Personal Update for April 2017.

Here's how things are in my part of the world right now.

Just finished my first short script  in a while, a Direct Address piece that I'm hoping to shoot in a couple of weeks depending on the schedule of the actor I want to use. I'm also in the early stages of writing another and I should have more info on that down the line. 

I'm also currently recovering from Vasectomy surgery on Thursday. 
I took this step for a number of reasons. 
One is that one of the things I pride myself on is self awareness and I have come to the conclusion that I am in no position either financially or emotionally to become a parent.
Another is that's it's become apparent that this current administration has absolutely no interest in women's health except as a means of control. And if I'm going to pursue any relationship with anyone, I'll be damned if I'm going to make it harder on that potential partner. (Granted, if that partner does want children...well, that's another conversation. And I suspect that it may not end well but that's another headache for another day.)
Also...and this is the one that's the gut punch...I'm not entirely confident that we're going to walk away clean from our current situation. 
And I will be damned if I'm going inflict this world on an innocent child.
So...snip.

More later.
 

Posted on April 22, 2017 and filed under Filmmaking, Personal, Politics.

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 II or MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000'S BLOODY REVENGE!

As you may have noticed from Social Media today, the first episode of the newly rebirthed MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 was made available for Kickstarter backers on Saturday.

Fun Fact: I am a Kickstarter backer!

I am now happy to answer any rhetorical questions you have about the show.

Oh God! Please tell me it doesn't suck!

If anything, it's the opposite of suck.  It's the anti-suck. It's the place where suck is pushed to it's knees and double-tapped behind it's left ear. THERE IS NO SUCK!
Okay the actual movie sucks. But that's the meat of the whole format. So I guess you could say that it just the right amount of suck.

Okay, it doesn't suck. But I'm terrified of change. Is this my Daddy's MST3K?

It's mostly your Daddy's MST3K.  The core format is about the same. Some poor schlub is forced to watch bad movies with two robots, Hilarity ensues. And it still looks like it was put together with cardboard and glue guns. 
But...
This time around, the sets are cheaper but they're a heck of a lot larger.  The Mads have a live band. And everything is in shiny, shiny HD (Including the movie which really doesn't deserve it.)
Also, once Jonah and the bots work up a full head of steam, the jokes start flying faster than plates in a 60's Italian Comedy.  And the rhythm is far more Vivacissimo than anything seen in either the Joel or Mike years.
So yeah, It's kind of your Daddy's MST3K. If your Daddy just got a raise and celebrated with a Triple Espresso. 

So...it's good.

It's really good! I'm going to tread lightly because of spoilers.  But I can tell you that the movie they picked is absolutely the best possible choice for their first at bat. The writing is as sharp as ever.  And there's one host segment that may may be one of the best segments the show has ever done. 
My only complaint? Not enough of the Mads. But I'm going to assume that we'll be seeing more of them in future episodes.
But mild criticisms aside, the whole enterprise feels solid. This is no smash and grab nostalgia fest.  Hodgson and his collaborators have approached this show with love. And that love shines through in every wisecrack and witticism. It oozes from the glued styrofoam.
It is a comedy machine, fueled by joy.

Posted on April 12, 2017 and filed under Comedy, Movies.

Syria or: now this shit stops being funny.

There are two ways this can break.

Best Case Scenario:
If, as the prevailing theory on the left goes, Putin was in on this and told Assad to take the hit, we can expect the following. 
After much Saber Rattling, Trump and Putin make a show of making a great deal to get Assad out that will more than likely include an easing of Sanctions. That will give Trump bragging rights as a "Peacemaker" and give Putin some much needed breathing room.

Worst Case Scenario:
Putin and Assad had no Goddamn clue that Trump was gonna start throwing Tomahawks around. And because Trump has NO GODDAMN CLUE how to actually do international relations coupled with Cable News' reflexive eddie attaboying of said Tomahawk tossing, (Seriously, Fareed Zakaria! You're supposed to be one of the smart ones!) odds are he'll start throwing more around for the Endorphin Rush!
And if that happens...

Best Case Scenario:
I'm killed instantly in the irst round of blasts.

Worst Case Scenario:
Slow and painful death from either starvation and/or radiation.

So again to everyone who failed to heed the lessons of 2000 and Voted for Jill Stein because they thought Hillary Clinton would start World War III...

Posted on April 8, 2017 and filed under Politics.

My personal AHCA story.

Okay.

So after I got off my day job this morning, I called Rep. Greg Walden's office about the ACHA.
I actually got a live person, a staffer named Justin who sounded like he was in his twenties and already just fucking over it.

"Hello, Greg Walden's office."

"Hi, my name is Richard Jensen and and I'm a constituent from the Ashland, Oregon and I'm calling to demand that Rep. Greg Walden vote no on the American Health Care Act that would take Health Care away from 24 Million Americans"

"Yes sir, I'll"

(Going off MoveOn.Org script.) "And let me point out that I'm a fifty-one year old man with Type II Diabetes..."

"Yes, sir."

"..And if this bill passes..."

"Yes, sir.

"I WILL TAKE THIS VERY PERSONALLY!!!"

"YES, SIR...I will pass this on to Rep. Walden."

Just fucking over it!

 

Posted on March 24, 2017 and filed under Politics.

TRAILER TANTRUM: Mystery Science Theater 3000.

In the not too distant future... the new season of MST3K is coming to Netflix. (April 14, AD, to be exact.) Anticipated Reboot of Fan Favorite Series Mystery Science Theater 3000 will be Available on Netflix in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK and Ireland in the "Not-Too-Distant Future."

Full disclosure, I am a Kickstarter Backer for this thing so feel free to take my comments with a grain of salt.

1.) Yes, the new show is being shot in HD which gives it a little more sheen. And it looks like Hodgson used our filthy Kickstarter Monies to give the show a slightly larger scope. But it still has that "13 year old trying to swede 2001" vibe to it. 

2) The cast looks like they had a hell of a good time making this thing and that always helps with the vibe. (And you know that King Boss Movie Nerd Patton Oswalt had to be in hog heaven every single day on that set.) 

3) I was a little surprised when Felicia Day actually used the show's title to describe the experiment because I don't recall them doing that on the old version. (But I should repeat to myself, it's just a show and I should really just relax.) 

4) Also, was that Mary Jo Phel next to Felicia Day in one shot?

5) Of the brief snippets I saw in the trailer, I could make out REPTILICUS and STAR CRASH. I've written about STAR CRASH before. It's a cheeseball Italian STAR WARS rip off that looks like it was genetically engineered to be MST3K fodder.
And REPTILICUS is a Danish Monster Movie where the monster is a Marionette.
So, you know, their films selection is on point.
And it should be noted that one of Hodgson's partners in this thing is the home video company SHOUT! FACTORY which means they'll have a huge library to work with. (And does that mean at one point they might riff on SATURN 3? God, I hope so!)

So yeah, I'm in for the ride on this. I like the people involved and it looks like less of a nostalgia fest and more like a continuation of the show we all know and love.
And again, let me repeat.

YOU NEED TO RIFF SATURN 3!

 

Posted on March 22, 2017 and filed under Comedy, Movies.

"LOGAN" (2017: Directed by James Mangold)

Or...
"What if Don Siegel made a Superhero movie?".

If DEADPOOL was the superhero movie for Cool Uncle's wanting to take their niece/nephew to their first awesome R-rated film,  LOGAN may be the first R-rated "Cool Dad" movie. ("Cool Dad Movie" is defined as a film you'd watch on a couch with your dad on a Saturday afternoon. Other "Cool Dad" movies for reference include PATTON, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER and any movie with Steve McQueen or Clint Eastwood in it.)

Also, you know Patrick Stewart is warming up for Lear.  

Joe Bob Jensen says check it out.

 

Posted on March 22, 2017 and filed under Movies.

Clinton, Sanders and Trump: Yes is always an option.

I would prefer to not be writing this.

I know I’m going to get hammered for being a Neo-Liberal tool or a Corporatist Enabler or a half a dozen other terms of endearments that a certain stripe of progressives may see fit to throw my way. And there are a good number of my IRL friends that may be offended.
But Damnit! We are in a time of crisis and while I’m heartened by the sudden uptick in civil engagement that’s happened since Trump took office, if past is indeed prologue, odds are we may squander that momentum. So now, I need to say some words.

A few months back, a post on Medium started to pop up on my Facebook feed. It was called “When Yes isn’t an Option”.  It was written by an actress/voice over artist named Tamara Marston. Now full disclosure, I knew Tamara when she lived in Ashland and found her a terrific actress and a charming person.
And it gives me absolutely no pleasure to say that this was the most wrong-headed  bits of Amateur Punditry I’ve ever read.
It opens with this…

As the pressure increases to Support Hillary Because Trump, I’ve been feeling a personal statement coming on. It’s one that may well resonate with many of my fellow Bernie supporters. 

I’m very, very over the lecturing and scolding along these lines: “Well, that’s fine to like Bernie, but be realistic; don’t be stupid/foolish/selfish/ignorant/irresponsible (etc etc) enough to not vote for Clinton or god forbid support Trump — because it’s the same thing, you know.” Always with the strong inference, stated or un, that it’ll be the fault of me and my ilk if Trump wins. 

Some things to note. 

We elect our Presidents not with a Popular Vote but with the Electoral College. And as was proved in 2000 with the Bush-Gore election, it is entirely possible to get the majority of votes but still lose. And a lot of us remembered this with a shaking horror boarding on PTSD about how the next eight years played out. 

So yeah, A few of us might have been just a tad bit cranky about history repeating itself, this time as farce.

Also, Tamara posted her piece on June 3rd.  Three days before the New York Times reported that Clinton had gained enough delegates to cinch the nomination. But close enough to be sure that that would have been the outcome.

The gross irresponsibility is on the heads — and at the choice — of the DNC and the superdelegate party elite, if they charge forward through the ethical crossroads to which they’ve brought the Party and the country. It’s not on the citizens whom they’ve deliberately done their best to deceive, manipulate, and now shame into supporting their deeply unacceptable candidate... OR ELSE. 

Forget it. That game’s over, eschewed by both awake, actual “progressives” and essentially the entire rising generation of voters. If it takes both parties crashing to the ground to get that message across clearly to this entrenched, deaf-to-or-supremely-uncaring-about-the-citizenry establishment, let it come. 

Hopefully, this private club will pull out of their suicide dive after being so completely called out on their sham of a ‘democratic’ Primary. Hope- fully they’ll do the right thing for the future of the party, the citizens and the country come the Convention. 

Let’s unpack this.
First off, the Primary was not “Rigged”. 
Via THE NATION. July 29th, 2016. 

Article Title: What the Leaked E-mails Do and Don’t Tell Us About the DNC and Bernie Sanders.

A search of the WikiLeaks database returns only a handful of e-mails, all benign, mentioning Bernie Sanders before the relationship between the two organizations began to sour in mid-January. The Sanders campaign had been suspicious of the DNC’s neutrality from the start; among Sanders supporters, it was widely believed that the committee had established a debate schedule that would limit Clinton’s exposure and make it difficult for a rival to gain ground. (The DNC claimed that it had only facilitated negotiations between the campaigns and the networks and didn’t dictate the schedule by fiat.) But a turning point came in December when several Sanders campaign staffers took advantage of a software glitch to access the Clinton campaign’s proprietary data, and the DNC responded by suspending the campaign’s access to the database for 24 hours. The organization said that the suspension was required to review the security breach, but Jeff Weaver issued a blistering press release accusing the DNC of “actively attempting to undermine” the campaign. “Individual leaders of the DNC can support Hillary Clinton in any way they want,” he wrote, “but they are not going to sabotage our campaign.”

As we know, the relationship went downhill from there, and the leaks reveal the degree of contempt that developed between the DNC and the Sanders camp by the end of the campaign. One can certainly argue that DNC officials should have acted more professionally, and handled the controversies that emerged more judiciously. An obvious example came after the brouhaha at the Nevada State Convention, when Wasserman Schultz attacked the Sanders campaign for not condemning his followers “violence.” She compared them to the kind of goons who might attend a Trump rally. But while there was plenty of angry invective at the convention, and some online harassment afterwards, the reports of actual violence proved to be false. The DNC’s characterization infuriated Sanders supporters—it would prove to be one of several unforced errors by the DNC.
(Snip)
Some have also seized on the fact that the DNC leadership seemed pretty sure that Clinton would be the party’s nominee. The e-mails do confirm that the DNC violated party rules requiring officials to remain neutral until a candidate is officially nominated. As Ruby Cramer reported this week for Buzzfeed, “Hillary Clinton and Democratic National Committee staffers began the gradual process of merging operations and consolidating key campaign functions weeks before the primary ended.” In one exchange in late May, Wasserman Schultz says flatly, “He [Sanders] isn’t going to be president.”

The implication is that they were only so confident because they had a thumb on the scale. But while the DNC clearly broke the rules, by late March it was already clear that Sanders had only a very narrow path to the nomination; by May, he would have had to win every remaining contest by lopsided margins to overtake Clinton’s lead in pledged delegates. When Wasserman Schultz penned that e-mail, most knowledgeable observers, regardless of whom they favored, would have agreed. Neutrality doesn’t require either believing that all candidates have an equal shot of winning, or pretending to believe it.

 

So while a case can be made that the DNC behaved in an incompetent manner, (And I will totally spot you that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is a miserable twit who couldn’t make a Tuna Fish Sandwich without starting a grease fire.) there’s no case that they “Manipulated” squat. (And before anyone gets on my case for going with a Neo-Liberal source, this is the freaking NATION we’re talking about. They endorsed Bernie so if there was some jiggery-pokery going on, they’d be the first to cry Horseshit.) 

If they don’t, they’re likely to successfully prevent the nomination of the strongest candidate, as shown by his astonishing steady, yearlong rise against their expected shoo-in; as proven by his phenomenal continuing momentum, all polling, and the stark demographics showing him clearly to be the future of a Party that calls itself “progressive.” And all this despite every counter-effort on the part of his nominating party. And yes, I do put far less weight on the current, skewed “popular” vote of a citizenry and a primary manipulated to the max from Day 1... not to mention the major voting messes in significant states... and so should the superdelegates, given their sole intended function within the party. 

For the record. Clinton won 55.2% of the popular vote while Sanders won 43.1% which came to Three point Seven Million votes more. Now you may not like those figures but they exist and unless you have evidence of actual vote tampering, you don’t get to put less weight on them!

Here’s the thing: Trump has no idea what he’s doing politically. He’s a pugnacious, yapping showdog chasing a slowing car. He won’t have any idea how the damned thing works if he catches it. Once in the Oval Ofifce, he’d need handlers to show him how to work his zipper. If we focus on electing liberal down-ticket candidates, there’s very little Donald Trump could actually do of dire significance in his brief, media-panting tenure. (Yes, depending on how long he makes it, we may have Supreme Court issues. What have we learned in the last year about Advise and [non]Consent? As to the fear tactic of all the dire things we could lose if the wrong Judge goes in (I hear women’s reproductive rights thrown around a lot)... folks, this is still America. We can see in France right now what happens when a government hits the limit of what a very awakened, very mobilized and very motivated citizenry will accept.) 

The Clintons, on the other hand, know exactly what they’re doing. They cut their teeth on this political paradigm; their entire careers have been steeped in gaming the ever-more-moneybound system from the get-go; they helped create and solidify — and have vastly benefitted from — the oligarchy our country now factually is. 

As we run screaming into month three of this nightmare, does any of the foregoing sound even remotely Goddamn rational?  The GOP has both the House and Senate and they have no intention of reining in Trump as long as he signs whatever poisoned slab of legislation they slap in front of him.  Mitch McConnell could easily invoke the Nuclear Option, killing the filibuster and getting Gorsuch into the Supreme Court.  (At that point, I’m wondering how some of Tamara’s younger female friends are going to feel about her dismissal of losing reproductive rights while they’re trying to McGyver an IUD out of a Guitar Pick and Dental Floss.) Not to mention that every Goddamn fear that you may have had about Clinton is coming true under Trump! Worried about Clinton’s ties to Goldman Sachs? Congrats, his Treasury Secretary is a former Goldman Sachs Partner!!! Concerned about Hillary’s pro-fracking stance? Don’t worry, you’ll never hear about fracking again BECAUSE TRUMP IS ABOLISHING THE GODDAMN EPA!!! And do I even have to go into the gutting of the State Department.  Also Nukes!  Yeah, we stopped Clinton but put someone objectively worse in her place. It’s like if Linda Tripp made a wish on a Monkey’s Paw.

So when I hear Tamara saying that we shouldn’t worry about Donald Trump, I have to ask, “What is she smoking and will it still be available after Trump guts health care?”. 

I really am well aware of the circumstances and plenty informed, I’m guessing a good mile more than the average voter — at 56, I’m more poitically informed and well-read than I’ve ever been in my life. 

Oh, then she must have read about how Hate Groups have been on the rise since Trump started running.

The overall number of hate groups likely understates the real level of organized hatred in America as a growing number of extremists operate mainly online and are not formally affiliated with hate groups.

Aside from its annual census of extremist groups, the SPLC found that Trump’s rhetoric reverberated across the nation in other ways. In the first 10 days after his election, the SPLC documented 867 bias-related incidents, including more than 300 that targeted immigrants or Muslims.

Also, in a post-election SPLC survey of 10,000 educators, 90 percent said the climate at their schools had been negatively affected by the campaign. Eighty percent described heightened anxiety and fear among students, particularly immigrants, Muslims and African Americans. Numerous teachers reported the use of slurs, derogatory language and extremist symbols in their classrooms.

So I’m sure when Tamera wrote her piece, she took into consideration the societal repercussions of letting a Presidential Candidate who spent his entire campaign pandering to aggrieved white males win, thus empowering said white males to act out their xenophobic rage in words and deeds? Right?

Right? 

No. Thanks for the lecture and dire, finger-wagging warnings, but if the Party chooses this disastrous, dismissive path despite everything this Primary has shown them, then I’ll choose to vote with my conscience and knowledge and belief that we can do better than this if we demand it. I’ll risk the bumpiness of a brief, bumbling Trump presidency with an entire, very real American Revolution mobilized to bring him down (along with the remnants of the despicable GOP that birthed him). 

Before I dig into this section (And piss off a number of friends in the process.) let me lay down some autobiographical background.

Back in 2012, President Obama was starting his re-election run. The previous two years had been rocky. The GOP had the House and was blocking reforms left and right. Obama was getting was getting hammered by his left flank for trying to make a Grand Bargain with John Boehner. And he was still dealing with fallout from his Drone Program.  Thing were getting so rough that Bernie Sanders started making the cast that maybe Obama needed to be primaried. 
And you know what?
I was kind of with him.
However, in the end, no such primary challenge happened and suddenly, we had Mitt Romney to contend with.
So I sat down and tried to figure out what to do. And this is what I finally came up with…

You unhappy with how Obama been handling energy policy?

The Republicans ain’t going to fix that!
Romney is going in full with a program to make sure we get and burn every last drop of that dirty, dinosaur juice and damn the carbon count!
You see where I’m going with this? No matter what problems you have with Obama, they are not going to be fixed by letting the GOP back in charge.
Does this mean that a Obama second term is going to be all lollipops and blow jobs?  No.  But a second Obama term with a Democratic led Congress and a Senate that undergoes substantial filibuster reform has more of a shot of getting shit done then the configuration we have now.
Right now, we are on the sixth floor a burning building and we can either get burned to death (Romney.) or we jump out the window. (Obama.)
We still have to worry about hitting the street but at least we’re not on fire.

So, I voted for Obama. And if I had to do it over,  given the same set of circumstances, I’d do it again.

But that also means that as an Obama voter, I have to take responsibility for the consequences of his presidency. Including the Drone Program! (Which by the way, would have been continued by Bernie Sanders.)

So, whatever problems you had with Clinton, they were not going to be fixed by electing an unstable, narcissistic jackass who’s right hand men are a white nationalist who looks like Van Morrison if he figured out how to deep fry heroin and a born again talk radio host who thinks THE HANDMAID’S TALE is a cookbook.

So yeah, I’m sure Tamera, a white liberal who I’m assuming has enough resources to ride this out is fine with having President Trump for a while. Unlike..let’s say..Syrian refugees, Transgendered people, Muslin Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Young women, Coal Miners, Senior Citizens, People with chronic long term illnesses and anyone else making under two hundred thousand dollars a year who also happen to be not white. (Although, let’s keep it a hundred, the white ones are pretty much screwed too.)

By the way, if you feel I’m being unduly harsh here, let me just point out that I’m making under $28000 and just got diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and will be directly harmed by the new Health Care Plan. And I’d love to give a damn about her hurty feelings but I’m too busy trying to figure out how to make Insulin in my crock pot.

And her case against Clinton? Well, if you go back to her piece, she doesn’t offer any specific points against Clinton and certainly no links to any articles with supporting arguments. I’m sorry but if you want to convince me not to vote for the only viable candidate standing between us and total disaster, you best come up with something a little more compelling than “But she’s eeevvviiilllll!!!” 

And it better be, you know…true.  (Keep in mind, there was a metric fuck-ton of phony stories about Clinton floating around during the Election. Follow the link to SNOPES for examples.)

Also keep in mind that after Clinton won, Bernie Sanders was able to leverage his impressive run into a having a major effect on the Democratic Platform.

The draft platform, produced this weekend at a meeting of Clinton and Sanders delegates in Orlando, Florida, still needs to be ratified at the Democratic National Convention. And there, delegates can make amendments and change provisions. But even with that caveat, this document represents a victory for Sanders and his backers, with planks that reflect the aims of his campaign. What did he win? Included in the new platform is his call for a $15 per hour minimum wage, Social Security expansion, a carbon tax to price its impact on the environment, tough language on Wall Street reform and antitrust, opposition to the death penalty, and a “reasoned pathway for future legalization” of marijuana.

That’s not to call this an unqualified success. Clinton delegates blocked a Sanders-favored fracking ban, a “Medicare for all” plank, a call for public financing of elections, an amendment to block lobbyists from serving as regulators (and vice versa), and language that would commit Democrats to pushing “an end to occupation and illegal settlements” in Palestinian territory.

On the whole, however, Sanders won more than he lost, especially given the degree to which the two sides were more simpatico than aligned against each other. Indeed, for as much as coverage emphasized discord between Clinton and Sanders delegates, the real story is the extent to which the entire party has moved to the left, with broad agreement on most issues. Team Clinton and Team Sanders moved in tandem on a whole host of concerns, such as a police-reform plank that committed the party against police militarization and racial profiling (as well as supporting the use of body cameras), “postal banking” that expands banking services to low-income Americans, an end to loopholes for estates and hedge funds, and a stronger Earned Income Tax Credit.

So, bottom line. Sanders was able to get Clinton to move to the left on several issues. And yes, there is no guarantee that a Party Platform can be translated into actual legislation. But given an energized left (Thank you, Bernie!) combined with Sanders and Warren birddogging her the entire term, Odds were that Clinton would have done more good than harm. 

And what was the general reaction to this? Did we say “Hooray for Bernie”?  Bake him a cake?  Get him a lap dance?

Well, I don’t know what it was like on your Facebook Timeline but on mine, you’d think that Bernie announced that Phyllis Schlafly was his side bae. I had people who were Ride and Die for the guy a week earlier screaming “Sell Out” even though he pulled off moving Clinton to more progressive policies which, pardon my nativity, I thought was the whole cock-a-doody point!

Because unless you can craft policies that actually help people, the whole thing becomes a Cult of Personality which is not what I signed up for!

Bernie would have disappointed you.
I don’t mean that as a slam at the guy. I’m a long time fan. Hell, I was a Bernie fan before it was cool to be a Bernie fan. I mean it in the sense that like all humans, Bernie has his flaws and his own way of doing things. And once he started the job, five I’ll get you ten that he would have done something that would have pissed you off and made you disillusioned and butt hurt.
How do I know this?
Because I was alive and conscious during the Obama Campaign and I remember how it went.
And you know something?
All the reactions to Obama were the same as the reactions to Bernie. Obama’s message gained the same kind of traction for the same kind of reasons. 
And two years later, the voters gave the House back to the GOP under the mistaken belief that the Democrats needed to be punished for not delivering everything they wanted in Health Care. And the GOP rewarded the voters by cock-blocking most of Obama’s other legislative goals.
Obama disappointed you because he didn’t match the image you had of him in your head.  You wanted Jesus Christ. You got Eisenhower. 
And you didn’t want Bernie. You wanted the idea of Bernie. You wanted the cranky grandfather with the flaming sword to cut with way though Congress. You wanted an avatar for your anger.
Well, that’s not how this shit works because everything is a process. Like it or not, no matter what the match up is, it’s always the lesser of two evils. That’s just how it is.
We are flawed human beings. We can’t be all good.  All we can be is less evil.

We’ve been down this road before.
Bush/Gore/Nader 2000.

Don’t believe me? Here are the results from the three states we expected to win. DJT is Trump. HRC is Clinton and JS is Jill Stein. 

Pennsylvania

DJT 2,970,733
HRC 2,926,411
JS 49,941

Michigan

DJT 2,279,543
HRC 2,268,839
JS 51,463

Wisconsin

DJT 1,405,284
HRC 1,382,536
JS 106,674

 

Now, take a moment and use your calculator. Add Stein’s votes to Clinton’s totals and you know what you get?

A Federal budget that doesn’t slash the EPA, NEA, PBS, the State Department and Meals on Wheels for Seniors.

In a close election, voting for a third candidate is like jerking off on your taxes. If may make you feel good when you do it but nothing gets done and there’s a big mess to clean up afterwards. 

Let me make this clear.
This is our fault.
We had the clearest electoral choice possible, between a flawed but highly qualified candidate and a mentally challenged millionaire with the impulse control of a baby on meth. And we chose badly.
And we need to take responsibility for it,
(And the bitch of is that technically, most of us made the right choice. Just not in the most geographically advantageous way possible.)

(And quick sidebar. As insanely wrong headed as Tamara was, at least she was in the mix. There were about seventy-one million eligible voters who chose not to vote at all. Even after you factor in people who had issues getting to polling places or unable to vote due to various voting restrictions, that’s a huge chunk of indifferent Americans who are about to get sticker shock from the price of that indifference.)

And I don’t to hear another Goddamn word about Hillary Clinton would have been just as bad or worse.  If you believe that after all that’s happened in the last three months, then you’re a damned fool. If you don’t believe it but still say it in hopes that a Trump Presidency will “empower” the masses to “Revolution” regardless of the damage it will do to the country, then you’re a fucking nihilist and I don’t even want to know your name.

So yes, I will wag my finger and cluck my tongue.  (I can do that. I can multitask.) And I will state out loud what should have been implicit this who past year. When you have a choice between a Fascist and a Viable Non-Fascist, You vote for the Non-Fascist!!!

Now, you may ask yourselves why am I getting all hooped up about this months after the fact?Truthfully, because I was a Goddamn coward.
I should have written this piece in July when Tamara’s missive came over my transom but I didn’t because I didn’t want to piss off any mutual friends we may have.
In retrospect, I should have taken that risk. 
I should have loved my friends enough to tell them the truth.
So I’m saying it now.
In a close election, with our current system of The Electoral College, voting for a third party candidate takes votes sway from the Major Candidate closest in ideology to them.
They can’t win and it benefits the opposing candidate.
Doesn’t that suck? 
Yeah, it does. But it’s not a grand conspiracy or plot by the Illuminati.  It’s just Math. You got a problem with math? Take it up with the Greeks. (Or better yet, support a National Popular Vote that would make it easier for third parties to participate without it turning into a Goddamn Existential Crisis every four years.)

I’m also saying this now because on the off chance we survive this and actually have another Presidential Election (Which honestly, I’m putting our odds at fifty/fifty that we’ll get that shot.) we need to accept that whoever the Dems run will be preferable to who ever the GOP picks to run. Which given the way the GOP has been devolving, will probably be a two hundred pound bag of horse manure with a pair of googly eyes glued to it.

And that’s doesn’t mean you passively sit back. It means you pick the best person possible and then spend the next four to eight years screaming at them not to fuck it up. Which is what we should have done on day one of Obama to counteract the Tea Party. Don’t get me wrong. I’m delighted in the uptick of public engagement but it does have a certain “Gets a gym membership after the third heart attack” flavor to it. (Personally, I think you bastards should have hit the streets when Obama refused to prosecute Bush and Cheney for war crimes but you know…whatevas.) 

So, in conclusion. Like Tamara, I voted my conscience. I voted for Bernie in the Primaries because his economic policies were more in tune with mine.  I voted for Clinton in the General because despite what differences I may have had with her, we’d have a better shot getting stuff done with her then with a vagina grabbing doofus with a head filled with shredded copies of Hustler Magazines and THE TURNER DIARIES.
The math ain’t that hard.
Which is why when Jill Stein invited Bernie to join her on her children’s crusade, he didn’t even return her call. Because he knew all it would do is split the vote and make it easier for Trump to win. Y’all should have listened to Bernie. 
He knew what time it was.

Yes is always an option. 
As a wise man once said, Purity is for Popes and Prime Ministers.
The rest of us have to play it as it lays.

Posted on March 17, 2017 and filed under Politics, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Electoral College.

A brief commercial announcement. My TEE-PUBLIC store.

In my continued attempt to supplement my income, making it easier to pay my bills so I can focus  on making stuff, I've opened up a shop on Teepublic.com.  

My two designs that I have available right now are these.

The company logo, of course.  (As the old saying goes, "Branding is everything".)
The other one is this timely design...

Looking for something snazzy to wear at your next protest? This design will make you stand out in a crowd. (So make sure you're wearing a jacket that you can zip up quickly if you see the Federales show up.)

Anyway, if you like my stuff, feel free to buy a T-Shift and show your support! 

Posted on March 9, 2017 and filed under swag.

TRAILER TANTRUM: Ghost in the Shell.

I'll be honest, I'm not really feeling this.
Don't get me wrong. It looks like Rupert Saunders and his team busted their asses to capture the texture of the original  Mamoru Oshii Anime. And even taking into account the whitewashing controversy surrounding Scarlett Johansson's casting as The Major, (And seriously Hollywood, let's knock that shit off.) she looks like she's ready to dance the Transhuman Mambo with aplomb.
But still,,,
Maybe it's the vague allusion to The Major having a previous family before getting Mrs. Roboto'ed and drafted in Section Nine. I don't remember it being in the original film. And it strikes me as Hollywood Bullshit attempt to give her an arc. (Unless this story thread is in the original Manga or one of the spin off series. In which case, I'm talking out my ass.)
Or maybe it's the bland trailer music that seems at odds with the visuals.
Maybe if they had used this instead...

Now that would have hit the spot. It's striking enough to intrigue the newbies and the hard core fans would have lost their collective shit. (It should be noted that Cliff Mansell is doing the score and if there's any American Composer who can make the exploits of Section Nine sing, it's the guy who scored THE FOUNTAIN.)

So, color me intrigued but not excited. 
Am I missing something? Feel free to sound off below.

Posted on February 21, 2017 and filed under Movies.

Breathing in, Regrouping and Living Past Hope.

Yeah...it's ben a while.
But in fairness...it's been a bitch of a last few months.|
Starting with the screening in Portland that I mentioned in my last post...that didn't go as well as I hoped.

On October 20th, my short GLENGARRY GLEN STYX was shown at the NW Film Center as part of a "Best of" program of films shown at the Klamath Independent Film Festival. I was looking forward to playing my short in front of a large audience. Turned out...not so much.

Yeah...bummer.

And then the election happened.
Again, Bummer.
And then I got diagnosed with Type II Diabetes.
The bummer hat trick.

So... I've been spending the last couple of months doing self care. Adjusting the diet, processing the new reality that we're living under (Which, I'm sure I don't need to remind you, is not normal.) And also focusing on stuff like this...

On Febuary 2nd of this year, Unify Oregon held a rally on the plaza in Ashland. This rally was called because of a rash of Nazi and White Supremacist leflets posted all over town.

So...I guess for the duration of this nightmare, I'm going to be an anti-fascist filmmaker.
So, I'm trying to will myself back into writing and getting a couple of new shorts in the can.
Also, I really need to update this blog more often. (And yes, not all of it will be nerdery.  Politics will be on the menu. Adjust your gag reflexes accordingly.)

So...apologies for the long radio silence. We will be ramping thing up around here. Pinkie swear.

SCREENING ANNOUCEMENT: Best of KIFF in Portland October 20, 2016.

GLENGARRY GLEN STYX is being screened at the Whitsell Auditorium in the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon on October 20th as part of a Best of the Klamath Independent Film Festival Program. 
Here's the full program.

Bed in the Clouds
Piers Dennis and Max Miller, Ashland OR
runtime: 3:21

Monday
Sean Johnson, Klamath Falls OR
runtime: 6:43

Self Inflicted
Ross Williams, Talent OR
runtime: 9:20

Elegies
Bruce Bayard, Ashland OR
runtime: 7:48

Impending Sale
Ray Robison, Medford OR
runtime: 3:31

Not a Bench
Mig Windows, Ashland OR
runtime: 15:08

Damn, What a Dame
Michelle Branch, Ashland OR
runtime: 2:54

Lost/Forgotten
Ryan Niemi, Klamath Falls OR
runtime: 3:17

Glengarry Glen Styx
Richard Jensen, Ashland OR
runtime: 9:43

The Land Between
Michelle Alvarado, Bend OR
runtime: 3:39

Bare the Sun
Jesse Widener, Klamath Falls OR
OR runtime: 14:38

Prowler
Randy Granstrom, Medford OR
runtime: 7:20

Liberation
David West, Medford OR
runtime: 14:29

Total runtime 1:41:51 + filmmaker Q&A

So, I will be there, rocking my Celtic Ray Filmworks shirt and my Non MRA-Fedora and I and a host of other filmmakers will submit ourselves to the tender lashings of your questions. Also I'm bringing the Canon 70D so you can expect at least one True-Life Adventure video to come out of this.

Follow the link for information and tickets! And I will see you there!

Posted on September 29, 2016 and filed under Art Bell, Filmmaking, Movies, Public Screening.

Yeah...I've been quiet...

I won't lie. It's been a combination of things.
The short I was going to make to enter into Fantastic Fest this year did not get made for a wide number of reasons. (Including a first draft that that spooked the crap out of one actor so badly that we lost them and I had to do a radical rewrite to eliminate the character. There is a long back story to this that I will share one day.  But not now.)
And also, the whole election has turned my brain in various times into various puddings of varying types of thickness. Right now I'm somewhat stable because Trump is losing ground post debate. Which means, the odds of me living long enough to make some new shorts have gone up.

But yeah. I need to pay more attention to this site.
Since now, we have some big things a coming.
Stay tuned.

Posted on September 29, 2016 and filed under Personal.

PERSONAL UPDATE FOR MAY.

You know, I used to be better at this blogging thing.

In my defense, I have been busy.  

First off, I've been busy writing the first draft for my big Film Festival short of the year and I've kind of discovered that there was a particular Idea that I may have been a tad too aggressive in pursuing.

Don't ask.

The point is that a rewrite is in the process. And I'm still hoping to have the short ready in time for the final deadline for Fantastic Fest. 

In the meantime, I've got this thing I co-wrote with Michael Bingham.

Co-written and starring Bing. We actually have three more videos of this character in the pipeline. However, it may be a bit before we can get to them because of real life stuff he's dealing with. (Long story and not mine to tell.)  But the first one came out well and if you like, pass along.

Also this...


This is me testing my Zoom H4N Digital Recorder with a local band called Flat 5 Film Flam and as you can hear, the sound quality is the best I've had on one of these thing. 

And I've also been gearing up with some new Rokinon Cine lens. And I have to say, the results have been terrific.

More updates are coming soon, stay tuned.

Posted on May 29, 2016 and filed under Comedy, Filmmaking, YouTube Channel.

PERSONAL UPDATE FOR APRIL.

Dear lord, I need to not smile in photos.
I don't know why but every time I see myself smile in a photo, it looks like someone went Francis Farmer on me with an icepick. Also, it would have helped it I shaved first. 
But the point of the the photo is not my unshaved, rictus like visage. The point of the the photo is the Zoom H4N multitrack digital recorder that I got this week. So my future work will have a quality of sound higher then a vacation video.
If I'm going to be playing with the big boys, I need to step up my game.

I've been busy for the last couple of weeks working with Michael Bingham on a new series of shorts that we hope to have up for you in a couple of weeks. And also I'm working (Way too slowly for my tastes.) on a longer short for film festivals.
And hopefully, they will all have crisp, stereo sound.


 

Posted on April 19, 2016 and filed under YouTube Channel, Filmmaking.

Additional Portland Video: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

I was so busy making noise about returning to blogging about (Shudder.) politics, I forgot to include this.
Before heading up to Portland, my buddy Jake Merriman asked if I would be willing to shoot a scene that he and his acting partner had been working on for scene study. Given that I hadn't shot a narrative short for a while I thought it might be good practice. 
So Jake sends me the text for three possible scenes and I chose the Beatrice/Benedick scene from Act Four, Scene One from MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. And proceed to make a shot list.

We had budgeted for a four and a half hour shoot but we were able to get it done in about two hours because Jake and his scene partner, Ms. Sarah McGregor had their roles down so cold, I almost got frostbite through my camera. 
The initial edit was done in about a half hour and I dig my color grading and sound mix while taking the Coast Starlight back to my neck of the woods. The sound was a big bugaboo because we were shooting on Jake's deck but I think came out all right.
In the color grading, I bumped up the reds in the highlights (To bring out the red in Ms. McGregor's hair.) and the blues in the midtones (To bump up Jake's shirt and Ms. McGregor's dress.) and added a layer of 16mm_smooth film grain for texture. All in all, not a bad bit of post production jiggery pokery on my part.

Also, For what it's worth, I also had the pleasure to see Ms. McGregor as Yelena in a production of "Uncle Vanya" in nearby Newberg. And I came away with two impressions.
1) Sarah McGregor is a hell of good actress.
2) Holy crap! "Uncle Vanya" is way more apocalyptic then I remembered! Seriously, all of Dr. Astrov's speeches about the deforestation of the surrounding land put the squeeze on my heart like a son of a bitch. Seriously, It's like Chekov had a damn "CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER" time portal in his office and saw me reading fundraising E-Mails from the Sierra Club.
Terrific production but a clammy hand on the heart may not have been the best way to close out my vacation.

Thanks again to Jake and Ms. McGregor for letting me capture their fine work.

Posted on March 12, 2016 and filed under Vacation, YouTube Channel, Personal.

Portland, Donald Trump and a return to the Ramparts.

To make a plan is to invite God to laugh in your face.
This sounds like a famous quote of some sort. But damn me if I can't place the source.
But whatever the source or correct verbiage, the fact is that it sums up my current situation to a damn tee.

As most of you who been following me for a while might know, I used to blog pretty regularly about politics at my old place on the Internet. But I shut it down about seven months ago to focus full time on filmmaking. In that time, I launched a new YouTube Channel, had one of my pieces shown in Los Angeles and for the most part, was perfectly content to let others write about politics.
And write they did. DAILY KOS is still a going concern. Twitter friend Lance Mannion, is churning out intelligent posts on a regular basis. My twitter feed is jammed packed with people fighting the good fight.
They had this. I could focus on making my little shorts while waiting for someone to say, "Hey, this guy's pretty good. Wonder what he could do with more money and a real crew?"
And then the unthinkable happened.
Donald Trump in the space of seven months, went from being a semi-amusing sideshow to a Goddamn Existential Threat. And that jump in threat level just happened to coincide with me trading my blogging hat for a director's cap. 
As my friends will volunteer, it does not take that much to render me a tear stained ball of guilt.
(Sidebar. That last time I felt this guilty was after the 2000 "election" when George W. took the big chair and proceeded to turn the country into a 3000 mile wide tire fire.)
And clearly, this was on my mind as I headed off to Portland.

And the tag at the end where I name check Haskell Wexler and Studs Terkel isn't just me showing off my film nerd/progressive bonafides.  It's me admitting that it may be time for me to throw myself back into the fray. A prospect that wraps a cold and clammy hand around my heart. 
However, I'm not reopening "News from the Front". For better or worse, this is kind of my new home on the Internet so I make my stand here.
However, that doesn't mean I'm giving up on filmmaking. Hell, if anything, it means a further diversification of the stuff I make. 
Which means more doc stuff as well as the goofy stuff.
Good news for my audience. 
If not for my soul.

Posted on March 9, 2016 and filed under Filmmaking, Personal, Vacation, YouTube Channel.

TRIP TO PORTLAND UPDATE.

Sometimes, prepping for a vacation makes you feel like you need a second smaller vacation. Never the less, here's what's on tap for me this week.

-Finishing my taxes.
-Getting my good computer mike back from a friend so I can record voice-overs on the trip.
-Making sure my landlord, the post office and my credit union all know that I'm going out of town for those dates. 
-Boning up on my Final Cut X Tutorials.
-Going through the YouTube Audio Library and picking out music for the videos.
-Practicing Color Correcting and slow motion.

You know, a while back, Steven Soderbergh up loaded to his Extension 765 website an one hour and forty eight edit of Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate" that he created during a holiday break in 2006. 
I used to think "What kind of idiot spends his vacation re-editing a whole movie?".
I now realize that it's the same kind of idiot who decides to shoot and edit a mini-doc a day for a four-day vacation.
I just hope my idiotic behavior turns out half as well.

Posted on February 16, 2016 and filed under Filmmaking, Personal.

TRAVEL PLANS...with a twist...

I am going to be in Portland on the 23rd through the 27th. The official reason is some much needed R & R by way of hanging with my buddy, Jake Merriman and seeing some other friends who live up there.
But there's a secondary reason that may be worth your interest.
My film making out put has been fallow as of late. And although I've been working on some new scripts, none of them are to the point I can pull the trigger on them. And I need something to shove into the YouTube pipeline
So here's the plan.
I'm going to attempt to churn out a video a day while on my trip.
Not long ones. Probably between ten-fifteen minutes each. Each one covering some small segment of the trip.
And since I'm bringing the new MacBook Pro with me, I'm going to be shooting and editing these suckers on the fly. 
(I'm also going to shooting for Jake and a friend a small piece that they've been doing scene work on. That probably won't be posted to YouTube because of copyright issues but I can post it to my dormant Vimeo Page.) 
So I'm looking forward to bringing you guys a chunk of Portland with bits of laughter and geekiness along the way.

PERSONAL UPDATE FOR JANUARY

Here's what's going on in my world right now.

Fans of "HEROES OF THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS" will be delighted to know that I'm collaborating with one of that short's starts, Michael Bingham on a new set of shorts for the YouTube channel. What's different about these shorts are that I didn't initiate these. Bing came up the original idea and wrote the first draft that I just finished re-writing. And after years of generating my own material myself, its a new experience working on someone's else's script. There were at least a half dozen times during the process I had to ask myself "Am I changing this because I actually think it's an improvement or just for the sake of having my fingerprints on it?". (And for those of you scoring along at home, Bing's first draft came in at three pages. So that's comes out to about two gut-checks per page.)
Fun fact: There was one gag in the script that Bing loved but was leaving me cold. But when I went into the rewrite, I realized that the issue wasn't the joke itself but the way it was executed. It was missing a beat that made the joke feel more plausible. And it was kind of fun to take a piece of writing and go under the hood as it were.
So hopefully, we'll be able start shooting in a couple of weeks. And we'll have one of them posted before my vacation in February.

Posted on January 30, 2016 and filed under Comedy, Filmmaking, YouTube Channel.

TRAILER TANTRUM: TV spot for "Superman V Batman".

1. I'm going to assume that Batman is very much aware that Superman is invulnerable and that ramming him with the Batmobile is at best, meant to be taken metaphorically. At worst, he's saying "I've got a whole fleet of these fuckers and one of these times, it's gonna leave a mark".

2. I'm hoping that the Synderverse version of Alfred can do auto repair because at the very least, the suspension is jacked. And if Bruce Wayne has it towed to a Pep Boys, someone gonna catch wise real quick.

3. "Do you bleed?"
Hey Bat-Brain, YOU JUST HIT HIM WITH YOUR CAR AND HE'S STILL STANDING!!
At this point, The Joker has to be asking himself, "How do I keep losing to this guy?".

I want to like this movie. I like Superman. I like Batman. I'm rooting for Affleck to be awesome in this role so it gives him clout to direct more movies. I'm on record as liking Cavill as Superman. (Even though the movie that surrounded him last time gave me a splitting headache.)
But everytime I see footage from this thing, I can imagine Kevin Fiege laughing his ass off and then green-lighting a"Howard The Duck" movie just to taunt DC further.

 

Posted on January 14, 2016 and filed under Movies, Superheroes.