In less than a week, the final season of Game of Thrones begins. After five novels over the course of 23 years, two pilot episodes and seven seasons of the widely popular HBO TV show are finally about to see the end of winter. At least the end of winter for the TV show. And I’m okay with that. I’m not really a super fan of the show. I mean, I like the show. And I love the first three novels in the series, a lot. But books 4 and 5 were, um … long. Much, much too long.
Thankfully, the HBO series ditched a bunch of the meandering nonsense that happened in books 4 & 5 of George R.R. Martin’s beloved fantasy series. Even though that’s true, the farther the series strays from the source material, the less successful it is. And by “less successful” I’m not saying that audiences stopped watching it. No, not that at all. The most recent estimated audience for GoT is, “approx. 30 million people per episode” watch the show. So, it’s more popular than ever. I just think it’s inconsistently “good,” while occasionally being shockingly mediocre. Half the actors are perfectly cast and are considerably good in their roles, the other half of the actors are … um … okay (and sometimes they’re not.)
All that being said, Game of Thrones has certainly been a culture phenomenon far surpassing expectations for the HBO series. I would even go so far as to suggest that Game of Thrones pretty much is HBO. I have no doubt that HBO execs are ever on the lookout for the next GoT. Especially with something like five prequels/sequels in the works.
For those that are familiar with the show but have not read the novels, here is an oft repeated note that Martin’s readers all suspect - George R.R. Martin will probably die before he finishes writing the books. You see, the books are all massive, and it now takes him several years to finish one. Check out this list of publishing dates from most previous novel to the first one:
Book Five: A Dance of Dragons, published on July 12th, 2011.
Book Four: A Feast for Crows, published October 17th, 2005.
Book Three: Storm of Swords, published in 2000.
Book Two: Clash of Kings, published in 1998.
Book One: Game of Thrones, published in 1996.
You can see the time increase between publishing dates as Martin’s world and novels expand. George RR Martin is 70 years old, he’s a big man and he’s not terribly healthy. He still claims that Book Six: The Winds of Winter, isn’t really close to being done - and after that one is finished he still has a final book to write. Which, if his usual pattern continues, means that Book Seven: A Dream of Spring might be out sometime around 2030. And that’s probably not an exaggeration. I drink to Martin’s health and longevity, often. =)
I met Martin a few times back in 1999-2000, and I was able to tell him a cute story. And, boy did I not realize how accurate this story would turn out to be (a story I am about to tell you). You see, I used to work in a bookstore back in 1996, the year Game of Thrones hit the bookshelves. It was an odd looking silver foil cover with no art, it just read, “Game of Thrones. George RR Martin.”
I knew of Martin as I had devoured all of his 80’s series called, “Wildcards.” So, Game of Thrones was on my list, I just hadn’t gotten to it. And so, I’m at work one day and an old gentleman walks up to the counter. He appears to be in his eighties. I saw him the moment he walked in because he was moving very carefully. I didn’t think his movement was only because of his age, in fact - he looked as if either leg joint was injured and/or he was very ill. Or both. Hence the slow movement. So, he comes in, he walks to the Sci-Fi section, grabs the silver hardcover GoT, brings it to the counter and says, “I just finished this and, it’s the greatest fantasy novel I’ve ever read. Do you know when the next one is coming out?”
I say, “Oh, cool, you’re the first person to give me any kind of feedback about this book. I’m glad to hear it’s good because I like Martin’s other work.” Then I look up the exact publishing date of GoT, which was only the previous month. I say to him, “You know what? It looks like the hardcover was just released last month, so we’re probably not looking at a sequel for - at least a year or two.”
And this man, again, in his eighties, matter of factly says to me, “Yeah. I thought you were going to say that. I don’t think I’m gonna make it that long.”
And then he puts the book down on the counter and leaves the store. That day, I 100%, bought a copy of Game of Thrones!
I was able to relay that story to Martin sometime in 2000. There was uncomfortable laughter from him. I mean, what can you say to that story, right? Anyway, I thought his uncomfortable laughter was appropriate. But still, that old gentleman really had no idea what he was saying to me, and that was back in 1996. And Martin still hasn’t finished writing the series.
Back to the show, the GoT showrunners were given the general idea for the ending to all the storylines from Martin himself. So, as the series outpaced the novels the TV show was generally able to follow Martin’s plot. But, not really. The TV show has just transformed into something entirely different from the original novels. Characters arcs and entire storylines have been cut, or vastly changed. Some characters who are still alive in the books are now dead in the show, or vice versa. There really is no longer any comparison. A few years ago, Martin himself joked that the TV series has become more “fan fiction” than adaptation. And, as much as I love about HBO’s Game of Thrones, I kind of agree with that statement - too often the show plays out like overly melodramatic fan fiction.
But, despite its flaws, GoT is still the greatest fantasy we’ve ever had on TV. So, at least there’s that. And beginning on April 14th, 2019 - I, along with 30 million other of my closest friends will tune in to watch every single second of Season Eight of Game of Thrones. And sometime in the future I’ll probably watch every episode again.
Silly little cat videos rarely catch my eye. But the moment you mix a silly little cat video with some of my favorite films - suddenly, I’m on board. And animator, filmmaker, photoshop guru, #catdad Tibo Charroppin clearly, has my number. Tibo is the creator of the “OwlKitty” Instragram/YouTube account. It’s a thing. It might not be Miley Cyrus level popular but OwlKitty (as Godzilla) destroying cities is pretty okay in my book.
OwlKitty is the “stage name” for Lizzy, a two year old cat living with her humans in Portland, Oregon. Her humans - Tibo Olivia Boone have combined their work (animation), and their love of kitties into lots of adorable Lizzy meets Famous Film videos. There are multiple compilations. The one attached to the front page, I think, is the best, as it takes the funniest Lizzy/movie clips and mixes it with behind the scenes footage of Tibo making the, sometimes complicated videos with his kitty and a green screen.
From their website:
Lizzy (stage name: OwlKitty) is a two year-old cat living in Portland, Oregon. She stars in all your favorite movies and tv shows and gets lots of treats and cuddles in return. Offscreen, Lizzy loves her laser pointer, her adoptive mother (a 10 year-old tabby) and the taste of cream cheese. She’s never caught a bird.
So far, OwlKitty has made appearances in such classics as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, How to Train your Dragon, The Shining, Titanic, 50 Shades of Gray and Risky Business. You can also find her in Game of Thrones, Ariana Grande’s music video and Red Dead Redemption 2. (Editor’s note: The Risky Business clip is my favorite!)
Anyway, OwlKitty seems to be climbing up the charts, as they say. They even take movie suggestions to for OwlKitty placement. You can contact them here at the official OwlKitty website.
And now we return you to your regularly scheduled depressing news cycle. =)
God of War continues to kill all competitors for end of the year game awards. As of yet GoW has taken home Best Studio Game Direction / Best Action/Adventure / Best Game at the The Game Awards, it’s won an Achievement in Game Writing from the Writers Guild of America, and now it’s swept all the major awards at BAFTA (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts) which is arguably known as the most prestige game award ceremony.
God of Wars swept the five top prize at the BAFTA, winning for Audio Achievement, Best Music, Performer (Jeremy Davies), Best Narrative and Game of the Year. The only other year BATFA handed out that many top prizes to a single game was back in 2014 when The Last of Us won for Audio Achievement, Story, Performer (Ashley Johnson), Action/Adventure and Game of the Year. Which, looks to be similarly what God of War took home this year. And since I LOVE The Last of Us, I think it’s high time I gave God of War a chance, too.
As for some of the other big stories at the BAFTA: Rockstar’s heavily favored Red Dead Redemption 2 lost in all six of the categories it was nominated. Microsoft Studios’ Forza Horizon 4 was named best British game, Lucas Pope’s Return of the Obra Dinn (unplayed by me) took home Artistic Achievement and Game Design, while Subset Games’ Into the Breach was named Best Original Property (also unplayed by me but now I’m totally interested!). Annapurna interactive Florence wins Best Mobile Game. And by the way, Florence is a very well done slice of life about the “possibilities in vs. the realities of” falling in love. Florence is very lovely, and very heartbreaking. I suspect adults will get far more out of it than kids. But, on the other hand - the kids will love Gods of War, so it all works out. Just sayin. And, despite just having English parents and leaders proclaim that Fortnite is too addictive (and that - someone should do something about that!), Fortnite takes home the BAFTA for Best Evolving Game.
Which, to be fair - Fortnite could be both, right? I mean it could certainly be a great Evolving Game and also be very addictive. Of games can be addictive. You know why? They’re fun to play! If the game wasn’t fun to play it would be a bloody failure of a game!
Anyway, I don’t entirely buy into the recent WHO Gaming Disorder Classification, which parents are trying to use to ban their kids from all games ever. But, even in the actual WHO classification it says:
“Studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities. However, people who partake in gaming should be alert to the amount of time they spend on gaming activities, particularly when it is to the exclusion of other daily activities, as well as to any changes in their physical or psychological health and social functioning that could be attributed to their pattern of gaming behavior.”
Basically, they're saying, “Um, yeah - well, not many … and by “not many” we mean “hardly any gamers at all, ever” will actually have gaming disorder. But, you know - just watch out for how much you play and maybe do other things once in a while.
Fair enough. But then, do you really need to classify it as a "disorder?" *shrugs*
For more about "Gaming Disorder" check out a 2017 article I wrote: The “Gaming Disorder” Dilemma: Game Violence, Obsession and Addiction.
The 2019 Chicago mayoral election was held on Feb. 26th but since no candidate received a majority of votes, a runoff election was held on April 2nd between the two candidates with the most votes - Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle.
Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, won the runoff election by a 50 point margin and will become the city’s first black woman and openly gay person elected mayor of Chicago. Lightfoot ran on a platform that she would clean up Chicago’s well known, historic level of corruption. And she is not wrong. I mean, did you know that four of Illinois’s last ten Governors were or are currently in prison? For corruption. Seriously.
Otto Kerner, Governor from 1961-1968 - sentenced to three years in prison for bribery.
Dan Walker, Governor from 1973-1977 - spent a few years in prison for bank fraud.
George Ryan, Governor from 1999-2003 - spent several years in prison for racketeering.
Rod Blagojevich - Governor from 2002-2009, impeached and currently serving a 14 year prison sentence for corruption.
And even though Rahm Emanuel has never been actually accused of a crime his tenure as Chicago’s mayor has certainly not been scandal free. As Rick Perlstein points out in his excellent, “The Sudden But Well-Deserved Fall of Rahm Emanuel” for the New Yorker,
“….Emanuel had became the mayor of Chicago, elected with fifty-five per cent of the vote in the spring of 2011. Since then, there have been so many scandals in Emanuel’s administration that have failed to gain traction that it’s hard to single them out.”
Well, Rahm decided not to run again and opened the way for Lightfoot. Lightfoot has never held public office but as a former federal prosecutor she certainly knows how to go after crime. The city has actually only had one black mayor, Harold Washington Jr., who was elected in the early 80’s but only held office for a few months before dying of a heart attack at the age of 65.
Lightfoot certainly has her work cut out for her as Chicago universally wins yearly “most corrupt city in the US” awards from all the right and wrong places. Even their very own University of Illinois releases a yearly report on corrupt cities and Chicago is always number one with either L.A. or NYC (Manhattan) switching places back and forth for the second and third spot.
Lori Lightfoot will assume the office of Chicago mayor on May 20th, 2019.
Evaldas Rimašauskas, from Lithuanian has been arrested for stealing more than $100 million dollars from tech giants Google and Facebook. In kind of a genius level scam, Evaldas simply - created a fake company and sent FB and Google fake bills for fake product they never ordered that he (obviously) never sent them! Google and Facebook responded by - promptly paying all of Evaldas’ invoices to the tune of about $100 mil from Facebook and another $20 mil from Google.
Wow. Who knew it would be that easy to scam $120 million dollars? But there it is.
On the other hand - Evaldas was caught. He even confessed to the grift, and now faces up to 30 years in jail for fraud. So, that’s not so great for him. But there it is.
On the other hand - he did live like a king for several years while he was worth a $100 million. So, there’s that.
Evaldas has agreed to, get this - pay back $50 million! WTF? Umm … well ….what happened to the other $70 million? Gone? Hidden away in multiple Swiss Bank accounts? Who knows. And what’s he plan to do with the money he’s keeping, anyway? He’s going to jail! For, like - a long time. And he’s already in his thirties. On the other hand, if he gets the maximum 30 year sentence and gets out of jail in his sixties - he’ll clearly live a very cush life until he dies and he'll have the money for great health care which means he'll probably make it into his eighties, maybe longer.
This is one of those “he got caught but kind of got away with it type deals,” ain’t it?
And they say crime doesn’t pay.
Editor's note: Mueller investigators are coming forward to say that the report is far more damaging to the President than the AG (Barr) has let on. Which, is probably true. And that's why Congress should be able to read it.
Former special investigator Robert Mueller turned in his several hundred page report on Friday morning. I’m sure you’ve heard all about it - the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to interfere in the 16' Presidential election. No one outside of the Attorney General (and maybe his office) has seen the full report and so far, only a four page summary has been sent to Congress. The only thing we “know” is from the four page summary, which quotes Mueller’s report as saying, “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 US Presidential Election.”
Well, that’s kind of hard to misinterpret, you know? It sounds like the report is exonerating the President of all guilt. Right? And it might - for collusion. But the report also says, “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Argh to prosecutor double speak!
As someone who once worked on a lot of legal depositions, I know prosecution speech when I hear it. It sounds as if Mueller is saying, “I don’t think that President Trump and team colluded with the Russians” but he’s also saying, “but Trump still might be guilty of obstruction of justice, I just didn’t find enough evidence to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt in court to a jury.”
Prosecutors all over the world struggle with that exact issue. They might honestly believe a suspect is guilty of a crime and the suspect in fact - might actually be guilty. But a prosecutor’s belief in the suspect’s guilt - doesn’t prove anything. A prosecutor needs evidence, and then they have to spend taxpayer money in order to prosecute in a court of law.
What the report does NOT say is that President Trump and team are innocent of all crimes. What the report does NOT say is that the Russians did not interfer in the 2016 Presidential election.
Of course, conservatives are lining up to say the President is innocent of everything and the Mueller report proves it. And Democrats are lining up to say, “Well, maybe - but we need to read the full report because something is fishy here!” And, I do agree at the very least, Congress should receive the full report. I mean, you could convince me that the press and/or regular folks don’t NEED to see the full report (we might want to see it, though). I mean, there are plenty of state or federal secrets and/or sensitive materials that are probably buried within the Mueller Report and I would be okay if the DOJ was like, “No, the general public will not see the full report.”
But Congress? Um, what possible justification could you use to claim that Congress shouldn’t be able to see the full report? The entire legislative branch should be able to read the full report! Congress practically runs the country or at the very least, allows the country to function. They already have top secret clearance so there is no reason the report should be withheld from them. Also, they legislate laws and the report clearly has evidence of Russian interference in the 16’ election, which they might need to legislate laws to protect the U.S. elections from future interference. Withholding the full report from Congress is, frankly, a little suspicious. So give the full report to Congress.
Not that anyone asks me. =)
Before I get to the teacher in question, I want to talk education for a minute. It's been written many times that U.S. students are, well - not number one. They are not number one in math, not number one in science and not number one in reading/writing. In fact, they are far from number one. The World Education Ranking system ranks, as you can guess - education in the world. The U.S. has never been number one. Ever. In 2016 U.S. kids had their best showing since the 70’s and placed 7th, but in 2017 dropped to 20th and last year (2018) - the U.S. dropped off the list entirely.
But you know what U.S. kids are number one in - thinking they are number one. No, seriously. If you ask U.S. kids how they expect to perform on a test when up against kids from other countries, American children universally believe they will perform much, much, much better than they actually do. And many U.S. kids honestly believe they will be number one in math, science, literacy and pretty much everything else under the sun. Number. One.
Well, let’s take a look. There is a test called the PISA (Program for International Students Assessment) and it’s a worldwide exam administered approx. every three years to 15 year old's in 72 countries. About half a million students take the exam. The test results are compiled by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). Their most recent test was in 2015.
Out of 72 countries tested:
U.S. kids ranked 40th in math with a score that puts U.S. teens 11 spots lower than the average score.
U.S. kids ranked 24th in reading comprehension with a score that puts U.S. teens 4 spots higher than the average score.
U.S. kids ranked 25th in science with a score that puts U.S. teens 4 spots higher than the average score.
Not exactly “‘We’re number one!” And, sadly, according to those 17'-18'World Education Ranking numbers I posted above, it looks like U.S. kids are dropping further down the list.
So, what’s going on? Who’s to blame?
Well, I don’t really know and I’m not going to speculate much; however, I find it interesting to hear how much self confidence U.S. kids seem to have vs. how they actually perform. Keep in mind, just because I’m not going to speculate doesn’t mean that other folks won’t speculate. Hell, everyone seems to have all the answers these days, you know? Just check social media where everyone is certain their all caps FB post is clearly the one and only way you MUST think or they’ll unfriend you.
It seems as if parents blame teachers. Teachers blame parents. Republicans blame teachers. Democrats blame the system. Education administrators don’t seem to blame teachers, but they certainly bail out on protecting teachers when irate parents come screaming or, God forbid - someone on a sports team is failing! “You can’t fail our basketball/baseball/football star!”
Yes, yes teachers can and should be able to fail students up to and including athletes. It is the teacher's exact job to evaluate if a child has done the work to pass, or not. If kids are terrible s#!t heads and parents are ignoring email, after phone call after text message saying, “Hey - your kid is a bully, hasn’t turned in 10 of his assignments this year and I might have to fail him! Please respond!” Well, if parents don’t take a vested interest in their own child’s education and their kid acts a damn fool and never does his/her school work - that kid deserves consequences. Just sayin.
And that’s exactly how Julie Marburger felt. Marburger is a sixth grade teacher at Cedar Creek Intermediate School in Texas. She was worn down by the chaotic destructive students and the irate road raging parents. And so, just before she quit, she wrote an epic FB post blasting them all. The rant went viral and within two weeks had millions of hits. (Editor’s note: It doesn’t appear as if she quit. She expected to receive hatred for her post and thought she would have to quit as a result but instead of recieving negative press she has received overwhelming support and it sounds as if the support has stayed her hand from quitting, as of yet).
Marburger’s view is that parents and children have become awful, abusive, entitled pricks. The kids don’t seem to care about consequences and parents lose their minds if their Precious Angel doesn’t get an A. It doesn’t matter if Precious Angel destroys school property, turns in zero work assignments and verbally abuses teachers and/or students because parents will still demand that Precious Angel recieve an A! After two years of, as Marburger describes it - abuse, she finally had enough and called parents and students out for their behavior.
Her full FB post:
“I left work early today after an incident with a parent left me unable emotionally to continue for the day. I have already made the decision to leave teaching at the end of this year, and today, I don’t know if I will make it even that long. Parents have become far too disrespectful, and their children are even worse. Administration always seems to err on the side of keeping the parent happy, which leaves me with no way to do the job I was hired to do ... teach kids.
I am including photos that I took in my classroom over the past two days. This is how my classroom regularly looks after my students spend all day there. Keep in mind that many of the items damaged or destroyed by my students are my personal possessions or I purchased myself, because I have NO classroom budget. I have finally had enough of the disregard for personal and school property and am drawing a line in the sand on a myriad of behaviors that I am through tolerating. Unfortunately, one parent today thought it was wrong of me to hold her son accountable for his behavior and decided to very rudely tell me so, in front of her son.
Report cards come out later this week, and I have nearly half of my students failing due to multiple (8-10) missing assignments. Most of these students and their parents haven’t seemed to care about this over the past three months, though weekly reports go out, emails have been sent and phone calls have been attempted.
But now I’m probably going to spend my entire week next week fielding calls and emails from irate parents, wanting to know why I failed their kid. My administrator will demand an explanation of why I let so many fail without giving them support, even though I’ve done practically everything short of doing the work for them. And behavior in my class will deteriorate even more. I am expecting this, because it is what has happened at the end of every other term thus far.
I have never heard of a profession where people put so much of their heart and soul into their job, taking time and resources from their home and family, and getting paid such an insultingly measly amount. Teachers are some of the most kind and giving people I have ever met, yet they get treated so disrespectfully from all sides. Most parents can’t stand to spend more than a couple hours a day with their kid, but we spend 8 with yours and 140 others just like him. Is it too much to ask for a little common courtesy and civil conversation.
It has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to have a classroom of my own, and now my heart is broken to have become so disillusioned in these short two years. This is almost all i hear from other teachers as well, and they are leaving the profession in droves. There is going to be a teacher crisis in this country before too many more years has passed unless they abuse of teachers stops.
People absolutely HAVE to stop coddling and enabling their children. It’s a problem that’s going to spread through our society like wildfire. It’s not fair to society, and more importantly, is not fair to the children to teach them this is okay. It will not serve them towards a successful and happy life.
Many will say I shouldn’t be posting such things on social media ... that I should promote education and be positive. But I don’t care anymore. Any passion for this work I once had has been wrung completely out of me. Maybe I can be the voice of reason. THIS HAS TO STOP”
Disney and Marvel Studios have agreed to rehire writer/director James Gunn following his July 2018 firing over dozens of online statements he made regarding women and LGBT folks. So, what exactly happened (and for some folks - who is James Gunn and why should I care?):
James Gunn, he’s a writer/director of feature films who had to back to back hits with Marvel Studios Guardians of the Galaxy 1&2 both of which were surprise hits and have combined for a total world box office of $1.5 billion. So, when conservative personalities dug up old tweets on the Trump hating Gunn, they could not wait to manufacture some fake rage. Like most things in internet outrage culture it didn’t matter that Gunn wrote the tweets ten years ago and that, while tasteless and sometimes insensitive, they were clearly not to be taken seriously. But no matter. Disney caved to the faux rage and fired Gunn from the upcoming Guardians 3.
At the time, when reporters were questioning him about the tweets, Gunn clarified his earlier comments via Twitter: "Many people who have followed my career know, when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo. As I have discussed publicly many times, as I've developed as a person, so has my work and my humor. It's not to say I'm better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it's shocking and trying to get a reaction are over."
After Disney fired him for the decade old tweets, Gunn responded: "Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all."
And if you read over the tweets some of them clearly go to far. In fact, what I thought was far more inappropriate was Gunn’s post titled, "The 15 Superheroes I Most Want to Have Sex With," which was filled with some pretty idiotic fanboy misogynist writing. ( Editor’s note: We are unable to find a link to that now deleted story, but numerous op-eds exist in which they discuss it including this one at the Marysue.com).
So, my general take on the firing was, “Gunn wrote stupid tweets, probably when he was drunk.” He should apologize, not do anything that stupid again and move on with it. And that should have been the end. Alas, Disney caved to outrage culture and so Gunn was fired. And that as they say - is that.
But didn’t you say he got hired, again?
I did. Which means that, as they say, was not that. How did Gunn get hired back? Well, shortly after the firing, a pretty obvious narrative emerged - Gunn was an often harsh critic of President Trump and so therefor - angry conservative personalities manufactured some engineered fake rage to shut him up! And it worked. It did not matter that all the movie stars that worked with Gunn on Guardians were like, “Um, this is BS. Please hire him back.”
But that wasn’t exactly enough to get him hired again. Thankfully, according to Deadline, Disney felt Gunn’s apologies were very sincere, and they were impressed with how Gunn handled the firing and how he didn’t blame the company. The other thing Disney noticed is that Gunn’s firing didn’t stop other companies from hiring him as he had signed on to direct the next Suicide Squad film. Which means, Disney probably figured, “Well, if other studios are hiring him - maybe we screwed up what with that firing thing we did to him.”
And so Gunn won his job again and is back to directing Guardians 3. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. Most of those tentpole flagship franchise films are so predictably cookie cutter that the director no longer matters - that much. Obviously, you need A director. But if it’s James Gunn, or Peyton Reed, or Joe Johnston, or Scott Derrickson, or hell even Brett Ratner or Katherine Hardwick … I mean, they’re all basically the same. The idea of the auteur director is mostly gone. At least, it’s mostly gone in Hollywood franchise films.
Another white supremacist right-wing terrorist commits mass murder. I’m sure you’ve heard all about it. I’m not going to talk much about gun control because you already know where you stand on that issue. I’m not going to even talk about the actual massacre because you’ve probably heard all about it and, honestly, I doubt I have anything new to say. I do want to talk about the fact that I wish I was more shocked. I mean, do you actually remember a time when it would be shocking to hear about any kind of massacre? I certainly do, and I honestly feel like it was decades ago. Now, I just wait for it to happen, knowing it will.
Remember back in 2011 when a white supremacist right-wing terrorist massacred 79 people in Norway? I hope you do, because I actually forgot all about it. I seriously did. This morning I read Huffpost’s really excellent: Mass Shooters Have Exploited the Internet For Years. New Zealand Took It To A New Level. (No, seriously, it’s great, you should take a few minutes to read it because they accurately point out some of the social problems that lead to mass shootings). Somewhere within the Huffpost story, the writers mention the 2011 attack in Norway that killed seven nine people, and I immediately thought, “Attack on Norway? Jesus, I don’t even remember that one.” I had to look it up. It took me a few moments of reading to recall the details. And then I thought, “Oh, I think there's a Netflix movie about it that just came out a few months ago - maybe I should watch it.” Sadly, my thoughts were not “What a horrible, f**king thing to have happened!” Nope. My thoughts were, “Don’t remember it. Oh, right, now I remember it. I should watch the movie.” =(
I mean, there are plenty of mass shootings I do remember. Without looking anything up: Vegas. The Ariana Grande concert in the UK (I think this was a bomb and not a shooting, or maybe it was both, or maybe I’m mixing up concert attacks). The FL nightclub massacre. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. The Synagogue attack in … um, I can’t recall which city (and I even wrote about that attack). The attack on the movie theater where viewers were watching Batman, but I don’t remember the name of the theater chain or the city it happened. Multiple attacks on black folks while they’re in church. Multiple attacks in Paris within the last five years. The Kenya school attack. The Australian massacre in Port Arthur and I only remember this one because of the Jim Jefferies stand up routine about the attack and his views on gun control (which, is a pretty good routine). The Amish school shooting in … actually, I don’t remember where. Those are the ones I remember off the top of my head and there are clearly important details that I just can't recall - like the horrible massacre in Norway where 79 people died! Five years from now, after another couple dozen mass shootings have occurred, I wonder which of the above I will have forgotten?
Obviously the point being that mass shootings happen often enough that I no longer even remember some of them. I don’t claim to have a solution; however, I do see a few things in common with modern day massacres.
And there we have our game of Clue: The modern day massacre edition! Pick a mass shooting and ask - who did it? Oh, I know! I know! Is it ”the crippling insecure white male right-wing extremist, in the city, with a semi-automatic weapon?” (Well, not 100% of the time but, close enough).
Hey, how about this for a new law - men are banned from owning and operating guns! No, that's illegal. Let's remember the Second Amendment here so, oh, I know! Men can own, like, a flintlock rifle or a blunderbuss, or something as equally inefficient in the modern world - but women are allowed to own Uzi's and 9mm semi-automatic pistols! That would probably cut down on mass shootings. =)
Anyway. We all know mass shootings are not going away. Maybe the next time a cripplingly insecure man decides to shoot up a movie theater - I’ll be there and get killed. Or maybe the next time a cripplingly insecure man decides to “ignite a race war” by walking into a church filled with black folks and gunning them down - you’ll be there and get killed. Or maybe the next time a cripplingly insecure man decides to walk into a nightclub and gun down dancers - your kid will be there and get killed.
But I hope not. I hope someone, somewhere has a solution. And I hope it comes sooner, rather than later. Until then, I will cynically just wait for the next mass shooting to happen. I’ll probably post a bitter story about that one too - "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
The word has spread all over the internet, and all over the news that as many as 50 people conspired in a scheme to help their kids cheat on SAT/ACT tests and / or get their kid admitted to a privileged school on an athletic scholarship - even if the child had never played the sport.
Okay. Well, that’s clearly fraud. You can’t pay someone to take tests for your kid and you can’t get admitted on scholarship for a sport you’ve never played. That’s a crime. And let’s not forget the general idea that the moment you pay for the privilege of placing your child in a college that he/she probably didn’t deserve to be at - you’ve actually significantly harmed someone else who deserved that place but was rejected due to your fraud.
And there are some high profile people involved in this including actress Felicity Huffman (of Desperate Housewives fame) and actress Lori Loughlin (of Full House fame) both who paid huge sums of money to cheat their kids into college. Now, I know parents will do anything for their kids so, to be honest - I’m certainly not surprised to hear that rich parents will, you know - pay large sums of money to give their children even more privilege and more advantages than they already had. This is not a big shock to me.
And this is nothing new, right? I mean, all you have to do is apply common sense and reason to the George W. Bush Yale/Harvard question. How did Bush Jr. get into either ivy league school with his C average in high school, his decent (but certainly not great) SAT score and his zero college sports scholarships? You or I would NOT be able to get into Yale or Harvard with a C average and a decent SAT score. So how did Bush Jr. get in? Well, we all know that answer to that - because his family is well know and rich, rich, rich.
Obviously both schools accepted Bush Jr.., probably for the prestige of the Bush name but maybe, like in these recent cases - out of fraud. It’s very possible the Bush family just shelled out huge sums of cash to both schools until the universities in question said, “Sure, we’ll take your C student son!”
Well, that’s pretty much what this new scandal is all about. And we’re talking all sorts of universities are involved in this - Georgetown, Stanford, Yale, Wake Forest, UCLA, USC, Harvard, to name a few. And officials are claiming this might be just the tip of the iceberg.
So, how did this all happen?
It appears that a man named William "Rick" Singer is the front runner. Singer is CEO of “The Key,” which is a college admission prep company. And Singer pretty much told super rich parents that, for a specific fee, he would pay people to take standardized tests for their kids and then Singer would bribe test administrators to look the other way. If that wasn’t going to work out, he told parents he could create fake sports photos to submit to the schools and pay coaches to recommend a sports scholarships. He did that too! Well, Singer was caught, and he confessed to everything, so I’m not going to bother with the word - alleged.
And, of course, sometimes the parents helped in communications with university officials or coaches. Sometimes they didn’t. But they all paid and they all knew what they were doing was illegal. And some of the parents paid huge amounts of money - up to millions of dollars! I mean, how much does your kid have suck in school for their parents to need to pay millions of dollars to get them accepted?
Anyway, then Singer used his “The Key” business to launder all the money, and all the parents agreed to the scam from top to bottom. And this is pretty much the epitome of fraud, racketeering and conspiracy. So this is going to get a whole lot of rich people in trouble, all their kids are going to get thrown out of their respective schools and lots of money is going to get lost. The lawyers will all make out like bandits, though (but don’t they always).
What will happen now?
Well, will anyone go to jail? Ummmm, probably not any of the parents. They’re all rich and have expensive lawyers. They’ll probably pay a fine or two and get a hand-slap or two. And there will certainly be public embarrassment and humiliation. Prosecutors might pin a few things on some low power scapegoats and throw them in jail as, “a lesson,” but that’s probably all that will happen.
Anyway. I don’t know about you but I am not surprised that super rich people pay ridiculous amount of money to get their kids into a college that they clearly don’t deserve to be in. Is it a crime? Yes. Should their kids be kicked out of school? Yes. Should there be some kind of punishment and/or fine? Yes. Will there be lawsuits? Yes. But, to be honest, the only thing that really shocks me here is that, this time - the rich folks actually have to pay for their crimes. That's actually, pretty surprising.