Friday, May 30, 2014

The Best Show On Television

Allison Tolman
Fargo is the rare exception of a television show that is better than the movie on which it was based. That being said, it's never a good idea to bet against the  Coen brothers.  Their uncanny ability to take a darkly funny and exquisite movie and expand the tale is the very essense of compelling TV. The FX network, where this frozen gem of murder and Midwestern angst  can be found,  has wisely given the Coens and writer Noah Hawley the freedom to work their magic as they spin the story of  small town insurance salesman/loser Lester Nygard.   Played by the superb Martin Freeman, Lester is introduced to accidental malevolent benefactor Lorne Malvo,  a psychopathic hit man passing through the town of Bemidji, Minnesota.  Thornton is so "for real" spawn of Satan creepy that if he is not a lock for an Emmy my underwear has been ruined for nothing.  The man is pure goose bump inducing, hide behind the drapes, bad to the bone MENACE.

Adam Goldberg
FX is now about five episodes into the ten part tale and I'm damned if I know how it's going to end.  What seems certain is that Allison Tolman, as deputy Molly Solverson, and Colin Hanks, the reluctant Duluth cop, will get to the bottom of the over the top Bemidji style mayhem.  Their characters are just too likable to be expendable.  Also, Malvo and Lester will either be dead or celebrating their prison nuptials by the last installment if their is indeed an entertainment God.  Oliver Platt's performance as supermarket kingpin Stavros Milos is oily good and the off kilter duo of Adam Goldberg and Russel Harvard as mob toughs Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench are pure casting genius.
If you haven't been watching, find a way to catch up.  Fargo, like Justified, Mad Men, Homeland, The Sopranos and very few others, will long be considered the second "golden age " of episodic television.

Good stuff, you betcha!  

Pants accident catalyst, Billy Bob

Friday, May 23, 2014

What I Won't Be Doing This Weekend

I once had a boss who told me that the year doesn't really run from January 1 to December 31 as the calendar would have you believe.  He insisted that most Americans, whether they realize it or not, live their lives as if Labor Day was the first of the year and Memorial Day its conclusion.  Since most schools take the summer off and adults schedule vacations the only thing predictable from June through August is that NOTHING is predictable.  He made a good point, however, there is at least one exception to this theory.  Summer, without fail, is the season of crappy movies.

This year we'll get the usual allotment of super heroes, monsters,  insipid romantic comedies and, starting today, "Fed Up".   This movie harbors a very large chip on its shoulder for sugar.   I can tell from its clever "f u" logo done in M&M pieces that this picture is out to tell us what to do.  SUGAR is the cause of all our problems according to uber liberal pain in the ass Laurie David the woman who also gave us Al gore's "Inconvenient Truth" piece of celluloid cow flop.  You may recall that was the film where old Al told us the polar ice caps would be history by 2013, Des Monies would be a seaport,  and all those cute Coke drinking white polar bears would never again have an ice flow to call their own.   

I can tell from the ad in today's paper that this flick has everything needed to keep me away.  "The most important movie to be made since 'An Inconvenient Truth," gushes the New York Times.  "Eye-opening, pulls no punches in its informed outrage." says the seldom informed L.A. Times.  "Here is something rare at the multiplex: a movie that matters." is the quote from the publication that no longer matters, Rolling Stone.  "Tackles the issue with a ferocity that would make Michael Moore proud," from the ever insipid USA Today.  Michael Moore??!! Really?  Do they mean the big fat phony dressed up like a working man Michael Moore?  The guy who stays at the Ritz but books a room at the Sleazy Arms hotel to conduct interviews when he's out promoting one of his propaganda pieces?  That Castro lovin' creep?  
Yeah, I'm sure he'll be at the premier with his ballcap and lunch pail looking like the working stiff he never was.  That is of course unless his driver has a problem getting him out of his gated community.  After all everyone's favorite geriatric chipmunk, Katie Couric, narrates this "must see"for nanny state aficionados. 

"Fed Up" is consumed with the idea that the sugar industry is single-handedly responsible for our epidemic of obesity and the buttload of problems that go with it.   Diabetes anyone?  Junk food, convenience foods and processed foods in general are deemed poisonous and addictive by the movie as it trots out none other than Bill Clinton to suggest that a lack of government control is a big part of the problem.  Really?  A guy who can't tell the difference between an intern and a humidor is your "go to" guy for diet guidance?  A man who's food pyramid consisted of moon pies, RC cola and Gennifer Flowers for more than thirty years?

Here's a thought:  Sugar tastes good.  It makes other things taste REALLY good but, like salt and pretty much everything else, eating too much of it is bad for you.  Stop doing it!  If your kid is fat stop feeding him or her so much sugar or whatever you're shoving down their gullet that creates lard and send them  outside for some exercise.  Point out the dignity in being the skinniest kid at fat camp! The last thing we need is the government coming after one more American freedom.  This weekend especially, as we remember the men and women who paid the ultimate price for our liberty, it is important to keep in mind our sacred freedom of choice.  "Do you want two scoops or one?"  The choice is YOURS, Elvis. 

So, go see this didactic reel of dumber than drywall political claptrap if you must and take comfort in the fact that you can blame sugar for all your failures and missed opportunities in life.  Just make sure you bring me your left over Raisonettes and Jelli Fruits.

Thanks Tubby.

One at a time please!

Friday, May 16, 2014

I Smell Smoke

I was upstairs doing some packing for the move to Idaho when my wife came to tell me that there was smoke on the horizon.  Naturally, being a guy, I was more than ready to dismiss this as no big deal.  "Just calm down" I believe was my less than enthusiastic assessment of the situation.  As it turned out, it was a monumental case of wishful thinking. 

"It may be time to pack the car."
The big big hill to the north of us was sending up black smoke and ash with a smattering of visible orange flame popping skyward at various points.  Never one to plan for these things I waited until the sheriff's department vehicles began cruising the neighborhood admonishing all residents of San Elijo hills to beat it to safety.  Damn!  This happened once before in 2007 and it took all day before we could safely return.  This time I grabbed some underwear, a couple of t-shirts, the computers, I-pads and a few other utterly useless items as we headed for the garage.  Which car to take??  We decided on the big one.  Linda was smart enough to pack intelligently and filled roughly half the trunk with things we might actually need.  
After hours of sitting in traffic as more than one-hundred thousand people evacuated the area, we made camp at the downtown San Diego home of our daughter, Katie, and her husband, Doug.  We are still under their roof having now inflicted ourselves into their lives for three days.  Four year-old grandson, Dan, is thrilled ( I think) to have us aboard for what he no doubt considers a giant family sleep over but we are itching to get home.  
First of all, we hope the house is still there.  I think it must be, but it's impossible to tell.  And, of course, we want to see if there has been any damage.  After thirty-four years in both northern and southern California I can honestly say I don't recall a drier or hotter May.  These fires are the bane of August and September after a moisture sucking summer; never the province of our usual May gray and June gloom.  Coastal low clouds and haze, not to mention some drizzle, happen almost exclusively in late spring.
Chalk this one up to "just one more thing" in a year that promises unusual weather.  Next week I hope to tell you how the house and neighborhood fared.  It would be nice if the heat and the off shore Santa Ana winds got the "JUST CUT IT OUT!" memo.  We've had enough.

In the meantime, I'll be having a gigantic sword fight with my grandson on his family's patio.  All things considered, not a bad way to be a displaced person.

A DC 10 drops a load of fire retardant.

Friday, May 9, 2014


Good moms aren't hard to find.  I had a good one and married another of exceptional quality.  On Mother's Day weekend American men, if they're smart, should not fail to acknowledge the importance of the women in their lives.  Face it, if it weren't for moms, wives, and girlfriends the planet would be run by guys.  Nobody wants that.  The mind reels at the thought of a world awash in empty beer cans, pizza boxes, cigar butts and dirty underwear.  Of course, on the plus side, the cloud of flatus created by this unhappy situation would block out the sun and put to rest once and for all any thought of climate change. There would be NO climate, only man stink.

Women, especially moms, are just better people.  Oh sure you have your occasional Hitler mom, they can't all be winners.  The standard issue mom kept you out of jail, taught you which fork to use, how to say "please" and "thank you"and gave you enough good advice on behaving around women to score you a date.  Moms are altruistic; guys have an agenda.  (Proof of this is that I am saying these things in hopes of scoring cookies or other favors.)  

Dads are fine for some life lessons of the comic variety.  After the obligitory "pull my finger",  odds are your old man let you have your first sip of booze--"Don't tell mom."--and maybe winked or looked the other way when you came home late with cigarettes on your breath.   Naturally, he was the parent who gave you a graduate degree in profanity, but you'd never  ever trust him to be in charge of actually running the family.  Mom was the mayor and dad her sheriff in charge of meting out justice.   The designated spanker, butt kicker and vice president of discipline worked for MOM.  "Just wait 'til your father gets home!  He'll deal with you and you'll like it!"  (Of course most of the time he did too.)

So, here's to moms on their special day!  Women are just better people than men.  They are nurturing and definitely more altruistic than we men.  Men always have an agenda.  For example:  If there is a heaven, I hope mom is busy working some scam to sneak my brother and me in.  Also, since I completely forgot about Mother's Day until today, I'm counting on my kids to make me look good with you know who.

There are a couple of cigars and six-packs in it for you girls.  Daddy loves you but mom knows where the will is.

"You look lovely today Mrs. Cleaver."--E. Haskel/ American male 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Requesting A Late Check Out

My dad died 19 years ago today.
He was 76.
Now, at 66, I find his final tally of years decidedly on the low side.  Mom wrung nearly 90 years out of her life clock and that, as we like to say, still sounds like "a good run".

Quality of life matters more than a little to most of us and, in truth, both my parents hit some rough waters toward the end.  Arthritis, cancer and, most cruel of all, dementia ruined at least five of their respective later years.  Peaceful worked neither as adjective or adverb for either exit.

Recently I read that a man reaching age 65 has a good chance of lasting another 17 years; a woman another 20.  The problem with this is that I'm certain I have plans requiring more time than that measly allowance.  I still feel great!  Doesn't that buy me some extra years?  Heck, I've only lived in 11 states so far.  How am I going to squeeze in the other 39 before checking in to the Horizontal Hilton?

When I was younger I thought more in terms of jobs I wanted, places I needed to see, and people with whom I desired to settle a score.  These days, because of much travel, my list of places to see has been whittled down considerably.  Jobs, thanks to some luck investing, no longer interest me much though I still hanker to give hell to a few folks and kick the asses of no fewer than a couple of former bosses.  "All in good time," I tell myself.  But HOW MUCH DO I HAVE??!!

Don't get me wrong.  Most of the time I'm grateful.  If I booked it to the great beyond tomorrow, I've already had a very good life.  Good parents, brother, wife, kids, and other than the Army and a stint as a teenage grocery bag boy, I've never worked a day IN MY LIFE.  With more nerve than brains or talent I conned broadcast companies into paying me good money to show up for four hours a day to talk to people I couldn't see.  State mental hospitals are full of people doing the same for nothing.  Sweet!

Inside this 66 year-old body I call home lives the soul of an immature 15 year-old who still believes there are endless possibilities just ahead.  It's only when I wake at 3 in the morning--thank you prostate the size of a '56 Buick Roadmaster--that a real panic develops regarding how much sand is left in the old hourglass.  When that happens I try to recall the wisdom of the Earl in the comic strip  "Pickles" who said, "Life is like a blanket that's a little too short.  Pull it up and your toes freeze; yank it down and your shoulders get cold.  The best thing to do is curl up in a fetal position and try to stay comfortable until it's over."  It seems logical.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some old guy stuff to get to…