Jon Cazares

Jon Cazares

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In Memory: Joyce Riley (1948 – 2017)

We regret to announce the passing of Captain Joyce Riley. Joyce was host of The Power Hour, one of our longest running shows. I did not know her personally and so thought it best to let her colleagues over at The Power Hour tell you about her life.


In Memory of Joyce Riley 1948-2017

The very definition of a Baby Boomer…the Riley family welcomed a bouncing baby girl three summers after the Japanese surrendered to end World War II. Born on 7/31/1948 Joyce came to the World in the usual way – to a typical American family outside of Arkansas City, Kansas on the border with Oklahoma.  Fittingly, she was born in the heart of the United States…because eventually she would capture the hearts of millions of People around the world.

Her Father owned a pharmacy while her mother was a stay-at-home mom. She was the oldest of three children. If you knew Joyce you would probably know the one thing she liked more than being on the Power Hour was quilting. That love came honestly as she inherited from her Master Quiltsman Mother. Undoubtedly her father’s involvement in the medical community influenced her career decisions. The tragedy of her family came when one of her younger brothers died unexpectedly. It was a sore that in some ways tore at the emotional fabric of her family her entire life.

As a young woman she was determined to make some mark in the world.  The tenacity we grew to love brought her all the way to the University of Kansas. “Rock, chalk, Jayhawk,” rolled off her tongue like it belonged. Her passion to help those who couldn’t always help themselves was embedded in her makeup. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and went far…in a wide range of nursing duties in the private sector.

Her expertise and willingness to serve landed her in the Air Force. Joyce became a Flight Nurse aboard C-130 missions in support of Operation Desert Storm. The kinship she felt with those in uniform is a lasting legacy. The experimentation she endured and witnessed changed her forever.  A champion of the forgotten men and women of the Desert Storm era may be the badge of honor she cherished the most.

Before she would bring the plight of the Iraq War era soldier to the masses she took several important stands. And stands…and stands in the face of brutal scrutiny. While employed at Bexar County Hospital in San Antonio Joyce became involved in Nursing medical Malpractice issues after learning Nurse Genene Jones was responsible for the deaths of many children in the well-publicized “Baby Death” case. Until her health would no longer permit she was an expert witness for both plaintiff and defense medical cases. She has presented at the National Institutes of Health, and many legal conferences including the American trial Lawyers Association.

Her expertise and crucial voice lead her to the radio and well over 1500 radio guest appearances.  From 1996-1999 with her husband Dave von Kleist, she travelled the country as an advocate for the American Gulf War Veterans Association. With Agent Orange reports, Miracle II Soap, and crucial info for veterans throughout the nation exploded in its effort to assist Vets in need. In the Spring of 2000 The Power Hour Radio Show landed on the GCN Network.  With her exuberant husband by her side Joyce laid the path for the modern independent media movement. The Power Hour became synonymous with blowing the lid off of our less than honest reality. “It’s all about the Truth!”, “Doing the next, right and honorable thing,” “Knowledge is power!”, “Caring about your world,” were all well-deserved and well-used catch phrases.

With the tenacity of a bulldog, an unusual wit and a special Midwestern charm Joyce endeared herself to a massive audience. The advent and success of the truth media can be traced directly to The Power Hour and the Nation of People who called it home.  Her pursuit of natural treatments for her Cancer diagnosis will long be admired and used in coming generations. She is survived by an adoring body of listeners and advocates who have found the world a better place by having Joyce in it. So many owe so much to this giant in the communication world.  Ever private with so much personal information it is proper now to note she has one brother and one son from an early marriage remaining.

The shadow is long and the path is well worn following the Voice of our Joyce. Whether quilting or twirling a baton or questioning the highest government bodies on the planet, Joyce Riley will forever be in our universe. The Power Hour Nation sleeps with heavy hearts this night as her mortal struggle is over and a new world has begun for her. It is easy to imagine her tracking down some unsuspecting former character who was responsible for so much suffering in this world and giving them a piece of her mind…that is in between twirling her baton again. Because if there is one thing we know…no army can stop an idea whose time has come and no one will ever forget Capt’n Joyce Riley.



A couple of days after former police officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted in the killing of Philando Castile, authorities released dashcam footage of the shooting.   


The video is as sad and shocking as you might expect. At about the one minute mark what appeared to be a routine stop turns explosive and begins with the following exchange:


The officer explains to Mr. Castile that he was pulled over because of a broken brake light. This is true but Yanez also pulled the car over because Mr. Castile, “fit the physical description of an armed robbery suspect from the previous week,” which is more fully explained in the aftermath transcript.


Then, from the video:


Officer Jeronimo Yanez: Do you have a license and insurance?


A few seconds go by as Yanez waits. Philando hands something out of the car to officer Yanez, presumably, either Mr. Castile’s license or proof of insurance (or both). The officer takes what is handed to him and glances at it for a few seconds. Then -- it’s hard to tell but -- it looks like the officer keeps the item in his hand or maybe, tucks into a uniform pocket. Then:  


Philando Castile:  (calm voice) I have to tell you, I have a, I have a firearm on me.


Officer Jeronimo Yanez: (calm voice) Okay. Don’t reach for it then.


At this point Philando, his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, who is in the passenger seat, and Yanez all start talking and eventually shouting over each other. Over the course of four seconds -- it sounds as if Philando is saying, “I’m not reaching for it,” Diamond says, “He’s not reaching for it” while officer Yanez says, “don’t reach for it -- don’t pull it out.” Then Yanez reaches into the car with his left hand -- for some reason (but it does fit the narrative that Yanez is trying to prevent Phialdo from grabbing -- something). Finally, Philando’s girlfriend yells, “No!”


That’s when Yanez pulls his gun with his right hand and fires several shots into the car hitting Philando five times and killing him almost instantly. About forty seconds later, Diamond uses her cell phone to live streams the aftermath of the shooting. The terrifying video goes viral.


What really shocks me is how fast the fatal shooting escalates. One second they were calmly discussing “license and insurance” up to and including the first exchange of “I have a gun” and “Okay, don’t reach for it then.”  All of that was reasonable and polite. Several seconds later, Yanez fires into the car.


Life or death. In the matter of four seconds.


Now, I can’t imagine being a police officer and having to make these kind of  decisions -- usually within the span of a few seconds. But, and this is equally as important, I also can’t imagine what it is like to be a black man in America, so, there’s that.


That being said, in this instance, it’s pretty clear officer Yanez panics -- and I mean, seriously panics. Yanez lost his job and many feel he should have been criminally charged.


Of course, the jury didn’t see it that way. The jury did not believe there was proof beyond reasonable doubt of manslaughter. I have not read the full court transcript nor seen all the evidence one way or another so I won’t speculate further on their reasoning.


But, like many of you, I have watched the video(s). I also want to say that I completely understand the video is not the only piece of evidence that should be taken into consideration. But the video is a pretty compelling piece of evidence. And it makes a strong case that officer Yanez panics.   


I thought watching the dashcam video would show me clear cut evidence; evidence beyond reasonable doubt that Yanez murdered Philando. And then I watched it. And now I have doubts. Which is fine! Not that I was on the jury but keep in mind, prosecutors don’t have to prove a crime beyond all possible doubt! They need to prove a crime beyond reasonable doubt. What that means is that you, as a member of the jury can have some doubt and still apply a guilty verdict.


When I watch the dashcam video it’s pretty clear Yanez fears for his life and it does create a bit of reasonable doubt, which, I suspect is what the mostly white jury focused their acquittal on. I mean, to be honest, we can’t see if Philando is reaching for his gun (or not). We don’t know why Yanez reached into the car with his left hand.  But the full video is ten minutes long and continues several minutes after the shooting, during which Yanez is completely non functional from fear and (probably) adrenalin. Which, again, creates doubt.


We would love to think we knew what happened. But we just don’t. Not really.  


I think the main question in my mind is -- should officer Yanez have been so scared? Is it reasonable for Yanez to assume Philando was reaching for a gun and therefor the officer had no choice but to shoot Mr. Castile? Or is it more reasonable to assume Yanez fell victim to “fear the black man” racial profiling and then needlessly panics and kills Philando?


Can both be partially true? Is this more of a sad tragedy than a cold blooded case? Can both of those be partially true, too?


At the trial, Use-of-force experts weigh in on the matter. Emanuel Kapelsohn, a firearms trainer and consultant called by the defense to testify, said:


"We can't expect, and the law doesn't expect, police officers to be perfect.


If we established a standard of perfection, we'd have very few, if any, people who could meet that standard to become police officers. Instead, what the law requires is that the police officers act reasonably, and that they use what is called objectively reasonable force.


And obviously the jury here, after four and a half days of deliberation, decided that the force used by Officer Yanez was objectively reasonable when he saw Mr. Castile pulling a gun out of his pocket."


Okay. Fair enough. Michael Quinn, a retired police sergeant and training officer for the MPLS department responds to that with,


"I think it's really difficult for a citizen to put themselves in the shoes of a reasonable officer at the scene of a scenario like this. And I think I understand why they came back with a not-guilty [verdict] after viewing the video.


Not being police officers, not being put in that situation themselves — they don't have to do that. They can say, 'Whoa. That would have scared me too. Because if he's reaching down and he's already said he's got a gun, I would have a right to be afraid.'


A reasonable officer I think would have acted differently — and at least would have given Philando a chance to explain, to do something different other than what happened."


Officer Quinn, I agree with you. There was a reasonable scenario here where Philando Castile should have lived.  



Alas ...

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Alex Jones vs. Megyn Kelly Part II

The interview has finally aired. Last week I snarkily wrote about all the speculation of what was going to be said / unsaid in the interview. Alex Jones claimed that Kelly was going to edit the interview to make him look bad. Jones, going so far as to challenge NBC to release the unedited interview (they probably won’t) which led Alex to claim he has a recording of the entire interview and if NBC does not release the full thing -- he will!


To my knowledge, he hasn’t.


Well, anyway, we have now seen the interview.


Alex Jones Of 'Infowars,' Conspiracy Theories, And Trump Campaign (Full) | Megyn Kelly | NBC News


Well, Jones was partially correct -- the interview does indeed make him look bad. But I certainly wouldn't blame it all on the editing. Mainly I would blame his words and the twenty plus years of Alex Jones footage that Kelly was able to draw upon to support her claims that Alex Jones is a lunatic. Now, she doesn’t come out and call him a lunatic, I’m reading between the lines. But she obviously went after him with every gotcha tactic journalists use these days.


And she didn’t even touch on the Joe Rogen / Alex Jones conversation. The one where Rogen gets Jones high and Alex talks about aliens, extra dimensions, psychic vampires and other random insanity.


Kelly spent the majority of the eighteen minute interview showing footage from Jones’s past rants and  “greatest hits” and not much time showing the actual interview between the two of them. The short snippets we do get from the Kelly / Jones interview mainly involve her acting smug and Jones dodging questions.


Not exactly the stuff of interview legend. The interview apparently tanked in the ratings getting beat out by games shows and reruns of America’s Funniest Home Videos. Jones viewers probably assumed the Kelly piece was going to be all lies and mainstream audiences just didn’t seem to care one way or another.


I guess I don’t know much that will change. Megyn Kelly came off as a dull interviewer and Jones came off as someone who says crazy shit, feigns innocence and seems barely able to control his explosive anger.


If Jones did indeed record the interview and releases the unedited footage I suspect we’ll just get more of the same.




The Alex Jones Show is on GCN.



Hello friends! Today we gaze into the future and condemn and / or condone an interview that none of us has even seen (or heard). Everyone else is doing it. We might as well too! I promise I will try not to eye roll too hard at all the future gazing. (I failed to do that. I eye roll, a lot).


So what’s the deal? Who’s involved?


Alex Jones and Megyn Kelly.


Alex Jones is a controversial figure to say the least. Plenty has been written about him. He hated the Clintons and so lefty’s hated him. Then he hated Bush Jr. and suddenly lefty’s thought he was an okay dude. Then he really hated Obama and lefty’s hated him (again). Then he supported Trump and lefty’s really, really hated him. His daily radio program draws millions of listeners. His YouTube videos draw hundreds of thousands of viewers. His controversies are explosive. His daily life is over reported. He’s loved. He’s hated.


Megyn Kelly is a broadcast journalist. At first she worked for Fox and righties thought she was an okay lass. But then she dared to question then president elect Donald Trump’s sexist comments and righties started to hate her just a little bit. Then she claimed that (former) Fox chairman Roger Ailes sexually harassed her and righties hated her even more. Then she quit Fox news and joined NBC news and righties knew that she was the devil incarnate and en mass claimed, “We never liked her in the first place!”


So is set the interview of the ages. Megyn Kelly interviews Alex Jones. Sunday night, June 18th. Which -- is fine. Right? But I mean, who cares? Known broadcast journalist interviews known public figure, is not news. And it shouldn’t be news -- until the interview is actually broadcast!




I mean, why are all the major publishers (and many of the minor ones) airing piece after piece accusing one side (or the other) about, I don’t know, dumb things -- for an interview that won’t air until Sunday?  


That seems a little absurd.


No, but Alex Jones is claiming Megyn Kelly is going to edit the footage. Also, he claims she’s a liar.


I see.


I hate to break it to you but, “journalist edits interview” is not exactly shocking Watergate level news. No one would read an unedited twenty page interview. No one would watch an unedited five hour interview.


Editing happens. Like, all the time. In every article or news story you’ve ever read or watched. Ever. (Except  maybe for this one which goes on forever!).


Of course we live in the day and age where everyone seems to call everyone else a liar. Liberals put out news and conservatives scream, “fake news!” Conservative’s put out news and liberals scream, “Liars and the lying liars who lie about all the lies!”  


Well, not everyone can be lying all the time. You know?  Some of them must be telling the truth at least some of the time but that’s the problem these days. It doesn’t seem to matter any longer. Liberals only believe liberals and conservatives only believe conservatives. While libertarians, at least, think both sides are lying (and there’s something to be said about consistency).   


No, you don’t understand. Alex Jones is pure as the white snow. And Megyn Kelly’s “fake news” edits make him look bad. So -- that obviously means -- she’s evil!


Okay. I can write a single answer for all current questions / comments that sound anything like this:


Alex Jones Claims Megyn Kelly Is Creating An Unfair Hit Piece / Megyn Kelly Re-Editing Interview To Be ‘Tougher’ On Alex Jones / How Alex Jones Outsmarted Megyn Kelly / Megyn Kelly Lied to Alex Jones In Pre-Interview  / Megyn Kelly Exposed / Etc, and so forth, and so on.


Here is my answer to all of you:


Maybe. I don’t know. I haven’t seen the interview. Neither have you.


Alex Jones did indeed release a mashup (read, “edited”) version of the pre-interview phone call between Megyn Kelly and Alex Jones. Note the delicious irony that is about to occur!  Mr. Jones is posting piece after piece, claiming Megyn Kelly is editing the NBC four hour interview -- to make him look bad. In essence, to show what a douchebag Megyn Kelly is (for, you know, editing the NBC interview to make him look bad!) Mr. Jones, in a pre-emptive strike, takes the pre-interview phone call with Kelly and -- (wait for it) -- edits it to make her look bad!




No, but seriously, Megyn Kelly is a liar! She told him in the pre-interview that the actual interview wasn’t going to be a hit piece and all the promos now make it look like a hit piece!  She’s fake news!!!!!


Wait! What? What’s that you say! You have proof that a reporter -- manipulated someone in order to get them to speak on the record? I’m shocked! What new form of devilry is this? Call the FBI! This must be illegal! Right?


Except, that, no. Not so much. It might be that Kelly manipulates Alex Jones in the pre-interview, of course, we don’t know exactly if that statement is true since -- none of us have seen the NBC interview, yet. In fact, if you are just now, today, learning that reporters lure people into a false sense of security -- in order to get them on the record to expose their lies / hypocrisy / crimes -- then you, my friend, are sadly naïve.


And “fake news” does not mean, “I don’t like the sound of that news -- it must be fake!” Fake news is when a reporter manufactures or manipulates events to create a story that they know to be false or grossly misleading.


For example, Stephen Glass, a late 90’s writer for the New Republic, wrote several fake articles including, "Spring Breakdown", a lurid tale of drinking and debauchery at the 1997 Conservative Political Action Conference.


“Spring Breakdown” was a hilarious article about dumb Republican kids doing really dumb things. The problem, as you’ve no doubt surmised, is that the entire story was fabricated in Stephen’s word processor.


From Wikipedia:


“In 1998, it was revealed that many of his (Stephen Glass’s) published articles were fabrications. Over a three-year period as a young rising star at The New Republic, Glass invented quotations, sources, and events in articles he wrote for that magazine and others. Most of Glass's articles were of the entertaining and humorous type; some were based entirely on fictional events. Several seemed to endorse negative stereotypes about ethnic and political groups.”


That, ladies and gentlemen -- is fake news! The horribly titled movie, Shattered Glass, is a fantastic dramatization of the events leading to the downfall of Stephen Glass. And if you Google the movie and say, “But Hayden Christensen is in it and he’s one of the worst actors to appear in the Star Wars prequels -- there’s no way in hell I’ll be able to watch it now!” I agree with you. Hayden is a terrible actor in every movie I’ve ever seen him in -- except Shattered Glass. And he’s so good in Shattered Glass (as Stephen Glass) that you’ll wonder, “He’s great! Why the F is he so bad in every other movie?”


Well, I have snotty theories about that but that’s another article entirely. And clearly, I digress.


Can you get back to the Jones / Kelly duel?


Sure. But I don’t really have much more to say. Alex Jones can claim all he wants that Kelly is going to hit piece him. We don’t know if it’s true -- because none of us have seen the interview!  


Alex Jones can claim all he wants that he has the full four hour interview on tape and he’s going to broadcast it before NBC’s hit piece. Well, that’s fine. Go ahead. But we still don’t know what Kelly’s interview was going to be like. Because none of us have seen it!


But we all know the lame-stream media lies, so that means that Alex Jones is telling the truth about everything!


No we don’t. There are not two equal sides to every argument. Stop claiming that all news you don’t like is fake. Seriously, you sound silly. Megyn Kelly and NBC are going to edit the interview. In the same way that Alex Jones edits his interviews.


As for Kelly being more manipulative than Jones, or Jones being more of a liar than Kelly, or Kelly doing this, or Alex Jones doing that. Well, I don’t know! Maybe. I haven’t seen the interview.


Maybe Alex Jones is going to come off real bad. But, I posit, if he does -- it’s probably not because of the editing (but I will admit that it could be because of that).  If he comes off bad it will probably be because we have hours and hours and hours and hours of recorded footage of Alex Jones saying crazy things. All of which are fair game to use for and against him. So if Jones dodges questions in an interview, it’s pretty fair for a news outlet to go to original sources of him saying crazy things.


You can also find hours and hours and hours of recorded footage of Alex Jones saying reasonable things. I know your paranoid lefty brain almost stroked out at the very thought of Alex Jones saying reasonable things. Until I mention to you that Alex Jones has been on the air for more than twenty five years, broadcasting three hours a day up to seven days a week.


That’s an enormous amount of information! So, again, I guarantee you, you can find Alex Jones saying reasonable things (especially during all those years he hated George Bush, Jr.).


As for this Kelly / Jones feud. I don’t know, man. I haven’t even seen the interview. I would write all about it if I had but I seemed to have misplaced my T.A.R.D.I.S..


I can only hope that the actual interview which airs on NBC on Sunday, June 18th is as exciting as the coverage in the last few days of what it might be about!  


Five people were injured when a gunman opened fire on lawmakers practicing for an annual congressional baseball game. The gunman was killed in a shootout with police.


The shooting took place at about 7:00am at a park in Arlington, VA, during practice for the annual event that pits Republicans against Democrats in a baseball game that raises money for local (Washington D.C.) nonprofits. The gunman has been identified as James T. Hodgkinson, a previous volunteer for Sen Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. Hearing this news, Sen. Sanders immediately issued a statement: “Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”


A profile for Hodgman began to emerge -- a Facebook page believed to be Hodgkinson’s includes a lot of damning rhetoric against President Trump, including posts like, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”


Who was injured during the attack?


First of all, thankfully, Hodgkinson was a terrible shot and no one was fatally wounded in the shooting. Secondly, police were close enough to get to the event before Hodgkinson was able to get closer to the victims.  


House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, shot in the hip, is in stable condition after undergoing surgery. Zachary Barth, a staffer for Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) and two police officers were injured and are all in stable condition.


Mike Mika, a lobbyist for Tyson Foods, was also shot -- the company released a statement saying, “Mr. Mika has been taken to a local hospital and we’re awaiting word on his condition.”


Sen. Rand Paul, who was at the practice, describes the scene as it unfolded, “After the gunman fired 50 or 60 shots, hitting Scalise and others … Everybody probably would’ve died except for the fact that the Capitol Hill Police were there, and the only reason they were there is because we had a member of leadership on our team … If Scalise wouldn’t have been on the team — unfortunately he was hit and I hope he does well — but also by him being there it probably saved everyone else’s life, because if you don’t have a leadership person there, it would’ve been no security there … (and) … if the shooter’s got several hundred bullets, and we had no weapons, and no place to hide ... he would’ve advanced on the rest of us, there would’ve been no chance. The only chance we had was that the shots were returned by the Capitol Hill Police.”



A few months ago I read about the play, Her Opponent, and quickly dismissed it as “preaching to the choir.” For those who have not heard of it -- Maria Guadalupe, an associate professor of economics and political science at INSEAD came up with an idea to restage sections off all three Presidential debates with a gender reversing twist -- by casting a female actor (Rachel Whorton) as the Trump character “Brenda King,” and a male actor, Daryl Embry to play the Clinton character, “Jonathan Gordon.”


The actors would learn the exact dialog, phrasing, gestures and movements of their real life counterpart candidate as each appeared in the live 2016 debates. An actor, Andy Wagner, would take part as the moderator as well. The idea was to restage the debates as close to reality as possible. The debate script was taken verbatim from the live telecast -- making no changes to the words with the exception of a few verb adjustments to avoid gender confusion. Even the renames of the characters have the exact same syllables, so the actors, during the staged debate, could keep the same beats as the real life candidates.


Donald Trump = Brenda King.


Hillary Clinton = Jonathan Gordon.


And why do this? Well, the liberal producer, director, cast, crew and facility who put Her Opponent together all reasonably assumed that switching the gender roles would confirm what all we lefty liberals knew from day one -- Trump is an aggressive asshat and will be equally intolerable as woman, and Clinton’s “crushing it” experience will shine through even more so, dare I say, coming from a man.


So I ignored Her Opponent as a silly concept play because it’s “dog bites man.” It’s obvious, commonplace and it’s not newsworthy. Instead we should be looking for “man bites dog,” which is shocking -- and therefore compelling news!


So, it was with great “eye rolling trepidation” that I finally watched the rehearsal tapes as well as several minutes of footage from the thirty minute play, Her Opponent.  My ideas were, pretty much, confirmed.


A female version of Donald Trump is still a hateful buffoon.


Er, expect that -- um -- you know that’s not what happened at all, right? Liberal audiences, pretty much, universally liked (female) Trump and hated (male) Clinton!


*Sigh*  I know. Her Opponent is totally man bites dog. I was wrong. The above is my liberal wishful thinking. That being said:


It’s very true that during its two performance run, liberal audiences were fucking shocked at how much they hated the Jonathan Gordon / male Clinton character calling him, “very punchable.” There was even one poor liberal chap who could not believe how much he respected the female Trump and literally held his head in his hands while his date rubbed his back in comfort. By comparison the female Trump was praised for her strength with liberal audiences saying how much they loved seeing that character, “attacking, endlessly attacking and never giving up.”


Basically, Trump’s debate technique, his aggressive forwardness and the simplicity of his repeated messages became much easier for liberal folks to tolerate when it came from a woman.


Also, basically, the same audience members couldn’t connect with the male Clinton who kept repeating sad, over-rehearsed, regurgitated, thirty-year old DFL talking points (and creeped everyone out with his endless, inappropriate smile).


Wow. Ouch! Seriously, man, how did this all happen?


Well, Maria Guadalupe (producer), hired director Joe Salvatore, a Steinhardt clinical associate professor of educational theatre who specializes in ethnodrama -- a method of adapting interviews, field notes, journal entries, and other print and media artifacts into a script to be performed as a play. And they put it all together. Their original goal? From the Her Opponent website:

“Can experiencing what the 2016 U.S. presidential candidates said and how they said it through gender-reversed characters, cause us to revisit our own biases and develop insights from different perspectives?


Her Opponent uses documentary theatre techniques to re-create excerpts of the three 2016 presidential debates. An actor performs the text, gestures, and movements of Hillary Clinton, but as a male Democratic candidate named Jonathan Gordon and an actress performs the text, gestures, and movements of Donald Trump, but as a female Republican candidate named Brenda King. A third actor plays the role of The Moderator from each of the three debates.


The experience includes an opportunity for audiences to share their thoughts and impressions in a facilitated discussion that immediately follows the performance.”


The actors rehearsed first by listening to audio of the debates until they memorized the selected script. Then they delved into the debate video to mimic all aspect of their candidate's physical performances. It’s not so much great acting as it is great mimicry. This video has a back and forth comparison between the actors in rehearsal and the actual candidate debate: The SJW View: Gender Swapped, Trump and Clinton Debate. If you watch the back and forth you’ll see what I’m talking about -- acting vs. mimicry -- there are plenty of times when the actors get the hand motions right but miss the sincerity of what the candidate is saying (especially the Gordon / Clinton character). Of course, that is only a rehearsal and not the actual show. So, keep that in mind.


Her Opponent, had two sold out performances so there has not been a lot of national coverage but I suspect the show will get picked up off Broadway and will continue its run with the same cast. NYU has a great (several page) story about the original two night performance: What if Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had swapped genders?


MSNBC has a nice eight minute piece about it as well: Debate and Switch -- where the director and three actors weigh in on the production and the aftermath.


Conservatives sites and vlog’s, as you can imagine, had a field day when they heard about the Her Opponent audience response. I don’t think it’s the slam dunk they proclaim -- Tucker Carlson’s: If Trump Were a Woman - Liberals re-create Trump/Clinton debate and it BACKFIRES. (Note: most of that video is a repeat of the rehearsal footage).  


I think the word, “backfires” is a bit of a stretch. Don’t get me wrong. I find the reaction to the play fascinating, sincere and totally believable. And it certainly says -- something. I’m not one hundred percent convinced it’s the colossal backfire that Mr. Carlson claims. I mean, it’s very true that liberals are usually smug. I know what I’m talking about here. I’ve been a smug liberal for twenty something years.


But after working on dozens of conservative radio programs I've warmed up to a more centrist view. And now I really notice the smugness of the left (even when I agree with them). But to be fair -- I also notice the insincere piety of the right. Both sides have serious credibility issues as far as I’m concerned.  


Her Opponent is a great experimental idea and probably makes very fine points about gender bias (I have yet to see the full production) but it does have an elephant in the room. First of all, yes, perhaps some liberals will learn a valuable lesson from watching the show. And yes, conservatives have a right to mock them about something they found to be so, so obvious. But, even if two people, one male and one female, are using the exact same language, gestures and movement to express the exact same thing -- there is a huge, gigantic, vast difference between the following two scenarios:


Scenario one: Three Hundred Pound Man angrily & condescendingly talks over One Hundred and Twenty Pound Woman. 


Scenario two: One Hundred and Twenty Pound Woman angrily & condescendingly talks over Three Hundred Pound Man.


One of those scenarios carries the full weight of thousands of years of the oppressive, abusive, murderous, terrifying history of male violence against women, on its shoulders. The other is scenario two.


So, again, Her Opponent is interesting and it might have important things to say about gender bias -- but if you honestly don’t understand the difference between scenario one and scenario two.


Well, then you don’t.


But it's the reason why President Donald Trump is a dick.



If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: Americanuck Radio, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show


Producer / Director Zack Snyder has dropped out of the production because of a family tragedy. Autumn Snyder, Zack’s daughter from his first marriage, committed suicide on March 20th. Initially, the family wanted to keep Autumn’s death private -- telling only close friends and relatives. The film was shut down for two weeks so the Snyder’s could attend to the aftermath of the sad event.


Everyone, including Mr. Snyder, thought the film would return to its original schedule after the bereavement period. Eventually, Zack had a change of heart:


“In my mind, I thought it was a cathartic thing to go back to work, to just bury myself and see if that was the way through it. The demands of this job are pretty intense. It is all-consuming. And in the last two months, I’ve come to the realization … I’ve decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me. They are all having a hard time. I’m having a hard time.”


Completely understandable.


Warner Bros. appears to be standing beside Zack and offered to push the release date back, allowing the family time to recover. But Zack Snyder and current wife Deborah Snyder (also a producer on the film) decided it would be best for the movie to be completed on schedule.


Enter Joss Whedon.


The Justice League film is actually in post production with all of principal photography complete. But Zack wanted to add additional scenes and so hired Joss Whedon to write and direct them.


This is will be something of a challenge. Joss Whedon has his own distinctive style of dialog and directing (he loves that 17 lens!) but the tone of the film has already been set by Zack Snyder and his production team. So Whedon has to come in and do his best to mimic Snyder’s exact tone and style.


Whedon fans might be extraordinarily excited to hear his name attached to the Justice League movie but, if Joss does his job well, he will be largely invisible in the final cut.




Autumn Snyder was a writer and a student. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and in 2014 founded the charity, Write-A-Thon To End Homelessness For Mothers and Their Children -- a nonprofit that shelters homeless pregnant women and their children. She was twenty years old.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

So, I totally buy the argument that there is a lack of knowledge in proper tipping etiquette. There was a time when I was unaware that people didn’t tip. It never occurred to me to not tip and it never occurred to me that others wouldn’t do it. And then in 1992, when I was twenty years old, I watched Tarantino’s, Reservoir Dogs.

You know the scene I am talking about. The tipping scene. Steve Buscemi, as Mr. Pink has this exchange with the others at the table:



Alright, everybody cough up some green for

the little lady.

[Everybody whips out a buck, and throws it on the table.

Everybody, that is, except Mr. Pink.]



C’mon, throw in a buck.



Uh-uh. I don’t tip.



You don’t tip?



No. I don’t believe in it.



You don’t believe in tipping?



Do you know what these chicks make? They make shit.



Don’t give me that. She don’t

make enough money, she can quit.



I don’t even know a fuckin’ Jew who’d have

the balls to say that. So let’s

get this straight. You don’t ever

tip, huh?



I don’t tip because society says I

have to. Alright, I mean I’ll tip if somebody really

deserves a tip. If they

really puts forth the effort, I’ll give them

something extra.

But this tipping automatically,

it’s… for the birds. As far

as I’m concerned, they’re just

doin their job.

It goes on from there but you get the point. Society doesn’t get to tell me who is tip worthy and who is not! My eyes were opened! From this point on I would never tip! Ever!

Unless she, “really put forth the effort.”

I think that lasted a week. Maybe a month. Holy hell were the guys in Reservoir Dogs overly nice to Mr. Pink because I tried that not tipping thing one time in front of a group of people. I was pretty sure none of them had seen Reservoir Dogs and I pulled my own Mr. Pink. They were maaaaaad at me! A couple of them ended up throwing in extra money on top of what they were already tipping because I was such an asshole for not leaving anything. One of them stopped talking to me forever. I literally never heard from her again. That was twenty five years ago and that was first and the last time I decided not to tip. It was made pretty clear to me that if you did not tip the service staff -- you were pariah douche bag number one!  

But that was when I was twenty years old and most twenty year old men are still pretty stupid. I mean, to be honest, I didn’t really believe Mr. Pink’s arguments. I didn’t really want to not tip that waitress. But the scene in Dogs played out funny. I mean, really, really funny.

And if it played out like that in real life then everyone would laugh when I said it and we’d have a super funny conversation. Starring me! And then everyone would like me more! Because that’s how twenty year olds think -- dear God I just want everyone to like me!

Imagine my shock when it had the exact opposite effect.

I would never try and pull anything that stupid now. Now I tend to believe that if you tip less than fifteen percent you’re kind of a prick.

A story from two years ago:

A long time acquaintance of mine, Anna, is working a bartending shift at The Saloon, downtown Minneapolis. I am standing at the bar talking to her. Two men stand next to me and order drinks. She makes their drinks, tells them the cost. Each one pays for their own drink. The exact amount in cash. No tip.

She doesn’t say anything. She just comes back to me and rolls her eyes. We chat for another ten minutes. The two men have finished their drink and signal her for another round. She makes them both another round and drops them off to the two men. Again, each pulls out a roll of cash and pays for their own drink. The exact amount in cash. No tip. She takes their money and puts it in the register. They put their cash away.

Ten minutes later, this happens a third time. She takes their money. Exact cash for the cost of the drinks. She hands them their drinks. They both put their cash rolls away. No tip.

But this time --- as they reach for their drinks, Anna snatches the drinks away from their hands and puts them down in the sink behind the counter -- way out of their reach. She snaps at them, “If you can’t afford to tip your bartender then stay at home and drink!”

Both men, angrily protest (because men are really, really good at becoming angry -- especially when they drink) and demand their money back. Which I thought was fair but Anna doesn’t back down and they end up calling her “bitch”, “cunt” and “whore” as they are escorted out.

Then she gives both of their drinks to me!

True story.

You can apply her sentence to any form of food service employee. If you can’t afford to tip your waitress / bartender / delivery driver / cab driver / barista / bellman / valet than you can’t afford to go to their establishment and / or use their service!

Stay at home!  

I don’t want to stay at home! And what’s with all that racist stuff about black folks not tipping?

I’ve read several studies and articles. And they all kind of say the same thing -- there is some validity to specific groups of people not tipping well. And it’s not because they are cheap. First let’s discuss who gets tipped, who does not and how much.  From -- they conducted an informal interview process with hundreds of tipped professions in NYC and compiled data from several hundred people that responded to their online survey. Their chart:

Tipping Statistics

There doesn’t seems to be anything too out of the ordinary here. I appreciate the additional notes -- all of which seem to be valid points. I’ve still never understood why I should have to tip a bartender for opening a bottle of beer and handing it to me -- something which took all of five seconds. That’s worth a one dollar tip?   

Maybe. Maybe not. I still do it, though. Bottle of beer - one dollar tip. As for the apartment doorman, that’s NYC thing. Well, maybe it’s a very large metropolis thing. But tipping at Christmas definitely happens.

Anyway, everything else I’ve read on tipping seems to support the general finding on the waitbutwhy site. But who are the non tippers? Who are the under tippers? 

Sadly, there seems to be some validity to the stereotypes of specific groups, including ethnicities, tip less than would be "expected." A polling survey of 1000+ servers across the country concluded the tipping scales look like this:



That looks to be par for the course with the other articles I've read.  Teenagers tip the worst (they don't have a lot of money), all male dining parties the best (men are insecure and want to show off to everyone).  Some surprising details, such as -- Christians and smokers?  Who knew smokers were above average tippers? 

But of all the maligned tippers, blacks seem to have the worst reputation. I always found that to be a bit racist. And so I thought, I'll write an article about tipping and debunk that racist shit! But then -- I couldn't really find much information to back up that theory. I read Ebony's great article: Are Black People Really Bad Tippers?   He offered some anecdotal evidence and sources some surveys and articles but his general conclusion, as a black man, was -- well, yes, we kind of are bad tippers. But his general breakdown of why is what's important. Basically:

1) Insufficient education about tipping.

2) People seek to confirm beliefs they already hold.

3) Bad tipping = an opportunity to stick it to, "the man."

4) Black folks get less than good service because of their tipping rep.

There are fair points. I just recently found out that it would be nice if one tipped housekeepers at hotels. This never occurred to me before. Which is an ignorance about tipping, a lack of education. So I totally buy number 1. I know the same is true with a lot of foreigners. I once had a meal with a few Greek ladies, a Chinese man, a Japanese woman, two people from India and a few Americans. After the meal, almost all the non Americans went out to smoke. I noticed that each and everyone of them left a single dollar bill on their plate. I went out and told them that they all under tipped by a few dollars each. They were pretty shocked and embarrassed about it. One of them, the Japanese woman, mentioned she had been told by her mother to tip everyone one dollar because -- that's what you do in America

The Washington Post did their own research and found similar results about insufficient education:

From the WP article, "...indicates that black people tip less because they believe servers expect lower tips, and they underestimate the tip amounts that others leave. Whereas roughly 70 percent of whites identify the customary or expected restaurant tip to fall within 15-20 percent of the bill, only about 35 percent of blacks do. In addition, black respondents, on average, believe that the typical restaurant customer tips about 13.4 percent of the bill, while whites believe that the typical restaurant customer tips about 14.5 percent. Together, these differences in perceptions of “what is expected and typical” explain about half of the black-white difference in tipping."

Mr. Young, from his Ebony article, explains his second point: "It's very possible that the perception is driving the stereotype, instead of it being the other way around. Basically, if I'm aware Black people are thought to be bad tippers, I'm going to be more sensitive to any example of Black people tipping badly—evidence that would confirm thoughts I already had. It's really no different than the person who swears all Black men are dating White women, and takes the three interracial couples they see at the mall as proof—ignoring the 25 Black-on-Black couples they also walked past."


Fair enough.

His third point -- ummm -- seems unlikely. And Mr. Young agrees calling it the "least likely (point) to be true" but adds, "it would be disingenuous to ignore the possible racial politics that could be at play here.  

His final point, I feel, pulls his punch a bit. I think it should read, "Black folks get less than good service because of their tipping rep and also because some folks are racist pricks." Though, to be fair, he elaborates in the article: "It's no secret that Black people are thought to be bad tippers. You know what's even less of a secret for the last, I don't know, 400 years or so? That Black people have been on the receiving end of some pretty bad treatment ... we still often get treated differently than our White counterparts."

Yes. One hundred percent true. And that really made me think that each group of "under tippers" probably has equally valid reasons beyond the stereotypical, "they're cheap" for not tipping as well as society would expect. The same goes for folks that over tip,which is a trait I find to be a general sign of insecurity. There are mitigating factors in each and every case of tipping and I only singled out black folks because I was 100% positive I would be able to debunk the "bad tipping" stereotypes as outdated and biased. Instead what I found was that -- what a shock -- lots of people are shitty tippers for lots of different reasons.

While it's true that I was able to find some dissenting opinion to the black folk not tipping well stereotype but, to be honest, most of it read like bad fiction. Take, D. Watkins's piece, "Yes, black people do tip - even when we shouldn't have to" on Salon. It makes fine points. But if you read the article it hits every single trope you could possible imagine. Too good to be true (in other words). Remember, the easiest way to lose an argument is to grotesquely over state your opinion. The Watkins story was probably based in some truth and in writing was exaggerated for effect but as it hits every single perfect racist note and response, it stretches the imagination a bit. 

But that's just one dissenting opinion. I'm sure there are thousands of valid bits of evidence both anecdotal and researched. I read several studies and published papers (the ones I didn't have to pay for anyway. Seriously, academia, like I'm going to pay $39.95 to read your twenty pages of research?) and they seriously all pretty much said the same thing. Don't take my word for it. Check it out yourself.

But, speaking anecdotally, I have two close friends who have been in food service for 20+ years.  The first, Brad: a tall, built black man in his forties. The second, Robin: a short, firecracker white woman almost fifty years old. As I've known them a long time I've heard dozens of stories about shitty customers. Asking each of them flat out, "Over your twenty years of food service employment, which group of people, or ethnicity -- tips the worst?"

Brad, the black man, responds, "Oh, man! I'm embarrassed to tell you. But it's sisters. I can not count the times where I've had a group of sisters stay in my section for hours and spend hundreds and hundreds only to tip me, like, five dollars total."

Robin, the white woman, responds, "Moms on "kids eat free" night. Sorry. It's true. Moms bring their kids and all their kid's friends. It's a shit show. The moms drink like fish (then drive all the kids home). And don't tip at all. Half of my mom customers on "kid's eat free" night tip zero."

For what that's worth. 

Hey, you never really tackled the point of, "I shouldn't have to tip because society tells me I must do so. Mr. Pink is right - if servers don't like their jobs they can quit!"

Mr. Pink is wrong. To see how wrong, check out, "15 of the worst "tippers" that will make your head spin." It's nothing but hypocrisy, ignorance, assholery and completely feigned "slights" against the tippers, "honor." In other words, bullshit.   

There are some restaurants that are experimenting with paying higher wages and cutting out the need for tips. It's a totally fine plan that may or may not work. But for the most part, restaurants pay a wage much lower than their state minimum because employees are expected to make more money through tips. It doesn't matter if you like that fact or not -- that's the way the overwhelming majority of American restaurants work. If you hate it then do something to get more "high wage, no tip" restaurants into your neighborhood and frequent them. But enough with the childish "I don't believe in tipping" attitude. Seriously, when you say something that idiotic, you should like an ass-hat. Just stop.

I'll let Chelsea Fagen wrap it up. Her opening point from, 16 New Rules for Tipping at Restaurants, over at

"First and foremost, if you are a person that doesn't tip or -- whatever this is supposed to mean -- doesn't "believe" in tipping (as though it were a figure in Greek mythology), you are not allowed to go to restaurants. You cannot afford to eat out, either financially or ethically, or both. Spare the restaurant staff your presence." 



If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: Cooking with the Cajun, The Food Chain, Free Talk Live.




The year 2016 was very exciting for Depeche Mode (DM) and their fans. DM announced a new album (their fourteenth), called, Spirit that would be released early 2017. And it was. DM announced their Global Spirit Tour. It began on May 5th in Stockholm. DM received their first nomination into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Alas, they were not among the final inductees (which were: Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey, Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Yes). But that’s okay. Depeche Mode is a future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lock. It’s just a waiting game.


So, with all the good DM news things couldn’t possibly look brighter for their fans! Right?


Enter the Facebook Fan Takeover! And Bring on the Cool Depeche Mode Loving Celebrities!


Let the Takeover begin! (Celebrity appearance later).


Starting January 1st, Depeche Mode began handing over their Facebook page to the fans. One a day for the entire year. 365 fans over 365 days. They are currently on day fifty something (depending on when you read this).  Actual fans get to post their thoughts, pictures and links to the DM official Facebook page.


Within reason, of course. There is still an approval process. You submit to the editors of the DM FB page, they run everything through legal and give you advice. For example, you can’t just send them a picture of you and your five besties without getting written permission from said five besties that you then need to forward to DM legal.


Which is all fair. But the reason I bring it up is that I don’t want you to think fans can post whatever crazy, silliness they want. Again, it's all within reason.


And so, with the totally appropriate approval process, actual fans get to post their thoughts and their pictures and share their DM stories with seven million of their best DM loving friends. Mainly, the guest hosts love gush for a while and it's true that some of the writing is awkward and some of it is in broken English but that just adds to the overall charm of the event. There are indeed, actual fans.


And it must be a bit humbling to suddenly post to seven million people. Wow. Um. No pressure!


Glen Hammarstrom, took over the Depeche Mode Facebook page on day 19 and writes about the pressure & his over all Takeover experience:


“I’m sure they say this to everyone who is apart of it, but they really seemed to like what I was sending over and requested that I make a video talking about being an administrator on a DM fan page. While it was very nice of them to ask, it was also terrifying to me! Not to be overly dramatic, but when they ask for a video that will be shared on a FB with over 7 million followers… well, I got a little freaked out.”


Glen’s full recap can be read here: My Facebook takeover recap. And his take seems par for the course for all the host administrator fans, so far.  


And then came day 54. Tony Hawk.


Wait, who? I thought you were going to say Tom Hanks or someone huge!  


Tony Hawk. International skateboard champion. There are a dozen video games named after him. If you know who he is then you know the deal. If you don’t know who he is, trust me, he’s huge. Check out a compilation of some of his high flying skate acrobatics.


Anyway, it’s always fun to be reminded that celebrities are real people. They like the very same kind of things we do. They have the very same tastes as we do. And Tony Hawk is a huge Depeche Mode fan!


His introduction post on the DM Facebook page for his one day Takeover:


“Hi, I’m Tony Hawk, Pro Skater (but please don’t call me THPS haha). I’ve been a fan of Depeche Mode since hearing “Just Can’t Get Enough” and “New Life” on KROQ in 1981. Growing up skating the dwindling SoCal skateparks in the early 80’s, KROQ was the only FM station that played music that represented our [counter?] culture. Depeche Mode’s sound was iconically revolutionary at the time, and has continued to evolve ever since. I am still a huge fan of DM, having seen them live... a dozen times over the last three decades. It is a huge honor to host their page for a day, and I hope you enjoy what I have to offer in this space. I’ve also included a few friends that were inspired by DM in their formative years, and went on to make incredible music and art themselves. So let’s all shake the disease and have a black celebration for this legendary band.”


Hawk has several posts during his one day tenure but what received the most attention was when he reached out to his friend, the crazy madman genius musician behind Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor.


Reznor writes (and Hawk posts on the DM FB page):


"It was the summer of ’86. I’d dropped out of college and was living in Cleveland trying to find my way in the local music scene. I knew where I wanted to go with my life but I didn’t know how to get there. A group of friends and I drove down to Blossom Music Center amphitheater to see the Black Celebration tour. DM was one of our favorite bands and the Black Celebration record took my love for them to a new level.


I’ve thought about that night a lot over the years. It was a perfect summer night and I was in exactly the right place I was supposed to be. The music, the energy, the audience, the connection… it was spiritual and truly magic. I left that show grateful, humbled, energized, focused, and in awe of how powerful and transformative music can be… and I started writing what would eventually become Pretty Hate Machine.

Many times, particularly when we’re playing an amphitheater, I’ll think of that show while I’m onstage and hope someone in the audience is in the midst of a perfect summer night feeling how DM made me feel so many years ago."



I was a late DM bloomer but I too have a story about them. Way back in the eighties I was into your standard pop music. The most outside of the box music taste I had was Cyndi Lauper (love her!). I just didn't understand the look of those strange Duran Duran / Depeche Mode People. Seriously, I used to get Duran Duran confused with Depeche Mode. Like, all the time. Every time that awful "Hungry Like a Wolf" song played on the radio I would think, "Wow, I really hate Depeche Mode." It just wasn't the kind of music I experienced growing up. I thought it was dark and weird.


It wasn't until the mid nineties when I warmed to Depeche Mode and other synth pop, industrial and goth music -- you know, all that dark and weird stuff I used to shun. I had recently started attending an "eighties night" at a club called, Ground Zero. So there I am one random Friday night. A song comes on. I dig it. It sounds kind of familiar but I can't place it and I certainly didn't know at the time it was, obviously, Depeche Mode. I don't recall which exact DM song was playing -- probably "Never Let Me Down Again" or "Personal Jesus."  Dear God, Ground Zero played "Personal Jesus" all the time! Anyway, I  turn to a group of three industrial / goth woman, strangers to me, and ask, "Excuse me, who is this playing?" 


The first, a woman with short platinum hair, gives me a withering "you are clearly a moron" stare and turns away from me. Um. Okay. I glance over to her friend, a woman in a long black skirt. She eyes me up and down, takes in my blue jeans and black t-shirt, and kind of gives me a, "I'm not here to educate normal people" vibe. She was not exactly impolite but she also didn't answer. The third woman smiles at me warmly and steps forward. Now, this third woman, she was actually closer to me than the other two I just mentioned and I should have asked my initial question to her. But I didn't because I was kind of intimidated by her. She was dressed in black leather and wore silvery, gothy rings & multiple necklaces and she had big awesome hair. She was also very , very bosomy. Basically, she was super badass and therefor, kind of frightening to a newbie in normal clothing at a goth club. So this third woman, the one I was totally never going to speak with, says to me, "It's Depeche Mode, sweetie."


Oh. Right. Those guys. I've heard of them. They do that awful Wolf song, right? I was about to blurt that out but my spider sense tingled and prevented me from saying anything dumb. I thank her and turn to hide in the opposite corner. She was having none of that and said, "Is this your first time here?" I tell her I've come on a few occasions but don't actually know anyone.  She introduces herself and talks to me for a while and, to my surprise, is neither intimidating or frightening. In fact, I remember thinking, this might be the most genuinely friendly person I've ever met. She asks a bunch of questions about me and finally says, "Let me introduce you to some other folks." Then she takes me around the club and introduces me to, I kid you not, like thirty fucking people.  


And that's how I met my dear friend Tracy. I no longer get to see her as often as I would like, but such is life.  


And that's my Depeche Mode story.


And that's the end.  




DM is only in day fifty something of their FB Takeover. There is plenty of time to apply. The Depeche Mode world tour schedule is here: The Global Spirit Tour. Follow DM on Facebook for more information and updates.


So many movies. So little time.


Some of the movies on this list are a bit obscure, either ruined by a single test audience or poorly marketed by the studio. A couple of them were pretty big movies in their time. At least one of them might be considered a modern day classic. But it occurred to me, in creating this list, some movies that I consider a “everyone must have seen that, right?” are --- well -- old. One of the movies on the list came out in 1959 and the few that came out in the eighties are still thirty years aged!  


Thirty years? Time flies, my friend.  But anyway, if you have a ten or a twelve year old it’s very possible your kid has not seen a thirty year old film from the eighties. Even if that film was really popular at the time. So, a couple of the films might be a bit of a stretch to claim your children have, “never heard of it." And the term, “family film,” kind of implies that all the movies are designed for everyone in the family. That’s not entirely the case. But I try and point some appropriate ages in a few of the mini reviews below. Some will be more enjoyed by the young, some by pre-teens, some by kids who like to be scared, others for kids who do not like to be scared at all.


You get the drift.


Anyway, yes, some of the movies are old. Thankfully nostalgic cinephiles, such as myself, adore clinging to the past! I rattled the ol' memory cage around and kicked out a few bolts, some rust and a list of ten great family movies. And I took it very seriously. Very seriously, indeed. You see, I was always struck by a quote from late film critic Roger Ebert in his 1995 review for, “A Little Princess,” -- “Unlike the insipid devices of most family films ... (“A Little Princess”) ... understands that children take stories very seriously indeed, and that all stories are really about the uncertain place of the child in the mysterious world of adults.”


Well said, Mr. Ebert. Thank you for all the reviews and all the words. Your writing is missed.  And so, with that in mind I put together a list of stories about the uncertain place of the child in the mysterious world of adults.


Presented alphabetically:


  • A Little Princess (1995): A Little Princess tells the story of young Sara Crewe who lives with her father in India. When her father feels duty bound to enlist with the British to fight in WWI, Sara is consigned to a servant’s life at the very same New York City boarding school her late mother attended. The film effectively juggles light fantasy with harsh realities such as poverty, abuse and parental loss. The movie is smart and refuses to pander to the audience, taking itself, and the young heroine -- as Ebert notes in the above quote -- very seriously. As a side note, the director of the film, Alfonso Cuarón, goes on to make the only great Harry Potter film, Prisoner of Azkaban as well as the exceptional (for adults) sci-fi drama, Children of Men.


  • Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959). Based on the Kavanagh book, Darby O’Gill and the Good People, wily old Irish codger Darby O’Gill matches his considerable wit against that of the leprechaun king. This is one of Disney’s under appreciated gems! The movie holds up surprisingly well given its age. Sure, the subplot is hooky -- a romance between a young Sean Connery & Janet Munro plays like a particularly bad Irish soap commercial. The pure delight of the film comes from the rivalry and game play of clever Darby and sly King Brian of the leprechauns. A personal project of Walt Disney and a technical marvel for it’s time.


  • Duma (2005): Duma is the greatest family adventure film you’ve never seen. No, seriously. Xan, a young South African boy, befriends an orphaned cheetah. When family trouble arises, Xan must return Duma to the wild. Let the adventure begin! The film uses live cheetah’s and zero CGI, which gives the movie an authentic richness. Guaranteed to make you and your family want to have a pet cheetah. Duma is a really lovely movie and it’s based on a true story. A note about the director, Carroll Ballard. He also made, The Black Stallion. another great movie exploring the relationship between animals and people.


  • Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989): A quaintly atmospheric and delightful movie for pre-teens, especially girls. Young Kiki, a promising good witch, strikes out on her own and lands in a fun little French(ish) town on the coast. But the townsfolk have a strict, “No witches allowed!” policy. What’s a young witch to do? A charming coming of age tale about a girl realizing her own power, not as a witch, but as a person.


  • My Neighbor Totoro (1988): Families of all ages can enjoy this but it’s created for young kids. My Neighbor Totoro is about sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who move to an old house to be closer to their ailing mother. The girls quickly discover their new country home is in a magical forest inhabited by spirits called Totoros. Together they go on unbelievably cute adventures. And I mean, unbelievably cute! Like, seriously, cute!   


  • Paperhouse (1988): Young Anna Madden, while suffering from severe mono, draws a house on a blank sheet of paper. In her feverish dreams she finds herself visiting the house and talking to the disabled boy who lives within. As her fever gets worse and worse she has a hard time waking up and the dreams get darker and darker. The film handles childhood loneliness and feelings of isolation extremely well but the dark elements and the bleak landscape created in the dream world might be too intense for youngsters. This is one of my favorite films from that decade.


  • The Iron Giant (1999): Oh, this magnificent film is a story about a boy -- and his super awesome robot! His super awesome giant robot! Set in the red panic induced fifties, Brad Bird's first animated film warms him up for his genius, The Incredible, for Pixar. The Iron Giant has tremendous heart and emotion. It also happens to be exceptionally funny. I know many have seen it but it never had the popularity of a Pixar or Studio Ghibli film so I included it here just in case you have not yet had the pleasure. Everyone in the family will love it.


  • The Last Starfighter (1984): Oh, man. A movie about an arcade game that, if you get really, really good at, will whisk you away to have super awesome alien adventures?  Sign me up! Young kids will love this movie. Older kids might be turned off by the dated special effects. If it means anything, every kid I grew up with has seen this movie, like, a dozen times. Because it’s great! Sadly, a modern day big budget remake looks to be out of the question. Screenwriter, Jonathan R. Betuel somehow maintained the rights to the film and refuses anyone to remake it. Even cinema giant Steven Spielberg was turned down.


  • The Secret of Kells (2009): Young Brendan lives in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids. He is beckoned to adventure when a celebrated master illuminator arrives with an ancient book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers. This animated fantasy adventure is heavily rooted in Celtic mythology and based on the story of the origin of the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin and it’s a really great story telling mixture of fact and fantasy.


  • The Witches (1990): A little boy and his kindly grandmother battle a coven of witches who want to rid Britain of children by turning them into mice. What a great plot! This movie is a forgotten cult gem. I think it was misunderstood when marketed. Parents thought it might be either too childish or too scary and stayed away. But a few fantastic performances, especially by Anjelica Huston; and a really sharp script push this to the top of my, “you really should witch this” list. Critics adored The Witches but audiences stayed home. Based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name. It should be noted, that, Mr. Dahl, ummm, was not a fan of the film, calling it, “appalling.” I think that was mainly because the film alters the end of the book. Well, the book is unread by me but I like the ending of the movie just fine.


  • A Little Princess (1995). Director: Alfonso Cuarón. Writing Credit: Elizabeth Chandler, Richard LaGravenese (screenplay). Frances Hodgson Burnett (novel).

  • Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959). Director: Robert Stevenson. Writing Credit: Lawrence Edward Watkin (screenplay, H.T. Kavanagh based on the “Darby O’Gill” stories).

  • Duma (2005): Director: Carroll Ballard. Writing Credit: Karen Janszen, Mark St. Germain (screenplay). Carol Flint, Karen Janszen (story). Carol Cawthra Hopcraft, Xan Hopcraft (the book, How It Was with Dooms, the true story of a young boy's friendship with an orphaned cheetah on the family's game ranch in Kenya).

  • Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989). Director / Writing Credit: Hayao Miyazaki (screenplay). Eiko Kadono (novel).

  • My Neighbor Totoro (1988). Director / Writer: Hayao Miyazaki.

  • Paperhouse (1988). Director: Bernard Rose. Writing Credit: Matthew Jacobs (screenplay). Catherine Storr (novel, “Marianne Dreams”).

  • The Iron Giant (1999). Director: Brad Bird. Writing Credit: Tim McCanlies (screenplay). Brad Bird (story). Ted Hughes (novel, “The Iron Man”).

  • The Last Starfighter (1984). Director: Nick Castle. Writing Credit: Jonathan R. Betuel

  • The Secret of Kells (2009). Director: Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey. Writing Credit: Fabrice Ziolkowski (screenplay), Tomm Moore (original story).

  • The Witches (1990). Director: Nicolas Roeg. Writing Credit: Allan Scott (screenplay). Roald Dahl (novel).


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