Little vacay

I have a friend whose voicemail message, when he went on vacation, alerted callers of such, then said something to the effect of if this is an emergency… call someone who cares. 

Exactly.

Shark Week takes first bites

Whoever came up with the idea for “Shark Week” was a genius. (Wikipedia tells me it was someone named Tom Golden.)

Whoever came up with the idea to have swimming legend Michael Phelps race a shark during Shark Week… super duper double genius.

Seriously, who hasn’t been talking about Phelps vs. Shark the past month or so? This thing got more hype than the actual Olympics where Mr. Phelps made his bones.

I was curious to see how, if nothing else, Discovery Channel would be able to fill an hour (actually 66 minutes) with something that obviously was going to take about 30 seconds. Well, they did, and I was riveted from the word go. Spoiler alert: the shark wins, but seriously, how exactly did you think the race was going to turn out?

And thus we commence another Shark Week, the Discovery Channel equivalent of Christmas at the North Pole. I was unaware until last night that there are a couple more Phelps-shark episodes in the can, including something called “Sharkopedia.”

How about Rematch-opedia?

Hmm?

My wife tells me this blog is often too political, so at the risk of showing my human bias and offending any shark fans out there, let me simply say nice race, shark. Way to represent.

Trotting out an old routine

A common theme used in the many precursors to this blog (Politics After Dark, Politics on the Air, The Binghamton Vanguard, etc.) was having a “Vanguard eye for the news.” This was the method by which one could find subtle commentary and opinion laced throughout supposedly-objective “news” stories on TV and in print.

Nowadays we find such journalists are hardly so subtle.

Take, for example, my local newspaper (that would be The Washington Post) last Sunday, under the banner “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” a supposed “news” story about “Ivanka Inc.,” clever code name for the Ivanka Trump line of fashion and accessories. The four-page story (yes, four giant newspaper-sized pages) details the Ivanka brand, mostly in terms of see how terrible this is? The clothes and other merch are made and/or assembled in foreign countries, where, yes, workers make less than they do here. Shocking news in 2017, I know. I think by now we’ve learned that most of our stuff is made abroad, by people whose only other unfortunate choice is to toil in the local fields for half what they make in American-owned factories. I digress, but once again… damn glad I live here. (Thanks, potato famine!)

I know very little about fashion, but do know a thing or two about money and prices. One thing that does jump out at me is the relative affordability of Ivanka-brand merch. Yes, her dad puts a lot of fake gold and glitz and bumps up prices on many of the things he sells, but Ivanka’s brands seem relatively affordable among “high-end” merch. Consider women’s dresses, highlighted in the “news” article. Say the world output of dresses falls into three categories” 1.) $12 Walmart “dresses”; 2.) $42 Ivanka pleasant-looking attire; and 3.) $500 and up ridiculousness. All three are made in so-called sweatshops. Which ones should we ridicule? Personally I like options.

As a final note I bring attention to the companion piece to the above “news” article, profiling women who dare to wear the Ivanka brand. According to the Post it’s semi-employed “assistants” of one kind or another who do horrendous things like go to church and probably home school their children. And in case you didn’t have time to actually read the article (or maybe you who are interested in this just can’t read), the four-column-wide picture features a (distant) woman modeling an Ivanka dress. Really the picture is of her pickup truck, mobile home, and giant American flag, the three yuckiest things your average Washington Post photographer could ever find.

Well, after Trump voters of course.

Nats come out on top out west

Not exactly a World Series preview (though you never know), but last night’s matchup between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and my local Washington Nats was about as marquee as west coast games get in the middle of July. Two of the games greatest stars (Messrs. Harper and Trout) traded first-inning homers (for those who had to go to bed early), and the Nats got to show off their new bullpen studs, ex-A’s Madson and Doolittle, for those who didn’t mind staying up. It wasn’t the smoothest inning for Sean Doolittle (who seems to have taken over the Nats’ much-beleaguered closing position), but he did end the game getting out Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, arguably the best two hitters in the game the past dozen years.

Stars shine when lights are brightest.

Or something like that.

It’s already a good day

Allow me to take advantage of several things that rarely occur:

1.) Me sleeping in (to 7:15) and not being organized enough to get this post together in the morning.

2.) Me going to the doctor (regular checkup… nothing serious) instead of going to work.

3.) The Nationals playing a day game on a Monday.

4.) Me not being able to think of anything to write about.

5.) The Nationals score five runs in the first inning… blogpost idea fulfilled!

Good things come to those who procrastinate.

Well, that was Amelia’s 15 minutes this decade

Amelia Earhart is missing again.

Turns out the smoking gun evidence from Sunday night’s program on the History Channel (the photograph with two figures said to be Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan), was more smoke than gun. Not exactly a hoax per se, as it seems those presenting the photo really didn’t know its origins, but not at all as it was described. Apparently the photo was published in 1935. Regardless of what you believe to be Amelia Earhart’s ultimate fate, there is no doubt she was very much alive and living in the U.S. until 1937.

Whoops.

Still good television though. And let’s face it, this doesn’t disprove anything about being held by the Japanese or that she snuck back in the country as Big Foot or Elvis or whatever other theories are out there.

To other matters… yes, CNN’s special on the 1990s (cleverly called The Nineties) is must-see viewing every Sunday from here on out. So the first episode was basically clips from a series of ’90s television shows… that’s good enough for me! It’s how I spent the entire decade; I’d love to relive it for an hour each Sunday in 2017.

Episode Two is about Bill Clinton.

Sign me up for that for sure.

Pitching dominates Midsummer classic

If there was any question that this is the era of the pitcher, last night’s MLB All-Star game gave us no fewer than 28 indications why. (That would be 14 strikeouts a piece among those hitting “stars.”) The smart guys tell us that a strikeout is just another out, and culturalists note that the K is no longer taboo. Well, it was in great display last night. It’s amusing to see titans go down, I suppose, especially after the offensive show put on the previous night by Judge, Sanchez, Stanton, and company in the Home Run Derby. Baseball really brought it these past two nights, as it often does every time it seems the NFL and NBA are about to put the thing to rest forever.

Baseball made only one mistake last night, the same one they made last year. Let me offer a solution right now:

For the love of hockey and bacon let me do the Canadian National Anthem next year.

Breaking News: Earhart still missing

Last night one had the option of watching either of two no doubt interesting programs on TV: CNN’s The Nineties and the History Channel’s new special on Amelia Earhart. I watched the Earhart program if for no other reason that CNN is more likely to put its show on demand. (Yup, that’s 21st century living.)

I found Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence to be worth two hours of my time. Spoiler alert… she’s still missing, but after watching the show I’m at least 10-15 percent less certain that her plane went down somewhere in the Pacific never to be seen again, as the government-sponsored tale has gone the past 80 years. New evidence (if we want to call it that) places Earhart in Japanese hands after July 1937, perhaps the first American casualty of what would later be called World War II.

Conclusive evidence? Hardly. Entertaining TV? For sure.

Now fast-forward a few decades and be ready to get your ’90s on!

Starter jacket optional.

When it rains…

If you’re looking for something good to watch on TV this weekend you have, I believe, two excellent choices. Unfortunately they are on at the same time, for the same amount of time, on the same night, with no guarantee they’ll be available on demand. Yeah, so much for living in the future. I do have high hopes, however, for CNN’s The Nineties, made by the same folks who brought you The Sixties, The Seventies, and… you guessed it… The Eighties. I did enjoy those previous three series and anxiously await this newest installment (the first I actually lived through in its entirety).

Then there is the History Channel’s Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence. I’ve heard it called everything from brilliant to bogus. Well, it’s going to get two hours of my time. Once I stop time and can watch both of these shows from 9-11 on Sunday evening. I have two days to figure out time travel. Hope I don’t have to concentrate too hard at work this weekend.

Special Tuesday edition: July 4

In the 19th century and into the early part of the 20th century it was customary that on the Fourth of July a public official–a mayor, a judge, a justice of the peace–would recite the text of the Declaration of Independence in a public place for residents to come together as a community and celebrate our independence.

Like many traditions, this one faded, and now it is difficult to find such an event anywhere in the nation, let alone one’s hometown. I’m aiming to amend that today in Loudoun County, Virginia.

The text of the Declaration is mostly the work of our third president, Thomas Jefferson. At the time Jefferson was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress from Virginia, and three years later he would be elected governor of this state. Jefferson was the main author among a committee of five men tasked with composing a formal document proclaiming our independence from the kingdom of Great Britain. The committee presented its work to the entire congress at the end of June 1776.

The final, edited version of what they delivered was accepted by a larger committee, then was printed in colonial newspapers on July 4, 1776. Today it can be found in less than a second via any Internet search. Or, to hear it read, come to the Sterling Community Center playground today at 11 a.m. The center is located at 120 Enterprise Street in Sterling, Virginia. The speaker will be the author of this blog.