Stage Four restrictions return to Austin, thanks dickheads!

Austin has a pretty good vaccination rate but remember, we’re surrounded by Texas. This is a land filled with Ammosexuals, Neo-Confederates, Bigots and morons unaware their protests of “nobody helped me when I was on food stamps!” is a contradiction. We also have some trouble in paradise. Our high-tech industries are a magnet for Libertarian douchebags driving Teslas with Ron Paul and Infowars bumper stickers. These two camps refuse to cooperate because their “research,” smugness and willful ignorance (Sen. Toupee of KY has all three) will protect them. Yup, just like cryptocurrencies and Jesus will get them through the oncoming climate disasters that have arrived.

My hope is the Delta Variant will continue to kill off enough unvaccinated morons, especially Republicans office holders, so we can return to what made life worthwhile with other people. It will be better when there are fewer assholes exiting their god barns all at once, blocking key intersections on Sundays; and the world doesn’t need more unkempt white dudes, who immediately mention Alex Jones when I tell them I’m from Austin.

This upcoming birthday is going to still going to rock. I have good friends. Good company. Austin continues have great places to celebrate.

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1996: The Daily Show launches

Damn! Time flies too quickly at my age. I’m glad this outlasted South Park and probably will. It wasn’t necessarily Comedy Central’s first attempt at current events-based comedy. Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect didn’t survive ABC’s cowardice and Maher’s love of his own farts. I don’t know if I’d count Short Attention Span Theater, the show lacked a direction.

When it did launch on this day and then some. I was amongst the skeptics. Ugh, here we go, yet another program similar to HBO’s Not Necessarily the News from the Eighties and/or it’s SNL’s Weekend Update on a daily basis. Going with this former sportscaster named Craig Kilbourn was another mystery. By the Fall, I was starting to enjoy it. TDS found its voice mocking the news-lite crap the broadcast networks were peddling, the first correspondents were pretty funny, especially Brian Unger, a former correspondent on A Current Affair and Craig’s five questions with the guest were clever.

It was a bummer though to find out the early years were rocky. Craig Kilbourn turned out to be an asshole who found a way to push out the creators, both of whom were women he hated. He to got suspended for calling them “bitches” in an interview with a magazine. Still, TDS kept soldiering on as writers and correspondents left while new ones joined, namely Stephen Colbert from Strangers with Candy and Exit 57. Colbert brilliantly made his own niche as the program’s Bill O’Reilly parody.

When it was announced that Kilbourn was leaving and Jon Stewart was taking over. I figured, yeah, TDS will die a slow, painful death. For Millenials and Gen Z, here’s an explanation why many agreed with me. Throughout the Nineties, Jon Stewart was my generation’s Billy Crystal. A not-very-funny comedian who just kept being foisted on the rest of us. Whenever Jon Stewart or Dave Chapelle were going to be on, you changed the channel, they sucked. Stewart had a brief stinting hosting Short Attention Span Theater before Marc Maron took over, he was lame. Then he had a short-lived, pretty boring talk show on MTV. Who’s to blame? Given MTV being vapid and shitty after 1985, it would be an even split. Had I subscribed to HBO for the rest of the decade, I would’ve learned how Stewart finally found his voice via The Larry Sanders Show as a writer and playing a parody of himself, namely the self-deprecating jokes regarding how he failed on MTV. The other factor I didn’t know, David Letterman was his guest on the last MTV episode. David gave Jon encouraging words about failure and persistence. Having seen David Letterman’s original NBC daytime show in 1980 as a kid, Jon got a huge pearl of comedy wisdom.

Jon Stewart was also very cunning. CBS originally offered him the show following Letterman because Tom Snyder was retiring. He passed and let Kilbourn take it. Then he took control of TDS by hiring a couple Onion writers to move things more toward satirizing what passed for actual news in America. The fluff Kilbourn promoted died out and the correspondents doubled-down on personas to add to the absurdity. We can thank him for making TDS a comedy institution alongside The Onion and  The Simpsons. Jon proved to be a generous person and performer as his tenure launched The Colbert Report (some of its DNA lives in The Late Show), This Week with Jon Oliver,  Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and Larry Wilmore’s two shows. Others became movie stars, stand-ups and TV leads with his assistance. Jon also paid it forward as they say when Larry Wilmore was canceled on Comedy Central.

Jon Stewart’s run was incredible. He went from being a “not him” choice to hard act to follow after 16 years. He also turned down an opportunity to run TDS through the awful Girth Vader term but said it would be too easy, he wanted something different and a new challenge. He also gave TDS a solid, reliable direction, more along with what the creators wanted from day one.

Trevor Noah as the successor was a bigger surprise than Jon Stewart in 1999. Given all the more experienced and famous correspondents to fill the spot (and many left), especially not getting a woman in the anchor seat (Samantha Bee came to mind), Trevor has been successful. Like all hosts of any long-running program, The Tonight Show, Late Night, Hollywood Squares, etc. Shifts in tone, in-jokes and so on is expected. He quickly made this his own show influenced by his experience as an immigrant to America; a little nod to how David Letterman was a Midwesterner out of his element in NYC back in the Eighties.

In closing, I think what has made TDS amazing and still fresh after 25 years is threefold. It’s The Onion for people who don’t like to read. It’s a thousand times better than SNL will ever could be, including the classic 1975-1980 cast. It’s also a program and format that continues to confound and frustrate the American Right; they’re still 0 and double digits in making an equivalent.

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Congratulations to the Bucks!

It took them 50 years but Milwaukee’s NBA franchise finally won its second championship after numerous teams failed to get there.

When I lived there near my waning years at Marquette, I grew to be a fan through my part-time job in the sports department of the Milwaukee Sentinel, now merged with the dying Journal. I didn’t really cheer for them out of spite for Da’ Bulls. My job, meeting the guy who covered the team (back then, Rick Braun) and having better access led to me learning a lot more about the NBA and how underrated the team was. The head coach’s daughter (Dell Harris) was also a resident in the dorm I worked in. I’ll let her name be a secret from the site, but I do have an amusing anecdote regarding her and her boyfriend at the time. It’s nothing bad or in poor taste. Dell’s daughter was a very nice person and I think she preferred to be anonymous at Marquette.

I continued to cheer for the Bucks until I moved to Austin. Gradually the Spurs won me over yet the Bucks remained a sometimes favorite with the Eastern Conference I left behind. The Spurs winning my loyalty was too hard of a sell. What little I do understand, both teams played a similar game or strategy in the Nineties; work your way into the paint and score the shorter basket while drawing a foul. I have no clue how the Bucks play anymore, I do know the Spurs’ coach Popovich isn’t a fan of the three-point offensive plan. I agree, just throwing the ball up for three-pointers is how people on the playground play.

However, it’s time for Milwaukee to shine. My old university home deserves a positivity from the spotlight. It lacks an NFL and NHL team. It lives in the shadow of Chicago, a tough act to follow from many angles. It hasn’t been an important place for decades and sadly it’s declining as cities in warmer climates are growing faster. Even if it’s only until late October, Milwaukee can bask in the goal of basketball supremacy. I hope they enjoy it while they can. I suspect the Lakers, Clippers and Warriors finding a way to correct what went wrong.

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Happy posthumous birthday to Robin Williams

Today would’ve been his 70th birthday and we really needed him during the Girth Vader years to make us intelligent and empathetic people cope better.

I do feel somewhat bad about liking Robin again near the end of his life and even more when he passed. It’s always a pisser but also comforting to hear/read all the stories about what a kind person Robin really was in person. Especially from his peers.

Robin first came on my radar via Happy Days. I actually saw the episode with Mork’s debut on its initially airing. Of course it was only a dream because they weren’t going to let the Fonz leave Earth to be a guest of Ork for eternity. However, the ratings and reaction were so fantastic, the Mork character got a new sitcom the next Fall, aka Mork & Mindy, making Robin a big star overnight.

I loved Mork & Mindy. Robin’s ad libbing, funny voices and outrageous behavior were a never-ending source of laughter for me through the end of my grade-school years. My dad got me a T-shirt I endured teasing from classmates over. Mork the Dork I’d hear. Little did I know, cocaine was what fueled the character. I did learn Robin’s stand-up material was dirty as soon as he landed an HBO special; my parents never let me see it. When Mork married Mindy and added Jonathan Winters as their baby Mearth, I felt the show was over yet the two comedians did keep it rolling the best they could. Behind the scenes, Robin used his stardom for good by getting his fellow stand-up friends guest spots: David Letterman, Bill Kirchenbauer, Jeff Altman and Pee Wee Herman.

Robin’s first SitCom ended with a whimper but it didn’t matter, he was rapidly propelled into movies. He starred in Popeye in between seasons and never returned to TV for three decades.

The majority of his films, I just can’t get behind since his manic style wasn’t used well (The Survivors with Walter Matthau), it became too much and tired after 1983 (Good Morning, Vietnam; Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire) or he was trying too hard to show he was more than a funny guy (Moscow on the Hudson, Dead Poets Society and Awakenings). One of his legacies is whenever a comedian tries to show their serious acting chops, it’s called Doing a Robin Williams Move. Jim Carrey quickly tried the same with worse results and it’s more likely due to him being a shitty person in private. The other joke was you could tell if it was a serious role whenever Robin had a beard.

There were gems within the crap, especially if he had a smaller role or was in an ensemble: Club Paradise, Baron Munchausen, The Fisher King, Robots, Ken Branaugh’s Hamlet and Nine Months. He did get more selective by the Nineties. Jumanji was his best in that decade amongst dreck like Jack and Flubber. As cliché as Good Will Hunting was, Robin did earn the Oscar he won for Best Supporting Actor. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck continue to owe him a huge debt for their careers.

The Bird Cage was a bigger demonstration of his generosity as an actor. Originally, Steve Martin was cast as the straight man Armand and Robin would be the hyper-emotional companion Albert. Stupidly, Martin passed to star in the craptacular Sgt. Bilko dud. Robin willingly (or asked) to be Armand so Nathan Lane could get the most laughs. It worked. This went on to be Robin’s seventh box office cash machine.

His final years were filled with a lot of personal tragedy while it resulted in what I felt was his best work. The second divorce really smarted. He had a heart attack. He had a relapse with alcohol due to the movie Insomnia (Alaska messes with anyone’s circadian rhythm). Through it all he made his greatest, darkest, funniest comedy ever, World’s Greatest Dad with Bobcat Goldthwait directing/writing.

Robin’s passing brought out amazing stories from comedians I admired and love too. The first came from Dana Gould. Dana was in San Francisco performing, probably to distract him from what was then his recent divorce. Then an unknown number showed a text message with encouraging words. It was Robin letting him know, things would work out, cheer up. The second came from Brian Posehn reflecting on the tour which made him, Patton Oswalt and Maria Bamford bigger stars; The Comedians of Comedy way in the early Aughts. After their show in San Francisco, they were doing autographs and talking to the fans. Robin was in the line, politely waiting his turn. Despite his fame, he didn’t cut, he didn’t remind anyone who he was, he didn’t request special treatment and he was over the moon to meet this new generation.

I may have said this and some of the above before when I wrote your obituary Robin. I continue to thank you for everything you did. You will always be missed. You gave it your all to make the world a better place and had the courage to do it while fighting your own demons, pain and suffering. May you have your rightful place with the other comedy legends for the next 1000 years.

5940

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Perception then and now

The person who modified this cartoon to fit today’s dilemma was being too generous with the MAGAt’s answer. Given how blindly loyal and stupid they are, the MAGAT’s reply shouldn’t even be a number, it would more likely be “Jesus” or “Fake News!” We also have them to thank for the Delta Variant spreading faster than ever. I dread the upcoming shutdowns on the horizon.

 

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This sums it up most days with vinyl’s resurgence

Having grown up with vinyl and cassettes, I honestly only miss LPs when it comes to an autograph from the artists. Playing LPs remains a colossal pain in the ass. In its defense, it is helping my favorite Austin store, Waterloo Records, keep the lights on since every hedge fund accountant and/or greedy real estate shitbag covets their real estate; yes, we need more overpriced, empty condos while more and more tent cities pop up. I prefer to call them Reagan Ranches or MAGAtvilles.

The other factor is that the manufacturers are putting effort into vinyl. The majority of today’s is the 180-gram stuff so no more putting a couple quarters on the stylus as we used to do in the Eighties because it was so poorly made.

To take some of the sting off, many also come with download codes to save me the stress of digitizing with the latest turntable I haven’t unboxed yet.

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Now seating Baggins, party of four

I would expect to see this at the Elrond’s Rivendell Bar & Grill but it was at my first visit to the Furniture Mall of America. The bigger shock was that this rather unique, impractical setup had sold tags on it.

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RIP Biz Markie

Another pioneer in many ways. Sure, he didn’t have a long-lasting musical career like his other contemporaries Public Enemy or RUN-DMC, nor did he quite make the shift to acting as Ice-T, Ice-Cube and Tone-Loc did. But he did contribute so much more to children and their parents through his appearances on Yo Gabba Gabba! with his segment to teach kids new beat sounds. Biz was also part of the touring show. All those kids who got to sit on his lap and beatbox with him! He was an incarnation of Santa Claus in how fun it was to witness and participate in.

I had the good fortune to meet him briefly through a VIP ticket. He loved to entertain children because the VIP pass included him telling the children a story from a book he chose. It was amazing and cute. Most Rap/Hip-Hop performers usually have a tough guy or bad-ass lady persona. Biz was a gentle giant. He will be greatly missed.

Thanks for everything Biz!

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My cousin’s Coke got hijacked!

Nice to see an overrated movie’s multiple inside jokes working out to make Coke’s lame-ass name campaign more fun. The Playmobil toys of Ghostbusters are more fun.

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NTSC TV in the US is finally gone

This week was the end for the last Analog-based broadcasting TV stations in the US. But by now, even the cheapest Senior Citizen has cable. I have to admit, it was an interesting system for as long as it lasted, since the Thirties yet it wasn’t feasible until the WWII era given there was still a worldwide economic Depression. Having been spoiled by cable for the majority of my life, I never really appreciate the joys traditional NTSC broadcasting. When we didn’t have the option, messing with the bunny ears on our TV was so annoying, you’d almost want to just stop watching and just go read a book.

Digital broadcasting finally took off over a decade ago yet I have to meet anyone who really bothers. The ubiquitous Internet has now given us streaming on demand which made the transition a waste.

Farewell NTSC. It was a great run!

Now our government will just had over another section of public property for pennies to some rich assholes.

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2006: Twitter begins

Of all the Social Media platforms, I like this one best. FeceBook is just ads, ads, ads and more prone to having you discover which relatives and old friends have become right-wing, Kool-Aid drinking MAGAts…or worse, selfish Libertarian pricks. It’s why I finally deleted my account. Now I still do my share of screaming into the void but Twitter is more fun because comedians and writers knock out jokes through it. I’ve also had wonderful conversations with some of my personal heroes, namely writers from The Simpsons and other comedians. I did get blocked by one writer/comedian I still like despite his Limo Liberal defense of Speaker Mummy Bones. 

Let’s see if this means of communications remains relevant in another 15 years. It is built on sand and rainbows but at least it’s not as dangerously overvalued as FeceBook, the next America Online.

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It’s still cruelty at some level

Although my good friend Ethan is nuts for Steely Dan and we saw them before Walter Becker died (half the band) at the Venetian, I must say the owner is cruel for not playing something more contemporary.

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CV-19 outbreaks spiking in Moron Zones

Yet another news dump from the No Shit! Department. The Delta Variant is flourishing in the pockets of the US where the vaccination rate is low. You know, MAGAtland, which is filled with the “real” Amerikans, the kind who believe their dumb opinions are as valid as an expert’s. Nevermind that they vote for assholes who attended the the elite schools said assholes rail against; Sen. Cancun Cruz, Sen. Hitler Hawley and Dicktator DeSantis plus Elmer Fudd’s lovechild and Count Dracula-Thiel’s stooge, JD Vance. Oh yeah, and these same detractors of Dr. Fauci were immunized. The only one true believer is Sen. Rand Toupée.

So when the next wave of lockdowns happen, they have no one to blame but themselves. We can only hope it kills more of the morons leading the charge at CPAC (Caucasian People Always Complaining). I nominate, the terrorist Georgia elected, MTG.

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Texas Democrats tell GOP to suck it! 2021 edition

Last week, Governor Shitbag who only represents Whites making over six digits and are loyal to the Confederacy, called the expected “special session” to put forth the GOP’s voting reforms. There was a slim chance Texas could’ve gone for Grampa’ Brunch and that was too much for the Party of Bullies and Rich Assholes. Since the Democrats pulled off a procedural victory to wind down the clock, Shitbag called everybody back in because they didn’t get everything done in the limited window this state’s backward constitution allows.

What they should be working on is address the state’s under developed power grid. Thanks to Shitbag and Company’s neglect over the last decade; also known as the magic of the market; dozens of Texans froze to death in February. Some organization proclaiming life to be sacred.

No. Making sure Jim Crow II is the law of the state is more important. With the GOP’s stranglehold on Texas through their monopoly on the MAGAt/Moron vote, it’s easier to make voting harder for people darker than George Hamilton. Why change their policies or Antebellum/Gilded Age mindset? We’ve already had a Black Commie POTUS and gave MLK a holiday, hasn’t the Deep South sacrificed enough as Shitbag is trying to make Texas the new Alamo against the Demo…ahem, Communist Party in control of DC?

The Democrats are in the minority when it comes to the Texas Legislature and have been for about a generation. And sure, there are the calls in the opposite direction when it comes to the “will of the majority” via the House. There’s a major difference. The Democratic majority pushing for the Federal law to making voting easier and wider won’t guarantee more Democratic victories, it could even result in more Republican ones. If it does, so be it. The winners should be the ones making the best arguments to get those votes, not the asshole with the inside advantage granted by their cronies. This applies to all political parties. Believe me, the Democrats need to clean house too. Starting with all the old bastards and bitches over 67 in the key posts; their average ages are closer to 80.

Anyway, we still have rules in place to respect the minorities (by numbers, not by ethnicities or gender) in office. This means, you can’t pass laws to steamroll over them. The GOP believes it means they get to throw sand in the gears every time they don’t get their way. The Texas Democrats going to DC was a smart move too. Now Governor Shitbag can’t have them arrested and it brings his Kleptocracy under more scrutiny, especially with his inept regime prosecuting a guy for illegally voting in a primary. Seriously? A primary. An internal party election the state oversees yet it had no real consequence given the two horrific choices were figured out by Confederacy’s idealogical capital, South Carolina.

Good luck Texas Democrats. We’re all going to need it. Trust me, Austin is surrounded and infiltrated by the Civil War’s sore losers.

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Happy 11th birthday Isis!

Today is the day I officially made Isis a part of my family in 2013 and declared it was her new birthday. Of course, she only had the working name of “Buttercup” until Isis was the declared the winner and before a group of terrorist assholes decided to use those letters as their English acronym. It messed up Archer too.

It was great to finally take this stray in after she had to fend for herself outside for a couple year. All the while, being the mother of three litters totally 11 kittens. AHS had no interest in her so I got to keep her and the little stinker filled the hole in my heart left by Molly.

I sure hope she does well with the two possible new cats who will join her and Agamemnon. The dry run at Jennifer’s place went badly. Isis hid under the couch the whole weekend but in her defense, the apartment has six cats. She endures Agamemnon by letting him eat first, a little wrestling, some grooming and when she grows tired of him, it’s quality time under my couch where he’s too fat to get under.

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