Monday, December 11, 2023

Mush King

 Not merely content with running his own businesses into the ground, Elongated Mush is currently insisting that Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, be fired. 

The "inventor" of the Cybertuck has decreed that Mister Iger should be dismissed. “He should be fired immediately,” Mush, who often uses his influential perch to bully critics and others, wrote about Iger on the platform formerly known as Twitter. “Walt Disney is turning in his grave over what Bob has done to his company.”

I don't doubt that Mister Mush is in regular communication with spirits from another world, but in this case, I believe he may have overstretched his own capacity. Elong is upset because of Disney's decision to pull advertising from what continues to be referred to as Twitter, in spite of his dorky insistence that it be referred to by one of the least loved letters in the English alphabet. My doubts are centered on Mister Mush's characterization of Walt Disney rolling over in his grave when all of us know that Walt's severed head is all that remains of Mickey's creator, and therefore the image presented by Elong must be false. When you add to this the regular and continued interference that he must experience with transmissions from his home planet, the otherworldly messages he claims to receive can only come from extraterrestrial sources. Not from deep beneath the Earth's surface. 

What is not in dispute is the deeply embedded hate for everything that does not go Elongated Mush's way. When things fail, it is not his fault. It has to be someone else's. Employees who aren't working hard enough. Executives form other companies who do not embrace his loopy notions. True free speech advocates who wonder why Mister Mush has turned Twitter (yes I said Twitter) into a playground for hate and fear. Bob Iger's decision to pull advertising came as a result of not just some of the ugliness that was allowed to be spewed from the amplified voices of anti-Semitism and conspiracy nuts of all stripes. There was also the matter of Mush's own barely veiled screeds of his own

But in Elongated Mush's mind, it's Bob Iger that needs to be shown the door. Once again, in a world of corporate greed and corruption, somehow Mush has found a way to make the rabid mice at Disney appear to be the good guys. Kudos to you, Mister Mush. 

Sunday, December 10, 2023


 “The surgeries done on minors involve cutting off body parts at a time when these kids cannot even legally smoke a cigarette. Kids who go from puberty blockers to cross-sex hormones are at a much greater likelihood of winding up sterile. How is it that you think a parent should be able to OK these surgeries, never mind the sterilization of a child?”

This is the way Megyn Kelly, who left Fox News because apparently wasn't far enough to the right for her, chose to open her questioning of Chris Christie at the fourth and final Republican Presidential Debate. Hard to believe.

Hard to believe that there was a fourth debate among those fighting for the scraps left from the man who suggests he is running for dictator

But more difficult to comprehend why these right-leaners are falling over themselves trying to build a terror campaign against trans youth. 

The American Medical Association affirms everyone's right to pursue gender-affirming care, citing "dramatically reduced rates of suicide attempts, decreased rates of depression and anxiety, decreased substance use, improved HIV medication adherence and reduced rates of harmful self-prescribed hormone use." 

Of course, the folks on the stage were primarily those who insisted that taking horse de-wormer and licking doorknobs was the way to deal with the plague of COVID-19. What do those clowns at the AMA know? 

But with all this talk about mutilation of kids, there was no discussion of the most recent mass shootings in this great land of ours. Last Tuesday, a US Army vet in Texas killed his parents, then drove to Austin where he proceeded to murder four more innocents before fleeing police, leaving another three wounded. On Wednesday, a man who was turned down for a teaching job at the University of Nevada Las Vegas killed three people on the campus and wounded another before police arrived and shot the gunman. 

So, you want to talk about mutilation? This isn't hypothetical or imagined. It happened. And Megyn Kelly wants to know how we can let trans kids seek therapy that will save their lives. 

That's not what Republicans are talking about. They're too busy fighting over the scraps.  

Saturday, December 09, 2023

Those Were The Days

 It occurred to me that perhaps Norman Lear outlived his own influence. When he left this planet, he had survived one hundred one trips around the sun, and countless confrontations with network censors. Even now, I can see some of you scratching your collective head asking, "Norman Lear who?"

Norman Lear gave the traditional American sitcom a needed shot in the arm back in the 1970s. You may remember a little show called, "All In The Family." Back in 1971, Norman Lear, television writer-director-producer borrowed a situation from across the pond and turned it into one of the defining mileposts of American television. Here was a patriarch who was not just bumbling, but capable of being completely reprehensible. Here was a daughter who not only stood up to her father, but brought her left-wing hippie husband to live upstairs in the Bunker house. In the bunker. Funny. And the mother, wringing her hands endlessly and capable of bringing goofy sense to the most out of control situations. 

"All In The Family" ran for eight seasons, through Vietnam and Watergate. Past the Bicentennial and the oil crisis and Jimmy Carter. It was during those years that Mister Lear all but invented the machine we know as the spin-off. At one point, his company had seven hit shows on, filling one's broadcast TV schedule for the week. There was Maude, who subsequently begat Good Times. Archie's neighbor made it big in the dry cleaning business and moved on up in the Jeffersons. From there it was only a short hop to Checking In. The Bunker house changed its focus to Archie Bunker's Place, while Gloria set out on her own. And somewhere out there was the remnant known as 704 Hauser, picking up the story at Archie's old address. 

Not all of these shows were hits, and by the beginning of the 1980s, the histrionics jammed into each Lear half-hour gave way to simpler, jigglier comedy. As a nation, we seemed to need a rest. But it was during the late seventies and early eighties that Norman Lear brought me the show that will live forever in my heart: One Day At A Time. I could say that I was tuning in to follow the struggles of newly divorced single mom Ann Romano, but that would not be the case. This was, in my view, Valerie Bertinelli's show, and this was appointment television for me. Sure, there were a lot of current events mixed up in this soufflĂ©, but it was worth wading through to spend a half hour with Valerie. 

And for this, but not only this, I salute Norman Lear and all his groundbreaking strides as a television pioneer and thinker. He stomped on the Terra, and brought me the crush that kept me glued to the tube. He stomped on the Terra and he will be missed. Tuesday nights at nine. 

Friday, December 08, 2023

Point Of View

Here in Oakland, the war continues. 

Not the one going on outside, with the shooting and killing, but the one in which we pick a side in the Israel-Hamas War. While a ceasefire was granted in the hopes of getting humanitarian aid inside Gaza, as well as facilitate hostage transfers, the Oakland City Council held a wide-ranging discussion about a resolution that nominally supported and encouraged the ceasefire. 

But first there was public comment. Like all open forums in this city by the Bay, there was a variety of opinions. A number of video clips circulated on social media showed individual members of the public repeating conspiracy theories disputing that the October 7 attacks were carried out by Hamas. “The notion that this was a massacre of Jews is fabricated narrative,” one public attendee said of the attacks inside Israel. Other public speakers offered unconditional backing to Hamas. “I support the right of the Palestinian people to resist occupation, including through Hamas, the armed wing of the unified Palestinian resistance,” insisted another. 

Please understand that my own position continues to be that both groups should be sent to the principal's office and receive a call home, and probably miss recess for the rest of the week. But that's my view from out on the playground where violence is a non-starter by anyone and there is always a diplomatic solution. 

That being said, we turn our gaze to the Oakland Unified School District, which has a number of teachers prepared to stage a "teach-in" during which a teacher says educators can "apply their labor power to show solidarity with the Palestinian people" by encouraging students to think critically, by introducing them to new ideas and by having positive conversations about what's happening. This, of course, draws a metaphorical line in the sand for the Administration, who included in their response to the action, "We have remained unwavering in our stance against anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli, Islamophobic, or anti-Palestinian prejudice or discrimination within our District." 

So maybe the Superintendent needs some time to sit on the bench and think about her comments along with her teachers. 

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Staff Inflection

 There was a time when all of our teachers here at my school were of a certain age. At that time, I was still considered something of "an elder," since I came to work here after a spate of jobs that turned out not to be a career. At first, I was definitely a rookie, not just in age but in my capacities. As I was to become familiar, many schools in urban areas experience more than their share of turnover. Burnout is a factor that all of us face at some point. 

But way back when, in what I will refer to as "The Silver Age" of my time at Horace Mann, when that first wave of new hires with whom I came in became the veterans. And a new crew came in and took the place of the frazzled group that left with the back of their heads still smoking. This was the fresh-faced roster that was eager to face the challenges of inner-city education with dedication and enthusiasm. 

Which they did.

And they brought with them a bushel of youthful invigoration that made me feel like the old man. These folks worked hard. And, not by coincidence, they played hard. When Friday came, and the windows were closed and the doors were locked, it was quite often time to go out and celebrate another week's victories and wallow in the defeats. I recognized the "it's five o'clock somewhere" mentality from a previous incarnation of my own some years past. The most impressive thing was how Mondays would come and the rigors of recreation would be shaken off and they would return to the modern professional model to which we had all become accustomed. Bloodshot eyes notwithstanding. 

Like all waves of fresh faces, they began to drift away, replaced by a new lineup, still dedicated but now more inclined to leave the party earlier, leaving more time for recuperation. These were the folks who came to the job with other schools in their past, other principals, other colleagues. Now they are of a certain age that falls more in a line with my own experience. I have watched fellow teachers take off for paternity leave. Some come back. Some don't. There are also those whose bodies are wearing out and the strain of being on point for an elementary classroom is taking its toll. Where the old crew used to bounce back with their headaches and hangovers, this is the group that requires more bed rest and extended medical attention. That strong line has breaks in it. 

So we fill in and make do. But there are times when I miss that group of hard-drinking party animals who used to show up every day, with a pocketful of Advil and a determination to make it through another day. 

Wednesday, December 06, 2023


 Ya know, when you go way out an a limb to make a point about just how severe your collective points of view are it's probably just a matter of time before the veil is lifted. And when that veil is lifted, what appears is the biggest mess of hypocrisy that one could possibly imagine.

To wit: Christian Ziegler, the Florida Chairman of The Republican Party, has been accused of rape by a woman who says she was assaulted while awaiting a three-way sexual encounter inside the woman's home. The other participant who was late to the party? Christian's wife Bridget, the co-founder of Moms For Liberty

So let's take just a moment or two to unravel this. Christian is the head of the Republican Party in Florida, where Republicans make every effort to show up just to the right of the Taliban when it comes to social issues. Family values are what they're selling in the Sunshine State, and business is good. Whether it's banning books or quoting Hitler, Moms For Liberty are looking to free parents from the tyranny imposed on them by public education and all other manner of naughtiness. Keeping Florida and the rest of the United States free from such bad behavior is the job of such stalwarts as Christian and Bridget. 

But when nobody's looking, it just might be more fun to be bad. While Bridget insists that she has been a leading anti-trans activist and “critical race theory” opponent who has said her aim is to bring “religious values” into public schools that she claims are “indoctrination centers for the radical left,” it could be that all that looking into the lasciviousness of the other side may have blinded her from her true mission? And to be fair, the bedroom antics of consenting adults aren't really the kind of thing that I care much about, until they start tipping the sanctimonious scales. And running afoul of the law. 

Then again, the Grand Old Party has recently been fond of supporting candidates who tout one set of values for their followers while following their very own special code of ethics. The current GOP front runner has been married three times and has committed adultery in each of them. He has been found guilty of sexual abuse, and fined millions of dollars for the defamation of his victim. Following this playbook, it's only a matter of time before Christian Ziegler starts spouting off about how awful and horrible the trois member of his menage is. 

Because it's Florida. Because it's 2023. Because it's Republicans. 

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Would You Believe It?

 There was once a boy who very much wanted to be a member of Congress. The United States Congress. It's not an easy thing to do. It costs a lot of money to run for Congress. So the boy begged, borrowed, and yes even stole in order to make his dreams come true. 

He ended up serving three hundred and thirty-one days of what we can only assume was the happiest time of his life. Except for maybe those days he spent playing for the Baruch College volleyball team, especially when they "slayed" both Harvard and Yale. Much happier than the time he spent as a producer of the notorious Broadway flop, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark

But nothing could compare to him losing his beloved grandmother. First to the Holocaust in Germany, and later to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. 

Yet, somehow, none of these setbacks could hold our boy back. In 2020, he didn't quite make the cut, but by insisting that the election results were skewed in such a way that he must certainly have won like his political role model. So after two years of grinding that particular axe, our boy hopped back into the race and this time the widespread voter fraud that kept him out of office didn't keep him from becoming a member of Congress, truly and for real. 

But all of those question marks that swirled around the boy just would not go away, and even though he worked as hard as any pathological liar could, the cheaters and naysayers caught up to him and made it all but impossible to enjoy the ride. They accused him of cheating. And lying. To which he replied that he was going to tattle on all the other members of Congress because all of them lied, cheated, and stole their way to their positions of power. 

Which may or may not be true, but the boy forgot one important detail. All of those other liars, cheaters and thieves didn't get caught. The boy did, and he became just the sixth person ever to be expelled from the United States House of Representatives. 

Which is something he won't have to lie about.

And the name of that boy whose dreams are now tattered and torn? 

Cary Grant.