Author: wolfinwool

Storyteller Founder and CEO, Wolf In Wool Productions

‘Fear of Flying’ is a Delightfully Pretense Free Journal Comic from Drunken Cat

Full disclosure: I personally know Brian Canini and am in fact in one of the daily strips, complete with Brian’s observation that I am balding.  I have even done some work with Drunken Cat Comics.  I wrote a one-shot, did a short-lived webseries, and did extensive production for a yet-to-be-released graphic novel.  However, this comic covers the year after he and I moved into separate apartments and directions in life.  This book represents a time when we were in somewhat close proximity but were drifting apart, and it represents aspects of Brian that I was not fully aware of until reading the book.  Besides that, dude is a bit of an introvert, and even if I had shared a bigger portion of his life during this time, I would likely have been surprised by many of his daily observations.

Alright?  Is that enough disclosure for you savages?  Can we get on with our review or whatever you want to call this?

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Brian Canini is driven by sheer force of will and single-minded devotion to his beloved storytelling in comic book form.  Because of this, he has contributed a stack of work that any indie artist of the sequential art ilk should be proud of.  Recently, he put together a kickstarter campaign, which acted as a way to preorder his newest work, ‘The Big Year.’  It’s a journal comic that covers the three major life events that define adulthood for many: getting married, buying a home, having a child.  I used this opportunity to acquire everything in the Drunken Cat bibliography, and I just started going through the library last night.

Yep, you heard me right.  I started going through the library last night, and already this morning I had finished the 332 page ‘Fear of Flying.’  The truth is that as I lay my head down on my pillow (my balding head… thanks, Brian!), I decided to sit up a little and read a few pages of the book.  The thing kept me up until 3 am, at which time I was inspired to write a new, reflective, and sad portion of my own upcoming novel, ‘Home Street.’  And then this morning, I was compelled to polish Brian’s masterpiece off.

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Here’s the first thing you should know about ‘Fear of Flying’: It’s honest.  It’s messy.  It’s not meant to be perfect.  It includes spelling and grammatical errors and crossed off words, and you have to be okay with that, because, despite his perfectionism, Brian had to be okay with it too.  It’s relentless.  It’s all-encompassing.  It strips away pretense and lays its subject bare.

The thing about a lot of journal comics is that it is naturally self-deprecating and yet in keeping the writer or writer/artist as the protagonist, it can often fall victim to the rationalization of self-centered thinking.  Certainly, Brian’s work is no different from – say, Harvey Pekar in that regard.  However, while Pekar assumes that the world would cough up money for the honor of reading his stories, Brian is putting himself through the torture of doing a page a day that chronicles his dreams of working in the industry full-time while working on his many other books, working his demanding nine-to-five, dreaming of another life that seems just within reach, struggling with self-doubt and rage and mortality and inspiration and roadblocks and television addiction and a quest for peace, and exploring what seems like true love.  He does it because he was inspired to do so.  He does it without knowing if anyone will ever read it, because even though when he feels like he’s screaming into the void at times, ultimately the art is all that matters.

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I started writing this because I simply wanted to tell my friend how much I enjoyed his book.  How much it haunted me.  How much it inspired me.  And how much I am looking forward to reading everything else.  But in the end, I decided that I should publish this here on my blog, so that ‘Fear of Flying’ might find some others to haunt and inspire.

But as Levar Burton used to say on ‘Reading Rainbow,’ you don’t have to take my word for it.  I encourage all of you to head over to DrunkenCatComics.com and check it out for yourself.

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Sheepdog David Grant’s 19th Annual Academy Awards Contest Results!!!

THE BROADCAST

We live in a very different America than we did last year.  While there has always been angst regarding the Academy Awards acting as a platform for political views, we had never had a sitting president call Meryl Streep “overrated” before.  After her comments at The Golden Globes – which could basically be boiled down to: Please stop bullying Hollywood, foreigners, the press, and handicapped people, Mr. President – Trump supporters vowed to boycott the Oscars.  This shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone who is paying attention.  The right have long derided “the left coast,” and now they finally have an administration eager to end funding to the arts.

A lot of people were expecting heavy political messages this year, and there were a couple.  When Iran’s “The Salesman” won Best Foreign Language Film, a statement was read by the filmmaker, who refused to come to America as long as we have a president that has openly discussed a “Muslim ban.”  While presenting, Gael Garcia Bernal told a truth about how all those in the film industry are migrant workers who go to other countries to craft their work.  And several jokes were made that teased at the division in our country.  Overall, however, it was kind of lite on hardline statements.

Normally I would do a segment entitled “On a Very Special Episode Of…” that goes in depth into the greater theme the broadcast seemed to be on a crusade to discuss, but it fits in so nicely here.  The reality is that they were going for something more mainstream and neutral this year, aiming to please as many people while spreading out the monolog throughout the program and keeping a tight schedule.  It worked pretty well, but it would have been rather unforgettable had Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway not announced La La Land as Best Picture when Moonlight had actually won.

But there were two themes that did come up.

The first was not a new one.  We’ve seen it a lot since 9/11, actually.  And the year that there was controversy surrounding the rise of superhero movies, the perceived decline of films with depth, and fans that were upset that The Dark Knight was snubbed, the Academy went to extra lengths to elevate the films that were actually given the nod, going as far as to have host Hugh Jackman use his Wolverine street-cred to sing a song in his opening monologue about the subject.  Movies are important.  Storytelling is important.  Film is an important industry, not just for the American economy but for the world’s.

The second was only lightly touched on, but it’s exactly what I thought they should have focused on.  You see, in calling for others to boycott the Oscars, the Trumpeters said things like, “Why do we give awards to actors and not the real heroes?”  First, we do, and if it made for good T.V., you better believe they would air it.  It should go without saying that Hollywood is indeed rewarding the best work in their industry, but their industry routinely pays tribute to real-world heroes.  Captain “Sully” Sullenberg.  Desmond Doss.  The hidden figures that put a man on the moon.  People who adopt and raise children.  Not to mention all the real-world heroes in the documentary subjects!  By bringing famed scientist Katherine Johnson, who Taraji P. Henson played in Hidden Figures, onto the stage to a standing ovation, the point was made.

“Movies about the lives of men and women in the history books have long been a staple of storytellers,” Monae told the audience. “Sometimes the names and deeds of the heroes in those films are known to all.”

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THE BEST ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

The best acceptance speech for an Oscar this year was not during this broadcast.  It actually came from Jackie Chan, who won a lifetime achievement award during an earlier ceremony.  You can watch that speech here.

However, if we’re just looking at the televised ceremony, then the winner would be Viola Davis, who extolled the storytellers to “exhume those bodies.”  You can see that here.

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ALSO DEAD:

They always leave people off the memoriam.  This year, the following people were missing:

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Alexis Arquette (actor)

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Florence Henderson (actor)

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Dan Ireland (producer)

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Jon Polito (actor)

GALLERY

Dorris Roberts (actor)

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Garry Shandling (actor, comedian)

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Robert Vaughn (actor)

 

NOT DEAD:

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Producer, Jan Chapman, whose picture was mistakenly used for costume designer Janet Patterson.

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A SPECIAL TRIBUTE:

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Known for The White Shadow, 1776, Rambo, 30 Rock, and 105 other credits, Ken Howard was also the President of SAG/AFTRA, Chancellor of the National Kidney Foundation, a board member of the Los Angeles Alzheimer’s Committee, a board member of Shambala Animal Preserve, and a national spokesperson for the Onyx and Breezy Foundation.  I had the pleasure of knowing him a little during my tenure at Kent State. He was attending the graduate program and taught a few classes that I was in. He coached me in a couple of monologues.  He was a no-nonsense kind of guy that was very particular about what he considered good acting.  He ended one class with an open q & a. The rest of the class kind of waited, unsure of what to ask and looking to each other to break the ice. I put my hand up right away and asked him about working with Sylvester Stallone.  He chuckled and told a few good-natured stories.  That got things going.

RIP, Ken.

 

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MY FAVORITE PART OF THE SHOW

Bringing his favorite running gag from his late night show to the Academy Awards broadcast, Jimmy Kimmel made a lot of jokes at Matt Damon’s expense.  He has been his supposed arch-nemesis ever since he ended an episode with bad guests by quipping, “My apologies to Matt Damon.  We ran out of time.”  Upping the ante, former girlfriend Sarah Silverman surprised Jimmy with a music video for “I’m F#$%ing Matt Damon” and then taking it to a whole new level with his own response, “I’m F@#$ing Ben Affleck,” the fake-feud has led to a lot of great TV moments.

So. . .  After the insane confusion with the Best Picture mix-up, I had a lot of fun with my live Tweets.

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SCORE BOARD:

0 Correct Answers 0%
Nobody  
1 Correct Answer 4.1666%
Nobody  
2 Correct Answers 8.333%
Nobody  
3 Correct Answers 12.4999%
Nobody  
4 Correct Answers 16.666%
Tarah Hamilton  
5 Correct Answers 20.8333%
Nobody  
6 Correct Answers 24.999%
Elizabeth “E.J.” Jackson  
7 Correct Answers 29.1666%
Matt Ratz  
8 Correct Answers 33.333%
Jamie Mank  
Ann Murdock  
9 Correct Answers 37.4999%
Nobody  
10 Correct Answers 41.666%
Mike Maletic  
Leigh Ann Spratt  
11 Correct Answers 45.8333%
“Shawny” Shawn Page  
12 Correct Answers 49.999%
Regan Page  
David Shoemaker  
13 Correct Answers 54.1666%
Brian Stevens  
14 Correct Answers 58.333%
Victoria Leduc  
15 Correct Answers 62.4999%
David Grant  
Stella Ingram  
16 Correct Answers 66.666%
???????  
17 Correct Answers 70.8333%
Nobody  
18 Correct Answers 74.999%
Nobody  
19 Correct Answers 79.1666%
Nobody  
20 Correct Answers 83.333%
Nobody  
21 Correct Answers 87.4999%
Nobody  
22 Correct Answers 91.666%
Nobody  
23 Correct Answers 95.8333%
Nobody  
24 Correct Answers 100%
Nobody  

 

WALL OF FAME

1999 – Elizabeth Grant

2000 – Eric Fox

2001 – Jillaine Gill

2002 – Eric Fox, Nate Hodges, and Drew Lerman– 13 correct guesses (no tie breaker)

2003 – Eric Fox– 15 correct guesses

2004 – Kevin Schwendeman– 20 correct guesses

2005 – Nate Hodges– 16 correct guesses

2006 – Jes Antolik and Leigh Ann Spratt — 14 correct guesses (Leigh Ann won the tie breaker)

2007 – Jillaine Gill — 16 correct guesses

2008 – Rock Shaink Jr — 14 correct guesses

2009 – Benjamin Crusoe — 18 correct guesses

2010 – Holly Elswick — 17 correct guesses

2011 – Elizabeth Grant — 17 correct guesses

2012 – Christian Hodges and Kevin Schwendeman — 18 correct guesses (Christian won the tie breaker)

2013 – Sheepdog David Grant — 19 correct guesses

2014 – Sheepdog David Grant — 21 correct guesses

2015 – Brian Stevens — 20 correct guesses

2016 – Holly Elswick and Brian Stevens — 17 correct guesses

 

AND THE WINNER IS…

With 16 correct guesses…

 

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Holly Elswick!!!

What makes a great romance? An exploration of ‘LA LA Land’

 

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Like The Artist before it, LA LA Land is a film that dares to think backward while telling a story that tells a story for a forward thinking audience.  It is a film that feels timeless, an instant classic.  Movie-goers feel like they are watching something akin to Singing in the Rain, Rebel without a Cause, and especially Casablanca.

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“I SHOULD PROBABLY TELL YOU SOMETHING NOW – I HATE JAZZ.”

Just as last year’s Whiplash had jazz purists saying, “That’s not how you become a great jazz musician,” LA LA Land has gotten some criticism for oversimplifying the genre into a “hackneyed cliché.”  While these would be fair criticisms of films that boast of being a thorough and definitive exploration of the genre, neither of these movies are actually about jazz.

LA LA Land’s got rhythm pumping through its veins from beginning to end, but the conversations in the film about the music style are used to clarify the metaphor.  Both metaphors, actually.

In one figurative sense, a jazz song is like a love story.  It is alive, improvisational, happens in the moment, and happens once.  You have to be there for it, paying attention and feeling it, or you’ll miss it.  This is a jazz song about two young hopefuls with stars in their eyes.  They find each other in a town that’s become stale, each filled with ambition to change their little piece of the world.

The second thing that jazz represents in LA LA Land film is the town in which the story takes place.   Hollywood – specifically the culture of film – is changing.  The classic cinema that this film lifts up is “dying on the vine.”  When Mia, a talented and yet frustrated actress, tells Sebastian, an equally frustrated jazz-obsessed musician, that she doesn’t like jazz, she might as well be saying, “I don’t like black and white movies.”

A writer tries to chat up Mia at a Hollywood party by telling her his specialty is “world building.”  He tells her he’s working on a “reimagining” of Goldilocks and The Three Bears, and the way he describes it makes it sound ridiculous and familiar.  As he explains that he sees it as “a franchise,” it sounds like the kind of project that could be in development right now.  This trend is comparable to the “smooth jazz” station that you put on at parties and talk over.  It doesn’t challenge or move you, because it’s elevator music.  The only debate left when talking about the popcorn fair that breaks the box office these days (Batman v. Superman, Transformers, X-Men, TMNT, etc.) is whether or not it’s actually any good.

Make no mistake, however, when it comes to that second analogy, LA LA Land isn’t a stickler for stringent traditionalism.  You can’t grow your audience if you only play for an aging audience.  You have to appeal to young people without losing the guiding principles of compelling storytelling.  Films, like great jazz, must continue to be revolutionary.

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“WHY DO YOU SAY ROMANTIC LIKE IT’S A DIRTY WORD?”

Romance stories are difficult to make compelling to a modern audience, and because of that, the genre often becomes stale and predictable.  Like the blockbusters that have come to dominate the large and small screen, modern romance stories tend to involve gimmicks and props (i.e. vampire/werewolf/human love triangles, zombie/human partnerships, or the trust-fall exercise that is a sadomasochistic relationship).  Still, instead of having mass appeal, as it once did, the romance genre has become a niche market that is often enjoyed as a guilty pleasure, usually in a bubble bath with a glass of white wine.

This is not the moment for romance stories.  In decades past, romantic-comedies were an enormous part of the industry.  I’ve heard commentary from producers that made their entire careers off that business that has bemoaned the loss.  They often speak of the quality of the films that have replaced them, insisting that the loss of rom-coms signifies a decline for Hollywood.  They refer to old stereotypes (“She’d see his comic book movie, and he’d go see her romance”), but that misses the point.

That being said, the musical is all but dead on the big screen.  The modern musical – if such a thing exists in film – exists in the form of a musician biopic (Ray, Walk the Line).  It can only be fiction if it’s purely on the soundtrack (The Great Gatsby) or if it’s centered around a music venue (Rock of Ages) or a rock star (School of Rock).  Aside from rare exceptions (Les Miserables), movie characters have only been allowed to sing where they would in the real world, such as on a stage (Ricki and The Flash).

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A BRIEF CONVERSATION WITH MYSELF

Are you saying that theaters full of mindless drivel that tell sloppy, incoherent stories?

Sure.

More so than before?

Depends on when you mean.

I mean – movies like The Lone Ranger?

Oh, or The Tickler!

The Tickler didn’t have the inflated budget of The Lone Ranger!

No, but let me tell you a story about Elizabeth Taylor and Cleopatra.

Come on!  That was a classic!

No.  It’s just old.  Just like The Lone Ranger, it was a flop when it came out, and it included similar cultural appropriation.

But some of these big blockbusters are actually pretty good.

I don’t care if your movie is Captain Philips or Captain America, if you’ve got a good script, some nuanced performances, and a competent director, I will support it.  I’m just sick of the cookie cutter stories.

And you think that the issue is more prevalent with big blockbusters?

Oh, no.  Remember when we were talking about rom-com producers talking about the decline of the genre and saying it’s a symptom of declining quality in Hollywood?

Yeah.

Well, for every As Good As It Gets or Silver Linings Playbook there was a Serendipity or a Failure to Launch.

So what separates a bad romance story from a good one?

GREAT QUESTION!

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WHAT MAKES A GREAT ROMANTIC STORY?

The prevailing consensus for romance movies seems to have been to write the main characters straight, and then write fun, interesting friends for them to get advice from.  It’s not something that doesn’t work.  After all, it comes from Shakespeare’s playbook.  If Much Ado about Nothing is the prototypical rom-com, then why wouldn’t you do that?  Write an ingénue character for the women to sympathize with.  Write a romantic man for the men to sympathize with, and if you think it will make things more palatable for the guys, simply give the male lead a gender-specific pastime, like sports.

The memorable parts of Much Ado about Nothing, however, don’t involve the young lovers.  It’s all about Benedict and Beatrice and their bickering, prickly, reluctant love story, which is why I couldn’t implore more for you to craft characters that are specific and flawed.

Let’s take a look back at a film that is reasonably considered the greatest romance ever put on celluloid, Casablanca.  Rick is a man with some principle, but he isn’t a hero.  He’s a broken man, haunted by a broken heart.  He has disappeared into a crowd of low-life criminals that prey on the innocent, and he doesn’t stick his neck out for anyone.  In walks Elsa, a complicated woman that Rick both loves and hates.  She carries a secret that is the only thing that can heal Rick, but it will only work if they are both willing to make sacrifices.  The “friend” characters are colorful because every character is colorful in this film.  Everyone is allowed to shine, and it makes for a story that is anything but dull.

Now, let’s take a closer look at what is possibly the best romantic movie in modern times to discuss the second main point.  The Notebook, also starring Ryan Gosling, takes a step back from the main ingredients of romantic storytelling and frames them in a context that gives everything greater weight and power.  The deeper subject, that of the power and longevity of love even in the face of debilitating illness has often fallen into clichés of its own.  Boy meets girl; girl gets cancer.  It’s the pitch that’s launched a thousand Lifetime Originals.

What makes both The Notebook and LA LA Land so remarkable is that they each craft the story in a way that it allows for each season of the romance to bloom to its fullest.  Make no mistake, they both come with a gut punch, but it isn’t played to manipulate the audience.  It is the poetic crux of the story.  The same can be said for Casablanca.  There is poetry in pain.  There is love in sacrifice.  There is redemption in compassion.

It’s obvious to anyone that has studied Plato’s Poetics, but the elements of a remarkable romance are the same as those for any great story:

  1. Plot
  2. Character
  3. Language
  4. Music
  5. Spectacle

Take care of each of those things, do it in that order of importance, and you’ll have something.  If you can incorporate Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, then you might end up with a cinematic treasure.

Needless to say, LA LA Land does all of this.

 

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Top Posts of 2016

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10. Keanu!!!, in which I review the Key and Peele film.

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9. How Should I Spend My Lottery Winnings, in which I make plans for a couple million bucks

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8. The DO’s and DON’T’s of Action Flicks, in which I compare and contrast the original Jack Reacher film with Skyfall

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7. How to Spot a Racist, a post that is even more important today than it was when I wrote it in 2013

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6. The Greatest Depictions of Single-Minded Emotion, a continuously popular blog

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5. VOTER’S GUIDE: California Propositions and Measures, a helpful voting tool

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4. Back Story, the story of my debilitating back injury and the miracle that went with it

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3. Ghostbusters (2016): A Superfan’s Perspective, my thoughts on the reboot

Kill Me Now and AVGN

2. Going Long: Reviews for “Kill Me Now” and “Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie,” reviews of a couple of independent films made by popular Youtube artists

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1. Predator versus “Predator,” my take on female teacher sexual scandals

 

 

VOTER’S GUIDE – California’s Propositions and Measures

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NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this are purely my own.  I simply want to expound upon my political thoughts regarding this year’s election, and I hope that there’s someone out there that finds this of interest.

If you’d like to read about the third party candidates, go here.  If you’d like to hear my thoughts on the Republican candidate, go here.  If you’re interested in knowing more about my thoughts on the Democratic nominee, go here.

But for now, let’s take a closer look at Claifornia’s propositions and measures, shall we?  Since I am from San Diego, my ballot may be a little different than yours.

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THE MEASURES

Measure A: The SANDAG Tax

It sucks when you already voted to pay for something and then the project goes over budget, but that’s what happened here. It’s a half a cent tax increase that will fund the Purple Line Trolley and a coaster to Del Mar.

MY VERDICT: I say we do it. SANDAG is already committed to finishing the projects but do not know how they can fund it otherwise. Let’s save them the embarrassment of hosting a bake sale.

Measure B: The Lilac Hills Ranch Development

We have a housing crisis in San Diego, and this measure promises to help fix it.

MY VERDICT: Hell no! The only reason this is on the ballot is because the people behind the measure weren’t able to put it through the traditional way due to the fact that they would directly benefit from the real estate venture. AND they cut all of the regulatory provisions before they put it on the ballot. AND it’s on environmentally protected land. AND the majority of the space will be used for retail. Hell to the no.

Measure C: The Chargers’ Stadium Plan

A convadium!

MY VERDICT: As Tony Hawk said, “There’s no such thing as a convadium.” This is corporate welfare that would in no way benefit the tax payers.

Measure D: The Citizens’ Plan

This would raise the city’s hotel tax rate in an effort to pay for (part of) Measure C. Chargers fans love the idea of charging (pun) fans of rival teams. Mwahahaha! I can hear them twisting their mustaches now!

MY VERDICT: @#$% you.

Measure E: Removing City Officials

This measure would make it easier to remove and replace elected city officials who’ve committed crimes or other wrongdoing.

MY VERDICT: Well, we’ve had a pretty long string of bad mayors in San Diego. The current status quo requires death, resignation, loss of voter eligibility or a recall. This would allow for a special removal election. Seems like a good thing in our corrupt city.

Measure F: Job Security for Deputy City Attorneys

Basically city attorneys can be fired for no reason within the first two years of getting hired. This is much different than any other civil position, and this would require “good cause” for terminations.

MY VERDICT: No one is against this one. It seems like a no-brainer.

Measure G: Changes to the Citizens’ Review Board

There is already a board that review cops, but this changes their name and gives them the authority to review police involved shootings.

MY VERDICT: El Cajon was going to put this into place BEFORE the shooting last month, but they decided to put it on the ballot. This is a good way to give the community a voice and to keep things calm when there is actually no wrong-doing by the police.

Measure H: Changes to the City’s Purchasing and Contracting Process

Right now if there is a project that will require private contractors, the governing body has to publish an ad in the paper 10 days before filtering bids. This would put an end to the ad in the paper and would simplify things back to standard disclosure.

MY VERDICT: No one is opposing this, and newspapers? Seriously?

Measure I: San Diego High’s Balboa Park Location

There’s a charter school in Balboa Park. No, really, there is. They had a 50 year lease, and it’s up. This is to renew that contract.

MY VERDICT: You can’t build a new school by next year, can you?

Measure J: Money for Mission Bay and Other Parks

Right now Mission Bay Parks make a lot of money and other municipal parks don’t. This would allow the city to spread the money around and make repairs where needed in a more timely manner.

MY VERDICT: I LOVE Balboa Park and would like to see more money going there. I mean, they didn’t even have the resources for their centennial last year. Come on!

Measure K: Forcing a November Runoff

Right now if a candidate wins by a margin of more than 50% in the June primaries for city council, they win. This would put the two top competitors on the November ballot instead.

MY VERDICT: This one is split straight down party lines. The Republicans, who tend to win in June, say no. The Democrats, who tend to lose in June, say yes. It seems pretty silly to me, but whatever. Vote yes? Why not give the people more of a voice?

Measure L: Voting on Initiatives and Referendums in November

More people vote in November than in June. If something is going on the ballot, this would put it on the November ballot automatically.

MY VERDICT: This comes from the same place as K. I have to ask, what’s the point of having a June ballot if nothing is on it but primaries that don’t even matter until November? You know what? I change my verdict on K. Just do away with June as a month!

Measure M: Raising the Cap on Affordable Housing Units

Right now if you want to expand low income housing, you have to put it before the voters. This would just allow city planners to make that decision without the need for a vote.

MY VERDICT: Again, we are in a housing crisis. Yes please.

Measure N: Taxing Marijuana Businesses

If (likely when) Prop 64 passes, this would allow the crop to be taxed.

MY VERDICT: Every pothead I know says, “Legalize it. Just think of how much the government would get in taxes!” Don’t make every pothead I know into a liar. Vote yes.

Woooh!!!!

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THE PROPOSITIONS

51 – $9,000,000,000 for schools. That’s a billion with a b. It adds $500M of debt every year to the budget, it seems to bank roll construction companies, and it won’t go to the neediest school districts.

52 – Stipulates that legislators cannot divert funds away from Medi-Cal, thus ensuring that Medi-Cal and hospitals get the money. No one is opposed to this. Vote yes.

53 – Requires state projects over $2B to be approved by voters. This one is complicated as well. Basically a public works project (a bridge or a hospital) is paid for by the government and then paid back by the user (toll or patient). The high speed rail (which may be the target this bill is intended to take down), for example, costs a lot of money and should be paid for by ticket sales, but if it fails, eventually the tax payer is on the hook. So this would be a community accountability provision to theoretically stop government officials from “signing blank checks.” However, there are a couple of problems. 1) Local projects would be on the state’s ballot (ie San Francisco projects voted on by all of California). 2) There are no provisions for emergency spending, so they would also have to go on a ballot before the project could be started.

54 – Requires that bills are posted for three days on the internet before voting. Oh, and print. Yes, and print. Again, newspapers?

55 – There was a provision put in place for “rainy days” that was always meant to be temporary (7 years). It taxes higher income people (over $263K a year) at a marginally higher rate. Opponents of this measure argue that we shouldn’t be using income tax to fix our schools (which apparently need $9 BILLION dollars). As some papers have argued, this tax sucks, but not having the resources we need sucks worse (paraphrased).

56 – Packs of cigarettes will cost $2 more a pack, and e-cigs will have the tax too. The money will go to Medical. Looping in vapes makes sense, but this is a tax on the poor in my mind. Making a pack of cigarettes cost over ten bucks doesn’t stop addicts from reaching out for their addiction. It simply hurts their family’s budget more.

57 – Makes it easier for nonviolent offenders to get parole. But this one is more complicated than that too. 1) Nonviolent criminals can earn credits to shorten their sentence through good behavior and receive incentives such as education. 2) Juveniles won’t be able to be tried as an adult without a judge’s order. Obviously, the second is noble, but here’s the thing about the first. Rape of an unconscious person, taking hostages, and setting off a bomb with intent to injure are not considered violent crimes, according to the Penal Code.

58 – 1 in 5 students in California are not fluent in English. Right now there is a government mandate that dictates that those students are only taught in English-immersion classes so that they don’t languish in bilingual classrooms. This would allow for a variety of teaching methods rather than just one. Studies have shown that language immersion doesn’t work for every student, so this seems like a way to undo a government overreach.

59 – Pass or fail, this does nothing except express your opinion. If you hate the US Supreme Court’s verdict regarding Citizens United, vote yes. If you think political spending is free speech, vote no.

60 – THE MOST IMPORTANT vote in the country. In California, we are being asked to make a decision that will have a HUGE INFLUENCE on the entire world’s culture.   I’m not talking about Prop 64, which would decriminalize recreational marijuana. That would only change California’s culture, and it’s already been done in other states anyway.  Of course I am speaking of Prop 60, which would require all pornographic actors to wear condoms. The man behind this proposal is a gay rights activist with a myopic viewpoint that condoms are the method everyone should use. His reasoning for this new standard is that he doesn’t want young people to think “the only hot sex is without a condom.” He’s drawn criticism not only from the adult film actors but from other gay rights activists for his condoms only stance.  In my mind, this is a definite overreach. How would you enforce this legislation? I mean, if two cops bust in on a porno shoot and announce who they are, the viewers would simply fill their palm with more lubricant and expect that things are going to go in a new, exciting, possibly kinky direction. Besides, there are other ways to fight off AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, mainly a once-a-day pill that is the primary tool for adult actors right now that our advocate thinks is a cop out. The fact that the pornographic industry is as widespread (pun) as it is and there hasn’t been an AIDS epidemic should be illustrative enough to give the industry some trust that they are self-regulating already. Lastly, and possibly most importantly, if young people are watching porn and thinking it’s “the only hot sex,” they’re going to be sorely disappointed by reality.

61 – This prop has the most campaign spending in California history, so yeah!! It’s important to note that the majority of that spending is by the pharmaceutical companies to try to get you to vote no. The intent is for this bill to save Californians money when they buy their medicine, but it’s not exactly clear how it will work. It’s actually a landmark vote, and people like Bernie Sanders are campaigning hard for it to pass. But if it will actually work is up in the air, since a lot of that hinges on how those pharmaceutical companies respond to the state’s “negotiations” for drug prices after it passes.

62 & 66 – 62 repeals the death penalty. 66 speeds it up. The one with the most votes wins. This is a heavy issue. Vote your conscience and godspeed.

63 – Requires a background check to buy ammunition. I think this came from a Chris Rock routine, didn’t it? Obviously, if you’re a 2nd Amendment person, you’ll vote no. If you’re a stereotypical Californian, you’ll vote yes and hope there’s a provision to require a background check for gluten as well. I won’t say much on this, but if you’re a Boy Scout camp and have a rifle range, I hope your kids are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent enough to pass.

64 – Legalize it. Cypress Hill will advertise it.

65 & 67 – Okay. This one is complicated. 67 is a referendum. You see, 67 bans plastic bags, and California already voted to ban them. So 67 is a revote on the issue. However, 67 would take the 10 cent tax from the bag fee and gives it to environmental funds, which currently goes to the grocery store. Here’s what you need to know. Both of these measures are on the docket, because the plastic bag companies put them there. They want you to vote No on 67 and Yes on 65. Here’s where it gets tricky. If 65 passes, it eliminates 67. In other words, if you don’t want plastic bags, you have to vote yes on 67 (to ban plastic bags) and no on 65 (to give the tax to the environment). If you want to keep plastic bags and want the money to go to the environment, vote no on 67 and yes on 65. If both pass, only 65 passes. Does that make sense?


Aw yeah!!!!

 

VOTER’S GUIDE – Hillary Clinton

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NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this are purely my own.  I simply want to expound upon my political thoughts regarding this year’s election, and I hope that there’s someone out there that finds this of interest.

If you’d like to read about the third party candidates, go here.  If you’d like to hear my thoughts on the Republican candidate, go here.  If you’re interested in knowing more about California’s propositions and measures, go here.

But for now, let’s take a closer look at the Democratic candidate, shall we?

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Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Has there been a more controversial candidate in my lifetime? And why is she so much of a lightning rod? Certainly, there is SOME validity when her supporters say that her critics are acting out of a misogynistic worldview. When her opponent, for example, says she “doesn’t look presidential” or when inarticulate Trump supporters say “there’s just something about her,” they are likely referring to the fact that she’s not like our previous presidents. You know, she’s not a dude. It’s kind of like the lizard brain comments that members of white America have made about our current president. “He’s obviously not American.” Eek!

But there’s got to be more to it than hatred because she’s a female Ghostbuster, right? I mean, look at all of the scandals that she and her husband have been accused of! And that’s kind of the key for me. “She and her husband.” People that say that every witch hunt Hillary has endured is because she’s a woman miss the point. It’s because the Clintons – both Bill and Hill – are deemed untrustworthy by at least a portion of the population.

But here’s the thing, a part of me wants to forget about Bill and rage against the patriarchy, because it DOES exist. And it has been unfair to not only Mrs. Clinton but to a lot of women. I remember when she was first lady and people were complaining that she was too uppity and should know her place, sit down, shut up, and worry about things like the color of the curtains in the first bedroom and flowers on the side of the interstate like our previous first ladies. I remember being young and dumb in the 1990s and making jokes about her appearance and teasing my conservative buddies, suggesting they should ask Chelsea Clinton to the prom. I hear how people talk about Hillary to this day and note that it’s not the same way they talk about men in the same position. Regardless of how much they hate a man’s politics, they don’t say he’s catty or shrill or on his period. Talk about a vote to blow up the system!! Can I vote for an overweight, handicapped, non-English speaking, vegetarian Native American lesbian already?!

If you’ve been paying attention, Hillary is a two-faced career politician that will resort to underhanded tactics to get where she wants. This is true of all two-faced career politicians that will resort to underhanded tactics to get where they want. This leaves us with two questions:

1) Do you want a two-faced career politician that will resort to underhanded tactics to get where they want?

2) Are the rules different for Hillary?

And my answer?

1) As a centrist, I can answer that question for a lot of you. I’ve been paying attention and puking in my mouth every time you say it. Yes, you do. As long as they are on your side of the aisle, and before you get mad at me and say that isn’t true, ask yourself one little question. Have you ever justified the actions of your candidate by shrugging and saying this? “Well, they all lie. That’s why he HAS TO lie.” If you’re a Democrat or a Republican, of course you have. I don’t even know you, and I’ve heard you say it. Stop being disingenuous.

2) Just look at the undercover videos. Despite the fact that Hillary’s “political maneuverings” are essentially the plot line of every election movie in history, she has undergone severe scrutiny that is unprecedented.

Now, I just want to take a moment to clarify my position on this. I think these tactics are absolutely disgusting. They are the bane of our political process, and when you combine it with the entertainment journalism of the mainstream media and our animal instincts to be attracted to violence, you end up with stupid choices based on emotional responses to guys dressed up in Donald Duck costumes and street fights in front of political rallies. If you’re reading my opinions, you’ll probably see that I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. There is no one that I can feel good voting for; partially because I want something that can’t exist in our money-fueled political system. I puke when you shrug off your candidate’s lies, because I am waiting for the candidate with enough integrity, determination, and grit to tell the truth and stand up for their convictions. And that person’s “truth” sure as hell had better not just be that “Rosie O’Donnell is disgusting.”

Alright, back to Hillary.

Let’s set aside the controversy for a moment and focus on her policies. I know that might be hard for some of you, but I don’t want to talk about Benghazi or e-mails or Chinese businessmen in the Lincoln bedroom. I really don’t want to talk about real estate deals from before I was in middle school. I just included them here for the purposes of search engines, and I’m done now. 🙂

Hillary is a hawk when it will get her your vote. She’ll talk about raising the minimum wage if she thinks it will cure your Bern with an “I’m with her” yard sign. She will remind you over and over again that she was part of the team that took down bin Laden, because you probably voted for Bush hoping that he would, and she’s hoping you will remember that when you’re in the polling station. Of course there are certain issues that she will never bend on, and some of those are serious issues that I know a lot of us disagree with her on. But overall, because she’s a two-faced career politician that will do anything to get what she wants, she actually cares about what the voters want, and as much as I hate to admit it, one of the things I value in a leader is that they listen to what their followers want and/or need.

Hm. Did I just endorse Hillary Clinton for president? I think I might have. At least one of her two-faces.

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VOTER’S GUIDE – Third Party Candidates in the Presidential Election 2016

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NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this are purely my own.  I simply want to expound upon my political thoughts regarding this year’s election, and I hope that there’s someone out there that finds this of interest.

If you’d like to read about the Republican candidate, go here.  If you’d like to hear my thoughts on the Democratic candidate, go here.  If you’re interested in knowing more about California’s propositions and measures, go here.

 

First of all, I think it’s funny that the California ballot pretends this is more than just a two party run. It barely qualifies, so why not put the two major parties at the top? It isn’t alphabetic. Is it by when they registered? If so, wouldn’t Hillary be on the page before the nominees are listed? She’s been running for president since she was 8.

Ahem.

Let’s not rule out the other three parties. Let’s examine them seriously.

 

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La Riva is very much against war, calling Clinton a war hawk and accusing her husband of being a war criminal as a result of the bombings in Kosovo and Bosnia. She’s the true “blow-up the system” candidate. She wants to change everything and work towards absolute equality. She is on the ballot in only a few states (Vermont, New Mexico, Iowa, Louisiana, Colorado, Washington, New Jersey, and California), and is the founder of her party. She previously had been a member of other parties and had tried to get the nomination through one of them, losing to Ralph Nader. While I admire her advocacy for social justice, I see her overall political views to be too radical for this moment in time. Realistically, a vote here would be valuable only as a protest against the two party system that sends a message that you want a more socialist agenda. If she were to actually become president, I would have serious concerns about how well she could play with others.

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Stein ran against Hillary before. I bet you didn’t know that? She was the Green Party candidate in 2012, but since this election has been such a dreamboat for America, she’s getting a lot more buzz as an alternative this time around. If you were upset that neither of the major candidates seem to be focusing on climate change enough, then this is your platform. They want to declare a state of emergency on the environment and get to work. Stein is the organic, clean fuel, environmental candidate, so much so that she has drawn criticism for her stance on GMOs and vaccines. She’s also a jobs advocate, believes health care and education are rights, wants to try to end poverty, and wants to reform the judicial, veteran, and immigration systems. While the Democratic Party likes to think of themselves as the place for idealists, they tend to attract pragmatic progressives who don’t think the Green Party has a chance at actually winning. Stein’s priorities are very specific to fixing what her party perceives as being broken, and unfortunately that narrow point of view has made her into a sort of pariah. With not much chance of making it to The White House, this is the team you vote for if you want to send a message that you care about the environment more than you do about party politics.

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It’s kind of interesting how much The Libertarian nominees are discredited as totally incompetent when you take into account the fact that both Johnson and Weld have been governors. Their platform is the ultimate hands-off approach to governance. If you want to know their stance on abortion or drugs or even education, it’s basically that people should be able to make their own choices without government interference. They do, however, have some areas that they find important enough to get involved in, such as criminal justice reform, wasteful spending, and term limits. There does seem to be an inherent flaw in the ideology, in my opinion. The official platform for education says, “Governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld believe nothing is more important to our future as a country than educating our next generations.” However, making education a priority and then saying that you will “end the department of education” seems like a contradiction. Or maybe I just don’t get it. Also, saying that the free market rights itself is a worry. The free market is driven by low costs, which has led to historical slavery and environmental destruction. Whole species of animals have been “righted” by the free market, and despite the fact that conscientious people know that child labor is used in creating their smart phones, they still buy them. The only thing that protects the most vulnerable from being exploited is intervention on behalf of the people (ie government). So I don’t personally favor Libertarian ideology, but then again, I don’t really know exactly what they stand for. Johnson got booed at the Libertarian Convention for suggesting that maybe it’s a good idea to actually test people for competence behind the wheel before letting them drive. In a party so divided that the merits of a driver’s license is a hot topic of debate, it’s hard to say what a Libertarian actually believes, and since Johnson often gives non-committal answers or sounds uninformed on various topics, it is really hard to see what he personally stands for. I guess the point in 2016 isn’t so much to consolidate the party’s platform into one cohesive model so much as to confront what some voters perceive to be a broken system. Again, with little actual chance of moving into the beltway of Washington this election cycle, this is a protest vote. Libertarians tend to either be disenfranchised Republicans or disenfranchised Democrats, proving that the two party system is so poor at representing people that the one thing people running from both parties can agree on is that they hate the two party system.