastachious about taco nuggets was not the flavor, but the implicit racism.

Clearly the white supremacists who ran the SUNY Albany cafeteria  appropriated the authentic food of the Mexican people, colonized it into a nugget and served it up to us with a micro-aggression baked right inside (the micro-aggression is what gives the nugget it’s zip. Who knew that racism could be as tasty as MSG- and as toxic!!) If only we had been as culturally aware as the students of Oberlin College in 2015, who raised their Tweets in protest when their university served culturally inauthentic Asian cuisine- including Banh Mi sandwiches on CIABATTA BREAD (SHOCKING!), sushi with UNDERCOOKED rice (OH, THE HUMANITY!) and, most disturbing of all, General Tso’s chicken with….STEAMED CHICKEN instead of fried. Can you imagine??? They might as well just serve a burning cross on a plate (with Cal Seething- 010416- chickenundercooked rice). How dare the fascist oppressors running Oberlin’s food service COLONIZE this proud, traditional, authentic Chinese dish which dates all the way back to the Old Country (New York’s Chinatown) in the 1960’s. Don’t they realize what a threat this type of blatant cultural appropriation poses to the safe space which today’s sensitive college students so desperately need for their intellectual development so that they can do bong hits, puke blood and fuck each other raw in an accepting and culturally sensitive environment (dorm shower)? What’s next? Orange Drink chicken? Egg Beaters Drop Soup? Chicken McNugget Chow Mein? Will the rape of cultures never cease???? (SPOILER ALERT: No. Also- Chicken McNugget Chow Mein sounds kind of amazing. Does that make me a racist, too???? (SPOILER ALERT: Kinda))

Look, I think it’s great that you college kids want to get involved in politics and I seriously mean that in the least patronizing way possible. Hell. I was sort of an activist in college myself and I firmly believe that none of the social change we’ve witnessed in the last century would have transpired had young people not raised their voices in protest. But you’ve gotta be smart about it. When you raise your voice in protest, you don’t want to sound like an idiot, cause nobody wants to listen to a loud idiot who isn’t running for president. So- focus on the issues that matter- climate change, economic inequality, the relentless attacks on Planned Parenthood, police brutality- you know the MACRO-aggressions. Because when you raise your voice in protest over being served a sub-par banh mi at the prestigious private liberal arts college which your mommy and daddy are paying tens of thousands of dollars a year for you to have the privilege to attend and you claim that you’re being oppressed by food service workers who make less in a year than you spend on weed…well, you sound like an idiot. A big, dumb idiot. Just like when you shut down a yoga Cal Seething- 010415- emokyloclass for disabled students because of “cultural genocide” or you insist that your professor provide a trigger warning when teaching The Great Gatsby because it portrays misogyny (both true stories). You’re a tortured little whiny, millennial Emo Kylo Ren version of an activist and nobody takes you seriously. Which is a shame- cause you’ve probably got a lot of stuff to say about the world that we really do need to hear. But we won’t. Go drown your sorrows in cafeteria sushi.

Look, it’s very simple. When deciding whether to raise your voice in protest just follow this rule- black lives matter – General Tso’s chicken doesn’t. Seriously, not even General Tso would think that was worth fighting over (especially because he would have had no fucking clue what General Tso’s chicken was). Just stick to this little guideline, kiddies and you’ll be just fine- and I seriously mean that in the most non-patronizing way possible.

But even the dumb shittiest of all dumb shit college students can never hope to compete with:

Reason #2- The Big Dumb Shit

Here’s the problem with talking about Donald Trump. Whether you’re praising, criticizing, lampooning, lambasting, Cal Seething- 010416- trumpskylauding, dismissing, condemning, wringing your hands over, skywriting about, pontificating about the significance of or shaking your head in disbelief at the unabashed loathsomeness of Donald Trump- you are still TALKING ABOUT Donald Trump- and talking about Donald Trump is the worst possible thing you can do. Because Donald Trump is like a bloated, fascist Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon and words are the helium that makes him rise up in the polls. And so the best thing we can possibly do, as Americans is STOP TALKING ABOUT DONALD TRUMP.

And I know that those of you in the mainstream media are gonna say that’s impossible- and I know where you’re coming from. Look, I don’t hate you media types- I know that you’re just people trying to do a good job, same as me. And I totally understand that because you’re a bunch of lazy, superficial, star fucking, fame whore click bait junkies (and I seriously mean that in the most empathetic way possible) you feel compelled to talk about a noxious celebrity billionaire Mussolini knock-off with a mouth like toxic waste dump (and I don’t actually mean that empathetically at Cal Seething- 010416- bernieall cause fuck that guy) So I have a tip for you- whenever you feel compelled to talk about Donald Trump- just talk about Bernie Sanders instead. It’s the perfect solution! Just think of Sanders as the Methadone for your Trump addiction.

And I know you’re gonna say that you have to talk about Trump because you’ve got some sacred duty to report the news- but that’s just one more reason why you should be talking about Sanders. Because Bernie Sanders- not Donald Trump- is the real story of the 2016 election and if you ever bothered to pull your well coiffed heads out of Trump’s pompadoured asshole, you would know that. Because- yes- a lot of us in America are angry, we do feel like we’ve been getting a raw deal and we are fed up. And yeah- a lot of us do feel sick at heart when we look at what’s become of our once great nation- and we want to make America better than it’s ever been- AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHY WE’RE VOTING FOR SANDERS. That’s why Bernie raised $33 million from over 2.5 million individual donors in the fourth quarter of 2015, that’s why he crushed Donald Trump in an online poll conducted by FOX NEWS, and that’s why he has come from total obscurity to force the whole conversation in the Democratic party to the left and has forced Hilary Republican Clinton to pay lip service to progressive issues- AND ALL OF THIS WITHOUT ONE WORD FROM YOU FUCKERS. You’re so busy falling over yourselves to breathlessly cover Trump’s latest burst of racist flatulence that you don’t see the revolution taking place right under your wet, brown noses.

But, of course, that’s exactly the way the DNC likes it. If the GOP was really serious about getting rid of Trump, they Cal Seething- 010416- debbiewould fire Reince Priebus and hire Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Hell, if she were running things over there, Trump would be as talked about as Martin O’ Malley and JEB! would have a double digit lead.

Not that Dear Leader Debbie would ever actually own up to squelching dissent. Why she would be aghast at the very thought! “How can you say that I’m insulating Hilary by not providing opportunities for opposing candidates to confront her in a debate. I scheduled SIX WHOLE DEBATES! And one of them is on the biggest TV viewing night of the year- the Saturday before Christmas! Surely everyone in America watched that debate. OK, so sure, a FEW people might have been going to holiday parties. And I guess there was just a teensy tiny portion of the population that might have been traveling to see family. Or preparing to travel. Or preparing to receive family traveling from out of town. Or cooking. Or shopping. Or decorating. Or out seeing the Nutcracker. Or Christmas Carol. Or A Christmas Story: The Musical. Or- oh yeah – fucking STAR WARS. But certainly there were still a lot of Americans at home watching TV who could see the debate. You know, unless they were watching Frosty the Snowman. Or college Bowl games. Or, oh yeah- fuckingCal Seething- 010416- frosty NFL FOOTBALL. But certainly it was the PERFECT debate viewing night for football hating Jews with no friends or family who think Star Wars is dumb- and, hey- those sound like Bernie Sanders’ people to me- so, there- you’re welcome! Of course, Bernie won’t have any way to reach these people when I take away his access to voter data due to some bullshit data breach- but, you know, rules are rules! Can’t be making exceptions- after all- you know how seriously Hilary takes data integrity!”

You really have to admire her style- she’s the Passive Aggressive Commandant of the Clinton Secret Police. Hilary should really keep her around if she comes to power. “Gosh- I’m sorry you’re stuck in Guantanamo Bay with no due process. The good news is that we’re planning to have a trial for you…on the Saturday before Christmas. Assuming of course, we can find a judge who isn’t traveling, or attending a holiday party, or watching football, or….”

But despite Data Breach Debbie’s machinations and Il Duce Trump’s blustering, Bernie continues to gain momentum. And so, if you Mainstream Media Whores are looking for a New Year’s resolution- how about covering the fucking Sanders campaign in 2016 and NOT TALKING ABOUT TRUMP ANYMORE. If you do that, I might just stop watching GSN in the morning and might actually watch the news.

But, of course, as soon as I do- I’ll see something that will scare me right back to Card Sharks like:

Reason #3: Crazy White People with Guns

I’ve covered this one pretty well in my last post– so really, all I want to add is that if 150 armed black people took over a federal building, the media would call them thugs and the cops would shoot them dead, and if 150 armed Muslims did it, the media would call them terrorists and the Army would invade Syria. But 150 armed white dudes Cal Seething- 010416- bundystorm in and take over a federal building- and the media calls them “protesters” and “patriots” and the government is all “well, let’s wait and see what happens here. I don’t think they pose any real threat- after all, it’s just an armed insurrection against the U.S. Government – it’s not like they attacked a CVS or something.” It’s like no matter how batshit crazy they are, we’re just incapable as a nation of thinking of white people as a threat – we just call them YallQueda and pinch their bearded cheeks and think the whole fucking thing is cute. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if TLC is developing a reality show around these maniacs- they can call it the Bundy Bunch (It’s a story/of a man named Bundy/who would graze his cows on land that’s not his own/and his son thought that the fedr’al gubment/it should be overthrown.) Don’t get me wrong- it’s not like I want this thing to escalate and get violent- I’m glad we’re taking a thoughtful, measured approach. I just look forward to us taking the same measured, thoughtful approach the next time Black Lives Matter organizes a peaceful protest at a shopping mall, or a 12 year old kid is seen holding a toy gun.

Also- I was sorry to see that they were so desperate to get snacks. I guess if they want crackers, they’ll have to resort to cannibalism.

Anyhow, I think you’ll agree that these were three perfectly good reasons to avoid reality in 2015, but by far and away, the best reason of all was:

Reason #4: Fear of Exposure to Star Wars Spoilers

For the love of God- I’m only human!

Actually, I’ve already seen it- so we’re all good with this one. And, I have to say- if you haven’t seen it yet- it’s chock full of surprises! C3PO coming out of the closet, Luke finally gets to Tosche Station to pick up those stupid power converters and, of course a reunion between the two lovers whose fleeting relationship was so touchingly portrayed in the original movies and sadly cut short (Leia and Jabba the Hutt)- and, of course, the cameo by Run DMC in the Cal Seething- 010416- leiaCantina (It’s Star Wars time in Tatooine / Han’s shooting Greedo in the Canteen…a)

OK- so now that I’ve seen Star Wars, that’s one less reason to avoid reality- but, no worries- there are still so many more! Climate change, economic inequality, the relentless attacks on Planned Parenthood, police brutality and all the other macro-aggressions. I wish those college activists all the luck in the world taking them on- and I would gladly join in the struggle with them- but, you know $25,000 Pyramid is on- and that shit takes FOCUS.

Happy New Year! I think 1986’s gonna be a great one- that is, of course, assuming WE DON’T ALL DIE. I can only hope the Bundys love their children, too. Now- who wants Taco Nuggets?

Cal Seething- 010615- dick

[California Seething] A Modest Proposal

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It’s been quite common recently for Republican leaders to declare that there are people in this country who don’t belong here. People that are just here to make trouble- spreading violence and chaos, with no respect for the laws of the land. People who have different values then we do- who don’t appreciate the freedoms this nation was founded upon and wish instead to impose their own religious law. People who take advantage of the inherently permissive nature of this great nation and use it to perpetrate mayhem and destruction. It is the opinion of Republicans leaders that these people need to be dealt with- monitored, rounded up, tracked and maybe even deported. And I have to admit- they may have a point. There are people in this country who are crazy, violent, fanatical, destructive and up to no good- and they do need to be dealt with harshly.  I think you know who I’m talking about- and frankly, I’ve had enough. And that’s why I’m proposing that we deport all the white people.

I know that may sound harsh- but, come on, white people, we’ve been tolerant long enough and you’ve been nothing Cal Seething- 113015- firstthanksgivingbut trouble since the day you got here. You show up in this country as a bunch of dirty refugees from political persecution with weird clothing and customs. You have no jobs and no useful skills. Even though you make no effort to learn about the culture of your adopted land – or even to learn the language, you still gladly accept handouts from hard working native Americans. And then, as soon as you get settled, you so-called “pilgrims” start spreading disease, grabbing up all the land, killing everyone who’s already living here and imposing your twisted, puritanical version of religious law- like ISIS with buckles on your hats. And, on top of everything else, you have the audacity to create a holiday celebrating the fact that you suckered real Americans into helping you out so that you could butcher them and take their homes. It’s a little known fact that the Native Americans actually named the holiday “Thanksgiving”, but of course nobody realized they were being sarcastic.

Cal Seething- 113015- protectamericaThis is why white people freak out when somebody new wants to come to this country. They’re terrified that the newcomers will be as bad as they were. They’re all like: “On the one hand, the Syrians seem to be in a tough spot and could really use our help. Then again, I bet that’s exactly what the Indians said when they saw us- and just look how that turned out….so- sorry Syrians. No Thanksgiving turkey for you! Maybe you should try Germany- I hear they actually feel bad about their genocide.” So, yeah, it’s not foreigners that white people in America fear at all- it’s KARMA.

But all that is in the distant past, and it’s not the reason we’re calling to deport you guys now. Nor are any of the other terrible things you’ve done in the last 400 years including, in no particular order: Slavery, Jim Crow, Japanese internment camps, Wal*Mart, the NRA, Salvadoran death squads, Thomas Kinkade, the rise of the Taliban, the Hollywood blacklist, Vietnam, inflatable lawn Santas, supply-side economics, segregation, sub-prime loans, the systematic racism and brutality of the so-called American “justice system”, and car-antlers among many Cal-Seething--113015--caranmany things. No- the real reason I’m calling for your deportation is that I’m afraid for my life. Practically every day there’s another news story about a terrorist attack by a heavily armed white guy on a school, church, Planned Parenthood clinic or other public gathering place and, frankly, I’m sick of it. Sure, sure you say- but those are just isolated incidents by extremists- surely not ALL white people are bad. And, OK, that might be true- but how am I supposed to tell the good ones from the bad ones? I mean, you do kind of all look the same- all pink cheeked and petrified- is it really worth the risk if I’m wrong? You say you don’t feel safe with Muslims on airplanes? Well I don’t feel safe with white guys in movie theatres. And- if these attacks are just isolated incidents committed by extremists- then why aren’t the so-called “moderate” white leaders condemning the perpetrators as terrorists? Instead, all I keep hearing is nonsense  like “oh, they shooter’s motivations are unclear.” Seriously? Cause dude was shouting “No more body parts” when he shot up a Planned Parenthood- that sounds pretty fucking clear to me. Or- what, you think maybe he was pissed he couldn’t get replacements for his Mr. Potato Head and he remembered there used to be a KB Toys on that site and then started shooting when he saw it had been replaced by a Planned Parenthood??  Or, even worse, you refer to the terrorists as “protesters” – because evidently when white terrorists kill innocent people that’s just a form of legitimate protest- which is funny, cause when black people engage in legitimate protest they’re pretty much treated like terrorists. Huh. Wait- that’s not funny at all. Anyhow- if you’re not acting all baffled by the motives of killers or downgrading them from “terrorist” to “protester” then you’re make excuses for them- saying stuff like “it’s not their fault- they’re just mentally troubled kids from messed up families” Well, that’s too damn bad- you know who else was a mentally troubled kid from a messed up family- Osama Bin Laden- and I don’t hear anyone saying we should have cut him a break.

Look, OK, so maybe we don’t need to deport you guys. Maybe we can just round you up and put you in camps or something. It won’t be so bad! You’ll have Fox News and NFL Sunday Ticket and we’ll make sure each camp has a Chick-Fil-A and a Hobby Lobby. Yes, I think you’ll find that Camp Trump is just like home. Well, almost.  You will have to work a lot harder than you’re used to- can’t have you freeloading off the government, after all. And while you may find 12 hours a day of forced agricultural labor to be challenging- you can take comfort in the fact that you’re finally taking  good, American jobs back from the illegal  immigrants who’ve been stealing them away. Oh- and I guess, you’ll need to learn Spanish. I mean, it’s not required or anything- but you’re probably going to want to be able to talk to the cop who drags you out of your truck and starts beating the shit out of you because you have a broken taillight.

But aside from the Spanish and the forced agricultural labor, it’s just like home. Oh, well, except I guess for the six hours per night of Mandatory Re-Education where you’ll learn all about Sharia law, gender neutral pronouns and spotting a racially offensive Halloween costume (HINT: they all are) among many other things. And I know that sounds like we’ll keep you awfully busy- but don’t worry- you’ll still get 6 Cal Seething- 113015- 2dadshours per day to sleep. Assuming, of course, that you can sleep with your eyelids pinned open watching the Campbell’s Soup commercial with the two dads over and over and over again.

But it’s not all forced labor and Re-Education (or Re-Edu-tainment as we like to think of it). There will be festive occasions as well, just you’ve always had. Well, sort of. Every December 25, we’ll bring all of you together to observe “Holiday” by gathering around a 40 foot tall undecorated red Starbucks cup and singing “Imagine” in Arabic to honor the memory of an unwanted Middle Eastern refugee who spoke out against violence, condemned rich people and had two dads. And, of course, on the fourth Thursday of every November we’ll all celebrate “Thanks-for-Nothing” by throwing you out into the woods with a Smallpox infected blanket and sorta hoping you die.

And, don’t worry, you won’t be held there forever- just until you’re able to pass a little loyalty test- which will include:

  • Changing your profile pic to show that you Stand with Planned Parenthood, support Marriage Equality or believe #BlackLivesMatterCal Seething- 113015- yoga
  • Using “white privilege”, “microaggression” and “cultural appropriation” correctly in a sentence. Bonus points if you use all the words in one sentence. Double bonus points if the sentence involves white rappers or yoga.
  • Listening to Colin Powell speak without saying “my, my, my – he’s so well spoken”
  • Listening to Straight Outta Compton in it’s entirety without once saying “I don’t know what this is – but it certainly isn’t music” or “All they say is N-word this and N-word that. But, of course, if I say the N-word- then everyone thinks I’m a racist.”
  • Memorize the rainbow alphabet- LGBTQQIAA (try using the ABC song! “Now I know my LGBT’s. Won’t RuPaul be proud of me”) and know what each letter stands for. When your kids tell you which one of these they are- listen carefully, then hug them and tell them they can always count on your love and support. And if you add “and I’ll be praying for your soul because you’re going to hell” I’ll come down to Camp Trump and beat you myself with the Tolerance Stick.
  • Saying “Thanks, Obama!” without being a total sarcastic dick about it.

And if you pass this little test, we’ll know you’re rehabilitated and ready to live among civilized people.

Or….you could avoid all this unpleasantness and STOP FUCKING SHOOTING PEOPLE. The choice is up to you. We can all come together and stand up to hatemongering extremists everywhere who pervert the teachings of their religion to justify their unthinkable brutality – or you can give them tacit approval by supporting politicians and pundits who fan the flames of destruction with the hot air that spews from their fetid mouths. It’s up to you, really- just don’t take too long, because we’ve got a warm bunk just waiting for you in the gender non-conforming dormitory at Camp Trump and we’re eager to Re-Edu-tain you. Don’t test us.

Hope you had a great Thanks-for-Nothing and wishing you all the best this Holiday season. Maybe try celebrating Cal Seething- 113015- shooteyethis year without guns. Cause, best case scenario, you just shoot your eye out- and worst case scenario….well, let’s make that a Christmas story we don’t have to tell this year. Crap! Sorry! I mean “Holiday” story. I guess it’s off to Camp Trump for me…

[California Seething] NFL Season Halftime Show

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LA ChargersRecently the San Diego Chargers (San Di-e-go…SUPER CHARGERS! Sorry. It’s very catchy) officially announced their intention to move to Los Angeles – just like the Rams and the Raiders. Oh goody- just what we needed! Three more middle aged losers running off to LA to get away from a loveless marriage with a city that won’t put out money for a new stadium anymore. Seriously- who do they think we are? The big breasted dental hygienist of major American cities? And, of course, they’re just setting themselves up for disappointment – expecting to move to a super-hip Downtown loft and winding up next to a Home Depot in Carson.

I mean, sure, it’s great to know that even in this era of skyrocketing rents and plummeting reservoirs, Los Angeles is still a place that the mediocre and talentless flock to so they can  pursue their asinine dreams- but that doesn’t mean I want to watch them play football- hell- it’s bad enough I have to watch them do theatre!! When I watch football- I want to see Broadway, Ahmanson or at the very least Geffen level competition. I don’t want to watch the Raiders and Chargers (San Di-e-go SUPER CHARGERS! Crap! Sorry) flounder around like an Uber driver and a barista doing True West at the Complex in front of the eight friends who couldn’t think of a plausible lie when they were invited to the Facebook event. 99 seat theatre may have a place in my heart- but it has no place on my TV on Sundays, and if all these teams move to LA- that’s all I’m going to get to see.

Of course, we already do have to watch these teams way more then we should, since they’ve all been based in LA before. So really, they’re not running away to follow their dreams, they’re coming home like college graduates who can’t make it in the real world and so they have to move back in with their parents. And the worst part is, they’re going to have to move into the basement in Carson because their old stadium was turned into a guest room for USC.

I mean, I guess it might not be so bad- maybe one of these new LA teams will turn out to be really good and they’ll serve as a rallying point for the whole LA region- bringing our sprawling and fractured metropolitan area together as a community and giving us inspiration to face the challenging years ahead. Or-  even better- these teams will suck, their games will be blacked out locally and we’ll never have to watch any of those fucking losers again…until they leave town again and we’re stuck with them again on TV. But hopefully they’ll move to London, and their games will be on at 6:30 AM, so we can just sleep through them.

But of course, that assumes that Roger Goodell wants to bring the NFL to London- and, I’m not really sure that he does- cause he’s sending mixed signals. I just wish that if he didn’t want to bring the NFL to London, he would come out and say so instead of being all passive aggressive about it. I mean, on the one hand, every year he schedules more games over there- but, then just look at the teams he sends over. Chiefs and the Lions???? Don’t the people of AndyEngland deserve better than seeing Detroit’s worst export since the LeBaron taking on The Mustached Tomato Andy Reid and his Kansas City Crappers?? That’s not a commercial for American football- it’s a cautionary tale. It’s like sending Trump to debate Carson in Iraq in order to promote democracy. Which, of course, would never happen cause it’s way hotter than 67 degrees over there- and those ISIS guys are almost as tough as Megyn Kelly. Speaking of mixed signals- gotta love NBC- first they make a big deal about cutting ties with Donald Trump and then they have him on the Tonight Show with America’s Favorite Klutzy Bootlicker, Jimmy Fallon – who’s literally falling all over himself to wedge his nose into whatever repugnant butt Lorne Micheaels sticks in front of him (no wonder he drinks) and guest hosting Saturday Night Live- oh but, hey look, protestors – he’s onstage with a black guy, so it must be OK! Disgusting! I’m officially boycotting Saturday Night Live, starting retroactively in 1991.

The only thing I can figure is that Goodell is taking the same approach to scheduling games in London that most dudes take to folding the laundry – you know- the old “if I do a really crappy job, maybe she’ll stop asking”. Which is brilliant- because that way if he’s ever called out on it, he can just be like  “What? You asked to give you games in London- I gave you games in London. I guess if you don’t want them any more, I can just stop…but only if that’s what you really want, England. I just want you to be happy.” And so, sure, that means Roger Goodell is just as shitty a husband as he is a commissioner- but, hey, I don’t see him doing dishes!

Sadly, my beloved Jets were one of the teams sent to England this year to reinvigorate interest in cricket. And while leveon-bell-week8kneeit does make me want to tweet a LeVon Bell sad-bumblebee-emjoi when I think of the Jets in the same category as the Lions and Cheifs, it’s still been a pretty good season for Jets fans. It’s not just cause Geno “Facepunch” Smith got hurt and we learned just how much better life can be without him- like when the office manager goes out on maternity leave and suddenly there’s Starbucks in the break room and the copier’s fixed. No – the real reason why this has been such a great season for Jets fans doesn’t really have anything to do with the Jets at all- it’s all thanks to the Colts.

You see, Last season in the AFC Championship, the Patriots beat the Colts by deflating the ball. This season, the Patriots beat the Colts by deflating Chuck Pagano’s brain- and I, for one, couldn’t be happier!

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not thrilled the Patriots are now Seven-and-Ugh and I don’t bear any ill will towards Chuck Pagano- though, like most Americans, I cared about him more when he was sick (he’s the Lamar to our Khloe). But I indianapolis-colts-fake-punwas absolutely tickled pink (in honor of breast cancer awareness month) when Pagano ran his terrible fake punt because from now on, whenever commentators talk about the worst play ever in NFL history- they won’t be talking about the Butt Fumble! Woo-Hoo! We’re not the worst anymore!! Not The Worst! Not The Worst! This is the greatest feeling ever!!! If I was a German sausage- I would be notwurst!!!! This must be what Lincoln Chafee felt like when Jim Webb dropped out; what the Ewoks felt like after Jar Jar Binks; Robert McNamara after the Iraq War; W after hearing JEB! Speak; Warrant after Nickleback; John Madden when he watches John Gruden; and what Chicago Cubs fans certainly must have felt like on Oct 21, 2015, just as Marty McFly was coming back from the future.

I shouldn’t pick on the Colts, though- they’ve had a rough season. They had to start the re-animated corpse of Matt Hasselbeck when Andrew Luck suddenly contracted Cancer of the Neck Cal Seething- 110915- luckBeard- which marks the first time in NFL history that a quarterback who looks like a Civil War soldier was replaced by a player who actually lived through it. And they aren’t the only team that’s had to start a backup QB- the poor Steelers lost their starter and their back up and had to resort to starting a QB who isn’t a felon. Denver has had to start the Over the Hill Erratic Peyton Manning Who Has Cable over the Real Peyton Manning who has DirecTV. And, of course, in Dallas, Tony Romo is looking like the MVP in absentia thanks to the comedy stylings of Weeden and Cassel. How bad is Brandon Weeden you ask? He actually got benched IN FAVOR of Matt Cassel. For those of you that don’t follow football, that’s like picking Ben Carson because Trump is too crazy…..or picking Donald Trump because Carson’s too crazy. Works either way! Of course, now Dr. BenCal Seething- 110915- ben is practically conscious with rage over the fact that “secular progressives” keep using “facts” and “evidence” to disprove all of the crazy shit he says. The problem here is that, being a brain surgeon, Carson just isn’t used to having any one contradicting him. I don’t know about you but if I’m in the hospital talking to some dude who’s about to cut open my head and mess with my brain, I’m pretty much gonna agree with EVERYTHING he says. Ancient Israelites built pyramids for grain storage? Sure! You turned down a scholarship at West Point? Wise choice!! You stabbed a whole bunch of other kids when you were younger? Alrighty then! I mean, it’s a little bit weird that you feel the urge to share that little anecdote with me right before cutting my head open but, okey dokey! Whatever you say Mr. Brain Surgery Man.

I mean, when did we reach the point in this country where a candidate lies about attempted murder in order to be MORE electable? It must have been right around the same time that we started interpreting a red cup at Starbucks as a secular attack on religion. I know I’m offended by them! Why every time I go to Starbucks I insist on giving my Cal Seething- 110915- redname as Happy Hanukkah. Ha! Take THAT Mr. Progressive Secular Barista Man! Why don’t you let Judah Maccabee motivate you when you’re doing True West tonight??

No wonder Ben Carson is so religious, BTW, he understands what a miracle it is that a doctor can learn so much about the human brain while not actually having one himself.

Now, I don’t know how religious Brandon Weeden is- but I do know that if I were an NFL QB and my coach sat me down after a game and said “Son, I really appreciate all the effort you put in our there- but I’m gonna go with Matt Cassel”- I would take that shit as a SIGN. Move to a condo, sell the Bentley, update my LinkedIn profile and finish that degree at ITT Tech- because the End is motherfucking near- and I’d damn well be ready. Unless, of course, I was Matt Hasselbeck- in which case I would just graciously retreat to my coffin in the basement of the ESPN building (Bristolvania) and wait for the next sucker to pick my dead ass up.

Alright, well, those are some of the big stories in the NFL this season as we pass the midway point. Though, wait, there’s one I’m forgetting- oh what is it? Is it how all of us who watch football are giving tacit endorsement to a sport which nurtures rage and brutality in young men, is rife with domestic violence and leaves former players physically broken, unable to function and suicidally depressed? No, no that can’t be it. I mean, why on earth would we want to talk about THAT? Oh- wait- I’ve got it- Women. The NFL loves em!! Sure there used to be all those domestic violence issues I just mentioned, but the NFL ran a PSA with Eli Manning and now there’s no violence against women at all. Problem solved (Greg who?)! Is there nothing that Eli Manning can’t do- except get a tan in his brother’s shadow? Anyhow, it’s clear that the NFL values women- just look at all the pink uniforms they made the players wear during Brand Awareness Breast Cancer Awareness month. Why for every pink uniform they sell, the NFL donates 10 seconds of lip service to giving a crap about breast cancer. Wow! Who needs Planned Parenthood’s boring old cancer screenings- I feel closer to a cure already! And, the NFL Cal Seething- 110915- goldiemay not have any female coaches or executives but Roger Goodell did just give Wildcats a 5 star rating on Netflix- so that’s progress, right! I mean, every time Goldie runs around the track, that glass ceiling cracks a little.

Alright- that’s it for the first half of the season- but we’ve still got eight more weeks of watching Fan Duel and Draft Kings commercials briefly interrupted by penalties to go! Not to mention the Playoffs- and that’s when the commercials get really interesting. And, of course, it all culminates with Superbowl 50- or Uberbowl 5.0 as it’s known this year since it’s taking place in epicenter of tech douchebaggery. And of course – we’ve got great Monday night match-ups like the Bears vs the Chargers (San Di-e-go SUPER Chargers! Crap! Sorry. This is worse than having an Alanis Morisette song stuck in your head- and that, BTW, is NOT ironic #90’shackcomic.) Huh. That’s a terrible matchup. Jeez, Goodell- if you don’t want to have Monday night games any more- just say so!

[California Seething] Stuff Happens

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As many of you know, I’m not licensed to drive a car. It’s not a question of age- I’m more than old enough- 2.6875 times the legal minimum age but, you know, who’s counting? (Me. Sigh.) In fact one of the worst parts of not driving is that I have no easy way to express my midlife crisis. Seriously, what am I supposed to do?? JC Penney doesn’t carry Arizona brand red leather pants in husky sizes and a tattoo would be absolutely pointless with all the body hair unless it’s Jungle explorer hacking through the junglean old timey explorer hacking through the jungle saying “Dr Livingstone, I presume.” But let’s keep it real- my pain tolerance pretty much tops out at flossing and the threat of popping zits makes me turn state’s evidence, so I hardly think I’m tattoo material.

Anyhow- the point here is that even though I’m more than old enough to have kids who can drive, I don’t do it. It’s not a question of means- I could certainly afford a reasonably priced car commensurate with the glamorous lifestyle of a non-profit arts middle-manager (mo’ money, mo’ reasonableness), my credit rating is great (thanks to my wife) and my police record clear (thanks to blind, dumb, stupid luck – and the delightfully lax attitude of the Albany PD towards public intoxication. I suppose between the State University and State Legislature, the tax payers of Albany figured they were spending enough to subsidize the lifestyle of Long Island douchebags puking on Lark Street and didn’t need to shell out more dough to look em up in the county jail. Thanks officers! And also my wife. Let’s keep it real. I’d have been in jail a long time ago for something.)

So- yeah, it’s not an age, money or background thing- the reason I don’t drive is that the state won’t let me. Specifically, the state of California- though the state of New York wasn’t too wild about the idea either. It’s not (just) because they’re anti-Semites – I’ve been given numerous opportunities to prove to each state that I’m capable of driving and have failed every single time. I won’t go into too much detail about why I failed- suffice it to say that, if you’re wondering, hypothetically- you CAN fail the driving test for driving too slow…and also too fast….and too Cal-Seething--100515--busrecklessly…and too timidly….and for blowing past a parked school bus which was in the process of disgorging children and lit up like a medium sized casino with red flashing lights and stop signs so that any passing motorist or low flying spacecraft would know that America’s future was streaming out of the bus and to please FUCKING STOP. Remember, this is back in the dark ages when children could actually be transported to school in buses like livestock or poor people before they were required by law to be wrapped in bubble wrap and hand deliver in their parent’s SUV’s like Fabrige eggs with Asperger’s in age appropriate car seats and THAT’s why I can’t get a fucking intern who will file. Kidding! I’ve had some amazing interns- but it doesn’t really matter what I write here because millennials can’t read. Kidding! Millennials are perfectly capable of reading as long as plenty of Emoji are used. Not kidding Cal-Seething--100515--sad

Anyhow- until recently I just accepted the summary judgement of the nanny state (well, two states actually) that I wasn’t a suitable driver for the road- but now I realize that I’ve actually been oppressed all this time and that the Left Wing Nazi DMV Stalin-crats were actually stomping all over my precious FREEDOM. Hell, I don’t have to take no tests or get some fancy gubment license if I want to buy a gun- I don’t even have to get IN-surance. I can just pop into Dick’s Sporting Goods and pick up an assault rifle on sale- the way God and George Washington intended, and I ought be able to get a car the same way! I mean, I realize that cars aren’t the same as guns, like, when a car kills Cal Seething- 100515- waynesomeone- it’s an accident. But it’s the principle of the thing! And who’s fighting for my rights? Where’s my Wayne LaPierre? Why if AAA had just one of the NRA’s balls, I’d be riding down Venice Blvd in a brand new Hummer (or tank) right fucking now! Who cares if I weave all over the road or freeze in terror when I have to turn left or blow past a school bus while it’s discharging blind kindergartners – THIS IS AMERICA AND I HAVE A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO ENDANGER THE LIFE OF ANYONE I CHOOSE!!! And if the other drivers don’t like it, they can run me off the road- after all- the only one who can stop a bad driver with a car is GOOD driver with a car- and if I just happen to kill a bunch of kids who are coming home from school, well, you know, stuff happens.

Yup, that’s right, “stuff happens” – the words of a man who would be leader of a Cal Seething- 100515- jeb2nation uniting his people during a time of grief. “Stuff happens”- 9 people dead and he reacts like the airline lost his luggage on the way to the NRA convention- and these victims were white!  When it comes to guns, no lives matter. But- hey- that’s the GOP for you- life begins at conception and ends when you’re shot. And if Republicans do condescend to talking about mass shootings, they insist it’s a mental health issue. So, hey if you want to get Republicans to pay attention to mental health issues- just start talking to them about guns!

We don’t actually even know how serious the gun violence problem is in this country because the CDC has been forbidden to study it. Brilliant! If we’ve learned one thing from climate change is that the best way to make a problem go away is to obstruct every effort to understand it. Now excuse me while I go lick sweet precious rainwater off the shit covered streets. Drought happens!

Honestly, I’m not even sure how to talk to Republicans anymore. If I had to host the next GOP debate (oh please, please, PLEASE let me host the next GOP debate) the only question I could think to ask is “how do you live with yourself?” Seriously- tell me. I want to know- how do you Republicans do it? How do you look at yourselves in the mirror after brushing your teeth in the morning with extra whitening toothpaste (you like your toothpaste like you like your Cal Seething- 100515- trumpfallonimmigration policy) and say “Yes- I’m a good person. I do good things. Today I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure psychopaths have the weapons they need to kill children. I’m going to stop women from getting cancer screenings or shut down the Government trying. I’ll send young men to war and cut benefits for veterans, I’ll steal from the poor and give to the rich, I’ll fight to make sure those who love each other can’t marry, I’ll make sure police departments have the weapons they so desperately don’t need and none of the oversight they do, I’ll find those who risked their lives to come to this great country so they work tirelessly in pursuit of the American dream and THROW THEM THE FUCK OUT OF THE DOOR and then build a wall so they can’t come back. Yes! That’s right! I’m a good person. I deserve to be President. Jesus FUCKING LOVES ME- HALLELUJAH!!” Seriously- tell me- how do you people live with yourselves? It’s not a rhetorical question- I’m dying to know. Cause if I was one one-hundredth as evil and corrupt as you, I would have bought one of those perfectly legal cheap and easy to get handguns, stuck it in my mouth and let stuff happen.

But then, self awareness has never been a quality that Republicans look for in their candidates. After all, the front Cal Seething- 100515- benrunner just said “I’ll apologize when I’m wrong” (ahhh- the words of a man who’s been married three times). Of course you can’t blame Trump for being cocky when his closest competitor’s greatest achievement is eliminating “brain surgeon” from the lexicon as a synonym for “smart person” forever (to the smirking delight of rocket scientists everywhere) and as for Jeb!- well- after raising over $100 million in two weeks, the highlights of his campaign are apologizing to his mom for smoking weed and earning W the nickname “the Smart One”.

But back to guns- look, I’m fully aware of the Second Amendment- how could I not be? It’s every Republican’s favorite amendment cause it’s the highest one most of them can count to. It was also named the Non-Biblical Text Most Often Misquoted by Idiots by Dance Like Nobody’s Watching Magazine. But, OK, sure- it’s in the Constitution, whether we like it or not. So if you want to bear arms- go ahead- just let me know when you’ve joined a WELL REGULATED militia. You want to carry a Cal Seething- 100515-opencarryhandgun in a holster to your daughter’s soccer game like John Wayne with a dye job and capris on the off chance that a bunch of crazed Mexican rapists sneak into the country and try to steal your halftime orange slices? NO. Sorry but no. You’re just gonna end up shot to death, and then I’m gonna have to feel bad about myself for being totally smug about your tragic death and neither of us really wants that. Yeah, yeah, constitutional right, blah blah. We all have rights- and the way we exercise those rights is governed by laws which protect the greater good. I have the right to operate a motor vehicle but the state of CA has tested my skills and determined that I shouldn’t be entrusted to exercise that right. And you know what- they’re right. IT SUCKS- but they’re right. (it’s ok, motorists of Southern California, go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief. I won’t be hurt. Sigh) And the more you insist and kick and scream that it’s your right to stockpile weapons like David Koresh (old school!) and that no one should impinge on that precious precious right with common sense regulation- the more convinced I become that you’re the last person the state should entrust with the responsibility of bearing arms- in fact- I’m gonna send Obama to your house to take all your guns away. Ha- if only! I don’t know who this socialist gun seizing Obama is that the Republicans keep talking about but he’s fantastic! Let’s get him to run for President in 2016- oh, wait- he already is #feelthebern #notsomuchwiththegunthingthough #dudelikeshuntersiguess? #stillmostlyfeelingit

And speaking of our next President whom I have to believe is going to be a Democrat or I lose all will to keep living- the first Democratic Presidential Debate is next Tuesday and, if I were moderating (oh please please please please please can I moderate??) I would have a lot of questions to ask- but the first one would surely be “so what are you gonna do about all the guns?” I may not agree with everything the candidates say- but I know for sure none of them will say that “stuff happens.” And that’s just one reason why it’s so important to vote next year- assuming I can find somebody to give me a ride.

[California Seething] Getting High on the High Holidays – 5776 Edition

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Yom Kippur was last week, and so, in observance of this most sacred holiday I’m recycling a dumb post about how I used to get stoned on it. Sigh. Good times.

Post is pretty much the same as it was in 2011 (5772) with a bunch of random updates. Enjoy!

The Ancient Greeks didn’t worry about whether God loved them. They didn’t wring their hands over the fact that God allowed evil to thrive in the world and didn’t struggle with the way that God permitted the righteous to suffer while the wicked prospered. That’s because, in Ancient Greece, the Gods were dicks. It’s like someone based an entire religion on the New England Patriots. Speaking of which- you’ve really got to admire the Patriots commitment to being loathsome these days- first the cheating, then the Trump loving- and this past week, pointlessly running up the score against Jacksonville Next week, I hear, Tom Brady buys an AIDS drug and jacks the price up.

Anyhow, Zeus was particularly nasty. He was far less concerned with the meek inheriting the earth than he was in changing into a swan and boning the meek’s wife (they had a pretty loose understanding of zoology as well.) The rest of the gods were no better- just a bunch of mean spirited, petty, vindictive, narcissistic, spiteful bastards who absolutely didn’t give a shit about humanity. It must have been wonderfully liberating in a way- like having a Republican president. After all, when Bush and co. were in power, we didn’t wring our hands and wonder WHY they were leading us into one pointless war after another for the sole benefit of their rich cronies or WHY they were making disastrously short-sighted fiscal policy decisions. We knew perfectly well why- they were dicks. They did irresponsible, self-centered, evil, destructive, selfish things because they were irresponsible, self-centered, evil, destructive selfish cocksuckers- plain and simple. All we had to do was fear them, loathe them and mock them. Good times.

With the advent of Judaism, though and the election of Obama, things became more complicated. Now we have to wrestle with thorny and difficult philosophical questions like WHY does God allow bad things to happen to good people, WHY does God turn his back on his supposedly chosen people as they are persecuted and killed, WHY did Obama extend the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy or WHY does Obama continue to order drone attacks on civilians around the wold. It’s a far more complicated world to live in as these questions fuel our doubts and erode our ability to believe.

But then, much like a new Presidential Election restores my faith in the Democrats by showing me just how terrifying the alternative might be, the Jewish New Year draws me back to synagogue by threatening me with DEATH if I don’t show up and repent my sins. Yup, that’s right DEEEEAAAAAAATTTTTTTHHHHHHH. We Jews don’t fuck around. We observe our New Year with a prolonged period of repentance, contemplation and prayer- exactly the way that Christians don’t. Scholars agree that this is the single most boring and painful way to celebrate a new year with the possible exception of watching Ryan Seacrest host the Countdown (Dick Clark’s face moves more than Seacrest’s and he’s been dead for four years). It wasn’t always this way, though. Back in the days of the Ancient Temple of Jerusalem- you know, the good old days Before the Crappy era (or B.C. as it’s typically known) majestically robed priests would ritually slaughter thousands of animals as burnt offerings to God while throngs of ancient Israelites stood silent in the Temple trembling with awe and wonder and the tangible presence of the Divine deep inside the Holy of Holies. Plus- tickets were free! Beat that Congregation Beth Bite Me!

Nowadays, synagogues charge $300 a head and open up the partition wall that separates the Holy of Holies from the Synagogue Multi-Purpose Room (hail to thee o Accordion Wall- for Modern Judaism would be lost without you) so that they can pack in Israelites on colossally uncomfortable metal folding chairs (the Seats of Repentance) all the way to the rear of the Multi-Purpose Room stage and pray at them mercilessly for hours on end as if to punish them for buying tickets in the first place (like LA Opera did with the Einstein on the Beach.) The Israelites, meanwhile, gaze with awe at how fucking slowly the Cantor is singing and the sheer number of pages remaining before the end of services and wonder just how long the Synagogue President can tell corny jokes and babble on about Judaism and his iPad until he just gets it over with and asks for the goddamn money for the pledge drive so we can sing Adon Olam and go the fuck home already. And then, for an encore, we fast from sundown to sundown on Yom Kippur while we grovel before God for our very lives. Happy fuckin’ New Year!

The ritual slaughter of thousands of animals still plays a role in our worship, BTW, they are just converted into brisket and wrapped in plastic far from our sight. Not as entertaining as the old days, but significantly more delicious.

Clearly, then, holidays surrounding the Jewish New Year, typically called the High Holidays or Repent-apalooza (2015- Celebrating 24 years of hokey Lollapalooza puns- Happy Hack-apaolooza!) are not what you would call “fun” unless you are what I would call “crazy”- but, hey, I figure I’m stuck with them, so I might as well try and get something out of them. Here are some of the strategies I’ve tried over the years in order to get the most out of the High Holidays:

1. Better Fasting Through Chemistry

Look, I didn’t intend to come home stoned for Yom Kippur the first time I did it. It’s just that I was in college and it was a Tuesday so naturally I was smoking up with my best friend and that guy Ed with long hair and a tan who was either Native American or Chinese or possibly Italian and sold high quality weed to only the best potheads on the downtown quad first semester sophomore year. You knew he was cool because he cut out the part of the cracker box that said “Baked not Fried” and Scotch taped it to the outside of his dorm room door, much to the tittering delight of us all. Stick it to The Man, Ed! (“The Man” being the R.A., Stacey). Anyhow, by the time it came to head over to my parents’ house for dinner and the evening Kol Nidre service my friend and I were quite impressively stoned. On the one hand, this was good, because it meant that we had a significant appetite and ate heartily of my mother’s World Famous Unbelievably Dry Chicken and Twice Microwaved Potatoes (shit. I’m going to have to atone for that joke next year. Sorry, mom.) On the other hand, less than an hour into our fast we were starving again and giggling more than is, perhaps, considered acceptable in Temple on the most serious night of the year, much to the consternation of my very unstoned and very jealous sister.

With the sun down and a long day of fasting and prayer ahead of us, we realized that  we had no other option but to man up, buckle down and smoke our way through it, just like Playwriting class (the play I came up with was called Dude and it was about a couple of stoned guys who are basically stuck in a really bad play and trying to come up with shit to say to each other. Then, a bunch of people get shot and the whole thing turns out to be a super-violent Scooby-Doo joke with Nazis. God I miss the 90’s. Just me?)

It may seem like a bad idea to use a drug that causes dry mouth and increased appetite on a day when you can’t eat or drink anything- like treating impulse control with Jager bombs but it turns out that weed and fasting go together like hamburgers and fries, peanut butter and jelly, bagels and lox and a whole bunch of other food combinations that sound really fucking good to me right now because I’m fasting as I write this and hungry as hell. For one thing, being high makes playing everybody’s favorite game, “Man, I could really go for a ___________ right now,” a lot more fun- case in point:

Unstoned person#1:
Man, I could really go for a burger right now.

Unstoned person#2:
Yeah, I could really go for a sandwich right now.

Stoned person#1:
Totally. I could seriously go for like, a HUGE bag of Combos.

Stoned person#2:
Yeah, and a Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia milkshake

Stoned person #1:
Fed to me by a crazy-hot Viking chick

Stoned person#2:
With a huge metal bra

Stoned person #1:
Riding a lion

Stoned person #1 & #2:
A Flying lion! (break out in hysterical giggles)

Stoned person #1’s Sister:
(seethe) (rage) (gurgle)

Perhaps it was all this fantasizing over food that allowed us to resist the temptation of eating actual food- because we ended up resisting some serious temptation. Halfway through the day, someone had the insanely masochistic idea to go apple picking. There we were- surrounded by ripe, juicy fruit, ice cold cider and the sweet hot fat smell of fresh cider doughnuts . As the non-stoned among us broke one by one and gave into temptation, only the stoned stood strong and ate nothing (my sister didn’t come.) Is it any wonder this became an annual tradition?

2. Take your fast to go

Sooner or later, weed will always betray you. Sooner or later, instead of coming up with goofy jokes and imagining cool things to eat fed to you by Valkyries, weed just makes you think about how everyone hates you and your boss wants to fire you and your landlord wants to evict you and the cops are outside ready to burst through the door because you could have sworn that you saw a red and blue light flickering through the apartment window for a second and that suspicious black sedan parked across the street hasn’t moved in a couple of days so clearly the FBI is on your ass for telling the doctor that you have a back injury so he’d give you a Medical Marijuana card when your back is actually totally fine and you’re just a filthy, stinking, worthless liar who’s letting everybody down. At this point, it’s best not to smoke anymore and to find other mechanisms for coping with Yom Kippur and life in general. Travel is a great one. Not only is it mind expanding, but if you start feeling paranoid it’s probably because the gypsies are really trying to rob you. Stupid gypsies.

When I lived in New York, I worked at a non-profit Jewish organization (NOTE FOR ANTI-SEMITIC JOKERS: “Non-profit Jewish” is not, in fact an oxymoron- and, yes, I’ve fucking heard that one before) with my non-Jewish soon-to-be wife. Naturally, we got the High Holidays off- a gesture which my wife and I interpreted differently:

Me: I’m glad that this organization gives me the time off required to properly observe these very important occasions.

My Wife: WOO-HOO! Four day weekend! ROAD TRIP!!!!

So, there I was, fasting in a rented Ford Aspire (it aspires to be a car!) which we picked up at Newark Airport, heading to Philadelphia. Of course, we couldn’t possibly waste a perfectly good trip through New Jersey in a rental car without hitting Ikea. Now, you may think that you have fasted before in your life or that you know what it is to repent for your sins- but let me tell you, my friend, you don’t know shit until you observed Yom Kippur in the cinnamon-bun scented Swedish amusement park of particle board and pain that is Ikea. After all, Ikea is an incredibly annoying place to shop for incredibly annoying things- like a torture chamber where you have to buy your own Iron Maiden and put it together before your tormentors shove you inside and slam the spikes in your face- which is totally fine by you as long as you never, ever have to use an allen wrench again. Anyone who can maintain their fast in the face of such colossal unpleasantness- and the omnipresent temptation of meatballs and the gooey goodness of cinnamon buns should be forgiven for pretty much anything.

Ultimately, we reached Philadelphia, known as “The City of Brotherly Love” or “The City With the Really Ironic Nickname.” As we drove around looking for the restaurant I had pre-selected to break my fast, we found ourselves caught in an endless loop by the art museum. Now, I love the “look kids, Big Ben…Parliament” gag from European Vacation as much as the next guy, but if I’m fucking starving and the stars are starting to come out it gets unfunny very, very quickly. Finally we exited our vortex of irritation, found a random charming restaurant in a random charming neighborhood and had a fantastic meal.

So- do I recommend travel for Yom Kippur? Hell, yeah! It was an adventure- and adventure beats sitting in Temple like steak beats hamburger; bratwursts beat hot-dogs; rich, thick slaps of strawberry covered delicious cheese-cake beats Jello cheesecake pudding (did I mention how fucking hungry I was?). In fact, a couple of years ago, I drove home from San Francisco on Yom Kippur after I hit morning services in the Mission at the Temple Beth’s A Lesbian. Good times. I sent my sister a postcard (OK, that’s a lie.)

3. Score Free Tickets

Look, I get free tickets to stuff all the time- and not just to artsy crap like plays and operas. I’ve gotten Dodger tickets, Kings tickets, Clipper tickets- hell, I’ve even gotten tickets to see teams that DON’T suck, like the Lakers (oh, wait, that was supposed to be an example of “teams that don’t suck” -HA! . But, until this year, I have never received the Ultimate Comp- free High Holiday Tickets. Normally, these are about as obtainable as tickets to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (sweet, delicious river of chocolate…drool…..) so I have to resort to hitting the Chabad House if I want free services and getting my Jew on with the Ultra-Mega-Super-Duper-Right-Wing-Black-Hat-Crazy-Pants-Orthodox in an overstuffed little sweatbox of a room. It’s a little weird and slightly uncomfortable — a bit like getting free vegetarian food from the Hare Krishnas — nourishing, warm and generous on one hand, but it doesn’t really taste like anything you’re used to. Everyone there is chanting and mumbling and wearing the same outfits and you can’t help feeling a little squirmy about the fact that you might be hanging out with a cult just to get a bargain — like joining the Moonies to save on your wedding, though fortunately, they can’t serve Kool-Aid on Yom Kippur (Went there!).

The past few years, though, thanks to my fancy-schmanzy, high-level, showbiz connections (I know a guy)- I was able to score some comps to a swanky Temple where I could repent in style and comfort. Hell, they even had a jumbotron in the back of the Multipurpose room, so you could see the Rabbi up close. I have to admit, I thought the Kiss-Cam thing may have been taking it a little too far but, you know, they’re Reform, so I guess it’s all good. And, the best part is, since they are Reform, there was no screwing around with the Service. It was like the NFL RedZone channel of prayer — just all the big highlights and none of that messing around and mumbling shit in the middle. In and out in under 3 hours!

Okay, so maybe it was a little too fast and efficient for me. I like a little ground and pound in my services, but it certainly beats hanging out with a bunch of aspiring West Bank settlers. It may even be better than watching my wife eat meatballs at a furniture store while I fast (OK, so she didn’t actually eat them in front of me. Call it “poetic license”- the only license I can get!)

4. Try taking it seriously for 5 lousy minutes

You’ve been an asshole this year. It’s okay. I’ve been an asshole, too. Probably a bigger one than you. Not as bad as Donald Trump or Tom Brady or Zeus, but definitely somewhere on the asshole spectrum. So, why not take a day and deal with it? Say I’m sorry. Forgive the people I wanted to stab in the face with a handful of sharpened golf-pencils. Think about being a better person- maybe not yelling at people so much on the phone when they turn out to be worthless morons who can’t actually help me- but, you know, they’re probably doing their best and not deliberately trying to give you an anger fueled stroke. Or maybe start actually giving a shit about Darfur or at least figuring out where it is on a map. Or…you know…something something Syrian refugees. I don’t know … anything to show that I’ve been thinking about repentance and I’m going to give it a little bit of a shot. Not so much because God cares or notices or even exists but because there’s a slim chance that not being so much of an asshole might in some infinitesimal way make the world a very slightly better place, so it may be worth trying.

I continue to find new ways of experiencing the High Holidays. In fact, the year I first wrote this, I observed Yom Kippur by fasting as I opened a heavy-metal, country and western, multimedia operetta with a huge cowboy shindig at intermission and an after party featuring chili shooters and Mountain Lion Margaritas — or as normal people would put it “going into the office on the holiday.” (aaah, I’ve Never Been So Happy- good times. And to think that back in 2011, I thought that was as wacky as things could possibly get! I guess I was about 3,000 boxes off on that one.) I guess our boring old religion still has some life in it, even if we don’t have animal sacrifices (sweet, delicious animal sacrifices. Goddamn it, I’m hungry) or a wicked cabal of evil a-holes controlling our fate (that’s Republicans are for.)

So…right, the whole atoning thing. Uhm…I guess I’m sorry to everybody who I might have accidentally offended last year. Except for Republicans….and Patriots fans….and Ryan Seacrest cause y’all can go fuck yourselves. (aaaah, the first appearance of the “I’m sorry…except” joke- since posted annually on Facebook. And to think I used it up this year on the morons who want to de-fund Planned Parenthood without even knowing that two days later there would be some colossal hedge-fund douche-bro who would jack up the price of AIDS medication. So many assholes, so few punchlines) . Oh, and Kobe Bryant really is a homophobic racist who should choke on a Cub-Scout’s dick (ahhh, memories. I’d almost forgotten how much I hated Kobe. It’s hard to stay so mad at him now that he’s old and useless- sort of like Ronald Reagan after he got Alzheimer’s). But, you know, I’m sorry to anybody who maybe didn’t deserve to be offended, like the makers of Lucky Charms. I’m sorry, I just don’t think it’s very good. I mean- hard marshmallows??? What the fuck??? (honestly, I’m not even sure what the hell I was referring to here. Seriously-does anyone remember?? Did I write something hateful about Lucky Charms four years ago? I have absolutely no recollection. Oh no- is this how dementia starts? Is this Karmic revenge for making an Alzheimer’s joke?? SHIT!!! Sorry, sorry, sorry- I’m barely even done with the fucking holidays and I’ve already got stuff to atone for next year. Plus it’s probably just all that weed – the Ghosts of Yom Kippur Past catching up with me.) Crap, I’m screwing this up already. Damn it. Maybe I’ll do better at atoning next year. I can at least aim for that. And, hey, I probably should apologize to my sister. We should have let her smoke with us.

So there you have it- Happy New Year- 5776! (That’s right- you read that correctly- Five-Thousand-Seven-Hundred-and-Seventy-Six. Our calendar could kick your calendar’s ASS.)

Originally published on October 10, 2011 on Fierce and Nerdy. Sort of.

[California Seething] Noir Springs

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NOTE: I started this post in Palm Springs on vacation a couple of weeks ago and am just finishing it now. In case you’re wondering what took so long, here is a picture of the Kirk Douglas Theatre filled with 3,000 boxes. Draw your own conclusions.

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Greetings from beautiful Palm Springs! Sure, I know it may seem counter-intuitive to live in LA and vacation in Palm Springs in August, particularly when LA is in the midst of a ball chafing heatwave and I’ve been whining like a Republican about the heat every time I go east of La Brea. Note for Republicans- saying “Black Lives Matter” Cal Seething- 090715- whitelivesdoes not constitute whining- petulantly insisting that “All Lives Matter” does. Look- I’m a 42 year old white man- I’m totally aware of how much my life matters. If anything, I’m a little embarrassed by it. I can walk into a police station and take a crap on the floor and the desk sergeant will apologize cause they don’t have Charmin. I get followed around stores, but only when they’re recruiting for management positions. Cab drivers slow down when I walk by, just in case. My FICO score is “Honky”. Cameron Crowe just cast me in his remake of The Joy Luck Club- to play EVERY SINGLE PART. I’m good. I get it. I TOTALLY FUCKING COMPLETELY MATTER. Now can we please move on to the more pressing issue of black people being murdered by asshole racist cops? Cause THAT’S the only thing here that really fucking matters.

So yeah, while I certainly don’t whine about how my life matters, I have been known to whine about the heat in LA, which makes it all the more mystifying that I chose to vacation in Palm Springs. It’s like living in Albany and wintering in Buffalo. But- hey, wait a second- people who live in cold climates spend their winters in even colder places all the time. Hell, my grandparents lived in upstate New York and spent much of the winters at their place in Cal Seething- 090715- bernieVermont- and we all know Vermont is only known for three things: Bernie Sanders, heroin and SNOW (also, Ben & Jerry’s, which is a hodge-podge of the three). Why would they do that? Wasn’t there enough snow for them in Albany? Were they just dumb?

Of course not- they did it because they wanted to ski (my grandfather did anyhow). They went to a place even colder than the one they lived in so they could perform a seasonal activity which they enjoyed. And it’s the same with me! I go to Palm Springs in August so I can float in the pool, drink gin & tonics and watch a Murder, She Wrote marathon on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel in air conditioned comfort. My favorite summer sports! And so much safer Cal Seething- 090715- sonnythan skiing. Look at Sonny Bono. See- look- he’s right over there! Hi Sonny! Anyhow, Bono was mayor of Palm Springs for four years and the worst thing that happened to him is that he ended up with a statue of himself on a park bench so tourists could take selfies. But he goes skiing once and BLAMMO runs into a tree and he’s dead as a Kennedy.

Gotta hand it to him for being the mayor of this town, though- that sounds like it takes a lot of effort and the sun here is a sledgehammer. It beats you flat like a piece of veal and roasts the ambition right out of you. I guess he was the only one willing to get out of the pool long enough to show up for City Council meetings. Me, I’d rather float on my back, stare up at the palm trees and contemplate film noir.

Palm Springs actually makes the perfect place to pontificate about film noir. Not only are film noir and Palm Springs both by-products of mid-century America, they both benefited greatly from the old studio system. After all, the same contracts which compelled actors and film-makers to churn out all those noir classics also required them to remain within a two hour drive of Los Angeles, in case they were needed suddenly back in Hollywood (or, let’s keep it real here, Culver City). And so a glamorous little resort town was born in the middle of the desert, a quick two hour drive from the studios (good thing traffic was better back then, or we’d be vacationing in Glendale today.) And the town that was created is the perfect embodiment of everything noir was reacting to. Row after row of one story houses- low slung and angular, sleek and Cal Seething- 090715- butterflyunburdened by history- like shiny new toasters lined up on the shelf of some long gone department store, just waiting for housewives to snatch them up in a desperate bid to outdo each other. And every house is complete with a shimmering blue David Hockney pool in the backyard, hard-bodied young divers and unspoken implications included.

It’s not an ostentatious place- just a place quietly confident of the permanence of its own improbable existence. A car in every driveway, a lawn for every house, a house for every family – plenty of oil, plenty of water, plenty of land- the finish line in the pursuit of happiness. Quiet, comfortable, climate controlled and cool- it’s the epitome of illusory American greatness during the brief pinnacle of our brief history. Hell, even the names of the neighborhoods simply drip with casual mid-century Hollywood glamour likeCal Seething- 090715- moviecolony a long string of perfect pearls– the Movie Colony, the Racquet Club. OK, well, just those two- but still!

And so, even though I’ve done no research on the subject and am much too lazy to do any, I can easily imagine the great noir screenwriters and film-makers sitting by the pool here and giving life to their darkest fantasies. Hell, I know every time I walk the dog through the silent streets and look over the neat little rows of perfect square houses to the towering mountains beyond I think- “man- what an awesome place for a murder!” OK, well sometimes I think “Seriously, Punky? You’ve got to poop now- right when we’re in the middle of crossing the street- you can’t hold it til you get to the other side?? Ooooh, you’re lucky you’re cute” or “Holy crap, Punky- that bicyclist is like three blocks Cal-Seething--100714--punkyaway WHY IN THE NAME OF GOD ARE YOU LOSING YOUR SHIT OVER IT????? Oooooh, you’re lucky you’re so cute”- but a lot of the time I think “man- what an awesome place for a murder!” Maybe it’s cause there’s never anyone around- just row after row of angular houses with closed doors. Blinds pulled tight to keep the sun’s heat out and the secrets in (eh? eh? pretty mysterious right??) A hot wind listlessly stirs the fronds on tall palm trees like slowly melting ice cubes in a pool-side vodka tonic. The only sounds I hear are the panting of the dog, the soft thump of my sneakers on the sidewalk and the screaming of the cicadas in the trees. Like a restless crowd in a play with no dialogue of its own, they continuously emit a relentless high pitched drone which scratches at my ears like a thousand tiny fingers. A million million hidden insects screeching out the unspoken anxieties of a quiet desert town. Or, you know, that’s what it sounds like to me- it’s probably some kind of mating call or their way of saying “shit, man- it’s hot as fuuuuuuck out here.” I don’t really know for sure, and I’m way too lazy to research it. That would take effort and ambition, and, as you know, it’s hot as fuuuuck out here.

Then again, it doesn’t matter what the cicadas are actually trying to say, because, just like film noir, perception is the important thing. Oh and- did I just transform a rationalization for my totally half assed effort into a perfect segue? You bet, I did! I didn’t get to be the second laziest B+ student to ever graduate from the University at Albany (right behind Steve Gutenberg) without picking up a few tricks. Gutenberg, sadly is also the most famous alumnus of the University of Albany. I know,right? We couldn’t even get Tackleberry!Cal Seething- 090715- tackleberry

But back to film noir, one of the great things is how the characters are most frequently undone not by the law or the mob but by their own twisted perception of the world they live in. And so, much like Republican women, they make terrible choices contrary to their own self interest, because of their warped perception of reality. Oh, I’m sorry- does the use of “Republican women” in that sentence offend you? In that case- please feel free to substitute: Black Republicans, Latino Republicans, Asian Republicans, Any Republicans not born in the United States, Gay Republicans, Transgender Republicans, Poor Republicans, Working Class Republicans, Middle Class Republicans, Young Republicans, Old Republicans, Middle-Aged Republicans, Republicans Currently Serving in the Military, Republicans Who Used to Serve in the Military, and Republicans whose Republican Family Members Went Off to Serve in the Military and Never Came Home Again. Pretty much the only two Republicans who are actually voting in a way that’s consistent with their own self interest are Charles and David Koch. Hell, even Cal Seething- 090715- trumpmexicoDonald Trump is voting against his self interest- I mean, sure he talks big about building a wall, but all of his suits and most of his employees are made in Mexico.

But hey, that’s America for you- always shooting off our nose to spite our face with 1000 rounds of armor piercing ammo delivered for free thanks to Amazon Prime. And, much like the American people, the men & women of noir are their own worse enemies- and in no film is this more evident than Nicholas Ray’s quiet masterpiece In A Lonely Place. Humphrey Bogart plays screenwriter Dixon Steele (real name Davidovich Steimtasky). He used to be pretty successful, but that was before the war. Ever since coming back- he hasn’t quite been the same. Maybe something was unleashed on the battlefield that he couldn’t quite figure out how to shove into the two car garage of a suburban tract home. Now he can’t focus like he used to, lacks empathy, is prone to violent outbursts and, worst of Cal Seething- 090715- bogartall, his movies lose money –to this day the only truly unforgivable crime in Hollywood.

Anyhow, late one night, Dixon brings a young coat check girl back to his Beverly Hills patio apartment – and no- not to have sleazy Josh Duggar sex with her. (Bill Cosby would also be an acceptable reference there. Jared Fogle would not. That prick got off too easy- if we really wanted to punish him, we’d make him keep eating Subway. Hell, he probably just pled guilty so quickly to finally make it stop. I know how he feels. I once had Subway for lunch for two weeks straight and I was one BMT away from being the Zodiac Killer.) Anyhow- like I said- he doesn’t want to do anything dirty- just for her to give him an oral….report (I said nothing dirty!) on a book that he loaned her, since he’s too lazy to read the book himself and has a meeting in the morning to discuss adapting it for a screenplay. This may seem strange to some of our younger readers, but you have to remember that before Wikipedia, if you were too lazy to read a book, it was quite common to bring home random restaurant employees to summarize it for you. Hell, I never would have passed Abnormal Psych if that friendly bus boy from Ground Round hadn’t broken down the textbook for me. At any rate, the coat check girl turns up dead the next day (same thing happened to my bus boy. Ahh Pablo, when I close my eyes, I can still hear you explaining schizophrenia), Dixon is a natural suspect, and the only person who can vouch for his whereabouts during the time the murder was committed is Laurel Grey (Gloria Grahame) his beautiful and mysterious neighbor who lives across the courtyard, and saw Dixon from her apartment as he sent the coat check girl on her way.

Anyhow- Laurel and Dixon fall in love, but the detectives investigating the murder still suspect Dixon and they plant seeds of suspicion in Laurel’s mind. Dixon pours a giant can of water on these seeds with his violent temper and crazy pants behavior and causes them to flower into great big blossoms of doubt (is it me or did this get weirdly Cal Seething- 090715-bogartandgrahmehorticultural all of a sudden?)

Anyhow- I don’t want to give away what happens in the end- but, come on, it’s a film noir called In A Lonely Place- so…you know…it’s not good. Her distrust leads to fear, fear leads to deception, her deception fuels his rage, his rage unleashes violence. By the time she actually finds out if Steele is guilty or innocent of murder, it’s too late- their future together is as dead as the coat check girl (or a doe eyed bus boy with a preternatural understanding of the DSM). It’s been poisoned by their toxic mistrust of each other, strangled by their choices and dumped off the road in a lonely place.

And that brings up one of the other great pleasures of film noir- the Film Title Drinking Game (invented by my wife. Copyright 2015)- wherein you do a shot every time a character says the title of the movie. In fact, there’s one movie called Tension which is worth watching for two reasons- there are a couple of scenes shot in and around the Culver Theater – 50 years before it was converted to the Kirk Douglas Theatre and 60 years before it was filled with Cal Seething- 090715- tensionboxes, and the fact that if you are playing the Film Title Drinking Game- you will get FUCKED UP. The hard-nosed cop played by Barry Sullivan even stretches a rubber band between his fingers throughout the movie just to make the point about how much TENSION (gulp) the characters are under and if enough TENSION (gulp) is applied, a criminal will sooner or later crack because of all the tensidi-tense TENSION (gulp. Vomit)

But of course, we came to Palm Springs to get away from all the TENSION (gulp) of Los Angeles and to soak up chlorine, sunshine and ambiance. And as the sun goes down, the ambiance intensifies. Palm Springs is even more deliciously ominous by night. The cicadas quiet down and the wind takes over as sound designer. And while the cicadas perfectly capture the simmering TENSION (gulp) that lurks behind closed doors under the burning sunlight, the wind brings out all the mystery and intrigue of the city in darkness. It whoshes through trees, tinkles chimes on porches and scrapes a dry leaf across the pavement, scraping the nerves as it travels along. Of course, the lighting helps too. There are no street lights- the only illumination is provided by sconce lights on houses. Some are cold new fluorescents shining through clear glass like hard blue eyes. Others are incandescents in aging plastic, cracked and yellow as nicotine stained teeth. Hell, we’re way past noir town here and heading for David Cal-Seething--090715--cowskLynch country. (The sconce lights on our rental house had the outline of a cow skull cut into them. That’s not really so much evocative of murder, unless it’s the murder of good taste and Georgia O’ Keefe is the primary suspect.) Even the names of the gated communities are evocative and mysterious- the Enclave, Sunrise Palms. OK- just those two- but still! Can’t you just picture a retired Dale Cooper living in a place called Sunrise Palms, spending his days talking into a tape recorder (actually a banana) and drinking sludgy coffee with dwarves (actually Filipino nurses)? “Annie’s just fine, Agent Cooper. You don’t have to keep asking about her. Why don’t you take your pills and have a nice nap? Maybe you’ll see your friend the giant!”Cal Seething- 090715- dale

Of course, in reality, nothing much evil is happening at all. The worst crime most people are guilty of in Palm Springs is pulling their white tube socks all the way up to their knees and walking through Trader Joe’s so…fucking…slowly. But that wouldn’t make much of a noir movie- I mean what would you even call it? They Shopped By Day? Push the Cart Slowly? The High Tubesocks? Fearful Flyer? Raw Deal….on Raw Cashews? The Big Schlep? “Look at you- shopping by day (gulp)- pushing the cart slowly (gulp) acting all high and mighty with your high tubesocks (gulp). You’re looking for a bargain- but all you’re gonna get is a raw deal on raw cashews (gulp). So go ahead- look through that Fearless Flyer for savings- deep down you’re just a fearful flyer (gulp) cause you know there’s no saving you. Someday soon you’re gonna take that big schelp (gulp) to the sky and I’ll be able to get the hell out of here with my Riesling and tortellini in less than 45 minutes and get on with my damn life.” So- yeah- not nearly as interesting in reality as in the imagination, but then- that’s reality for you. Fucking lame.

Still, all vacations must come to an end, so now I find myself in September walking the dog through the dusty backstreets of West LA past broken cacti and patches of dirt with receding hairlines of brown grass. There are no cicadas, just the oceanic roar of the freeway and the only mysteries to solve are “why does everyone dump their mattresses here?”, “is the guy in the Montero Sport, like, living in his car?” and “no, seriously – why DOES everybody dump their mattresses here?” and honestly, none of these are mysteries I’m really eager to solve since the answer is likely to be more depressing than the question. Even the street names are uninspiring- National, Robertson- well, OK, just those two- but still!Cal Seething- 090715- tshirt

But, we’ve still got a few noir movies on the DVR we haven’t seen which we recorded during TCM’s Summer of Darkness, like grey leftovers in the fridge that still smell sort of fresh, and I got an awesome Summer of Darkness t-shirt and TCM hat from my wife, who retains her title as Best Gift Giver Ever for the 17th year running as well as being my partner in crime (or crime movie watching anyhow) and most important person in my life. Happy Anniversary! Someday, when we’re old, we’ll get to spend all our time in Palm Springs, but for the time being, it’s just a two hour drive away (or was in the 40’s anyhow), in case the tension (gulp) of Los Angeles gets to be too much. And, meanwhile, if you want to find me, I’ll be at the former Culver Theatre, now the Kirk Douglas, hiding under a pile of boxes and dreaming of my next vacation. Oooh- maybe I’ll see my friend, the giant!

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Oh- and if you’re wondering what the deal is with all the boxes- check out The Object Lesson at the Kirk Douglas Theatre now playing through Oct 4. It’s pretty amazing- almost worth coming back from Palm Springs for. Almost.

[California Seething] Shark-noir-do

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SPOILER ALERT: This post may contain details and information that could spoil the experience of watching Sharknado 3. Then again, it would be hard to imagine I could possibly spoil the experience of watching Sharknado 3 Cal Seething- 081115- handsawany more than the bozos who made the movie already have. And therein lies the biggest mystery of Sharknado 3. No- it’s not whether Tara Reid lives or dies at the end- I guess they’ve just left that up to Twitter to decide- so do yourself and America a favor and hashtag “#AprilDies” on everything you Tweet – because the most believable part of her performance is her prosthetic chainsaw attachment which is the most human thing about her. But, anyhow, the biggest mystery about Sharknado 3 is – how did they manage to ruin something that was already so terrible to begin with? Look at it this way, any chef can screw up beef bourguignon- but it takes a special kind of incompetence to fuck up Ramen- and that’s exactly what the geniuses who made Sharnknado 3 did. How the hell did they manage that? All they had to do was take a cheap, pre-packaged shark movie, boil it in shlock til it was dumb enough to be funny but not so long that it was reduced to a brainless mush, and add in a shiny flavor packet of Gen-XCal Seething- 081115- ramen in-jokes (Ian Ziering is cinematic MSG) and voila- a Sharknado 3 that doesn’t suck. Just a tasty little movie with no nutritional value that’s even more delicious when you’re wasted. They followed this recipe and produced two perfectly good (or, let’s keep it real, perfectly bad) Sharknado movies- but they messed it up badly with the third one.

First of all, they overcooked it- going well past the “brainless mush” stage until nothing was left but a gelatinous glob of gore and idiocy. Then they emptied an industrial sized canister of celebrity cameos into the glob (David Hasselhoff is cinematic Cheez Whiz), deep fried the whole thing in product placement and served it with a side of cynical self-awareness- like oh oh oh- we know it’s dumb so that makes everything ok. Well, I’ve got news for you guys- it doesn’t. Dog shit with parsley is still just dog shit- and yes, I realize I just pulled off the extremely rare “metaphor inside a metaphor”- the blogging equivalent of the flashback inside a flashback. And, yes, I realize that was actually a metaphor FOR a metaphor- which is even more rare- as rare as a unicorn or a Lincoln Chafee supporter or a transgendered Republican reality TV star. Come to think of it- why isn’t Caitlyn running for president? I mean – Olympic champion, successful businessman, conservative Christian,Cal-Seething--081115--voltr pop culture icon and now a WOMAN??? That’s something for everyone! She’s a one woman Fox News debate! She’s five candidates in one- she’s GOPTron! Hell, she’s even got a black son in law (or, ex-step-son-in-law- close enough). Now if she can just get Khloe to marry Pitbull she’ll be UNSTOPPABLE.

Which gets me back to my original point- how did the producers manage to screw up Shaknado 3 so badly? The movie starts with a tornado full of sharks hitting Washington DC and destroying the White House- could there be any better metaphor for the election??? I mean, come on – 10,000 sharks hit DC and not a single one has Trump hair- how did the producers miss that? It’s like striking out at kickball. Sure, there was a tiny nod to political satire with Cal Seething- 081115- cubancoulterPresident Mark Cuban and Vice President Anne Coulter (easily the scariest part of the movie) but they could have done so much more. For instance: Obama orders Congress to evacuate- the Republicans refuse and are eaten by sharks. Trump says the sharks are murderers and drug dealers that are attracted by Megyn Kelly’s blood. Bernie Sanders has some great ideas but #SharkLivesMatter shouts him down at a rally which the mainstream media won’t cover. Jeb Bush claims he’s half shark, Fox News claims the science is still out on sharknados, Jimmy Fallon says the sharks can eat more than Chris Christie, Marco Rubio compares the sharknado to an abortion, and a shark eats some lion no one’s ever heard of in Zimbabwe and Facebook loses it’s GODDAMN MIND. Meanwhile Hilary hangs back and doesn’t say a damn thing cause she knows sooner or later the sharks are all gonna Cal Seething- 081115- hilaryeat each other and, when the storm clears, she’ll be the only one standing. Yup- that’s Hilary- President of a ruined nation, its institutions of government destroyed, standing knee deep in shark guts- but- hey- at least she got to be what she always wanted to be when she grew up- so the American Dream is still working for somebody. Slow clap for Madame President. Credits. And THAT’S how you make a Sharknado movie in Washington.

Sadly, though, that’s not what the producers of Sharknado 3 did. Instead, they expected us to believe that Mark Cuban is leader of the free world, an action hero and a passable actor- in ascending order of implausibility. Seriously, Cuban hasn’t been this unconvincing since he met with DeAndre Jordan. And then, after Cal Seething- 081115- iwojimaour heroes raise the American flag Iwo-Jima style in order to impale a flying shark, the worst thing to happen to Veterans in this country since the VA, the movie leaves DC for Universal Orlando- a perfect example of cynical corporate interests ruining something that pretty much sucked to begin with. Hey- come to think of it- you could say the same thing about the Republican party- so maybe this movie is a sly political satire after all!

Anyhow, back in Universal Orlando, Tara Reid is about to give birth to Ian Ziering’s baby (the Cal-Seething--081115--bodersecond scariest thing about this movie) and is hanging out with her mom, Bo Derek, who, in the movie’s only pleasant surprise, looks refreshingly human for an actress her age. Things just get dumber and bloodier from there and the whole thing ends up in outer space with Ian Ziering, David Hasselhoff – who turns out is a former astronaut (one of the less plausible things about the movie) and also Ian Ziering’s dad (one of the most!) and Tara Reid, who was fortunate enough to find a petite maternity space suit at the very last minute. Actually, that’s not really so surprising – what’s surprising is that they take the opportunity to do product placement “Finn- I don’t care if I am pregnant. If you’re going into space to save the world I’m going with you. And besides, I found the cutest little space suit at Pea in the Pod, and I’m just dying to try it out!”

Anyhow, they are launched into space by NASA on a secret space shuttle with the intention of creating a huge explosion which will somehow end the sharknado, which is TOTALLY PREPOSTEROUS. I mean, everyone knows if you want to blow something up in space you hire Space X. But anyhow, the explosion thing doesn’t work and they have to use the old SDI (“Star Wars”) satellites from the 80’s instead to fire a laser pulse into the heart of the giant storm. Well, before the ghost of Ronald Reagan can say “I told you so- wait- what were we talking about again?”, Hasselhoff leaves the shuttle to float out to theCal-Seething--081115--hoff satellite and hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete on it so that it can fire the laser- even though he knows it means he will die in space because the shuttle doesn’t have enough fuel to come back and pick him up. Which I guess is supposed to be heroic, and I guess we’re supposed to be inspired by his courage when one of the movie’s final shots shows him standing on the surface of the moon- but I have to wonder – if he could float 240,000 miles to the moon how come he couldn’t float 50 feet back to the space shuttle? But then again, I suppose I too would rather suffocate in the infinite blackness of space then spend ONE MORE FUCKING MINUTE ALIVE with Tara Reid #AprilDies.

Anyhow, sharks in space, something something something, space shuttle destroyed, Tara Reid gets swallowed by a shark, Ian Ziering goes in after her and she gives birth to her baby while plummeting to earth in the belly of an enormous flaming shark, ultimately slicing it open from the inside with the buzzsaw attachment on her hand (man, that thing can act!) and handing the mewling infant to Ian Ziering before slicing her way out of the carcass of the beast. And it’s perfect cause this is exactly what she wrote in the birth plan she gave her doula except for the Enya and aromatherapy candles.

Oh yeah, sharks also eat the cast of the Today show but spare Kathy Lee and Hoda because they’re in recoveryCal Seething- 081115- aprildies and at the very end of the movie, a giant hunk of space debris falls out of the sky on Tara Reid and, we, the viewers get to vote on Twitter if she lives or dies – and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AMERICA, I’m begging you once more to tweet #AprilDies. An America that doesn’t want to kill Tara Reid just isn’t an America I want to live in.

Alright, so, yeah, Sharknado 3. Total crap. The worst movie of the summer not featuring Planned Parenthood. I’ve already written 1500 more words than that fucking movie deserved. And maybe the reason I’m being so critical of it is that I’ve been obsessed all month with the TCM’s Summer of Darkness- DVR’ing 24 hours worth of film noir classics every Friday in June & July and slowly working my way through them. Now, some of you may not be aware of what film noir is or have any knowledge of classic cinema- and that’s OK. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being a culturally illiterate philistine wallowing in the excrement of your cinematic ignorance who thinks that being a sophisticated movie goer means spending $15 to see Pixels at the Arclight in Sherman Oaks. You know, per se. Hey, it’s your money (Mazal Tov, BTW, to the fast food workers of New York State for their recent minimum wage increase. They’ll be earning no less than $15/hour state-wide by 2021, which is perfect as it gives McDonalds exactly enough time to perfect the robo-cashier. Just hand over your money to the animatronic clown, kiddies, then never stop screaming in your sleep.) If you want to spendCal-Seething--081115--pixel your hard earned cash watching Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Josh Gad (add Jack Black and you’ve got the Mount Rushmore of Ugh) fight classic video game characters in a movie that’s been hacked to pieces so that it be sold to the Chinese (I suppose it’s only fitting. First we ruin Chinese food to make it palatable to Americans now we ruin American movies to make them palatable to the Chinese), that’s your terrible choice to make. Who am I to judge? (GUILTY!) Hey, we all have our taste in crap- I liked the first two Sharknado movies and I’m a sucker for the Fast & Furious franchise. But, sometimes it’s good to know that there’s something better out there and that’s when I turn to TCM. Because like Monterey Park hot-pot in a world of Panda Express- TCM has the real thing.

So what is this film noir thing anyhow? First of all- it’s important to know how to pronounce it- it’s not “Film New-ahh” with a silent “r” like it’s en francais or something – it’s “Film Newarrr” with the “r” pronounced American style. Cause while the name may be French, the film movement is as American as French Fries or French Dressing, although to be fair- the stories are actually told through the international language (film- what were you thinking?) Anyhow, there are a million ways to define Film Noir (or “freedom flicks” as Lindsay Graham called them in the mid 2000’s) but I like to start with this quote from Walter Neff, protagonist of Double Indemnity, the best film noir of all Cal Seething- 081115- nefftime:

“Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money – and a woman – and I didn’t get the money and I didn’t get the woman. Pretty, isn’t it?”

And, weirdly, enough, it is pretty. Cause that’s what film noir is all about- making bad choices while looking good. And while I realize that could also be the logline for Models, Inc, it’s nevertheless true of film noir. Now, some of these choices can seem innocuous at first- pick up the wrong hitchhiker, notarize the wrong document, go home with the wrong guy and, boom, just like that your life can be changed forever. In these movies, fate can seem arbitrary and cruel- like a pop-quiz from the universe designed to test your character.

But in most film noir, the choices are not so innocent. Take our friend Walter Neff. Now, Walter has things pretty good. He’s a charming, handsome bachelor with a good job that allows enough flexibility to go bowling in the afternoon (my lifelong dream) and an apartment in Hollywood with underground parking- which in and of itself is something worth killing for (“I killed him for off-street parking- and an open-plan kitchen- and I didn’t get the parking and I didn’t get the kitchen”- House Hunters Noir!)

But he is dissatisfied. He’s restless. We’ve all felt it. This country was founded on restlessness and dissatisfaction- it’s at the root of the American Dream. But it’s dangerous. Hell, there’s nothing more dangerous than restless, dissatisfied white people- just ask anyone we haven’t killed yet. Now for the first 150 years or so of this country’s existence the answer to restlessness and dissatisfaction was always “go west, young man”. But Walter Neff finds himself in sunny Los Angeles- as far west as he can go. I mean, technically, I suppose technically he could move to Santa Monica but then he’d have to give up his underground parking spot and THERE ARE LIMITS. So, what does he do? He goes slightly north-east instead to the home of Mr and Mrs Cal Seething- 081115- walterandphyllis.Dietrichson somewhere in the hills. He is hoping to renew Mr Dietrichson’s car insurance but ends up concocting a much deadlier plan when he meets Mrs Phyllis Dietrichson, a very sexy woman with a really unsexy name.

In fact Walter and Phyllis sound less like a couple of sex crazed killers and more like my grandparent’s friends from Congregation Beth Emeth. Sure, Phyllis hosted a killer Hadassah luncheon and Walter was a hoot at the Brotherhood breakfasts, but my grandparents had to cut them off when they caught Walter cheating at canasta. He couldn’t help himself. He’s no good. He’s rotten. That’s the reason why most noir heroes and heroines make the terrible choices they do in response to their dissatisfaction. They’re rotten. And it’s the only reason we viewers need- we don’t need to know about their terrible childhoods, we don’t need to hear about how they are victims of society, how they suffer from FFS (Femme Fatale Syndrome.) Everything we need to know about their backstory is wrapped up in this quote from The Hollow Triumph – “It’s a bitter little world.”

The men and women of noir have been kicked around their whole lives and so they are shitty people with poor impulse control who are likeable because they are so damn cool. It’s a blast to watch them try and get away with stuff the rest of us barely dare to think about and cathartic as hell when they fall on their chiseled faces with success just tantalizingly out of reach- tripping over their shoelaces at the finish line of the marathon. Or- better yet, they cross the finish line and feel warm and safe all wrapped in the shinyCal Seething- 081115- marathon insulated blanket of success only to fall into an open trench reaching for someone to hug.

And in the best noir flicks, what trips our heroes up is not their wickedness but their inconvenient humanity- the shot they can’t take, the heart they can’t break, the home they shouldn’t try to go back to but can’t help themselves, the lover they can’t leave behind, the betrayal they never see coming. And sometimes, it’s just the fact that they can’t live one more day with their horrible, rotten selves and so they jump in to that open trench with a crooked smile on their face and leave the rotten world behind.

As for Walter Neff- I won’t tell you exactly what happens to him. Suffice it to say he makes some bad choices and they don’t turn out well. He doesn’t get the money. He doesn’t get the woman. And he’s probably gonna lose his parking spot. A bitter little world indeed.

There’s a lot more I can say about film noir and, in fact, I’m going to say it! In my next post, though because I’ve already wasted your whole fucking lunch hour (sorry). Why not? What am I supposed to do instead of wallowing in the great films of the past- deal with reality? Seriously??? Have you seen that place? There’s random violence, Cal Seething- 081115- debatesanctioned brutality and a perfect storm of right wing lunatics gathering in the skies above Washington threatening to strike the White House in 2016 (GOPnado). And since Shitnado 3 was such a major disappointment and I refuse to gorge myself on the globs of orange chicken being vomited out in 3D from IMAX screens, I turn to noir for distraction instead- a cool, dark cafe away from the blazing sun. And you know what, it’s nice in here. I think I’ll stay awhile. I mean, just look at what’s waiting for me in the outside world- armed white supremacists marching around Ferguson,  Trump gaining in the polls, the Jets punching each other in the face- why not live in the past??? The present blows! But the sad truth is that sooner or later I’m gonna run out of noir flicks on my DVR and I’m going to have to return to the present- and in anticipation of that terrible day- allow me to just say one thing- #AprilDies. It’s the least I can do to make the world a little less bitter.