Oscar night

It has come to my attention that another Oscar night has come and gone. Whoops.

Of the 60 or so movies nominated for awards this year I had seen exactly two: Blue Jasmine and The Great Gatsby.  Whoops.

Though completely unfamiliar with the films involved, I had no trouble determining which of them would take home awards: movies about slavery, movies about gay men. Ta-da! Thanks, predictable Hollywood. See ya next year!

House of Cards Season Two

I have now seen Season Two of House of Cards in its entirety, and I’m happy to say it lived up to its hype. Last year I called the show something along the lines of The West Wing… if it were written by Woody Allen’s slightly more cynical and conservative twin. This season was more like The West Wing presented by the writers of Breaking Bad.

Two thumbs up.

The future of cookies

Kudos to the folks at Oreo cookies for leading us, yet again, into the future of snack foods. In stores now is something called the “cookie dough Oreo,” a delight one wonders why it took until 2014 to develop. Well, better late than never. And proof yet again that we are in fact living in the future.

Unbeaten no more

You can blame me for placing a jinx on the Orange of Syracuse this week, who lost their first game of the season Wednesday. A few weeks ago I ascribed their winning season to weakened competition from their new conference, the formerly venerable ACC. Well, surprise, surprise, SU’s first loss would come at the hands of Boston College… a former Big East team! #bigeastforever

The Year 2084

Last night I had a dream. It was the year 2084. And I was still playing gigs at nursing homes.

As I proceeded through my usual set of Sinatra, etc. the residents kept shouting out for Katy Perry and Hannah Montana.

I heard a man shout “Hey Ya” and thought that was a little better.

Then I realized he was having a stroke.

Political movies: Highs and lows

In the past week I have seen three political/historical movies of varying levels of “enjoyability.” Most interesting was how they did not at all match my expectations.

I first viewed George Clooney’s new World War II vehicle, The Monuments Men. I had high hopes for this movie, having been interested in the subject (the return of artwork stolen by the Nazis to its rightful owners) for many years. I have seen many documentaries on this theme, perhaps too many, as the first half of the film I noticed historical inaccuracy after historical inaccuracy. I also didn’t realize going in that the movie is a comedy. It is. Sort of. Regardless, halfway through the film I put all this aside and just enjoyed the movie as a story, and I was in fact pleased by the end. At least a B plus (marks off for my being too excited walking in).

At the other end of the spectrum is Lee Daniels’ The Butler, a film I expected to hate and refused to see in the theatre, but thoroughly enjoyed at home on DVD. Unlike The Monuments Men, which is probably 50% fiction and 50% fact, The Butler is 99% fiction. No matter. It’s a great story, and is not as soppy and politically correct as I feared. Fondly likened to a black version of Forrest Gump, I recommend it strongly.

And finally there is Bill Murray’s Hyde Park on Hudson, a “movie” about Franklin Roosevelt’s relationship with his cousin Daisy and the king of England (the relationships are in no way similar). I’d say this one is about 90% fiction, but that implies that there is any kind of story here at all. There isn’t. And this was one of the worst movies I’d ever seen. It makes Broken Flowers look like Casablanca and Ghostbusters look like Citizen Kane. Though I suppose the less said the better. Just… don’t. That is all.

“Job lock” is latest misleading catchphrase

For the past 15 years I’ve been studying and teaching political science, history, and economics, and until last week I had never heard the term “job lock.” I have heard nothing else in the time since.

Not sure who dreamed this one up first, but it seems everyone pushing big government these days received the memo about “job lock” and its effects upon the unsuspecting masses. You see, whether you realized it or not, for years you the downtrodden American have been under the mystical spell of something called job lock. Someone puts a gun to your head and says, “Devote all your time and energy to this one full-time job and I will grant you health insurance.” (Funny how on the other days of the week the “career” job with benefits is the unreachable goal of every young person in this nation.) So grateful are you to be blessed with the magic of health insurance that you neglect all other rational thought until one day you keel over at the feet of your fat cat boss and he sells your uniform to the next sucker in line.

Or something like that. That’s job lock.

Enter Obamacare, which somehow cuts out the middleman (your fat cat boss) and distributes the magic of health insurance to the masses without any cost borne by anyone whatsoever. Follow? You have thus been freed from not only your fat cat boss, but the responsibilities of working all together. Now you’ve got time to write that symphony. Seriously. That’s how the argument goes. And this is exactly what the Communists said for 75 years.

There’s a broader picture so see here, more broad than work in exchange for health insurance. The real exchange is one’s production (in any capacity) for one’s compensation (in any form). Eliminate the link between the two and chaos quickly descends. Might we all not want to write symphonies and vacation 12 months a year? Who exactly is working at the vacation resorts in this scenario? The robots aren’t that good yet.

Our federal government has said to its citizens, “Don’t worry about producing; we will take care of you.” The work you used to do is just now getting done, magically, by someone. Psychological appeals to “spending more time with your kids” and the like are false choices that, unfortunately, do fell the uninformed. The reality is that there is a trade-off between work and leisure, one that’s existed for all time and will for all future time. And though our society is often maligned for its citizens’ “working too much,” exactly when in history was this not the case? How much leisure time existed among cavemen? A lot… if you like looking at dirt. And peasant farmers? They spend a lot of time with their kids… toiling in the fields. In fact, there has never been a time and a place with so much leisure time as here and now, and the individual choice of what and how much to buy.

I’ve preached for 15 years that the three keys to life are make a lot of money, spend a lot of money, and have fun.

But you knew that all along.