Sunday, August 13, 2017

Are We Suffering from White Male Arrogance


White Privilege

or Both

It always come to a point where someone does something and there is fallout and the public gets exhausted by the revelations and just when you think you haven’t been surprised by it all, another episode comes forth and there is moral indignation and outrage until the next chapter begins just as that one is closing. Such is the case of our latest chapters of what has been going on for quite a few centuries, well, two things really.

One is white privilege and the other is white male arrogance. Both of these traits came along in this country with the Europeans started to invade the Native Americans’ lands and claiming the land and everything it held for their own private use. If the Native Americans wouldn’t accept their offer, just call out the U.S. Calvary and take the land. If the Native Americans were up for negotiating, just give them some useless trinkets and call it a fair deal. If the Native Americans don’t want to leave their lands just so the white settlers can have a place to homestead, just force them to march for hundreds of miles to a so called Indian reservation where famine and disease has taken hold. If the U.S. government signs treaties with a nation for better relationship and cooperation, then why did they break so many treaties with the Nation of Native American Indians without any penalty? Why was the U.S. government being sued by Native Americans for $3.3 billion dollars on 100 lawsuits that started over a century ago? In a nutshell, arrogance and privilege. History is replete with such tales of arrogance and privileges from the ruling majority and it still runs rampant in these 21st century rights of passage. The rise and fall of the Roman Caesars, the U.S. Revolutionary War with the British, Britain's role and conflict with India, the early European wars with just about everyone during the medieval era, Holy wars, Vietnam war, Gulf War, U.S. Civil War, all are steep with a form of arrogance and privilege.

I have been pondering this topic for a while now and it seems like a good time to take a look at two incidents that highlights the topic of arrogance and privilege. And I would also like for you to weigh in with your thoughts on the subject because trying to understand this and the rationale behind it has become quite a puzzle.

The first case is that of one Alex Kompothecras. Now to be fair, I’ve never hear of him before because he is suppose to be some reality star novice on some MTV show called Siesta Key.. I stopped watching MTV years ago for a variety of reasons and this show is nowhere on my radar. It appears that Mr. Kompothecras went on a little fishing expedition in federal waters and while he was out there, he caught a hammerhead shark. On the surface, that looks like an above the board fishing story but there is more to this. You see, Mr. Kompothecras pulled out a pistol and shot the hammerhead while it was still on the hook. And he filmed it, genius. As you see him pull the shark closer, he calmly pulls out the pistol and pumps a few rounds into the animal as blood pours out of the animal. Not very sportsman like by the ensuing outrage that followed. I do not know what possessed this man to pull out a gun and shoot the animal but by examining the footage, it appears that for him that he is not suffering from any consequences of his actions as it appears to be far and removed from his thinking.

The second case is that of John Alex Fields, Jr. Mr. Fields rose to infamy over the past August weekend by running over a group of protesters rallying against hate and bigotry from a white supremacy group. Mr. Fields was a supporter of the white supremacy group and he plowed his car into the group killing one to date and injuring nearly three dozen victims. As you watch the footage from several cellphone cameras in a variety of angles, there was no attempt to apply the brakes, there was no sense of compassion sympathy for the victims as he backed up rolling over some more victims s he fled the scene.

In both of these cases there is a common thread of either white male privilege or white male arrogance or both. There should be no surprise in their actions for it’s been pervasive for quite some time. It’s been discounted sometimes as boys being boys. If you are a person of a particular status, you’re given the benefit of doubt if there is either sexual misconduct or financial malfeasance is the contributing factor. But why do we give the white male this power of arrogance and privilege?

We elected a president because he was arrogant and privilege. We watched as Bernie Madoff ruined his son’s lives, ruined the lives of many who invested into his ponzi schemes as he washed away billions of investors dollars down a vortex of faltering promises. We watched as 18 Penn State frat boys tried to cover up the death of one of their 19 year old pledge as he suffocated on his own vomit from alcohol poisoning. And while there is the moral outrage from a beleaguered public, what more can be done?

It’s not a crime to be arrogant or privilege. We do sometimes celebrate it. Celebrities get a pass for being arrogant and cocky. Musicians are bigger stars for being arrogant. Sports figures get a pass for being arrogant and privilege. Muhammad Ali showed a bit of arrogance while he was the reigning heavyweight champion but he lived in an era where black men weren’t suppose to be prideful or boastful about anything. He may have appeared to be arrogant but that was a facade as he battled the racism that plagued him for a majority of his life including his incarceration for being a conscientious objector to the Vietnam war. Ali’s arrogance was a false arrogance unlike the pure arrogance of one Donald J. Trump.

Here is a man who broke every rule in the book when it came to running for the highest office in the land. Everything he did defied any conventional norm. He made statements that were controversial in nature. Audio recordings of him uttering the phrase “grab them by the pussy” and one would think that this would be the nail in the coffin of his presidential bid but low and behold, they chose him, the arrogant, privilege, petulant, ill tempered man over the arrogant, privilege, petulant, untrustworthy woman.

Being arrogant and privilege could manifest itself into a literal word of words as President Trump escalate the rhetoric of words brought on with North Korea’s dictator and despot, Kim Jong Un as they keep measuring themselves as to who has the biggest nuclear missile. And as we can see, it’s not solely an exclusive white male phenomenon. Un is perhaps the most modern of aggressive, petulant, obnoxious, strident, privilege and arrogant person in the 21st century to date so far. During certain wars, the male arrogance and petulant and privilege characterization had no bounds. Japanese leaders were full of arrogance and aggression and privilege during World War II after they attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

 Adolf Hitler and the Germans who followed him were full of arrogance and aggression and privilege. Hitlers principals are still in practice by those who follow his twisted doctrine of white superiority. Hitler has never gone away. He is like a scourge of cancer that infects the living tissue as the soul turns fully black with hate. Hitler’s aura is like some Hollywood horror sequel that can never be killed. Just when you think it’s gone away, it comes back with a vengeance.

I cannot speak on behalf of every black person in this country and I will not. I have had my fair share of acts of racism enacted on me and it becomes a part of who you are. You learn quickly on how to bury those feelings and tamp them down and you also learn that only a few white people feels this way of contempt and hate and loathing just because you exist. But it is those few that leave these indelible marks that scar those moments in life that you will never forget. And you somehow find within yourself to forgive them up to a certain point. The anger is still within you and the feeling is something you will never forget but there is a capacity to move forward and not let that incident define who you are. That is the forgiving part. Not every white person is the so called “blue-eyed” devil.

Looking back on the past few years with the number of incidents that involves cops killing young black men, I wonder if that privilege and arrogance was a factor that wasn’t taken into consideration? Some of the cops may have been conditioned through years of passive indoctrination that they were unknowingly taught to be privilege and arrogant. It’s just a theory. Maybe some social engineering student may want to do a thesis on the subject and uncover some fascinating detail about privilege and arrogance? It’s not just a white thing, it’s an everybody’s thing, only it’s male white people who are winning the race as they lead in the medal count with more gold.

Monday, May 29, 2017

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Gregg Allman: The King and Legend of Southern 


When it was announced that Gregg Allman had died after a brief battle from the complication of liver cancer, he joined a long list of my childhood memories of fallen musicians who have left an indelible mark on my psychic. Al Jarreau, Chris Cornell, Chuck Berry, J. Geils, all left something good within me that marked the time in which I lived in. Chris Cornell and Soundgarden were my radio days as a head comedy writer and executive producer. Chuck berry was a different variety of a seedling that became rock and roll in all of it’s variations. But Gregg Allman was a different variety, a different species, if you will, on the musical apple tree. Why did this long blond haired kid with the pussy tickler growing underneath his mouth had such a lasting impression on a poor black kid growing up in East St. Louis, Illinois?

Plain and simple, it was his music and the way he sounded as the words flowed from his lungs and out of his mouth. He had an impressive discography of hits. Everyone has their favorites, Midnight Rider, Ramblin’ Man, Whipping Post are the fan favorites. Midnight Rider had an edge to it with a layer of darkness sewn around the seams. I have this image of Saturday Night Live’s Amy Poehler doing a skit on the show when she was fully pregnant and dancing to I’m No Angel as she tries to seduce Josh Brolin. That was good and funny and disturbing and they somehow picked the appropriate song to enhance the comedy. I hope Gregg enjoyed the bit.

I was collecting my thoughts to see which of his many tunes that left that special mark on me. Midnight Rider was a very good song that I enjoyed for a long time but that wasn’t it. For me, it was a song written by Jackson Browne. Jackson Browne, for whatever reason, decided to let Gregg take it and make it his own. The song was called These Days. It was a song written for young people with old souls. For a young kid the words had impact and the music, the vocals that was sung by Gregg just added significance to a life yet life and to a life well lived.

The first two lines of the song begins with someone’s truth to life, “Well I’ve been out walking, I don’t do that much talking these days.” As a kid, this became my future. I don’t talk to many these days. It usually comes with the fact that the people that I used to talk with have nothing really important to say. It’s the same thing that I have no interest in, gossip, alcohol, sports, who they are fucking, who they’d like to fuck, who’s fucking who, money, blah, blah, blah. So I just keep to myself and keep the conversation down to a minimum. I’m happier for it.

Further down the song are the lyrics, “Well I had a lover, I don’t think I’ll risk another these days”, is such a powerful statement that I give Mr. Browne credit for even putting these words together. It’s such a simple line to lay upon the soul, to risk a lover, and all that it encompass. You step back and assess the ramification of what all of that entails. Will you or can you make that person happy? Will you or can you draw this person into your life in such a way that makes sense? It’s a complicated proposition of emotions, of commitment, of jealousy, of boredom, of pain, of happiness, of sadness that these simple words have induced.

For me, it’s the last two lines of the song that have stayed with me for all of these years. I have sang this song in butchered form with missed words from a fragmented memory and the bombardment of other visual stimulants that have diluted those selected brain cells that retain memory by a few degrees. The final line to this song is, “Please don’t confront me with my failures, I’m aware of them.” is a line for everyone and anyone who has lived life. We all have had some sort of failure that we need no reminding of, marriage, business, friendship, children, you name it, we’ve got your failure on that list. For a long time, this has been one of my mantras to life, that failures are inevitable and that given the chance, people will throw it back in your face as a form of control or to put you down. It’s just the mechanism of the beast and we must deal with it.

But Gregg Allman prepared you for it. I was thinking about where he might be if we had social media doing his heyday. And I was thinking about the artists of today and who he might be equivalent with? Well, that’s a hard call. Artist like Adele, Katie Perry, Beyonce, Justin Beiber and the like have a strong social media presence. For some, Gregg Allman had his moment in the sun at the right time. He also had his moments of pain as with anybody who’s dealt with pain. It is not forgiving and unceasing at times. He came along when he did, along with Duane, his brother, at a time where the music wasn’t digitized, manipulated, autotuned, Melodyne, and lacquered with 200 other layers just to create a song. We talk about a simpler time, who knows, it’s the generation we live in that wants those reminders of those moments, moments that are lost in the passing of people like Gregg Allman. These Days.

Well I've been out walking
I don't do that much talking these days
These days
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do
For you
And all the times I had the chance to

Well I had a lover
I don't think I'll risk another these days
These days
These days I seem to be afraid
To live the life that I have made in song
But it's just that I have been losing
For so long

These days I sit on cornerstones
Count the time in quarter tones 'till ten
My friend
And now I believe I've come
To see myself again

These days I sit on cornerstones 
Count the time in quarter tones 'till ten
My friend
Please don't confront me with my failure
I'm aware of them

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

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Guardians of The Galaxy – Vol. 2 Review

Pass The Popcorn and The Milk Duds for A Fun 


When a film comes out, the studio rolls the dice and sometimes it’s 

snake eyes and sometimes it’s a seven. The Marvel Film Universe 

and Disney have managed to roll out a hit with the first Guardians 

of The Galaxy starring an unproven leading man, Chris Pratt and 

the more proven Zoe Saldana. The first film was an unqualified 

success with a domestic box office take of over $333 million 

dollars. With this type of domestic haul, it was a given that number 

two would be in the works. Sequels are a tricky business. We have 

sat through countless sequels, sometimes based of studio greed 

with movies that stray away from the original content and intent 

and sometimes they get it right as with The Godfather and 

Godfather II. We’re not going to discuss Godfather III.

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So here we have Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2. A science fiction 

fun ride destined to be an amusement theme park attraction 

somewhere in the future. The film starts off with our illustrious rag 

tag team of crusaders assisting in helping out a somewhat overly 

sensitive culture with getting some type of unique batteries. The 

only problem is that Rocket does his five finger discount and 

walks away with a few of them and that is before he sort of insults 

the inhabitants with a crude comment. And before you know it, 

they come under attack by the habitats and the ride begins.

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Your time sitting in the seats isn’t long when the action begins. We 

get to know some of the old characters a little better with a few 

back stories to flesh out their characters even more so. We still do 

not know a lot about some of them, one would suggest that this 

will be coming in the next incarnation of Guardians. We also get to 

see some new characters as well. Kurt Russell’s Ego, the space 

absence father of Star Lord makes his appearance known upfront. 

He gives this character the right amount of edge that doesn’t 

involve chewing up the scenery given that his name in the film is 

Ego. We also have a new character named Mantis played by 

relatively unknown actress, Pom Klementieff. Her character is 

interesting as is the real person behind her. Pom Klementieff’s real 

story is one beset with unfortunate tragedies, her father died when 

she was five, her brother committed suicide when she was 22, her 

mother is schizophrenic, her aunt and uncle raised her, her uncle 

died when she was 18. That is a lot for one person to go through 

and come out ahead in a film like this. The character is an added 

form of comic relief that punches up the dialogue between her and 

Drax played by Dave Bautista.

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And with the addition of her, we say goodbye to a fan favorite. I 

won’t say who so as not to spoil the fun but the sendoff is 

memorable with a key role played by Sylvester Stallone. How they 

got him must have been a fun shot. And does what it looks like, a 

fun shoot. You get that sense as you watched it. It shows up on the 

faces of everyone, including the CGI creatures.

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It has a PG-13 rating. Some death scenes were a little more intense 

and may have rode close to the edge with that intensity. You are 

going to have to judge that for yourself. Otherwise, go make some 

movie history and turn it into another box office juggernaut. The 

Milk Duds are waiting.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

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Modern Family: The Formerly Fresh Out of The Stove, Piping Hot Pumpernickel Bread of A Show Has Turned Into Stale Three Day Old White Bread

There use to be a formula in making television sitcoms. Take a little bit from here, mix in a little bit from over there, pour in just a little bit from over there and wallah, you've got a sitcom. Over the course of time, that formula is still being used and on occasion, there have been a few shows that have altered the ingredients by one or two elements. Such as the case with Modern Family, an ABC sitcom that's been around since 2009 and is in it's eighth season. It's the sitcom formulaic show done up in the pseudo faux documentary style of comedy similar to the fashion of the former NBC sitcoms The Office and Parks and Rec employed when these shows were on the air. Both The Office and Parks and Rec took their bows at their respective times. The Office lead actor, Steve Carell, parted ways with the show early and his absence was felt tremendously with his departure. He did return for the series finale of the show that gave it a respectable and decent, if not pretty, close to the show and some of the most enjoyable characters to grace the small screen. And Parks and Rec took it’s final bow as well, even though there was still life in the show. This was a show built around Amy Pohler and an ensemble of characters that were truly unique oddballs. These shows took a cue from the old Seinfeld show by deciding when it was time to exit the arena rather than waiting for the network to give them their walking papers. It is a testament to the better shows when they decides that they don’t want to wear out their welcome and opt for leaving while the audience screams for more. And while The Office and Parks and Rec are missed and much of the gag reels can be found on YouTube, check them out and discover your old friend or if you haven’t seen them, a missed opportunity to be with that friend. But what about Modern Family? What happened to this show?

Modern Family has been chugging along with the same main characters with no signs of any significant disruption or alteration. They've changed out one character in the beginning, the toddler Lilly with an older more animated version who would respond to verbal commands and not look as if she’s a mute doll. They had no choice in the matter as the original Lilly didn’t emote or have any facial expressions except for one and that was the look of seemingly being lost. If you have someone, even a small child, who has only one dour look, it doesn’t bode well when you act out a scene and the kid is giving you a zombie look straight out of the Walking Dead. They needed a new Lilly. And they've replaced the toddler, Joe, with a new speaking version as Gloria and Jay's son. The Joe character has been played by three different actors, infant, non-speaking toddler, and speaking toddler . Other than that, we still have Jay, Gloria, Manny, Luke, Phil, Claire, Alex, Haley, Lilly, Mitchell and Cameron. With the possible exception of one, there hasn't been any clear sign of progressive growth with these characters. Here is the character development of each:

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Gloria Pritchett: She comes from a large extended family from her country of origin, Columbia. To have her tell it, Columbia is a lawless country controlled mainly by the drug cartel. When she talks about Columbia, it is always laced with elements of the criminal underworld with a tinge of perverse pride in the telling of the tales. She has stated that she had other reasons that attracted her to Jay. However, if a cartel boss ever had her in his sights, there would not be a Jay. She gained her US. citizenship a few seasons back which they made it appear to be a cakewalk in gaining one’s citizenship when in reality, immigration policies and obtaining citizenship have more restrictions in place for qualification. If it was that easy for undocumented citizens to waltz in and answer softball questions to a citizenship exam, then the 10 million illegal immigrants would have done so immediately. Aside from popping out another child, Gloria has been a stay at home mom for eight seasons. She has explored marketing her salsa recipe for sale with mix results but she has done little else in between outside the home. Gloria’s past job was that of a hair stylist as explored in brief from a past episode. Since marrying Jay, her quality of life has improved and to she has no reason to be at home anymore as she has had nannies and babysitters for Joe. She has gotten lazy and comfortable and has turned in to be nothing more that the atypical trophy wife to an economically successful business man. Jay did do that to her in a past episode when he wanted to show her off to his old buddies and she readily agreed to somewhat deplorable stereotype. She could have taken the position that she is not a trophy wive to be put a display for Jay’s friends. In fact, she did voice her dissatisfaction with Claire because the assumption was that she was a gold digger from Claire’s point of view in the beginning of Jay and Gloria’s courtship. But somehow, this characterization of Gloria going along with this facade somehow feels as an inappropriate back handed compliment. Gloria has the smarts but she doesn’t apply herself. Grade B-.

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Jay Pritchett: Jay is a self made entrepreneur specializing in the manufactured closet industry. He's been plying his trade for a while and has been successful in doing so and this has led him to live a well earned comfortable life in a comfortable home with a comfortable swimming pool. Jay represents a different generation of men from the early baby boom generation. Yes means yes and no means no, there is none of this double meanings or alternate definitions to words. He would be the guy who would say “Are you shitting me!” during the impeachment proceedings with President Bill Clinton when Clinton said in a deposition, “It depends whet the meaning of “is” is.” He has two grown children, one stepson and a toddler that he accepts and tolerate in the same breath. He is the patriarch to his family, no ifs ands or buts. He knows that times have changed and as much as he fights change, he has slowly resign himself to the fact that this is the world that we live in now. He footed the cost to his gay son's wedding demonstrates one of the changes he has undertaken. He was retired from the closet industry but retirement didn't suit him as he had imagined so now he's back but in a different capacity. He had too much time on his hands with doing nothing except going stir crazy. Jay is still Jay. He has lived his life by his own terms and a lot of him has been set in concrete. With a toddler son however, some of his traditionalist ways may have been introduced to a chisel hammering on the edge of that concrete. Jay's growth has been progressive in the past eight seasons. Grade B+

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Manny Delgado: The once cute and precocious child is a young man now. Living a life of comfort with financial access has given him some advantages. He has not want for anything as he has said, “grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle”, we've constantly observed Manny sipping espressos and lattes and enjoying hotel stays and spa retreats to no end all on Jay’s dime. There has never been a discussion on whether or not Manny is financially supported by is biological father, Javier? He doesn't seem to appreciate the fact that someone else worked hard to have the money that he readily spends on himself. He has forgotten his humble beginnings and roots. He has placed too many memories far in the rear view mirror that when he looks back, he sees only small dots on the horizon. Jay sometimes remind him that all of what he's come to know and have wasn't there at the start. Manny has become the quintessential privilege class who has set the lines of demarcation between the working class blue collar people and the professional class white collar people. Manny has evolved into a young Republican. It could be a good thing or it could be a bad thing. Only Manny will have to decide which way he wants to go. As for his character, Grade C.

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Phil Dunphy: Father of three, Phil is a Realtor by profession. We often see Phil at his practice and by all appearances, he makes a decent living with it as he has purchased vehicles over the years for himself, his wife, Claire, and for his daughter, Haley. The thing about Phil is that you sometimes question his focus. On more than one occasion, he has referred to himself as “the cool dad”. Why is that so important to him? Dads are never cool with their kids and dads should never want to be cool with their kids. You are the parent. They look to you as the authoritarian figure, not the let's drink a beer and smoke some weed figure. He feels that if he “speak their language” then he stays in touch on a certain level with his kids. His technique has been a disaster in the case with his oldest daughter, Haley And you can also see the results in his other children as well. Nobody is perfect but Phil is, not Phyllis, but Phil is a person stuck with rose colored glasses permanently attached to his face. If you are a father, you can't go through life thinking you have perfect children. They will test your boundaries and your resolve. For the most part, Phil has stayed in his lane. He never ventures far at all. He's comfortable and conservative. He sells real estate conservatively. You can almost see that he likes that about himself. He laughs at his own jokes. However, he places too much concern on what his colleagues think about him and what they do. Gil Thorpe, his real estate colleague, is his forever nemesis. It was only recently, after seven seasons, that he did venture out from his comfort zone and into a real estate venture with a lot of trepidation. He brought in Jay as an investor on a piece of property that proved to be an environmental disaster. Why didn't he get a soil report from the very beginning? This is a fundamental first step to take and a bonehead move not to make when purchasing land. He would have known right away what the property could be used for. This was a calculated failure on his part and a lost leader for his investment partner, Jay. While Phil may be a consistent middle of the road real estate agent in the residential market, he should have been in the commercial market a long time ago. For Phil, growth has been stagnant. Grade C.

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Claire Dunphy: Claire started off as a stay at home mom in the beginning. She is a seriously serious Type A personality. She has to be right all the time and she has to prove that why she is right by providing supporting documentation and proof. Even when she was pregnant in college, she managed to finish and get a degree. That is something they never have explored, how did she manage to do that especially with having Phil around. In addressing this aspect of Claire’s life, if would be good to go back in time and watch a young Claire and Phil before marriage. Somehow, Claire had the wherefore all to get through college. Maybe if Claire would have exposed this aspect of her life with Haley, she would have had a different outcome instead of just having experienced one semester of college and being expelled? Claire definitely has develop the same type of behavior as her father when it comes to getting things done. She doesn't let her insecurities overwhelm her, at least, not when she's around her father. When he's in her presence and should things be slightly off centered, then the insecurities come out. She wants to be perfect but she knows that it's an impossible task. As her children have gotten older, Claire found herself at a crossroad. She needed to be back in the work force and she did that in increments. She ran for city council and lost but the loss gave her some meaning and purpose. She found her way back among the nine to fivers by working for her father. She has flourished even with a few stumbles with her coworkers. Of all the characters within this show, Claire has had the most significant gains in development. Grade A+.

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Haley Dunphy: First impressions are important sometimes. Haley, the eldest child of Claire and Phil, started off as the rebel when she really didn't need to be. A lot of the issues that she put Claire and Phil through were just trivial nonsense taken from a person who thinks on the level of a ten year old. Her entire existence was orbiting around popularity, partying and with the loser boyfriend, Dylan. She should be the poster child for all young girls on how not to act privileged and when you take advantage of a father who wants to be your peer. Haley’s character is drawn as an insult to all teenage girls. She's not an excellent student, oh hell, she's not even a good C student. Of all the time Haley was in school, she had no favorite subject whatsoever. They didn't even attempt to show where this girl had at least one subject she cared about. She was nothing more than just a popularity queen, living on empty accolades from Snapchat. Twitter, and Instagram followers. And then she is accepted to college which lasted all of five minutes because she, like a typical street junkie, falls back into her old ways and attends a party where she falls into trouble with the university and gets promptly expelled. Now this may seem a stretch and highly improbable but the writers took the easy way out and once again, Haley Dunphy is a screw up in the eyes of her parents. All of the effort and money it took to get her off to college and she takes three steps back and winds up living in the basement of her parents home. She meanders about finding menial jobs and to date she really doesn't have a definitive career to speak of other than some made up job she created for herself. And then there are her past relationships and current relationship. With Dylan, every teenage girl should look at that for what it was worth, as a stupid high school no nothing romance. With Andy, at least, it was more honest and genuine. For the first time Haley was in a relationship where she was equal. You started to believe that there was hope for this woman, that she was finally leaning in a direction that was positive. This relationship wasn’t built on superficiality. Haley even expressed her desire about being with Andy made her want to stop doing the stupid things. But then, the relationship ended without ceremony. One day she was single again. Now she hooks up with someone who is more superficial than she is, Rainier. Okay, so here is the thing, why was it necessary for her to be back in a relationship? It is normal for someone to not be in a relationship but Haley can’t go two weeks without her being defined by the relationship she’s in. With Rainier., it appears as if she's stumbling down a rabbit hole and she is lost trying to find herself and this relationship is lined with twenty feet deep potholes and she is barely hanging on the edge by her press on nails. Andy was good to her and for her. They need to bring him back. Haley is not only stagnating, she's stuck. Grade C-

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Alex Dunphy: The golden middle child of the Dunphy clan showed promise to a world of recent beleaguered sitcom kids. She was smart, she was focused and she had excelled past her parents in competency even though she was worldly naive having lived a sheltered life. We watched as Alex moved effortlessly in obtaining her educational objectives and faced the realities that schools of higher education of your choice sometimes fall away from you and that you often have to kick the field goal and settle for the three point schools instead of the seven point schools. Sometimes it's not a bad thing because it's up to you to make something out of yourself in the final conclusion. So she enters college and after that first year, she either drops out or take a hiatus and we find her working in some coffee shop as a host. Did not her parents give her enough preparation about the rigors of college? Did they not attend college and endure the stay without taking any breaks? Surely they've coddled their children to the point where hard work and sacrifice is not a part of their structured DNA. What's at stake here? Couldn't she just reduce her course load and take only the basic courses needed to maintain enrollment? Are Claire and Phil's parenting approach coming back to haunt them when they have two children not doing the college journey? Or maybe it is honest approach when you look at the cost for higher education and newer types of jobs that are being created that don't need a degree? Seeing Alex as a coffee hostess however, doesn't conform to the person who was a champion for education, a skating on the edge feminist and questioning the status quo type of individual. Alex's status is in flux and could go either way. She’s a smart kid and shouldn’t be boxed in by imposed constraints. She’s Type A like her mother. Having her doing grunge work may be good for her character in the short term but if this goes on too long, it becomes a detriment. Grade B+.

Luke Dunphy: There is a famous quote from a famous movie where this old weathered guy says to another old weathered person, “No, there is another”. And like that famous movie, this Luke started off with wide eyed optimism. But somewhere in this journey, a course correction was made and the ship took a blast to the right starboard engine. They decided to turn Luke into a debonair idiot and not the kind of lovable idiot that grows on you. He has not come close to reaching his academic or human potential and appears to be skating on the edge of failure. Now this type of kid has been seen before and done with spectacular diminishing brain cells by the kid from Two and a Half Men. I never could understand why that show took that route with the kid? He started off pleasantly as an average cute kid with great prospects. In fact, in this opinion, it would have played better against type as the one person who was totally opposed to his father's scheming ways and his uncle's misogynist behavior. But they chose to take the kid down a road of moronically stupid weed smoking loser. It became a show that was not fun to watch and opens up a discussion about reverse sexism but that is another discussion at a later time. But this Luke seems lost and unsure about himself as he is set to graduate from high school. It seems as if his parents haven't fully explored the challenges that is about to visit upon Luke. Much like is older sisters, Luke's world has no road maps for him to take, he is destined to be wandering for a while. So, why was it important to turn Luke into another adolescent moron? Most teenagers are not this stupid or unsure of themselves. I was a teenager and was about the graduate high school at the age of 17. My focus was on the ritual passage of graduation and the prospects of entering college from out of state. Nowhere is this equation was there any angst about grabbing on some ass like they’ve treated Luke and Manny. Luke’s ficus should have been on getting into college from a male point of view. We’ve already experienced Haley and Alex situation and the challenge would have been to show Luke’s take from his world. It seems like he is the forgotten child in this transition and for them to lightly skim over it show that no thought has been taken into play with Manny or Luke where it had any substance. Sure, they showed Alex’s breakdown on the academics with her therapist and eventually her mother and that was good but males have been discounted at the expense of the female empowerment battle cry that’s been in play for many years now. His parent’s aren’t giving him the necessary tools that he is desperately trying to keep his head above the emotional waterline. He is becoming a man and he has no life line support. Grade C+.

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Mitchell Pritchett: At some point, Mitchell Pritchett must come to the realization that the world doesn’t revolve around him. He took every word that was pointed in his direction as some sort of attack of his lifestyle or relationship. He had contempt for his father and found ways to sabotage his father’s friendship with long time friends. Was he justified? Absolutely not. His relationship with his father was no that of someone who was abusive, verbally or physically. Jay had made the claim that he stayed married to Dee Dee because he thought they needed to emotional support at a young age. So why does Mitchell carried so much angst towards his father versus Claire’s not so much angst? Mitchell is gay. For him, that is the ultimate defining factor as to crux of his relationship with his father. Jay grew up in an era where men weren’t told or allowed to express those other human feelings. He was punished by Mitchell for not having those feelings but Mitchell was too stubborn and pigheaded to understand who he lived with and what his father had experienced. As Jay once expressed to Mitchell one day at his home, “Why do you get to say what you want and I can’t?’ on the eve of Mitchell and Cameron’s wedding. That was a good point. Mitchell has used his sexuality as a baton against his father and for those around him that may disagree with the lifestyle. He had inadvertently spoke way too soon and a flight fill with passengers when a passenger said something that was taken out of context. Mitchell responded aggressively but found out afterwards that the comment was made to their newly adopted child. Mitchell also is prudish, standoffish and doesn’t like to be bested by someone who’s station in life is underneath him. He has demonstrated this on more than one occasion with the most glaring one being in Australia with their celebrity friend. Mitchell has profound daddy issues when he shouldn’t. Jay has some issues but not caring for his kids is not one of them. Grade C.

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Lilly Tucker Pritchett: They’ve never really done much with Lilly. She lives in a child’s world and elementary school. Much of her story is joined to Mitch and Cameron so any development with her is mainly muted which is unfortunate because it maybe good to see her world perspective for a change. It would certainly make her character balance out the outrageous of her obnoxious fathers. Grade- Incomplete.

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Cameron Tucker: Sometimes saving the best for last is not always a good thing. Cameron Tucker is an unprecedented bore. He wants to be worldly when he’s not. He wants to be sophisticated when he foppish and vain at best. Over the course of this show, he has been the most annoying characters to hit the screen. Yes, he won n Emmy for the role and perhaps because it was new and it was at the beginning of this series but now it’s no longer interesting. And he cries ALL THE TIME. Can we stop with the excessive crying? Yeah, they addressed his excessive crying but it hasn’t let up. It’s gotten to the point where you have taken Lilly’s place and you empathize with her that this dude cries way too much. He wants to be something that he’s not and the bragging just got to stop too. It’s gotten to the point now where I just hit the mute button whenever he’s about to put on airs or cry. You just have had enough of Cameron Tucker. As Lilly got older, it was a good move to transition Cameron into the workforce. One would think that having him as a coach of a high school football team would expand his repertoire but unfortunately they’ve mucked that up by focusing on the wrong thing. With Mitch and Cameron, is all about the agenda and not about the comedy. There’s too much anger in them that needs to be set aside or relaxed. You have an intelligent audience, you don’t need to keep hitting us over the head with some superfluous agenda. Sitcoms used to be about laughs, now we have agendas. Grade D-.

The show is in syndication across the land. It’s a popular show. But can it hold up like Seinfeld? Well, there are a lot of pop cultural references in the show and elements like those tends to date the show whenever it goes out of style. And in these days of pop culture references, they could have a shelf life equivalent to the time of an in-flight movie. The first show had pop jargon laced in the show that’s now when you look back on it, it’s prehistoric ancient. In wanting to be the “cool” show, they’ve sacrifice good stories for idol worshiping status. Idols sometimes fall down a lot and fashions go out of style. Gangnam style anyone?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

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The Handsome Man

The grays have filtered through his once golden fleece
Time had etched more lines of wisdom across his furrowed brow
The sun had seasoned his skin to an auburn leather
Muscles, full and robust, morphed into sinewy unfamiliar appendages
That Rolling Stone's passage of what a drag it is getting old
His inner voice screams with rage in silent protest
Once standing tall, the mirror now gaze upon a reflection past gone
His collection of memories have become moth eaten and tattered
Friends have become fewer as they are consumed with each passing year
Growing new ones is harder than he fears
The once youthful eyes never looked foward to this inevitable future
And with a blink and a wink, the time is nearer to the door
Everybody will answer when the bell tolls
Rich and poor and black and white and all the colors in his sight
Mark his time as he look back on his life
Remembering the moments that meant the most to him
And not the superficial, the materialistic, the monetary fuss
As light begins to fall, it will arrive in the most unlikely fashion

Honor his values of what makes him more than just the handsome man