Saturday, September 18, 2021

California Recall: It Must Be The Fault of Black Men

As you may have heard the petition to recall Democratic California governor Gavin Newsom and replace him with noted nutjob Republican Larry Elder failed spectacularly. 
About 64% of the electorate voted "no" on the recall. 36% voted "yes". 
As California is a heavily Democratic state while Elder is an odious person, even for a Black Republican, the results aren't that surprising. 
What is also unsurprising is that the New York Times found a way to take shots at Black men voters. You see, per CNN exit polls, 89% of Black women voters voted "no" on the recall. 
This was the group with the highest "no" voting proportion. But according to NYT columnist Charles Blow, there is something wrong with Black men because:
But there is a worrisome detail in the data, one that keeps showing up, one that Democrats would do well to deal with: Black and Latino men are not hewing as close to the party line as Black and Latina women.
In CNN’s exit poll, nearly half of the Hispanic men surveyed and nearly a quarter of the Black men voted to support the recall. The largest difference between men and women of any racial group was between Black men and Black women.

Movie Reviews: The Clay Pigeon

The Clay Pigeon
directed by Richard Fleischer
This is a film noir but very much at the lighter end of that cinematic spectrum. 
With a running time of just over an hour it's really very short and doesn't spend much time on character development or in invoking any sense of dread, existential or otherwise. 
There's actually a fair bit of comedy, some of it unintentional. The film actually tries to make us believe that a Japanese World War Two war criminal would attempt to hide out in a Chinese American residential area and NOT be detected by any of the people living therein. 
This makes about as much sense as thinking that a German Nazi war criminal would CHOOSE to live in a Russian-Jewish American neighborhood and move around with no problems. 
Perhaps to clueless outsiders every East Asian looks the same or every European looks the same but people within those groups and the hundreds of smaller groups that comprise them have no problems distinguishing among each other. They've been doing just that for hundreds or even thousands of years!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Movie Reviews: Outside The Wire

Outside The Wire
directed by Mikael Hafstrom
This sci-fi action film was a mishmash of Training Day and Chappie. It was entertaining but it lacked a really compelling Big Bad. 
It was at its core a war movie so I don't think it needed an interesting female role but there were nonetheless a few times when such might have been useful.
I am weary of Hollywood insisting on casting British actors into just about every conceivable role. 
It can take me out of the film to want to believe that someone is American or Ukrainian and hear them speaking in a pronounced British accent. Seems like casting directors and producers should start being open to more talent outside of Great Britain. 
Outside the Wire plays a little at the beginning and a lot later on with some heavy questions around wartime utilitarian ethics and the morality of following orders vs. making your own decisions.
Most of the war action felt much more Marvel like than Saving Private Ryan. I felt like I was watching special effects. That made some sense within the storyline for reasons that will become obvious should you watch the film.

Great Blue Heron Has A Tasty Snack!

And now Mr. Rat, your trip on this planet has come to an end!

Movie Reviews: What Lies Below

What Lies Below
directed by Braden Duemmler

Investigation Discovery meets The Shadow Over Innsmouth
You might not imagine that a movie that draws equally from Freduian stepfather ickniness and Lovecraftian ichthyoid creepiness would have much new to offer in terms of chills and thrills. 
And unfortunately, in this case you'd be correct. 
Other than reversing the viewer's gaze so that the fit masculine form is on display at least as much as the curvy feminine, there's nothing different or groundbreaking about this movie. 
If you have ever seen any of those bawdy cable true life crime stories on such channels as Investigation Discovery, History, or HBO, the tales often detail how someone, perhaps a caddish male desperado, but nearly as often a fiendish female seductress, worms his or her way into the heart of a good but lonely desperate person. 
The leech uses its vantage point to exploit its victim financially, emotionally, sexually or in other ways. The victim's relatives are often unable to do anything about this. Or perhaps the victim's family members are just too young to interfere with the victim's love life. 

Police Brutality: Welcome to Taylor!

It's difficult for me to have any sympathy for the Capitol police officers insulted or assaulted during the January 6 attempted coup in Washington D.C. because police officers across this country react so differently to white people and Black people. 
The same Capitol police officers fleeing from armed white rioters or wringing their hands and wondering what to do would have had no problem throwing beatdowns to unarmed Black men in the same situation. Some examples of this phenomenon recently came to light in a not so pleasant little podunk town not too far from me.  
Officer Tyler Peake, 23, is accused of assaulting Brendan Morgan, a 34-year-old Southfield resident, around 1:43 a.m. on April 1, 2020, after police were dispatched to the scene of a reported domestic disturbance involving Morgan and a Taylor woman prosecutors said was his girlfriend at the time.
Peake has been charged with misconduct in office and assault and battery. Misconduct in office, a common-law felony, carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Assault and battery is a 93-day misdemeanor. 

Grocery Store Etiquette

At one of the grocery store chains where I used to routinely shop, despite what seems to be massive growth in the shopping population, store managers have installed more self-service kiosks. 
Store managers have reduced the number of lines staffed by clerks. And a customer can, with occasional exceptions, forget about having anyone bag his or her groceries. 
I guess this is because of price pressures from online competition as well as your typical corporate greed to reduce every penny that is paid to human beings who actually do the work. 
What is making things even worse from my perspective is that although stores have continued to increase the number of self-service kiosks, they haven't exactly gone out of their way to make them user friendly.  
In one store at any given time, including the "rush hour" on weekend mornings most of the self-service kiosks are non-functional while at a different store across town the managers have altered the kiosks to not accept cash, only debit or credit cards. 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Movie Reviews: Blood Red Sky

Blood Red Sky
directed by Peter Thorwath
This is a German supernatural horror film that bears a great deal of visual resemblance to the classic German movie Nosferatu and many of the descendants of that film, most notably the original TV version of Stephen King's Salem's Lot
It also thematically reminded me of the short story "Popsy", also by Stephen King, in which a child trafficker finds that the child he's chosen to kidnap is (a) not normal and (b) has a relative, the title character, who is protective in the extreme. So Blood Red Sky is set up to be a kind of extended mugging the monster situation with the twist that the monster is linked to our side by a tenuous connection to its child. So what's greater, maternal love or the need to be who you are? 
Another theme explored here was the fact that parents will do and say things to provide for or protect their children that either (a) the children will not understand or (b) are simply immoral. The parent simply can't tolerate if the child was to see or learn about those actions, even if those actions were needed for the child to survive. 
This could be something as prosaic as taking a demeaning job as a house domestic and tolerating racist treatment and language in order to help provide for a child's law school education or overturning a kitchen table and threatening racist co-workers with an axe if they should speak out of pocket to you ever again. 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Farewell Afghanistan

The United States has just about completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan. The 20 year war is over. Or at least the US role is
Instead of the Afghan government fighting the Taliban for another two years, a year, or even a measly six months the Afghan government and military collapsed in a matter of days. 
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani evidently decided that instead of taking a last stand with some death or glory hardcases who would ensure that their names lived forever as sources of fear to the Taliban, it was better to do like every other Taliban Afghan opponent and run away. Yes brave President Ghani ran away.
President Ghani popped up in the United Arab Emirates, alternately saying that he left for the good of the people and because he didn't want to get hanged. Ghani also denied that he had left with a bunch of cash (most likely because he had already transferred his wealth out of the nation). Other Afghan leaders who had worked with Ghani basically called him a punk. So it goes. 
Smart collaborators (and that is what Ghani was) tend not to stick around once the occupying force packs up and leaves.

Movie Reviews: The Empty Man

The Empty Man
directed by David Prior
This is a horror movie that initially gives the viewer the impression that it's like any number of hundreds of other horror movies in which people-usually sex crazed teens-summon an evil spirit by foolishly performing some stupid ritual. 
Maybe they chant a demon's name five times while looking in a mirror. Maybe they sacrifice an animal in a graveyard. Maybe they play spin the bottle or truth or dare in an abandoned church. Maybe they read cuneiform or hieroglyphics in some ancient Iraqi or Egyptian tomb. 
Maybe they open up a locked book with warnings written in blood that state "You big dummy! Yes you! Do not open this book under any circumstances!!" In any event after the people do whatever stupid thing they do, they usually die in horrible ways, often while having sex, trying to have sex, or thinking about having sex. 
Along the way the few group members with functioning brain cells find a mentor who can advise them or stop by a library or church to discover what happened the last time someone did something so stupid and if the older stupid people survived. Usually there's a final confrontation where Mr. or Miss Smarty Pants defeats whatever evil was set loose but often not before losing someone valuable to him or her.