The impact of extended COVID-19 lockdowns once more is prompting a diversion into Blogland; the topic this time is the merits of physical media over streaming.
A collection of more than 10,000 (and growing) DVD and Blu-ray sets in the Unreal TV Video Library shows that your not-so-humble reviewer puts his money where his mouth is as to extolling the virtues of physical media. Getting to watch virtually any desired content even more on-demand than streaming services that advertise that feature is a primary reason for going old school. Nine nights out of ten involve either pulling a specific craved title off the shelf or browsing the extensive selection in genre areas that mirror the categories on this site.
A recent example is an interest in watching the first "Star Trek" movie in the Kelvin timeframe trilogy leading to viewing all three films during the weekend. A desire last night led to browsing my Kids' section and selecting the SUPERB animated version of "Anastasia."
Much of this reflects my Gen X sensibility as to coming-of-age in an arguable era of theater renaissance just ahead of VHS proliferation causing a downturn in that brick-and-mortar industry. Cineplex Odeons brought a whiff of elegance back to the movies, and many older theaters received makeovers or full-blown facelifts. These upgrades made it fun to go to the movies, and the ticket prices did not compel you to go at 11:00 a.m. to save 50-percent or more on the inflated price of admission.
Further, not every release of the mid-80s was spectacular but at least offered decent entertainment. You typically could find a watchable film to fit your mood. It is highly likely that I watched the epic "Reds" within a few weeks of going to both a neo-noir film and literal or figurative John Hughes teencom.
My contrary experience as to the three streaming services to which I have access is that I rarely find a movie that excites me. Thanks to Covid-related lockdowns, I additionally have long exhausted what I consider viable options under the genres that parallel those of my 1,000 square-foot basement full of the best (including not-so-guilty pleasures) of Hollywood and beyond. The "annex" is the sci-fi series collection in my home office.
This leads to the economics of streaming over physical media. I find that many free titles are worth what I pay for them. Regarding the rest, it simply does not make sense to pay X amount to be able to rent a movie that you can watch once or to pay Y to own it for as long as you subscribe to that service or that service has the license to show it.
The typical price for a DVD (and often a Blu-ray) within a year of its release is $5. This is not to mention the bargains that are available at used DVD shops and public library sales in a non-Covid era.
The real-world example this time is "Rise of Skywalker." Plans to pay at least $30 for two tickets to watch it in a genuinely IMAX theater never worked out; as I recall, the price to rent "Skywalker" on demand was $25. That also was the cost to buy the 4K release, which I did purchase. I would have saved some money by waiting a few months.
Aside from spending less to own "Skywalker" than I would have for the privilege to watch a (likely inferior) rented version, adding that film to my collection allows watching the entire 11-movie "Star Wars" saga completely at my leisure.
Nicely anticipated end-of-year viewing includes "1917," "Ford vs. Ferrari," "Zombieland Double Tap," and "The Good Liar" I acquired all five films, two of which are Blu-rays, for roughly $40. This variety PERFECTLY reflects the options on any given Sunday at an Odeon in the '80s.
The bigger picture (pun intended) is that the movies of the '80s and '90s provided a desired diversion at a time of relative national stability and unity; it was neither the best nor the worst of times.
Conversely, the 21st century got off to a lousy start with the Y2K scare, the hotly contested 2000 presidential election, and the 911 attacks. We did not get much of a break until 2016 brought unprecedented Hell that turned especially deadly and divisive in 2020.
Additionally, streaming increasingly offering studios and distributors a more profitable option than physical media calls for getting while the getting is good. I already have missed out on countless desired titles and have picked up some just ahead of them getting locked in the vault, The context this time includes the recent announcement by Disney that it no longer will release vaulted movies after a decade-or-so in captivity.
The final word on this is that a lack of buying remorse likely will lead to a sense of not acting in haste but repenting at leisure regarding opting to not buy physical media.
A well-deserved cast-iron pan of the not-ready-for-basic-cable Netflix lesbian-themed film "A New York Christmas" included the statement that your not-so-humble reviewer could write a better LGBTQcentric holiday film. The below outline of such a production proves this. Producers remain welcome to put their money where my mouth is located. One spoiler is that, unlike "Wedding," there is no element of when a fetus dies an angel gets his wings.
Another spoiler is that this concept is the result of a recent 30-minutes sleepless period. In other words, writing an entertaining Christmascom is far from rocket science.
This ready for Logo and Lifetime alike no-reason-to-feel-guilty pleasure centers around 40 year-old Lucas Thomas and his 30 year-old "boy" Dimitri Pappas. (Yes, there will be plenty of Greek jokes.) The relationship of these longtime companions dates back to 21 year-old recent college graduate Dimitri being a production assistant (aka prod ass) on a reality show on which Lucas is an associate producer. Dimitri responds to the criticism of his friends by stating that Lucas is not that old, is not that fat and that he is rich and he adores me.
Nine years later, an out-but-not-so-proud Lucas is the creator/executive producer of a highly rated reality show called "Budz, Studz, and Sudz" that has a different group of (often only wearing Daisy Dukes and work boots) straight men build something while drinking and talking about babes, baseball, and brews.
Dimitri has a token associate producer job that merely facilitates Lucas having the company pay for the lifestyle to which the "boy" has become accustomed. Mornings lounging by the pool in a Speedo and afternoons shopping on Rodeo Drive are justified by a need to present a good image of the company.
Of course, our story begins in early December. Production is starting on a season titled "Deck the Hallz," which finds a group of FEDEX-style delivery drivers building a porch on their jointly-owned fishing cabin in the woods.
The inevitable surprise is Dimitri learning that former college classmate Richard Cabot with whom he had a textbook "its complicated" relationship is one of the guys with a big package. The nature of the relationship is that the college years found Dimitri transitioning from fratboy to fabulous. He and Richard already were good friends when a combination of a heart-to-heart and hormones brought things to a new level and both boys to their knees.
The friendship continued, and the booty calls always involved Richard needing to truly feel valued and share intimacy more than needing to get off. Dimitri accepted that his friend did not really love him. However, being low on the senior-year priority list of his "Brokeback" buddy caused a cessation of all intercourse a few months before graduation.
The post-college life of Richard has involved completely leaving his experimental period aside and initially dating a string of bimbos until meeting Ms. Good Enough who is happy to let him spend most of his free time with the boys,
Anyone who has ever seen one of these movies know that Dimitri and Richard start out as polite colleagues, grow closer, and then have a large fight. For his part, Lucas simultaneously becomes increasing jealous and reminds Dimitri that they never were soulmates.
All of this leads to a West Hollywood ending in which Dimitri chooses being a bro over being a ho.
This diversion into Blogland follows a sleepless night checking the presidential election results; reading a summary of the late-night Trump we are damned if he wins and damned if he loses speech at 2:00 a.m. precluded any hope of even 20 winks. This angst extends beyond intense anxiety as to the prospect of another four years of an orange is the new black-hearted administration.
One aside is that Biden would not be my first choice to lead us, but I have full confidence in his ability to faithfully execute the duties of president. Obviously, he also is an indescribably better choice than the other guy.
As many who are more politically tuned in than your not-so-humble reviewer note, our house divided is in for a world of hurt regardless of whether Don Dastardly or Sleepy Joe occupies the White House. The personal onset of this dates to going to see the 2004 Michael Moore documentary "Fahrenheit 911."
I regularly have worn red polo shirts most of my life and had not given any thought to wearing one when going to the movie. Yet, wearing that "color" immediately got me labelled as a Republican by my fellow film-goers almost the point of a physical assault. For the record, the yellow shirt that I currently am wearing does not indicate support for former Philippines president Corazon Aquino; it merely reflects a desperate need for a light brightness on a very dark day.
Trump massively exploiting the "us" v. "them" mentality has added napalm to a fire that is almost sure to keep the inferno going until 2024. His blatant plan to have his buddies on the Supreme Court ensure four more years of Hell for children and adults alike both is consistent with the Trump style of not reflecting the balance of powers on which our republic is based but sends his deluded followers yet another message that rules are made to be ignored.
The most distressing aspect of this is that every rational-thinking person all along the Kinsey socio-economic scale must pay a high economic and psychological price for the "Jerry Springer" mentality of Trump supporters. A starting point for this is the inaugural post for Unreal TV 1.0 predicting roughly 10 years ago that a reality-show star would be elected president.
The (reviewed) S1 of the Showtime series "Penny Dreadful: City of Angels" expresses this better in essentially stating that slack-jawed morons will get the architect of the downfall of civilization elected despite the opposition of those of us whose heads are not full of stuffin'. Having a Target employee aggressively vent class-related resentment at me is bad enough; having that bias result in an evil emperor occupy the highest office in the realm hurts the wage slave in the red shirt even worse than it does me and makes one wonder what that individual is thinking.
All of this boils down to the seemingly disregarded point that the President of the United States is the head of the EXECUTIVE branch. A guy who has consistently showed the business acumen of Ralph Kramden is not the right dude for the job. Speaking as someone who has known two people who have separately been in the same room (as seemingly moderate) Bill Gates, this guy arguably provides a model for someone who is best suited for the job. Both friends have reported that Gates has everyone around the table speak his or her mind and gives those opinions due regard.
One can only hope that we survive the next four years and enter an Age of Reason at that time.
The inspiration for this detour into Blogland dates back several years; one thing that always has bothered me about "Superman" incarnations is that Lois Lane makes a big show of being so fearless but puts herself in precarious situations knowing that Superman will show up and save her. I always have believed that people should make their best effort to be self-sufficient before relying on the kindness of strangers.
Another pop culture phenomenon is highly relevant to the topic of good faith as to contending with the economic impacts of Covid. An episode/failed spinoff pilot of the long-running NBC '80scom "The Facts of Life" has post-adolescent prep school girl/doctor's daughter Natalie abandoning Westchester to live La Vie Boheme in NYC. The response of this sheltered girl to a financial crisis of one of her many roommates in a one-room apartment is that no one likes asking their parents for money but that it sometimes is necessary. The reply to that suggestion makes it VERY clear that not everyone can go running to Daddy when they lack money for last year's rent, this year's rent, next year's rent.
The recent expiration of the $600/week federal unemployment supplement is behind the current musings on reliance on a bailout. The unpredictable, rapid, severe nature of the shutdown justifies the additional benefit at a time that the consequences of losing a McJob are far more dire than merely getting comparable work at a competitor.
The July 31, 2020 cut-off of the additional amount reflects the belief of both the pols and the hoi polloi that our long national nightmare would have ended by then. Looking back two weeks, some form of additional aid seems reasonable.
The other side of the coin is that it is known that some people took undue advantage of the supplemental benefits to either not return to their former employment when doing so was an option and/or did not look for alternative work when it became available. It is equally probable that a large percentage of people relied on an extension of the extra $600 after July.
This is a factor both as to many unemployment recipients being in a tough position and many Republicans advocating a more tempered response to the current need for this aid.
Practicing what I preach has included cutting back and regularly taking short-term jobs during periods of unemployment. I also diligently applied for permanent work. I admit that even cold calling companies is better than a shift at McDonalds or WalMart. However, the principle of due diligence to earn a paycheck applies.
A side note is that I worked at Crate and Barrel style store and caterwaitered several times a week despite having a full-time job in the first few years after college. I did the extra work so that I could have some "wants" and would be in a better position if I lost my job.
The big picture is that the "us" versus "them" mentality that pervades modern culture is more powerful than kryptonite as to "killing" a superhero.
No one should have to beg for anything, but the same "kids" who often literally shout when they feel that the "adult" on the other side of the counter is asking for too much should realize that showing good faith in the form of demonstrating a willingness to do that part is a more effective way to get a raise in their "allowance" than sitting around texting and refusing to even try to do their fair share.
The starting point for this diversion into Blogland is that I am not asserting that some of my best friends are black. I am stating that I vehemently oppose mistreating anyone based on any physical characteristic or sexual orientation. I also believe that the terrifying police encounter that prompts this post would have been worse if I was black.
I have thought for many years that a typical beat cop is a former high-school thug who continues to delight in harassing the "good kids." This is from the perspective of a boy who single-handed ran the blood bank for two years and was recruited for the group that would help out with events such as parents' weekend and alumni events. Further, most faculty members who sought me out after losing their dogs found their pets with me. I still pet virtually every dog I met on the street and call him or her a good boy or girl.
I also believe that any form of police brutality against black people should be well publicized. An aspect of this is that I am frustrated that my being an unsympathetic victim hinders any scrutiny of mistreatment of me. I believe that this is why cops (sadly accurately) feel that they can get away with venting their frustration on us "goody two shoes" who do not smoke and rarely drink.
I am fearful of potential reprisals as to sharing my story but believe that it illustrates the scope of the problem. The story is true; the names have been omitted to protect this innocent.
My recent first foray into the real world for a stay that is the subject of an upcoming Inn Credible New England article sadly bore out the truth as to the average cop on the street. The tragic larger truth is that your average boy in blue whose mentality reflects a collar of the same hue abuses his power to assert his personal resentments. As stated above, a related note is that epic fear of retaliation on the streets and in the courts is behind keeping details of my run in with the abusive law purposefully vague. Despite loosened Covid restrictions, I am not going to venture very far from home anytime soon.
In my case, my appearance accurately indicates that, although I am far from a one-percenter, I do not live paycheck-to-paycheck and can afford one or two trips to the outlets a year. My relatively nice clothes, well-groomed appearance, and manner of speaking often get me labelled "fag" despite the other person having no idea where I land along the Kinsey Scale.
The larger "sin" these days is that I have the time to occasionally spend the day shopping while cops and "shop girls" must work in 85-degree heat while enhancing their chances of contracting COVID-19. I am sympathetic regarding this but have done NOTHING to warrant venting their anger at me. I very much am a "please, and thank you" kinda guy who automatically calls any service person of any age sir or madam. Further, friends of my parents are Mr. or Mrs. to me even several years into my adulthood.
The backstory is that I last was in the area where the incident occurred while on an October 2019 Inn Credible New England trip, (One spoiler is that I no longer will shop at that mall for deals that are comparable to bargains that easily are available online).
The horrendous treatment that I received at the hands of the sorority-like staff at a store went to the extent of one statuesque woman COMPLETELY ignoring me as I strained to reach jeans well above my head in an attempt to find my size. She watched as I strained to reach the higher shelves and did my best to fling the jeans back up. I repeatedly apologized for making a mess.
The tall clerk turned a deaf ear both to my comment "man, these shelves are high" and my request for a step ladder. I did not dare ask for help.
For the record, as also is relevant below, I am 5'8" and 160 pounds. I further lack any visible or concealed tattoos or piercings.
The icing on the cake in October was the woman at the register telling me that the discount on the jeans had expired the day before; she recanted that statement when I started walking back to the jeans to get the sign advertising the markdown. My "sin" was being persistent enough that corporate called these employees to task.
I returned early last week and hesitated to go to that store but did not want to be intimidated out of exercising my right to do so; I was not going to buy anything unless I really liked it and they practically were giving it away. I was curious as to if the staff had taken the "coaching " to heart.
I MERELY looked in the store window on arriving at the store and saw that it was closed; there were no posted hours, but I assumed that it was going to open 30 minutes later. I then had a friendly outside conversation with a maintenance man who saw me from the moment that I approached the store until I walked away to go to a nearby Starbucks.
On walking back to the store, I saw a police car pull up and an officer go inside. I assumed that there was an overnight break-in and that the store likely would be open for business while the manager provided the police report. The spoiler this time is that my walking over and sitting on a bench outside the store would have been criminally stupid had I committed the misdemeanor of which I soon was accused.
Within seconds of my sitting down, two additional police cars pulled up. A friend who expressed the universal shock-and-awe that my appearance would cause that level of concern pointed out that devoting three cars of this small-town force to keep me in line FULLY supports the defund the police sentiment. I was wearing shorts that clearly showed that I did not have any form of weapon.
One of the cops immediately asked if I was at the stores last week; I told him that I was not and volunteered that I lived roughly two hours away. I also offered to show him my license. We had a few more rounds of this, and he soon took my license.
This cop then asked me why I was in town. I told him that I was in the area to write an article and had just come to the stores to shop. He then asked when I was last at the stores; I TRUTHFULLY told him that I had been there in October and shared the entire story of that incident as evidence of the animosity by the store employees. That led to the cop repeatedly asking me if I was last at the stores in October, and my responding the same way each time.
By this time, I was on the verge of tears. Despite this additional evidence that I hardly was Al Capone, the cops did not acknowledge this reasonably highly agitated state. I never go up from the bench, never raised my voice, and moved very little. NONE of the cops wore masks.
Another highlight was my saying that I was not the guy they were looking for. One of the cops meanly chuckled and said that I was the guy that they were looking for. I later stated that I would walk away and not go into that store; I added that I would leave the area altogether. The comment that accompanied the mean chuckle that time was "no, you will not be going in" X store.
I then was accused of pounding on the store door, which I had never touched. I remain unsure if I was accused of doing so earlier that morning or the week before. I truthfully told them I had not done so.
I repeatedly asked the officers to find the maintenance man with whom I had spoken. They refused to do so and added that whether I had pounded on the door was irrelevant because the store employees reported that I had done so and had placed them in fear.
The insult that was added to that injury was that the incident that occurred several days ago while I likely was watching DVD episodes of "The Nanny" in my home had prompted the employees to arrange for a stakeout (likely involving lucrative overtime) in case I showed up.
My alleged criminal stupidity this time is that I drove 240 miles round trip two weeks to create mayhem, drove another 240 miles round trip to return to the scene of the crime, and walked right up the store despite seeing the cop enter the store.
In the midst of this, I was issued a criminal trespass order. I should have left the area altogether but really wanted to go to a few stores; I did cut the trip very short.
I saw the police car stationed outside the store more than an hour later out of an apparent belief that I would walk up after all that so that I could experience the joy of being arrested.
Especially while there, I was petrified that the store employees would make another false report that I went back and that I would be arrested. That fear lingers.
The town manager in this community that incredibly relies on happy shoppers has never responded to an e-mail with a detailed account of these events, a voice-mail, or a message from her assistant with whom I spoke.
I did speak to the police chief, who has a disingenuous message on the department website that he is concerned about the conduct of his officers and wants to hear about any misconduct. He shrugged off the possibilities that the officers acted on "bad information" or "misunderstood" what they were told,
This guy charged with keeping the cops in line also told me that my being a "frustrated customer," which I was in October, justified the criminal trespass order and the related treatment by his subordinates. He repeated the refusal to contact the maintenance worker who could verify my story as to that morning.
The chief also stated that he was not concerned about a false police report by the store employees.
The added injury to the injury was stating that a report of violating the order would only lead to my arrest if I was caught in the store or if a security camera captured me outside the store. The chief did not respond when I pointed out that the same camera that provided that proof could show that I had NEVER done anything improper there.
The kicker, which COMPLETELY disregards well-publicized Starbucks incidents involving black people, is the chief asserting that the retail store in his town can get a criminal trespass order issued against anyone for any reason.
I left a voicemail for the CEO of the store chain; I also e-mailed her a detailed account of the incident and my defenses. The corporate response was an e-mail from a loss-prevention employee, who added a claim of my yelling at the store manager and making unreasonable demands on the morning of the run-in with the police. This apparently was in response to the reports by the store employees falling apart. I was told as well that I now am subject to arrest if I go in any store in the chain.
This person soon said that she was going to hang up on me. She refused to reach out to my witness or to ask if there was video surveillance of me on the morning of the run-in with the police.
My criminal stupidity this time would be ensuring an arrest and jail sentence by going anywhere near the store or even the town. I will not even drive through it out of fear of the old broken tail light on the car trick.
The bottom line this time is that this incident adds to the proof that police misconduct is broad and goes unchecked. The sad truth is that the same law-enforcement folks who presumably lament a revolving door for actual criminals enjoy the same benefit when they abuse their discretion.
A trifecta of influences is prompting these musings about television series finales. With the exception of discussing the classic final episode of "M*A*S*H," references will be kept vague so as to not spoil surprises for folks who have not watched the show stoppers. These triggering events consist of late May being the traditional season of TV series' finales, CBS Home Entertainment recently releasing the (reviewed) epic 20-season "Gunsmoke" DVD CS set, and a covid-related sense that there is not much to which to look forward in life.
A major pet peeve regarding the swan song for series is the fairly prevalent practice of every major character experiencing a life-changing event. It is realistic that one character has a significant transformation, and it is nice when something good happens to a likable "friend" whom we have "known" for several years. Having one character get a dream job within a few weeks of another getting the girl after a lengthy pursuit, another couple learning that a bundle du joie is on the way, etc. is way over the top,
One otherwise high-quality show, which reflects the wisdom that seven years is the proper lifespan for most series, blows its finale in a related way. It is realistic that the business around which a workplace comedy is centered is sold; it is less believable that every employee with one exception gets the axe for that reason.
A companion series of that TV Land classic handles things better by having a main character move onto literally greener pastures. With the possible exception of a vaguely recalled pregnancy announcement, the lives of the rest of the ensemble are unchanged except for losing a pal and a confidante.
"M*A*S*H," which is known for successfully breaking many TV Land laws, provides a valid exception to the above. The end of the Korean War is a realistic premise for the final episode. This also makes it very realistic that the doctors, nurses, and other personnel of the titular Army hospital go their separate ways to pursue their professions back home.
The perspective that COVID-19 provides adds to the credibility of the idea that a main character breaks under the strain of life on the front lines despite nearing the finish line. Having largely been confined at home for two months and having to worry abut supplies of things such as toilet paper, soap, baking supplies, and meat does not mean that the prospective of life largely returning to normal in three weeks will prevent a fist going through the wall.
Another TV Land classic deserves an honorable mention for a notable finale that earns a footnote in television history. That one centers around an event that has its origins in the pilot; there also may have been one or more contrived events at the B-story in the episode. Despite all that, the final scene clearly establishes that it is business as usual once the dust settles.
The bigger picture is that the near absence of any appointment television these days deprives the viewing public of the glee associated with the anticipation and actual viewing of the end of an era. Your not-so-youthful reviewer was away at school when the "M*A*S*H" finale aired and crammed in a common room to watch it on a relic of a black-and-white set with a coat-hanger antenna.
Many years later, I scoured grocery and drug stores in the pre-Amazon era of the "Seinfeld" finale to get enough Tweety Bird Pez dispensers to host a viewing party. I also served Junior Mints and big salads, not that there is anything wrong with that.
A combination of the $3 trillion (and counting) cost of federal aid as to the COVID-19 pandemic and a related burnout as to writing film and television review after five weeks (and counting) of being in lockdown is inspiring this detour into Blogland. The topic du jour is replacing the federal income tax with a sales tax; fighting a desire to incorporate the word "Trump" in every sentence in a hope that it catches the eye of the guy with a solid track record of acting on impulse is tough.
The TV reference this time is the '60s fantasycom "I Dream of Jeannie." A fifth-season episode revolves around the newly wed titular magical being buying new husband Major Nelson a comical embarrassment of riches on credit. She explains to her agitated spouse that buying things on credit means that you do not have to pay for them; he replies that you do not have to pay today but must pay tomorrow.
The bigger political picture relates to intense personal exasperation as to the once (and future?) widespread support for "Medicaid for all" and for excusing student loans. The "tomorrow" aspect of this is that someone must pay for that largess in the future.
Similarly, although Steve Mnuchin could commit the catastrophically moronic act of "blinking his eyes" and printing $3 trillion (and counting), taxpayers are going to have pay for our stimulus checks, PPP "loans," payments to businesses great and small, etc. "tomorrow." Of course, this must come in the form of federal taxes.
Two aspects of a good tax system are that it is easy to administer and is fair. As shown below, a federal sales tax checks both boxes. One caveat is that medical expenses, non-prepared foods (i.e., most things other than junk food), clothing up to $300, and mortgage and rent payments would be exempt; exempt organizations would not.
At the outset, there is a HUGE gap in the current income tax system. On a very micro level, I do not pay the guy (who insists on cash) who plows my driveway enough to require reporting those payments to the IRS. The same is true as to the guy (who insists on cash) who mows my lawn.
Yet, the total income that these guys collect from all their customers does trigger a duty to report that income; it is highly unlikely that either of these guys or the millions of other people in America who do the same work, clean houses. babysit full time, etc. pay income taxes either.
A basic aspect of fairness is that those folks are subject to the same tax liability as the one with which those of us whose payments for our services are reported must comply. Completely setting aside the issue of the equality of the pay for folks who do the things that we do not want to do, it is unfair that taxpayers have had to pay higher taxes to help fill the tax gap for a whole century.
Class differences play a more positive role as to another aspect of fairness regarding a federal sales tax. I am among the relatively (and shrinking) few who is fortunate enough to not be living paycheck-to-paycheck and being able to afford a (shrinking) amount of wants.
I plan to replace my four-year old laptop with a new one before the end of 2020. I am budgeting $500 for that purpose. Someone with a larger income than mine would be more likely to spend roughly $1,500 for a MacBook. Some living paycheck-to-paycheck likely would spend $200 on a laptop.
The sales tax that each of us would pay on our laptops roughly would reflect our relative income levels and corresponding abilities to pay. The same is true as to other goods, such as televisions and cell phones, and services.
On a larger level, businesses of all sizes would incur roughly proportionate tax liabilities. A corner dry cleaner would pay a relatively small amount for hangers, cleaning products, and new equipment every few years. A branch office of a Fortune 500 company would pay much for things such as the large quantity of office supplies and business equipment that it requires to operate.
Although all deductions would be eliminated, the broader tax base would be expected to more than compensate for those lost benefits.
The most obvious aspect of ease-of-administration would be no longer requiring filing tax forms and estimated payments. Purveyors of goods and services already must provide the federal government records of their revenues.
Further, time-consuming, costly debates on tax policy would be a thing of the past.
A five-year roll out of the transition to this system would ease the change for tax professionals and laid-of IRS employees. Some IRS jobs could be eliminated through attrition; remaining IRS employees have a leg up as to applying for jobs with other branches of the federal government.
Ease as to federal budgeting is another advantage of a national sales tax. It makes sense as an initial matter to set the allowed range based on a thorough analysis. A hypothetical example is to set the minimum rate at 20-percent and the maximum at 30-percent. Come budget season, the bean counters would come up with a number that would be presented to Congress for a vote.
This, of course, is an cursory discussion of a national sales tax. However, the concept seems inarguably sound.
These Blogland musings as to how the impact of the coronavirus isolation is exacerbating the class gap in America is comparable to a similar recent post on this site. That article discusses the challenges as to a highly significant other going from being around for a few hours a day to constantly being home for an indefinite period.
The bigger picture this time is a pre-existing understanding of the class gap in America. I am for from being a one-percenter but am very fortunate that I do not live paycheck-to-paycheck.
I am aware that my good fortune extends to being able to have bottled water delivered to my home so that I can avoid the bad taste and adverse health effects of tap water. I am even more fortunate to have a back-up generator that powers 75-percent of my home during extended electrical outages. Not having to stress about when damage will be repaired provides immense peace-of-mind.
I am very aware that at least 50-percent of the population lacks either of these luxuries.
The direct inspiration for this post is a news report on hoarding that is leaving grocery store shelves unnecessarily empty. The message in that medium is that people who can afford to stock up should not both because doing so is not needed and because it makes it that much more difficult for people who cannot afford more than a few days of food at the best of times to avoid The Old Mother Hubbard Syndrome. Finding limited dairy products but absolutely no meat, toilet paper, or cleaning products on a trip to the store two days ago perfectly illustrates this.
It is very said that a national sense of "it can't happen here" has transformed into "but it can, Blanche; it can." I confess that I would bought a year's worth of toilet paper and a chest freezer that I would have stocked with meat had I seen this coming. As it is, I have a strong lack of buyer's remorse as to not stocking up more when grocery shopping a few days before the imposition of the lock down.
A related aspect of this is feeling very lucky to have found an online source for toilet paper and paper towels; I remain skeptical regarding if the promised delivery will occur. I confess to this order including 18 rolls of toilet paper.
The triggering thought regarding this is that I am fortunate that I can stock up a little despite paying a slight premium for these items. The same is true regarding an online grocery item that I hope is not a joke as to a scheduled April 1 delivery date.
The bottom line this time is that most of the "haves" will be able to weather the financial crisis and empty store shelves; many "have nots" likely will find themselves either barely treading water or going under. I do not claim to feel their pain and realize that my sympathy does not put food on the table.
I do hope that the "haves" that read this do leave some toilet paper and some hamburger on the shelves for their fellow home-arrest prisoners.
A highly personal aspect of the coronavirus isolation alone warrants this rare detour into Blogland on this review site.
I literally was laughed off the stage while reading an essay that very closely predicted our current nationwide lockdown in a college class a "significant" number of years ago. Mixed feelings as to being proven right are akin to admitted guilty pleasure regarding an abusive college roommate who currently has his 100 or so fast-food franchises shut down; I unequivocally feel badly for his workers.
Equally predictive, a few real and reel incidents are relevant to the increased amount of time that those of us in committed relationships spend with our highly significant others. This began with asking a 70-something friend when he planned to retire from the shop that he owned. He replied that he still worked because his wife had retired, and he wanted to give her an adequate break from him each day,
This conversation roughly coincided with watching a DVD episode of the sitdoc "Curb Your Enthusiasm" about the daily life of "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David; David inspired George Costanza.
Freshly separated fictional wife Cheryl tells Larry that she likes "Seinfeld" Larry better than post "Seinfeld" Larry because he was not home nearly as much when he was working on his "must see" series. That leads to a discussion of a little Larry being the right dosage of that man.
This also relates to a newspaper article several years ago about married couples buying a B n B with high hopes of happily running it together only to massively crack under the combined pressure of keeping the business viable and being together 24/7. The college-era personal experience this time is offering ad hoc help at the Notchland Inn in the New Hampshire White Mountains when the owners offered dinner theater in the form of a combination of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and "The War of the Roses." Current guests still tell the tale of hearing shouting and airborne utensils from the kitchen.
A final perspective is a friend stating years ago that he stayed home from work one day only to have his cats stare at him the entire time as if to say that he was not supposed to there at that time.
Returning things literally and figuratively close to home, I have been fortunate enough to work from home for a "significant" number of years. My highly significant other is an executive, who traditionally has worked at an office but has operated out of our kitchen for the past few days. That may last six weeks.
Living in a 2,100 SF single-family home provides good personal space even during this lockdown; my joke that one of us may end up burying the other in the basement before home arrest ends may be a reality for couples with far less living space.
When we first moved in together, I would have a few hours of alone quiet time before my highly significant other came home; a new job 90-minutes away resulted in me and our cat having the place to ourselves a few nights a week. I am considerate by nature, but not having to think about someone much of the time has become second nature. At the same time, I still am encouraged to call virtually all of the shots.
I still enjoy exceptional accommodations as to maintaining my normal routine; at the same time, I feel self conscious about things such as watching really bad On Demand fare because it provides both variety and a sense that I am not entirely throwing the payment (which would not go down if I cut the cord) for television service.
I additionally want to be a good "spouse;" Newly adopted Marlo and I were just vocally playing with the cat toy named Mr. Mousey (Mr. Elephant is way under the bed) when my highly significant other received a business call. Our literal cat-and-mouse game quickly ended without an iota of resentment.
On a related note, I would feel badly for a client calling only to hear "Gilligan's Island" in the background. I did offer to watch television in the bedroom and was told that it is not necessary.
The bottom line this time is that someone being one of the most important persons in your life does not mean that either of you want the other around all the time. Wanting "Seinfeld" Larry is understandable.
The fact that starting this detour into Blogland by stating that it reflects intense frustration as to being subject to unreasonable treatment merely for being a "have" immediately will offend many readers proves the thesis of this article. I can meet all my "needs" and enjoy small "wants."
Going on to criticize Millennials will cause further ill will. Criticizing the Postal Service should win back a few hearts and minds.
Providing some context sets the stage for showing how the original run of "Roseanne" is responsible for much of this class war in our supposedly classless society.
A sincere disclaimer is that I sympathize with many "Have Nots" lacking my luxury of being able to work from home and not having to deal with the general public. I have stated many times that I would consider working at Wal-Mart to be Hell on Earth.
I also realize that many not-so-nice jobs require being outside in "mad scientist" weather and/or standing for several hours at a time. I further know that capitalism advocates paying the lowest feasible wage. Additionally, no reasonable person can deny that many "friends with money" have a sense of entitlement that warrants some ill will.
On the other hand, merely being the homeowner or the guy on the other side of the counter does not automatically make you the enemy or warrant punishing you for the misdeeds of others. There have been countless occasions on which I just have shown up or politely raised a small routine matter only to have a Starbucks barista splash a drink on me, a Target manager yell at me in front of a store full of people, a handyman tell me that his immigrant grandparents would have loved to have owned a house as nice as my mid-range one, etc.
The most recent example of this is asking my postal carrier, whom I have given a holiday gift every year and offer water on hot days, to please make a small (but very helpful) accommodation that other carriers have automatically made and to which he has agreed many times. I incorrectly thought that his boss accompanying on his route when I made that request would have brought me success.
Copious efforts to resolve the matter failed; the primary USPS response was that the carrier was not required to make the accommodation; the insult that was added to the injury was demanding that I (rather than the carrier) make the accommodation. That is what triggered thoughts of "Roseanne."
The bigger picture here is that postal carriers have some of the strongest job security and related union protection on the planet; the vast majority are very nice, but the rotten apples who do not want to exert an iota of extra effort (or even follow the social norms of saying please and thank you) are largely insulated from any form of reprisal.
Although many experts and laypersons blame Bart Simpson for the insolent and lazy attitude of Millennials, this fault lies with "Roseanne." The added insult to that injury is the aforementioned attitude is that the folks who keep you in business are the enemy that are fair gain for frustration related to your rotten day.
The alleged groundbreaking nature of the blue-collar tell-it-like-it-is "Roseanne," which premiered a year after "Married With Children," was intriguing. "Roseanne" lost me at the pilot.
One troubling aspect as to the initial outing was a caring and nice teacher, who hardly raked in the big bucks, calling in Roseanne out of concern as younger Darlene barking in class. Rather than thank the teacher or discuss a remedy, Roseanne yelled at the woman and told her that she did not want to be called out of work unless Darlene was seriously physically injured.
A later scene had one of the kids come to Roseanne for advice only to have her respond that she did not care. This set the stage for the parenting in the show.
On top of this, the periodic viewing of episodes before fully giving up on the series showed a constant hostile attitude toward anyone who was even barely doing better than living paycheck-to-paycheck. Such alleged "haves" were fools and/or snobs who lacked lacked any compassion for folks who often struggled to meet their "needs" and who rarely got a "want." Of course, America regaled in this attitude.
Of course, much of the joke is that Roseanne and at least the rest of the adult cast (if not the kids) had salaries that far outpaced even the current annual income of your not-so-humble reviewer more than 30 years later.
The bigger picture is that the same BROAD GENERAL principles that apply to discrimination based on VALIDLY protected characteristics should apply to bias based on income level. Your bank balance is not a valid basis for how others treat you. Having a cashier yell at you or a server ignore you for no good reason is far less harmful than being denied a home or a job but is an unnecessary evil.
Another horrific experience has called for deviating from the normal (mostly) non-bloggy style of which this site is proud; your indulgence is appreciated, and we will return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow,
The micro element of this trauma and drama is a molehill of an issue with Best Buy absurdly turning into a mountain that is behind a call to boycott that company that has a virtually stranglehold on the US brick-and-mortar market for electronics.
The Best Buy media-relations department did not respond to several calls to discuss this article.
The macro view is that new Best Buy CEO Corie Barry and her fellow new breed of "suits," including Kevin Johnson of Starbucks, have rewarded customers who have helped the companies that provide them multi-million dollar compensation packages by completely throwing them under the Geek Squad van.
The straw that becomes a major pain below the back of your not-so-humble reviewer is addressed below. It comes a few months after figuratively telling Johnson, who has willfully turned a callous blind eye to his public, where he can pour his grossly over-priced (and more-often-than-not improperly prepared) beverages. (I have saved $100s and lost a few pounds in the interim.)
Even more spot on, a pledge to never contribute another cent to the income of Barry and her fellow equally insulated executives comes a month after reading a New York Tines article illustrating how corporations determine the point at which customers jump ship and how those models of capitalism come perilously close to crossing it. A cited example is a cell-phone service provider waiting until a long-time customer cancels her service before providing an incentive to not switch carriers.
Suffice it to say that I have been a very profitable customer of Best Buy for more than a decade.
Before sharing the tale of woe behind this radical move, I want to state that I have communicated it many times to people at Best Buy in telephone messages, e-mails, and even tweets to Barry (@Corie_Barry). Barry has not acknowledged these communications in any form.
The other efforts to have my concerns heard either were similarly ignored or directed to the senior customer-service rep., who has become far more of the problem than the solution. He continues taunting me as to he being the only one whom Best Buy will have address my concerns. Team Barry has ample notice of this.
This all began a few Saturdays ago when I went to a Best Buy to buy a wireless doorbell. The employee who helped me asserted that she was trained in that area. Both the outcome and a subsequent discussion with a store manager proved that that was not the case.
The next morning, I followed my Sunday routine of checking the Best Buy website for the weekly specials. I learned that the company was running a promotion in the form of giving away an Amazon Echo Dot (a.k.a. Alexa) with the purchase of the basic Ring doorbell that I had purchased. I also saw that that promotion was ending that day.
Experience during the reign of CEO (now Executive Chairman) Hubert Joly inspired confidence that Best Buy executive service quickly would make all things right with the world. I copied and pasted the product page (which included the offer) and mailed it to myself for good measure. I will add that no one has acknowledged an e-mail to Joly.
On calling executive customer service, I got the aforementioned rep. He was unresponsive from the start and stated that I could have forged the e-mailed copied-and-pasted product page from the Best Buy site.
The rest of this story was that the issue of the rep. was that I did not include a weblink in the e-mail with the product-page that I sent him. I responded that accessing a link on Monday would not document an offer that expired the prior day. The rep. responded that the link would reflect the expired deal because it would go to my computer. He would not acknowledge that that was inaccurate.
I then asked to speak to the supervisor of the rep. The rep. refused that request, stating that he was the only Best Buy employee to whom I ever would speak.
I then called the store where i bought the doorbell; an hour later, the store acknowledged the validity of the offer and pledged to send an Alexa. They did so later that day.
I called executive customer service back to report the development with the store. I got a different rep. than the first one. He told me that he would have his supervisor call me back; that never occurred. That rep. also stated that the first rep. easily could have looked up the offer that had expired the prior day.
The second rep, promised to confirm the offer and call me back; he never called back.
The first exec. rep. with whom I spoke called back two hours later and stated that the offer was to buy a doorbell that was $100 more than the one that I bought to get the free Alexa, which had gone down from $50 to $25 since Sunday. In other words, his solution was to spend $75 more than I needed to in order to get a free $25 item to which I had an undisputed right.
This time, the rep. seemed unable to grasp that the offer that existed on Monday differed from that of the day before. He again refused to have his supervisor get involved. I hung up.
All this led to the extensive aforementioned efforts to get someone at Best Buy to address both my frustration and the deplorable manner in which the first rep. handled the matter; the futility as to that led to this article.
My "demands" are a meaningful conversation with the VP of customer service for Best Buy, an equally substantive acknowledgment of the offer and the poor job of the first rep., and credible assurance that Best Buy will reasonably act in the future to put right what once went wrong.
Cutting back on customer service is understandable; murdering it is not.
Easy solutions for funding better service include a little pain "today" in the form of cutting the pay of anyone earning more than $100,000 by one-percent in exchange for an additional personal day each year to avoid having to eliminate their position "tomorrow."
Corporations also could expand tele-commuting programs by offering that option in exchange for offering eligible employees that option in exchange for a five-percent pay reduction.
On top of this, Barry and her fellow CEOs could make the gesture of a 5% pay cut to help their companies remain viable,
I likely have saved $100 in impulse purchases by not shopping at Best Buy or looking at its website in the past month. Unless and until things change, I further expect that I will save countless hours and massive levels of stress not fighting when the inevitable molehills surface.
I will splurge on a special treat if and when Best Buy announces a need to close numerous stores due to poor sales.
The good news is that the root of the conflict that provides this follow-up to the August 2018 "Avoiding Getting Inn Trouble" post in the Inn Credible New England section of this site supports the philosophy of these articles on boutique lodging in this region of the United States. This tenet is that it often is better to enjoy the convenience of driving to a place within a few hours of home and to spend a little more for a spectacular experience at a B n B or small hotel than to endure the direct and indirect costs of flying to stay at a cookie-cutter hotel.
A tale at least as old as the time that most middle- and upper-middle-class households first had at least one car is that happily married (but professionally unfulfilled) couples went into the woods (or to the shore) for a weekend at a B n B and fell in love with the idea of owning such a place, The beginning of the almost inevitable end is that one spouse is much more excited about this potential life change than the other.
Another ingredient in this recipe for disaster is that, as much as a couple may be in love, there almost always is a point at which familiarity breeds massive contempt. Additionally, feelings of inequity as the division of household duties and expenses are almost inevitable even if you share a tiny house.
Dealing with the public always is stressful; having them in your home and having your spouse play host by being charming while you are struggling to clean the rooms and cook the food literally can invoke homicidal thoughts.
The message here is to read between the lines as to mentions of the almost-always needed additional staff; you also should look for online reviews that mention one or more innkeeper constantly being stressed. "Been there, done that" ala working at a place where the constantly shouting couple apparently did not know that the inn kitchen was not soundproof warrants asserting that I know of which I speak.
Although the wholesome CBS sitcom "Newhart" about a married couple running a Vermont B n B is amusing. a "Real Inn Keepers of [Insert Your Favorite Small Town]" would be funnier and more true to life.
Like the first "Trouble" article, "Inn Credible" travel for this site inspired this diversion into Blogland. Learning the lesson related to potential for severe wintry weather from November through March prompted scheduling "get while the getting is good" trips. These included a desire to visit Brattleboro, Vermont in mid-September ahead of the New Yorkers invading during foliage season and the perfect storms potentially starting a few weeks later. (Blizzards as early as mid-October are not unheard of.)
I reached out to the owners of what seemed to be a charming place that strongly presented itself as a relaxing retreat for stressed out urbanites and suburbanites. The intense stress in the voice of the husband at the outset triggered my Spidey sense to the point that I almost hung up. My mistake was letting my strong desire to stay at that place override heeding my "Inn Trouble" advice to follow the "Jeopardy" principle of going with my first instinct.
I repeatedly stated the dates of my desired stay only to have the husband ALWAYS respond with one date off; he ultimately stated that he could subsequently amend the reservation. I ultimately decided to hope for the best and make the reservation. Again, I really wanted to stay at that place.
This progressed to the husband asking for my address; I told him my city and asked if he wanted me to spell it. He barked that he just needed the zip code, but repeatedly kept transposing numbers. I again offered to spell my city, but he kept insisting on taking the zip code. We (presumably) got over that hurdle.
We fatally stumbled in the home stretch; he asked when I wanted to arrive and stated the 3:00 p.m. check-in time before I could respond. Both because of the length of the drive to Brattleboro and because I wanted to enjoy the highly touted serenity at the inn as much as possible, I asked if I could arrive at 10:00 a.m., leave my luggage in my car until my room was ready, and simply enjoy the guest common areas.
This really set off the husband; he yelled "we still will be serving breakfast and can not even think about assimilating a new guest that early." I could not imagine that this six-room place would be so busy with guests from a Friday night in mid-September on the following morning that the mere presence of an adult happy to "play in traffic" for a few hours was such a big deal.
I simply hung up. I then looked up Trip Advisor reviews and noted both that some of them noted that the couple was stressed and that the truly "better half" wrote polite and responses to negative reviews. I no longer did not, and do not, want to stay there. I did want to end things on a more friendly note and called back. I left a voicemail asking to speak to the "nice one" without phrasing it as such. I never got a call back.
The happier note on which this article will end is that, like the first "inn Trouble" article, the Rabbit Hill Inn (also in Vermont) provides a model. The real-life Loudens there consciously have their separate responsibilities. They also have a full staff, including an exceptionally gregarious inn manager, that allows them to keep the place running and to chat with guests without literally or figuratively having their hands around the throat of the person with whom he or she theoretically will not part until death.
An earlier post on the then upcoming Eighth Annual April 6-9, 2017 TCM (Turner Classic Movies) Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles expressed great enthusiasm for the event. The basic theme was that the clock was ticking on the chance to see surviving stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood in person and for such an event to be economically feasible for TCM. Unfortunately, the event did not produce a Hollywood ending.
This three-part analysis of the festival begins with discussing the basic flaws in the scheduling of the screenings and the other events. Part two will look at the highly inequitable festival pass system, and part three will wrap up with observations regarding the event as a whole.
These posts will include apt metaphors beginning with a reference to the must-see "Westworld" parody episode in an early season of "The Simpsons." Siblings Bart and Lisa incessantly bugged their parents to take them to the Itchy and Scratchy Land theme park out a belief that that would be the trip of a lifetime only to end up fleeing that facility in sheer terror.
Attending the festival had been a long-time dream and required postponing a decades-delayed virgin trip to Europe. However, there were no expectations that the festival would top many memorable events in an overall good life. Further, being less happy than anticipated on leaving was a far cry from sheer terror.
The spoiler analogy is that deciding whether to watch a game live or on television requires considering every expense and inconvenience associated with seats along the 50-yard line or behind home plate. The added relevant insult to the injury of paying up to several hundred dollars to sit on small hard surfaces in unpleasant weather is that the "one-percenters" in the luxury boxes live it up literally over your heads.
The armchair quarterbacking conclusion regarding the festival is that is better to stay home and watch the movies on a smaller screen in a less grand venue than the festival provides and to watch the taped interviews (that you likely could not get into anyway) with the Hollywood royalty at the festival than "go to the game."
The good news is that the organizers superbly selected and presented scores of well-known classics and obscure "shoulda been a classic" films from the '20s through the '80s and recruited several household names that included Carl and Rob Reiner, Mel Brooks, Lee Grant, Peter Bogdanovich, Sidney Poitier, etc to give talks and/or host screenings of their films. Screening many of these movies at the Chinese Theater and other exceptional venues was a large part of this experience.
The highly disappointing news is that a combination of materially incomplete pre-festival information, poor planning, and an unfair caste system regarding both the general pass program and a select few corporate fat cats and other "friends" receiving deity status precluded even folks who paid up to $799 (your not-so-humble reviewer and his highly significant other purchased $649 Classic passes) MERELY to attend the screenings and the talks from enjoying conservatively 10 more events in which he or she otherwise could have participated.
The ninth time may be the charm for this event, but 100s (if not 1,000s) of us paying the $799 or $649 tuition for the organizers to obtain this corporate knowledge is too high a price. There no longer is a need to save me the aisle seat.
The information on the festival website in October 2016 listed several films that would be shown and provided what turned out to be materially incomplete information regarding the manner in which people needed to line up during that event for tickets only to regularly run a risk of being denied entry to a screening or a celebrity presentation. The second post in this entry addresses this issue in depth.
Continuing with the analog theme of these posts, the organizers tantalize potential attendees with a menu of roughly 75 tempting ice cream flavors despite the organizers (but not festival first-timers) knowing that there is no way that attendees have a prayer of experiencing more than roughly 12 menu items. It seems that most folks would rather have a choice of 32 flavors and be able to enjoy 25 of them.
The response to this is "but ya can allow people to see more films, Blanche; ya can." The first simple solution is to abandon the festival practice of having pass holders line up for up to 90 minutes to have an excellent chance to attend a screening only to miss a second film or have to dash to another theater to repeat that three-hour or more process at the end of the first screening. Even the TCM network airs films in its televised festivals right in a row.
A prime example would be to have a triple-feature of festival films "Arsenic and Old Lace," "The Palm Beach Story," and the original "Born Yesterday." This would save festival goers roughly three hours in line. As an aside, your not-so-humble reviewer wanted to see all three films listed above (and MANY more) but saw nada in this trio thanks to the oft-mentioned poor planning.
A further enhancement would be to divide sub-categories of pass holders into groups named after old Hollywood directors. Examples would be Hitchcock, Capra, DeMille. etc. Each group would consist of no more people than the seating capacity of the smallest venue. A reasonable assumption that not everyone would attend every event SHOULD ensure that everyone can get a good seat for every screening or event that he or she wants to attend.
The only additional work for the organizers would be to place photos of the directors on the already color-coded tiered festival passes and print an adequate supply of each type of pass to meet the need. A simple example is that yours truly was one of the first purchasers of an orange-tinted Classic pass. Assuming that Hitchcock was the director for early birds (no pun intended), his visage with an orange background would be on my pass.
Using the above example of the triple feature, the festival could air it for Hitchcocks on Friday morning while DeMilles enjoy a triple feature of "Bonnie and Clyde," "The China Syndrome," and "The Graduate." These groups then would see the films that they missed on Friday on Saturday.
The largest logistical issue would be the availability of the celebrity who introduced the film. The solution would be to ensure that each group got to see at least one such luminary live and watch the recording of the one whom they missed.
The organizers could use this system but merge groups as feasible for screenings at the larger venues.
The festival workers dubbed "salmon-shirts" for their pinkish uniform ts already regulate entry to the events; asking them to further identify attendees by a photo on their badges does not require much more.
THE GREATER GOOD
Similar to the above analogy regarding the sporting event, the chance to see far more films and not have to arrive 90 minutes early out of concern of being denied entry vastly outweighs the marginal burden on the organizers.
The current analytical thinking that leads to detours from reviews into Blogland shows that the underlying premise of Unreal TV is flawed. Unreal TV 1.0, which has evolved into Matt Nelson Reviews, is based on the idea that we need "unreal" sitcoms and other non-fiction fare to escape our cold cruel world. The actual truth is that we need '70scoms as our model for life.
Anyone with even advanced-beginner knowledge of television history knows that '50scoms typically revolve around suburban nuclear families in which every member presents a mostly idealized version of his or her real-life counterpart. This leads to the mid '60s in which a combination of greater awareness of our society, the Vietnam War, and the increasing popularity of the counter-culture give rise to "freakcoms." The outsider may be a hillbilly living in a mansion, a New York lawyer living among hicks, a clan (or two) of monsters in suburbia, a struggling rock band living in a beach house, or a genie or a witch co-habitating with her fella.
The ''70s give rise to arguably the most realistic era of sitcoms. Our main man or woman is out in the workplace that typically is part of the story. Significant others who survive the TV Land purge of spouses are almost as likely to bring home some bacon.
The '80s represent the Cheese Age of television in which '70scoms jump the shark and become cartoonish versions of their former glory. The highly significant other of your not-so-humble reviewer notes that this is the period in which the Norman Lear groundbreaker "The Jeffersons" largely has Louise Jefferson and neighbor/best friend Helen Willis play cheap copies of Lucy and Ethel.
The new kids on the block mostly are silly fun with little or no substance. Of course, Fox entering the picture in this era contributes to this.
The '90s become the era of urban "friends" living in apartments that their real-life counterparts can only dream of affording. The better news is that the subgenre of gaycoms paves the way for marriage equality and other 21st century advances.
The 2000s are the "Two-and-a-Half Men" and "How I Met Your Mother era of crass and crude sitcoms that rely on shock value for laughs. The 2010s seem to be a free-for-all.
The reason for this recap is to show that '70scoms are the only ones that (as intended) most realistically reflect the American life of the era. The bad news is that things have greatly changed for the worst; the good news is that that we can change back.
The two '70scoms that first come to mind when thinking of the fare of the era are "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Bob Newhart Show." It is interesting that the former Tyler Moore series "The Dick Van Dyke Show" is one of the first that literally and figuratively gives the workplace and the home equal time.
Starting close to home, it is nice to see folks who reasonably resemble the people in our lives. Further, reel-life friends and neighbors are not always so nice but at least are never toxic. The sad truth is that many people in 2019 start from a neutral stance but are quick to resentment and related anger. This is assuming that you even interact with the boy or girl next door.
A public encounter from the era of the 2000 presidential election that can be considered the beginning of the end of civility in America perfectly illustrates how far we have fallen since the ''70s.
I have worn red polo shirts all my life without incident until randomly wearing one to the Michael Moore anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 911." Despite paying money to see a movie that is critical of Dubya and not having uttered a syllable in the theater, I soon became the object of active scorn based on my attire.
The first absurd aspect of this is the assumption that the shirt is a declaration of being a Republican; the added insult is that this perfect stranger is a monster who deserves such an attack. The truth is that I am am independent who vocally advocates putting a moderate in the Oval Office. BILL GATES IN 2020!
Moving onto the workplace, it is nice to see a fantasy world in which most people get along and even foes co-exist in relative peace. An amusing real-life aspect is often joking to someone involved in long-term conflict with a co-worker is that the solution is to lock them together in the supply room overnight, The very apt reply is that the resulting ceasing of hostility only lasts a week.
The first part of the final act lesson regarding all this is that everyone should remember the importance of working and playing well with others that the aforementioned shows reflect. Part of this that these series also reflect is that you do not have to love thy neighbor or co-worker but must show that person common courtesy at least until he or she figuratively throws the first punch; even then, turning the other cheek is tougher but still is the best option.
The second part of the lesson is even more important; one big reason that we are in our current hostile state is that our candidates for federal offices increasingly run negative campaigns that greatly contribute to the divisive nature of our society. Hating someone based on a snap judgment that he is a Republican now justifies attacks based on a perception of being a "Have" even when not much actually is had.
A sadly amusing aspect of this is regularly overhearing employees at Target and virtually every other retail business complain about the "rich people" with whom they interact. The reality is that it is highly unlikely that anyone with incomes in the highest tax bracket even shop at these stores.
The relative (and mostly achievable) Utopia of '70scoms is a world in which your core group is your support system and rarely the cause of stress. Further, you are judged based on on your inherent qualities and usually are literally and figuratively invited to the party so long as you are a decent and caring person. Sounds good (and attainable) to me.
A comedy of errors regarding a Valentine's Day dinner evoked strong feelings of the sitcom staple of the plans of a couple going comically awry on that special day. The consensus during a dinner at a restaurant that can I consider The Ninth Level of Hell's Dining Room and that many people apparently love was that it most closely related what was recalled as Joe and Helen of the "Cheers" companion series "Wings" experiencing Hell every Valentine's Day.
The consensus regarding the setting of our meal of extreme discontent was that it was the restaurant version of "The Golden Palace," which was the titular Miami hotel that The Golden Girls (sans Dorothy) owned and operated after their original series ended, We also determined that Queen of Ill-Conceived Promotions Linda Belcher of "Bob's Burgers" would have tried something akin to the failed concept that lead to adding insult to injury.
Also in sitcom style, our narrative is shifting from the present of the primary "sit" that provided the "com" to the genesis of those unfortunate circumstances.
Back in July, your not-so-humble reviewer planned a "thaw-out" trip to Sarasota, Florida. This revolved around staying at the absolutely fabulous Hotel Indigo in that city. We subsequently learned more about the exceptional H20 bistro in the hotel.
On booking the vacation, we discussed where to celebrate Valentine's Day. The then top-rated restaurant Antoine's seemed pricey. Then number-two (currently number one) restaurant Dolce Italia was mid-priced and seemed very good. I asked my highly significant other (HSO) to book the reservation on Open Table.
I mentioned the dinner several times in the interval between July and February and ALWAYS referred to the restaurant as Dolce Italia. My HSO always responded that the correct name was La Dolce Vita. Knowing that I was correct but determining that that error was harmless, I always dropped the matter. On the other hand, I constantly confuse the Mexican chains On the Border and Border Cafe; I cannot remember which one I prefer.
We arrived in Sarasota on February 13, and the contradictions regarding the restaurant name continued. Having the privilege and the pleasure to speak with H20 Executive Chef Sol Shenker for an article on that eatery added more "com" to the mix in the form of Shenker repeatedly inviting us to have Valentine's Day dinner at his restaurant.
I advocated for eating at H20, but my HSO reasonably wanted to honor our commitment to the other restaurant. Shenker shared that he knew the chef at DOLCE ITALIA and that the food there was very good.
My HSO and I riding past Dolce Italia prompted me to say "there it is" only to be told that we were looking for La Dolce Vita,
The following stage of the narrative requires disclaimers. First, I do not blame La Dolce Vita for any events up to this point. Second, I do not have a horse in the race, and there are plenty of customers to go around. I simply consider the entire experience adequately amusing and sitcomy to warrant a post. Part of this humor relates to the La Dolce Vita owner taking arguably undue umbrage regarding negative online reviews to which even the finest restaurants and hotels are subject,
Now back to our story.
On arriving at La Dolce Vita, we were puzzled on sitting down and finding the menu in the below photo on the table. We wondered if we chose one of the two items in each category or got both and if the $59 price was per couple or per person. We also wondered if there was a standard menu that offered mutually desired ala carte options.
Neither the website nor the woman who called to confirm the reservation mentioned anything about a special Valentine's menu.
One issue was that I dislike any food that has lived in the water, and the menu was heavily slanted toward seafood. Additionally, my prior friendship with the three sheep on the farm of human friends had prompted me to stop eating lamb; one of the entrees was lamb chops.
We considered leaving but decided to stay and hope for the best.
A language barrier was a factor regarding our waiter not understanding our questions regarding the dining options. The prosciutto and mozzarella arriving merely by virtue of our sitting at the table contributed to the confusion.
I asked the waitress who cleared our plates after that course if we could order off a menu. Her response of "no menu; you eat it all" has been a source of humor for myself and my HSO ever since.
I did not eat most of the dishes, and the wait staff seemed oblivious to all those courses going back uneaten.
The real "com" kicked in on the restaurant owner coming to our table in the middle of the meal. My outward appearance reflected my being distraught,
My HSO and I repeatedly told the owner that I was alright, but she deserves credit for stating that she wanted to know what was wrong. She earns less credit for insisting that she wanted me to 'fess up to her face rather than write something nasty online. That turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy,
Her response to our calmly and politely stating that we had no basis for believing that we would not have choices regarding whats was served was that it was not her fault. We also explained that I did not like most of the served items. "Had we known," we simply would have eaten someplace else that night.
The owner asking me what I liked created an expectation that she would send over the requested spinach and ricotta pasta and/or the also-asked-for plate of fettuccine without the shrimp and anchovies that came with it. That reasonable response would have made me happy.
Instead, it was as if we had never spoken to the owner. The disliked items kept coming. The only other time that we saw the owner was when she cleared items off the table without even making eye contact.
I subsequently wrote a negative Trip Advisor review, which apparently is a trigger for the owner. The first copied-and-pasted reply by her is in response to my post, which mirrors this article. Although she asserts that we did not pay our bill, we have the $169 receipt that proves that we did not dine and dash. Additionally, we never stated that we were not going to pay.
The additional two copied-and-pasted responses are her replies to the other negative Trip Advisor reviews that each granted her a respectable three chits. The responses are COMPLETELY unedited and are of equal comic value for their sentiment, rather than for reflecting a limited comprehension of English."
"I will NOT spend one words for your disgusting REVIEW! Remember...YOU DIDN’T PAY your bill! PERIOD as you told me last night! Enjoy your life ...it is to short to go around and complain for everything!"
"I really don't know what to said!!!
Why, why you didn't tell me when I stop at your table???
I always ask if everything is ok, and it seams it was.....but it seams it WASNT!
I need to know right away what it is wrong, so we can adjusted .
But for some reason, people like to said more in a review then in front of owners face.
And by the way, our tomatoes are from the farm, when they said wine ripe tomatoes we trust them!
And our mozzarella it is always the best quality and fresh , that's way you paid $ 10.95.
Anyway if you would like to give us another chance I will more than happy!"
"Thank you for your rewiew.
I'm surprise about your comment, because when I stop at your table, not only one time but more then two, you seems happy.
And when I ask if everything was ok you confirm that everything was OK.
I would like to know if somethings it is not good or not cook in the way my clients/friends are expecting.
That's the reason I stop at the table and I ask for it.
You know when the restaurant it is busy the way it was Saturday, can happen some mistake, but YOU didn't complained at all that same night.
And about the chicken parm price
It was only just a chicken, it was also a fresh FIOR DI LATTE MOZZARELLA,with a ORIGINAL PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA.
Those ingredients are expensive even for us.
I appreciate people that can said what they are thinking in front of me, not in one rewiew.
And I'm so sorry that you mentioned you will not come back, but as somebody said:
YOU CAN PLEASED EVERYBODY.
Thank you again "
The better news is that we had a decent dinner at another restaurant the following night and a last-meal worthy experience at H20 on Saturday night.
The morals of this story are to resolve contradictions in relationships and that restaurant owners who make a bad situation worse face the possibility of an accurate and sincere negative review showing up online.
Having what I consider a relevant perspective and being a life-long political moderate who has always had Independent or Unregistered status (and last voted in 2015) is prompting this diversion in to Blogland regarding Brett Kavanaugh.
Like many proper-thinking individuals, I am unsure if the allegations against Kavanaugh justify keeping him off the United States Supreme Court. I would want both sides to calmly and objectively state their cases. I do believe that the raising of the issues is ENTIRELY politically motivated and does not reflect a belief that he lacks the knowledge and the experience for the position,
The aforementioned perspective is being a prep. school boy with first-hand knowledge of the environment of Kavanaugh during his formative years. This essay discusses the virtues and the ills of that system and addresses the related senses of entitlement and lack of oversight that can allow (and condone) bullying and other improper conduct that literally includes a covert sex tape. The sad part is that parents shell out big money to shelter their kids from those harms.
A starting point is that one purpose of the three branches of government and the related checks and balances is to have the highest court in our land be free from political influences. Further, the past several nomination proceedings have demonstrated the flaw of having a president nominate a Supreme Court justice,
The means by which the Academy Award winners and popes are selected seem to provide a better model. Each time that there is a vacancy, the Supreme Court should PURELY randomly select a panel of federal judges to nominate candidates based on Congressionally approved standards. This slate should be then be presented to every federal judge below the Supreme Court level for voting,
The checks and balances consist of existing procedures for removing judges for misconduct.
A more underlying issue is that any court should not consider politics when resolving legal disputes. The uniform practice of exerting political pressure on the court has always greatly bothered me, Although the framers of the Constitution could not have anticipated modern issues such as marriage equality, ANY court should take a secular what would Jesus do approach and OBJECTIVELY determine the applicable constitutional principle.
PREP PROS AND CONS
The name of the respected prep. school that I attended for three years is irrelevant because news and anecdotal reports (as well as the '80scom "The Facts of Life") indicate that the same type of thing occurs at most of them. My experience overall was positive in that the smaller classes and living with teachers enhanced learning, being required to participate in a sport (fat kids took refuge in the drama department) prompted a MODIFIED exercise program that I still follow, and I remain in touch with some classmates whom I generally consider to be brothers.
A hilarious misunderstanding highlights the new friends and broadening of horizons of prep. school. A very nice black guy in my dorm always would greet me with a smile and what sound like "Hi Holmes" whenever we passed even though I doubt that he knew my name. Because I was a smart kid, I thought that he was calling me Sherlock Holmes.
This guy laughed when this smallish white boy from an upscale area asked him about the term. He explained with absolute no ill will that the term was "homes" and that people in college used it to greet high school friends "from home" when seeing them in college.
A current friend PERFECTLY describes a downside of prep. schools by calling them "kids' jails" to which parents send children to get rid of them under the guise of doing something good. I was agreeable to going to boarding school (and benefited from it), but my mother manipulated me into doing so to aptly facilitate moving to Washington to pursue her interest in politics; living with Dad was not an option.
The relevancy of this to Kavanaugh is that the downside of even day school prep, school life is that many parents send their kids there so they do not have to deal with them. At the same time, teachers often do not properly fill the parental role and can just as regularly be concerned that bad acts not ruin the life of the offender. This makes it rough when the bully has 24-7 access to you.
Although Kavanaugh attending a day school, the same sense of privilege and lack of parenting seems to apply. All accounts indicate that he was a stud of the school and destined for great things. The apparent problem was that no one either saw or acted on the need to rein him in.
BULLY FOR YOU
From the beginning, the Kavanaugh controversy reminded me of literally nightly NON-SEXUAL attacks during my prep, school days. I have since made peace with the main offender, who reminds me a great deal of the nominee. This guy had a similar ethnic background and was a star player of an aggressive contact sport, He additionally had a strong sense of privilege and currently runs a predatory business that greatly profits from the misfortunes of others.
I lived on the same hall as this guy and his partner-in-crime (who now is a top-ranked finance guy) my junior and senior years. The lesser offenses of these guys was breaking into my room to take snacks and "borrow" a backgammon board, which they always would return, If I was around, these big guys would refuse to leave until I played as many games as they wanted. Of course, they would torment me during the game and do things such as lunge at me to provide them the amusement of watching me flinch,.
The worse offense was bursting into my room into the middle of the night EVERY night just to wake me and try to scare me; they apparently did not realize that my knowing that this occurred every night precluded being scared.
Although (if true), the experience of Christine Blasey Ford was more terrifying, I can relate to her hesitancy to speak up. A prep, school community is smaller and more tight-knit than at a public school, and "ratting out" a fellow student can make life tough. The offenders living down the hall and your classmates always not being much further away exasperates this.
My tormentors actually driving a kid from the school further illustrates this. I knew that the midnight raids had extended to a small and frail boy who was a newly transferred junior when the bullies and I were seniors. This abuse prompted the kid to drop out after two months; I likely would have done the same if I had been targeted at the beginning of my first year at the school. That year allowed me to establish myself and to establish a large group of friends.
The dorm master, who was a burned-out senior faculty member with a minimal dorm presence and let two stoners play Frisbee on the roof every afternoon, did ask me if I knew who was tormenting the junior, I lied and said that I did not. My reasons included not wanting to ruin the lives of the bullies and knowing that only having one strike against them would not have gotten them expelled. I also mistakenly believed that covering for these guys would have gotten them to ease up on me.
SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE
A more recent incident at the school hits even closer to home. A random Google search of the school in June produced the surprising result of two relatively recent newspaper stories about a sex tape.
The condensed version of the incident was that the boy did not tell his girlfriend that he was taping their consensual sex. As always happens in prep. school settings, word of the tape soon spread. The police were called in and found the recording even though the boy asserted that he had only watched the tape once by himself and erased it. It was suspected (but never proved) that others saw the tape.
The boy left the school, and there was a court proceeding. The headmaster surprisingly condoned the act by writing the boy a letter of recommendation after learning of the tape. The stated justification was that the boy had done good work before the incident, and the headmaster had not wanted one incident to ruin those accomplishments.
The rest of the story is that the headmaster was a student when another sexual offense occurred and MAY have witnessed it, I had recently graduated and was told the story by a faculty member with whom I maintained contact.
The synopsis this time was that a fully dressed female student was grabbed and thrown into the locker room of a boy's team. The girl was held down on the bench, and a boy put his exposed naughty bits in her face. The blurry details regarding this (recently confirmed) incident included a belief that the boy was the boyfriend of the girl.
The elements that make one sympathize with Ford this time include that the sexual history of the girl (including regularly climbing in the dorm-room window of one of my tormentors when they were "dating") was a factor regarding the student body not being sympathetic toward her. The faculty member shared that the boy who climbed on her was forced to leave the school and that the students thought that the girl should have been the one to go This is another example of the price of going against the school stud,
The relayed incidents (and other stories such as teacher having an affair with and ultimately marrying one of his students) are a few of numerous examples of what occurs in many (but probably not every) prep. school and the system that allows it to go unchecked.
My own feelings until talking (but not hugging) it out with my bullies suggests both that Ford would have obtained closure if the prep, school system was better designed to handle such matters. This likely would have avoided all the cost and turmoil related to the Kavanaugh proceeding,
The fact is that such campuses largely being self-contained communities and not paying property taxes enhances a sense that they are sovereign nations; the notable alumni (including the sitcom producer from my school :-)) and family legacies contribute to this sense of privilege.
On a related note, my best friends and the parents whom I liked the best lived relatively simply and did not flaunt their wealth. My parents not being very active in my life made me enjoy comfort-food home-cooked meals with friends, their parents, and their siblings who also often became friends, The mothers invariably cooked the meals despite having enough money to have live-in help,
The best memory regarding this was befriending the doberman whom one family largely had for protection because of the nature of the work of the father, My smiling and saying "good boy" when the dog ran up barking and my showing him great love ultimately fully transformed him into a pet. The self-imposed rule for overnights was that I would not invite him on the bed but would not rat him out if he jumped up. I would make him get down before anyone else woke up.
Forwarding this email to a former teacher/involved dorm parent who currently has input regarding prep. school culture hopefully will help change things for the better.
An episode in the 2001-2002 13th season of "The Simpsons" perfectly expresses the true current state of Gay Pride. The titular nuclear family is attending a Pride parade when the marchers start chanting "We're here! We're queer! Get used to it!" Eight year-old Lisa responds that the group marches every year and that the general populace is used to it.
The view of Lisa is consistent with that of your not-so-humble reviewer roughly since the era of the aforementioned "Simpsons" episode. The Gay Rights movement has made such strides by the beginning of the 21st century that skinny hairless boys only wearing a Speedo and rollerblades and fat hairy bearded middle-aged men wearing dresses merely show off and do not help the Pride movement. If anything, these acts reinforce the stereotypes that require Pride parades.
This criticism is presented in the dual context of Pride Month 2017 and Breaking Glass Pictures releasing gay-themed films that reflect the spirit of Pride and the related concept that quality films from this genre present universal themes. Unreal TV is honoring this through a month-long series of retweets of Breaking DVD releases.
Breaking Co-President Richard Ross eloquently expresses the above sentiments in an Unreal TV interview earlier this year. This conversation includes how the themes in the breaking films "Retake" and "Lazy Eye" of seeking closure or a new beginning with the one who got away can apply regarding any variation of romantic relationship.This shows that Philadelphia literally should throw this man a parade next June.
On a larger level, Unreal TV is on Team breaking because their films avoid gay stereotypes. The young guys are neither doe-eyed nor have over-scrubbed skin. Further, all the men accurately reflect real-life gay men in that they are average blokes whose sexuality is not the center of their lives. Further, most of them desire the same stability and happiness for which we all strive.
This reflects the universal nature of the gay experience that shows that the fact that a boy likes other boys is no basis for either fear or condemnation. Releases from breaking and similar art-house film distributors prove that sexuality truly should be a non-issue for most of us.