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Bob Alexander's Commentary

God (or whoever) Bless You Mr. Vonnegut

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47 years ago I bailed out of a Medieval English Literature class just in time and took a Modern Satire class instead. I knew I'd get an easy “A” because how hard could it be? Read a couple of books, answer questions about the books I'd just read, and then I'd maintain a high grade average. Guys that didn't keep their grades up were destined to become soldiers instead of students. Without a high enough grade point average it could get pretty drafty going to college in those days.

The assigned reading list was fairly long. I can only remember two of the books from the stack I brought back from the bookstore because they changed my life. To be more precise they changed the way my brain worked. They were The Magic Christian by Terry Southern, and God Bless You Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut. Both books are about money.

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 April 2016 12:15 Read more...

I'm not on Drugs … Maybe I'm Dreaming

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You can find just about anything on The Internet. I was looking for the right words to describe a state of mind so I clicked on Google, typed in “anxiety dream”, and in point 39 seconds Google served up over 58 million entries. I didn't need to look any further than the first one:

An anxiety dream is an unpleasant dream which is less disturbing than a nightmare. Anxiety dreams are characterized by the feelings of unease, distress, or apprehension in the dreamer upon waking.

That's exactly what I was looking for. Ain't technology grand?

Years ago, if I wanted to get an idea about What's Going On, I could talk to our next door neighbors and the 85 year old World War II vet who lived across the street. Every weekday, just before 3:00 pm, I'd be with all the other moms and dads at the front door of my son's elementary school waiting for our kids to get out. Listening and talking to these folks didn't lead me to think I had my my finger on the pulse-beat of the nation, but at least I had an idea about What's Going On in my little corner of the world. The information I gathered was firsthand. I didn't primarily get it from television, newspapers, magazines, or websites. I got it from listening to the people who lived in my city, my neighborhood.

Now we live in Canada. I can tell you all I know about The Great White North but I don't know shit about what's going on in the US. I can call up a couple of people I know, and get their take on Current Events … but it's their impression of What's Going On. I don't have any firsthand knowledge about what appears to be a nation-wide descent into full-blown madness.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 March 2016 22:02 Read more...

Welcome to “The Other Side”

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A note to Mike Malloy at MikeMalloy.com:

I noticed during the 2015/2016 television season that characters could say … shit, along with the shit-esque variations: Bull and horse. Oh … and asshole. You can say those on TV now. But I'll be dead and stuffed into an urn on the mantle long before anyone can say fuck on AM radio.

I've sent you about 180 “moments” over the last ten years and not once have I been able to write precisely what I meant to say. But you know exactly what I'm talking about. You've spent your entire career skating along the edge of what the Federal Communications Commission will allow on the air.

Fuckers.

And so we must use … euphemisms … in order to avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in “indecency” fines.

From my dictionary:

Euphemism: Noun. The substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt.

It is indescribably frustrating, when facing the wreckage the Republican party has wrought since Reagan affably strolled into office, to substitute mild, indirect, or vague expressions for … the truth. I hate euphemisms. The only reason I've used them in the past was to keep elderly relatives from ramping up their blood pressure in faux outrage and then stroking out. And, of course, to avoid the fines.

Our conversations became infantilized. Years and years ago, my then wife upbraided me for “my language” I used around our daughter. So I … watched my language. Months of studiously avoiding “bad” words finally became a habit. I “talked good.”

I was in a meeting with an idiot who was rationalizing the gutting of my budget. “You did so well last time,” he said, “Let's see what you can do with half the budget.”

I stood up enraged and called him … a poop-head.

We looked at each other in stunned silence. Then he started to laugh. I had to leave the office because there was no way to recover after calling someone … a poop-head.

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Following in the Footsteps of Victor Frankenstein

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James Whale's 1931 classic film, Frankenstein spawned six direct sequels. In The Bride of Frankenstein, The Monster learned to speak. In the next film, The Son of Frankenstein, the screenwriters dropped the idea of a talking Monster, and invented the character of Ygor, the doctor's assistant. In The Ghost of Frankenstein Ygor's brain is transplanted into The Monster, and after the operation The Monster speaks … with Ygor's voice. And then, because brain transplants can be tricky, The Monster went blind.

And now a little backstory …

After the success of Dracula, Bela Lugosi was offered the role of The Monster in Frankenstein. Lugosi considered the part to be beneath his talents, said he was a star in his own country, and did not come to America "to be a scarecrow." William Henry Pratt, a struggling British actor, took the part, changed his name to Boris Karloff, and became a movie star.

Karloff played The Monster in the first three Frankenstein films. Bela Lugosi played Ygor in The Son of Frankenstein and in The Ghost of Frankenstein. Lon Chaney Jr. assumed The Monster's role in The Ghost of Frankenstein.

At the end of The Ghost of Frankenstein, the laboratory is in flames, Lon Chaney Jr. is stumbling around as the blind Monster speaking in Ygor's (Bela Lugosi's) voice, and finally the roof caves in trapping The Monster in a white hot inferno.

The Monster Movie
was the cash cow that kept money rolling in to Universal Studios throughout the Great Depression and beyond. But by 1942, Frankenstein's Monster wasn't the impressive draw it once was. It was time to rejuvenate the franchise by adding another monster into the mix. It was time for Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. But there was a problem.

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 January 2016 21:27 Read more...

Bad Horror Movie

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A bunch of teens decide to go up to The Old Dark House on the night of the full moon. As they mount the creaking stairs up to the front porch the nerdy guy of the group says, “I don't think this is a very good idea guys.”

Of course it's not.

What the teens don't know … but what everybody in the theater audience knows … is that somewhere in The Old Dark House is:

An escaped lunatic from a nearby insane asylum who has returned to the house where he committed terrible unspeakable murders. It was, in fact, This Very Night 20 years ago when he took an axe and chopped up his entire family.

Or …

An Alien needs to extract fresh pituitary glands from human beings between the ages of 18-24. It needs to do this once every 20 years in order to continue to masquerade as a human and This Very Night is its last chance.

Or …

The house was once inhabited by satanists who performed arcane rituals to open a Portal to Hell in the cellar. A blood sacrifice is needed to keep the gates of hell closed for another 20 years and … you guessed it … The Door opens This Very Night.

Or ...

Hidden in the cellar are the rotting bodies of the victims of the current slasher killer who has been terrorizing the town. Unbeknownst to the teens is one of their own group is the killer. And is probably related to the lunatic currently imprisoned in a nearby insane asylum for hacking up his family This Very Night 20 years ago.

Regardless … it's past curfew … and the band of teens enter The Dark Old House.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 December 2015 22:36 Read more...

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