Monday, November 14, 2011


I haven't been watching the endless Republican debates, because frankly without Christie or Giulliani in the race, I don't really have a horse to root for - but someone recently sent me this.

Gingrich dismantles a smug CBS anchor beautifully here, and perfectly articulates the disconnect between comprehension-impaired liberals and the rest of us who get it.  

The funny thing is, I know that the idiot "journalist" here probably doesn't even get that he was just served up and down and side to side.   There is simply too big of a short circuit in the elitist brain.

So now I know, that despite his skeletons, despite his wacky asides (an incredibly stupid video with Pelosi springs to mind) I will be voting without holding my nose for Newt should he be the man against his Obama-ness.   This guy is one smart mo fo, and I would be happy to have him as my president.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Don't be.

Recently in political discussions people have been assuming and lumping me in with religious nuts.

While I confess, I do believe in Jesus and his teachings, it's really kind of a private thing between me and him.

When it comes to my politics - my faith has both everything and nothing to do with where I stand.

Follow me if you can.

When it comes to who should be elected into higher office, I'm not interested in Jesus.  I'm interested in freedom.

I have very little in common with bible thumping loons.  I am a free thinking pro-choice, pro-gun, pro-capitalism, pro-gay marriage and pro-liberty dude from Berkeley California.

To me, freedom of the individual is sacred above all.  

I am against a redistribution of wealth, against the death penalty, against higher taxes and bigger government.

Most of all I am against someone else telling me how to live my life and taking the fruits of my labor and giving them to someone else.

Capitalism is what made and continues to make this country the greatest on God's green earth.

Our troops are what keeps us free.

What's between me and my God is my own business.

Clear things up a bit?

Friday, November 04, 2011

One and the same?

In a nutshell, I have come around on my initial opinion that the Occupy Wall Street movement is analogous to the Tea Party group. At first blush, I thought that the ernest young people in Zuccotti Park were simply expressing themselves and their discontent, much as libertarian and right of center citizens have been doing for the last 2 and a half years.

Well, I suppose they are technically doing that - but in every other respect they could not be more different than the TP's.

The first difference is message - the Tea Party has one. Even if you disagree with it, their premise is simple. Lower taxes, smaller government.

What is the OWS message? 

Banks are greedy and corrupt and made off like bandits as the economy collapsed. 

"Okay, and?"

"That's it man. Corporations are evil." 

"So what's the solution then?"

"More regulations and more government."


As a wing-nut you all know that I find this preposterous, but setting fundamental disagreements aside, this "message" is not only unfocused, it's incoherent both in it's presentation and apparent absence of a solution.

In other words - Where's the beef?

There is no substance here, only the same dreck the radical left has been pushing for my lifetime entire, and for decades prior.

That said, they still have a right to protest, right?


Were they to organize and communicate effectively per the Tea Party, march on specific targets, disrupt actually culpable organizations - they would have some sympathy from me.  Alas, as it is, they have decided to take their message to public spaces by squatting.

Zuccotti Park in New York City is now in squalor. Trash everywhere, human feces too. Used condoms and drug paraphernalia litter the ground. The stench of weed is overpowering. And the drums are really annoying.

Great. These are the values of OWS.

An incoherent message, and a delightful medley of shitting, fucking and drug use.

24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Not to mention a blizzard of sexual assaults, not only in Zuccotti but every other major city with an OWS movement. 

Peace, love. Get your rape on. But don't talk to the cops. We'll handle this.

And the parks, which everyone used to enjoy, are now off limits to people who actually live in the neighborhoods. Local businesses are suffering, laying off workers and even shutting down.

Remind me again - why is this necessary?

Let's say for argument sake, that OWS actually has a message that makes sense - let's say that blaming the banks (rather than the government and and their lackeys such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) is entirely logical.

It's a big leap, I know - but stay with me.

Let's say they are not idiotic. Isn't there a better way to not only get their message across, but to affect real change in the system?

Yes, I suppose they could march in the tens of thousands on Washington (as the Tea Party did) in a calm and organized manner, clearly articulating what it is they want (again, as you know who did) and being respectful of their environment, other citizens and law enforcement.

But where's the fun in that? You can't smoke it, crap on it or screw it - so what's the point?

Fuck it.

At least, that's the impression these fine folks are giving me.

Okay, so they don't have a coherent or half intelligent message. Okay, so they are disruptive and destructive. They still have a right to protest, right?  Yes on the first, no on the second.

There is no such thing as an unrestricted right to free speech. Charles Cooke from the National Review says it best.

"There is no right of “occupation” included in the Bill of Rights, nor does a desire to protest accord a right to take over private property, or disregard the laws of the land. They couldn’t march into Barnes & Noble and take it over for a month with impunity."

And therein lies my biggest rub with this whole smelly fiasco.

Because these protestors, with their stupidity and their destructive tendencies, fall in line politically with liberal elites (who also happen to be in charge of most urban cities) - they have been given a free pass to take a shit in the faces of law abiding citizens.

Can you imagine if the Tea Party had deigned to set up a campground at Zuccotti and refused to leave?

Are you kidding me? This violent mob, as our president has referred to the Tea Party, would have been summarily squashed under the thumb of the police state.

The mayor of Oakland, a life long tool of union progressives, lost her mind for a brief moment and tried to do just that to the smelly squatters in her city. It lasted for less than 12 hours. She was back to praising them and even called on city unions (excepting the police of course) to endorse their ham-handed general strike which succeeded only in damaging local businesses and shutting down the 4th biggest port in the world.  Bizarro world indeed.

The rule of law has been dismissed out of hand in favor of populist opportunism and mob rule.

The problem for the liberals is that they forget their history all too quickly.

In 1968 the anti-war hippies were at the height of their power, and they were going to take their candidate to the White House and get out of Vietnam immediately.

Except that their guy lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon. Nixon in fact carried the vast majority of the youth vote. 


Obama and his lackeys have made yet another fatal error, by throwing in with these Flea Baggers (man it feels good to say that after being called a Tea Bagger for so long) they have distanced themselves, perhaps irrevocably from most Americans.

The sad part is, I and many agree with the one kernal of common sense that the OWS is spouting - the banks should have never been bailed out. But Bush started it, and Obama finished it decisively. The fact that all the private banks and corporations that were helped by the government paid back their loans with interest is lost on OWS, but I can even agree with them that we shouldn't have dumped the money in the first place.

I would also like to point out to them that Obama has received twice the donations to his campaign from Wall Street that Bush did. 

But don't let facts get in the way.

Take a crap, stick it in, smoke some dope and throw a brick.

Friday, October 14, 2011

My 53%

I am one of the few and the privileged, I am an American.

In my work as a videographer I have been to 31 countries, many of them third world.

I have seen the worst poverty imaginable, from the streets of Bombay to the slums of Nairobi.

I have seen a baby starving to death right in front of me.

I have walked through raw sewage to get to a tin shack, where a family of 10 lived.

I learned of the rape gangs that prowled their neighborhood, and I met the grandmother who had been a frequent victim.

I have been to 6 communist countries.

In China I saw the television go blank when a news story about Tibet started to come on.

In Russia we were pulled over for no reason in particular by a police officer standing on the corner.

With hardly a word, my driver payed the cop 900 rubles in cash ($40) so we could drive on.

In Nicaragua, every street vendor had a pistol in his belt.

Every truck driver had someone next to him with a shotgun.

In Egypt I asked someone where the bathroom was, he took me there - and then demanded money for his help.

This kind of thing happened over and over and over again during my visit.

I have also seen poverty and despair in America, but only in my work with Feed the Children.

Yes there are hungry families here, yes these are tough times.

But the guy on the street corner in Nike shoes with an ipod asking me for change is not hungry, he is strung out on drugs.

The kids in a park near Wall Street, wallowing in grime and trash, having sex and consuming copious amounts of drugs in public, do not engender sympathy from me.

They are selfish and self obsessed.

They presume to speak for me, when they have not seen genuine poverty a day in their life.

They are decadent, self-loathing narcissists who have confused freedom with entitlement.

America is an opportunity, it is not a guarantee.

I have been blessed beyond belief that my hard work has reaped material and emotional rewards.

But I know it could all end tomorrow with a bit of bad luck or a tragic event.

If it does, I won't look to anyone for compensation.

I don't want a dime from my government.   I don't want a dime from anyone.


Whatever the happenstance or the circumstance, if things go bad, I will make my own way.

Because I live in the greatest country on God's green earth, and I have the OPPORTUNITY to
do it myself.

By the sweat of my brow, by the determination in my soul.

Like my forefathers before me, who toiled a hundred times greater than I ever have - I will fight and fight and fight to make my way.

And I will not presume that anyone owes me anything.

I am the 53%.

Now get off my lawn.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten Years of Regression

Firstly, there are idiots like this. Dennis Miller calls them out beautifully here.

Then, there are morons like this. Yes, I'm calling George Will, a conservative that I otherwise admire greatly, a moron. He has been a defeatist over the war on terror for over half a decade now. When it comes to Iraq and Afghanistan, he has no clue.

Finally, the biggest jackasses of all - the ones who are so full of self loathing and contempt that they are leaping out of their skin to throw our country under the bus.

Unfortunately, the last group is now conventional wisdom of the media and leftist elites.

Really? Is this what we've learned in the ten years since that fateful day?

I beg to differ.

This is a video I edited and posted in January of last year.

The music of Five for Fighting, and the pictures I found through simple google searches - speak perfectly to my thoughts and feelings on that day.

But let me also add what I put on facebook last week.

"Just remember; despite that the media and government will avoid saying this at all costs in the next few days - 9/11 was perpetrated by Muslim Extremists in the name of their faith.

They killed almost 3000 Americans because they hate us and they hate our freedom. And there are still Islamo-facists out there who want us dead, not because of what we have done, but because of who we are.

Never Forget. Never forget that Americans were forced to jump to their death because of these monsters. Never forget that we were all united against them in the days that followed.

The words of appeasement dominate our vocabulary today and threatens to consume us. I pray most of us will have the courage to remain defiant against the people among us that would have us tolerate the insanity of sharia law in our midst."

This innocuous little post - which I would hope echoes the inner sentiments of most Americans of all faiths, was branded as "the voice of hate" by someone that, until I was summarily de-friended, I thought was a reasonable liberal.

I'm beginning to think that they are far and few between.

There seems to be a real disconnect in the liberal mind, between logic/reason and emotion/reaction. It stems from complete indoctrination into an anti-American world view that is bolstered by an utter lack of ability in reading and comprehension.

All my post said, was a statement of fact. There was no judgement therein, no supposition, and absolutely no condemnation of the Muslim faith at large.

I know practicing Muslims. I've been to half a dozen Muslim countries. I know of what I speak.

Muslims, by and large, are peaceful and good people. Just as most Christians are.

When the left calls out radical evangelicals, the kind that shoot abortion doctors and bomb clinics - where is the stampede of accusations from the right?

Oh yeah, right wing Christians are able to distinguish the majority of their flock (peaceful, law abiding) from the nutballs.

But I say a completely factual statement about 9/11 and the RADICAL Muslims that perpetrated it - and I'm the "voice of hate."

Give me a break.

Read this carefully - RADICAL Islamo-Fascists hate America because they hate freedom. Their twisted view of a peaceful religion colors everything they are trying to accomplish - which is primarily to kill as many Jews and westerners as they can.

Our foreign policy has jack shit to do with their motivations. It is who we are, not what we have done, that fuels their hatred.

Frankly, I can be ostracized by my friends and even family until the cows come home and I will not lose my courage.

I will always remember September 11th, 2001 as a day that freedom was attacked by evil.

A day when we resolved to strike back at our attackers - and did so. And in the end we prevailed.

And I will teach my daughter these simple facts.

God willing she will be a "voice of hate" - in other words, she will be courageous in speaking to the truth. She will not blink in the face of ostracism and being shunned, dismissed by those who are more comfortable smearing and shrieking than discussing the cold reality of evil.

She will not back down to anger. She will not be intimidated by histrionics and posturing.

She, like my father before me, will only be interested in the truth - no matter how "uncomfortable" it makes those who wallow in the indulgence of self-loathing and fear.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Towering Fortress

My father passed away peacefully in his sleep Sunday morning, August 7, 2011.

Here are the words I wrote for and spoke at his memorial service on Friday, August 12.


My father leaves behind a legacy of kindness, compassion and a quiet dignity that touched many lives profoundly, not the least of which was my own.

In raising my brother David and I, Allan Merrill was a towering fortress, both literally and figuratively. One of my earliest memories of my dad was trying to keep up with him in the Hukilau parking lot, his long strides made it very difficult for my little legs to keep up. I was running, he was floating.

But as a father he was very much a gentle giant.

It must be my memory playing tricks on me, but I cannot remember a single incident of my father raising his voice to me. And I know for a fact he never raised his hand either. Don’t get me wrong, he could be stern - but something about him, his presence, his values, his dignity - made a withering look from him far more effective than any scream or belt could ever be.

But he was rarely, if ever, disappointed with his sons. I truly feel unworthy, as an adult with all my faults and sins - to be a lifelong object of such unconditional love from my dad. I recognize though, what an amazing and pretty rare gift that was.

He was always proud of us, always. He never stopped bragging to his friends on the island about my traveling for my job or my brothers achievements in medicine.

When I look at my dad and all his accomplishments and how many lives he has touched, I am truly humbled by the everlasting love and admiration that he bestowed on my brother and I, from the time we were babes in his arms to recently when I had a baby of my own.

Yes, he was always a big man. I mean, even as a 40 year old man, I still had to reach up to hug my dad.

But bigger still, was his heart and his compassion. In every way, Allan Merrill was to me - and always will be - larger than life.

His grandmother had an X on her front porch railing a signal to passing transients that her home had food available for the asking. Allan took his cue from this all of his life.

I can remember as a child making plates of food for men who would show up around back at the Hukilau kitchen.

If there was a holiday, Thanksgiving or Christmas, more than likely you could find my dad and Linda serving up hot food to the needy at a local shelter or mission.

My dad had an unending compassion, not only for the less fortunate, but for the people he surrounded himself with and also the people he employed over the years. These folks were more than just workers to my dad, they were to him - truly family. It sounds crazy, but it’s true - he genuinely had love in his heart for the people who were so instrumental in making his business ventures so successful.

There is a long list of people, and there is a room full of people here, who repaid my dad in kind with love and loyalty. To all of them, to all of you, you have my family’s everlasting gratitude and appreciation.

If there’s one thing I am taking from my dad today, across the countless, priceless, memories him it is a great gift he gave me. The gift of dignity.

He had a presence about him, I really believed he was touched by the divine, in his ability to bring dignity through himself to his surroundings and those around him.

He had an innate sense of goodness, of right and wrong - and while he was no saint (and who is?) he bestowed this inner awareness of justice in me right from the beginning.

My father taught me, not in words, but in how he lived his life - that through the chaos, the hurt, the sorrow, the anguish in life - we must always step back and compose ourselves, and remember… we are, all of us, in this, the greatest country on God’s green earth, we are all - truly blessed. Take stock. Take measure. Keep your bearings. Keep your dignity.

One small but very telling example of his gift - my father never swore in front of me. Ever.

This makes, an impression.

It speaks to everything about him. Time and a place. Good times, good friends - but always keep your wits about you. Keep your focus where it needs to be. On those you love and on the good Lord above.

This is what I’ve been given. This is what we’ve all been given. Everlasting, unconditional, not always perfect - but always eternal, love.

Thank you all for being here for him, I know he is here among us, laughing along as we share stories and memories.

Thanks to all of you who helped make today happen.

Thank you pastor Larry for your beautiful words and all the comfort you’ve brought to my family.

Please, all of you, enjoy yourself today. Share, and reminisce all the good times and even some of the tough times. Laugh and cry - embrace that this gentle giant, has once again brought us closer together. And remember the endless love in his heart. Let it flow from him to you and to your loved ones.

Me, I’m going to close my eyes and smile, imagining myself in the parking lot, trying to keep up. Yep, I’m still running - and he’s still floating.

I love you dad.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Children please...

I'm disgusted with just about everyone involved in this debt ceiling thing, but I'm most disappointed (once more) with our president.

He takes to the airways not to lay out a plan of action, but to lay blame in the most churlish and childish fashion imaginable. It is beneath him and the office he holds. He hides behind his campaign mode to disguise the fact that he is in way over his head.

Meanwhile, conservatives now are fighting amongst themselves wether or not they should vote for Boehner's shitty short term plan that barely scratches the surface of the spending cuts that are needed.

On the other side, Reid and his cronies are proclaiming the GOP bill dead on arrival anyway, and have drawn up their own ineffectual plan which bears not much difference from the Boehner plan, other than it puts off having to actually deal with this crisis until after the 2012 election. Hmmm, imagine that.

Funny how the MSM and "conservatives" like McCain are spinning the GOP's division and ineffectiveness in hopes that the party in power will somehow be absolved of blame when the shit finally hits the fan. Sorry guys, it's 2 to 1, the president and the senate are democrats.

The former has no plan, the latter has a plan that is solely designed to kick the can down the road until after the election. Obama and his gang will take the hit on this if it goes south. That's just the way it is.

But regardless, if given a choice between stubborn ideologues who stand up for what they believe in, and political opportunists who are more concerned with saving their own asses than finally acting like adults and cutting spending, I'll go with the wing nuts, thanks. As annoying as they can be, at least they aren't trading in their souls for political expediency.

That said, I really just wish all these a-holes would just grow up and find a pair.

Spending needs to be cut drastically. Period. You can call the cuts severe, draconian, inhumane, I really don't give a shit. Times are tough, it's time for hard decisions, it's time to act like an adult. It's time for leadership - and our president is right now failing us on this front in spectacular fashion.

Because he is such an ideologue, or maybe it's because he's in George Soros' pocket, it doesn't really matter which; he insists on pushing the politics of fear and class warfare.

All these "millionaires and billionaires" need to pay their fair share. Are you kidding me? Raising taxes in a recession? Really?

And by the way, we're not really making any significant cuts to spending. We're just going to keep on keeping on - dumping money on education and health care for illegal immigrants, "social justice" programs that have a 60 year history of spectacular failure, random subsidies that reward non-productivity and provide incentive for incompetence and impotence in the face of todays global economy.

Yep, government is bigger than ever, and it's not shrinking any time soon. If the left has it's way, it will get it's tentacles into every aspect of our lives.

Have a fat kid? Child protective services will take him away.

Enjoy junk food? We're going to tax it.

We're going to take your money and give it to someone else, someone less fortunate than you. They deserve it. You don't. You have enough money already.

We need a level playing field.

We need things to be fair.

That 6 year old looks suspicious, better give her a pat down before she gets on the plane.

Nice restaurant. Is that trans-fat? You can't serve that. Seriously, it's illegal. Stop laughing.

Circumcision is immoral. We're going to make it illegal. Really. By the way we hate Jews.

Welcome to our Veteran's cemetery, by the way don't mention God. Ever.

And if you don't like any of this, you're a racist piece of shit.


Sorry, I got a bit carried away. Sort of.

I know it may seem that this laundry list of nanny state nonsense is unrelated to our current fiscal dilemma - but in my mind they are both part and parcel of the same problem. The left's unending obsession and fantasy about making things "fair".

There is nothing fair about our economic debacle, just as there is nothing fair about kids who eat crap and terrorists that blow up planes. But we do have to deal with these problems in a realistic fashion.

We cannot wish or hope these problems away. We cannot wave a magic wand and change what is in people's hearts or the cold reality of hard numbers.

We have to look at obstacles with a critical eye, and devise real world solutions.

You cannot legislate what's in people's hearts, just as you cannot steal money from successful people and give it to people that you deem worthy. It is a preposterous way of thinking and seeing the world.

Much better to make hard choices that will do the least damage in the long run.

When you tax job creators, you cost people jobs. When you give people hand outs rather than show them how to help themselves, you rob people of dignity and self worth. Even worse, you make them dependent on the state.

It is, in a very real way - a form of slavery.

This debt ceiling business is a perfect illustration of liberal versus conservative thinking. One side wants to simply take money out of American's pockets and then spend it all on the impossible dream of making things "fair."

The other side, my side, has had enough of dumping money down a black hole of failure. It is time for accountability. It is time for a social safety net that gives incentive and rewards to those who help themselves and discourages sloth, fraud and deceit from those who refuse to do their part.

If and when this country defaults for the first time in it's history - there will be no joy from either side of the aisle. It will be a tragic thing, but in the end it will be the misguided Robin Hood's of "social justice" that will be responsible for such a failure. They are the ones who are running the joint, they are the ones that will have to try and pick up the pieces, and they are the ones who will face the music in November of 2012.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why people call him The King

Okay, now I get it.

Last week the wife was able to hook us up with tickets to the Cirque du Soleil show "Viva' Elvis" in Las Vegas - and I was simply blown away.

I've heard many a report and review, that this Cirque show is the weakest of the many Vegas offerings (save perhaps the dreadfully uncomfortable Adults only "Zumanity"). Certainly it would not have been my first choice - I've always been (as you may have read on this blog) a Beatles guy. Elvis never had near the appeal to me as much as the fab four did. I want very much to see the Cirque show "Love" and I'm sure I will some day. (As an aside, Grandma and Grandpa took my 7 year old to that one. She said she loved it, because she knew most of the songs, I'm proud to say.)

Elvis always seemed of an earlier generation than my parents - a bit stuffy and old fashioned. A rube, a hick, a simpleton. The music was definitely good, but not great. And yet, in the back of my mind, something does stir when I see that old footage of him - whether from the super early days when he clearly was an unstoppable force of sexuality and swagger, to his electrifying 68' comeback special or even his jumpsuit days in Vegas (just before he became a blobby mess) - I can see it, he clearly was a world class entertainer.

But I never got why they called him "King" until last Thursday night. He was a relic, a symbol of an ideal long passed.

This show - "Viva' Elvis" was made for people like me and younger, to tell us what all the fuss was about.

First and foremost, it was about the music. The music, the music, the music. As I often say about movies, it's all about the story, here with Elvis, it was all about the music.

You may recall that the Elvis estate has over the past few years re-issued some of his old songs, remixed and remastered to an electronic beat. These redone versions, "A Little Less Conversation" and "Rubber-Necking" are both enjoyable and capture the spirit of Elvis well, but they fall just a bit short of capturing what was so great about him. He is mired, almost in the background, behind thick electronic filters and a mechanical wall of sound. It's cool to hear him modernized, but there is something missing in the heart and soul.

Thankfully, the music in this show - Viva' Elvis - puts Elvis' voice front and center in the mix, raw and unaffected almost entirely. Then, and only then, do they go to town on re-mixing and re-arranging. By keeping the pure power of Elvis' voice and performance (through incredible vintage footage on a huge screen) front and center Cirque delivers a powerhouse showcase for a truly legendary performer.

From the opening chords and then vocals of "Blue Suede Shoes" I totally got it.

This, was, Elvis.

Most important of all, Cirque made Elvis himself the lead performer in this show. There are live singers sprinkled in here and there, particularly lovely is the rearranged "Love Me Tender" as a gorgeous duet, but by and large - 80% of the singing is The King himself.

If this were just Elvis singing and a bare bones concert, with just the Viva' Elvis band, it would still be a great show. The musicians on stage are tremendously talented - a top notch horn section, a very enthusiastic rhythm section with 2 drummers and two extremely energetic and flawless guitar players - unleash an amazing re-imagining of the King's standards, again with Elvis' voice at the heart of the mix, not auto-tuned or filtered.

From this incredible foundation, we are then taken on an emotional journey.

Viva' Elvis has all the great narrative devices of a Cirque show, floating people and objects, fog machines, shafts of light, lanterns, etc. that lend a real emotional resonance and power to the story of Elvis, and provide a solid foundation for the wallop to the soul that the backbeat inflicts.

There is also a good amount of high flying thrills to entertain. The acrobatic performers in the show are as always, top notch. But I can see why some Cirque fans might dismiss this show. There are less jaw dropping aerial feats in this show than in the other "classic" Cirque presentations. I've seen "O", "Mystere'" and "Quidam", all three very typical and wonderful Cirque shows, full of jumping, spinning, flipping and diving. Viva' Elvis sticks closer to the ground frequently, putting the emphasis on dance, and that may be why long time CDS boosters have given this one a thumbs down.

But that is entirely unfair, and misses the point. This show is about the King, and about his legacy - which is, first and foremost, the music. And this show delivers a one-two-three punch to the gut of anyone and everyone like me, who didn't quite get the hysteria for a simple son of the south.

And all the crazy bullshit in Elvis' life - his drug use, the womanizing, the lunacy (using a 44. pistol for a remote control on his televisions) - none of that matters in the face of the music. Cirque delivers a gripping narrative of the stuff that matters; family, faith, hope and yes, even love.

This show is a must see obviously for Elvis fans - but it is also required viewing for anyone who loves rock and roll, and who wants to know why this artist was great.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Euphoria, relief and reflection...

So I guess we can ignore that last post. Nothing can stop Obama know, barring a colossal tanking of the economy and/or a significant hike of income taxes.

I was sitting on the couch Sunday night, watching Geraldo Rivera of all people (really can't stand that guy) and he was handed a blue card while he waited for an unexpected speech by Obama.

Bin Laden was dead, killed by a predator drone strike over a week ago.

My instincts told me it was true - that he was dead. Elation gripped my wife and I, as we watched enraptured, soaking up each detail as it came. Then the president swaggered down the hall and made it official.

America - fuck yeah.

Even better, it wasn't a cold and distant machine that brought him down from miles away and a week ago. It was CQB (Close Quarters Battle) bullets earlier that day - two taps to the head. Clack! Clack!

It was a great evening for our country; Obama had made good on Bush's promise. We will find you, we will hunt you down, justice, will be served. Indeed it was.

I couldn't help but smile as the news covered jubilant throngs in front of the White House, at Times Square and yes, Ground Zero. Family members of 9/11 victims, comrades of the fallen first responders, all joined together. We were united again, we were whole.

But a tiny scratching in the back of my brain, flashed to the radical mobs who danced in ecstasy nearly ten years ago across the Arab world upon hearing of the twin towers fall. My stomach recoiled at the sight of these primitives celebrating the massacre of 3000 innocents. And yet here we were, dancing at the thought of a bullet to the brain of a monster.

I, and the rest of the country, are conflicted. Relieved and overwhelmed that true evil has been vanquished at the end of a righteous gun, and yet, that euphoric glow is tinged with a melancholy that only grows with time.

It is a heavy burden we bear, as the shining beacon of hope and a truly, deeply moral force in the world. We cannot allow ourselves to embrace fully the animalistic lust of hate and revenge. Even the most hawkish of hawks, of which I fully admit to being one, will eventually have to pause and reflect.

A man was blown away at our behest. We have now learned that he was likely unarmed. On the one hand, this is not troubling whatsoever. The world is safer, that is certain. A great evil is surely burning in hell.

But the passing of this pathetic excuse for a man will not bring back those that were lost. Time will reveal, as it has with other great atrocities, that though the triumph over this living symbol of hate was an absolutely necessary course of action, we will still bear scars from our necessary violence.

It is the price we pay for being the greatest nation on God's green earth.

In this information age, there were plenty tell tale signs of our inner conflict. Throughout facebook, my friends and acquaintances alternated quotes back and forth- a long and rambling one by Martin Luther King, that I'd never heard before, that warned against the evils of celebrating a death. The other quote was one I'm familiar with by Mark Twain - "I've never wished a man dead, but I've read many obituaries with great pleasure."

I thought both quotes were highly appropriate for our quandary. I was certainly a bigger fan of the Twain quote. But it turns out, neither quote is correct. The MLK quote is a mash up from various people, and the Twain quote was said by someone else.

No matter - the juxtaposition fit.

I am elated that Bin Laden is dead.

I am sad that I am elated over one of God's children meeting a most gruesome death.

And in these two thoughts, which I have just now written down - I find my salvation. Through the help of my creator I can submit my fallibility and my sins to Him. I can let myself feel both, and pray. Pray for our troops, pray for my country, and even eventually pray for the rotting corpse at the bottom of the Arabian sea, along with the tens of thousands who seek to kill in the name of their hijacked faith.

Ultimately we must let go of the anger we feel for Bin Laden and his kind, the twisted and radical purveyors of hate. We must let go of our own hate, lest we become consumed by it.

So I'm not too bothered by Obama's decision to withhold the gruesome photos of Bin Laden's opened skull. There is a morbid part of me, and a vengeful side of me that would derive satisfaction from it. There is another part of me that would want the 9/11 families and first responders to have access to it if it would somehow bring them even the tiniest fraction of peace or closure.

But Obama is absolutely right when he says we don't need to spike the football. We should be more sure of ourselves.

We don't string bodies up on bridges. That's them.

We don't mutilate corpses. That's them.

We don't throw acid in the faces of little girls who want to go to school. That's them.

We don't rape little boys. That's them.

And we typically don't kill unless we have no other choice.

When we do, there is usually no joy. The joy that does arise on occasion, when the target of our wrath is particularly heinous, is always fleeting.

Right now I'm feeling humbled. Humbled by our troops, especially the heaven sent SEAL Team 6, and humbled to be free. Free to live my life as I please, to raise my family in an atmosphere of laughter and love. And to look forward to a brighter future, as the fall of this pariah and the decimation of his organization al qaeda seems to have drained the fervor just a bit.

I pray that the same fate that befell the Japanese, that is - having the "crazy" literally beaten out of them - is already befalling radical Muslims. I pray that we will not have to go as far as Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

But if we must, we must.

And we must not falter, we must not fail.

We must bring a righteous fist upon our enemy if his actions demand it, and we must put our faith in God to redeem any transgressions in this path if we are forced to take it.

God bless our troops. God bless our president. And God bless America.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's too late.

I love my country and I support my president - but last night was horrific and heart breaking, by far the worst speech by a president since a peanut farming buffoon sat impotent in the throes of a national hostage crisis.

The Wall Street Journal sums up the particulars about the POTUS' catastrophic and deceitful reaction to the GOP's reshaping of the budget debate better than I ever could here.

But even a layman and political novice such as myself was taken aback as Obama's staggering lack of leadership and initiative was laid bare last night. The hot glare of truth can no longer hide that the junior Senator from Illinois who didn't draft one piece of even marginally significant legislation in his stunted term in office, is completely and utterly out of his depth and painfully ignorant of our constitution and all that it implies.

It goes beyond that he is going to raise taxes. On the super rich. And the rich. Oh, and probably me and you too. It goes beyond that he really sees this approach as the only viable solution to the fourteen TRILLION (with a T) dollar deficit that he has dumped on our children and grand and great-grand children. Soak the successful, because dammit, they have a patriotic duty to unload their "burdens" on the less fortunate.

No, this all goes to a fundamental precept of the left that rather than live within our means, and be fiscally responsible, we need to keep failed social programs right where they are and simply tax, print, or somehow magically produce more dollars. Unicorns and rainbows. Fucking brilliant.

Throwing money at a problem always works out. Just look at California schools. It is state law that 60% of all income taxes (which are the highest in the nation of course) go to education.

Our schools are ranked 47th out of 50 states and we have a 50% drop out rate among African Americans and a 25% drop out rate of ALL students. These numbers have not changed in 30 years, despite a massive upswing in funds.

This to me is such a basic, fundamental illustration of the fallacies in the thinking of "progressives". You cannot buy success and excellence - you have to earn it, by spending wisely and responsibly first, not just dumping billions of dollars in the laps of corrupt idiots.

I have long said that Obama will win handily in 2012, barring two occurrences. The first happened last night, Obama's staggeringly foolish lack of judgement and disconnection with the American people at large with a speech that is already going down in history as his "Waterloo" moment.

The second occurrence that will make Obama lose is the emergence of an electable and smear-resistant Republican candidate. So far this hasn't happened.

But regardless if Obama wins next year or not (laughably he's already kicked off his campaign, the only political arena as far as I can see where he really shines) I would posit that in many ways it's already too late for him and the party of entitlement.

I think I speak for many hard working and successful Americans when I say, Mr. President you need to keep your grabby grabby mitts off my God damn money.

I work for the government through April as it is, I'm not working beyond that.

You want to get a moderate, slightly right of center, usually thoughtful voter - who actually did ponder voting for you the first time - pissed right the fuck off?

Congratulations. Last night did the trick.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Movies 2010

First, the usual disclaimers;

I am a HUGE fan of movies, but only somewhat of a fan of films. Movies have stuff exploding, thunderous scores, bare breasts, and all around mayhem for it's own sake. Films have the sad clown of life and often look like they were shot in a broom closet.

Both movies and films can affect you deeply, but only the first has the spectacle that I fell in love with (the opening shot of Star Wars) when I was 7 years old.

Also, I don't get out much these days; the only reason I can come up with 10 movies on this list is because of Netflix and the occasional screener I pick up from work.

Here my top ten favorite movies of 2010.

10. Alice in Wonderland.

Screw the haters- jaded film critics and film snobs alike who just don't get Burton's work. Movie lovers do, though not necessarily on a conscious level. I've said it before, but it bears repeating - Tim Burton's art taps into the primal core of humanity; he uses imagery and pantomime to reveal soul stirring portraits of the human psyche. Dialogue isn't a primary or even secondary component of his work; so in the eyes of "intellectuals" his films are often seen as simplistic or heartless. I'll concede the latter to a point, because his characters are often simple archetypes, there is typically an absence of deep emotional resonance on the surface of the stories; but these movies stick in your brain long after the lights have come up, and I often find myself pondering the deeper matters that lie within, days or weeks later.

Such is the case with the visual feast that is Alice In Wonderland. In every way it is an old fashioned morality / fairy tale, but it is also a girl power epic. Neither a remake nor a re-imagining, this is much more of a continuation of where we left off, truly a sequel to the Disney animated feature. There is a reason this movie pulled in a billion (that is, with a "B") dollars solely on it's theatrical run, it is a modern classic.

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

My favorite book in the series is my third favorite film out of 7 so far. Only Azkaban and Phoenix have done it better, and this one could still exceed them both if the second half (which comes out this summer) matches the first in quality.

School is over and the kids are gone - all that remains are three terrified young adults in the throes of everlasting evil. I was on the edge of my seat from the first frame to the last in this very strong offering from writer Kloves and director Gates. All three leads very much know what they are doing by now, and as usual the supporting cast is an endless string of greatest hits from the British acting all-star team.

If you don't know of or care for Harry Potter, this one is a miss - but if you are at all intrigued by J.K. Rowling's world, this is a must see.

8. Tron: Legacy

Okay, okay, this is a fairly mediocre film - but it is a very good movie, made EXCELLENT if you were 12 when the first one came out.

I remember enjoying the original, but I was never a huge fan. Still, when it came out, it was a bit of an event. And this new one gave me that feeling and more. All of the sudden, I felt like a kid again, in the face of overwhelming visuals, a powerful score and a surprisingly tight story that only meandered occasionally. Unlike the first movie, which is, to be kind, sloppy and slow. This one kicked ass in more than a few sequences, and I can't wait to see it again.

7. Despicable Me

2010, even more than 2008 (which was an amazing year for animated movies) is THE year of animation, as you will see as you read on down this list.

Despicable Me is an absolute delight, gorgeously animated with a good use of 3D gags that enhance the experience rather than distract from it - it also, more importantly, has a huge heart to go along with all the bells and whistles of great gags and genuinely funny slapstick and dialogue.

As the daddy of a little girl, I couldn't help but be moved at the bond forged between the lead "villian" and the three orphans. Everything works, everything clicks - like the best Pixar movies, every piece fits; and you are left satisfied with a spring in your step as you exit.

6. Tangled

Just when you think Disney Feature Animation had completely lost it's touch, there was a glimmer of hope with last years enjoyable "Princess and the Frog" and then - this year, the first home run in a long, long while.

"Tangled" is majestic, and another girl power winner. The songs (yes, Disney finally did a great musical again) are better than good (unlike PATF, where the music was passable) and the movie is truly stirring. Best of all here, the comedy is actually pretty darn funny. Disney had long been passed by Pixar and even Dreamworks in this department, and it's great to see a return to Lion King form.

Sumptuously animated and magnificently directed, "Tangled", is one for the ages that I look forward to watching endlessly with my little girl.

5. Kick Ass

And this is one I won't be sharing with my kid, at least not until she's well into her teens.

Kick Ass, does just that. It is surprising, shockingly violent, and perhaps the most original action flick in a decade.

Every action sequence is shot differently, and each vignette has something new to offer. Best of all, beneath it's harsh language and even harsher gore is a righteous, even sanctimonious morality play; brought to bear in the form of a little girl who wields her wrath like an angel of death sent from the heavens to smite evil. Can you guess why I love this movie?

4. Toy Story 3

Another grand slam from Pixar. I'm a huge, huge, HUGE fan of the first to Toy Story movies, and this one might be the best of them all.

I actually wrote a full review here but if you don't feel like reading all that, suffice it to say - this one has all the pathos and uplift that you'd expect from Pixar. They are still batting 1000.

3. Inception

Just saw this the other night, and my brain is still reeling. Chris Nolan is one of the premiere film makers of the last decade, and along with Cameron and Spielberg, will probably end up making the Mount Rushmore of great movie makers of the early 21st century.

It has heart, it has mind blowing effects and great performances. But best of all, it really takes us someplace new, which is so rare these days (as movie geeks know that all the best stories were told by 1986 or so).

This is one I must see again, and fast! Plus, I can't wait for the behind the scenes docs and commentary, as the story is so dense and there is so much that I know I missed.

2. True Grit

I'm not a fan of remakes, especially when the originals are classics. Happy to say though, thanks to the Cohen brothers and a little girl named Hallie, this version of True Grit blows the one with John Wayne away.

This is a genuinely old fashioned film, but it feels fresh and overwhelming in it's scope and emotional resonance.

Hallie Stienfeld is a 13 year old tour de force who carries the film, appearing in every scene and almost every frame, save for the gorgeous second unit work.

Like in all of the very best westerns, in True Grit, I really felt transported to another time and place. And this was a place that was full of fascinating people and imagery.

Plus, as with all the movies that I fall in love with, there was so much going on here on a deeper level. Like "Kick Ass", True Grit is a morality play of the highest order - a tale of righteous revenge and redemption. To me, it approaches the very pinnacle of powerful movie making.

1. How to Train Your Dragon

This one was a total surprise to me. Not a surprise that I loved it, Dreamworks proved two years ago that they can make great animated films when they produced "Kung Fu Panda" - but a surprise that it would end up at the top of my list. Better than "True Grit"? Better than "Toy Story 3"? Really?

Well, maybe not better. But of all the movies I loved in 2010, this one, the simple tale of a boy and a girl and a dragon - is the one that I've found stirs my soul the most.

You really have to see it, to get it - but I think I can sum it up by saying it combines the best of both worlds perfectly; the movie with it's bombast and spectacle, and the film with it's heart and passion.

Dreamworks has finally out-Pixar'd Pixar. "Dragon" soars this year like no other.

Honorable Mentions -

Other movies that I really liked;

Machete - All the gore and violence of Kick-Ass, but instead of a fresh take, this is another Grindhouse send-up. Still love it.

The Social Network - Liked it very, very much. The critics had my expectations way too high though, I wanted more in the subtext and "bigger message" departments. Still, I have to see this again.

Black Swan - Often great, sometimes transcendent. Very derivative. I've seen this story many times before, and better in much older European movies. Still, I was never bored.

The King's Speech - Very moving and the perfect Oscar bait. A little too perfect.

Megamind - What can I say, in many other years this would make my top ten, but animation is just simply too strong these days. Very fun and touching.

My big disappointment:

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World - how can a movie with incredible visuals and a cute, spunky girl heroine (one of my favorite things in the entire movie world) be dull? This one pulls it off.

Ones I really want to see:

The Town
The Kids are Alright
127 Hours

All in all, a pretty good year for the movies. I don't know how animation can get any stronger at this point - here's hoping that Cars 2 is better than the trailer.

Friday, January 28, 2011

An Honest Brawler

Recently lefty blow-hard Keith Olbermann went off the air.

You might think that I, as a right of center fiscal and military conservative with strong libertarian social tendencies, would rejoice at the sudden departure of this loud mouth.

You couldn't be more wrong.

I have so much respect for someone like Olbermann, just as I do for Beck or Limbaugh or O'Reilly or Maddow or any number of mouthpieces who speak from their hearts and try to genuinely impart an honest point of view - though I frequently disagree with all of the them, and just as often turn them off because I can't take it anymore; these voices are passionate and righteous, even when they're full of shit.

I don't judge their hearts, I don't attribute any malice to their motivations beyond a deep love for their countries and a desire to make things better for everyone. I understand that often the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but I don't think the righteous path can be found without genuine intellectual honesty, and from what I can tell most of these vitriolic voices are dogged about pursuing it.

Olbermann embodies the very best of the American political spirit; he is a straight shooter, who will look you in the eye and tell you how it is. No BS, just "This is A because of B, and if you don't see that D is C, then I can't help you."

That's what I want to hear from a political commentator, this is what I want! To be challenged, to be forced to think through my positions. The time and the place for strong political discourse is on talk radio, or for that matter on MSNBC or Fox News after regular news programming.

Contrary to what the intellectual elites would have us believe, that bloggers and talk radio people are idiots, I believe that we are truly in a golden age of information and ideas - where on any given morning I can get 30 different viewpoints on a controversial subject, each laced with nuanced differences. People may be entirely wrong, or even obnoxiously wrong about what they are saying - but I get to investigate further and ultimately decide for myself, based on literally as many sources as I choose to seek out.

This whole sanctimonious and erroneous view, that if you don't report news for a network or a major market paper - then your point of view is somehow less valid, is frankly un-American. There is so much information out there right now, that anyone who puts in even a minimal amount of time and effort to educate themselves can stand toe to toe with most "intellectuals", especially when it comes to the common sense concepts of individual liberty and freedom.

And that's why I welcome left wing loud mouths. The more the better!

So they get personal from time to time, so their hearts are inflamed and at times beyond the voice of reason. So what?

I like vitriol. I like rhetoric. I don't need another snobby soft voiced pansy on NPR, or even worse a smug network anchor who doesn't realize that the show he's on is a dinosaur that will soon sink into the tar.

Give me honesty - straightforward, unabashed bias; every single time. At least then I know what I"m listening to.

Don't give me "objectivity" that is nothing more than a condescending sham of left wing kool-aide.

Someone on facebook sent me a link of Anderson Cooper, and God as my witness, I just couldn't watch it. This guy really thinks he's coming from a neutral position, that he's really very different from Olbermann or Beck. He just reports "the facts" and he takes it very seriously.

The guy is a lightweight and even worse, he's devious.

This is what I can't stand. The duplicity of Katie Couric. The joke that is the New York Times.

I would much rather have an honest brawler. Someone who says what he means and means what he says.

Someone like Keith Olbermann.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Anger rising... fading... ...rising!

I'm not one to normally get my dander up when it comes to politics; as you've no doubt read here many times before, for me it's almost never personal. It's simply silly when it's simply politics; political talk fascinates me and I enjoy it, but I recognize that many are plainly not where I am and it's okay. It doesn't make me a bad person or them either. At the end of the day, we all want peace and prosperity, we all love our country (mostly) and we want to leave this world better than we found it.

So when something comes along that is catastrophically tragic, like the shooting in Tucson over the weekend - I am always grateful that through the horror we can find the best in each other, common ground and love through a shared ordeal. Whether it was the space shuttle blowing up, the towers coming down, or any number of unspeakable massacres and atrocities - I always take a moment to recognize that even in (or rather, especially in) our darkest hour, the very best of who we are will emerge.

Most obviously, the heroes that brought down the mad man at the scene demonstrated selfless courage at it's most pure. And then there are the countless friends and family who are heroic in their courage to go on living in the face of such a devastating blow.

Of this group, most of all I cannot fathom how the parents of the murdered little girl, who was born on 9/11/01, are able to continue. But continue they will, relying on the love and support around them and the strength of their creator to give purpose and meaning to their existence despite the irrevocable cataclysm that has forever wounded them.

Call it what you will, a silver lining, my own naiveté', but I cling desperately to hope - the shining beacons that emerge everywhere when a real life nightmare presents itself.

That is why, in the face of this atrocity, I am aghast, appalled, and very angry at what is transpiring from the mainstream media and from some of the liberals in my life.

Literally within minutes of the shooting, the tweet-verse was agog in condemnations - not to the deranged shooter - but to Sarah Palin. Her vitriol brought this about. We all need to reflect on how hate speech can insight violence.

Left wing bloggers have taken this line and are running with it - turning a blood drenched incident into a flashpoint for the politics of fear.

And it turns my stomach.

What is really going on is simply this - a bald face attempt at crushing free speech by radical leftists, using a non-political act of violence to leverage guilt against those that they disagree with.

That some would stoop so low, drenched in the blood of the innocent because they are tired of losing intellectual arguments to talk radio and Fox News, pisses me the fuck off.

And that's why I write my thoughts and feelings down here, so I don't tweet or post something I might regret.

And another thing, to all those who are sure to pounce shortly, on this event as an impetus to pass anti-constitutional gun control laws - I say a big fuck you. You will take our guns from our cold, dead hands. And I don't even own a gun.

I'm just kind of funny that way about the constitution. Plenty of cafeteria intellectuals prefer certain amendments over others, I myself have a soft spot for all of the bill of rights. Especially the second amendment, which probably the biggest reason that the first amendment is allowed to exist at all. People should never be in fear of the government, but government should absolutely fear the people.

Also, in the realm of pissing me off -

Some progressives, this would be acquaintances on facebook, have had the unmitigated gall to compare this shooting to the Times Square bombing.

Right. A calm and socially fluent terrorist with formal training in Pakistan directly from al qaeda is just like a mentally ill outcast and lone gunman. Don't think so.

I can concede there is more of a comparison to the Fort Hood shooter, but even then, the man who pulled the trigger was not sick in the way that Laughlin clearly is. He was a functioning and influential member of society, a doctor, with 15 years of higher education and a relatively normal social life.

But whatever. Even when he did shoot a bunch of people - I barely heard a whisper from the right attacking the left about how now they should tone down their vitriol and rhetoric.

There was some talk, and rightly so, about how we all need to be vigilant against terrorism - but there wasn't near the amount of hate and fear as is now being spewed by people like Keith Olbermann, focused directly against one political persuasion.

The Fort Hood shooting was a primarily non-political event, a terrorist act by a lone gunman - and it was dealt with by both sides as such.

This Tucson shooting, was simply a lone crazy person with no agenda whatsoever (though there is actual evidence to suggest he was a leftist, as his preferred reading material was the communist manifest) and now it is being ham handed into a political opportunity.


To be fair, many on both sides have been voices of reason. Most appreciated by me was my cousin Bob, who has taken great pains to point out that the magnitude of the suffering dictates that people be sensitive and use sense. I know he is in the majority of all of us, and that I shouldn't let my emotions get the better of me when a few misguided fools parade around behind the bodies of people who have been killed for no reason.

But it's tough to stay calm sometimes.