Friday, June 30, 2017

TV Review - Fear The Walking Dead Season 3 (Episodes 1-5)


What has season three of 'Fear The Walking Dead' been like? Let's find out...

  I did not have high hopes for season three of AMC’s 'Fear The Walking Dead' zombie apocalypse summer companion show to the long-running classic ‘The Walking Dead’. Season two ended with our band of survivors split up as the apocalypse power couple Travis and Madison beat a hasty escape from their refuge at a Mexican resort along with daughter Alicia due to Travis going on a murderous rampage after learning of the death of his son Christopher, not only murdering Christopher’s killers but the resort’s lone doctor. The trio left real estate con-man Victor Strand behind as they headed north to find Madison’s son Nick. Meanwhile Nick had led the residents of the Colony he was staying at to the US-Mexican border where they were assaulted by an unknown paramilitary group. The lack of action at the end of season 2 along with the reality-suspending coincidences that made the disparate groups aware of each other made this season more of an afterthought to me instead of a summer event to look forward to.

  I was pleasantly surprised when season three opened with the reunion of Travis & Co. and Nick already having taken place instead of using two or more episodes of the season to build up to it. While the family being reunited was good news, the bad news was that they found themselves as prisoners of the paramilitary group run by Jeremiah Otto Sr., whose son Troy has used a fuel expedition as a chance to take prisoners and then kill them in order to time how long it takes them to reanimate as zombies. While Travis, Nick, and Nick’s girlfriend Luciana await their turn in the timing test, Madison and Alicia have found favor with Troy who attempts to talk the pair into leaving the rest of the family to their fate and accompanying him to the Broke Jaw ranch that serves as the group’s headquarters.

I was willing to suspend my belief that Madison could outfight soldier wannabe Troy for this epic 'spoon' scene!

  Madison declines the offer in grisly fashion by sticking a spoon in Troy’s eye and demanding he take her to the rest of her family. In the meantime Travis and Nick have escaped their imprisonment. Nick and Luciana are trying to navigate their way through the conveniently located underground sewer pipes while Travis is recaptured and forced to battle multiple zombies in a huge pit.

Travis is a seriously BAD ACTOR when so motivated!

  Travis defeats all the zombies with the aid of his berserker rage, some rebar, and a cement block while Troy’s brother Jake arrives to calm Madison enough into taking the spoon out of Troy’s eye. The camp is then overrun by zombies and everyone beats a hasty retreat with Nick and Madison in a truck convoy while Travis, Alicia, and Luciana exit via the group’s helicopter.

RIP Travis. He was one of the main characters on FTWD. Emphasis on WAS...

  It was a great season premiere with everything I want in a zombie apocalypse show: people killing people, people killing zombies, and zombies killing people, and as a special bonus someone getting their eye gouged out with a spoon! Episode two immediately followed the premiere and was a game changer for the series as the militia’s helicopter came under attack and Travis got shot in the neck. In prior two seasons I’m sure this situation would have been milked for weeks but in this season Travis sees how much blood he is losing and jumps to his death rather than become a helicopter zombie. The loss of Travis changes everything. The rest of the episode shows Alicia and the other survivors of the helicopter attack get back to the ranch where Madison becomes acquainted with Jerimiah Otto Sr. himself and decides the family will stay at the ranch for the time being instead of striking out on their own as originally planned.

  Now that our group has a place to stay for the season episode 3 showed us more about the Otto family via pre-apocalypse videotapes that show Otto as a survivalist that predicts the end of the world while selling his survivalist videos (including a survival bucket complete with a shovel and iodine pills). We also learn that Otto’s wife (since deceased) bears a striking resemblance to Madison which likely explains how Madison and family weren't killed after she tried to gouge the younger Otto’s eye out with a spoon. A great moment occurs when Alicia is invited to the youth bible study which turns out to be an excuse for the teens of the ranch to get drunk and high while playing 20 questions with a chomping zombie head.

  There is plenty of drama at the ranch as the survivalist-minded residents (except for the youth who are getting drunk and high) are setting out for expeditions to hunt for wild boars and find out who shot down their helicopter. That situation took a spot on the back burner as we catch up with con-man Strand at the resort hotel. Strand quells a mob outside the resort gates by pretending to be a doctor that will give needed medical attention and even delivers a baby successfully. His heroism backfires as he is kicked out of the resort by the leaders who are fearful of a riot when his lack of medical knowledge is exposed. Strand typically lands on his feet by obtaining the keys to a brand new Ferrari and drives away from the resort in style. Strand heads north until he runs into old friend Dante who has taken over a reservoir with his armed goons and now controls the local populace with his control of the only water supply. The only problem is that Dante knows Strand as the supreme con-man he is. Strand is taken to the top of the reservoir where he witnesses someone who crossed Mr. Dante thrown over 100 feet into a pile of zombies where is eaten alive after surviving the fall. Strand is almost thrown over but is instead led to a jail cell.

Daniel Salazar to the rescue!

  While in his jail cell at the end of episode three, Strand receives a surprise visit from an old friend from season two: Daniel Salazar, the CIA-trained Costa Rican Black Ops torturer turned Los Angeles barber. We last saw Salazar at the season two mid-season finale when he burned the Thomas Abigail farm to the ground and hasn’t been seen from again. His daughter Ofelia has been missing since the end of season two. Daniel asks Strand about his daughter but Stand can’t just say that Ofelia made it to the resort and disappeared and instead spins one lie on top of another until Salazar catches him in one of his many lies and leaves him in the cell to rot. From there we get to catch up with Salazar who was left for dead but rescued by the clownish Efrain and Dante reservoir water expert Lola. Lola has been siphoning water to a group of people Efrain belongs to via a fountain in a shopping mall that activates for a few minutes every Tuesday at 5pm. Aside from being a plumbing expert, Lola is a skilled medical practitioner who cures Daniel of an infected and burnt leg by slicing the infected flesh off with a large knife.

  Daniel leaves Efrain’s group but soon find himself washed through the sewer system into Dante’s reservoir where Lola rescues him yet again by getting him a job on her janitor crew that clears the dead bodies from the water inlets. Shortly Daniel is recognized by Dante as the black ops killer he is and gets promoted to the goon squad where Daniel immediately helps capture Efrain. Daniel is then charged with torturing Efrain into giving up Lola but Lola confesses while Daniel is savagely beating Efrain. Efrain, Lola, and even Strand are then brought to the top of the reservoir to be thrown into the zombie pit below but Daniel saves the day but taking out the goons and killing Mr. Dante for good measure.

The 'quiet' Episode 5 featured this extremely creepy scene...

  ‘Fear The Walking Dead’ has turned from Sunday night post-apocalyptic television filler into appointment television. Even the slow-moving fifth episode with lots of dialogue and the meeting of a group of Native American survivors that claim the Broke Jaw ranch as their territory kept my attention with the opening of an elderly man waking up to discover his wife had died and turned to a zombie overnight. I was expecting the man (who we had seen dancing with his wife in the previous episode) to kill his wife but instead he hugs her and puts a bullet through both their skulls at once. There was also a classical horror scene showing an old man sitting in a chair on a rock continually reciting a poem about a man who wasn’t there as the reveal shows his exposed skull with crows pecking away at his brain. The viewership of the show has been steadily declining although it is still leading cable television for Sunday nights among 18-49 year old viewers. I’m hopeful that as news of the improved quality of the show and the newfound unpredictability of the characters’ fates (as evidenced by Travis’s early demise) spreads this ratings will improve. Since this show isn’t beholden to the story lines of a comic book like the parent ‘The Walking Dead’ show I wouldn’t mind seeing all the main characters get killed off with the show following the zombie apocalypse around the world instead of viewing it through the eyes of a small group of survivors.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Movie Review - Wonder Woman

After the obligatory slow-moving yet brief origin, Wonder Woman was a well-made faced-paced, action-packed movie.

  I went with Kathy to see the latest DC super hero movie ‘Wonder Woman’ at the local movie theater last weekend. Wonder Woman is the one of the three DC characters (along with Superman and Batman) to make it from the Golden Age of Comics in the 1940’s to the present day relatively unchanged. The character lost her superpowers and costume briefly in DC’s ‘flower child’ period of the early 70’s but was quickly restored back to her skimpy American flag based costume and was vaulted to iconic status with Lynda Carter bringing the character to life in the television show in the late 1970’s before heading back to obscurity for the next 40 or so years before being chosen as a pillar of the new DC movie universe.

  The character was revived with Carter look-alike Gal Gadot playing the character in last year’s Batman vs. Superman movie. Gadot’s part was more action oriented but there was some byplay with Batman’s alter-ego Bruce Wayne that showed her posing as a socialite while trying to obtain information from Lex Luthor’s super computers. This was a welcome change from her previous alter-ego’s persona as the meek subservient librarian type that was very Clark Kent like without the authority that Kent garnered from being a journalist. Wonder Woman’s action skills were shown battling the super-monster Doomsday alongside Batman and Superman but the true nature of her powers weren’t evident since her part in the fight was to occupy screen time before the movie’s climactic ‘Death of Superman’ moment. The Wonder Woman involvement was a necessary introduction to this year’s solo movie and the Justice League film scheduled for later this year.

  The theater had about 50 people to see the film which was pretty impressive for a movie in its third weekend in Marshalltown. The movie won its first two weekends and is well on its way to an impressive box office number which will fall slightly short of last month’s Guardians of the Galaxy #2 but more than enough to ensure another movie in the DC rotation.

  Since the character had already been established last year I was disappointed that this film insisted on starting with an origin showing Wonder Woman as a young girl and then a teenager who wants to be a warrior but is forbidden by her mother the Queen. We spend 20 minutes learning all about how Wonder Woman was created from a piece of clay blessed by Zeus and her name is Diana and she lives in an Amazon civilization and their island is mystically hidden and all kinds of stuff that probably could have been explained in a few minutes showing Princess Diana learning to become the most fearsome Amazon Warrior of all which we end up seeing anyway.

  Finally the action gets underway when Steve Trevor (played by none other than Chris Pine aka Captain Kirk of the new Star Trek movie series) crashes a World War I German fighter plane into the hidden Amazon kingdom and is followed by a fleet of German ships. The Amazons get to show off their fighting skills which aside from hand to hand combat with swords include horseback riding with swords and spears and the ability to fire three or more arrows at once with deadly precision while doing double and triple somersaults off horses and cliffs. None of these skills prove especially effective against the few Germans that are able to get off rifle shots to wound and kill some of the Amazons.

  After finding out from Trevor using the iconic ‘lasso of truth’, the Amazons find out that the world is at war (as if there hadn’t been wars from the beginning of time) and Diana decides to accompany Trevor off the Amazon island in order to bring peace to the planet by killing Aries the God of War who she has been told is the Amazon’s sworn enemy.

  From this point on this is an excellent movie. There is the comedy of trying to dress the baddest warrior on the planet to fit into early 20th century Britain, a bit of social consciousness with Diana’s frustration at the politicians and generals who don’t take her seriously because they don’t take any women seriously, and mostly great action. After the politicians and generals decide the upcoming peace armistice is more important than Trevor’s discovery that the German super evil scientist Dr. Maru (aka Miss Poison) and General Ludendorff have concocted a lethal gas that can eat through gas masks and kill thousands instantaneously, he rounds up some flawed but adventure loving friends to go on road trip to stop General Ludendorff and Dr. Maru themselves. Along with Wonder Woman, of course.

  Our brave group of heroes makes their way to the Maginot line at the front where Wonder Woman frees a small village from German oppression by breaking through the enemy line of fortified tunnels, tanks, and machine guns with a small amount of help from her non super-powered friends. The actions scenes are great with Wonder Woman using her shield to stop mortar fire as well as destroy tanks and machine guns. Her hand-to-hand combat scenes are also excellently shot with my only quibble is the continual freezing of the action to show some dramatic action pose before resuming the action at an accelerated speed. This is fine to do once or twice but when done too often as here it makes the action hard to follow. The villagers take a picture of their liberators which is a nice tie in to Wonder Woman’s introduction to Bruce Wayne in Batman vs. Superman when she attempts to get the picture form Lex Luthor’s computer system at the same time Bruce Wayne is trying to also pilfer the computer system.

  After liberating the village, the group head to the castle where General Ludendorff and Dr. Maru are having a party to celebrate the mass production and test of their new batch of poison by destroying the very town that Wonder Woman and co. just liberated and prepares to wipe out all of London with a futuristic super plane. I don’t want to give away too much of the climactic battle but I will say that for the most part the good guys win and Aries makes a guest appearance for an epic and explosive ending.

  This was the best made superhero movie I have ever seen, The origin was dispensed with quickly and the film had a well-defined plot with none of the meandering soul-searching angst most of the other superhero movies are full of. Even though Wonder Woman leaves her Amazon community to fight we are not subjected to doubts ad recriminations – there is just a well scripted mission and action galore mixed in with a little of the ‘buddy movie’ type of character development. Gadot was a great Wonder Woman, tough without being overbearing and compassionate without being mushy. Pine as also a fine Steve Trevor. The scene where he tries to seduce the hideously disfigured Miss Poison was a classic. Elena Anaya as Miss Poison and Danny Huston as General Ludendorff were sufficiently psychopathic to make belivably menacing villains. I hope Wonder Woman remains the warrior character of the new Justice League and doesn’t settle into a background role or be some sort of den mother. Having this movie set in a period piece gives no evidence how well Wonder Woman will fit into a modern setting. The Justice League will likely showcase Batman at the expense of all the other heroes which means it might be at least three years before Wonder Woman gets into the modern age in her own movie although she may be trapped in the past like Indiana Jones for her solo adventures. This movie was a tremendous step forward for a classic character. Hopefully Warner Bros. and DC can build on it.

Up next for Wonder Woman is a role in Justice League. Here's hoping for another solo adventure soon.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Not The Greatest Yet


  The NBA season wound down to its conclusion this week with the Golden State Warriors winning their second championship in three years. My basketball pick program performed admirably with a 54% success rate when my calculated line deviated from the actual betting line on’s website. This should have yielded me a 2.5% profit on the 322 games my program picked except for two factors.

  One factor was my Bovada account being senselessly suspended for 18 days (as outlined here) just before the program had a hot streak. The other factor was my refusal to get out of my own way and let my basketball program do its thing. I continually tinkered with the betting amounts and sometimes added my own bets instead of trusting the program that has delivered picks over the magic break-even point of 52.4% over my four season retrograde testing. I didn’t use my program during the playoffs and managed to erase my $27 regular season deficit and was $12 ahead heading into the Finals where I decided to take the points in every game since I was expecting close games throughout. I went 1-2 in the three blowouts and lost the two close games against the spread by a total of 1 and a half points to leave me $4.06 down for the season. This was a downer but I received $130.39 in the form of a welcome bonus from Bovada and $70 from two contributors in exchange for my picks in advance of the games so I netted $196.33 for the season and if my two contributors picked the games I selected they would also have shown a profit since they received my picks during my Bovada suspension. I haven’t tried to withdraw my money yet but will report on it if and when I do. In any event, I consider my basketball program a success and will give it another go next year with a little more discipline. I can’t say it was the greatest betting season ever but for me the sting of losing $4.06 was well worth the valuable experience I received moving from the realm of fake to real betting.

  The storyline of this NBA season was were the top performers and teams rated in a historical perspective. Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder averaged a triple-double (10+ points, rebounds, and assists) for the entire season which last done by Oscar Robertson in 1962. There was a large debate as to whether Westbrook’s triple double season was deserving of the MVP award or whether the award belonged to James Harden. The argument for Harden is that while he had a few more assists and a few less points and rebounds his Houston Rockets were 8 games better than the Thunder which implies that Harden made his teammates and team better than Westbrook made his.

  In my view the league’s MVP is LeBron James. I’m not a big fan of King James but I recognize his greatness. James also nearly averaged a triple double (26 points and 8.5 assists and rebounds), led the league in minutes played per game, and finished in the top 10 in minutes played despite missing 8 games NONE OF WHICH THE CAVALIERS WON. I know the Cavaliers had a mediocre regular season record (for them) of 51-31 and didn’t even win their conference. Still I think this isn’t a playoff team without LeBron and a championship contender with him.

  The entire triple double thing tends to impress me as a fan based statistic. Out of the players I saw it seems clear to me that Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and possibly Larry Bird could have had a triple double in almost game they played. Blocked shots weren’t kept as a statistic until 1973 which was well after Bill Russell retired and Wilt Chamberlain was at the very end of his career. The players of that time claim the both Russell and Chamberlain blocked at least 10 shots a game so I’d have to think that both averaged triple-doubles during some years in their careers. Both Russell and Chamberlain averaged over 20 rebounds a game for their careers. 10 blocks a game is not out of the question or a misremembrance on the part of old-time players.

  Before their loss to the Cavaliers on Friday, the Warriors won their first 15 games of the playoffs before finishing with a record 16-1 for the playoffs. The closest any team came to playoff perfection was the 1982-83 76ers who went 12-1 in that years’ three round best of seven playoff format and the 2000-2001 Laker team that went 15-1 when the first round of the four round playoffs was best of five games. The Warriors 16-1 playoff record is the best percentage-wise of all time. There have been plenty of comparisons between the Warriors and great teams of the past to determine who the greatest team is. I’ve never seen a team like the 1991-1993 Chicago Bulls and they get my nod over the Showtime Laker teams of the mid 80’s. I’ve never saw the great Celtic teams of the 50’s and 60’s. Ultimately the latest super team has to be favored in a comparison with great teams of the past. Today’s players are bigger, faster, and more skilled than ever before. The superstars of the past like Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan would be great in any era but the role players of the past wouldn’t be competitive against the players of the present. Having said that an imaginary matchup between teams of the past and future would come down to which rules were used. If today’s Warriors were able to get foul calls on minimal contact they would easily win but if the physical play of 20 years ago were allowed with players able to hand check on defense and toss elbows like beanbags the old timers may be able to bully their way to victory. I would have a hard time anointing the Warriors as the greatest team of all time as long as the Celtics of the 50’s and 60’s won 8 championships in a row and the Bulls and 2000-2002 Lakers have three-peat championships. It is easy to say that the Warriors would have won three championships in a row of they hadn’t blown a 3-1 lead in last year’s Finals but they did blow that lead and the other three franchises didn’t. It is not easy to have the best record in the league three years in a row like the Warriors have but it is even harder to win three championships in a row. The Warriors stumbled while the Lakers, Bulls, and Celtics did not and to my mind teams that come close do not get the benefit of a doubt. If the Warriors win another title or two they may well be the best basketball team ever but with the injuries Stephen Curry and Keven Durant seem to suffer every year or two I don’t see their rolling over the league as a given.

  The other talking point during the Finals was whether LeBron James could establish himself as the greatest player of all time if the Cavaliers upset the Warriors. The Cavaliers lost the series but James once again proved he is the best player on the planet, averaging a triple-double in the five games while expending energy on defense guarding Finals MVP Kevin Durant. James has played 14 years and has played at least 74 games every season but two (playing 62 of the Heat’s 66 games in the strike shortened 2011-2012 seasons and taking two weeks off in the 2014-2015 season and finishing with 69 games). This durability is almost unprecedented. James is showing few signs of slowing down at the age of 32 and has been to seven consecutive NBA finals with three championships. Michael Jordan is considered the greatest player of all time with his six championships and six Finals MVPs with Bill Russell and is 11 championships also coming into consideration. If James can break the NBA career points record (he is 5 years away) and get to the NBA Finals a few more times I think he will be thought of as the best player ever due to recency bias and the wish of many to believe they are seeing the greatest ever. I can’t see James as the greatest player of all time and the recently concluded finals were a perfect example of why I think that way. James was the best player in the series and started each game with a flurry of points, rebounds, and assists. The Cavaliers were in every game at halftime. But in the fourth quarter of the first three games, James had no energy left and the Cavaliers lost. To me the hallmark of a great player is the ability to take over the game in the fourth quarter and not the first. James did come up big in the fourth quarter of the final game but fell short of leading his team to victory. Until and unless James takes over big games in the fourth quarter I fail to see how he can overtake Jordan as the greatest player ever.

Friday, June 9, 2017


  I was listening to a podcast where the subject was “micro-aggressions” which is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority)”. . The podcast gave examples of micro-aggressions. Asking someone where they are from was considered a micro-aggression because it is highlighting that they come from somewhere else are different from everyone else. I don’t ask people where they are from because I don’t care but I have been asked plenty of times where I am from and never realized that I was a victim of micro-aggression. It could be that as a white male I am incapable of being a ‘micro-aggressee’ but in my opinion being an east coast native living in the Midwest qualifies me as a member of a marginalized group and therefore affords me the luxury of being the victim of micro-aggressions.

  Another example of a micro-aggression was holding the door open for someone because as the theory goes it implied that the beneficiary of the door-holding is in some manner weak or helpless and just not capable of holding the door open for themselves. I’ve held the door open for both women and men. Sometimes men insist I go first and I go first because I would rather get where I’m going rather than argue. A couple of times a woman got upset with me holding the door but most don’t so I think I’ll continue to hold the door open because I would rather be considered micro-aggressive than rude.

  I saw examples of micro-aggressions from the University of Minnesota website. I think I would put telling someone “they are a credit to their race” or “You speak good English” to be more of a macro-aggressions than micro-aggressions. I did find it interesting that having an excess of liquor stores in a minority neighborhood is considered a micro-aggression since my neighborhood in Marshalltown is having two more liquor stores opening in the next two months along with the Liquor Depot and the 7 Rayos liquor store that opened on main street a couple of years ago. Throw in the fact that all the convenience stores now offer liquor in addition to beer and wine and even the Hy-Vee supermarket and Wal-Mart have separate liquor sections and I think that it is not a micro or macro aggression but an economic reality that there is a lot of liquor being purchased in Marshalltown, Iowa. I could probably make the case that since every place to buy liquor is in close proximity to an ATM the excess of liquor stores in a neighborhood is a sign of great wealth.

  I saw another set of micro-aggression examples on Buzzfeed and these also seemed pretty macro-aggressive to me. Asking someone why their “daughter is so white” seems pretty aggressive to me, how about you? Another site said by using pronouns such as ‘he’ and ‘she’ was ‘micro-aggressive’ because I was making assumptions of the gender identity of the pronoun’s subject.

  I really like the idea of micro-aggressions since armed with this concept I can be insulted by anything and everything from anyone and everyone. I was in a bad mood last week and someone said ‘Good morning’ to me. Back in my na├»ve days I wouldn’t have given that comment a second thought but now I saw that comment as a micro-aggressive taunt since the speaker presumed I didn’t have DPSD (Delayed sleep phase disorder) which could cause me to never have a good morning. I moped through the day hardly getting anything done but it was OK because after all I was a victim of micro-aggression and could hardly be expected to function at full capacity.

  I even took my newfound knowledge of micro-aggression to a well-known chess website. I was immediately victimized by micro-aggressive behavior , complained to the powers-that-be, and was declared the winner.

pgn4web chessboards courtesy of

  Unfortunately, the rematch did not work out nearly as well.

  After observing so much about micro-aggressions I decided become an expert in the niche category of micro-micro-aggression and have discovered many examples in myself and others. I’ve been teaching a six-session chess class in Grimes this summer. I was just about to compliment one of the class members on an astute observation when I realized that the compliment would have been a micro-micro-aggressive gesture towards the other students since the unsaid comment would be that they were somehow inferior so I held my tongue and didn’t compliment anyone for anything in order not to victimize anyone for anything.

  When the class was over I headed home but first stopped in McDonalds to get a breakfast sandwich for the ride home. There was no one in line and the customer service person at one of the registers said “Welcome to McDonalds! How can I help you?” I immediately felt uncomfortable and marginalized. How dare this customer service person imply that I was needy or otherwise in need of assistance? Luckily there was another customer service person staffing the next register so I headed away from the micro-micro-aggression towards a new beginning.

  “Welcome to McDonalds! How can I serve you?” said this second clerk. Another amazing micro-micro-aggressive comment implying that I was a member of some privileged class that needed service. I suppressed my burning rage and headed to the third and last register.

  “Welcome to McDonalds! Can I take your order?” said this third customer service representative. Finally! A verbal exchange free of the rampant micro-micro-aggression that was pervasive in this Grimes, Iowa McDonalds. I quickly ordered an Egg McMuffin and a $1 soda and paid when the service representative said “We’ll have your order right away. Please wait.” Of all the micro-micro-aggressive statements! I never felt so marginalized at the presumption that just because I was an older white man with an east coast accent I must be in an impatient hurry. I wasn’t expecting this Egg McMuffin to magically appear out of nowhere at 4 in the afternoon and I had planned on using their wireless internet to check my email which I did while waiting the few minutes for my Egg McMuffin.

  Once I got my Egg McMuffin I went to my car, felling so victimized and marginalized I barely noticed the person that held the door open for me and the four cars that let me get in front of them on my way from the parking lot to the interstate. On the long drive home I listened to a talk radio station that talked about the London terror attacks, Kathy Griffin holding a decapitated head of President Trump, President Trump using the London terror attacks as a pretext to support his travel ban, and the latest series of North Korea missile tests. The radio host was talking about how dumbfounded he was that no matter how much attention the media paid to these issues the American people didn’t seem to care. If only the radio host had spent the day being the victim of micro-aggressions and micro-micro-aggressions like I was I’m sure he wouldn’t have any attention span left to pay attention either!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Harry's Tweetbag (2017)

Not only am I still exhausted from my trip to Idaho, I caught a terrible cold so I have asked Iowa's favorite bird,
Harry the cockatiel, to fill in for me on short notice with another episode of Harry's Tweetbag.

  Hello and welcome to my second blog post. I’m Harry the cockatiel which you would know if you read my first blog post which was published last year. I was hoping for a nomination for the Cockatiel Journalists of America’s best blog award but as I since found out there is no such organization so I’ll have to look elsewhere if I want to win an award for my posts.

  Hank is still too exhausted from his trip to Idaho to write his blog so he called on me to take care of this week’s edition after having those two beagles I live with write last week’s post. I didn’t mind having Daisy and Baxter boarded for the weekend but I missed sitting on Hank’s shoulders in the morning when he plays chess. In fact, I didn’t get any outside time while Hank and Kathy were away. I was a little worried about running out of food but one of Hank and Kathy’s friends came over every day to give me some fresh food and water. Anyway I had a lot of spare time and Hank left me his old iPod so I was able to work on my next blog post which worked out great since Hank caught a big cold and has been pretty wiped out ever since he got back from Idaho. Just like last time my post is made up from Twitter questions sent to @brokenpawn #AskHarry.

  My first question is from @WhatNext who says “Harry, don’t you think the election of President Trump signals a new level of divisiveness in America?” I don’t think so at all @WhatNext. I think Americans are getting along better than ever. Everytime I go on Facebook I see the liberals and conservatives being very generous in lending their posts to each other. Last year I saw my conservative friends posting complaints about how President Obama has golfed and vacationed more than any other president and how his wife spends too much money on clothes and how the President bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia. Back then my liberal friends would accuse the conservatives of sour grapes. But now that Trump is president the conservatives and liberals have happily switched posts and the conservatives are defending presidential golf outings and the liberal are posting the same complaints about the President playing too much golf and expensive First Lady-wear and how President Trump bowed to the Saudi King. If these groups that supposedly hate each other can share their Facebook posts so easily I don’t think there is real divisiveness to worry about.

  My next question is from @NBANerd who asks “Harry I imagine you have been following the NBA playoffs from Hank’s shoulder. Who will win the championship?” That is an interesting question @NBANerd and thanks for asking. I’ve been watching Hank bet and blog on NBA games for the last seven months. After he walks the beagles and lets me out of my cage for some outside time he enters the NBA scores in his basketball prediction program and I’ve been watching intently. I’ve seen a lot of both the Cavaliers and Warriors from my spot near the television. They are both good teams but I think the Cavaliers will be able to guard Steph Curry and Kevin Durant better than the Warriors will be able to guard LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. That makes me think the Cavaliers will win the championship. Hank says he is going to pick the underdog every game so he can get the points which makes sense to me even if it looks like the easy way out. I can’t argue with Hank too much – his prediction program seems to work and he is way ahead on the playoffs this year.

  Here's a chess tweet from @ChessHawk2008 who says “Have you played any chess lately? How about changing your handle to @ChessCockatiel?” That is one great handle @ChessHawk2008! I’ll see if I can get a handle for @ChessCockatiel. It sounds really cool. Hank stopped playing one minute chess after getting his new high rating on the Internet Chess Club last December and switched to three minute chess so that is what I’ve been playing also when he leaves his computer on. I like three minute chess a lot better because it gives me more time to hop around on the touchpad and make my moves. I also like getting more time to think since after all my brain only weighs a few grams. Here is a beauty of a game I played last Monday:

pgn4web chessboards courtesy of

  I missed my mouse click on this game and played a one minute game last month. I got in big trouble but moved at lightning speed and my exceptional vision helped me see the board and the clock all at once so I knew White was running out of time. Luckily I won or else Hank would have thrown a fit about losing his silly all time high rating but I don’t hear him complaining now that his one minute rating is even higher than before at 1639!

pgn4web chessboards courtesy of

  Here is a tweet by @ SNAP_Outrage who says “Harry, What do you think about the cuts to the SNAP [that means food stamps] program?” Well, @SNAP_Outrage I’ll never be eligible for SNAP so I don’t think too much about it but I did do some research on this so I could give you an opinion. I don’t see anything wrong with giving people who are hungry some food but here is what I don’t understand. I see that food manufacturers and Wal-Mart are the most outraged over the proposed cuts because they make the most money from the SNAP program. Why would a government program dish out over 70 BILLION DOLLARS every year just let to people put a large chunk of it into the pockets of Wal-Mart and food manufacturers? There should be a way to make sure SNAP card holders buys food at a discount. Then the people who need food can get it and the government cost-cutters can get what they want too. It’s a win-win as long as you are not a food manufacturer or Wal-Mart!

  I have time for one more tweet and hopefully a less controversial one. This one is from @MovieGirl who asks “I know Daisy loves Steven Seagal, Harry. I want to know who is your favorite movie action hero?” Thanks for the tweet @MovieGirl. I’m not much of a movie fan but since my cage is close to the television I do get to see the movies everyone else watches. I’m not much of a Steven Seagal fan. I'm not nearly as enamored of his steely glare as Daisy is because I have quite a glare myself with my pupil-less black eyes. The best movie I saw this year was the 1981 “Road Warrior” with Mel Gibson. Gibson isn’t quite the fighter like Seagal or Jason Statham but his Mad Max character is plenty tough. Besides, most of the action comes from the wild and weird characters that Max has to fight like Wez and the Humungus. It was a movie full of action and the only thing that could have made it better was to have a cockatiel or two in it. I’m sure cockatiels would survive the apocalypse since we could fly away from all the bad biker gangs that took over the roads.

The Road Warrior (or Max Max 2) is a great movie that has everything but a cockatiel...

  Well, that’s about it for my second blog. Thanks for reading. Hopefully Hank will feel better by next week and take his blog back from us animals but if you want to hear more from me send a tweet to @BrokenPawn with the hashtag #MoreHarry!