Lost Faith in Electors

So about an hour ago I was picking up my oldest son from swim practice and Republican state electors officially handed the Presidency to the most unqualified, ill-suited candidate for office in our nation’s history. They could have rebelled easily but they were party loyalists before they were Americans and they did what they did. History is already writing its judgement and I’d feel bad for them if they deserved  pity. They get none. I’m saving it for the victims of their folly.

I told my son that he and his siblings didn’t have to say the pledge or stand for the anthem for the next four years because this nation is a disgrace. I told him I was embarrassed and ashamed to be an American tonight.

We drove in silence for a few minutes. Then I told him I wanted to modify what I had just said. I was still embarrassed at my country having been taken by such an obvious con but that I wasn’t ashamed of my country because most voters voted against him. Two point eight million more people are good than are stupid, bad or just desperate.

That matters a lot. We have so much work to do, both to protect each other from the criminals and fools coming to power and, eventually, to clean up the mess they’re going to make yet again.

For myself, I continue struggling with my contempt for people who would vote for such a creature and the understanding that they are coming from a world of ignorance and damage. If I thought Hillary Clinton was a murdering pedophile I’d vote against her too.

How to address that struggle is a subject for another entry. For now we must stay strong and resolute. Stay healthy and sane. Resist.

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Long Time, No Blog

What can I say, the past two years just haven’t been very interesting. Let’s see if this thing still works.

Some people among my Twitter and Facebook feeds may have noticed my post-election obsession with The Orange Menace, Donald Drumpf, the least morally, intellectually and temperamentally qualified life-form ever to approach the Oval Office. This obsession has been clarifying but in many ways unhealthy for me. Simply put, I couldn’t turn it off. I was scared, angry and sad all the time. I still find myself lapsing into that state very easily.

The past few days I’ve made a conscious effort to be healthier, to cut out the garbage I routinely eat, to exercise, to get outside and communicate directly with friends. It’s helped, but I still drop into my obsession too easily, as if there’s some Rubik’s Cube I can solve to keep Trump from disgracing and ruining my country if I only keep working it hard enough.

I’ve also wondered what hell I can really do, other than to bear witness and write screeds of protest. Individually, not much beyond the power of one citizen with two Senators and a Congressman. Collectively, maybe a little bit more. We shall see on December 19th and afterwards. Maybe our voices are being heard. We shall see.

In the meantime, how do I keep from losing it, from falling into disfunction, from being a burden to those for whom I should be a source of support?

I think tonight I got an inkling. I was out doing a short walk, about a mile and change, thinking I had to get in condition if I was going to be any good in the fight. I was obsessing again, cataloguing the outrages, trying to anticipate what I might have to do in terms of fight and/or flight. I was also trying to psyche myself up for battle, goading myself not to be an inert blob when it’s time for all hands on deck. I was thinking of my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, of their extraordinary qualities and how much work they’d put in to give me the life I’ve enjoyed for so long. I was thinking of all they were: Soldiers, scientists, immigrants, a doctor, a nurse, a lawyer, a writer and the kindest woman who ever lived, all of whom I owed much more than to let some gilded psychopath tear down our country, crap on it and roll around in it screeching and kicking it into the air so we all had to breathe in what he’d done.

What was I?

All those people I listed produced an actor, writer, teacher and Dad to three kids. That’s pretty much all I bring to the fight. Maybe a few bucks when I can spare it and a signature on a petition, a body in a march. I am otherwise unarmed.

Maybe that won’t be enough. I’m trying to become a bit smarter, tougher and more organized. We’ll see how that works out.

But something interesting happened tonight on that walk. As I was realizing my current limitations, defining myself down as “just an actor” I remembered some auditions I recently observed and of the things I wanted to share that might help my students do well at such things in the future and for a while all the obsessive Trump garbage went away. I was thinking of what I could do to help my students have an easier time on their own journeys. By the time I realized the Trump obsession had left me I was almost home and I felt good in a way I hadn’t all day.

So that’s it. That’s what we can do. We can remain our best selves and continue to be creators and helpers in whatever form that takes. We don’t have to be victims or victimizers. That’s Trump’s game and we don’t have to play it.

We can also get enough sleep. Good night.

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The Lucas-Judy North Korea-Approved 2014 Holiday Newsletter









By the benevolent grace of Dear Leader and Successor Kim Jong Un (long may he reign), we recount our humble family’s achievements, pale though they appear next to Respected Comrade’s Radiant Light.

John, a humble artisan and domestic, continued plying his trades in removing the household waste of materialist indulgence, transporting future workers and appearing in HBO’s “Veep”, a blistering satire of the failed and corrupt Yankee running dog nation government! He repaired no tractors and remains worthless.

Jessica, a witless cog in the despicable engine of US Government Oppression, traveled to New York and Paris, two decadent Western cities not as clean as Pyongyang and lacking even the most meager monuments to Dear Leader and Founder Kim Il Sung. She also attended her Bryn Mawr College reunion and continued her work as a Girl Scout/Daisy troop leader, neither of which activity promoted the female’s proper role as mothers of future workers for the Proletariat nation!








The children were taken to Disneyworld in order to learn of spirit-weakening bourgeois indulgence by participating in it. Later they were sent north to reeducation camp.

Eldest prepared for future soldiery by taking part in group swimming, Tae Kwon Do, basketball and flag football. He also took part in the school play “Wizard of Oz” a parable about a spoiled child ungrateful for the dignity of her agrarian collective.

Daughter entered first grade and joined the swim team. We hope she will become an Olympic champion so that our family food ration will be increased. Not that we are not grateful for what Dear Leader gives us already! Long live Dear Leader! Daughter took ballet so that one day she could dance for him.

Little Hulk entered his last year of pre-school, learned to swim and finished potty-training prior to turning four, inspired no doubt by the matchless example of Founding Comrade Kim Il Sung who was born fully potty-trained beneath a supernova and a double-rainbow.
















We wish you continued joy and prosperity as we close this 103rd Year of Juche (2014 to the capitalist, imperialist swine) and look forward to what Outstanding Leader and Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un has in store. Because there is nothing else in the store. We looked. Then the power went out and we just sat there. Happily!


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My Dinner with Rajeev (or “Taking It Up the Amazon”)

You are now connected to Rajeev from Amazon.com
Me: You appear to have double-billed me for a book. The book, ordered on 08-11-14 was billed as part of a group of items totaling $53.64. It was then billed again separately for $15.95. I’d like that charge deleted or refunded.
Rajeev: Hello, my name is Rajeev, I’ll be happy to help you.
Me: Great. Can you delete the charge? My bank is showing the two charges you listed even though my orders on Amazon are indicating separate billing.
Rajeev: In order to access your account, I need to verify some information. Can you please confirm the complete name, e-mail address, and billing address on your account?
Me: John Judy, john@johnjudy.net, xxxxx Falls Church VA xxxxx
Rajeev: Thank you for helping me with the details.
I see that the order is split into 2 shipments and the shipments have been authorized for:
Me:Yes and my bank is showing $15.95 and $53.64, indicating that I’ve been double-billed for the item. I should be given a credit for $15.95.
Rajeev: That should only be an authorization which should drop soon, I assure you that you would only be charged $53.64 for the order.
Me: Good to know, but in the meantime that’s $15.95 that should be available to me that isn’t. Given that you already have the full amount of the order I don’t understand why the additional amount was taken from my account. Also, given the time I’ve had to spend on this I feel I should be getting some sort of credit from Amazon against a future order. This is a nuisance.
Rajeev: Yes, once the authorization is removed $15.36 should be back in your card.
Me: I know. What I don’t understand is why it was subtracted in the first place in addition to the full amount of the order. I can see no justifiable cause for this.
Rajeev: Once you place the order we block the funds of your order from your card and once the order is shipped is when we charge it, when the order was placed that amount was authorized, now since the item worth $15,95 is packed for shipping it is reflected.
Please do not worry, it should be removed very soon.
Me: Again, I understand this, but Amazon blocked funds in addition to the amount that I ordered. I have no problem with the $53.64 being blocked. It’s the tying up of the additional $15.95 and the time I have had to spend chasing this down that is bothering me. What, in addition to sending my items and unblocking funds Amazon should not have blocked in the first place, are you authorized to do to set this right?
Rajeev: No, I’m sorry, I’d be unable to do it for you, it has to be dropped by your bank.
Me: Is it now a standard practice at Amazon to block funds in addition to the full amount of an order?
Because that would affect my decision to order with Amazon in the future.
Rajeev: No, this doesn’t usually happen, I apologize for the inconvenience.
In this case I’ll escalate the feedback and as a token of apology, I’ll add a $7 promotional credit to your account
I hope we’re still connected.
Me: Yes. Please do escalate. I’d be interested to learn the origin of this error and whether or not it’s a widespread problem. Seven dollars is better than nothing, but given the time I’ve spent on this I feel a free copy of the $15.95 book would have been more apt.
Rajeev: I only wish I could have done it for you.
If there is any issue with the charge please let us know.
Is there anything else I can help you with?
Me: Evidently not, although I appreciate the incentive to visit more used book stores in the future. Have a good evening, sir.
Rajeev:I’ll forward this issue for you. I’ll add a $10 credit for you as an exception. Thank you for contacting Amazon. Have a nice day.

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Teaching America to Grades 4-6 (Warning: Long blog ahead)

Tomorrow I’ll meet 16 elementary school kids for the first time. In five days I’m going to try to convey the spirit of America using the words of our leaders, artists and journalists.

I picked these to start:



“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

–       Thomas Jefferson


“In this world nothing can be said to be certain except Death and Taxes.”

–       Benjamin Franklin


“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

–       Thomas Paine


“The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.”

–       James Madison


“Speak softly and carry a big stick. You will go far.”

–       Teddy Roosevelt


“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all.”

Emily Dickinson


“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large — I contain multitudes.” – Walt Whitman


“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.


Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

–       Abraham Lincoln


“I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him.” – Edgar Allan Poe

“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody come sit next to me.”

Alice Roosevelt Longworth


“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.”

Eleanor Roosevelt


“Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression.” – Margaret Sanger


Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” – Helen Keller


“I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” – Harriet Tubman


“I felt invincible. My strength was that of a giant. God was certainly standing by me. I smashed five saloons with rocks before I ever took a hatchet.” – Carry Nation


“We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us.”

– Malcolm X

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“A woman has two choices: Either she’s a feminist or a masochist.”

Gloria Steinem

“I wasn’t really scared. I was very excited, and I was very anxious. When you’re getting ready to launch into space, you’re sitting on a big explosion waiting to happen.” – Sally Ride

“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” – Carl Sagan

“As I ramble through life, whatever be my goal, I will unfortunately always keep my eye upon the doughnut and not upon the whole. “

– Wendy Wasserstein

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach — waiting for a gift from the sea.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh


“I’d like to have money. And I’d like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that’s too adorable, I’d rather have money.” – Dorothy Parker

“I don’t say he’s a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He’s not the finest character that ever lived. But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person.”

-Arthur Miller

“Censorship of anything, at any time, in any place, on whatever pretense, has always been and always will be the last resort of the boob and the bigot.” ― Eugene O’Neill

“I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.” “Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?” – Julius “Groucho” Marx

“I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.” – Bob Dylan

“When you’re born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front-row seat.” –George Carlin

“And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles. So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.” – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


“The love of the family, the love of the person can heal. It heals the scars left by a larger society. A massive, powerful society.” – Maya Angelou



“Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth. I just sorta do ‘em all together, I guess.”

– Elvis Presley


“Our opponents in the agricultural industry are very powerful and farm workers are still weak in money and influence. But we have another kind of power that comes from the justice of our cause. So long as we are willing to sacrifice for that cause, so long as we persist in non-violence and work to spread the message of our struggle, then millions of people around the world will respond from their heart, will support our efforts…and in the end we will overcome.”- Cesar Chavez


“I am an invisible man. 
No I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe: 
Nor am I one of your Hollywood movie ectoplasms.
I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids
- and I might even be said to possess a mind. 
I am invisible, simply because people refuse to see me.”

– Ralph Ellison


“In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.” – Ambrose Bierce


“Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant.”


“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” – H.L. Mencken


“I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”


“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.”

– Will Rogers


“And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.I have a dream today!

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, Free at last! Free at last!Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

–       Martin Luther King Jr.


“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

–       Martin Luther King Jr.


“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… all I ask is that you respect me as a human being.” – Jackie Robinson


“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”


“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”


“God created war so that Americans would learn geography.”


“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain


“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?” – Fanny Brice


“It’s a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, something the best people have always done.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe


“How come you don’t work fourteen hours a day? Your great-great-grandparents did. How come you only work the eight-hour day? Four guys got hanged fighting for the eight-hour day for you.” – Studs Terkel


“I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.” – Virginia Woolf


“Young women today often have very little appreciation for the real battles that took place to get women where they are today in this country. I don’t know how much history young women today know about those battles.”


“Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom.” – Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?


I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.” – Frederick Douglass


“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”

– Dwight D. Eisenhower


“There’s never been a law yet that didn’t have a ridiculous consequence in some unusual situation; there’s probably never been a government program that didn’t accidentally benefit someone it wasn’t intended to. Most people who work in government understand that what you do about it is fix the problem — you don’t just attack the whole government.”


“One function of the income gap is that the people at the top of the heap have a hard time even seeing those at the bottom. They practically need a telescope. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt probably didn’t waste a lot of time thinking about the people who built their pyramids, either. OK, so it’s not that bad yet — but it’s getting that bad.” – Molly Ivins


“Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.” – Barry Goldwater


“If you give us the chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.” – Texas Governor Ann Richards


“In the Soviet Union capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country capitalism triumphed over democracy.” – Fran Lebowitz

“I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth. And it that’s sinful, then let me be damned for it!”

– Tennessee Williams


“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

–      Harper Lee


“It ain’t over til it’s over!”

“Even Napolean had his Watergate.” – Yogi Berra


“There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why?

I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

–      Robert F. Kennedy




“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”

–      John Lennon


“April 11, 1945. That day I encountered the first American soldiers in the Buchenwald concentration camp. I remember them well. Bewildered, disbelieving, they walked around the place, hell on earth, where our destiny had been played out. They looked at us, just liberated, and did not know what to do or say. Survivors snatched from the dark throes of death, we were empty of all hope—too weak, too emaciated to hug them or even speak to them. Like lost children, the American soldiers wept and wept with rage and sadness. And we received their tears as if they were heartrending offerings from a wounded and generous humanity. In America, compassion for the refugee and respect for the other still have biblical connotations.”

–       Elie Weisel


“America is today the hope of all honorable men who respect the rights of their fellow men and who believe in the principle of freedom and justice.”

– Albert Einstein



“I was taught to strive not because there were any guarantees of success but because the act of striving is in itself the only way to keep faith with life.”

–      Madeliene Albright


“I knew America was the Promised Land. It was the place to go if you wanted your dreams to come true.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger


“Don’t be telling me to go home, big boy. I am home.”

–      Christopher Hitchens




“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” – Alexis de Tocqueville


“Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country.”

– Marquis de Lafayette











Pardon the formatting. Lots of cutting and pasting involved and I’m sleepy.

Posted in History, Humor, My Stupid Career, Philosophy, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Do Cartoon Villains Laugh?

(Credit Stefanie DeCassan-Sanchez for getting me thinking about this. The following is a cut and paste from her Facebook page.)

JJ: I think it goes back to our Puritan heritage. Laughter means you’re having a good time and if you’re having a good time you must be doing something bad. And really whenever you get away with something, even a little thing like getting back to an expired parking meter before the meter reader catches you, you feel pretty damn good. Just a theory.

(Then Stefanie said: Good theory. I’m thinking it’s some psychopathic characteristic where they laugh at others’ pain and misfortunes.)

JJ: Now you’ve got me thinking about this. My own reaction to other’s misfortunes tends to break down as follows:
1. If an innocent stranger experiences misfortune I think that’s terrible and want to help if I can.
2. If the misfortune is due to their own folly I’m less sympathetic and more inclined to a knee-jerk attitude of “What an idiot, Darwinism in action.” Might still want to help though.
3. If misfortune befalls someone I know and dislike, even if I had nothing to do with it, I take some less than guilty pleasure in it. “Couldn’t happen to nicer guy.” I try not to revel in it, but I almost certainly will in private.
4. This last one is rare and I really can’t think of the last time (or any time) it happened, but if I myself am the deliberate instigator of some misfortune against someone AND I get away with it, well, I guess I must take pleasure in it or else why would I bother?
The only thing that comes to mind in my own experience is youthful pranks, teepeeing a house or playing mailbox hockey. High school stuff. Okay, and certainly writing satirical stuff during the last Bush administration, although the “harm” I did there was not nearly enough. It was fun trying though.
Sadly psychotic super-villain stuff is beyond me. I’m not that clever and I don’t like consequences.


Why let good insurance go to waste?

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How I Voted, SAG Awards 2014

Film first.

ENSEMBLE CAST: “Dallas Buyers Club”

LEAD ACTOR: Matthew McConaughey

LEAD ACTRESS: Judi Dench (This was tough. I’m sorry, Cate Blanchett.)


SUPPORTING ACTRESS: June Squibb (But keep your eye on Lupita Nyong’o. If “12 Years a Slave” hadn’t been written by a union buster I might well have voted for her.)


Television next.

ENSEMBLE DRAMA: “Breaking Bad”


ACTOR – TV MOVIE OR MINI-SERIES: Michael Douglas “Behind the Candelabra”

ACTRESS -TV MOVIE OR MINI-SERIES: Angela Bassett “Betty & Coretta”

ACTOR – DRAMA: Bryan Cranston


ACTOR – COMEDY: Jason Bateman

ACTRESS – COMEDY: Julia Louis-Dreyfuss

STUNT ENSEMBLE: “Game of Thrones”

And few people deserve a Life Achievement Award as much as Rita Moreno.

Final thoughts: Several of these were very tough choices. It was aggravating to learn at least two of these nominees shouldn’t have been in the running: “12 Years a Slave” due to it being a creation of a screenwriter who broke with his union, the WGA, during their last strike and “American Hustle” because it was a plainly inferior piece of work to other films that were eligible for nomination. (“Much Ado About Nothing”, “Her”, “Inside Llewelyn Davis”, “Blue Jasmine” and “Gravity” to name a few.)

Likewise there were other performances more worthy of nomination than some that got the honor. I suppose it shall ever be thus, given the differing tastes of whoever the hell gets to nominate this stuff in the first place.

And to end with what I hope is a constructive suggestion: For Stunt Ensemble nominees, in lieu of requesting screeners for a bunch of films/shows that don’t tend to get nominated in other categories, may I suggest the creation and distribution of downloadable “Sizzle Reels” featuring five to ten minutes of the amazing work that someone thought warranted an award nomination?

I wouldn’t ask my worst enemy to sit through “The Wolverine” but having done so myself I can say there were some respectable stunts being done in an otherwise traumatically bad film. I like to be an informed voter when casting my ballot on anything and I’d be happy to devote an extra hour of my time to watching the highlight reels of the ten nominated stunt ensembles. I’m just not willing to pay money to sit through “Fast and Furious 6” on principal.

I think that’s it. Eff the Oscars and the Globes, I can’t wait for this Saturday!


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My 2014 SAG Awards Picks

I’ve put this off because once I’m done I will have committed to honoring great movies and performances over others that are damn near equally great. It’s been a tough year that way. Before I do that though I want to publicly kvetch at certain producers and publicity departments.

It seems like every year there’s at least one nominated film or performance that is completely abandoned by its custodians, by way of absolutely zero effort being made to get the nominee in front of union voters who might actually vote for the nominee if they got a chance to see him/her/it.

Two years ago it was Tilda Swinton for her role in “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” No screener DVDs, no digital download, no Fandango passes, not even a special screening anywhere that I’m aware of.

Last year Denzel Washington got the same (lack of) treatment for his role in “Flight.”

This year’s victim of professional neglect is Best Supporting Actor nominee Daniel Bruhl for his role in “Rush.” I’m aware the movie sank at the box office without a ripple, but in addition to not providing free access to the film for voters, someone saw fit to not even make it available for paid downloading through iTunes until after most eligible voters had already cast their votes.

Honestly if Jared Leto hadn’t been so amazing in his category I’d be tempted to throw my vote to Bruhl as a protest. However, Leto owns me this year so I’ll have to content myself with this kvetch and hope Mr. Bruhl gets more appreciation in his future work.

(BTW, Bruhl is correctly spelled with an umlaut but I don’t know how to type those thanks to General Eisenhower.)

Moving on to the categories.


“12 Years a Slave” was a powerful, but flawed movie with an A-list cast and a Z-list writer. I’m calling out screenwriter John Ridley for breaking solidarity with his union, the Writers Guild of America, and going financial core during the last writers strike. “12 Years” may have a legitimate chance as an Oscar nominee, but it was a huge mistake to nominate a work by a union-buster for a union honor, especially when there were so many other quality films and ensembles deserving nomination.

“American Hustle” was a derivative cartoon and should not have been nominated. I did like Jeremy Renner’s performance though. And I liked the performances of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence when they did the same characters last year in “Silver Linings Playbook.” I hope they’ll let them lay fallow for a year or two before bringing them back in some other David O. Russell film.

“August: Osage County” was a fine ensemble film for lovers of Greek tragedy sold to audiences as quirky comedy. It deserves its nomination, despite Julia Roberts jerking the whole ending out of whack by putting the final focus on her character. It’s hard to do the ensemble thing when someone doesn’t want the audience to forget who the star is.

“Dallas Buyers Club” is a haunting, magnificent piece of work featuring an ensemble whose only flaw I noticed was that Jennifer Garner looked a little too gorgeous to be an exhausted Texas AIDS doctor. SPOILER ALERT: I’m voting for McConaughey and Leto in their categories. I’m voting this one for Best Ensemble too. On the other hand….

“The Butler” (Or “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” if you insist) is the only other serious contender for this award and if you like it over my choice I don’t blame you and won’t argue. Forest Whitaker and his supporting cast are all strong, even Oprah and I can’t stand Oprah. The reason I favor “Dallas” over “Butler” is that this movie is totally a star vehicle for the lead. It’s impossible to imagine it working without Forest Whitaker’s amazing performance. He dominates it, not as a star but as an actor. The remainder of the cast, while solid, don’t share the load in the same way the cast of “Dallas” did. Again, it’s a great film with a great cast. It won’t be a travesty if it wins. I just like “Dallas” a little more as an ensemble piece.

Side note: In “12 Years” and “Butler” I realized some stars are too big for supporting roles. When Brad Pitt and Oprah hit the screen you can’t get past the fact that these are two of the most famous people in the world. A lead role allows them the time to make you forget that. A supporting or bit part doesn’t and I find it takes me out of the movie. Just a thought.

And now it’s late and I’m exhausted. I’ll come back and finish this tomorrow.

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