Friday, January 20, 2017

The Joy of Sadness


By Robbie Republican

I hear a joyful noise outside the window of my new apartment in Trump Tower. A soothing sound that brings happiness to my heart and lifts my soul on the wings of angels. I'm of course talking about the tormented cries of the liberals on the city streets below, bawling their eyes out that America will finally be great again.

The only sound better than the cries, are the cracking skulls.

As I've written before, America's savior Donald Trump couldn't have come at a better time in history. After we finally defeated racism (you're welcome, Obama), brought peace to the middle east by wiping out Saddam Hussein and began to usher in a new era of global prosperity, out came the demoncrats to ruin everything.

They invented #BlackLivesMatter in order to kill police officers and incite a race war, founded ISIS (thanks, Hillary), and gave all our jobs to the Chinese and the Mexicans. Fortunately, we live in a democracy, and this election restored law and order. If only we can stop the liberals from voting entirely, we might have a chance to keep it that way. God knows, we've tried. Maybe we can learn a thing or two from our dear friends, the Russians.

I wish I could pour the tears of all those sissies in a bottle, age it like a fine wine, and then pop the cork in four years when Trump is elected President-for-Life, and toast to their demise. Because nothing says "America is Back, Baby!" more than taking joy in the sadness of others. Where would we be without the Trail of Tears? The RedeemersExecutive Order 9066? Senator Joe McCarthy?

Liberals have no appreciation for our history. Obama even replaced American hero Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with an unrepentant fugitive and lawbreaker, just because she was a black female. That's racism and sexism. With Trump in charge, you can bet things will go back to the good old days.

The more I see people throughout this country crying, worried about their futures, complaining that they won't be able to afford healthcare for themselves and their families, worried our planet will burn from war and global warming-- I get butterflies.

It reminds me of my first love, Reagan Ronalds, a totally real girl from my high school. Her hair was as red as the blood of our soldiers, and she spoke volumes about how, as a woman, she wanted a country that protected the baby inside her from her own bad decisions, and that she wanted a country where men were men and told her exactly what she had to do, so she didn't have to think too hard. Thinking hurt the tiny brain in her pretty head.

Reagan and I shared a passionate kiss by the lake behind the school, and I promised her right there and then that I would help make an America where women like her would never be expected to do anything, an America where she would be safe from the criminals, terrorists, and journalists.

She asked me how it was possible that I could be so smart and brave, and I told her that I never stopped believing. Believing that one day, a man would come to save us from the weaklings who believed in peace and harmony and equality. A man even smarter and braver than I was, who knew that the best way to make America great was to make half the nation and most of the world quiver in fear and despair. And more nukes. Lots more nukes.

"Could such a man really exist?" she asked me, as I pushed her to her knees.

"He will," I said, looking up at the skies, ever-hopeful for the coming.

I don't know where Reagan Ronalds or our baby are now. But today I imagine she's as happy as I am to see how miserable the people are who don't agree with us. Obama never understood-- all his calls for unity, all his insistence that we were one nation for all-- he never got that America isn't something that can be shared with everyone. It's something reserved for those that truly deserve it. For us, the day has finally come that we can look at our lefty neighbors and proudly say, "Have fun in Canada, losers."

Because if you're not with us, you're against us. If you're against us, you're against America. All the screaming and shouting won't get you anywhere except the inside of a jail cell, cause we have the freedom of speech now.

Ahh, do you hear that sound? A boot stamping on a human face - forever. Sounds like victory to me.

'Til next time comrades-- I'm Robbie American, proud Patriot. God Bless you, and God Bless America.





[Note from Adam: Views of Robbie Republican do not reflect my own... ;)]

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Should Barack Obama Pardon Charlie Kushner?


Today Barack Obama pardoned millionaire developer Ian Schrager for his tax fraud in 1980. While he's at it, he should also probably pardon Charlie Kushner.

Charlie Kushner, of course, is Jared Kushner's father, Jared Kushner is Ivanka Trump's husband, and his loyalty to his father-in-law during the Presidential campaign helped elevate him to the powerful position of Senior Advisor to the President-elect (shudder) Donald J. Trump.

Back in 2005, Charlie Kushner was fined more than half a million dollars by the FEC for illegal campaign contributions (to Democrats) and spent 16 months in prison for those contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering. That witness tampering? Oh, he hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law so he could blackmail him.

Why should Obama pardon Charlie Kushner's misdeeds when his son is in bed with Trump(s)?

1. It's highly likely Trump will do it.

Speculation has swirled that Jared Kushner is out for revenge on those who turned their backs on his family and led to his father's downfall. Reports indicate that he was responsible for pushing New Jersey governor Chris Christie out of Trump's cabinet and transition team (Christie was the prosecutor who went after his father and forced him to take the plea deal). It's almost impossible to fathom Jared getting this far without an interest in securing a pardon for his father, who by all accounts he was close with. By pardoning Kushner before Trump can, Obama takes away any leverage Trump may have over Jared, making sure the newly-elected President can't dangle a pardon in exchange for his son-in-law's acquiescence. Not to mention  he steals Trump's thunder and makes sure that Donald isn't the one who gets to claim he did a great and merciful act for his son-in-law. You know that'll burn Trump, who always wants the credit for everything.

2. Kushner is a longtime loyal Democrat

Until his son married a Trump, and Democratic friends turned their backs on him, Kushner was a steady Democratic donor and ardent supporter of Democratic Party causes. Rewarding him for that loyalty might smooth over the bad blood and help win him and his family back from the dark side (Charlie hosted a fundraiser for Trump last year at the Kushner's seaside estate.)

3. It might help with the Jews.

Despite his unparalleled support for Israel during his Presidency, Barack Obama's reputation has suffered among Jews in this country and abroad due to right-wing propaganda. Why not overturn the narrative by pardoning one of Israel's biggest supporters? Before his conviction, Charlie Kushner, the son of a Holocaust survivor, was one of the world's leading philanthropists for Jewish causes. According to Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network,"If you look at the population of Jewish philanthropists who are committed to the Orthodox world, the Jewish world in general and the broader American community, and then layer on that a deep commitment to the welfare of Israeli society, there’s an awfully short list of people who meet that criteria and have the resources of Charles Kushner.”

Obama has shown that he's not above pardoning millionaires and billionaires who cheated the system. Ian Schrager's philanthropic contributions pale in comparison to Charlie Kushner's.

It's one thing Donald Trump can't publicly bash Obama for doing--and one thing that would certainly piss him off.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Washington Heights Condo Comes With Giant Spider

Trigger Warning: This post contains what appears to be a GIANT SPIDER.

At first blush, this listing for a Washington Heights duplex seems pretty typical for NYC, if you don't blanch at paying $700,000 for a ground floor apartment on 163rd Street. The size- 1,380 square feet, is admirable, there's a roof deck, and the bathroom appears fully renovat...

WHAT THE HECK IS THAT!!!!

It can't be...
No....

WHAT THE F....
Before you tell me spiders have 8 legs... yes, I know. But absent an explanation for this strange decor, I've got to assume this was a tarantula who got in a fight with a rat, and now has 7 legs.

That could explain this in the description:
SELLER MUST SELL ASAP......
I suppose there could be worse roommates in this city.


Update: The apartment has been re-listed, with new photos... but none of the spider's lair... I mean bathroom. The price has also dropped more than $100,000, so if you don't fear giant arachnids, it seems like a pretty great deal.

Friday, January 06, 2017

How I Found Jesus With Steve Smith


Wide receiver Steve Smith retired from the NFL today. He'll end his career with 14,731 yards receiving and 83 touchdowns (plus 4 more on kickoff and punt returns), making him a lock for the Hall-of-Fame. But while fans will remember his exploits on the gridiron, I'll never forget the afternoon in late 2007, when he swaggered into the media room at Bank of America stadium, eating chicken wings from a Styrofoam container, looking damn annoyed to be sitting down with me for a one-on-one interview for an inspirational magazine.

I was still a relatively young reporter. Interviews were never my strong suit, they certainly weren't back then. So I was a bit nervous to speak with a guy known for often cursing out the press. Especially when the Panthers media representative warned me as we walked in, "Steve's not in the best mood today."

I told myself I had nothing to be nervous about. My publication featured true, inspirational stories--"puff pieces" in the industry parlance. I hadn't flown down from New York to Charlotte to ask any "gotcha" questions or make Steve look bad. I'd come to get Steve's story about how he'd matured-- from a rookie who had come into the league with a chip on his shoulder and sparred with teammates, into a respected team leader and all-pro. He'd previously spoken with the 700 Club, on the Christian Broadcasting Network, about his faith. My magazine wanted to know more about that.

Steve intimidated me from the start. Only 5'9" 185 pounds (I'm 6'0" and 200), he nonetheless seemed to tower over me. The guy was on my fantasy football team, and now I was actually meeting him. I tried warming him up with some small talk, some compliments. Then it occurred to me that he had better places to be on his day off. I got down to business. What was behind his transformation? What made him into a leader, a guy his teammates had voted team captain?

"I found Jesus," he told me. 

I waited for him to elaborate. He didn't. I needed a bit more than that to write a story. 

I tried a few different approaches. How did he find Jesus? Was there a specific moment that led him to believe? A mentor who introduced him to faith? After his rookie season, was there an experience he had which helped him re-evaluate what was important in his life? What came just before, just after? How did he change? "I found Jesus," he said, again.

I moved on, asked a few more questions, then circled back to ask him, "Steve, a lot of our readers would love to hear more about how you found Jesus.... what do you mean by that?"

He got angry. "I think we're done here," he said, glaring at me with a fierceness I thought he reserved only for opposing cornerbacks, pushing his chair away from the table with enough force that even the chicken bones in his Styrofoam tray quivered. I attempted to explain that I was just trying to get the details that would help readers understand his story.

"I can't explain it to you," he said. "Do you believe in Jesus?" 

On the interview tape, there are a few painful seconds of silence in which I internally debated telling Steve that I am, in fact, Jewish, though I respect the belief in Jesus as the Messiah and humbly admit I have no way of knowing the truth, though I went to a Methodist high school and sat in chapel every week listening to the choir and Reverend Murphy... But... I caught the Panthers media rep in the corner of my eye, staring at me, gently nodding yes.

"Yes, I believe in Jesus," I said.

Steve sat back down. We continued the interview for about 10 more minutes. He didn't give me much to go on, and my magazine never ran the story. It would have been published just about the time Steve punched his teammate Ken Lucas in the face.

Looking back, I can't say I blame Steve for stonewalling me. I didn't understand back then that the apparent contradictions in his story--his aggressiveness on the field and his strong faith--weren't contradictions at all. That the real story wasn't how he'd "matured," but how he'd reconciled those parts of himself.

The only way a 5'9" 185 pound guy can become a Hall-of-Famer in a league dominated by modern-day gladiators is to become fierceness personified. To play with unrelenting anger. Soften up for a minute out there, and you're done. But while Steve Smith clashed with teammates and the media, he found a way to keep that fierceness from bleeding too far outside the lines and destroying his life and career. 

Plenty of athletes claim to believe in God. But it's not just for appearances that Steve washes the feet of the homeless and has said that in retirement, he wants to continue his active role in a charity that provides footwear to those in need.

In his last game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Steve matched up against Pacman Jones and had a quiet day, 3 catches for 34 yards. The two have tussled for years on the field, fighting over every yard. But outside the lines, they couldn't be further apart. Two days after the game, Pacman would assault a police officer and spit on a nurse, most likely blowing his fifteenth chance in the NFL, after previously beating several women and shooting a man who became paralyzed for life. 

Steve, meanwhile, seeks a more humble existence. "Can I play another year?’ I probably could, but what I lose, I’m not willing to risk," Steve told the media after the game. "You know playing this game and expectations that are expected from you, it’s a lot of pressure... The pressure that I’ll have now is getting the kids to school on time, do I eat a pint of ice cream or a gallon of ice cream?"

Now that sounds like someone who found Jesus. Even if he never wants to quite explain how.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Did a Movie Exec Ruin Passengers?


I really wanted to see the movie Passengers, about two hibernating passengers on a spaceship headed to another planet, who wake up 90 years too early and face life and mortality aboard an otherwise person-less vessel--a vessel that may be breaking down. I'm a sci-fi buff, and the script has generated buzz for years before finally making it to the big screen this December, with likable leads Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. The writer, Jon Spaihts, was regarded as such a rising star that he was immediately hired to work on the reboot of the Alien franchise and other high profile projects.



Then the reviews came out:
"The major creative players either didn’t realize that they were essentially making a feature-length ad for Stockholm syndrome, or... they didn’t really care. And with Tyldum so glibly dismissive of (or oblivious to) what on paper might have seemed like interesting moral questions, the script doesn’t matter that much anyway. What matters here is the film’s effect. And the effect of Passengers is to turn frothy sci-fi romance into an astonishingly retrograde statement on autonomy and consent, and to turn one of the most likable actors in Hollywood into a total fucking creep."
Wait what? Not knowing anything about the finer plot details, this of course fascinated me. I wanted to know more.

How was it that this highly prized sci-fi project could ignore the fact that-- SPOILER ALERT -- when Pratt's character, Jim, sabotages the pod of Lawrence's character, Aurora (so he won't have to live out his days on the ship alone)  he's essentially committing a mixture of murder and rape? After all, according to the plot points I read... he essentially lies about why she woke up, and gets her into bed. What's worse--at the end, Jim and Aurora get over their "rape-cute" and fall in love.

Intrigued at how the script attempted to justify this (and how studio execs could let it slide) I sought out the script online, And I found not the movie that made it into theaters, but John Spaihts actual original script, which you can read here, at least until someone takes it down.

The general plot is the same--but the film's final third, which follows Jim's self-centered act, differs in significant ways. Ways that I believe made Spaihts script superior (but still flawed) to the movie version.

Don't read on if you want to read the script for yourself first. SPOILERS ahead.

The biggest difference is pretty big. And you can see why a studio exec might have wanted to cut it. But in a way, it's the only ethical route out of the sin Jim's committed. And taking it out alters the movie in a fundamental way.

The difference is this: In the end, all the passengers aboard the ship--with the exception of Jim and Aurora-- are killed.

In the movie version, Jim fixes the reactor in a heroic act, saving everyone aboard, which redeems him in the eyes of Aurora, who decides that living aboard the ship for the rest of her life with the man who raped her is what she wants, because... love I guess?

In the original script, however, Jim and Aurora fix the reactor together... and then the system reboots. When it reboots, something terrible happens:

Or, at least the computer thinks the pods are empty.

It's a moment that suddenly casts everything before it in a new light. The villain of the movie, alluded to at varying times earlier in the film, is the large, soulless corporation that built this "asteroid-proof" spaceship and seemingly cut corners to maximize profits. Jim's earlier griping about the world no longer needing engineers like him... well, this shows the implications. No one thought through the dangers, and thousands of people in an instant are jettisoned into space, despite Jim and Aurora's frantic efforts to save them (there's a harrowing scene of the ship's captain, waking up a moment before he's shot out to his death).

Jim's rape-y act kind of starts to pale in comparison to the negligence and greed that just murdered thousands of people. 

Lest you think the movie leaves us on this horrifying note, there are still a few minutes to go. And that running time establishes Jim and Aurora as something quite different than they were before. Now they truly are alone. But they don't want their lives to end. They don't want their time remaining to be in vain. 


Now at least, you can see a valid reason why Aurora might dismiss what happened earlier. The two form a new kind of partnership. If before was simply lust and romance, now it's parenthood. It's guardianship.

The script establishes earlier that on-board the ship, there is a storage facility with the genetic material of every passenger. For the rest of their lives, Aurora and Jim use this genetic material to bring to life the children (or clones, I guess) of everyone who was lost in the tragedy. Aurora uses her writing chops to pen a book about the massacre and building a livable world on the ship. With this context, Aurora's decision to forgive Jim, and their ensuing romance, becomes, in a "tangled" way, at least justifiable. The characters have motivations that transcend shallow romance. The world they create aboard isn't for them-- it's for those who died, and the generation raised in their honor. At worst, it's their way to survive.

Now, you can think this ending is just as bad--some studio exec certainly did. But it's certainly less of a Stockholm-syndrome story/Bro-fantasy and more in the vein of other sci-fi epics which address the coldness and cruelties of corporations and delve into morally complex issues.

I wonder what Jon Spaihts thinks about the changes. In the meantime, I guess I'll wait for the film to come out on Netflix.

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