Thursday, April 12, 2012

a potpourri of thoughts ...

A bunch of one hitters to try to get caught up on stuff …

* This week’s “Smash” was phenomenal.  Absolutely amazing.  Seriously, if you haven’t caught this show, uum, what’s your excuse?  What the hell else is on at 9pm on Mondays, WWE Raw?  A crappy remake of Hawaii 5-0?

Here’s what I really dig about this show – every viewer knows that either Karen or Ivy is going to wind up playing Marilyn in “Bombshell” (the musical being made on this show), even if Uma Thurman has arrived for the part (through the rest of season one).  For what its worth, my money is on Ivy somehow regaining the job, despite her drug-induced meltdown last week (in arguably the best original number the show has done to date, “The Higher You Get, The Farther The Fall”).  Yet despite the fact that everyone knows how this is going to end, albeit unsure of the ultimate “winner”, the journey to get there is so freaking spectacularly good, that you don’t mind that the producers are in a bigger stalling pattern than “Lost” ever was in during season three (when we got a horrific 43 minute episode on how Jack got a tattoo.  Yes, that was an actual episode of “Lost”.  Trust me – as great as the last two seasons were, you had to wade through, in the words of Andy Dufresne, “500 feet of pure shit to get there”.)

Look it, I’m not a big theater guy.  I’ve seen exactly two musicals in my life, and one I was required to attend while in high school.  (OK, technically three, if you count the motion picture “Evita” as a musical, which I don’t – it’s a movie, albeit a shockingly entertaining one.)  “Smash” in theory should have zero appeal to me.  But the way they’re developing the characters, the decent back-stories developing – hell, even the whole “Frank leaves Julia” subplot that should be blowing up in this show’s face is actually working for me, and anything that gets Julia’s atrociously acted son Leo on my TV screen is a bad thing.

Love how the show is playing out.  Also digging this week?  My favorite scene of the show so far, Ivy reflecting back on how far she’s fallen over the last nine weeks – from the star of a Broadway play of Marilyn Monroe, to unemployable due to her own drug dependency issues – through the words of Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway”.  To be fair, “Breakaway” is my favorite Kelly Clarkson song* … and I LOVE how “Smash” somewhat reinvents it, by toning down Kelly’s euphoric / uplifting finish to the song, and instead turning it into a depressing reflection of where Ivy is at this point, right down to the nail in the coffin, seeing Derek (the director and her lover) escorting her replacement, Karen, into rehearsal.

(*: as great as Ms. Clarkson is, and as huge a fan of "Idol" as I am ... nothing else she has done even comes CLOSE to "Breakaway" for me.)

It’s tough to look at life when it feels like you’re going down the crapper.  It’s tough to be anything but negative and down on yourself when you look back at failed opportunity.  I think this scene perfectly nailed it.  Give “Smash” a chance, readers.  Every episode is available for free on Hulu, or for pay at iTunes.  (All the songs, both original for the show and covered pop hits, are also available via the same distribution channels.)  You won’t regret getting caught up in this show.

* I have intentionally kept quiet on this site regarding the Trayvon Martin travesty to this point, because (a) I wasn’t there when it happened, (b) it seems reasonable to assume, based upon undoctored video and tape, that SOMETHING physically violent went down, and (c) as usually happens in a racially-tinged incident, both extremes need to be sent to the naughty chair for a lengthy time out.

Having said that … George Zimmerman absolutely should spend 7-10 in prison for his crime.  And yes, he did commit a crime.  Whether that is the crime of killing an unarmed 17 year old walking home with a bag of Skittles … or whether it was racially motivated and was a so-called “hate crime”, the bottom line is that the 911 operator ordered Mr. Zimmerman to cease following Trayvon Martin, and he FAILED to obey the order.  As sadly tends to happen in incidents like this, defenders of Mr. Zimmerman will argue there are two victims here, Trayvon and George.  And they would be wrong.

The only victim here is Trayvon Martin, shot in his own neighborhood by an out-of-control security guard with an appalling inability to obey orders from a superior.  (To say nothing of the obvious question: if Mr. Zimmerman felt sufficiently suspicious of a black teenager out in the rain in a hoodie … why was HE out in the rain?  Other than to irrationally profile people he deemed suspicious?)

I wish the charge had been manslaughter, because he’s absolutely guilty of that, and should pay for his crime.  I doubt 2nd degree murder will stick, because that requires pre-meditation, and I don’t think Mr. Zimmerman walked outdoors that rainy night with the intent to kill someone.  I couldn’t vote guilty on 2nd degree murder.  I doubt a Florida jury of his peers will either.

Which means that yet again, a young black man is gunned down entering the prime of his life in this country.  That’s an outrage.

* But not half as outrageous as the racists using this for their own personal advancement.  And I’m looking solely and completely at you, Reverend Al Sharpton.  Reverend Al is usually a favorite on this site, because he’s so over-the-top cartoonish that you can’t help but laugh at most of his takes on the news of the day.  I mean, this is a man who actually asked President Bush where his “40 acre and a mule” were, for crying out loud, and I’m fairly certain Reverend Al wasn’t alive in 1866 to get said 40 acre and a mule the government promised to freed slaves.

But Reverend Al’s reaction to this story has been appalling.  Ditto Lewis Diuguid of the KC Star, who’s never met a scenario in which he can’t envision racism, and I would include the color of cheese on his burger in said scenarios.  (It’s swiss cheese!  It’s white!  It’s racist!)

Is the death of Trayvon Martin tragic?  Absolutely.  Was it 110% preventable?  Absolutely.  Was it motivated by racial hate on the part of another minority?  I highly doubt it.  Reverend Al, I can’t put it any simpler than this – it is people like you, with the title “Reverend” in your name, that 110% completely explains my refusal to step foot in a church on a voluntary basis.  You are a disgrace to your alleged faith, you are a disgrace to this nation, and you absolutely are a disgrace as a human being.

* The Boyz N Blue open 3-3.  Should have been 4-2, yesterday’s meltdown was every bit the disgrace Reverend Al is … but no sane Royals fan can complain about opening 3-3 on the road.  Especially when 2 of those 3 wins are against a virtual playoff lock in the Angels.

What really has me encouraged so far, is the starting pitching.  Bruce “C’mon” Chen is the only starter to go twice … and he’s given up 3 runs in 11 innings.  In fact, per ESPN.com, here are the Royals starters stats through the first week of the season:

Chen: 2 starts (0-0), 11 IP.  7 hits allowed, 7 Ks, 2 BBs, 2 ERs, 1.64 ERA, .82 WHIP.
Hochever: 1 start (1-0), 6.1 IP, 5 hits allowed 4Ks, 2 BBs, 2 ERs, 2.84 ERA, 1.11 WHIP.
Sanchez: 1 start (1-0), 5 IP, 4 hits allowed, 4 Ks, 3 BBs, 2 ERs, 3.60 ERA, 1.40 WHIP.
Mendoza: 1 start (0-1), 5.2 IP, 5 hits allowed, 2 Ks, 4 BBs, 1 ER, 1.59 ERA, 1.59 WHIP.
Duffy: 1 start (1-0), 6 IP, 1 hit allowed, 8 Ks, 4 BBs, 0.00 ERA, 0.83 WHIP.

Uum, yes, please?  I know its only one time through the rotation, but good grief!  The most runs they’ve given up this year is 5 (on Opening Night, and Wednesday in extra innings).  The other four outings?  3, 3, 1, and 0.  You’re going to be in a pennant race if you don’t give up more than 5 runs in any outing over a reasonable stretch of time. 

Now comes ten straight at home, beginning tomorrow afternoon against Chief Wahoo and his Tribe, then continuing with two legitimate playoff threats, the AL Central champion Tigers, and the Blue Jays.  If the Royals can stand at say 10-6 when this homestand is over?  Season.  Freaking.  On.

* Finally, as if praising “Smash”, venturing into the Trayvon Martin deal, and praising the Royals isn’t giving you enough … we now know who the 2012 race is going to be: Mitt Romney against Barack Obama.

And for the first time that I can remember (ok, that’s a lie … first time since 2000), there’s zero doubt in my mind entering the general election phase of the campaign who I am whole-heartedly endorsing and supporting.

And that person is … Willard Mitt Romney.

Oh, don’t worry – I still plan to cover the Conventions like I did four years ago, because I can’t help myself.  I mean, four straight nights, over two straight weeks, of nothing but politics at its finest?  Sign me up!  But I’m endorsing Mitt Romney for one reason:

Are you better off now than you were 3 ½ years ago?  Did Barack Obama’s “hope and change” work out for you?  Is your home worth more, your savings account more profitable, your 401k worth more, your taxes lower, government spending at least level, to what it was when President Bush left office?  If your answer to any of those question is “yes”, then you’re either (a) in a very small minority, or (b) a liar.

Mitt Romney is the ideal candidate to me, save for HRC herself.  And I know, I know – the conservatives who read this site might read that previous sentence and cringe in fear.  But trust me – I do NOT want to see a left-of-center nation.  I want a nation at the 50 yard line.  Yes, I am a social liberal*, but I am a fiscal conservative, and I am appalled at what has happened to federal spending the last 3 ½ years.  Hell, I’m beyond appalled – I’m angry enough to endorse the Republican presumptive nominee five months before he actually accepts said nomination.

(*: I am as far left-leaning on social issues a person as you will ever find, save for two: I think both extremes are insane on the gun-control debate … and I am not pro-choice.  Sorry my liberal friends: if executing someone who has committed a crime is murder (aka the death penalty, which I believe is unjustified murder), then what the hell is abortion, other than murder?  I love liberal logic sometimes …)

I flash back to Labor Day Weekend 2008, when I spent the weekend down at the Lake with Mickey’s family and some friends.  And they could not have been nicer, as always – pretty much all of DJ’s friends and family are the most personable, wonderful people you could ever want to meet.  If you were to look up the word “hospitable”, “friendly”, “accommodating”, look up those words?  You’d find photos of DJ’s friends, family, and friend’s family next to those words.  Having said that … they’d all bought in hook, line, and sinker for Barry’s hope and change.  It so repulsed me that (a) I left a day early to avoid any more political talk, and (b) I realized then and there that I just wasn’t a true Democrat anymore.

So as a member of the independent middle … Mitt Romney is my guy, and I hope he’s yours as well.  He’s at least moderate on social issues.  He detests the welfare state even more than I do*.  And he sure as all hell wouldn’t invade Iraq based on the word of Donald Rumsfeld, or to avenge a wrong done to daddy, as our previous President did.

(*: I have no problems, none whatsoever, with legitimately needy people receiving government assistance via my tax dollars.  After all, the sole and only reason why government has to help out the less fortunate amongst us, is because the Church has epically failed to do so.  (Sorry, religious folks who read this, but you know I’m 110% correct in that previous sentence, and it doesn’t take sitting in your fancy pew at 143rd and Roe every Sunday, money far better spent on helping the poor and destitute, to realize that.) 

What I have serious issues with, is with people too f*cking lazy to attempt to improve their lives receiving housing, food stamps, and other forms of assistance, just because they can.  God knows my life has been anything but perfect, but I haven’t received one cent of government help in my life, save for four months of unemployment pay when I was laid off six years ago.  Able bodied people drawing government checks for no legitimate reason(s) piss the shit out of me.  They should be jailed for fraud.  Just because you “can” draw a check, doesn’t mean you “should”.  If you have an ounce of self-dignity, you avoid government help like the plague.  People who embrace it?  Uum, let’s just move on before I say something I might regret.)

Mr. Romney is a moderate on the social issues, gets it on fiscal issues, and (like President Obama) will seek the happy middle on foreign policy (Mr. Romney would not be making a mistake to keep Secretaries Clinton and Panetta in place in their current jobs, much as Mr. Obama kept Robert Gates in place as Secretary of Defense when he took over).  My kind of guy.

Now nominate an austerity conservative as Veep sir (to ensure the Ryan Budget gets through the Senate), and let’s get this nation back to where it needs to be: at the 50 yard line, with both sides outraged at how moderate and sensible our government is.  Because clearly, that didn’t work in the 1980s and 1990s …

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