Jon Cazares

Jon Cazares

On Sunday, October 29th, the Miss Peru pageant was televised live to millions of homes in its native country. Beauty pageants are traditionally sexist and patriarchal and Peruvian audiences expected a typical affair. Let's face it, you pretty much know what you are going to get when you tune into a televised beauty pageant. But pageant organizer, Jessica Newton, herself a former beauty queen, didn't want anything to do with a  traditional affair, instead she wanted to use the enormously popular platform to highlight Peru's alarming record of gender violence.

 

And so Newton approached all 23 contestants, each of which agreed to abandon the traditional:

 

 

The women come onto stage wearing sequined shimmering mini-dresses and, one by one, step forward and reveal to the camera their full name, the location they represent and their bust, waist & hip size.

 

Instead they all overwhelmingly agreed to replace it with:

 

The women come onto stage wearing their mini-dresses but instead of listing off their measurements, each contestant offers vital statistics stating figures of violence against women in Peru.

 

And that's what they did. A sample:

 

“My name is Camila Canicoba and I represent the Department of Lima. My measurements are: 2,202 cases of reported femicide in the past year in my country.”

 

“My name is Karen Cueto and I represent Lima and my measurements are: 82 femicides and 156 attempted femicides so far this year.”

 

Eventual pageant winner Romina Lozano, said her “measurements” were “3,114 female victims of trafficking have been registered since 2014.”

 

And so on as each of the competitors came forward.

 

 

 

 

The entire pageant was designed to highlight gender violence up to and including the final round of the competition where, during the Q&A, the women were asked what sort of policy or laws could be changed that would combat gender violence and / or help the victims.

 

After the pageant, Susána Chavez, director of Promsex, a gender rights organization in Peru, told reporters:

 

"Unfortunately there are many women who (don't report abuse or assault because they)....  think they are isolated cases ... Now nobody can be indifferent to the level of violence ... These competitions focus on many stereotypes about women and judge them by their physical characteristics, but they (the pageants) impact a broad group of women and men that we do not reach. We've never seen a time when there is more awareness about the problem."

 

Here is a two minute clip of the pageant's highlights.



 

At least eight people have been killed in a terrorist attack in New York City. Alleged terrorist, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipovd, a 29 year old Uzbek-American, drove a rented Home Depot van onto a pedestrian sidewalk and drove for several blocks hitting dozens. Sayfullo then T-boned  the van into a school bus. After the collision, Sayfullo exited the van with a pellet gun in one hand and a paintball gun in the other. He was shortly thereafter shot and captured by NYC police. He remains in custody.

 

Multiple sources report Sayfullo left a handwritten note at the scene of the crime, written in Arabic, detailing his support of ISIS.

 

Terrorists attacks by vehicle are becoming more common. In 2010, Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch published an article called, “The Ultimate Mowing Machine” and told readers to use trucks to "mow down" the enemies of Allah.

 

In 2014 ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al Adnani said:

 

“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way, however it may be … If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchmen are any of their allies. Smash his head with rock, or slaughter him with a knife or run over him with your car (emphasis mine) or throw him down from a high place or poison him.”

 

Up to and including the October 31st NYC attack, there have been almost a dozen instances of radicalized Islamic extremists using trucks or vehicles to commit terror attacks. Most of these instances involve a Lone Wolf attack and while it's true that Lone Wolf attacks are extremely difficult to predict and prevent, they can be diminished.

 

In Daniel Byman's “Can Lone Wolves Be Stopped?” for Lawfare (online), he writes:

 

“One of the most important measures involves keeping Lone Wolves lonely: the less they can interact with potential co-conspirators, and in particular with dangerous groups that give them direction and training, the less dangerous they will be. Intelligence gathering and arrests of suspected cell leaders and targeting terrorist command and control via drone strikes is thus vital.

 

The Islamic State’s heavy reliance on social media to publicize its message and share information with recruits is a vulnerability as well as a benefit for the group. U.S. intelligence should continue to exploit social media to identify potential group members and to disrupt their activities. Such monitoring is particularly important when seeking to identify potential Lone Wolves or those with no direct international connection, as they may be encouraged by online operatives or post their intentions online as a form of bragging and belonging.”

 

Byman is a foreign policy editor and professor at Georgetown U. School of Foreign Service.



Note: This is a continually developing story and will be updated as further information arises.

 

 

Halloween is upon us and brings the holy trilogy of: trick or treaters, costumes and candy. And, of course, inevitable lists of horror films you should watch for your Halloween scares.   

 

Now, I love said lists but the problem with them is you tend to see the usual suspects. Take your pick of a franchise film - Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play, Paranormal Activity, Scream, Friday the 13th, Saw, Halloween, Hellraiser, [Insert Random Name] of the Dead, etc., etc. Throw in obligatory mention of The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Shining, add another Stephen King adaption for good measure, class it up with a vintage black and white or three like: Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Frankenstein and toss in whatever is currently hip and popular with the cool kids, such as -- It Follows and Babadook.

 

Viola! Instant “Best Halloween Movies to Watch This Year” list!

 

Fair enough. But -- also -- Oh. So. Boring.

 

Let’s use some imagination here. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of movies in the aforementioned list that I adore. But there are a lot of great horror movies that have slipped under the radar. If you are a true horror film aficionado there probably won't be anything here you've not heard of. But for most movie folk this should be a nice list of under appreciated horror films you may dig. Also, I'm not really a fan of horror comedy so none of them made my list.

 

The trailers were meticulously screened to avoid spoilers. No, seriously. I watched multiple trailers for all of these movies and selected ones that were cool but vague and non spoilerific!

 

Some of my favorite underappreciated or forgotten horror films -- presented alphabetically:  

 

Coherence (2013): More of a dark psychological sci-fi thriller than traditional horror film. Coherence naturally evolves from a dinner party set piece into a mind twisting nightmare. Director James Ward Byrkit shot the extremely low budget movie without a script. Instead he worked from a detailed 12 page plot synopsis and each day passed notecards to the eight actors, outlining goals they had to accomplish with all improvised dialog. It’s one known star, Nicholas Brendon (Xander of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) had this to say, “...every day we had five different things we had to convey … since there was no script, I had no idea how it ended … to be quite honest, I never really knew what was going on fully until I saw the movie done.  When I saw the movie, I’m like, ‘Oh, Shit, this is awesome!’”  Coherence official trailer.

 

A Horrible Way to Die (2010): An indie darling the toured the festival circuit but never really got a wide release.  A Horrible Way to Die follows lead Sarah, played to perfection in a truly mesmerizing performance by Amy Seimetz. Sarah is in full recovery mode from … something. Something recent and very traumatic. The story shifts back and forth from her past to her present as we slowly begin to understand her horrific history. And then a friend of Sarah’s goes missing, in the present, and she realizes her past may have caught up with her.   A Horrible Way to Die official trailer.



House of the Devil (2009): Writer / Director Ti West’s loving recreation of 80’s horror films. Shot on 16mm film to preserve the retro look of 80’s horror and even co-starring horror film legend Dee Wallace and eighties great "go to" character actor, Tom Noonan. The story follows college student Samantha Hughes as she desperately searches for a way to make some extra dough to pay the deposit on a brand new kick ass apartment. Sam decides to answer a babysitting ad. A very strange, babysitting ad. House of the Devil official trailer.

 

The Loved Ones (2009): Robin McLeavy plays Princess Lola -- the greatest psycho woman to grace the silver screen since Angela Bettis was May Dove Canady in Lucky McKee’s May (later on the list). The Loved Ones finds surprising laughs and disturbing shocks in equal measure. Traditional “torture porn” movies offer visceral but generally artless visuals of cold blooded torture, usually in the form of misogynistic violence against women. Writer / Director Sean Byrne knows the worn tropes well, avoids the usual pratfalls and delivers a gender reversed twisted masterpiece. The Loved Ones official trailer.

 

Kill List (2011): Another movie on the list that is more dark psychological thriller than traditional horror. Two former British soldiers become hitmen. Gal is laid back and uncynical, Jay is still traumatized from an unspecified mission disaster during his soldiering days. Their newest contract spins their lives wildly out of control and leads to some very unexpected, very disturbing places. Kill List is a slow burn of a film and requires viewing patience, not least because the thick accents are, for a time, difficult to understand. Kill List official trailer.

 

Martyrs (2008): Oh, dear God. This movie is not for the faint of heart. You have been warned. Martyrs is the story of Lucie Jurin. As a young girl Lucie escapes from a slaughterhouse where she has been imprisoned and tortured for years. The perpetrators go uncaught and their motives remain a mystery. Lucie spends more than a decade in an orphanage and, while she has recovered physically, she is still plagued by nightmares and suffers debilitating visions of a ghoulish emaciated woman hunting her. Lucie leaves the orphanage and tracks down the family that captured & tortured her and begins to extract unbelievably violent, bloody revenge. But -- she might be in the wrong house. The family Lucie is brutalizing might be completely innocent. Martyrs, along with High Tension, Frontiers and Inside are widely regarded as the godfathers of the New French Extremity film movement.  A movement that refers thematically and stylistically to a wide range of French filmmakers that tackle taboo subjects and was once described by film writer Matt Smith as, “[a] crossover between sexual decadence, bestial violence and troubling psychosis." As you can imagine, most of the films within the New French Extremity movement are -- well, not worth viewing.  But Martyrs is. It is the only great “torture porn” movie I would ever recommend -- with reservations that it will still not be for most folks.  I believe I’ve given you enough information to know if this film is for your particular taste, or not. (Make sure to watch the original 2008 French w/ English Subtitles version and NOT the American Remake). Martyrs official trailer.



May (2002): Delightfully awkward, devilishly lonely May Dove Canady suffered from a rough childhood due to endless bullying because of her lazy eye. Her only friend -- a glass-encased doll named Suzie. But then May meets a boy. A real boy. Angela Bettis knocks it out of the park with her quirky awkward performance. May is Lucky McKee’s only good film. Seriously. If you see the name Lucky McKee attached to any other film not called May, immediately throw it in the garbage. May official trailer.

 

Pontypool (2008): The greatest zombie apocalypse film (that might not actually be a zombie apocalypse film) you have never seen. Shock jock Grant Mazzy and his producer Sydney Briar are front and center in their small town radio room when the world outside goes --- crazy. Both Stephen McHattie (Grant) and Lisa Houle (Sydney) are superb in the lead roles. Based on the Tony Burgess novel Pontypool Changes Everything  and inspired by Orson Welles' infamous radio broadcast of The War of the World's. Pontypool official trailer.

 

[REC] (2007): Probably the best known film on the list. [REC] is a found footage-esq masterpiece about a TV reporter and her cameraman following emergency workers into an apartment building and are quickly locked inside with -- something. Cleverly hiring real life TV personality Manuela Velasco to portray a fictional version of herself and using only cameras that would be available to a TV news show to shoot the movie create a uniquely realistic atmosphere. [REC] spawns a few unsatisfying sequels and there is even a decent American remake called Quarantine but the original version in Spanish is really the big boy on the block.  [REC] official trailer.



Triangle (2009): What begins as a very seemingly well acted but mundane ghost ship story quickly evolves into a mind bending, bloody journey of loss, regret and choices. Triangle is a movie that gets better and better with repeat viewings. This film, The Loved Ones and Pontypool are my three go to films when I am asked for a horror film recommendation. I was unable to find a trailer that didn’t spoil some of the film’s surprises so I didn’t attach one. Look it up if you want but Triangle is best viewed with a clean slate.



Who Can Kill a Child? (1976): Tom and Evelyn, two English tourists, arrive on a city island during the last leg of their vacation before Evelyn gives birth to their third child. But -- they can’t seem to find any adults. And the silent grim faced children that run in packs all over the town cast suspicious glances their direction but refuse to speak with them. A Children of the Corn esq narrative that actually came out years before King’s story (which first appeared in print form in Penthouse in the late 70’s).  Based on the Juan Jose Plans novel The children’s game, who adapted the screenplay under a pen name. This movie was widely unavailable for decades but finally came out on DVD in 2007. There is no Blu Ray edition. Who Can Kill a Child? official trailer.



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Coherence is a 2013 American science fiction thriller film directed by James Ward Byrkit.

 

A Horrible Way to Die is a 2010 American horror film written by Simon Barrett, directed by Adam Wingard.

 

The House of the Devil is a 2009 American horror film written, directed, and edited by Ti West.

 

The Loved Ones is a 2009 Australian horror film written and directed by Sean Byrne.

 

Kill List is a 2011 British crime drama psychological horror film directed by Ben Wheatley, co-written and co-edited with Amy Jump.

 

Martyrs is a 2008 French-Canadian drama horror film written and directed by Pascal Laugier.

 

May is a 2002 American psychological horror film written and directed by Lucky McKee.

 

Pontypool is a 2008 Canadian horror film directed by Bruce McDonald and written by Tony Burgess, based on his novel Pontypool Changes Everything.

 

REC (stylized as [•REC]) is a 2007 Spanish zombie horror film, co-written and directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza.

 

Triangle is a 2009 British-Australian psychological horror thriller film written and directed by Christopher Smith.


Who Can Kill a Child? (Spanish: ¿Quién puede matar a un niño?; also released as Island of the Damned) is a 1976 Spanish horror film directed by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador.

 

Last week the Boy Scouts of America announced it will allow girls to join the organization with the following statement released on their official website:

 

“Today, the Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously approved to welcome girls into its iconic Cub Scout program and to deliver a Scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout. The historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls, the organization evaluated the results of numerous research efforts, gaining input from current members and leaders, as well as parents and girls who’ve never been involved in Scouting – to understand how to offer families an important additional choice in meeting the character development needs of all their children.”

 

Skeptics claim it’s not really a decision about actually being inclusive, it’s just a publicity stunt to increase Boy Scout membership which has steadily decreased in the last decade. The Girl Scouts of America are not terribly happy about the announcement, either. In fact, the day after the Boy Scouts posted the above statement, the Girl Scouts released their official position on their website:  

 

“Girl Scouts is the best girl leadership organization in the world, created with and for girls. We believe strongly in the importance of the all-girl, girl-led, and girl-friendly environment that Girl Scouts provides, which creates a free space for girls to learn and thrive.

 

The benefit of the single-gender environment has been well-documented by educators, scholars, other girl- and youth-serving organizations, and Girl Scouts and their families. Girl Scouts offers a one-of-a-kind experience for girls with a program tailored specifically to their unique developmental needs.”

 

The two organizations have never really seen eye to eye. The Boy Scouts were founded a little more than 100 years ago and the Girl Scouts (then called Girl Scouting) approx. five years later. By the mid 1920’s the Boy Scouts of America sued the Girl Scouts for use of the word, “Scouts.”  The traditionalist “manly-men” of the time objected to the term “Scout” being used for girls. That’s right, the lawsuit was all about the manliness of the word Scout and how, if used to describe a girl, the word would be emasculated.

 

Obviously, the Girl Scouts won the lawsuit. 

 

Several decades later and the two organizations still don’t really get along. That being said, the Girl Scouts have been far more progressive for much, much longer. The Girls Scouts have long since championed civil rights, inclusion and acceptance. And to them it wasn’t a big deal. It just seemed like the right thing to do. (It is).

 

The Boy Scouts have been firmly anti-gay membership, anti-LGBT inclusion and 100% -- no girls allowed, until very recently.  It wasn’t until 2013 that the Boy Scouts lifted the open ban on gay scouts. It wasn’t until 2015 that the Boy Scouts ended the prohibition on adult gay Scout leaders. Finally, in Jan of 2017, the Boy Scouts said it will allow members that self-identify as male to join. 

 

So, the Girl Scouts have been way ahead of the Boy Scouts on pretty much all progressive social issues so I can understand the  G.S. leadership annoyance. The Girl Scouts have been all inclusive for decades -- no press. The Boy Scouts finally, finally, finally catch up with the rest of progressive America -- all the press.

 

And maybe Boy Scouts are changing for the wrong reasons. But that doesn’t matter much to me. As long as progress is being made forward I’m all for it.

 

Conservatives around the internet shrugged a collective “meh” at the Boy Scout inclusion news. I honestly thought there would be more faux outrage and I’m glad to report that there wasn’t.

 

And, let’s be honest, the Boy Scouts will still be overwhelmingly male. But now, a troop can form and all boy, all girl, or mixed gender Cub Scout group.

 

Seems fair to me. 

 

And for anyone who thinks this is another liberal, feminist platform “ruining” things for real Americans I offer two things:

 

First: the overwhelmingly conservative Boy Scout board of directors unanimously voted in favor of the more inclusive policies.

 

Second: Samantha Bee and Full Frontal's: Fem Agenda: What to Ruin Next.



 

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If you like this you might like the GCN live talk radio show: Free Talk Live - M-Sun from 6:00-9:00 Central. 

Famous indie movie Executive Producer Harvey Weinstein has been fired from The Weinstein Company. Last week the NY Times broke a colossal story alleging decades of harassment and abuse by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Over the weekend, the New Yorker followed up with From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories - detailing two decades of Harvey’s sexual harassment, sexual assault (up to and including rape) and his threats of ruining careers to cover it all up.  

 

Harvey Weinstein, the man behind some of the biggest indie hits of forever. All of Tarantino's films, Kevin Smith's movies, Oscar Winner's - The King's Speech, Silver Linings Playbook, Shakespeare in Love -- to name a few.  

 

Actress Rose McGowan came out almost a decade ago and told her story of being sexually assaulted by a studio head. People took her seriously but didn’t take her that seriously, because, at the time, she refused to name names. Citing the fact she still wanted to work in Hollywood and knew if she named the specific person, he would probably destroy her career.  But this week, as several other women have come forward, Rose finally confirmed her assault was at the hands of Weinstein.

 

Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and several other actresses going back two decades have come forward with stories of sexual harassment or worse, at the hands of Harvey Weinstein.

 

This weekend, Paltrow went on record that, when she was 22 years old, Mr. Weinstein  summoned her to his hotel suite for a meeting about her upcoming film, “Emma,” which Weinstein was Executive Producing (i.e. - putting up the money for) and had just cast to play the title role.  Paltrow says that it wasn't "a meeting" at all. Harvey sat her down and began massaging her (without her consent) and then suggested they head to the bedroom.

 

She said about the incident, “I was a kid. I was signed up (for Mr. Weinstein’s movie), I was petrified" and later, “I thought I was going to get fired.”  She turned him down and fled the room as fast as possible, confiding in her then boyfriend Brad Pitt. Pitt immediately confronted Weinstein and told him to leave Paltrow alone and never bother her again.  Weinstein responded by warning her not to tell anyone else about his come-on or he would ruin her career.

 

Brad Pitt’s people have confirmed both facts that Paltrow told him about the incident and that he (Pitt) confronted Weinstein.

 

Brad Pitt. One of the biggest movie stars in the world. Pitt knew in 1996 that Weinstein was a creeper. Which means, I suspect, that lots of other people have known over the years too. 

 

And nothing ever really came of it. 

 

The Paltrow incident was twenty one years ago. And it’s just now coming out that he allegedly harassed, assaulted and raped women for two decades.

 

I hate to say this but -- a powerful man in Hollywood abusing his position and targeting vulnerable young women for assault -- doesn't exactly shock me. 

 

I’m not even shocked that it took so long to come out. The Onion’s aptly titled ‘How Could Harvey Weinstein Get Away With This?’ Asks Man Currently Ignoring Sexual Misconduct Of 17 Separate Coworkers, Friends, Acquaintances sums this position up nicely.

 

There are probably a lot of people complacent in Mr. Weinstein's abuse but one thing is certain, the man commanded immense power. Do a quick Google search for “Harvey Weinstein” and “careers he’s ruined” and you’ll see what I’m talking about. He bred fear. And so he was able to get away with it.

 

Until now.

 

The assault allegations have rolled in and due to them, Harvey Weinstein’s wife has left him  and he’s been fired from his job -- from the company he co-founded.

 

That’s all good. But it’s not good enough.

 

I would like to mention that all the allegations against Harvey Weinstein are just that, -- “allegations.” Harvey Weinstein certainly deserves his day in court. But just as in the Bill Cosby case(s), when that many women come forward, you can rest assured both men are guilty.

 

I hope Weinstein gets his day in court.

 

And then I hope he goes to jail for a very long time.

 

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The National Sexual Assault Hotline : 1.800.656.4673 available 24 hours a day through RAINN. 

 

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE, online.rainn.org y rainn.org/es) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

 

 

 

 

Conservatives are in an uproar. The NFL, you see, has gone too far.

 

I wish I could tell you the uproar was over the NFL’s concussion issues or the terrifying realities of CTE, or the NFL’s domestic violence scandals or the NFL’s sexual assault scandals. You Google NFL and the words “domestic violence” or “sexual assault” and you will get a scary number of legitimate hits.

 

These are all serious issues; each and every one, and all worthy of an uproar.

 

But no. Conservatives aren’t angry about any of those “silly” things.

 

They have focused their rage on something truly important -- the NFL player national anthem protest!

 

You know the one I’m talking about. The one Colin Kaepernick started last year? Kaepernick, that outspoken, black, male, Muslim who rocks a huge afro (a veritable list of things that make white folks really uncomfortable). Well, as the story goes -- Kap kneels during the anthem, to raise awareness to social injustice and police brutality against people of color.

 

That’s why Colin Kaepernick knelt. That was last year. Conservatives were in an uproar last year too. But this time, it’s much worse.  

 

Last week a few players knelt during the anthem in support of what Kaepernick began a year ago, which led President Donald Trump to say at an Alabama rally:

 

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired! He's fired!'”

 

Okay. Whatever. Trump yells weird things that have nothing to do with government or his job is nothing new.

 

But man, did Trump’s comments get under the skin of NFL owners, coaches and players. All but two team owners issued statements denouncing Trump’s words and supporting players right to peaceful protest. The following weekend, hundreds of NFL players knelt during the anthem, while some players stood and linked arms in solidarity and one team did not even take the field until after the anthem ended.

 

The NFL didn’t line up in support of Kap but when Donald Trump calls NFL players, “SOB’s”  suddenly, the shit hits the fan. Or, as former NFL great, Shannon Sharpe said on Fox Sports’ Undisputed:

 

“I’m disappointed. And I’m unimpressed. Because this is the tipping point. Of the 7,537 things that President Trump has said in the last 50 years, him (Trump) calling an NFL player an SOB is what brought the NFL, the owners and its players, together. And while some might be moved by the conscience of these NFL owners, it wasn’t their conscience that moved them. It was the cash.”

 

Sharpe points out that several NFL owners gave “...a million dollars for the inauguration of President Trump” even after they ignored all of The Donald’s racist and sexist comments throughout the Presidential campaign.

 

Sharpe continues, “And now they (NFL owners) seem to be shocked (at what Trump says about the NFL). Every author that’s written a book about President Trump, and they started writing books about him in the 1980s, they say he is exactly today as he was then.”

 

Perhaps Sharpe is right. Perhaps the majority of the League’s owners don’t give a rat’s ass about social equality and instead see free publicity for their team and therefore -- extra cash. Last year, when conservatives were in an uproar over Kaepernick’s kneeling protest, do you recall seeing and / or reading about any such wide spread NFL solidarity for him?

 

I don’t either.

 

But the solidarity is there now. And I’m happy to see it. It’s the right thing to do. Obviously.

 

But some folks are going crazy. As always.

 

How bout them super vocal, rage fueled Cowboy’s fans who screamed into the Texas winds they were “one hundred percent positive!” that “Boys” owner, Jerry Jones will fire any “ungrateful, disrespectful” player who knelt during the anthem?



 

Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, kneels during the national anthem.

 

Is Mr. Jones doing it for cash, as Mr. Sharpe suggests, or in solidarity? Or both?

 

I don’t know. And I don’t really care. But I do know, despite world wide / US issues blowing up all week long -- hurricanes, war threats with North Korea, healthcare reforms -- President Trump had to weigh in on the NFL.

 

Again, and again, and again.

 

Watch John Oliver’s three minute recap of the insanity.

 

As President Trump leads the way, emboldened racist Americans step up across the country and voice their concern over these “ungrateful, disrespectful” -- NFL players. (And we all know that what they really mean is, “ungrateful, disrespectful -- n****rs!).

 

Like Paul Smith, a fire chief in Pennsylvania. He took to Facebook and called out head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tomlin’s Steelers waited in the locker room until after the national anthem ended and then took the field. Tomlin is one of the few black head coaches in the NFL. Smith writes on Facebook:

 

"Tomlin just added himself to the list of no good N****rs! Yes I said it."

 

How about John Valko, WI restaurant co-owner. Valko, again on Facebook, in a now deleted post, writes:

 

 

“Kill the idiot players. Execute them. They are nothing but garbage. The league is screwed up if they think it is their right. It is their duty to respect our country and our flag. They should go kneel in front of a freight train. Shame on these stupid misfits of society. They need to die.”

 

Even semi famous people are getting in it. Taya Kyle, the widow of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle told the NFL off, in a ridiculous condescending and naïve open letter. She writes:  

 

“(NFL…) You were doing your part to bring people together and heal the world … You were doing your part celebrating each other based on skills, talent and a joint vision without regard to color and religion ... You were doing your part and we were doing ours. We showed up cheering and groaning together to as one. We talked in the concession lines and commiserated and celebrated our team together. Did it ever occur to you that you and we were already a mix of backgrounds, races and religions? We were already living the dream you want, right in front of you … Your desire to focus on division and anger has shattered what many people loved most about the sport. Football was really a metaphor for our ideal world – different backgrounds, talents, political beliefs and histories as one big team with one big goal - to do well, to win, TOGETHER … You dear NFL, have taken that. You have lost me here.”

 

Damn you, NFL players! You were just about to solve racism with your next Play Action Pass and you went and ruined it all with your fucking kneeling!

 

Look -- NFL players kneeling or standing during the anthem is not a federal issue. So President Trump can STFU about it. The NFL is a business and is not beholden to the Tweet Whims of President “Tiny Hands.”

 

If NFL commissioner Roger Goodell tells NFL coaches & players what they can and can not do during the national anthem, well, that’s one thing, because he’s their boss. And the boss usually gets a say in how his employees behave.

 

Well - Roger Goodell, the man in charge of the NFL, has come out in full support of players protesting during the national anthem. Sorry, Mr. President -- the boss has spoken. End of discussion.

 

But it’s not just Trump and mostly white private citizens that are in a tizzy, it’s also, mostly white conservatives politicians and pundits that are freaking out too. And all of them love to use the words, “ungrateful” and, “disrespectful” about mostly black, NFL players.

 

All of this is what led Trevor Noah of the Daily to Show to ask, “ungrateful to whom” in this delightful six minute Daily Show clip that you should totally watch -- “When is the Right Time for Black People to Protest.

 

Conservatives -- enough with the “ungrateful” -- “disrespectful” BS! As Trevor Noah points out, “That’s some sneaky ass racism.”

 

Though it’s really Noah’s Dr. Seuss inspired closing lines in the above linked video that sum it all up rather nicely.

 

(Since most folks don’t click on links. I’ll recreate it for you here)

 

When is the Right Time for Black People to Protest?

By Trevor Noah (and probably Daily Show staff writers too)

 

“It’s wrong to do it in the streets.

It’s wrong to do it in the Tweets.

You CANNOT do it on the field.

You CANNOT do it if you kneeled.

And don’t do it -- if you’re rich.

You ungrateful -- son of a bitch.

Because there’s one thing that’s a fact.

You CANNOT protest if you’re black.”

 

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President Trump continues to ramp up the war rhetoric with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Last week, GCN’s very own Anthony Varriano wrote about the “dick wagging” between the two leaders in his Opinion: Trump’s hands too small to handle North Korea alone.  

 

Well, “Tiny Hands” Trump and “Rocket Man” Kim Jong-un are back at it. It began last week when Trump delivered his speech at the United Nations saying Kim is on a “suicide mission for himself” (if he continues to build and test bombs) then called Kim a “madman” and later said the US would “totally destroy” North Korea if it moved against the US or its allies.

 

Kim Jong-un responded by calling President Trump a “mentally deranged US dotard.” A dotard, if you do not know, is slang for an elderly senile person. Then, over the weekend, President Trump threw gasoline on the fire with a tweet claiming that North Korea, “wouldn’t be around too much longer.”

 

The school yard insults are beneath world leaders and if the stakes weren't so high I would be a lot more snarky about grown ass men behaving this way. Finally, after a week of the two leaders tossing juvenile threats back and forth, North Korea’s Foreign Minister said:

 

"Last weekend Trump claimed that our leadership wouldn't be around much longer and declared a war on our country...” -- “Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make all self-defensive counter measures, including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers at any time even when they are not yet inside the aerospace border of our country."

 

Dick wagging or not, these are dangerous words for world leaders to casually sling back and forth. I wouldn’t precisely say that Trump, “declared war” on North Korea but, in all fairness, there was a significant implied threat.

 

And if there is one thing that dictators do not respond well too, it’s significant implied threats.  

 

I don’t want a lunatic like Kim Jong-un to have weapons of mass destruction. He keeps threatening to bomb and or attack the US and its allies. Which is why, President Trump, rightfully said that Kim was on a “suicide mission.” Because what other result does Kim expect? If a world leader claims they are making weapons of mass destruction and then openly brags about targets that can be attacked in the US and / or in US allied countries -- then the US has to take that seriously. It doesn’t matter if it’s only “dick wagging” posturing.

 

I wish we in the US and the North Korean’s both had more cool headed, thick skinned adult leaders than we actually do. But we have what we have.  And like all cripplingly insecure men, our two respective country leaders are tossing juvenile threats and wagging the dog. Perhaps Kim doesn’t really plan to attack the US. Perhaps he’s just talking shit in order to look tough. It seems to have gotten to that point where it no longer matters what his intentions are. The US has to take him for his word.

 

Perhaps Kim wants a war with the US. I don’t know and I don't claim to know what that lunatic thinks. So what can be done? 

 

So far, US sanctions against North Korea have proven to be ineffective because 75% of its exports go to China. The Chinese government could stop this war posturing if they stepped up and imposed financial sanctions of their own. And that might be happening as sources around the interweb claim, Top Chinese bank vows to strictly apply UN sanctions on North Korea.

 

This appears to be a step in the right direction. Let’s hope it stays that way. But with two explosive hot heads leading both respective countries, one just never knows.

 

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UPDATED: This is an archived story and may be out of date. Peterson has since been traded from the Saints to the Cardinals. 

 

 

Karma rears its lovely head.

 

Adrian Peterson wanted out of the Vikings franchise. His contract with the Vikings would have netted him several million dollars and, probably, a decent amount of playing time. But that wasn’t good enough for him. So he moved on. Peterson was the face of the MN Vikings for almost a decade and I was sad to see him leave, but it really was time for him to go.  A few months ago I wrote about that very thing in an Open Letter to Bridgewater, Bradford and Peterson.

 

Even at the age of 332 (which is like 55 in running back years) Peterson thought he had a few more 1,500 yard seasons in him. He also though, as a free agent he would command nine to twelve million dollars per year.

 

And so he left the Vikings. He left the franchise that stood by him for nine season. He left the fans that adored him. He went elsewhere. 

 

Okay. Well, this is the NFL and players move on. It happens.

 

So AP took a chance as a free Agent and the Vikings took a chance on second round draft pick Dalvin Cook.

 

Peterson's journey went exactly how everyone, except for Adrian Peterson, expected -- no one wanted to hire a 32 year old running back. Especially, not one that has had two reconstructive knee surgeries. And, of course, they most certainly did not want to pay him -- nine to twelve bloody million dollars!

 

The few meetings Peterson had with NFL coaches or owners went nowhere. Calls from interested teams were virtually non existent. The Patriots passed. The Seahawks may have been interested but -- no, never mind, they passed too.  

 

It was kind of embarrassing. Peterson should have retired. But then, suddenly -- the New Orleans Saints offered Peterson a roster spot for about one tenth of his asking price and all NFL fans everywhere went, “Wait --- what? Who? Why? Peterson will never take a job with the Saints. He'd rather retire!”

 

Except -- nope. He would indeed take a job with the Saints.

 

But ... but .... but .... (you say).  

 

I know! The Saints have built their offense on the throwing arm of Drew Brees. The Saints don’t run the ball! If they hire Peterson it will just be to use him as a play action decoy -- so Brees can pass.

 

As a New Orleans player, Peterson must know he’s only going to touch the ball about six or eight times per game, right?

 

Wrong.

 

Peterson has now played four games as a Saints running back and he is firmly set in place as the third string running back. That’s right, “third string.” Behind starter Mark Ingram and second string rookie back, Alvin Kamara. In four weeks as a Saint, Peterson has produced 81 running yards on 27 carries. That’s 3 yards per carry. So, obviously he's frustrated. But to be honest, both Ingram and Kamara are more productive than Peterson. And both Ingram and Kamara can pass protect -- which has always been one of Peterson's universally known weaknesses. 

 

Peterson has politely voiced his concern to the press with his now infamous, “I didn’t sign up for for nine snaps (per game)” interview. 

 

Well, Mr. Peterson, I don’t know what the New Orleans Saints staff told but, yes -- you most certainly did sign with Saints to get nine snaps per game. And you should be lucky to get that.

 

On the flip side of things, over the same four games, the MN Vikings started rookie running back Dalvin Cook. Cook amassed 354 yards on 74 carries for 4.7 yards per carry. Sadly, Dalvin Cook was injured in week four and will sit out the remainder of the season. 

  

I’m almost certain Peterson could be far more productive in future games with the Saints, but he will never get the game time to develop into the threat he was in MN.  Peterson is not an "out the gate" type of running back. Peterson is a slow burn. His uncanny endurance is legendary. He gets stronger as the game goes on. He needs twenty snaps per game in order for his per average carry to increase because he tends to pick up speed, vision and yards in quarters three and four. Peterson needs time. He needs snaps.

 

But they just don’t do things that way in New Orleans. 

 

For now, Peterson is a non productive team member for the team that headhunted him and, at the time in 2009, his teammates -- The New Orleans Saints Bounty Scandal.  

 

 In closing, Mr. Peterson, if the only team that offers you a contract is the very same team, with the very same owner and the very same head coach, that offered players additional bonus money to injure star quarterbacks including, Mr. Peterson -- your QB1 at that time-- perhaps retirement is the better option.

 

But Peterson didn’t retire. He became a New Orleans Saint.

 

A New Orleans Saint with 81 yards on 27 carries.

 

Again -- something about karma and its ugly head.

 

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If you like this you might like GCN's very own sports show, View From the Couch

 

JJ Abrams taking over writing and directing duties on Episode IX from ousted helmsman Colin Trevorrow is not exactly surprising. Citing, “creative differences” Lucasfilm sent Trevorrow packing, which makes him the fourth time Disney has hired a director -- had said director work on their Star Wars project (for years!) and then fired said director. That’s six feature films, four fired directors and two fired screenwriters.

 

To be honest, the removal of a screenwriter is nothing new; however, the removal of a director is rare and the removal of a director after shooting some, if not most of the production -- is unheard of.

 

Unless, apparently, you work at Disney Lucasfilm. Where it happens all the time. 

 

So what’s going on over at Disney Lucasfilm? 

 

The simple answer: They keep hiring indie directors who are used to having enormous creative control. Those directors don’t do well when under the microscope of a colossal tent pole franchise construction where everyone wants a piece of the pie.

 

That being said -- four director replacements in six movies? Are we talking gross management incompetence or are all these changes justified? Or is it both?

 

Let’s take a look at the hit list:

 

Screenwriter -- Academy Award Winner Michael Arndt. Movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

 

Screenwriter Michael Arndt, (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3), was brought on to Star Wars way back in 2012, and he toiled on the screenplay for almost a year and a half -- and never produced a single complete draft.

 

By the end of 2013,  JJ Abrams had had enough, stepped in as writer but also hired screenwriter and Star Wars vet -- Lawrence Kasdan (writer: The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark). Arndt was out and Abrams and Kasdan hacked out a first draft by January 2014. 

 

It should be noted that Abrams has gone on record to say that while it’s true Arndt never finished a completed draft but Arndt did turn in plenty of notes, treatments & outlines and offered plenty of ideas and input that made it into the final Abrams / Kasdan screenplay.

 

Arndt discusses with Entertainment Weekly, some of his story problems and the ideas that did not make it into the final draft:  

 

“Early on I tried to write versions of the story where [Rey] is at home, her home is destroyed, and then she goes on the road and meets Luke. And then she goes and kicks the bad guy’s ass, It just never worked and I struggled with this. This was back in 2012. It just felt like every time Luke came in and entered the movie, he just took it over. Suddenly you didn’t care about your main character [Rey] anymore because, ‘Oh fuck, Luke Skywalker’s here. I want to see what he’s going to do.’”

 

Fair enough. But still. If you work on a screenplay for a year and a half and don’t turn in a single complete draft -- you get fired.

 

I call this firing: Completely reasonable.

 

Director -- Josh Trank. Movie: Untitled Boba Fett feature film.

 

During the 2015 Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, CA, Lucasfilm set up a panel for directors Gareth Edwards of Rogue One, Monster and Godzilla (2014) and Josh Trank of Untitled Boba Fett feature film, Chronicle and Fantastic Four (2015) to discuss their upcoming Star Wars projects. Mysteriously, Trank no showed. Edwards pushed forward alone. Soon there after we found out that Trank pulled out of the event a two days before when he realized he was getting removed from the Boba Fett film. And, sure enough, a week after the Anaheim celebration, Trank was fired from the Boba Fett feature film.

 

Trank’s statement at the time:

 

“After a year of having the incredible honor of developing with the wonderful and talented people at Lucasfilm, I’m making a personal decision to move forward on a different path. I’ve put a tremendous amount of thought into this, and I know deep down in my heart that I want to pursue some original creative opportunities. That said, the Star Wars universe has always been one of my biggest influences, and I couldn’t be more excited to witness its future alongside my millions of fellow Star Wars fans. I want to thank my friends Kathleen Kennedy, Kiri Hart, Simon Kinberg, and everyone at Lucasfilm and Disney for the amazing opportunity to have been a part of this. May the Force be with you all.”

 

Very polite. But the firing was not surprising. Do a quick Google search on Trank and Fantastic Four and you will find a slew of articles that detail Trank’s erratic behavior on the set of the much maligned F.F. film. It really was no shock to hear he had been fired. In fact, his juvenile antics, his chronic tardiness and absenteeism and, according to many cast and crew members, his unprofessional behavior on the set of the Fant4stic has all but effectively ruined his film career. Trank has had no major studio work since the F.F. and nothing mapped out for him on future charts.

 

With the horrible stories coming off the F.F. set, it’s not surprising that Disney had cold feet about the young director. The Boba Fett film died with Trank’s departure.

 

Okay, so -- several months of crazy, bad behavior by immature director and no one wants to work with him ever again? 

 

I call this firing: Completely reasonable.

 

Directors -- Christopher Miller and Phil Lord. Movie: Untitled Han Solo feature film.

 

The co-directors behind the new Han Solo film were replaced after shooting, reportedly, almost eighty percent of the film. This is totally unheard of.

 

According to the Hollywood Reporter:

 

“Several sources close to the movie and others close to the directors tell EW that ever since filming began back in February, Lord and Miller, who are known primarily for wry, self-referential comedies like 21 Jump Street and the pilot episodes for Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Last Man on Earth, began steering the Han Solo movie more into the genre of laughs than space fantasy.

 

According to some sources, the split was a subtle one that became magnified over time: Lucasfilm and producer Kennedy believed Lord and Miller were hired to add a comedic touch; Lord and Miller believed they were hired to make a comedy.”

 

For a more detailed view,  I wrote about it a few months ago.  But, basically, the directors ignored the required tone of the film and began to make a screwball comedy. Some of the actors complained to execs and producers. Director were fired. Ron Howard was hired to finish the film. 

 

Now, the director, not anyone else -- creates the tone of the film. UNLESS -- you are making a franchise picture with decades and decades of backstory and baggage. Then the tone is probably set in stone and with that in mind you do what the studio tells you too. On the other hand, the duo directors were well known for their highly improvisational film sets (both the modern 21 Jump Street films).  It’s hard for me to fathom someone hiring directors that are known for improvising vast portions of their film and then -- fire them for improvising vast portions of your film.

 

I call this one: Partially reasonable.

 

Director: Gareth Edwards. Movie: Rogue One

 

Technically, Edwards was not fired from the set of Rogue One but he certainly wasn’t in charge of the reshoots -- of the film he directed. Instead, Tony Gilroy (writer/ director: Michael Clayton, screenwriter: The Bourne Trilogy) was assigned to retask Rogue One to make it less grim and give it an entirely new ending. There are enough stories leaked from the set and the editing studio to suggest that a full thirty percent of the film was rewritten and reshot, with the majority of the film’s storyline being rearranged in the final edit.   

 

Disney never confirmed much regarding the hiring of Gilroy and on the movie's changes other than a generic, “All movies have reshoots,”  but -- why would you not let the director of your film -- direct the reshoots? Of the film he directed?  

 

There really is only one answer -- Disney was not confident Edwards was the right director for the job (or, perhaps, in the first place).

 

Word on the interwebs is that Edwards just went too far in making his gritty, realistic space war movie and ignored the principal reason he was there -- to make a Star Wars movie. So Disney brought in someone else to do it "right."

 

Edwards worked on this film for three years. I find it unlikely that, suddenly, at the very end of principal photography, execs at Lucasfilm were like, “Wait-a-minute! This isn’t what we wanted.” How the hell did it take execs two years of pre production, an entire year of principal photography and then multiple edits in order to figure this out?  Besides, Edwards delivered the film -- he always told Disney he was going to deliver! From day one Edwards called it a “gritty, realistic space war film.” And then he gave Disney just that.

 

And then they gave his job to someone else.

 

I call this one: A mixed bag but probably; partially reasonable.

 

Director -- Colin Trevorrow, Writer -- Jack Thorne. Movie: Star Wars Episode IX.

 

Back full circle. Another director fired. Another screenwriter fired. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed, Jurassic World) turned in multiple drafts but no one at Disney was satisfied with the work.

 

So they brought in another writer, English playwright and TV scriptwriter, Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Skins, Shameless). When Disney decided to let Trevorrow go for “creative differences,” Abrams stepped in and teamed with screenwriter Chris Terrio (writer: Argo, Batman vs. Superman and Justice League), which means Thorne was let go.

 

Disney is being very tight lipped about all the changes up to and including the recent Star Wars Episode IX shake up. No one knows, yet, if any work from the Trevorrow / Thorne drafts will be kept or if everything will be trashed and Abrams / Terrio will start from scratch.

 

Another Disney-Lucasfilm dust up. To be honest, I'm sure there will be many more to come. 

 

I call this one: Not enough information to judge. Yet.

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be released December 15th, 2017.


Star Wars: Episode IX will be released December 20th, 2019.

 

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Hurricane Relief: How You Can Help

With back to back hurricanes blowing up the south and another two heading towards the Caribbean and Veracruz, many are wondering how to help. The staggering cost to repair & rebuild is predicted to be as high as two hundred billion dollars.

 

Per hurricane.

 

Only wealthy governments and donations from tens of millions of people can come up with those kind of dollars. Donations to the Red Cross are the most popular way to assist but by no means the only way. The Texas Tribune put together a great list of organizations where you can volunteer time or donate money. The Red Cross is a great organization but it’s also very large -- which means bureaucracy, which means it’s not as speedy as it could be. And that’s why I like the Texas Tribune list. Your donations will go directly to the places that need it.

 

The Tribune list compiles dozens of local volunteer options covering need for lawyers, musicians, chefs and medical personnel; to places you can donate blood, or hospitals you can assist at or donate to, or local animal shelters that need help with displaced pets -- their list goes on and on. Even if you live far outside the disaster zones there are plenty of options to assist.

 

PBS news (online) has a similar list to assist hurricane Irma victims. And while there are plenty of food banks collecting non perishables and cleaning supplies, recovery experts all agree that donating cash, not goods, is best. Goods can clog up supply lines and likely go to waste, case in point -- after hurricane Katrina, National Guard destroyed tens of thousands of bottles of water because folks just sent too much of it.


Donating money directly to local food banks operating within the disaster zone is far more beneficial than donating perishable goods to an organization near you and having them ship it. The Texas Tribune link above offers several options for local food banks that accept online donations, the largest being Central Texas Food Bank, while in Florida they have the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

 

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