It Is Not Jessica Chastain’s Fault

There was a cover to an LA Times special article where six white actresses, including Jessica Chastain, was presented with the headline “Actresses call for a change in the way many stories are told – A Shift in Focus.”

The story was about empowering actresses, but a vocal few spoke out noting there was no diversity in the picture.

Well, I get it, but I’m not sure what Jessica Chastain, or any other actress on the cover, could have done realistically. First and foremost, and this is always my go to in a situation like this, what was the real focus of the story? Was the article a question about diversity in Hollywood or was it about representation about women in Hollywood? It could be a bit of both, but when the focus in the last few months has been about how many actresses have been harassed in Hollywood, that may have been a focus of the article.

Here where I think the thinking went with the set up of the article. I checked and saw that this was a list of possible contenders for best actress. The actresses on the cover are Annette Bening, Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger, Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, and Kate Winslet. To be honest, I’ve never heard of Saoirse Ronan but when I looked her up on Wikipedia, I recognized some of her films.

What I did was look at the list of women and their film careers and nominations. All very impressive. The problem is, and I’m giving LA Times maybe too much credit on this, but it was entirely possible that with the criteria they placed on the panel of women, the field was narrowed down by the fact there aren’t a lot of recognizable WOC given starring roles in film.

For instance, you could possibly put Jada Pinkett Smith on that panel, but Girl Trip isn’t a contender for an award. Just like Chastain, she has been an advocate for inclusion in Hollywood, but by what it seems like the LA Times was going for with the criteria, her film isn’t really up for awards. In articles written about Chastain and the supposed hypocrisy for posing for the photo, she mentioned Salma Hayak as a person who could be included. Agreed she would have been an excellent choice, especially with the Harvey Weinstein incident, but the focus of the article wasn’t abuse in Hollywood but opening up opportunities going forward for inclusion of women stories and representation in general.

I don’t think Jessica Chastain or any of the other actresses could have been criticized for the photo. To be blunt, they just showed up and posed for the picture. The editorial staff at the LA Times is responsible for the photo and its representation. They chose the actresses to have the discussion, they did the prep work and they did the photoshoot. It wasn’t Chastain or any of the other women who presented the LA Times with the idea of the article or the photoshoot.

Who should be responsible, who the frustration should be focused on, is the LA Times for not doing the research to find diverse voices for the discussion. It should not be the actress who have to respond after the fact and who had no control of the article or the photo.

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Merry Holidays

Of those that are doing this over the phone, and thankfully it’s not a lot of them, people are wishing me a Merry Christmas. All of them. No Happy Holidays, no Happy Hanukkah or even Happy Kwanzaa. I don’t recall so many well-wishers or exclusive Merry Christmas greeting. Maybe because I’m keyed into it because of this post-Trump era I’m sensitive to it, but I’ve always been a Happy Holidays guy, if I have to say it.

Too many times, and I get it because of the times we live in, we just make an assumption our perceived status quo is how everyone lives, and that just isn’t true. I haven’t done this in years, but for over five years the tradition we had was a Christmas Eve dinner at this Thai restaurant in San Diego. It started with five of us, because we didn’t have any family, not particularly religious and the Thai restaurant was one of the few places open late. It was incredibly fun the first few years, but we started making it “a thing” and it grew big. Way too big. The largest group we had was 75 people! By that point, us originals realized it got way out of our control. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t an intimate gathering and there was no way to have civil conversations with that many people.

I’ve thought of starting the tradition again, but I’ve become very leery of strangers at my age and because I’ve been working most times during Christmas Eve and Day, I haven’t had the motivation to organize something. This is the first time in eight years I actually will have Christmas Day off. In fact I’ll have three days off starting Saturday morning. I don’t know how I want to celebrate, if I want to celebrate.

I just realized I haven’t seen any of the traditional holiday specials. I have to remedy that in the next few days. How can I miss Rankin Bass classics? I need Heat Miser and Cold Miser songs dancing in my head. I need an elf dentist. How about Burgermeister Meisterburger? I might need to seek out some childhood memories in the next days.

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Bye Omarosa, Don’t Let Door Hit You

Here is the one statement I want to dive into on the story about Omarosa getting fired/departing the White House.

“When I have a chance to tell my story, Michael, quite a story to tell. As the only African-American woman in this White House, as a senior staff and assistant to the President, I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people. And when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear.”

Robin Roberts, one of the anchors on Good Morning America, responded to Omarosa’s statement with the statement, “Bye, Felicia.” So, I’m going to circle back to illustrate something that many people have heard but may not understand the full meaning of.

Many times, especially when used in racial charged statement, many people will talk about “dog-whistle” statement, and I believe there’s not a real understanding of the statement because of a real factor. The message is usually used on a majority audience who might dismiss or inaccurately interpret the meaning of the statement. They may say the minority who understands the meaning as being overly sensitive or they cannot understand why it cannot be interpreted as a literal rather than an implied and dog whistle statement.

I know Roberts knew exactly whom she was talking to when she made the statement, and the fact that the internet, especially Black people on the internet, knew and understood exactly what she means and that is flew over the heads of most is such a funny turn of events.

It’s interesting that a major network morning star had to bring the phrase from the backroom to the front room, and did it in a way where it went over a lot of people’s heads. When it was explained to the non-minority audience, through websites and social media, people got what Robin Roberts meant.

I think a lot of people realized, after hearing the explanation, how simple the phrase was, because it perfectly fit the person who was being talked about. People don’t care about Omarosa’s version of the White House. They don’t care, other than a sick curiosity, about how things upset her in the White House. What she may say will be taken as a self-serving lie.

Look, I can’t hate that she was given an opportunity to grab the brass ring and get into the White House. That was an Olivia Pope style move, to be sure, but Omarosa was never a likable person and some of the things she did and said was done for her, not her community or her people. I’m sure when the real truth about Omarosa’s time in the White House is disclosed, instead of a maverick or a trailblazer she will be seen as a self-centered egotist who cared about herself more than her community or her people.

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No More Moore

Wednesday morning, Roy Moore lost the election to become an Alabama senator, and a lot of praise went out to the people of Alabama mentioning how important the victory of Doug Jones was. All sorts of analysis were made about the election, giving the impression, finally, that the strangeness of the Trump administration, and the results of his election, made some redemptive turn with the rejection of Roy Moore.

I must take a cynical look at the process.

I watched a few focus group videos of voters who were interviewed before and after the election. I watched many cringe worthy clips from campaign events. There’s a lot of celebration about the win, and I guess overall a win is a win, but I don’t take much solace in the fact that Doug Jones won by 1.5%. That’s roughly a separation of 20000 out of 1.3 million votes cast. If any other candidate had the negatives that Roy Moore went into the campaign with, and let’s take the sexual allegation off the table for a moment, maybe Moore could have won. Why do I say that? Before the sexual allegations were made, Moore was the odds-on favorite to win.

Before the sexual allegations, he was still a person who was removed from office twice because of not upholding the Constitution he was sworn to defend and support. He was a person who had made defamatory statements about gays, blacks, and other minority groups. If you are to believe the polls before the allegations, many Alabamians were overwhelmingly OK with Moore and his politics.

In the Republican primary, Roy Moore beat Luther Strange 54.6% to 45.4%. It seemed it was inevitable that Moore, who beat the establishment Republican Strange, could easily defeat his Democratic challenger.

That was before the allegations.

How some people defended Moore, including Moore himself, with the allegations of, at the very least, a man in his early 30s pursuing, let’s use the term barely legal girls, is frankly disgusting. Even if you discount the alleged sexual assault, many people in the state were perfectly OK, if he asked their mama’s permission, for a 30+ year old man to actively “court” (again, trying to use polite terms) barely legal girls.

In the focus group videos I saw, while most of the country were talking about how accusers have to be believed and men were losing their jobs over sexual assault allegations, there are a good number of people who didn’t believe the women who accused Moore. They thought they were part of some liberal agenda to smear Roy Moore. Some supporters of Moore would go on air and defend that if Moore asked for the parents’ permission, well, that was the way it was done in the day. With awareness and many examples of women and men who have come forward to talk of abuse and sexual misconduct years and even decades later, the Moore supporters were adamant that these women had to be dismissed because they didn’t come forward sooner.

I’d like to think there has been progress made in socially and politically, but with the takedown of so many people with similar allegations being made about them, I don’t take much comfort that Moore lost by 1.5%, considering in the primary he won by such a large margin. The reason why I’m concerned is I have the feeling were getting to the point, especially with die hard Republicans, the Moore bar is what needs to be reached to take down an otherwise disreputable individual. See, it wasn’t enough that the policies of Roy Moore were barely rejected by the public.  Things were really piled on Moore, with the sexual allegations, to get just enough people to reject him and to elect Doug Jones.

I would argue, even without the sexual allegations, Moore should have been defeated easily, but polls before the allegations suggested he was leading the election. The sexual allegations should have buried him, but he lost by 1.5%.

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Another Quick Post

The main reason I don’t like having the weekends off has been a reminder to myself today. I had to work a few hours today and tomorrow, making up time so I get my full paycheck for the High Holy Day I’m taking on Friday (Star Wars: The Last Jedi release date). The bus schedule on the weekends are terrible, so travel had to be planned to add in long waits for connections. If you must go to a shopping center, the weekends will be the time when they are packed.

If I plan to stay home, there’s not a lot on TV. I was expecting that I would have a marathon of Ion TV reruns of the Law and Order franchise, but during the holidays, it’s nothing but Hallmark TV like feel good Christmas shows. Not what I’m looking forward to on my days off.

I mean, I must be serious and say I’m complaining as an annoyance not as a real grievance. I’ve got a backlog of TV shows I can watch, and will probably start digging into tomorrow. I could be like a couple of Facebook friends I have that have to work two jobs to keep their heads above water. My financial position is not where I want it to be (really how much money is enough money!) but I can work a little overtime, pay the bills and have something extra.

I thought the end of last year was bad, with my stuff getting taken, and I was optimistic things would turn around this year. Well, I’m not going to say this year was bad, but it has been challenging. My parents and their health issues have been an emotional strain for me this year. I’ve had to reconcile some emotions I’ve had suppressed for decades. It’s made be a bit scattered, I’ve made some embarrassing and bad choices, but most of those bad choices I have recovered from. I’m not in a what I would call a happy place right now, but I’m coping with the dredged-up emotions.

I’m taking things a step at a time and I’m trying, not always successfully, to work through the issues I have.

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Another Sunday Morning Musing

I woke this morning a bit tired. When I walked to the bus, I was a bit chillier than the air around me, like I was getting sick. On the bus ride I felt queasy, a bit shaky, but I was able to suppress the feeling and I made it to work relatively OK. Now I have a few hours before work starts and I’m not feeling my best.

I don’t think I’m coming down with anything, but that’s me trying to put a brave face on things. I’m here. I don’t want to let my work mates down, so I’m going to plow ahead and hope I muster through the day.

The truth is I don’t want to stay at home because when I’m home it’s quiet and I start thinking about my parents. It’s an emotional roller coaster right now with them. My father is sick and it’s putting a strain on my mother. Like we always do, we’re not discussing the fear and concerns we have right now. We mask our concerns, say the things we need to say for the moment and we aren’t honest about our feelings.

OK, I really can’t say what my parents are thinking, but I know them enough to know the pattern. My mom is denying and not wanting to deal with the strain the care of my father is putting on her. My father doesn’t feel like he’s the breadwinner, the protector and provider anymore and he’s lashing out in his darkly sarcastic way.

I’m sitting on the sidelines looking at them and wondering what my future is going to hold for me. When my parents are gone, I’m the only one left. I have no significant other, no children. My only companion is a stubborn cat. Part of me questions some decisions I’ve made, wondering if I should have strived harder for the dream my parents had of me with a normal life of a partner and children. Then, I get people at work sharing about their relationship struggles and I think, why would I want to put up with it?

See, I just haven’t been motivated to think about politics, social injustice and other topics. One day, my mother calls me to say my father is in the hospital and gives me a dire diagnosis of his condition. Hours or days later, she calls up and everything is OK, other than my father’s complaining. There are weeks when I can ignore the sea change of emotions because it’s so familiar. Other weeks, I hear the reports and I can barely function. But I have to forge ahead. I can’t afford to regress to an emotional blob. I have to work and I can’t take off a day to wallow in self-pity.

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White House Lies

You know, it is close to impossible to take this administration at its word. You have to assume this administration will, at the least will misrepresent the facts or, at the most, will bold face lie to the American people.

Representative Fredrica Wilson was vindicated after White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said that the representative bragged in 2015 about securing funding and hogged the spotlight at such a somber occasion. He called her an “empty barrel” a number of times. White House Chief of Staff Kelly was responding to the claim Wilson made earlier in the week that Trump, when he made a condolence call to the widow of a slain US soldier in Niger that her husband know “what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurts.”

To me there are some disturbing issues raised about the response to by the administration. With the response by Trump, actually his knee jerk, childish reaction to the representative isn’t a surprise at all. A level headed response from the leader of the free world is something we don’t expect anymore, which is a shame.

John Kelly demonstrated how far this administration will go to preserve a lie. Initial conversations about the Kelly press conference were somewhat positive. Kelly invoked the memory of his own son in comparison, explaining that he was told similar words when his son was killed in Afghanistan. If he had left it there, there may have been blowback from his remarks by Trump haters, but the administration could have countered with a plausible response.

When John Kelly decided to attack the Representative personally, that’s when the military man stretched the point and began to lose the moral high ground. One thing this administration does is assumes that people they attack don’t have facts to support their claims. When Kelly first claimed that Wilson listened in on a conversation, trying to make it sound like there was some nefarious reasoning for listening in, it didn’t occur to Kelly, or for members of the administration, that Kelly could have been a friend of the family. It was well reported before Kelly’s statement on Thursday, because I heard the Representative on The View on Wednesday mention this, that she was a friend of the family and had known Army Sgt. La David Johnson since he was a boy in the mentoring program she ran.

This administration doesn’t bother to do checks on details like that. They seem to assume they have the “facts,” which are normally based on assumptions. When Kelly mentioned that how disgusted he was about a speech made at the FBI dedication, I’m sure the administration didn’t do any digging into the speech. Within 24 hours, there was video of the speech given by the Representative, and despite what the retired General portrayed, the Representative made clear it was a group effort, thanking a whole lot of people, including then Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senator Marco Rubio. She was clear that she was a small part of a bi-partisan effort to get the building dedicated.

Here’s the bigger thing I took away from this display. Despite the miscalculations of the administration, it will not change any minds of those who support the administration, and Kelly’s reputation will not be tarnished. I was watching a few retired generals who were interviewed this morning. They went out of their way to praise Kelly, yet dismissed the outright lie he told about the representative. They should have been pressed on the fact, which was seen on the video, that he grossly misrepresented what the representative said, but all they could talk about was the family of the military and the honor of the organization.

Trump and Wilson are the louder voices in the drama. Wilson is embolden because of her vindication. Her outrage against Trump will fuel her to make overarching statements that will sound great to her constituents and some in the Democratic Party but will turn sour for most of the country. Seriously, by claiming, as she did Friday, that the Trump Administration have white supremacists shuts down serious dialog for most people.

This issue will not change minds in any camp.

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Must Study

I’ve neglected some important part of my mental and educational growth in the past years. Yesterday, I started mapping out a path I wanted to pursue with many video and audio recording for Star Citizen. What I realized was my techniques and skills haven’t kept up with current technology. Things that would have been second nature to me a year ago I struggled with preparing. With some things, the programs were very old, other things had equipment that was neglected and I couldn’t remember how to use.

It reminded me of my recent work experience, where I couldn’t recall simple stuff that I used to do years ago without sweating. I have a new goal now; reacquaint myself with the skill set I’ll need to progress in the multi-media environment. In my head I can see what I want to do, and I know I have the equipment to do them, but I’m having trouble piecing the elements together. I finally got something put together for Star Citizen, but it wasn’t the original vision I wanted to present.

By the beginning of next year, I would like to start a new creative venture, but I need to get myself focused on learning a better workflow and ways of creating the content. To do that, I’m going to have the shake off the cobwebs and learn more efficient ways of accomplishing my vision.

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Future Thinking

Since I was in college, I’ve known I’m not corporate material. I’ve never wanted to be Capt. Kirk. I could be Spock, maybe Scotty, but never Kirk. I’m a knowledgeable adviser, a person straddling the people and the corps, but if push comes to shove I’m always going to take the side of the people; the underdog to the corporation.

When I was a supervisor at a previous job decades ago, I would normally take the side of the employees in disputes. That hurt me because it would hinder me from promotions because I didn’t play ball with the corporate interests. I started treated my position in a lot of jobs I had as an “us against them” proposition.

Now that I’m older, especially after my last experience, taking the role of opposition works well for a made for TV feel good movie but doesn’t work well in real life. At the last job I had, the one I worked at for almost a month before returning to my previous job, the goal was to fit in. It was strange being in an environment of what I felt was forced cooperation and less than sincere teamwork.

I can’t see myself being a corporate guy, but I’m learning to carve a niche for myself, balancing my support for the little guy and, frankly, trying to hold onto a job. The issue I have is I’m not getting younger. I can’t be the firebrand anymore because it’s harder as I get older to keep and maintain a job. Here’s the thing as I see it now; I’m happy at my current job and I know if I lose this job, at my age, finding new work at this level will be hard to do.

Look, I’m not thinking of leaving my job anytime. Like I said, I’m happy here and grateful to work here, but my experience a few months ago makes me a little worried that, heaven forbid, if something happens I might not find comparable employment. The options I have for jobs as I get older are going to more than likely pay less than what I make now. I’ve been mulling about some options to make money in my later years.

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Stumbling Drug Dealer

This morning, waiting at the bus stop, a strange person wandered over to be. He looked like he’d been in a fight. His nose was recently broken, judging by the fresh blood, and is words were slightly slurred. The first thing he asked me was if I wanted to buy some weed or cocaine. For the next 15 minutes he talked about how he was like Martin Luther King, his son (who was going to be the next big rapper) and other stream of consciousness stuff. He said I would be a good bodyguard because I was so big.

I said, maybe, ten words. While he was talking to me, because I really didn’t want him near me, I kept imagining I was Rorschach in Watchmen. That’s why I didn’t say much, nothing more that nodding a couple times and saying hum.

When he brought out his phone to play some of the music from his rapper son, which to me the beats on the music were derivative of Sir Mix A Lot’s Posse on Broadway, I got a bit miffed because here was this beat up, drug dealer with a new phone and was streaming music from Spotify. I wondered how a street hustler, as he described himself a number of times, had a smartphone and a wireless plan. The phone was loaded with a lot of apps.

I’ve seen a lot of homeless people with smartphones over the years. The phones I use to see where cheap, flip phones. While I found it strange that a homeless person would have a phone, seeing them with outdated tech made some sense in my head. Now, a lot of the phones I’ve seen with homeless people seem really good and they have plans. How in the world can a homeless person have internet service?

Maybe the person I saw this morning wasn’t as homeless as I imagined. Maybe, as a dope slinger, he has an apartment and a good source of income and I caught him out and about after a string of bad luck. The thing is, I really didn’t want to deal with him, not that early in the morning. I wasn’t in the mood to hear about his son, or how he was like MLK or any of his nonsense. I wanted to be left alone and where was this guy spinning tales and invading my space.

After fifteen minutes he left and stumbled to the parking lot of a convenience store. He talked to someone in a vehicle, definitely having a better conversation than he had with me.

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