Tag Archives: Star Wars

All the President’s Minions

 

It’s difficult to gauge the performance of news media during a Trump administration.

On the one hand, you’d be hard pressed to find a president whose missteps and contradictions are so quickly and clearly pointed out. Americans know more about health care, tax reform and immigration policy than any American public before it. Quick: you know the name Betsy Devos, right? Now name another education secretary, of any administration, in American history.

So it’s hard to argue the press has not made us a more informed populous. The question is what do we do with all that information.

Certainly, television news does not know. This week, MSNBC aired a story on how new polls suggest that Donald Trump would have beaten  Hillary Clinton if the presidential election were held today.

When you get into hypothetical journalism to fill a 24-hour news cycle, you’re screwed. Why not a piece on who could milk a goat faster? And interesting that the network would tout another election poll, which proved about as accurate as Miss Cleo after a bender. I’m surprised the network didn’t hawk the story with a teaser that said: “Remember those inaccurate home-phone polls of last year? Well there’s a new study out…” 

Instead, and thankfully, late night TV has taken on the role as participatory journalist. And while Stephen Colbert may live to regret saying that  Trump’s mouth as a “cock holster for Vladimir Putin,” other outlets are scoring with  political coverage that is more observational than offensive.

Take The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, a show that has improved by leaps and bounds over last year’s rocky debut. Earlier in the year, as Sean Spicer brought a stack of files to a press conference to show all the work his boss was putting into the job, it a Daily Show clip demonstrated there was nary a label on a single file.

And this week, Noah scored with a smart look at the Congressional response to United Airlines forcibly removing an overbooked passenger. He played clip after clip of lawmakers complaining about the discomfort of air travel. One compared it to riding on a “civil rights bus.”

Noah rightfully lost his shit,  noting that over the same weekend, three black motorists were shot. But no Congressional hearing. So he an anchor Roy Wood Jr. introduced a genius idea to protect black pedestrians: A sandwich board shaped like a 747.

But it was Seth Meyers (the heir apparent to Jon Stewart) who got off the best shot: “The House of Representatives narrowly passed the repeal of Obamacare Thursday. Also narrowly passing: Grandma.”

Journalism isn’t dead. It’s just practicing its stand-up.

And now, that:

  • Iran has the highest rate of nose surgery in the world per capita, since the mandatory hijab tend to highlight the female face.
  • Cinco de Mayo is not that important in Mexico and is mainly celebrated only in the state of Puebla.
  • An anonymous serial killer was arrested in 2005 after sending a floppy disk with his name and church stored on it. He asked police if they could trace a floppy disk and they said “no.”
  • Wasp used to be “waps,” while bird used to be “brid” and horse used to be “hros.” Pronunciation errors made the English language what it is today.
  • The English language has 3,000 words for “drunk.”
  • 70% of people will live in cities by 2050.
  • There are 1,459 people in Peru named after Star Wars characters.

 

 

 

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Oh the Bigly Humanity

 

So rare, when sensation meets realization.

How often do we hype up, only to be let down? Titanics sink. Hindenburgs blaze.  Y2Ks fizzle. Super Bowls are rarely super. And you just know the new Star Wars is gonna suck.

hindenburgstarwars

But somewhere, a pig is flying over its pasture. Somewhere, Satan is getting pelted with snowballs. For I have seen far more miraculous.

I applauded Ted Cruz.

Sure, he’s still crazy as a spotted loon. And there’s a residential suite waiting for him in hell for holding gun rallies at the site of school massacres (where he often eats bacon heated only by the hot muzzle of a freshly-fired AR-15).

cruzbacon

Still, there was something gratifying about Cruz’s turning on Donald Trump. Like when a pit bull mauls its dogfighting owner.

Add to that the plagiarism scandal of Trump’s 11th wife, the Hitleresque anger over party dissent and an acceptance speech that Vito Corleone would have envied (Trump may as well have said “Nice country you got here. Shame if something should happen to it…” It was a reality show that lived up to its publicity, if not its promises.

Admit it: Didn’t you expect Chris Christie to burst in anger like a suicide bomber humpback whale when he learned he’d been passed over for vice president in favor of a human cue tip?

christiepence

None of the carnival acts, however, broached Cruz’s speech, in which he urged — to a thundering chorus of boos — that Republicans vote their consciences in the next  election. Think about that contempt for thoughtfulness for five seconds.

Because the media did not. In our desperate search for something to filibuster 24 hours a day, we blathered over how Cruz had betrayed his party. How he doomed himself for Senate re-election. And we had truckloads of b-roll footage of Trump’s assault on Cruz’s wife and father that we couldn’t wait to rerun.

But ponder the unthinkable: that Cruz may have made the canniest maneuver of his political career.

Consider: When he knew he wasn’t going to win the Republican nomination, what did Cruz have to lose? He is positioned perfectly for a third-party presidential run.  And while a third party won’t win the presidency this year, it could derail one. Cruz remains an icon of the religious right, which has hardly been converted by Trump. Even the Pope took a dig at Donald, suggesting he tone down the homophobia (when devout Christians tell you to take it easy on the LGBT community, you know you overreached). pope

And to the fellow reporters predicting doom for Cruz’s political career, remember: We said the same thing about politicians who voted against invading Iraq.

Trump may have won the Michigan primary, but he apparently didn’t learn Detroit’s rule of thumb: Never talk about someone’s mother. You’re likely to get the shit beaten out of you. Or, at the very least, a snap-back.

And Cruz seemed hellbent on delivering one to Trump: “Yo mama, yo daddy, and yo slappy happy grandpappy.”

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In a Galaxy Not So Far, Far Away…

 

I recently had an amazing conversation with a six-year-old, which I guess is redundant.

We sat across from each other during a celebratory Mexican luncheon for a high school grad (we both were fuzzy on the details), and I noticed he was holding a bright, yellow book.

“Whatchya reading?” I asked.

Super Fly Guy,” he answered, explaining the book’s subtext: the crazy adventures of a fly that loved the school cafeteria, but wasn’t always so welcome there. superflyI asked to see the book, thumbed through it, complimented the artwork, asked him what else he liked.

Star Wars,” he said without hesitation. “I’ve seen five of the (six) movies.”

He could have told me he was a double-organ transplant journalist from Detroit, I felt such an immediate kinship. “Me too!” I blurted. “What characters do you like?”

“Darth Maul,” he said, equally confident. “Padme. And Chewbacca.” We chatted about the next installment, due in Christmas. Neither of us could wait. He leaned forward, a bit hushed. “I like Darth Vader, too.”

And suddenly, I got the genius of the franchise. What other entertainment leapfrogs the generations so effortlessly? Here was a 50-year-old ancient swapping stories with a boy who couldn’t remember life without an iPad. We may criticize the new generation of films for surrendering vision for commercial tie-ins. But the truth is that we have aged, not the series, which has always spoken directly to the DNA encoded in every human boy.

The boy’s father offered a canny theory: “Star Wars is a black and white world of good and evil. Plus it’s got lasers.” I challenge an academic for a better answer.

“Lemme know what you think of the new Star Wars,” I told the boy as we prepared to leave. And I thought of the first time I saw the movie, in Detroit, as a 12-year-old.

There’s no underestimating the anticipation of the first one, in 1977. We’d never seen a trailer like that. The effects. The costumes. The masks. The lasers.

So on opening day, mom dropped me off at the mall theater to get my geek on while she did some browsing at Hudson’s. When I turned the theater corner, I saw two lines, both a block long, waiting for tickets. Uncertainly, I walked to the end of the interminable lines.

Suddenly, a middle-aged black man walked between the lines, calling out. “I got an extra ticket! Who needs a ticket?” I watched him walk the length of the line before he got to me. “I’ll take it,” I told the man.

As I pulled out my money (and he the ticket), we were suddenly swarmed by other customers. “I’ll take it!” one grown-up said. One offered to pay more than ticket price.

“Nope, nope,” he said, waving off the crowd. “This young man was first. He gets it.”

As we were finishing the transaction, an usher called out that the movie was sold out. He introduced me to his family, including a gaggle of his young boys. I followed them into the theater, where mom held the seats. We walked in just as the film started, on the iconic scene of the Imperial Cruiser bearing down on a rebel ship. I did not move in my seat, and would see the film 14 more times. At least.

But no film experience will ever match that moment. It was years later that I realized that the crowd probably took the man for a scalper. Or held a suspicion based on color I did not yet know existed. And when they saw the real ticket, that he was legit, they pounced.

Still, he held ground like Obi Wan. I’ll never forget him waving them off. Calling me a young man. Giving me a seat.

Indeed, Luke. The Force runs strong with this one.

vader

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