Hit ’em where it hurts…

Laura Ingraham, a host of one of the many highly opinionated right wing shows over at Fox “News”, got into it with Parkland survivor David Hogg.  She took a dig at him via twitter, writing:

David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it

This… did not go well for her.

Over at cnn.com, Tom Kludt writes about the after effects of this ill-advised twitter statement:

Laura Ingraham apologizes for mocking David Hogg

What happened, in a nutshell, is that the Parkland students, including Mr. Hogg, hit back at Ingraham.


It started with some of them shaming her but then moved on to pointing out her advertisers.

And her advertisers took note and, at least in a couple of cases, decided Ms. Ingraham had crossed the proverbial bridge too far.

So, facing a possible flight of advertisers (and, thus, revenue to her program), Ms. Ingraham offered this apology via twitter:

On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland. For the record, I believe my show was the first to feature David immediately after that horrific shooting and even noted how ‘poised’ he was given the tragedy. As always he’s welcome to return to the show anytime for a productive discussion.

Ho boy.

Look, I guess she’s trying to show genuine contrition, but for crying out loud, why start with this “in the spirit of Holy Week” crap?!

She is, rightfully IMHO, getting raked over the coals for this opening line.  Some have wondered if she is somehow implying that had it not been Holy Week, then the remarks made would be perfectly acceptable?!

Of course not.

However, if you remove those six words from the rest of her apology, even someone as turned off by the likes of Ms. Ingraham and her type of opinion hit pieces will recognize it is a refreshingly direct apology (no “if my words offended anyone” type garbage).

At least an attempt was made to offer a genuine apology, flawed as it was in its opening.

John Kricfalusi

Is the above name at all familiar to you?


Well, there was a time many years ago when John Kricfalusi, aka John K, created and oversaw a cartoon show that was, IMHO, an absolute delight.  The show was Ren & Stimpy and one of its funniest bits, the bonkers “Happy Happy Joy Joy” song…

The show was extremely silly bordering on psychotic and, for me anyway, was absolutely hilarious.

Now comes the following, presented on Jezebel.com and written by Hazel Cills…

Creator of Ren & Stimpy harassed and groomed teenage girls for sexual relationships, according to new report

This bit of news, one in a very long line of such very sad, stunning, infuriating bits of news regarding men in high positions behaving very badly (and that’s putting it in the nicest terms possible) was also…

Not all that surprising to me.


If you scroll down the above article and reach the comment section, you’ll find a comment made by yours truly regarding this situation.  Understand, I have no “inside knowledge” unique to me regarding this situation.  I have never met (at least to my knowledge) the man or any of the people involved in this story.

What I did have to say was the following:

I too loved the first run of Ren & Stimpy and was sad when it was done. Then, the show was revived and had a more “adult” bend and I recall seeing a “behind the scenes” video with John K. and a few of his staff working on some new concept for the show and…


He just seemed soooooo damn… creepy.

I’m going by (likely) fading memory, but he was talking to either one or two women on the staff and showing them some concept art he created for some new character a -again, my memory may be foggy here- chicken. The chicken was plucked and looked like male genitals and John K. was giggling about its name (I forget that completely but it was some sexual double-entendre).

The women he was with were laughing but they seemed, to me, really uncomfortable… then again, it could have been me watching the whole spectacle.

As I said, I had such a creepy vibe from seeing that clip. The subsequent Ren & Stimpy show was pretty horrid and that was the last I ever cared for John K. and his stuff.

The bottom line?

The news of John K.’s alleged behavior isn’t all that surprising to me, given the very uncomfortable feeling I had following seeing the above video.

Bear in mind, the reason this video was presented was to promote the then new Ren & Stimpy show.  For me, anyway, all it did was make me real uncomfortable regarding John K.

Corrosive Knights, a 3/29/18 update

Been a while since my last update (which was posted just a little over a month ago, on 2/27/18) on my latest novel, #7, in the Corrosive Knights series.

As I mentioned before and as is pointed out in the graphic above, Book #7 in this series presents a conclusion to the main story line, though there will be a Book #8 (I’ve already written the full first draft of it) that presents an Epilogue to the story.

So a month ago I wrote how I was done with the 4th draft of this novel.  It was a big event, given that with this completed draft I had most of the elements of the story in place and felt that future drafts would tilt more and more toward grammatical/stylistic/spelling revision rather than adding new story elements.

Welp, in the month that followed I finished reading this latest draft and adding a cornucopia of notes, revisions, and deletions.  There will be some stuff I need to work on harder than others.  Toward the middle of the book there is a part that needs work and likely some new passages/pages.  Similarly, the book’s climax and conclusion also needs more work.

However, the rest of the book proved essentially what I thought: Needing work on a grammatical/spelling/presentation level.  This includes, obviously, making passages clearer and more precise, perhaps eliminating some repetition.  Streamlining and making sure the reader will have a smooth, clear work to follow.

As opposed to the 4th draft, it took me, despite plenty of other things robbing me of time, three weeks or so to re-read and provide written notes on the work, compared to taking something like 2-3 months to read through and make notes on the 3rd draft!

As of a few days ago, I’m hard at work on the computer putting all those notations into the new draft.  Once again and in comparison to the previous draft, this is so far moving quite smoothly.  In two days I worked through 41 pages of the 288 and hope to keep a similar pace up to the end.  Of course, things will slow down when I get to that middle section and climax, as these will require more work.

Regardless, things are so far moving very smoothly and I feel like this novel, at this stage, is farther along -and therefore closer to being “done”- than were all my other books at a similar point in time.

I’ve noted before that for most of my novels it takes something like 12 (!) drafts to feel a book is indeed “finished”.  Considering how far along I feel this book is at this point in time, I suspect it won’t take me quite that many drafts before declaring the book done.

Anyway, back to work!

Jumping the shark…

Several years ago the term “jumping the shark” was coined by a very clever fellow to explain the point where a popular/enjoyable TV show reaches a point where it suddenly is no longer that.

The term/reference, for those unfamiliar, relates to an episode of the once very popular TV show Happy Days (it had a whopping 11 seasons, airing from 1974 to 1984), and had one of the most popular characters in Henry Winkler’s Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli.  It was his character in an episode presented in the 1977 season of the show that had the proverbial “jumping the shark” moment.

Quite literally!

Here it is -and, yes, Ron Howard (that Ron Howard) was still in the show and driving the boat.  He was still primarily known as an actor and hadn’t yet transitioned to the powerhouse director he subsequently became:

The absurdity of the scene and subsequent pointing out of it made the term “jumping the shark” shorthand for the moment a TV show crosses the great Rubicon and, through the silliness of that moment, is no longer looked upon as the powerhouse it used to be.

In the case of Happy Days, the show would continue for several more years after presenting audiences with this particular sequence, so while it was silly (and that’s the nicest way to describe it), it was hardly “fatal” to the TV show.

The fact is that TV shows that become popular can do so in several ways.  It can be a relatively slow process, where the show may start out barely hanging on while interest grows each and every day to the point where the show becomes a powerhouse.  It can explode almost from the get-go, a so-called “water cooler” type show that almost everyone comes to love almost right away (The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are two such recent examples).

Here’s the thing though: Good as any TV show is, there is always a risk that things will get… stodgy.  Dull.  Repetitious.  As funny and fascinating as the term is, many shows lose steam and audiences and eventually get cancelled without necessarily giving a “jumping the shark” type moment.

Way, waaaaaaaay back when a cartoon show appeared on one of the “big four” networks and, to put it bluntly, the show absolutely blew me and my future wife away.  The show premiered in 1989 and it was so damn funny I distinctly recall gasping for air in a few of those very early episodes, so hilarious was the product.

I followed the show for a number of years but somewhere around the fifth season or so it was like a switch had suddenly turned off in both me and my (by then) wife and, quite suddenly, we no longer had an interest in seeing the show.  In fact, the show, The Simpsons, continues today, having reached an incredible 30th season, easily the longest running TV show out there today.

And neither my wife nor I have seen a full episode of it in some 25 years.  In fact, the very last full The Simpsons anything I saw was the feature film, which I felt was pretty damn mediocre and didn’t exactly change my mind and make me want to see the show again.

Please note: There was no “jumping the shark” moment regarding the show.  We just felt like we’d gotten our fill and no longer felt the need to catch any more of it.

As the saying goes, your mileage may vary and, given the show still airs today, clearly there is still considerable interest in the series.  But for me, there is absolutely none.

Yesterday I watched the latest -the fifth- episode of Season 3 of Ash vs The Evil Dead.  This represents the half-way point of Season 3 as there are 10 total episodes in the season.

I’m a HUGE fan of the character of Ashley “Ash” J. Williams (and Bruce Campbell, the actor who plays him), who first appeared in the movie Evil Dead, then Evil Dead 2 (the best of the lot, IMHO), then Army of Darkness, before disappearing for many years before being revived in the Starz! series.

As I said, we’re in the third season of Ash vs. The Evil Dead and as much as I like most of what’s come before, I’m finding this season… not that good.

Don’t get me wrong, the regular nonsense is there: Plenty of blood and guts mixed with tongue in cheek humor and a main character who remains a complete idiot.  However, something about this season seems… off.

To begin with, the cast has been curiously split apart, with Bruce Campbell’s Ash often doing things on his own while the various other main characters we’ve followed to date (Ray Santiago’s Pablo Simon Bolivar, Dana DeLorenzo’s Kelly Maxwell, Lucy Lawless’ Ruby Knowby), seem to be off on their own doing their own thing.  In fact, it occurs to me we’ve seen very little of these characters together.  They are often split up in their own stories and, frankly, while interesting characters they don’t have the same level of interest in this viewer as Ash does.  In fact, their best moments are their incredulous reactions to Ash, something that can’t happen if they’re not around him.

But it goes beyond that.

The story itself, after two solid season (which, for the record, I felt nonetheless stumbled in their conclusions), is starting to show its seams.

Ash is a blowhard idiot, a delight to watch stumble along yet somehow always get the upper hand over evil.  But its becoming clear many of the show’s ancillary characters are simply cannon fodder, killed without much thought which makes you realize how capricious the story lines are.  We present a new character, we kill them off, they come back evil, and are subsequently dispatched by Ash.

Ash, still standing, doesn’t seem to suffer so much as a scratch, even though he does get slapped around like one of the Three Stooges.

Thing is -and I realize I’m offering a “serious” critique on what is, at its heart, a purposely goofy show- why hasn’t the Evil simply gotten rid of Ash already?

I mean, he’s mortal.

If its too difficult (now anyway) to take over Ash’s body, why not simply have a spirit take over a human body, purchase a gun, stalk Ash, and when he least expects it, blow his brains out?

Instead, the Evil creatures are becoming tediously predictable in their actions, taking over their human hosts, showing off their ugly mugs (usually while screaming/cursing at Ash), then moving around and around, slapping -or worse- Ash before he gets a bead on them and takes them out with maximum gore-age.

I really liked seeing this for a while but now, after three movies and while in the third season of the Starz! show, its becoming… predictable.


There are still five episodes to go in the third season and, intriguingly, in an article by Nathalie Caron over at SyFywire.com, she notes…

Bruce Campbell says “Ash is done” if Starz! cancels Ash vs The Evil Dead

The fact of the matter, it would appear, is that Starz! may well not renew the show after this season.  Perhaps the costs are too high and the ratings no longer justify a continuation.  Perhaps the principles in the show also recognize this particular creative endeavor is reaching its end-point.

Who knows.

But based on my current feelings regarding Ash vs The Evil Dead’s third season, I’ll repeat what I said before: The formula is starting to become too apparent and I’ve found myself far less impressed with this season versus the ones that came before.

Maybe it is time to lay poor Ash to rest, before he “jumps the shark”.

Living World War II veterans…

Found this chart over on reddit.  It was produced by the US Census department…

As the chart states, this is the number of living World War II veterans from 1960 to 2016.

World War II officially ended in 1945 so if you were an 18 year old at that time, by 1960 you were around 33 years old.  This is, of course, assuming the youngest age for conscription, though there were people who lied about their age to join the army!

By 1970 you were 43.  By 1980 you were around 53 years old.  By 1990, you were around 63.  By the turn of the Century, the year 2000, you were 73.

By 2010, you were in/around 83 years of age.

By 2016 and the end of this particular census, the youngest recruit, again assuming they were in/around 18 years of age in 1945, was now in/around 89 years of age.

Add two more years to get us to 2018 and you’re now talking about this individual being in/around 90/91 years of age.

And, again, we’re talking about recruits/veterans who were at the very youngest age possible in 1945, the year the war ended.

Once again one can’t help but be confronted with what is the ultimate reality of life: Time marches on for everyone.

When I was in High School, there were approximately 12 million WWII veterans still alive.  Today, there are less than a million.

My brother-in-law’s father was a WWII veteran and he passed away a few years back at the age of 96.

Soon, too soon, there will be no more veterans of that world wide conflict left alive and one can’t help but be saddened by that reality.

As I said before, time marches on.  For everyone.

Sketchin’ 57

Ann-Margret Olssen is a singer/actor/dancer whose professional career in music began in 1961.

She would go on to appear in movies, including co-starring with Elvis Presley in Viva Las Vegas!, co-starring with Steve McQueen in The Cincinnati Kid, appearing in the film version of the famous Who album Tommy, as well as co-starring in the critically acclaimed film Carnal Knowledge.

Still active today, Ann-Margret’s had a long and very productive career!

New York filmed in 1929… with sound!

Fascinating article by Richard Kaufman and presented on boingboing.net and concerning the above…

New York filmed in 1929 with sound

Ok, I’ve provided the link and I hope you give the site a look see.

Now I’m about to spoil the whole thing and present the two videos from the article.  First up, filming from the back of a truck (it appears) while going down the street.  Interesting to hear all the horns and see all the signage…

Next up, some more driving but hang on (or fast forward) to approximately 11 minutes and you get some high angle views of New York, including a distant shot of the Statue of Liberty…

If you’re at all like me, this stuff should be absolutely fascinating.

The sad thing to realize?  Considering this was filmed 89 years ago, it is more likely than not that everyone in these two videos, including the youngest children you can spot (here and there) are all dead.

I know, I know, a very grim thought but it does give you pause, doesn’t it?  Make the most of your lives for eventually, time takes us all.

This ‘n that… beware: Politics be here!

A few stories from yesterday:

First up comes the fact that despite being given a memo which, in all caps, warned “President” Trump DO NOT CONGRATULATE Vladimir Putin for his election, our fearless leader did just that in a phone call to him.  This caused a mini-furor because details of the “do not congratulate” memo and what Trump said on the call were leaked to the press some two hours afterwards and clearly involved some of Trump’s very closest staff.

Over on CNN.com, Chris Cillizza offers the following fascinating article regarding this latest brew-ha:

The real problem for Donald Trump in the DO NOT CONGRATULATE story

It is Mr. Cillizza’s opinion that:

I think the real motivation for the leaks is that some within particularly the national security apparatus have decided that leaking things to the media is the only way to a) get the President’s attention and b) possibly change his mind.

Mr. Cillizza goes on to say this is no way to run a White House.


Tell me something I don’t know! 😉


Second story: Joe Biden, in a speech, stated that if Trump and he were in High School, he’d have “beaten the hell” out of him.  This was in relation to his many sexist statements and alleged sexism.


Look, I like Joe Biden.  I do.  He seems like a decent guy and all.  But, come on Joe.  The line might be good to rouse the crowds before you but the sentiment is at best silly and at worst the type of reaction that feeds a ghoul like Donald Trump.  Witness this article, by Lee Moran and found on Huffingtonpost.com:

Donald Trump taunts Joe Biden: “He would go down fast and hard, crying all the way.”


It was a dumb line by Biden -and an expected response by Trump- and Mr. Biden should know better.   As they say online: Don’t feed the trolls.


Finally, over at Fox “News”, Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters, a longtime Fox News analyst, is leaving the network but not quietly.  As Oliver Darcy notes on CNN.com…

Fox analyst blasts network as “propaganda machine” while announcing departure

For those like me (there are a few of you out there, I hope?!), this is hardly news.  Fox “News” IS propaganda, a place where you can find two consistent things: Praise for all things/people Republican and scorn for all things/people Democratic.

However, Lt. Colonel Peters is a very prominent, very conservative voice, one that is at times incredibly strident against anything Democratic (he was once suspended for two weeks from the network for saying President Obama was a “pussy”).

For someone as fiery as he to leave the network and to leave it with such accusations suggest something that’s been brewing for a while: There are conservatives out there, rabid or not, who are deeply uncomfortable with the “Presidency” of Donald Trump.

Peters’ criticism is directed at the fact that Fox’s opinion arm is too effusive in their praise of Donald Trump and, he clearly feels, this is hurting the country and many of the institutions that Trump and his underlings are trying their best to slam.

This is also, apparently, exposing a rift within the walls of Fox, as noted Oliver Darcy also notes in this subsequent article for CNN.com:

Behind the scenes: Fox News Analyst’s note hit the network “like a bombshell”

The point of this second article is that there are employees at Fox who genuinely want to be “news” reporters (who knew?) and don’t want to engage in the opinion game.  They take reporting seriously even if they do skew right and try to present the news fairly.

However, there is a large (very large) part of Fox “News” that is clearly opinion based and this section of the network has fawned on Trump’s reign so far as if it were the greatest thing evah.

Will this split become more pronounced?  Will it lead to further problems?

Stay tuned!

Justice League box office…

News came yesterday of the final box office take of Justice League aaaaaannnnddddd… things aren’t all that great:

Justice League ends Box Office run as lowest grossing DCEU movie

The film’s final worldwide total was $657,924,295, a handsome sum certainly but the least amount made of the five films that were part of the DC “universe” of films, which includes Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, and, of course, JL.  Ironically enough, the film that made the most in this group is the much reviled (by some, not me) BvS.

In retrospect, I suspect people should have seen this coming.  The circus and negative reactions to both BvS -which I feel were deeply unfair at times- and Suicide Squad -more deserved, the film’s story was a mess and the only thing that “saved” the film, if such a term can be used, was the acting by the principles- created in the fan community so much negativity that even DC/Warners knew they had to put up a brave front to get people to come back to their side.

They trotted out director Zack Snyder and had him assure people JL would be a brighter affair.  They even had reporters and fans come to the active set and were shown props and scenes meant to give them a taste of the better film to come.

But then came word that Snyder left the project some six months or so before its scheduled release, ostensibly due to the tragedy of the suicide of his adopted daughter.  Joss Whedon took over the film and was doing re-shoots -which the studios stated were approved of/OKed by Snyder- and would finish the film.  Given the film we finally received, I can’t help but believe those statements were lies.

Mr. Snyder, it was revealed much later, had likely been fired from the production and, it should be noted, he stepped down when the re-shoots were beginning.  In other words, Mr. Snyder finished Justice League’s principle photography, reportedly presented a 3 hour cut (which some felt was “unwatchable”), and then was gone when the re-shoots began.

Could it be -and this is rank speculation on my part- that Snyder had no interest in doing the re-shoots?  He’d been a “good soldier” for DC/WB, allowing the clipped theatrical version of BvS to be released when the much better Ultimate Cut was out there.

Could it be the studio meddling had finally become too much for him and, if he wasn’t outright fired, then maybe the studios and he decided it was time to part ways amicably?

Regardless of all that, the film essentially limped into theaters, the source of plenty of negative speculation and feelings that there was no way it could be a coherent work, given the speed in which it was released and the fact that the original director was gone.

When the film was released, it earned generally better reviews but not spectacular ones.  There was more ridicule regarding the fact that Superman actor Henry Cavill had to keep his mustache due to contractual obligations with the latest Mission: Impossible film and the mustache was digitally removed after the fact (not well, to many).

When I saw the film, I liked it well enough, though at times it felt like I was watching a tug of war between the Snyder stuff and the Whedon stuff.  I still hold out hope -perhaps misguided, given the box office figures- that DC/Warners will eventually allow Snyder to go back and release his version of the film.

Why do I say “misguided”?  Because maybe DC/Warners wants to close the book on the Snyder run of movies and have no interest at all in reminding anyone of them.  Given the weak box office they have every reason to close that particular chapter of the book, especially if completing the Snyder “cut” of the film might result in further expenditures to finish any effects.

Which is really too bad.

For better or worse I would have loved to see what Mr. Snyder was planning with Justice League.  At least based on some of the trailers and scenes that never made it to the Whedon cut of the film, it appeared there was more stuff there with the ancillary characters, including Flash and Cyborg.

Truly, its too bad.

Facebook and internet culture…

Hard to believe, given today’s news, the situation regarding Facebook and, specifically, Cambridge Analytica and the way they -let’s be blunt here- weaponized personal data through Facebook. (You can read more about that here.  As for Cambridge Analytica, read about how its CEO was filmed talking about using bribes and sex “traps” here).

Here’s the thing: People are vulnerable.  People are willing to think the best of others, sometimes when they shouldn’t.  People are also suspicious but perhaps not suspicious enough depending on circumstances.

I recall a few years back when a new type of crime was being perpetrated: Criminals would go on Facebook and see when people there noted they were traveling/on vacation and would then go to the people’s homes and, upon verifying they were indeed not home, rob the place.

The fact that there are companies out there like Cambridge Analytica taking vast swaths of data (not illegally, it appears) and using it to sway people’s opinions and -at times- make them believe things which are not true is far, far more worrisome.

Perhaps I’m the naive one as I’ve always felt people would be suspicious about information being sent their way.  Nowadays, thanks to things like Fox News and, obviously, the information presented above, I’m far more worried that people can be pointed in directions by those clever enough to do the pointing.

If there is a silver lining to this particular black cloud, its that these systems are being revealed for what they are and, hopefully, parent companies like Facebook will be proactive in shutting down these people.

Now, if only someone would do the same to Fox “News”.