Monday, January 3, 2022

I BELIEVE

 


As we begin a new year, and I begin more frequent posting of my BOBSERVATIONS, I thought I would restate some of the things I seriously and sincerely believe.

 

+ First and foremost – in the history of our country no one single individual has done more damage to America, the American people, American values, and American democracy than Donald Trump.

 

+ Every legitimate “persuasion” – libertarian, conservative, moderate, and liberal – deserves to have its voice heard and considered in our political discourse.

But Trump does not represent any political belief or “persuasion”.  Trump represents only Trump.  And by embracing Trump and courting and pandering to his “cult” of followers today’s Republican Party represents only lies, racism, bigotry, hatred, and ignorance.

The “healing” of our nation does not include providing “a seat at the table” for the lies, racism, bigotry, hatred, and ignorance of Trump and today’s Trump-embracing Republican Party.

 

+ Winston Churchill is credited with saying, “If you’re not a Liberal at age 20 you have no heart.  If you’re not a Conservative at age 40 you have no head.”

To be effective and successful a government needs both heart and head.

Trump and today’s Trump-embracing Republican Party have neither heart nor head.

 

+ Universal free access to education – from pre-school through college or trade school – and universal affordable access to health care results in a better and safer country and a more robust and successful economy.

Well-educated and healthy Americans make better citizens and voters and generate a better economy.  We have all seen the damage an “under-educated” voter can do.

I do not think of government subsidies providing free pre-school, college or trade school options and affordable health-care as “socialism” but as legitimate investments in the future safety and success of America and the economy.

 

+ While I acknowledge and appreciate the “good works” performed by legitimate organized religion and genuinely religious individuals, I truly believe that in the history of the world more evil than good has been done in the name of a god, God or religion – up to and including the oppression, repression and bigotry of the so-called “Evangelicals” of today’s allegedly Christian religious right.

Freedom of religion and the separation of Church and State are among the basic cornerstones of America, American values and American “philosophy”.  Every American has the right to worship and believe as he or she so chooses – or to choose not to worship or believe.  The government cannot force anyone to choose one religion and set of beliefs over another, or to choose any religion or beliefs.  No specific religion, sect or church can dictate government policy or legislation.  

The specific religious beliefs of one religion, church or sect must never be legislated!

 

+ The 2nd Amendment has It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the right of an individual to own and carry a gun.

The Amendment reads – “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

U.S. Supreme Court Warren Burger, nominated to the Court by Nixon, correctly observed –

The Gun Lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American People by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

He explained –

The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies – the militia – would be maintained for the defense of the state.”

The Founding Fathers preferred state militias to a national army.  They were afraid of standing army, based on the experiences at the time in Europe, and wanted to maintain the authority of the individual state militias that had made up Washington’s Revolutionary Army.  They believed that “standing armies in a time of peace are dangerous to liberty”.

The state militias that existed in the time of the Revolution have since been replaced by state police, the National Guard and the US Armed Forces.  State militias no longer exist – so the Second Amendment is obsolete and has no application today.

Ownership of a gun must be treated in the same manner we treat automobiles and driving -

(1)  All gun owners must have a valid license, which must be renewed every year, initially based on a comprehensive background check.

(2)  To get a license a person must pass a written test and a “practical” test. Gun licensees must demonstrate they know how to properly operate and maintain a gun.

(3) The minimum age for owning a traditional gun should be 18.

(4) Gun owners must have insurance similar to auto insurance.

We must title and tag each gun at point of purchase, and record the purchase in a local data base so law enforcement can know if a person is stockpiling an excessive number of guns.

And I believe no individual of any age has a need or a right to own and carry an assault weapon or an AK-anything.  It is not needed for hunting, target practice or protection.  The one and only purpose of an assault rifle is in its name – to assault.

 

+ The one and only purpose of the income tax system is to generate funds necessary for running the government.    

The US Tax Code should not be used for social engineering, to redistribute income or wealth, to deliver social welfare and other government benefits, or to encourage or discourage certain economic decisions (other than savings, investment, and economic growth), or provide exclusive benefits for specific industries, business activities, or classes of taxpayers.

 

Your thoughts and comments?

 

TAFN











Monday, November 29, 2021

ONCE, YES, ONCE IS DELICIOUS – BUT TWICE WOULD BE VICIOUS, OR JUST REPETITIOUS

 


No disrespect to Mr Spielberg, but I can think of no good reason why he, or anyone, should remake the movie version of WEST SIDE STORY.  

I am not going to see the remake - it could never be as good as the original.

TCM has announced that it will be presenting the original movie in theatres to celebrate its 60th Anniversary.   

Most movie remakes are at best unnecessary and at worst an insult to the originals. Yet Hollywood continues to crank out mediocre remakes featuring actors who are inferior to the stars of the originals (I am waiting for an announcement that THE WIZARD OF OZ will be remade with Ariana Grande).

The remake of THUNDERBALL also starred Sean Connery as James Bond.  While not a bad movie, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN was totally unnecessary. The sole motivation for making the movie was money – to cash in on Sean Connery returning to the role of James Bond for one last time.

Adam Sandler is no Burt Reynolds, let alone a Gary Cooper (one critic wrote, “Adam Sandler is to Gary Cooper what a gnat is to a racehorse.”). His remake of THE LONGEST YARD was totally unnecessary and his remake of MR DEEDS GOES TO TOWN was a true insult to the classic original.  Sandler makes movies aimed at 5th grade boys (or at least those with the sense of humor and maturity of 5th grade boys) – and both originals were made for adults.

As an aside – a good rule of thumb is to ignore any film starring, or produced by, Adam Sandler.

A literal shot-by-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO added absolutely nothing to the original.

There was even a remake of the classic Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn romantic thriller CHARADE, perhaps "the" classic film of its genre, titled THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE.  One of the worst decisions ever made by Hollywood, it, rightfully so, lasted about a day and a half in the theatres.

Some remakes are not really remakes - they simply steal the title and a basic plot idea. The producers hope to boost the box office of their movie by evoking memories of a far superior film. The Steve Martin CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN films had absolutely nothing to do with the Clifton Webb original (or its sequel) other than the fact that the films are about a family with 12 children. 

Don’t get me wrong.  There have been remakes that have improved and expanded on the original film – though this is the exception and not the rule.  In two of the best examples of this exception the remake was done by the same director.  Alfred Hitchcock remade his THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH some 22 years after the original.  And Frank Capra remade his 1933 film LADY FOR A DAY as POCKETFUL OF MIRALCES in 1961.  Although I have not seen the original films, the remakes are certainly top-notch classic films.

KING KONG was remade twice. The 1933 original was a breakthrough masterpiece. The first remake, made in 1976, was totally unnecessary, and inferior in every way - even though I was in the film (my friend Howard Bernstein and I were among the crowd that ran across the top of the World Trade Center to avoid a falling Kong – I remember seeing Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange standing alongside what was supposed to be a dead Kong on one side of the roof).  The “threemake” was better, and relatively respectful to the original.  However, the casting of Jack Black was, in my opinion, a big mistake.

TAFN










Monday, October 4, 2021

MONDAY, OCTOBER 4

 

+ I recently ordered new, to me, entries in mystery book series I had read back in the 80s and early 90s – the Father Koestler series by William X Kienzle and Simon Brett’s Charles Paris books.  I did not keep track of these series over the years and was not aware that they were ongoing into the new millennium.

I met Simon Brett in the 1980s at a murder mystery week-end I attended with my uncle at the Mohawk Mountain House in New Paltz NY.  He portrayed one of the characters in the “It’s Murder, Jeeves” mystery.  Participants like my uncle and I were organized in teams who interrogated the suspects, all famous mystery writers, at staged events and came up with a solution that was that was presented to the group.  My team’s solution was “It’s Jeeves’ Murder” – the butler did it.  I do not remember who the murderer turned out to be, but it was not Jeeves.

Also, at the week-end event was Stephen King and his family.  King was not a character in the mystery – his family was there so his teen-aged sons could participate on one of the mystery-solving teams.  He and his family were very down-to-earth and showed no indication that he was a multi-millionaire (who actually earned his money) celebrity.  And Ed McBain, aka Evan Hunter (neither were his real name), who I had met earlier on a QE2 mystery cruise, was also there as a character in the story.

Some of the mystery writers gave lectures during the week-end (as themselves).  During Simon Brett’ presentation he told a humorous story of a day out with his infant son.

Simon was out for a walk in the park with his son, carrying him in a “backwards papoose” baby carrier, with his son positioned on his chest instead of his back facing his father.  Simon had a “call of nature” and headed into a public restroom to a row of urinals.  On each side of the urinals was a divider, the top of which was just above Simon’s shoulders.

While he was “taking care of business” a man entered the rest room and went to a urinal three down from Simon. 

The baby, who had been sleeping, opened his eyes and looked up at his father.  Simon acknowledged his son by smiling, looking down and saying out loud, “Hello my big boy!”.

The fellow pee-er turned his head toward Simon and gave him a strange look.  Apparently, he could not see the infant on Simon’s chest, who was hidden by the divider.

At a book signing event, that also included King, I presented one of my Charles Paris books to Simon Brett for signature.  My uncle had acquired the book I presented via his subscription to a book club.  Brett immediately identified and acknowledged the book as coming from a club because of its size – slightly smaller than “normal” hardcovers sold in books stores.  I think authors received a smaller commission from books sold via clubs.

I look forward to some good fall reading.    


+ Ignorance and stupidity are not a crime.  But ignorance and stupidity are truly a danger.

Ignorance and stupidity are a danger to the health and safety of the ignorant/stupid themselves, to their families, to their communities, and to the country.

One of the main problems in America today is the severe ignorance and stupidity of too many of its citizens.

 

+ It seems there is a day for everything.  Last Wednesday, September 29th, was National Coffee Day.  National Coffee Day shouldn’t be confused with International Coffee Day, which was October 1st, originally created by the International Coffee Organization and launched in Milan.

My fellow tax blogger Kelly Phillips Erb, aka TaxGirl, provided “8 Fun Facts About Coffee and Taxes for International Coffee Day” (not National Coffee Day) at her Bloomberg,com blog.  She points out that “Coffee is considered the most popular drink in the world, with about two billion cups of coffee consumed each day.”

KPE also told us –

While we don’t exactly know the origin of coffee as a drink, legend suggests that it began in Ethiopia. There, a goat herder named Kaldi noticed that his goats were more energetic after eating berries from a particular tree. Kaldi shared this information with the abbot of the local monastery, who made a drink out of the berries. Finding that the drink kept him alert, the monk also shared the word, and coffee eventually spread around the globe.”

Thanks, KPE, for the word.

 

+ An employer – be it a government agency or a private or public business – has a legal and moral obligation to protect the health and safety of its employees, vendors, customers, and clients.  This includes requiring employees to get vaccinations and mask mandates for employees, vendors, customers and clients.

If you do not want to wear a mask or get vaccinated that is your right, and your problem.  But it does not negate the obligation of the employer – and employers have a legal and moral right to ban you from employment that involves interaction with others or from entering their facilities if you refuse to get vaccinated or wear a mask. 

 

TAFN














Tuesday, September 28, 2021

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28,

 

+ Did you know that Walton’s Mountain was originally Spencer’s Mountain?

The popular 1970s tv show “The Waltons” was actually based on the 1963 movie “Spencer’s Mountain”, from the 1961 novel of the same name, both written by Earl Hamner, Jr, who also created and narrated the tv series.

The movie starred Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara as the prolific parents and James MacArthur (Danno from the original “Hawaii 5-0”) as elder son Clayboy (John-Boy in “The Waltons”).

Spencer’s Mountain was in Wyoming, while Walton’s Mountain was in Virginia.

BTW, Earl Hamner Jr also wrote the screenplay for the 1963 “Where the Boys Are” clone “Palm Springs Weekend”, which starred Troy Donahue, Stefanie Powers, Robert Conrad, Ty Hardin, and Connie Stevens.  Instead of the beaches of Fort Lauderdale this movie takes place in the California desert.

And EH Jr also created the tv soap “Falcon Crest”.

 

+ Do you need any proof that Trump is, was, and has always been an unethical businessman?   

Here is a real-life example from what one of my 1040 clients told me back in 2015 during Trump’s candidacy for President -

In 2002 the client purchased an apartment at one of the Trump Place buildings in New York City.

At closing, there were three layers – my client, the Trump Organization (the builder/developer) and a bank (Trump's construction financing bank - not the client’s bank, as it was an all-cash deal).  There was about an $1,100 difference in a 6-figure deal.

For almost an hour and a half, the bank's lawyer kept cajoling my client to try and get a wire transfer to the bank done for the small amount.  The Trump lawyer suggested that the client write a check in the full amount to Trump and they would in turn write a check to the bank for their portion.  Since 90% of the money was to go to the bank and only 10% to Trump, the Bank did not feel comfortable at all for any money going to Trump. The bank’s lawyer suggested that they could not trust Trump.

The client was later told that Trump always ended up shorting his sub-contractors by 5 to 10% and didn't care if they sued - ultimately, they settled, taking a 5%+ haircut and Trump always came out ahead.

 

+ I thank God every day that there was no Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. when I was a child and teen-ager.

 

+ When checking the credentials of Republican candidates for Congress today only two questions are asked by Party leaders.

Are you a moron?

Do you have a conscience?

If they answer yes to the first and no to the second, they qualify.

The only question true conservative and “traditional” Republican voters need to ask is –

Do you oppose, denounce and disavow Trump and his lies?

-      and they must only support and vote for those who answer yes.

 

TAFN














Wednesday, September 22, 2021

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

Sorry – I am a bit late getting my ramblings together this week.
 
 
+ Last night I enjoyed Cottage Pie, one of the evening’s entrée specials at a local restaurant – Gresham’s Chop House across from Lake Wallenpaupack.  However, the menu erroneously identified the entrée as Shepard’s Pie.
 
Shepard’s Pie is sheep and potatoes.  Period.  My “pie” last night had beef, potatoes and vegetables.
 
Most American restaurants make the mistake of identifying Cottage Pie as Shepherd’s Pie, despite the fact that it contains beef and not sheep and vegetables.  Although I have come across a very few that actually serve true Shepherd’s Pie.
 
If a local in England or Ireland went to a restaurant or pub, ordered Shepherd’s Pie and was present with the meal I had last night they would send it back.
 
I did enjoy my Cottage Pie, regardless of what it was called, and I knew what I would be getting when I ordered.
 
 
+ Trump the candidate and the President has always been a potential danger and threat to America, the American people and the world based on his history as an unethical businessman and an extreme malignant narcissist with a pathological need for attention.
 
Opposing, denouncing, investigating, and trying to stop Trump throughout his candidacy and Presidency, by any person regardless of job or position or political Party, has always been about patriotism and not politics.
 
Trump continues to be a threat and danger to America, American values and American democracy.  We must not stop until he is fully investigated, indicted, prosecuted, convicted, and incarcerated.
 
Anyone who believes, supports, defends, and would vote for an unethical, immoral, ignorant, incompetent, and totally self-absorbed wannabe dictator – Trump – is a complete imbecile.
 
By embracing Trump and his lies today’s Republican Party is clearly the Party of Imbeciles.
 
It is very important that liberals, progressives and moderates, as well as true conservatives and traditional Republicans, work together to combat the true threat and danger presented by today’s Republican Party.
 
 
+ Here is something no one ever told you.
 
Dick Wolf’s “Law and Order” franchise is perhaps the most successful one in prime-time television history.  It began with the premiere of “Law and Order” in September of 1990 and shows no sign of ending.  “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” begins its 23rd season on, appropriately, September 23.  And two new L&O series have been added to the franchise.
 
How did Wolf come up with the concept for the original “Law & Order” – first half “law” (police capturing the “perp”) and second half “order” (the trial)?
 
Successful broadcast television shows can make lots of money in “syndication”, often more than the original production. Some shows have been known to operate at a loss on the initial broadcast episodes (they cost more to make than the network pays for airing) just to be able to create a sufficient syndication “inventory”. As one online explanation of the process put it – “If you can get a television show in syndication, you can live off that money for the rest of your life.”
 
30+ years ago it was easier, and more profitable, to syndicate a half-hour series than it was an hour-long program. But the networks were looking for hour-long drama series. The “Law and Order” format – basically a half hour of police and a half hour of lawyers - was essentially created so it could be run as two-part half-hour episodes in syndication.  Dick had toyed with several such two-part shows, with names like Night and Day.
 
As it turns out DW did not have to worry about creating half-hour segments for syndication. I expect that the L&O franchise is the most syndicated in history, and that every hour of every day an episode of L&O or one of its spin-offs is running somewhere in the world.  
 
 
+ DANCING WITH THE STARS, which should really be retitled DANCING WITH THE RELATIVELY FAMOUS, is running out of “stars” and starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel. 
 
I have only heard of 3 of the fall season’s contestants.
 
BTW, I have never watched an episode of this show.
 
 
TAFN

Monday, September 13, 2021

SEPTEMBER 13, 2021

 
+ Carl Sagan spoke about the “Dumbing Down of America” in his 1995 book “THE DEMON-HAUNTED WORLD: Science as a Candle in the Dark”.  He spoke of “a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time” when –

The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media . . . lowest common denominator programming”.

It will be a time of “but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.”

It is obvious that time has come.  He was clearly warning of the excrement erroneously known as “reality tv”.  And of Americans reveling in their stupidity.
 

+ This past summer I have been enjoying the “Death on Demand” mystery series by Carolyn Hart about mystery bookstore owner Annie Laurance Darling and her “unofficlal” private detective, and “trust-fund baby, husband Max that takes place on fictional Broward's Rock Island in South Carolina.  There is a total of 26 books in the series to date, and I have only 3 more to go.

Broward’s Rock rivals Cabot Cove, Maine as the “murder capital” of small towns on the Atlantic coast.

The series spans 30 years in “real time” – the books published from 1987 to 2017 – but the South Carolina island must be the home of the Fountain of Youth, as the hero couple and supporting characters haven’t aged more than perhaps 5 years during the series.  One active senior citizen supporting character, a retired school teacher and avid mystery aficionado who flew planes in WWII is still in her 70's 30 years later..

I am surprised that this book series has not been adopted by the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries cable channel as part of its stable of “cozy” Signature Mysteries.

FYI, the 2008 horror film titled DEATH ON DEMAND has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with this cozy mystery series.

+ The official application form to join today’s Republican Party has only two questions –

Are you a moron?
Are you a racist?

If you answer yes to either question you are welcomed with open arms. 

If you answer no to both you are told - "We don't want you".

And the new official theme song of the Republican Party is based on “I Enjoy Being A Girl” from FLOWER DRUM SONG -

I watch FOX NEWS faithfully each evenin’
I listen to everything Trump says.
I believe the election it was stolen.
To wearing a mask I reply with loud nays.
I enjoy being a fool! 
 

+ It is truly sad that for every two genuine Christians who attempt to follow the actual teachings of Christ in America today there is at least one person falsely claiming to be Christian who distorts and perverts Christianity to justify personal prejudices and bigotry or for some other self-serving reason.
 

+ I have always been a fan of the British tv series “Midsomer Murders”, based on the novels in the Chief Inspector Barnaby series written by Caroline Graham that take place within small country villages across the fictional English county of Midsomer. 

It premiered on the ITV channel in the UK on March 23, 1997.  I first became aware of the show when episodes were shown on the American cable channel A&E in the summer of 1998, back when A&E actually presented content that involved art and entertainment.  I have been able to watch all the episodes of all series on Acorn.tv (http://acorn.tv/browse/mystery).  The 22nd series will return to Acorn.tv at the end of September.

The series originally starred John Nettles as Inspector Tom Barnaby.  When Nettles retired at the end of 2010, after 13 series, he was replaced by Neil Dudgeon as his cousin Inspector John Barnaby.  It is odd, and truly rare, that a lead character in a police series is replaced by a relative with the same last name.  But there was a very good reason in this case.   

Midsomer Murders was, and is, very popular around the world.  In 2004, it was among the three most-sold British TV shows worldwide.  It was especially popular in Scandinavian countries, where it was shown under the title “Inspector Barnaby”.  So, this title is the reason the replacement for Tom Barnaby had to be another Inspector Barnaby.
 

TAFN











Tuesday, August 3, 2021

AUGUST 2021

THE TRUMP VIRUS

COVID-19 is not the only new virus infecting Americans today.  There is also the Trump Virus.
 
While many people are calling coronavirus the “Trump Virus”, because of his complete incompetence in handling its outbreak, the Trump Virus is actually a separate disease.  The Trump Virus attacks the brain cells, totally stripping its victims of all intelligence.
 
The spread of the Trump Virus seems to be especially high among leaders of the Republican Party and elected Republican legislators at all levels – federal, state and local.
 
The most severe victim of the Trump Virus is Rudy Giuliani.  The disease has turned the man once known as “America’s Mayor” for his leadership after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center into a complete blathering moron – the second biggest idiot in American politics today.
 
You may think I consider Trump himself to be the biggest idiot in American politics today – but he is only #3.  The biggest idiot in American politics today is Marjorie Taylor Greene.  But she is not a victim of the Trump Virus – she comes by her ignorance naturally. 
 
It is not known whether Jim Jordan is a victim of the Trump Virus or if he has always been a moron.
 
Similar to Taylor Greene, and perhaps Jim Jordan, the millions of MAGA morons that make up Trump’s core cult of ignorant racists, who cheer Trump’s every lie at rallies, are not victims of the Trump Virus.  They have always been morons.
 
THINGS NO ONE EVER TOLD YOU
 
As we all know Catholic priests are required to take a vow of “celibacy”, which is defined as “the state of abstaining from marriage and sexual relations”.  
 
Celibacy is a “discipline” of the Catholic Church, something that can be changed, and not a “dogma”, which is considered divinely revealed truth from God and cannot be changed or revised.  There is some religious and historical basis for the vow of celibacy, but nowhere in the Bible does it explicitly require priests to be celibate.  Actually, for the first thousand years of Christianity it was not uncommon for priests to have families. The first pope, St Peter, was a married man.  The vow of celibacy for priests was officially formalized by the Second Lateran Council held in 1139, and the rule was reaffirmed in 1563 by the Council of Trent.
 
But the true reason has nothing to do with religion – it is about economics.
 
In the Middle Ages wealthy Catholics believed that their earthly goods were a barrier to eternity in Heaven, and turned over portions of their wealth to priests and bishops as a “down payment” on a spot in Heaven.  As a result, priests became rich in both money and land. 
 
Normally, when a person dies his wealth is passed on to his family – his wife and children.  But the Catholic Church wanted the wealth to remain with the Church.  Prohibiting priests from marrying and having children, and therefore no “heirs”, made sure the money and property acquired during a priest’s life would be go to the church.  
 
 ONCE, YES, ONCE IS DELICIOUS – BUT TWICE WOULD BE VICIOUS, OR JUST REPETITIOUS
 
Most movie remakes are at best unnecessary and at worst an insult to the originals. Yet Hollywood continues to crank out mediocre remakes featuring actors who are inferior to the stars of the originals (I am waiting for an announcement that THE WIZARD OF OZ will be remade with Ariana Grande).
         
The remake of THUNDERBALL also starred Sean Connery as James Bond.  While not a bad movie, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN was totally unnecessary. The sole motivation for making the movie was money – to cash in on Sean Connery returning to the role of James Bond for one last time.
 
Adam Sandler is no Burt Reynolds, let alone a Gary Cooper (one critic wrote, “Adam Sandler is to Gary Cooper what a gnat is to a racehorse.”). His remake of THE LONGEST YARD was totally unnecessary and his remake of MR DEEDS GOES TO TOWN was a true insult to the classic original.  Sandler makes movies aimed at 5th grade boys (or at least those with the sense of humor and maturity of 5th grade boys) – and both originals were made for adults.
 
As an aside – a good rule of thumb is to ignore any film starring, or produced by, Adam Sandler.
 
A literal shot-by-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO added absolutely nothing to the original.
 
There was even a remake of the iconic Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn romantic thriller CHARADE, perhaps "the" classic film of its genre, titled THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE.  One of the worst decisions ever made by Hollywood, it, rightfully so, lasted about a day and a half in the theatres.
 
Some remakes are not really remakes - they simply steal the title and a basic plot idea. The producers hope to boost the box office of their movie by evoking memories of a far superior film. The Steve Martin CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN films had absolutely nothing to do with the Clifton Webb original (or its sequel) other than the fact that the films are about a family with 12 children. 
 
Don’t get me wrong.  There have been remakes that have improved and expanded on the original film – though this is the exception and not the rule.  In two of the best examples of this exception the remake was done by the same director.  Alfred Hitchcock remade his THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH some 22 years after the original.  And Frank Capra remade his 1933 film LADY FOR A DAY as POCKETFUL OF MIRALCES in 1961.  Although I have not seen the original films, the remakes are certainly top-notch films.
 
KING KONG was remade twice. The 1933 original was a breakthrough masterpiece. The first remake, made in 1976, was totally unnecessary, and inferior in every way - even though I was in the film (my friend Howard Bernstein and I were among the crowd that ran across the top of the World Trade Center to avoid a falling Kong – I remember seeing Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange standing alongside what was supposed to be a dead Kong on one side of the roof).  The “threemake” was better, and relatively respectful to the original.  However, the casting of Jack Black was, in my opinion, a big mistake.
 
A few years ago, Kirsten Acuna of BUSINESS INSIDER suggested “10 Movie Remakes That Are Better Than the Original”.
 
She does not mention the two films that I thought were better than the originals, and really cannot come up with 10 true remakes.
 
Some of the films on the list are bogus.  “Airplane” is not a remake of “Zero Hour”.  It was a parody of all airplane disaster movies.  And what is called a remake of “Little Shop of Horrors” is actual the movie version of the Broadway musical comedy based on the original film.
 
While I would agree with “The Maltese Falcon” (I did not know that there was an earlier film movie) and “The Ten Commandments”, even though I did not see the original films, I certainly take exception to “True Grit” and “Ocean’s Eleven” (to be fair I did not see the remakes).  I expect that the remakes were not bad - but they were not better, just different.  Both originals were true classics, for the casting if nothing else.
 
YOU CAN SELL SHIT AND GET THANKS. THAT’S WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE YANKS
 
From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary –
 
ex-cre-ment noun \ ek-skrə-mənt\
 
Definition of EXCREMENT
 
(1) waste matter discharged from the body; especially: feces
 
(2) reality tv
 
Examples of EXCREMENT
 
(1) an ordinance that requires dog walkers to remove their animal's excrement from city streets
 
(2) ABC’s “The Bachelor” is a steaming pile of excrement
 
Reality sucks!  Reality tv, that is.
 
I wish someone would explain to me why the great unwashed masses are so fascinated by watching people with limited intelligence and no self-respect behave badly on a deserted island, in courtrooms, on the runway or at a photo shoot, in a boardroom sucking up to an over-exposed and self-absorbed millionaire, losing weight, in restaurant kitchens, in tattoo parlors and beauty salons, or supposedly looking for a mate.
 
Once upon a time television, while not always succeeding, at least attempted to entertain, enlighten and educate.
 
Watching self-absorbed trophy wives - neither “real” nor “housewives” - bitch and moan, drink like fishes, and engage in catfights certainly does not deserve a “bravo”.
 
Watching a family of ignorant and bigoted hillbillies hunt ducks is neither art nor entertainment.
 
Watching the brain-dead living together in close quarters is not entertaining, enlightening or educational.
 
Watching a bevvy or women throw themselves at a potential mate, who is only in it for the sex, is nothing more than bad soft-core pornography.
 
Watching children being abused and paraded around in inappropriately mature costumes in dance class or “beauty pageants” is porn for pedophiles.
 
The above all represent examples of the genre incorrectly referred to as “reality tv” (the only true reality tv is the evening news).  I remember coming across the last scene in the tv movie about arrogant moron Trump while channel surfing several years back.  Mark Burnett is pitching the idea for THE APPRENTICE to Trump.  “It’s not reality,” Burnett tells him.  “It’s reality tv”.
 
There is more expression of true human emotion and “reality” in the main characters of BONES remembering a fallen comrade or android Data trying to learn to be “human” in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION than in an entire season of any reality tv garbage.
 
While the motto of the father of reality programs is “Outwit, Outplay and Outlast”, the real motto of the reality tv genre is “Embarrass, Humiliate and Abuse”.
 
Just to be clear, when I refer to “reality tv” I am not talking about legitimate talent contests or home improvement shows likes those on HGTV or DIY.  You know what shows I am talking about.
 
What does reality tv do?  It takes greedy self-absorbed individuals, totally devoid of self-respect and common sense and with questionable intelligence, puts them in unnatural situations, encourages them to act outrageously, and films everything they do.  This has nothing to do with “reality”.
 
In my younger days the criteria for determining if a book or movie was pornography was the lack of any “socially redeeming value”. I dare anyone to show me any socially redeeming value in any reality tv program.
 
Back in 2008 USA TODAY did a cover story on reality tv with interviews panels of “stars” from various shows of the genre.  When a panel from cable channel VH1 was asked about the most memorable moments from their shows, Flavor Flav said, “One of the most memorable moments in the history of reality TV was when that girl shit on my floor.”  Someone else responded, “No, I’d say it’s Mini-Me pissing on the carpet” from THE SURREAL LIFE.  Need I say more?
 
One of the programs in this heinous genre was a show called THE BIGGEST LOSER. Just who is the biggest loser when it comes to “reality tv”?
 
It goes without saying that those who participate as hosts and contestants on a reality program, and those who actually watch the garbage, are indeed losers, in every sense of the word. Also on the list of losers are the multitude of actors, writers, directors, and other creative personnel who are unemployed as a result of the proliferation of these programs.
 
No actual creativity is needed for reality tv.  The director just tells the participants to act outrageously and the cameraperson points and shoots.
 
But the biggest losers are those of us who recognize the genre for the crap that it truly is, and therefore avoid it like the plague. For every hour of “reality” programming that pollutes the airwaves we are deprived of an hour of real television drama, comedy, documentary or news programming. By putting shows like THE BACHELOR and THE BACHELORETTE on its prime-time schedule, ABC has denied us what may have been the next ALL IN THE FAMILY, M*A*S*H, THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, DESIGNATED SURVIVOR, THIS IS US, or 60 MINUTES.  The only winners in “realty tv” are the networks and the shows’ producers, who are laughing all the way to the bank!
 
Reality tv is a result of, and a major contributor to the ongoing continuance of, the “dumbing down of America”.  A result of this vile genre is the creation of a new breed of “celebrities” – self-important narcissistic buffoons with no talent who are merely “famous for being famous”.
 
One of the best descriptions ever of so-called “reality tv” and the making of its pathetic “stars” into “celebrities” appeared in an episode of the BBC tv show JUDGE JOHN DEED, starring Martin Shaw as the judge, over a decade ago.  In “Popular Appeal” an angry contestant in a British reality tv show called “The Dungeon” kills another competitor on camera, and the show's producers face charges of manslaughter in Deed's court. The prosecution contends that they acted recklessly and engineered conflict in order to get higher ratings.  A psychiatrist working for the station that airs the show testifies that the producers purposely look for psychologically flawed “contestants” who can be easily manipulated and angered, which clearly represents what reality tv producers do in “real life”. 
 
Judge Deed, speaking to the producer of a reality TV show after the jury has returned its verdict, correctly observes –
 
Celebrity: the pursuit of the talentless by the mindless. It's a common disease of the twenty-first century. It pollutes our society, and diminishes all who seek it and all who worship it, and you must bear part of the responsibility for foisting this empty nonsense onto a gullible public.”
 
Reality tv is dangerous.  It teaches bad lessons to young viewers –
 
* Greed is good.
 
* Money is more important than self-respect or human dignity.
 
* It is acceptable to publicly humiliate people.
 
* A cat fight is an appropriate form of conflict resolution.
 
* You don’t need education or even intelligence to be a success in America – any brain-dead idiot can become wealthy by appearing in reality tv nonsense.
 
In her excellent and spot on blog post “The Danger of Reality TV” Canadian Rhonda Scharf correctly observes -
 
The reality of reality shows is that they effectively affect our society. Television tells us what is normal and accepted and eventually it worms its way into our subconscious.
 
These messages are wrong. They instill a workplace mentality of winning at all costs. They have no compassion, no understanding, and no reality about the world we actually live in.”
 
A news item from 2012 reported –
 
The Girls Scouts are warning of the dangers of reality tv after a study by the Girl Scouts Research Institute concluded that reality shows are having a negative effect on young women.
 
The study found that reality television ‘more frequently portrays girls and women in competition with one another rather than in support or collaboration. This perpetuates a 'mean-girl' stereotype and normalizes this behavior among girls.’
 
The study concluded: ‘Teen girls who regularly view reality tv accept and expect a higher level of drama, aggression, and bullying in their own lives, and measure their worth primarily by their physical appearance.’"
 
Television can change the world.  Pioneers like Norman Lear and the creative staff behind M*A*S*H changed the world for the better in the early 1970s.  And same-sex marriage would not have become legally accepted without Ellen DeGeneres and shows like WILL AND GRACE and MODERN FAMILY.  Today reality tv garbage is resulting in the decline and deterioration of our society.
 
Still don’t think reality tv is dangerous?  
 
Reality tv is responsible for the death of the Republican Party and the dire mess that America and the world is in today by giving undeserved credibility to a mentally unstable narcissistic sociopath and cartoon clown who is completely unfit to serve in any elected position of power – former President Donald T Rump.
 
From the Thesaurus –
 
Synonyms for “shit”:
 
BM, crap, defecation, doo-doo, dung, excrement, excretion, fecal matter, feces, manure, number two, poop, reality tv, stool, waste.
 
SURFIN’ USA

 
I love British television, the unique “Britcoms” that could never be properly adapted for the American audience and the classic mysteries.  Today, with 200+ television channels and nothing on, I must find online sources for daily entertainment.  
 
Acorn is the publisher of DVDs of many British and other former “empire” country television shows and movies.  It has created Acorn.TV, “a subscription streaming service that offers world-class mysteries, dramas, comedies, and documentaries from Britain and beyond”.  My main ACORN TV viewing involves its inventory of mysteries.  You can watch all seasons, or series, of your favorite shows going back to the very beginning.
 
The site has all the episodes of the “old favorites” like the Agatha Christie chestnuts Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot as well as lesser known Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, “Midsommer Murders”, “Inspector Morse”, “Foyle’s War”, “Prime Suspect”, “Rosemary and Thyme”, and “Lovejoy”, as well as more obscure and newer shows.   I have especially enjoyed “Blue Murder”, “The Last Detective”, “Murder In Suburbia”, “Vera”, “Agatha Raisin” and recently “Whitstable Pearl”.
 
The shows are not limited to those from the UK.  Australian, Canadian, and even New Zealand tv mysteries are included.  Like “Murdoch Mysteries” from Canada (a police detective working in Toronto around the turn of the 20th Century using CSI-type technology to solve mysteries that often involve real historical figures), “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” and the follow-up “Miss Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries” (more period pieces), “Mr. and Mrs. Murder” (about a married couple who run a crime scene clean-up business), “Winter” (a Prime-Suspect-like procedural) from Australia, and “The Brokenwood Mysteries” from New Zealand.   Each month new shows, and new “series” of continuing shows, are added.
 
And it has “Doc Martin”. 
 
In addition to the high definition quality, the best part of the subscription is, unlike free viewings on YouTube, there are no commercial interruptions.
 
ACORN TV offers two options: a monthly subscription ($5.99/month) and an annual subscription ($59.99/year).  You can sign up for a free 30-day trial at signup.acorn.tv. Your free trial entitles you to a month unlimited access to Acorn TV (new customers only).   
 
ALWAYS LEAVE ‘EM LAUGHING
 
A group of Scientists are running an experiment on the human brain. They are trying to figure out how well a human brain can function when it is missing various sections.
 
They start off by cutting out half of the first subject’s brain and then ask him to count to 10. The subject replies "one, five, seven, ten".
 
The scientists are intrigued by this. They decide to cut out the entire brain this time and once again ask the subject to count to ten.
 
The subject replies –
 
"I can count to ten, I'm the best at counting in the world, I have the best numbers, the news is fake when they disagree with me, I think, people, when they think about good numbers, I can count, with any numbers, all the time, better than China, better than anyone."
 
 
TALK TO YOU NEXT MONTH
 
Please share this “issue” with your friends and family.  Your comments on this issue are welcomed – email me at rdftaxpro@yahoo.com with BOBSERVATIONS COMMENT in the “Subject Line”.
 
 
Copyright © 2021 by Robert D Flach