Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Thinking about Mission: Impossible


No, this isn't about saving the republic from Donald Trump.

The latest film in the Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible series - number six, titled Fallout - has opened to rave reviews. It's been called "the most exciting mission yet" and "the summer's best movie" ... one review breathlessly proclaims, "Fallout is the summer’s greatest diversion, a non-stop pummeling of the senses that will activate the dumbest parts of your brain and temporarily convince you that what you are screaming, gasping, and laughing at is, in fact, possible."

Well, I'm sorry, but I'm not impressed. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I've seen the first five in the series, and while they were exciting in their way, I was very disappointed. I don't think any of them lived up to what I loved about the classic Mission: Impossible TV series.

The Mission: Impossible movies are simply star vehicles for Tom Cruise and a host of pyrotechnics experts, armorers, and stunt drivers. The old TV show was different, in a critical way.

In the TV series, the IM Force, led first by Dan Briggs and later by Jim Phelps, developed insanely complicated plans to bring down really bad bad guys. But they didn't rely on pyrotechnics, gunfights, and fierce martial arts combat ... they relied on psychology and on intricate schemes that would not only result in the defeat and ruin of the villains, but would leave them utterly horror-struck and unable to comprehend what had just happened to them.

The TV series was exciting because it was quietly suspenseful. Unbelievable, yes, but suspenseful. Consider the episode titled "Old Man Out," when the IM Force rescued an elderly religious leader imprisoned in an escape-proof fortress: the plan involved getting a member of the team into the prison to sail the old man out on a zip line ... right above the heads of the unsuspecting guards, who were distracted by the circus* the rest of the team was staging outside the walls. Or the episode in which they hijacked a passenger train and hid it in a warehouse where they staged an entire journey culminating in a huge crash ... all in order to unmask the perfidy of a foreign leader's key advisor. Want more? Here's an article that summarizes some of the best episodes.

I'll watch the movies, but the TV show was a lot better.

And I don't like Tom Cruise, anyhow.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

* We're still being distracted by circuses, aren't we?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Musical Sunday


I heard this song for the first time as it was playing in the background in a local restaurant, and I whipped out my trusty smartphone and used Shazam to learn what it was. I loved the tune, but was largely mystified by the lyrics, which I have since researched, and which I'm reproducing after the video for those of you who are equally mystified. The video is a little weird, but you can make of it what you will. Here's George Ezra singing "Budapest."



And here are the lyrics:

My house in Budapest
My hidden treasure chest
Golden grand piano
My beautiful Castillo

You
You
I'd leave it all

My acres of a land
I have achieved
It may be hard for you to
Stop and believe

But for you
You
I'd leave it all

Oh for you
You
I'd leave it all

Give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
And baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

My many artifacts
The list goes on
If you just say the words
I'll up and run

Oh, to you
You
I'd leave it all

Oh, to you
You
I'd leave it all

Give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
Baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

Give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
Baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

My friends and family
They don't understand
They fear they'll lose so much
If you take my hand

But, for you
You
I'd lose it all…

Oh, for you
You
I'd lose it all…

Give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
Baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

Give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
Baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

My house in Budapest
My hidden treasure chest
Golden grand piano
My beautiful Castillo

You
You
I'd leave it all

Oh, for you
You
I'd leave it all…


Do you have someone you love enough to "leave it all?" I do, and I hope you do, too.

Have a good day, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Cartoon Saturday


Agnes and I are visiting Chincoteague Island with our daughter and her family, and so the usual summary of bad news won't appear this week. Don't worry, though ... the bad news never stops, and we'll catch up next weekend. For now, on with the cartoons ... this week, in honor of the president's hatred and disdain for news that's insufficiently fawning over him and his administration, we offer a collection of cartoons about the news media ...

That's pretty much what I look like when I watch ...


Such a warning really would be nice, wouldn't it? ...


A long and storied history ...


True of every cable news channel you can name ...


It's all in how you choose to look at it ...


It would be physically, if not intellectually less bloody ...


If you've been reading this blog for very long, you know that I am fascinated by the Seven Deadly Sins ...


Now, that's a horrible curse ...


Hard to imagine, isn't it? ...


How I feel much of the time ...


And so we close out our last Cartoon Saturday for the month of July, with a nod to the much-maligned news media. Go forth and scream about the shortcomings of whichever network you choose not to watch.

Have a good day and a great weekend. Come back tomorrow for Musical Sunday and an interesting song by George Ezra. More thoughts then.

Bilbo

Friday, July 27, 2018

Great Moments in Editing and Signage


Ah, yes ... it's time for our final collection of Great Moments in Editing and Signage for July ...

I think a word with the headline writer may be in order ...


I wonder if the vegan version is in another aisle ...


I think I'll go with the catfish, thanks ...


Now this is just TMI ...


Do you think that the Department of Homeland Security is aware of this secret identity? ...


Strange things can happen when the headlines of two different stories can be read together ...


This is what happens to "old friends" when you meet to discuss politics nowadays ...


Stop the presses!! ...


I think I can believe that ...


What about the ... oh, never mind ...


And there you have it - the final collection for July. Hope you enjoyed it, and will be back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday. More thoughts then.

Bilbo

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Poetry Sunday


Summer can be a magical time when you're young. It can also be a terrible time when you have to make sense of the world as you get older. This poem brings back memories of the better summers of youth.

American Summer 
by Edward Hirsch 

Each day was a time clock that scarcely moved,
a slow fist punching us in, punching us out,
electric heat smoldering in the purple air,
but each night was a towering white fly ball
to center field — “a can of corn” — coming down
through stars glittering above the diamond.
Each day was a pair of heavy canvas gloves
hoisting garbage cans into an omnivorous mouth
that crept through thoroughfares and alleys,
but each night was the feeling of a bat
coming alive in your hands, it was lining
the first good pitch for a sharp single.
That summer I learned to steal second base
by getting the jump on right-handed pitchers
and then sliding head-first into the bag.
I learned to drive my father’s stick shift
and to park with my girlfriend at the beach,
our headlights beaming and running low.
I was a 16-year-old in the suburbs
and each day was another lesson in working,
a class in becoming invisible to others,
but each night was a Walt Whitman of holidays,
the clarity of a whistle at 5 P.M.,
the freedom of walking out into the open air.


Have a good day and enjoy the rest of your weekend. I hope your summer - other than the churn of the political situation - is a good one.

More thoughts later.

Bilbo

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Cartoon Saturday


What a week it's been ...

Apparently before debriefing his key staff on the results of his private meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Donald Trump has issued an invitation to Putin for a second meeting, this time in Washington this fall; in Branson, Missouri, at least 17 people died when their sightseeing duck boat capsized on a lake during a sudden storm; about 10 people were injured in the northern German city of L├╝beck when a 34-year-old man attacked bus passengers with a knife before being subdued by other passengers; in Parkland, Florida Ayub Ali, the father of two survivors of the February mass murder at Margory Stoneman Douglas High School, was himself murdered by gunfire in a robbery at his convenience store; and Missouri GOP Representative Jason Lewis* was revealed to have made fiercely racist remarks during his time as a right-wing talk radio host, including the assertion that blacks have an "entitlement mentality," view themselves as victims, and are conducting a "racial war" against whites.

This week, in honor of Donald Trump's declaration that under his leadership the economy is doing better than at any time in history, we feature cartoons about economics.

I think this makes as much sense as most economic theories ...


This is what's known as the "I Got Mine!" school of wage theory ...


That's my position, too ...


True story: this is pretty much the reaction I got when I told my old bank I was closing my checking account because I was dissatisfied with their service and exorbitant fees ...


It's also said that when money talks, nobody criticizes its accent ...


My first mortgage was one of those ...


The GOP reforms have finally reached their conclusion ...


I don't understand it, either ...


Poor, poor fellow ...


This was Agnes and I after we'd both retired ...


I hope this clarifies the intricacies of the economy for you as much as anything can.

It looks like we're headed into a week or so of crummy weather, which may or may not be good for my garden. As the Fearless Leader would say, "time will tell."

Have a good day and a great weekend. See you tomorrow for Poetry Sunday. More thoughts then.

Bilbo

* The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for July, 2018.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for July, 2018


It's been quite a month, and I've been at a total loss to decide who to designate as the Ass Clown Award recipient for this period.

In a normal world, I would present the award without question to Donald Trump for his horrendous performance at the Helsinki "summit" with Russian president Vladimir Putin, following his trashing of our closest allies at the NATO summit just a week before. Unfortunately, I have already presented Mr Trump a lifetime achievement award and removed him from eligibility for future awards ... a decision I have had frequent cause to regret.

After a great deal of thought, a review of the news, and a large number of adult beverages, I have finally decided to present the award for

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for July, 2018


to:

Republican Representative Jason Lewis,
representing the 2nd District of Minnesota


Representative Lewis this week defended his remarks in a 2012 radio program in which he lamented that women could no longer be called "sluts." He defended his comments by noting that, as a talk radio announcer, he was "paid to be provocative," and that he would make the same comments today.

What more can I say?

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, the Left-Cheek Ass Clown for July, 2018, is Minnesota Republican Representative Jason Lewis. I hope he's made his constituents proud.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday. More thoughts then.

Bilbo

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Picking up the Helsinki Pieces


This is the text of a Facebook post I did yesterday, for those of you with whom I'm not connected there ...

As a veteran of more than 40 years of service in the US intelligence community, I am personally and professionally appalled by the comments made in Helsinki by Donald Trump. Instead of accepting and relying on the rock-solid, evidence-based findings of his own intelligence community, Mr Trump refused to call out Putin over Russian interference in the 2016 election. Make no mistake: the president of the United States is willing to accept the demonstrable lies of Vladimir Putin over the men and women who work day and night to protect his country. There is no - NO - excuse for this. Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution states that treason consists of "... adhering to (the) Enemies (of the United States), giving them Aid and Comfort." Mr Trump's shocking siding with Mr Putin, acceptance of his bald-faced lies, and refusal to put the interests of the United States ahead of his own vanity come perilously close to meeting the Constitutional definition of treason. Don't even try to sugar-coat this or explain why Trump deserves the benefit of the doubt. If ever there were a clear picture of the menace to our nation posed by this man, it was today's ghastly, reality-challenged press conference in Helsinki. Today, I am ashamed of my government and utterly disgusted by anyone who can view Mr Trump's shameful performance as anything but a disaster of historic proportions.

Have a good day. Expect better from your chief executive, but don't hold your breath. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Musical Sunday


One of my favorite singers is Nanci Griffith. She's had a lot of great songs, including "Late Nite Grande Hotel," "Wall of Death," and "Battlefield," but one I'd forgotten about until it popped up on my random playlist during my power walk earlier this week was this one ... which dates to 1994 and is even more topical today.



We are indeed living in an inconvenient ... if not downright maddening time. Have a good day. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Cartoon Saturday


As my father would have said, if this past week had been a fish, I'd have thrown it back.

In a disgusting and embarrassing display of partisan rancor and total incivility, the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees wasted eleven hours in a shameless attempt to undermine the Mueller investigation via brutal and endlessly repetitive ad hominem attacks on former FBI Special Agent Peter Stzrok; after browbeating and insulting US allies at the NATO summit in Brussels, Donald Trump gave a self-congratulatory news conference and then went on to London, where he conducted a scathing interview denouncing British Prime Minister Teresa May right before a black-tie dinner in his honor ... hosted by May; former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, awaiting trial on charges developed during the No-Collusion Witch Hunt™, was moved from his relatively comfortable prison accommodations in the Northern Neck Regional Jail to the Alexandria Detention Center in Northern Virginia, which has a history of housing high-profile prisoners; and the mayor of the city of Lancaster, California, wants to enact a ban on the wearing of neckties in the workplace, citing a study that claims they restrict 7.5% of the blood going to the brain ... which may explain the horrendous behavior of participants in Thursday's Strzok Circus, at which everyone was wearing neckties that obviously cut off blood supplies to their brains.

This week, in honor with the GOP's relentless attacks on the health care system, we offer a collection of cartoons about where we're going with "affordable" health care ...

It's what your insurance will pay for ...


Saving money on anesthesia ...


And on colonoscopies ...


Cheaper than sutures, and it takes less time to apply ...


Generics apply everywhere ...


They didn't make much of an effort to save it ...


The modern choice ...


Good advice ...


Addressing the most important symptoms ...


The future of American medicine ...


Have a good day and a great weekend. Come back tomorrow for Musical Sunday, when we visit Nanci Griffith for a timely tune. More thoughts then.

Bilbo

Friday, July 13, 2018

Great Moments in Editing and Signage


Because after the travesty of the House Strzok debacle, we all need something to laugh at so we won't cry ...

I think I'll vacation somewhere else ...


Yes, but what about the food? ...


It's an unusual method of preparation, to be sure ...


Um ... perhaps someone ought to call rodent control ...


I think I'll stock up on those panty stuffers ...


Well, I certainly hope so ...


Tough qualifications ...


But how do you know when you're successful? ...


Say, what? ...


D'ya think? ...


Great Moments in Editing and Signage ... more fun than parsing Bret Kavanaugh's paper trail!

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday ... more thoughts then.

Bilbo