Monday, August 26, 2013

How Stupid Are We?

I'm glad the game was on.

So MTV went wild again last night and people are outraged. Gimme a break. MTV has been pulling this crap for over a quarter of a century now. Society should be used to it. But apparently, society is not. The whole thing raises a larger question: how stupid are we?

MTV has always prided itself on giving the middle finger to parents. That's part of what it's in business to do. I wouldn't be surprised to read as much in the company's mission statement. And while it's true that the people behind MTV are a sleazy, brazen, corrupting influence on our children, it's also true that we all know full well what they're up to.

So why are we shocked that Miley Cyrus got on stage and acted like an insane degenerate last night? It isn't like Madonna, who I believe turned four hundred this past year, didn't once do the same thing. Or Britney Spears. Or Christina Aguilera. Or...

So enough of the hand wringing. Wanna put a stop to MTVs idiotic, sexist and aggressive attempts to affect our culture? Start by not letting your kids watch things like the Video Music Awards. Believe me, MTV will get the message once it looks at its ratings. In the end, it's you, not MTV, that holds the power over your children.

But hey, you knew that already.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The General State Of The Good Old U.S. of A.

The world's greatest cat is tired of all the screaming and yelling on cable.

I had coffee with my old pal Mike Hamel today. While hanging out we began to discuss the state of things here in America. Mike and I may not earn seven figure salaries for shooting our mouths off on cable, but I think it's safe to say we're fairly smart, and relatively well informed. We also have some solid life experiences behind us (life experiences make great reference points).

Here's a few things we agreed on. Perhaps you'll agree, too (then again, perhaps not):

  • Things aren't great, but hey, they aren't that bad either. Mike's right when he brings up our grandparent's generation. They had to live through the Great Depression, then had to engage in a fight to the death with some psychopathic maniacs who literally were on the verge of taking over the world. And we complain about our Christmas bonuses???? 

  • Just because things aren't that bad doesn't mean we should shut up and be happy. Seriously now, is nepotism the only way to get a decent job in America these days? Also, is it too much to ask for the occasional politician who's good at a being a leader instead of just a candidate? The greatest among us no longer want to dirty their hands by running for office...and that doesn't bode well for the future.  

  • Politics should be based on issues rather than ideology. Know who the best talking heads are on cable news? The ones who will actually side with the opposition now and then. Too many people are toeing their respective party lines these days and it's hurting the country. 

  • America needs to be seen as a melting pot again: I once told a professor I feared the country was becoming tribalized. Needless to say, the guy got pretty pissed. He even threw out the word "nativist" (weren't those the bad guys in Gangs of New York?) Sorry professor, but we have become tribalized - and we're paying a price for it.  We're either all in this together or we're not. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Another One Bites The Dust

The World Truly Is A Nicer Place When Justice Prevails

And so now James "Whitey" Bulger is going to spend the rest of his life in jail. After years on the run, it seemed like Bulger would prove to be the one major crime figure who "got away" from law enforcement. He wasn't and he didn't.

Truth be told, however, we shouldn't be surprised. Big time criminals - those of the organized crime and narcotics variety, usually end up being taken down. Sometimes they find themselves behind bars, (John Gotti and Johnny Eng), sometimes they find themselves dead (Pablo Escobar), sometimes they find themselves in exile (Charles "Lucky" Luciano), and sometimes they find themselves hidden away by the government (Frank Lucas).

Nearly always, however, they find themselves far removed from the Olympian heights from which they once resided. In other words, mob bosses usually end up being failures. And that's how it should be. Gangsters are colorful characters, after all. People; especially young, impressionable people, need to see there's a flip side to the seemingly glamorous coin the media presents.

At the moment, the guilty verdict given down to Bulger today by a Boston jury is the top news story in America. It won't be for long. Other, more important matters will be back in the forefront by tomorrow, at the latest. It's nice to see the verdict made the headlines, though. For it will always be remembered as the fitting end to Bulger's bloody tale.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Sample

The world's greatest cat is keeping her opinion to herself.

Okay, so my script, Hill 391, is out to powerhouse agency, Kaplan-Perrone. These guys have read my stuff before. They've always passed, but they've always been willing to read more. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing they must think there's something to my writing. Why else would they continue to be willing to give my stuff a shot?

Anyway, there's a lot more to getting your work out there than just getting it to the "right places." You've got to give your material some exposure. Which is exactly why I'm making a portion of Hill 391 available on this site today.

The script is a fictionalized account of the Puerto Rican members of the 65th Infantry Regiment - the famed BorinqueneersNot only did these guys have to face racism, they had to fight like hell against the Chinese army in Korea.

Click on this link to read a sample. In these scenes, Colonel Emanuel Ramon and Major Felix Camacho are forced to deal with prejudice in the middle of an international war zone.

Hope y'all like it!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"The Great Gatsby" vs. "The Sun Also Rises" - Which Masterpiece Is THE Jazz-Age Novel?

Trust me on this...I know how to read.

I know, I know, The Great Gatsby is the quintessential 1920s novel. Only it isn't. That honor goes to Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises

Look at it this way: The Great Gatsby could pretty much take place anytime, anywhere. It's basically a timeless treasure. The Sun Also Rises, on the other hand, is a novel strictly of its time and place. One can find Gatsby-size parties throughout the globe, for instance. Bullfighting, however, is pretty much restricted to parts of the Spanish speaking world.

What's more, Hemingway's masterpiece focuses on themes relative to the geographic and historic location of its narrative. While disillusionment, aimlessness, and the cloud of war may indeed haunt millions, the theme of Fitzgerald's opus - that of a longing for the past - is universal.

So why the mixup? Why is The Great Gatsby, rather than The Sun Also Rises, widely acclaimed as the jazz-age novel? For one thing, more people read Fitzgerald's classic than Hemingway's. The Great Gatsby is a high school staple. I can't say the same for The Sun Also Rises, although it clearly remains a hugely popular work.

Another problem is Fitzgerald himself. A full fledged celebrity during his youth, the author; along with his wife, Zelda, were the hot couple of the 1920s. By the time the 1930s rolled around, however, the duo was slipping from the spotlight. Fitzgerald was being marginalized by his alcoholism while Zelda was being marginalized by Schizophrenia.

Hemingway, on the other hand, was a celebrity most of his life. Not only was he well known in the 1920s, he was enormously famous until his death in the early 1960s. Most people see Hemingway as an aging man with a gray beard. Fitzgerald, however, appears in the public consciousness as a young, jazz-age success story.

Of course, none of this really matters in the end. Both The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises are literary caviar and well deserving of their fame. If you're going to ornament a novel with a description, however, make sure that description is accurate.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

What I've Learned From Being A Political Junkie

The World's Greatest Cat Is Unflappable In Her Political Opinions

Okay, I admit it, I'm a political junkie. What's more, I like being a political junkie. Stuff that in your hipster pipe and smoke it. I may not be in need of detox, like so many talking heads on cable, but I'm deeply interested with what our government is up to...and have been since I was young.

Most people aren't political junkies. That's fine. You don't have to be an addict in order to be a good citizen. You simply have to be informed. Still, being a political junkie really makes you aware of some fundamental truths. Sadly, however, most of those truths are pretty ugly.

Here's a few cold, hard facts I've learned about contemporary politics:

  • Politicians Think You're Pretty Stupid. Ask yourself why elected officials regularly accuse people who aren't extreme of being extremists.

  • Your Average Media Figure Has The Maturity Of A High School Junior. Ask yourself why favorable news coverage is generally given to the same people and causes that celebrities support on Twitter.

  • Being A Politician Is No Walk In The Park. Ask yourself if you'd like to be insulted by aggrieved seniors every time you stepped into a supermarket.

  • Most Politicians Aren't Evil.  Ask yourself if the vast majority of our elected officials really have no concern for the common good.

  • Politicians Tend To Be Weak. Ask yourself why so many elected officials conveniently evolve on the issues. 

  • We Really Need Congressional Term Limits. Ask yourself how much better off America would be if our leaders could actually stick to their beliefs. 

  • Politicians and Media Types Love Power Words And Catch Phrases. Do we really need to have a comprehensive, balanced, national conversation about this?