Thursday, August 28, 2014

Are Those Your Drums?

This is pretty spectacular.

I can't tell if it's Letterman being hilarious or shows just how lacking his interpersonal skills are.

If it's on purpose, it's an amazing 20-year bit...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Giver - A Movie Review

The Ms. and I went to see The Giver over the weekend.

I remember reading the book, by Lois Lowry when I was a kid in elementary school. I think I enjoyed it then so I was pretty amped to check out the film.

This was definitely a "Battle of the Books" book.
Plus, it had The Dude from The Big Lebowski in it, so how could it not be worth my $9.50 for the evening showing? (Thanks Regal... I'll bring my own popcorn).

The Dude. (Courtesy: Weinstein film company)
First - the backstory:

Jeff Bridges, A.K.A. "THE DUDE" wanted to make this movie bad. As in, he's been trying for several decades to get it done. In fact, he even used family members to create his own version of the film in what was basically a pilot.

He wanted his father (Beau?) to originally play the role of The Giver but his father unfortunately passed away before the film was given the green light.

This interview with Time Magazine gives some great insight if you're curious into what went on to get this film made.

The film itself:

Inside the unnamed utopian society, you follow the story of Jonas, a child that is essentially entering society's version of adulthood. In this society, children are genetically created and chosen to survive based on science, there is no crime, and most everything in society is manufactured for efficiency and effectiveness.

Once reaching this point in life, all members of society (including Jonas) graduate into adulthood and are assigned jobs that they will take care of before growing old and being "sent to elsewhere".

Jonas, an ambitious and high-potential child is selected to be "The Receiver" - one of just two members of society that will hold memories of what society was before the utopian society was created. Through communication with "The Giver", Jonas receives memories of snow, music, grief, depression, and love.

I couldn't help but see some similarities between the film and some of Ayn Rand's work when viewing this as an adult. As a child, I don't think it had the same depth seeing the idea of what is essentially a socialistic society where everyone's destiny is essentially charted out for them by the powers that be.

Bridges was solid as "The Giver" and the main character, Jonas, was played admirably by Brenton Thwaites. The film also features Katie Holmes, Meryl Streep and Peter Skaarsgard. Oh, and Taylor Swift  is in it too, so there is that. (haha)

While I enjoyed the film, most online review sites are tearing into the film. I attribute that to a somewhat ambiguous ending and a lot that is left to the viewer. In fact, I definitely felt a sense of unease as I left the theater when thinking about life and things of that nature.

Check out the trailer and if you get the chance, I recommend it:


Trusty Trustee

It's been interesting keeping an eye on the courtroom this week with a big Trustee's office investigation going on here in Knox Co.

Basically, it sounds like there were at least half a dozen people who broke the law, of which at least 3 don't current face charges but probably should.

Among the things they were doing with our tax money:

1.) Paying employees who didn't actually do any work.
2.) Handing out bonuses and comp-time to salaried employees entitled to neither benefit.
3.) Possibly dealing prescription pills

Delbert Morgan in Knox Co. Court. (Photo courtesy: KNS)

I remember when local media broke all of this a few years ago. The guy currently on trial, Delbert Morgan is the first of three major cases expected in court.

Back in 2009 or so, I remember hearing not only did they give the raises, they also spent county coin on stuff like The Sopranos on Blu-Ray. You know, essentials for the taxpayers!

Friday, August 8, 2014

So, How'd We Do? (Better than Stacey Campfield)

Let's take a journey back to a more innocent time.

A time when Stacey Campfield was still talking to the media.

A time when I spelled Stacy Campfield's first name incorrectly, without the 'e'.

Remember those predictions? How did we do? (This post best accompanied by the music of Frank Sinatra, "My Way")

Stacey Campfield likes to point at people and things.
And so I face the final curtain...

1.) United States Senate (GOP): Lamar Alexander vs. Joe Carr

Prediction: Alexander wins easily with 63% of the vote.

Result (as of 8-8-14): Alexander takes 51% of the vote to Carr's 42%.

My excuse for being so far off: The third and fourth candidate on the ballot gobbled up 7% of the total amount of votes in this primary. That's not fair. In a two-party system you can't expect me to account for random people that get enough signatures to be on a primary ballot. 

campfield points
I'll see you in D.C. Senator Alexander!

2.) United States House of Representatives, District 2 - John Duncan, Jr. vs. Jason Zachary

Prediction: Zachary considers it a moral victory when he pulls 29% of the vote and the only reason he'd get that is that 30% of the voting population is over 70-years-old and won't know the difference on their ballot.

Result (as of 8-8-14): Duncan wins with 60% of the vote.

My excuse for being so far off: I may have underestimated just how much people are sick and tired of congress right now. I'm curious if that didn't play a role in some of the state-level races as well. People hear "congress" or "house of representatives" and they just assume a politician is a politician.

3.) United States House of Representatives, District 3 - Chuck Fleischmann vs. Weston Wamp

Prediction: It's closer than Fleischmann wants it to be but Chuck squeaks by with 55% of the vote.

Result (as of 8-8-14): Fleischmann wins in a true nail-biter with just 51% of the vote.

My excuse for being so far off: Weston Wamp kind of looks like quagmire from family guy to me.

weston wamp is not zach wamp

4.) Governor: Bill Haslam vs. Mark "Coonrippy" Brown

Prediction: Coonrippy Brown is about to get beat down. This one gets ugly. Haslam takes 73% of the vote, Coonrippy gets about 15% and Zach Wamp gets written in for the remainder. Basil Marceaux gets deux percent.

Result (as of 8-8-14): Haslam wins even bigger than predicted with 88% of the vote. Marceaux took just 1% of the vote, but I'm not convinced these numbers will hold up. :)

My excuse for being so far off: I'm not sure on this one. I mean, Haslam hasn't gone too far awry with anything in his first term but it's a tough case to make to say the state is considerably further ahead than other states. Maybe looking at the other high profile Republican led states (Wisconsin, South Carolina, etc.) you could say that Tennessee is faring better, creating more jobs and building something. Either way, no shock that Haslam won... just shock over the fact that 88% of the vote went his way.

There's no telling if I'll ever be able to use this photo again. So: Behold! Coonrippy!

5.) State Senate, District 7: Stacy Campfield vs. Richard Briggs

Prediction: Campfield is out but will be back on a ballot very soon. Briggs wins bigger than most think with 52% of the vote. (A third candidate, Mike Alford is also on the ballot here... pretty much a non-factor but didn't want to fail to mention him).

Result (as of 8-8-14): Well, I picked the winner but my "bigger than most think 52%" was way off. Briggs took 67% of the vote, which is a landslide by all accounts. 

My excuse for being so far off: I think, like the Steve Hall race, that the old GOP guard is dying in Knox County. It may be transplants (like myself), a drive for change from the status quo, hatred of any standing politician, or just the impression that Campfield was selfish and attention seeking. I don't know the reason. Oh well, I tried. I picked this race... and did it my way.

3.) State House, District 13: Jason Emert vs. Eddie Smith

Prediction: Emert wins in a nail-biter with 53% of the vote.

Result (as of 8-8-14): I should have listened to Steve Phillips, the old WBIR sports guy. He's a big Eddie Smith supporter and Smith took this race by about 30 votes. Yes, 30. As in, 10 fewer than the typical roster of a major league baseball team.

My excuse for being so far off: Eddie Smith was less edgy. I think I compared him to vanilla ice cream. In an election year when "statesmen" were held in high regard, I should have seen this coming.

6.) State House, District 18: Steve Hall vs. Martin Daniel

Prediction: Hall wins with 55% of the vote in a race that's closer than I would have predicted 6-months ago.

Result (as of 8-8-14): Martin Daniel takes this one, with 51% of the vote.

My excuse for being so far off: Billboard advertising is effective? Apparently so.

The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!
I love elections. I love the horse-race style of media coverage. I can't help it. Handicapping these races is like the ultimate form of playing bookie to me. I wish that we had more elections that people cared about so we'd get hit with more political advertising. No joke. That's not sarcasm. I'd rather see an awkward Scottie Mayfield describe the night Weston Wamp knocked on his door than hear some "once you pop you can't stop" commercial. 

Oh, and thanks to WATE for the tool that is most easiest to use (at least that I've found) for examining election results.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Election Predictions for East Tennessee

Saw Mike over at WBIR posted some predictions for tonight's races and thought it was interesting.

You can check his crystal ball out here...

I won't get into the races to the same extent he does but I do have some cherry picked races that I'll handicap for this evening.

Jim McIntyre
Not on the ballot... as much as some would like him to be. (Photo: TN Score)
National Race

1.) United States Senate (GOP): Lamar Alexander vs. Joe Carr

This would be an interesting race if we were in Virginia or Mississippi and it wasn't Lamar. Joe Carr is the teaparty darling but he just doesn't have the funding required to knock off a name brand like Lamar Alexander in Tennessee. I mean, Alexander actually gave himself a shot at the GOP Presidential nomination at one point in time.



Prediction: Alexander wins easily with 63% of the vote.

2.) United States Senate (Other Party): It doesn't matter.




3.) United States House of Representatives, District 2 - John Duncan, Jr. vs. Jason Zachary 

If my last name were Duncan, I'd run for office and probably get 60% of the vote without putting pants on in East Tennessee. Duncan isn't exactly a tea party guy but he's definitely not mainstream Republican party so the kids love him. He's sort of like Rand Paul if Rand Paul didn't get any attention nationally.

Prediction: Brian Hornback will go to bed a happy man, only to wake up and realize that the 3rd District didn't go his way. Zachary considers it a moral victory when he pulls 29% of the vote and the only reason he'd get that is that 30% of the voting population is over 70-years-old and won't know the difference on their ballot.

4.) United States House of Representatives, District 3 - Chuck Fleischmann vs. Weston Wamp

So here's the deal: I love the idea of a young guy knocking off an established politician. Unfortunately, Weston Wamp isn't exactly likable and Chuck Fleischmann isn't exactly an established politician.

My rationale is that there is still a ton of name recognition for Wamp in the district. However, that wasn't enough to get Weston elected last go-round and every passing year that Wamp name is worth less and less. He tried but he needs to go back "creating all those jobs" he claimed in the campaign.

Let's be honest. If Weston had brought his sister along on the campaign trail, this race would be different.

Prediction: It's closer than Fleischmann wants it to be but Chuck squeaks by with 55% of the vote.

Coty Wamp, came from the same womb as Weston, allegedly.
State Races

1.) Governor: Bill Haslam vs. Mark "Coonrippy" Brown



I like to think Coonrippy Brown is Bill Haslam without family money, formal education, manners, and a general sense of how the world works. But that's not fair. Coonrippy is probably the guy the song Rocky Top was written about. He gets his corn from a jar and apparently bathes with coons as well.
You thought I was kidding? Nope.
Tennessee's unemployment rate has steadily improved over the past year and is at 6.3% as of April 2014. That said, Haslam's economic plans certainly haven't provided the quantity of jobs he promised when he was elected four years ago. I don't think he'd give himself an 'A' for his first term but for the most part, he's done what he ran on... and he's done an adequate job of upsetting the teachers in the state so I'm biased and like him.

By the way, why the hell hasn't anyone noticed Basil Marceaux is on the ballot this year? If Coonrippy has committed any crime, it's that he has taken the spotlight off of one of Tennessee's most beloved sons.

The lack of airtime for this... umm... legitimate... candidate is appalling!



Prediction: Coonrippy Brown is about to get beat down. This one gets ugly. Haslam takes 73% of the vote, Coonrippy gets about 15% and Zach Wamp gets written in for the remainder. Basil Marceaux gets deux percent.

2.) State Senate, District 7: Stacy Campfield vs. Richard Briggs

This is maybe the most highly anticipated race in the Knox County area, which is weird considering state senate seats are usually pretty low-key. People who don't pay attention to politics realize that they've actually heard of that Campfield guy and most of them don't like the guy.

Briggs is kind of like vanilla ice cream. It's ok but wouldn't it be better if he had some homophobic chunks mixed in or something?

Prediction: Campfield is out but will be back on a ballot very soon. Briggs wins bigger than most think with 52% of the vote. (A third candidate, Mike Alford is also on the ballot here... pretty much a non-factor but didn't want to fail to mention him).
Not my meme.

3.) State House, District 13: Jason Emert vs. Eddie Smith

Jason Emert has been described to me as a Daddy's boy with family money to blow. But, he did play football at Southern Illinois (albeit as a walk-on) for current Minnesota coach Jerry Kill. Jerry doesn't raise losers and Eddie Smith's name sounds like the sort of stereotypical white man's name that a rapper would make fun of.

Prediction: Emert wins in a nail-biter with 53% of the vote.

4.) State House, District 18: Steve Hall vs. Martin Daniel

I really like this race for a couple reasons. The first is that Martin Daniel's billboard campaign was pretty smart for Knox County. The strong libertarian values he's trying to reflect at large scale through the campaign piqued a ton of curiosity.

On the other side of the coin, Steve Hall has been established as "old guard" and pretty entrenched with the political powers that have proven to win elections in Knox County.

Prediction: Hall wins with 55% of the vote in a race that's closer than I would have predicted 6-months ago.

So. There are my predictions. Of course, I won't be voting. I've got too much other stuff to do...  :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jesse's Messy Public Relations Folly

Here's a pro-tip for Jesse Ventura's team as it relates to public relations:

1.) Don't be rich and sue someone.

2.) If you're going to be rich and sue someone. Don't let it be a veteran or Navy SEAL that you sue.

3.) If you're going to be rich and sue a Navy SEAL, make sure he is still alive.

Jesse "The Body" Ventura. Photo Courtesy: NY Times.
Jesse didn't listen.

Ventura sued Chris Kyle, a well-known Navy SEAL and self-proclaimed most lethal sniper in American history several years ago. Ventura claimed defamation and sought $8 million claiming that Kyle's book falsely attributed comments to him.
"Mr. Ventura vehemently denied claims in the book that he had made derogatory statements about fellow members of the military while in the bar, or had said at one point during the evening that the SEALs deserved “to lose a few.'"
Keep in mind, there were witnesses who claimed to have heard Ventura say the things Kyle alleged he said.

Also, Kyle never named Ventura in the book. It wasn't until promotional interviews leading up to the book release with the media that Kyle said the individual in the book was indeed Jesse Ventura.

Nonetheless, Ventura sued.

However, while the suit was making its way through the court system, another veteran killed Chris Kyle in Texas.

Chris Kyle, author of "American Sniper". Photo: Associated Press
Rather than drop the suit, Ventura pressed on and simply changed the lawsuit to go after the Estate of Chris Kyle. Because, you know, if somebody is going to make money off a book, Ventura needs a cut of it, right?

Well, apparently that's what jurors ruled in a 8-2 split decision Tuesday.

Ventura gets about $1.8 million.

Money that would have helped Kyle's widow care for their two young children.

Despite this terrible attack on his character, Ventura did not file suit against himself for defamation. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It Tastes Better When You Pay For It.

This really got on my nerves.





I'm a coffee fanatic. Almost a fiend. It drives me crazy when I go without. The headaches. The dizziness. That's why I could never use real drugs; I'd never be able to quit.

You likely know the feeling and would consider coffee a "near necessity".

However, I don't ask somebody else to pay for my coffee and I'm guessing you don't either.

So, you can imagine my disgust when I saw the post above in my Facebook feed thanks to the folks at our local homeless shelter.

Here's where it gets really infuriating:

The Executive Director of Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries makes about $126,000 per year. That's roughly 3.5 times what the median household income in Knox County is according to Census data.

It seems if anyone should be paying for some coffee or feeling guilty for the lifestyle they have, it's Burt Rosen and his staff.

Burt Rosen, Executive Director at KARM speaking to a group of people.
Burt Rosen, Executive Director of KARM. (Thanks KNS for the photo)

I'll admit, I've spent time volunteering at this particular homeless shelter. I'm sure there are people that get the temporary help they need and then go on to do great things and contribute to society.

However, in the days I've been volunteering, I've noticed dozens of able-bodied men who would rather stand around and watch as otherwise contributing members of society like myself rake the shelter's yard, paint the walls, and do other menial labor chores that even the inexperienced could easily tackle.

It's either health care or coffee freeloaders. The law says I have to pay for one but I'm not paying for both. (Or am I? Do food stamps work toward coffee purchases?)

And just like that: I've become my father.