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Posted by on Jul 28, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 2 comments

A Non-Partisan Observation on Congressional Hearings

 

 

While watching the Barr hearings this morning (he’s testifying before a congressional subcommittee), my main takeaway is the utter failure of the parliamentary process. It’s a system that frankly — stinks. It’s broken.

I’ll skip the blame game and the castigation of congresspeople by name, which sadly make themselves such inviting targets of our collective derision. We all see and hear what we want through our tinted lens and filter, though I’ve come to a general consensus that both sides of the aisle, Republicans, and Democrats, often display an appalling lack of self-awareness.

The real culprit here is THE PROCESS. It’s counterproductive to the stated purpose of the congress (and senate, which is equally guilty), which is to carefully examine, research, listen, learn, debate, and vote — hopefully impartially with open minds.

As we’ve seen in so many previous hearings, the “witness” (in this case, Barr) makes his opening statement. Then, over the next several hours, committee members play a mind-numbing tennis match of back and forth “gotcha-isms.” Democrats point fingers and blame the witness, often not allowing him sufficient time to answer. Republicans shout, fling baseless accusations at parties not present, and flood the zone with distractions and counter-conspiracies. Each congressperson gets FIVE minutes to cross-examine the witness. The ridiculousness of the exhibition is amplified by the hearings being nationally televised, not to mention carved up and sound bit by extremist media, which will whitewash the dopey elephant. In other words, the committee members know they have just five minutes to put on a *show.*

This procedure would be laughable if it were not so painful to watch and hear. The witness isn’t really grilled, at all. He has the advantage of running out the clock with long-winded stonewalling, general professions of faux commitment to truth and the legal system, and (certainly in Barr’s case) disprovable lies.

Some percentage of those who ask questions have NO BUSINESS conducting a cross-examination. An even larger percentage (in my opinion) turn off the viewing public with irrelevant goose-chases and pandering. Many of the five-minute Q/A segments serve no purpose at all, other than to destroy earnest compromise and non-partisan pursuits.

I’m uncertain as to what changes need to be made in hearings of this nature. Perhaps we can look to and learn from the quite well-functioning parliamentary systems in Europe and other countries, where multiple parties somehow work together (mostly) without the political circus. I know that’s such a foreign, un-American concept — to learn from other countries and systems. Excuse me for making such a ridiculous proposal in the grand land of jingoism. American “exceptionalism,” for all the wrong reasons.

What I do know is — NOTHING will come from these hearings aside from each of us bole-weeviling ourselves deeper into silos of alternative universe echo chambers. Rather than blame the individuals who serve, as much as they do deserve blame, it is THE PROCESS, the horrific, counterproductive, absurd, divisive system that is guilty.

The system is to blame. It’s sick. And perhaps — terminal.

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Posted by on Jul 23, 2020 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

What Casino Game has the Highest Return to Player Percentage?

 

 

When playing casino games, you need to understand and know what to expect in regards to your chances of winning, and how much you stand to gain on average. This is what return to player percentage or payout percentage is all about. Based on the game you choose, there are games with high return to player percentage, while others have low payout percentage. This can also vary from one casino to the other. This is why you need to take time and understand what you are up to before you start playing.

Blackjack

With an array of casino games with a huge return to player percentage, blackjack is simply the king. It is a major. Blackjack is one of the most widely played casino games across the globe. The table game is available in different variations, and offers more chances of winning. Based on your preference, you can play live dealer blackjack among other variations that allow you to explore huge bonuses.

Most importantly, blackjack has a huge payout percentage of 99.45%. Even though blackjack is a lucrative game, its payout pays when you play well, using the right strategy and on the right platform. It is not a table game of chance but skill, and requires an optimum strategy for you to enjoy RTP. Online blackjack variations including Classic blackjack by Microgaming and Blackjack switch by Playtech are amazing options with the best and higher RTP compared to the standard blackjack.

When playing blackjack, the rule of thumb is to choose a casino that offers a great playing experience, make wise and informed decisions and build your strategy. These enhance your chances of winning and making the most of the percentage payout.

Slots

Slots also have a high payout percentage. Most slots have a 90 to 99 payout percentage. Based on the casino you choose and the slot machine you settle for, it is highly recommended that you go for slots with more than 95% RTP. Some of the best slots to explore include Blood Suckers with a payout percentage of 98 per cent. It is an enjoyable game with 25 paylines, 5 reels and amazing bonus rounds that can earn you more as you play. These are some of its lucrative features that make the game attractive to many players. Furthermore, it gives you great free spins to boost your winnings.

  • Ugga Bugga slot game has an RTP of 98.07 per cent return to player percentage. It has 10 paylines and 3 reels. Developed by Playtech, it is a slot game that is enjoyable to play, offers more chances of winning even with a single bonus feature.
  • Ooh Aah Dracula is similarly a popular Barcrest online slot game with a 99 per cent payout percentage. It comes with 10 paylines, 5 reels and exciting bonus features as well as scatter and wild symbols. Ooh Aah Dracula also offers free spins to boost your gaming or payout ratio.
  • 1429 unchartered seas is a volatile yet popular and exciting slot game with an RTP of 98.63 per cent. It is an exciting game that comes with unique, beautiful and expanding wilds that you can take advantage of when playing.

Roulette

Roulette is available in different versions including European, American and French versions. French roulette has an RTP of 98.65 per cent, European roulette 97.30 per cent and American roulette an RTP of 94.74 per cent. To enhance your chance for success, always settle for roulette version with the highest RTP. You also need to be keen on betting odds because they play a significant role in enhancing your chance of winning.

The other games with the highest return to player percentage that you can choose include craps with 98.64 per cent, Bacarrat with 98. 94 per cent and 3 card poker with 98.24 per cent.

With these options in mind, it is vital to note that an RTP is a crucial aspect of the game you choose to play. When combined with the right odds, it goes a long way to boost your chance of winning or earning more from your gaming sessions.

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Posted by on Jul 15, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 0 comments

If Your Took This Clown Seriously, Please — DELETE YOUR ACCOUNT

 

 

Anyone who made a fool of themselves and took the “presidential campaign” seriously of a confused rapper with the mental capacity if a kumquat deserves to be shamed and shunned. You’ve all become laughingstocks.

Hang your heads. In shame.

Celebrities pulling PR stunts: Just fucking stop. Please.

As if the current sad state politics wasn’t depressing enough, the amount of mass coverage given to a discombobulated moron who once called slavery “a choice” is an appalling indictment of our media. It’s a guilty verdict on the crazed insanity of social media (including some of you reading this) which collectively speculated on how much the rapper might impact the 2020 presidential election. If you tweeted or reposted anything related to this subject, do us all a favor:

DELETE YOUR ACCOUNT NOW.

I’m not using the great pretender’s name because he doesn’t deserve any free publicity.

There was NO FUCKING WAY this moron was going to get on the ballot as a presidential contender. Did ANY of you take a course in government or political science? Have you ever read a newspaper? You do realize getting on the ballot in every state at this late stage of the campaign and election would require MASSIVE amounts of money, staff, and volunteers. States don’t just list anyone who wants to run for president, even hip-hoppers. There are requirements and rules that must be met. Did anyone seriously think Trump’s red-hatted Uncle Tom was going to blow millions of dollars and try hopelessly to raise money in order to attract, what, 1 or 2 percent of the idiot vote?

Seriously, shame on you for buying into the ruse. Your gullibility is exposed.

There’s a lesson here, and I hope some might learn it. Quit feeding the beast.  Stop swallowing the latest social media trend topic. It’s tomorrow’s dirty diaper. It smells nice and fresh now, but in a day or so, it will be full of shit.

I feel dirty just for writing about this subject.

Rant over.

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Posted by on Apr 25, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Music and Concert Reviews, Personal | 0 comments

An Evening with Al Pacino

 

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Writer’s Note:  Back in January 2017, I penned this article after seeing Al Pacino interviewed onstage in a two-hour career retrospective.  I’m publishing it here for the first time on the occasion of Pacino’s 80th birthday — April 25, 2020.

 

Few can command a room just by being inside it.  Al Pacino is such a man, with an undeniable command presence.

That was my instant takeaway the moment when the spotlight hit the iconic film actor who was introduced to a Saturday night crowd of about 800 loyal fans at the Opaline Theatre inside the Palazzo.

Pacino had arrived in Las Vegas for an exclusive one-hight-only, one-man engagement.  Think Pacino unplugged.  Aside from the somewhat nameless and faceless interviewer who tossed Pacino plenty of softballs to smash out of the theatre, this was Pacino totally in the raw, mostly unrehearsed and unscripted.  While some of the questions asked were repetitive and maybe even a few of the answers were orchestrated for maximum impact, the intimate setting was also loaded with plenty of spontaneous moments and edge-of-your-seat recollections for classic movie lovers.  Most satisfying of all, Pacino seemed to sincerely enjoy the trip down memory lane, with pit-stops where you’d expect them on his 50-year-career.  He was a much better storyteller than one might have anticipated.

Indeed, Pacino personifies what it means to be a movie star.  He made the Godfather’s fictional character Michael Corleone into someone who’s real to millions, forever embalmed into cinema’s collective consciousness.  When we hear Serpico, we think of Pacino.  Sonny, the bisexual bank robber based on a real incident, is Pacino.  Scarface.  Dick Tracy.  Frank Slade.  Carlito.  Lefty Ruggiero.  Shylock.  Richard III.  Phil Spector.  He even played Dr. Kevorkian.

I was surprised by my own reaction, that Pacino’s best moments weren’t the highlights of his superstardom, but rather the low moments and the struggles, both personally and career-wise.  We can forgive but he can’t forget, and Pacino carries the burdens of pain from his childhood, though no amount of talking about his early life could quite remove the lingering sting of loss all these years later.

He talked about growing up in East Harlem (and later the Bronx), born into a lower-class household, raised by a single mother at a time when single mothers were widely viewed social outcasts, especially in Italian-American culture..  Pacino’s father abandoned the family when Al was 2.  Interesting factoid from the show:  Pacino was mostly raised by his grandparents who were immigrants from….Corleone, Italy.

Pacino seemed the most unlikely heir of what was to become his ultimate destiny.  He worked as a messenger, busboy, janitor, and postal clerk in between acting jobs consisting mostly of small roles in stage productions.  There was even a period when he was unemployed and homeless.  Sometimes he slept on the street, in theaters, or at a friend’s house.

In the 1960s, leading men cast in movies did not look and talk like Pacino.  Smallish.  Way too New York.  And way, way too ethnic.  By age 30, even though he’d studied at the famed Actors Studio under the tutelage of mentor Lee Strasberg (who would later play the legendary role of Hyman Roth in Godfather II),  his acting career was going nowhere.

However, everything was about to change, including public tastes and mass audiences’ demands for authenticity combined with Hollywood’s own methods of casting prompted by a new age of writers and directors.  New movies would need smallish actors, with New York accents, who were genuinely ethnic.

Pacino’s role, playing a heroin addict in his first film The Panic in Needle Park (1971) caught the attention of movie director Francis Ford Coppola, who had just won an Oscar for screenwriting Best Picture winner, Patton.  Coppola took a big risk and cast Pacino as Michael Corleone in what became a blockbuster film, The Godfather (1972).  Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, and even Robert De Niro tried out for the part, but Coppola insisted on Pacino, to the dismay of studio executives who wanted someone better known.

The stories of phone calls between Pacino and Coppola during the tense negotiations were told here, presumably, versions heard by the public for the first time.  Neither knew of the monumental tidal wave that was to come engulfing both of their lives, totally reshaping the careers of both men.  Now, Pacino remained every bit as appreciative of that loyalty, noting that no other film director would have gone to bat with such steely determination, especially given that Coppola was also relatively young and didn’t have total control of casting decisions.

As one would expect, there wasn’t nearly enough time to tell all the stories.  Even Pacino’s most obscure film roles elicited some hysterical recollections about on-the-set disasters and even the actor’s own missteps.

Pacino had clearly done this before, and his experience as an amiable storyteller showed onstage.  Yet, the actor’s occasional gaffes were among the most endearing moments.  When absorbed in stories, he’d often get excited and would sometimes even ramble off on tangents.  A few times, the moderator had to steer Pacino back on track.  This wasn’t annoying at all.  It gave the presentation a genuine sense of spontaneity, that we were privileged to be sitting in an audience sharing Pacino’s recollections of what happened when the cameras weren’t rolling.  I should add that not having any film clips, props, or other supporting materials actually helped the format.  Midway into the retrospective, everyone in the audience seemed to feel what a special moment this was and we were lucky to share it.

Las Vegas might be known for gambling, but it usually leaves nothing to chance.  The odds are known.  Most shows are the same, night after night, year after year.  Pacino’s recollections, though imperfect and incomplete, was in a sense the acrobat performing without the net — no notes and no script.  While other celebrities have done one-person stage shows, with mixed results, most of those efforts look way too contrived, even manipulative.  Not so, with Pacino.

Pacino has crafted a reputation based on playing tough guys in movies.  But his first love is stage acting and theatre.  After taking about 25 minutes of questions from the audience (most of which were terrible — thankfully, Pacino was gracious and answered questions he’s undoubtedly been asked hundreds of times and anyone with access to IMDB can lookup), the legend paid homage to Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neil, and Noel Coward.  It seemed Pacino wanted to talk more about stagecraft.  Unfortunately, the interviewer cut off some of the evening’s most passionate thoughts from Pacino.

The final few minutes included a short glimpse of what was then Pacino’s next major upcoming film project.  That night, he’d recently signed a deal to play Jimmy Hoffa in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman.

Was it enough?  Was it worth paying $80 to listen to a film icon talk about his life and career?  Was this a show to recommend?

The answer is simple.  Hey, it was Al Pacino.

Enough said.

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Posted by on Apr 17, 2020 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

Please, Let’s Not Forget Street Animals

 

 

LET’S NOT FORGET THEM

So many are in need…and needs are not being met…and the need for kindness and giving will only become more critical in the weeks and months ahead.

One of the sad consequences of the lockdown has been on not being able to do as much volunteer work for animals in need, which means those animals are even more desperate for loving homes.

It also means even worse suffering for stray animals on the streets.

Don’t worry. This isn’t one of those television commercials with the faces of sad dogs and cats who do very much need our help.

Rather, this is a plea to put some food out. Yes, place some food out or maybe leave a water bowl in your yard if you’re in an area with stray animals. They aren’t getting as much attention now with people locked inside their homes, and they could use a meal or a drink. If you think it’s a small thing, yes it is a small thing. But when you’re hungry or thirsty, no meal or bowl of water is small.

I’ve read some troubling news about street dogs and feral cats that are really in trouble. Each one of us can do something by giving food to an animal, tossing seeds to ducks, or feeding crows. They rely on the kindness of humans, so let’s be humane and help them.

Message: Please feed street animals. Keep out a water bowl. It is a crisis situation for them as well. Help them survive this phase. This too shall pass. We are in this together. All species.

Thank you.

If one person sees this and feeds a hungry animal, my day’s work is done.

__________

 

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