Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Zombies and Democrats.

I haven't been following the AMC series, Walking Dead, but this weekend I saw an ad for it and began to investigate. The more I looked, the more I saw parallels between the zombies of the Walking Dead post-apocalyptic world and the Democrats of our world.

Let me tell you why you may want to forever refer to Democrats as the Undead.

For those of you unfamiliar with zombies, let me explain. Zombies are humans resurrected in an reanimated body that, while literally dead, exists only to kill humans and dine on their flesh. In the Walking Dead story, zombies have been created by a plague that infects everyone. If you succumb - whether naturally or by violence - you can reanimate as a zombie. If you are infected by the bite or scratch of a zombie, you move directly to the undead state. Zombies must be reduced to food processor by-product to be stopped. Usually a shotgun blast to the head or chest, an axe to the cranium or a grenade in the pants is the kind of violence required to stop an undead walker. How do you like the parallel so far?

 Consider the following. Zombies and Democrats are hell-bent on accellerating a condition of entropy. If the zombies succeed in killing and eating all humans, zombies will cease to exist. In other words, zombies are unsustainable even though they appear to be indefatigable. They just wreak havoc and ruin lives along the way. Similarly, Democrats pursue policies that suck the life out of the economy, kill jobs, force higher costs and grow only the most unproductive elements of the workforce.

Zombies and Democrats all behave the same way, even to their detriment.

In Walking Dead, humans change strategies, set traps and act resourcefully. But you never see a zombie learn from watching another zombie fail. A zombie comrade will lose the majority of his skull and its contents to a 180 grain .30-06 at close range, and the zombie parambulating right next to him is unfazed and undeterred. They pursue the same course that has failed to work for every other zombie that ever tried it. It's mindless, pathological, unnatural and bizarre. Democrats are the same way. Look how African Americans remain a largely impoverished group generation after generation, but loyal Democrats, because they are convinced that the Democrat Party has their best interests at heart. Really? Man, if I were Black I'd eventually look for a friend who did more than tell me how they were helping me while I'm wasting away. Especially when basically all the people who did me wrong were Democrats. And look how Unions talked themselves out of a dream job where you could have all the Ho-Hos you can eat! And why do Democrats allow environmentalists to talk people out of the quality of life they've always enjoyed. Like the lady on Extreme Home Makeover said, “I was Green back when it was called being poor.” Who wants that?

Zombies infect others who then become zombies. Democrats have a similar pathology of liberalism.

It's like rabies. If you get bitten or scratched by a zombie, you get the disease that turns you into a zombie. It's fatal, but you can spread it by biting or scratching someone else and while you're in that walking dead state, you exhibit an evolving surreality in your appearance and actions. Similarly, Democrats spread their pathology. Let's suppose you oppose same sex marriage. They'll argue that you're against love. You're not and you don't want to be thought of as heartless so you moderate your stand and eventually concede that it's possible for two men to love just like a man and a woman. Had you realized the discussion wasn't about love at all, you might have been inoculated. Instead, the liberal Democrats use your good will against you. They ask you to think with your feelings – like they do – and not with your intellect. That would be more like work.

Zombies feed off the flesh and blood of the living. Democrats feed off the sweat and blood of productive hardworking people.

You turn the corner in an abandoned neighborhood and suddenly there are two zombies chewing away on the body of a woman who has been pulled from her house where she had been busy preparing lunch for her kids. The zombies don't care if she's a mom, they don't care how taking her life may deprive her kids of a rich quality of life, the loving embrace of their mother or the food and comfort she can buy with money she might earn. Same with Democrats. You owe them and they are never satisfied. Feed them, raise their wages, excuse their lawbreaking and give them the vote, let them kill their offspring with impunity and they demand you donate to the charities that front for their abortion mills. They're insatiable. And if you think you've put them down for good, you're wrong. You have to make sure they're gone – like Dan Rostenkowski, John Edwards, Jim Traficant or Jim Wright. It takes a merciless blow to stop them. But it's kinda' cool.

There's an army of walking dead, staggering forward behind dead eyes, no future ahead of them but death, destruction, corruption, and though they are legion, they are leaderless and alone, undead victims of a pernicious pathogen, looking not to reason with, but to feed on the living.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Meme that can Knock Out Obama

When I’m not ranting about politics I’m employed by US and foreign manufacturers to analyse their products and business models and create marketing communications strategies and tactics to improve their sales. A major part of that job is creative thinking that takes the available assets and known factors, powers them with the right words, and mobilizes them against the competition.

Every once and a while when looking at a company’s situation, an idea emerges that is so darned perfect for the situation you get really excited. Then the client gets really excited, then the market, and then - it works.

So, I was suddenly struck by an idea yesterday that puts Obama in a box he can’t get out of. It’s a positioning that forces him to deny soemthing that’s undeniable and explains all his bad behavior.

Barack Obama just isn’t into being president any longer.

It explains all the golf, the parties, the travels, the failure to call congressmen, establish comraderie, reach out to his peers in other countries, or establish a SOFA with the president of Iraq. He was so focused on the hunt that bagging the job was anti-climactic. He wanted to win the presidency, not actually be president.

Now, he’s caught in a horrible position. He has to run for the sake of his party, his ideology, the Wall Street donors that gave a fortune to his campaigns. But, sadly, he really isn’t into it. The pressure is aging him, he’s isolating himself more and more, according to reports. His second Chief of Staff just left a year early. His wife doesn’t even want to live in DC. The guy is stuck.

You don’t phone in the presidency from the golf course unless you’d simply rather be on the golf course. You don’t manage one or two signature pieces of legislation in four years unless you haven’t got the enthusiam to do a lot more. And then, how can you get fired up when your key achievement is about to be declared unconstitutional, and your big money bill was a failure that can’t be explained away under your own economic models. Frankly, the job may be too tough for him. After all, his only work experience, prior to politics, was as a community organizer - that’s not a slap at him, it’s just a fact. This job is a lot bigger.

But, Obama has no choice. He has to run and make it look like he’s into it - even if he’s not. The bloom is off the rose. The job is no longer cloaked in mystery and challenge. It’s a prison sentance. He’s hoping the next four years go fast.

If this “he’s not really into it” meme gets out there, it’s all over for Mr. Obama. It will be too hard to deny given his own actions and the circumstances around him. And, the closer we get to the election, the more it will seem to prove true.

If you communicate with a congressman, a Senator, a candidate, Reince Priebus or someone who can get this idea to the Powers That Be, please do. Or just retweet the link to this page.

It can’t hurt.

Monday, January 2, 2012

From Boer War to Bore War
A Review of War Horse

Every New Years eve, my wife and I take in three movies. Then we head home to watch the Times Square festivities on TV. This year, because of the running time of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and War Horse, we really didn’t have time for a third - which is a good thing because there wasn’t a third movie we both wanted to see. TTSS wasn’t playing yet in Pittsburgh or that would have been our choice.

Dragon Tattoo? Go. Absolutely a terriffic movie. Lots of Hitchcockian elements, too, that were delightful. Rooney Mara is an amazing actress who transcends, in this one character, anything I ever saw Meryl Streep do. Note to Rooney - eat something, drink some milkshakes, beef up.

The only negative comments I read were in a few fan reviews. Some friends said the “sex scenes were too violent.” True, there’s violence and it’s distrurbing, but integral to the story. I really didn’t pay attention to those who said they preferred the Swedish version because I haven’t seen it. So, I suppose without that bias to influence me, I thought the film was great.

On the other hand, War Horse is so bad, so unredeemingly faulty, that I can’t spend this entry just praising Dragon Tattoo. I have to warn you about War Horse.

Briefly, it’s a bad story with poor character development, technically a throwback, and long and tedious. Oh, the acting is terrible, too.

The film opens as a young man witnesses the birth of a colt and within two minutes he’s decided he is going to devote his life to this animal. We don’t know why exactly, the kid has no other apparent interests. No girl friends, no friends at all, really. Everyone keeps repeating that there’s something special about the animal. Yeah. If you say so. Actually, the animal kept changing throughout the movie. Sure, it had to grow and age a little. But at one point, you could clearly see where his forehead star had been painted on over an existing diamond shape. Wierd, too, because they could have brought the horse with the natural star in for the close-up and then swapped them out for a wide shot.

As a colt, the animal warms up to the lad because he offers it a bright red apple. We see the animal react to the offer with interest, and when the camera cuts back to the young fellow, his apple is no longer ripe red. Okay. Then the kid once again extends the apple to the horse who continues to keep his distance. And back to the boy. Now the apple has a big bite taken from it but the kid isn’t chewing. So what is going on? Who is in charge of continuity?

Oh, and you can be sure the kid didn’t eat the apple because he can’t shut his mouth. I mean whether he’s talking or not, his mouth is always, always open. I remember my mother once said that was a sign of “adenoids”, whatever that means. His father is a stereotypical drunken, abusive Irishman (thanks a lot, Spielberg. Bet you love stereotypes as much as I do) enabled by his mother. Curiously, we find out at the outset that Dad had served with the British military in the Boer War. Ironically, boredom sets in not long thereafter and remains a leight motif. Here’s some of the flaws I found so vexing.

Dad’s Boer War regimental colors, we are told, are a good luck talisman, and are passed to each caretaker of the horse. They are such good luck that one guy gets killed during his first charge into battle. And just about everyone else who gets close to the horse suffers, too - including anyone who pays anything to own the horse, only to lose all the money they paid, along with all their worldly possessions like food, saddles and granddaughters. Though not the film’s intent, it’s clear, the horse, like most horses in stories, is a bringer of destruction.

But first, there was the farm field. The horse, named that timeless favorite of horse names - Joey, (not Flicka, not Silver, not Black Beauty...but...Joey) plows a field and that makes him a hero because he’s not a big powerful draught horse and the field was in horrible shape. Okay. But check this out. The field is on the side of a hill and it would make a better quarry than a vegetable garden. The landlord even advises the kid to start Joey (not a dancer) at the top of the hill so gravity will help him plow as he heads downhill. It makes sense, there’s at least a 15 degree slope and it’s hard work.

Nevertheless, the horse delivers, turnips get planted and they grow into beautiful plants about to be harvested. However, there’s suddenly a torrential downpour and the field - that hillside of gravel - is flooded like a rice paddy. Now, how you flood a hillside? That had to be the dryest piece of ground in Ireland. And lest you think I’m being picky, you have to understand how obvious this flaw is. Even the characters point out how steep and rocky the hillside is. Gimme a break.

Anyway, Joey (not a kangaroo) is sold to a soldier on his way to the fields of France and WW1, and we see it placed in a makeshift stall at their bivouac next door to a black stallion destined to become Joey’s second best friend. Farmboy says goodbye and promises to find Joey (not a lounge singer), which is how we know Joey will get lost.

By this point I recognized a directorial look reminiscent of Old Yeller. The sets, the story, the acting, the camera angles all look like vintage Disney. There’s even a full frame shot of Dad’s face with a glorious sky behind him. The only difference is Disney would have centered the guy and Spielberg chose to compose him off-center, which is more contemporary. But there’s something else vintage that drove me crazy. The lighting.

The lighting in War Horse sucks.

Like at the bivouac. You’ve got a light source, presumably the sun, coming from behind and left of the camera. To the right is a black horse. You’re not going to be able to see any detial in the horse’s face without a lot of light (there was a better way to do it and I suspect James Cameron would have thought of it) so they blew (or based on the color temperature one could say they blue) a ton of light onto the black horse’s face. Every time the horse nodded, the light shot under or over the horse’s mane and blasted the soldier behind him, turning him pale and blue.

It reminded me of the many old Westerns filmed in the Hollywood Hills at the same familiar rock outcroppings. Rock outcroppings have a lot of shadows so film crews would use reflectors to fill and provide shadow details. Characters often cast two shadows and moved through hot spots where crinkles on the reflectors were evident. Cheap looking.

The horse eventually encounters a portly old Frenchman and his grandaughter who were so over-the-top that I am convinced when they left the set of War Horse they spent their evenings as Tevia and Bielke. “Oooh Grandpere, may I ride ze horse to my death? Even zo ma bones, zay are zo brittle I must take ze green medicine?” So endearing I wanted to yell, “Shut up!”

I couldn’t get to know any of the characters. Maybe there were too many. They were introduced but not well developed. And the war scenes were impersonal. I don’t think there was a single image of an enemy shooting. There were long-range machine guns, mortars and artillary images. But no enemy in a trench drawing a bead. Very distant.

And the trench. That was another problem.

There’s a scene when the Brits have taken the German trench and there are German bodies scattered here and there still wearing gas masks. All of a sudden gas grenades hit the trench. Do you think anyone grabs a mask off a dead German to save his own neck? Have they no survival instincts? There are masks everywhere! Spielberg put them there cause they’re scary. But they’re not as scary as seared lungs, right?

And to make matters worse, farmboy’s friend is consumed by gas as he calls out to him, yet later, he’s okay and farmboy is the one with chemical burns. Bad luck, Old Bean.

Anyway, they’re about to kill the horse, which there’s a lot of in this movie, but he’s rescued by a miracle that anyone in the theatre could have predicted. He hears farmboy whistle for him the same way he did on the farm. Spielberg takes so long to develop this that I really wanted to shout (again) “Hey, Joey, get yer bloody ass over there.”

But I thought I shout at you, instead.