Emotional Rescue Redux: Short Takes on Parties, Christian Groups, Mission Impossible, the NFL Boycott, and More
Today is Sunday, August 19th, 2018. The scattershooting continues….
I don’t like parties. I don’t enjoy faking meaningless small talk. I don’t like pretending to care what someone says, especially when chances are I’m never going to see them again.
So, of course, last night I went to a party.
About 60 guests were present. I knew about 10-15 people who were there. So, 75 percent of the partiers were strangers.
Most parties are the same. People instantly congregate among those they know. Small groups become life rafts in a sea of awkwardness and boredom. Then, once those conversations go lame, and invariably they do, guests graze to the other herds seeking better company.
In between, there’s lots of bumping into each other, “excuse me’s,” “nice to meet you’s,” and worst of all — weather talk. I looooooaaaaath weather talk. I hate it. Weather talk is worse than poker bad beat stories. There’s nothing more of a meaningless time-waster than discussing the weather, especially here in Las Vegas during the summertime. Yeah, it’s always 108 degrees. It was 108 degrees yesterday. It will be 108 degrees tomorrow. We live in the fucking desert. It’s August. Get used to it.
One major problem with parties is, most people don’t know what to say to strangers. I find that an easy conversation starter is to introduce yourself to someone new and seek common ground.
“So, how do you know the host?”
“What kind of booze did you bring and is there enough to share?”
“Who the hell invited you?”
You have my permission to use any of those lines if you wish. Feel free. You’re welcome.
Fortunately, here in Las Vegas, most of the parties I attend are among serious gamblers and many of us already know each other. So, mingling is much easier, unless you owe someone money. When that turns sour, there’s always the emergency lifeline — the televsion, where a sporting event is usually being shown. At last night’s party, for instance, half the room was watching the pre-season NFL game between the Bears and Broncos. I guess everyone did the obligatory meet and greet and then gravitated to the living room to check out their action. Most of them probably had money on the game. Well, at least I did.
That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
Or maybe, it was because it was 108 degrees outside.
Many Christians and virtually all Christian Organizations remain complicit in a disgusting mass cover-up of epidemic proportions.
Last week, an investigation surfaced which revealed 300 Catholic priests had sexually assaulted more than 1,000 children — in just one state! The state is Pennsylvania. I noted previously that state boundaries don’t deter pedophiles. So, we can make a reasonable assumption these terrible things are happening elsewhere, too. This problem continues and is worse than anyone could have imagined.
So, what’s the church’s response?
Bill Donohue, president of the ultra-conservative Catholic League, made a bizarre statement over the weekend which downplayed the instances of widespread abuse and institutional denial on the part of the church. “It’s not rape if a child isn’t penetrated,” Donohoe declared. [LINK TO QUOTE HERE]
Just fucking wow.
Well, we can all breath a sigh of relief, can’t we? At least the kids weren’t “raped,” according to some goofball Catholic leader.
Mass denial of criminality is hardly limited to the dark crevices of Catholicism. The biggest Christian groups in the country have been deafeningly silent. Top Christian leaders haven’t spoken out or uttered a peep. One presumes they’re far too busy decrying the “decline of morality” in America to muster up enough courage to speak out against hundreds of holy men diddling kids.
Ironically, Christians claim there’s an attack on religion going on right now. I call bullshit. There’s no attack on religion, other than a few of us on the fringes who consistently seek self-enlightenment and see organized religion as a gauntlet to greater discovery.
Curious, I checked the twitter accounts for tweets from some of the most influential Christian leaders in America: Franklin Graham (Billy’s boy), an enthusiastic Trump supporter-defender, despite the President’s myriad of moral and ethical failings….he’s got an opinion about everything — except Christians screwing kids. No tweets on anything connected to the scandals. Jerry Falwell, Jr., who recently called Trump “Churchillian,” has had nothing to say about priests doing a bit more than tending to the flock. Others, too. Silent.
Focus on the Family is one of the biggest Christian groups in the country. Membership numbers are in the millions. Years ago, Focus on the Family was one of the primary forces against legalized gambling (they still oppose it). Focus on the Family riled up its members to impose draconian federal measures against online poker and other forms of gambling. Visit their website sometime if you can stomach it, which is littered with inflammatory statements and outright falsehoods about marriage equality, abortion, school prayer, free speech, and other current issues. Focus on the Family has opinions and articles on just about everything.
Everything, except for one thing.
You guessed it: Not peep from one of the biggest Christian groups in the country about religious authorities abusing children.
I recently saw the latest Mission Impossible remake.
Mission Impossible: Fallout sucked.
Yeah, there’s lots of action. And, that’s the problem. The action is non-stop. Wow, look — Tom Cruise just jumped out of another helicopter going 200 miles an hour, pressed a tiny button on his wristwatch, and blew up two dozen bad guys! It gets old. Fast.
Action movies used to be really cool and fun because they were so carefully crafted by clever screenwriters. All the old James Bond villains were mesmerizing. Monster madmen with gold teeth. White Persian cats hissing. Subordinates dropped in vats of boiling acid and eaten alive by piranhas. Evil became wildly funny. The banter was crisp and witty. Bond always had some clever quip ready to deliver during the tensest moment of life and death.
Tom Cruise has nothing whatsoever clever to say throughout the movie. Not a single line that’s Bondesque. He doesn’t even have anything resembling a Bond girl.
Of course, Million Impossible isn’t in any way connected to James Bond. But the old early 1970’s television series of the same name always had an intellectual flair to it. Watching Mr. Phelps and his crew was as close as we ever got to understanding what real spies did.
Now, the degradation of the movie franchise has become nothing more than theatrical acrobatics and special effects. It’s stunt and stunt after stunt after stunt. It’s explosion after explosion after explosion after explosion. It’s dull. That’s because he all know Tom Cruise isn’t going to get cut in half by the helicopter blade. We all know he’ll be alive in the film’s final frame. Unfortunately, he won’t have anything interesting to say because the scriptwriter gave him nothing to say that was interesting.
There’s nothing remotely unique about the latest Mission Impossible flick, other than marveling how a big studio budget of $150 million ended up making four times that in profit. I suppose to the production companies that keep turning out this dreck, that’s all that really matters.
Stay tuned next year for Mission Impossible: The Rehash.
I’m reading and hearing declarations from football fans that they intend to boycott the NFL this season.
Yeah, right. Go ahead — boycott your balls off.
Surrender those precious season tickets. As Nike would say, just do it. There are thousands of fans on long waiting lists eager to pluck those tickets away from you. So, please — sell them. Trust me. No one will miss you.
Just to be clear — I’m outraged at the NFL, too. I get it. Some of it, anyway. Incompetent commissioner. Terrible rules that make playing defense impossible. Inconsistent officiating. Rubber grass. Way too many television commercials. Bombastic clueless announcers. Greedy owners. But that’s not why some of you are boycotting. You’re pissed about (mostly Black) players not standing up for the National Anthem in their protest against mass injustice.
Let’s agree to disagree on the controversy, shall we? However, here’s a fact: The NFL will do just fine without the boycotters.
The Los Angeles Rams and Chargers are building a new multi-billion stadium and will sell out every single game. The Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas in a few years where they will sell out every game. This season, Dallas will sell out every game. Seattle will sell out every game. Denver will sell out every game. Minnesota will sell out every game. Green Bay will sell out every game. Kansas City will sell out every game. Pittsburgh will sell out every game. Washington will sell out every game. Houston will sell out every game. New Orleans will sell out every game. New England will sell out every game. Both New York teams will sell out every game. Philadelphia will sell out every game. Carolina will sell out every game. Even Cleveland, 0-16 last season, WILL SELL OUT EVERY GAME.
But go ahead — boycott the games. Great news for those of us who would like to see a game sometime and don’t want to pay $500 a ticket. Maybe the seats will become a little more affordable.
As for television — last season, the NFL’s TV ratings declined slightly. However, this has been a steady trend with all televised spectator sports over the past five years. Many people, especially the younger crowd, have other things to do. Certainly, the so-called boycott had some impact, as well. But old market share figures were unsustainable in a culture of stratified sports and entertainment interests.
If anyone really believes the NFL is threatened by a boycott as America’s true national pastime, they are delusional. Legalized gambling on NFL games is now legal in some states — and sure to expand. Hooray! The NFL finally realizes gambling is good for its future. They’re right. It is good for the game. Every boycotter this coming season will be replaced by two gamblers with ten bucks riding on the outcome.
So long as there’s a Monday Night Football game and 20 million people are betting on the result, they’ll be watching. It doesn’t matter if New England is playing Philadelphia, or Cleveland is playing Tampa Bay. Gambling is gambling. They’ll be watching.
So, face it — your boycott is bullshit. We know you’ll probably sneak a peak anyway and watch when no one is looking. No one cares about your faux patriotism. The NFL will be just fine without you.
Take my advice, boycotters: Don’t let the tailgate hit you in the ass on the way out.
Finally, a few shorter more personal thoughts:
— My favorite television drama is Suits, which appears on Wednesday nights. It’s been on for about six years but recently went through a significant adjustment when one of the cast members married some rich prince. Two other leading actors also departed. I wasn’t sure if Suits could keep things together after such a major turnover. Now about midway into a new season, the show is every bit as good as before. I marvel at the writing and performances on this show. To be so consistently good for so long is rare in any medium. Also, kudos to my pal, Gareth Edwards (a.k.a. “Gaz”) who knows the producers and got to hang out on the set during filming last season.
— If you’re not scared by now about the wildfires burning throughout California, you should be. It’s frightening. I can’t even conceive what people living near the fires must be going through. Even when these fires are ultimately contained, California is likely to be in store for more misery. Continued drought will create more fires in the future. Overdevelopment and denial of man-made climate change will make the threat worse.
— Oh, and Puerto Rico. Let’s not forget Puerto Rico, even though the Trump Administration has forgotten Puerto Rico.
— One of the highlights of last week was seeing some old friends for lunch. They came up with an interesting concept some time ago. The group, with about 6-7 regulars, meets at a local restaurant once a week. The only stipulation is — the person who picks out the restaurant cannot have dined there before. So, this forces each person to do a little homework and branch out from the normal routine. I think this is a great way to expose oneself to new restaurant adventures and it’s even more fun when doing it with other people. I post this story here because I think others reading this might want to consider a similar social activity in cities with lots of different places to eat out. Sounds really fun and interesting, doesn’t it?
— Finally, I’m thinking of ramping up some video segments and even creating a podcast. I’m eager to see if the esoteric topics I address regularly will translate to an audio-visual format. A few years ago, I did this with mixed success. One video rant I spent 8 minutes making attracted 140,000 views. Another video I worked on for five hours got 120 views. So, I’m undecided about this. Kindly share your thoughts, if you wish. Obviously, if there’s some way to monetize the video production, that might make for considerably better content.
Until next time. Thanks for reading.