Who do I want to be

There is a lot of talk about the Presidential election and there is a lot of hate and yelling, which is sadly what the American political process has become.

When I think about who I want to lead this nation, I basically ask myself one question:  Who do I want to be?  Do I want to be the guy who supports denying rights to people?  Do I feel comfortable telling a group of people that they do not deserve the same rights that everyone else has?  Being Jewish, not too long ago people were telling people like me that we were not allowed the same rights as everyone else.  It was wrong then and it is wrong now.  It is all about going back to basics:  equals.  It was a principle the country was founded upon yet a principle we have been fighting for ever since the country started.  I think we are closer than ever.  The fact that there are people who still want to say that if you are gay or you are Muslim or you are whatever else you cannot have the same rights as everyone else shows that we will have the most basic of battles to fight.  That is where I am at.

Supporting the Troops

I am not sure what this phrase means.  Politically, it has turned into meaning that someone is very pro-military in the respect of more and more military spending and more deployments and more putting Americans in harms way.  Some politicians will talk about how they support the troops and how they will use those troops in any number of countries around the world.  I cannot really talk about how and when the US military should be used in conflicts around the world.  I have my own opinions, but they are not based enough in fact for me to share those opinions because opinions with no backing, in my opinion is meaningless.

My question about the politicians that are quick to talk about how willing they are to send Americans in harm’s way is how willing they are to support the veterans that come back injured.  What are these politician’s voting records on funding medical care for those with severe, long term medical needs.   There is a disturbing trend of politicians being quick to vote for deployment and funding all sort of military projects, but when veteran gets home and needs care, the votes are not there to fund veteran benefits.  There are a lot of people who will cheer the rhetoric of sending our military men and women to war, but when they come home with physical and psychological issues from the war, are we going to take care of these people?  How many homeless veterans are there?  latest counts have it at about 50,000?  The face of homeless veterans is also changing.  They are younger and female.  The bulk are still those that are in their 50’s and 60’s and were in Vietnam.

Homelessness is awful regardless of whether or not people are veterans or not.  Homelessness effects men and women and young kids and it is a crime that such a rich nation has people living on the streets, but it is an extra slap to the face that so many that wore the uniform to defend this country are now living on the street with no where to go.  When a politician says they support the troops, my immediate thought is to see how they vote on vet benefits.  That’s the real tell, not whether or not they support military deployment or the so called industrial complex.  It’s the man or woman on the street with no where to go.  When people see a vet and say “thank you for your service” my though is what about those that served who are on the street.  As an individual, as with most things, it is about who you choose to vote for and what they choose to support in word and deed in government.

Individually, you can do your part through good organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project.  You do what you can and part of that is to make sure those that we vote to represent us truly support the men and women that choose to defend this country.

If I were to start from scratch

If I were to ignore all current political thought of the day and start from scratch as to what I think a government should do in broad terms I think I would have a fairly short list.

1 – Ensure the defense of the country

2 – Ensure that everyone is treated equally

3 – Ensure that everyone had the basic bare necessities

Defending the nation is an absolute necessity.  We need to have a standing military and we need to properly fund the military so that it could do its job.

Making sure everyone is treated equally is something we have never gotten right, even though it is prominently stated in the Declaration of Independence.  We needed laws and amendments to give every single non-white, non-male group the rights of while males.  This seems pretty ridiculous to me that we are still dealing with this and we have a major political party that is actively fighting against giving equal rights to individuals.

It just makes sense to me that a country takes care of the citizens of the country.  No one should be living on the streets.  Babies should be fed and clothed and people should be able to earn a living wage.

I am a firm believer in the free market, but that we should be making the market work for us, not us working for the market.  The government focus on the corporation rather than the people to me is nothing short of treason.

I don’t know how these things would work, I am just saying that if I were able to set the agenda, these are the things that I would put at the top of the list.

Fighting over things like same sex marriage and guns distracts us from what is really important.  What makes sense to me, from a logical standpoint is that happy people are better for the economy than stressed out miserable people who do not know how they are going to get through the month.  If people are happy and earn a living, they go out and spend money.  They buy things and go places.  This is what spurs the economy.  I don’t think it takes an advanced economics degree from an ivy league school to know that in order to spur the economy, people need to have money to spend.  I am frustrated by both of the major parties.  Even the democrats, who are supposed to be the party of the common man has really forgotten that it means to support those that cannot support themselves.  I don’t claim to support any party or politician, I am just saying that these are the things that are important to me and what makes sense to me.

#NewYorkValues

Through the years there have been politicians I liked and didn’t like.  Regardless if I liked or didn’t like someone, there was usually at least one thing I was able to say I agreed with them with and I have never really felt personally attacked by a politician.  (Can’t say the same for pundits)  Then comes Ted Cruz.  I believe I can honestly say that I do not agree with a single thing this mans says.  He now also have the unique distinction of being the only politician that I can say has directly insulted me.  Me and all New Yorkers.  Frankly, I could extend that to be me and all Americans who aren’t has spiteful and hateful as he is.  I think Americans of all walks should reject him for insulting a part of the country that he is hoping to lead.  I fear for the country if he is elected.  I especially fear for New York and any other state that tends to vote blue.

Star Trek Baddies

I was listening to a podcast that asked the question “who is the scariest Star Trek bad guy?” They gave choices of the Hirogen, the Jem’Hadar or the Borg.
 
I am of the opinion that the Borg is still the most terrifying bad guy in all of Star Trek. All the Hirogen or the Jem’Hadar will do is kill you (eventually). The thought of becoming a mindless drone is really scary.

Wayne Rogers

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Wayne Roger passed away on December 31st of complication from pneumonia.  Wayne Rogers isn’t the cultural icon as is David Bowie or Alan Rickman (another post later) but for someone like me who has been watch M*A*S*H my entire life, the death of Wayne Rogers hits me at the same level as someone like Leonard Nimoy.

As a fan of M*A*S*H, I am a huge fan of the character of Trapper John McIntyre.  I also have to admit that I also absolutely loved Eliot Gould in the role in the movie.  I felt bad for Wayne Rogers in that the producers really never allowed the actor to bring the character of Trapper to his full potential and they actually went out of their way to strip the character of the credentials that made the character who he was.

Trapper John had a darker side to him that we didn’t see in the other characters including Hawkeye.  My favorite scenes and episodes where when they showed this dark side.  It was a short scene when Trapper was writing home to his daughter Becky for her 13th birthday.  He was relating a story about he saved the life a soldier who had hypothermia and Frank had pronounced dead.   When the flashback scene was done and they came back to Trapper in the officer’s club by a phonograph.  In a fit of rage, he slams down on the skipping record.

In my opinion my favorite Trapper Scene was in Radar’s Report.  A North Korean soldier broke a bottle of blood in the O.R. near Trappers patient contaminating the field.  The soldier wound up with an infection and eventually died from it.  Trapper, in a fit of possessed anger went over to where the North Korean soldier was being held and he stood in a trance staring at the blood that the wounded prisoner was getting.  While Trapper never moves we can infer that the implication was that he was thinking of killing the North Korean in retribution.  Hawkeye comes in and stops him.  (I almost think they filmed this in a way that made this Hawkeye’s scene, but that could be because they did that in almost every other case in those first years)

There were other instances where the genius of Trapper comes through, but again, it was not nearly enough.  There is a double edge here.  If we didn’t lose Trapper, we never would have gotten BJ.  BJ’s relationship with Hawkeye was very different.  It was more mature.  Every time there was a change to the cast, for better or worse, it was more mature.  Blake/Potter and Frank/Charles being the other substitutions.

I really would have liked to have seen where they would have brought the show if Wayne Rogers had stayed on.  As much as you have to respect Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds, I wish they treated Alan Alda and Wayne Rogers, as well as their respective characters with equal respect.  This isn’t to bash Alan Alda or Hawkeye in the slightest, but it would have definitely been a very different show if the relationship of those character more closely matched the movie.  I think it would have made those first few years a little better.

God is where you find him

 

Saw this post today on the Facebook God webpage:

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Think what you want about the person running this Facebook page.  If you read through the posts, you see a sincere person behind the pseudonym.  The person asking this question, whether sincere or not is voicing a concern many have and not just Muslims.  The answer is comforting acknowledging fear.

If you look through this persons Facebook page and website there is a disturbing trend of people who contact this person who are angry.  They are yelling and cursing and all under the guise of being so religious and so Christian that their anger is justified.

Last night was the State of the Union address, President Obama’s last one.  When the camera scanned the crowd of Congressmen, you saw the look of hate in the eyes of so many.  So many of whom really are so open in the hate of the President.  Most of whom also espouse to be so religious and righteous.

The people who go out and look for people to hate and those with hate in their eyes are truly frightening people.  They feel so justified in their hate.  I am not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination, but I take the lessons of love and acceptance and I try to live by them.  I am the last person to try to tell someone what it means to be religious, but as with other things it has been said, I don’t know what it is, but I know it when I see it.

Screaming and cursing in the name of religion is not cool.  Suppressing people’s right and freedoms in the name of religion is not cool and sitting with venom in your eyes is not cool and most definitely not a way to be if you claim to follow a religious path.

This comedian in 5 lines has done more the cause of living a religious life then any of the leaders who so loudly claim to be so righteous.  The odd thing about the person who wrote those lines, even using the name of God, has never claimed to be religious, just concerned about people.  When I see that concern and when I see acceptance and I see love, I feel better about people.  God isn’t a character on Facebook, God is where you find him.

M*A*S*H Season 3 Top 5

I can’t believe it has been over a month since I posted anything.  Can’t believe how busy things have been.  Anyway.  Season 3 of M*A*S*H is something I have been thinking about this whole time.  While in season 1 it was a chore to get 5 good episodes and season 2 had more good episodes it was still pretty easy to narrow it down to 5.  Season 3 is when M*A*S*H really hit its stride.  Looking through the episodes, it was really difficult to narrow it down to 5 and it was impossible to do so without leaving out an episode that very easily could be considered a great episode worthy of being in the top 5.

Well, here are the 5 that I finally decided on listed in production order.

Rainbow Bridge

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Hawkeye and Trapper are getting ready to head out to Tokyo for some R and R but they are not destined to get there.  Radar takes an unusual call… from the Chinese.  They have prisoners that they are not able to take care of and they offer to repatriate them to the doctors at the 4077th.  While Hawkeye and Trapper volunteer without even thinking about it, Frank has to be convinced to do.  As part of the rules of the meeting, they are not to bring any weapons, but Margaret give Frank a small pistol.  Radar has gone along and Klinger volunteered as well.  I love that Klinger volunteered.  It shows a part of his personality.  He may hate the army, but he does do everything he could possibly do to help, even volunteering for dangerous duty.

The enemy doctor is played by Mako.  He had made several appearances through the years and is always a pleasure to see.  It turns out that he went to school in the United States and actually the same school that Henry went to.

The conversation is interesting in that we get to see a glimpse of the way through the eyes of the other side.  During a tense moment Frank reached for the pistol that Margaret gave him almost ruining the deal.  The Chinese doctor laughs at the small pistol (“What the hell is that?”)  The prisoners are brought over to the bus and are taken home.

Too tired from the trip, they miss their trip to Tokyo opting to sleep in.  A major part of the episode is the guitar playing and singing if Loudan Wainright III.  While the music is fine, it really does seem out of place and was never a favorite part of the episode for me.

O.R.

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The 4077th is inundated with wounded.  There is no major story line in the episode except for the non-stop wounded being brought into the unit.  There is a lot going on in this episode.  Henry’s arthritis is flaring up and Hawkeye tell him it is his ticket home.  Henry opens up to Hawkeye letting him know that he really does want to stay for the challenge of being a doctor and that his life at home is actually pretty boring.  While Blood and Sand plays over the loudspeaker, a wounded soldier dictates a letter to his wife describing all of his indiscretions.  A visibly upset Father Mulcahy takes the letter, which Trapper tell him not to send.  The soldier is going to make it.

Hawkeye operates on and saves an Ethipoian soldier. This was put in as a tribute to the fact that Ethiopia in fact did since soldiers to the fighting in Korea as part of the UN.

Frank is working on a case and mutters something about removing a kidney.  It gets the attention of Hawkeye and Trapper.  Trapper checks the x-ray and the patient to find that Frank is removing his only kidney.  Frank is visibly upset himself and later thanks Trapper for helping him and save the soldiers life.

It goes on and on.  Hawkeye saves a soldier by performing open heart massage.  He saves his life only for the soldier to die later in Post op.  As things drag on, artillery shells start to go off right outside the O.R.  After another argument, Frank and Trapper are taking a break and Frank opens up to Trapper talking about hard upbringing and that he had no one to talk to and that he had an extremely strict father.

As other things happen, like running out of sutures and the electricity going out, Sidney Freedman stops by for the weekly poker game.  He is quickly enlisted in helping with surgery.  After a while leaving with the immortal words:  Ladies and Gentlemen, take my advice, pull down your pants and slide on the ice.

This is absolutely one of the best episodes of the entire run.

Adam’s Ribs

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We want something else!  We want something else!  What we want are ribs from Chicago.  Hawkeye and Trapper, with the help of Radar, scheme to order ribs from Adam’s Ribs in Chicago.  A lot of things have to fall into place.  Trapper has to call an ex to go to Adam’s Ribs to pick up the package and bring it to the airport.  Somehow or other, the ribs make it to a supply depot where it is held up in channels.  While trying to get the package, they talk to the Sargent who happens to be from Joliet and knows about Adam’s Ribs and proceeds to take some of the ribs as payment.  While the description is short and even dull, check out this episode as it is really a classic.

Aid Station

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I have been accused of not really appreciating the funny episodes as much as the serious ones.  That isn’t true at all.  I couldn’t be a true fan if if weren’t for the fact that I absolutely loved the comedy of this show.  To me however, the true genius of the show is that it can be funny and it can also show the darker side of war and it was not afraid to put our heroes in danger.  Aid Station was an absolutely incredible episode that show so much about a few of our main characters.  It showed how Margaret and Hawkeye really felt about each other.   Whatever else happens, they know that they are each the best at what they do and they really do have a great deal of respect for each other.  This episode also, once again, shows the true nature of Klinger.  I love how they show his good side throughout the series.  He obviously didn’t want to go to the aid station but once there he worked hard and did everything he could to do the best job that he could.  Klinger so easily could have been made into a lazy bum since he wanted to get out of the army, but he did his job better than anyone else.

Abyssinia, Henry

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I have so much to say about this episode, but none of which I want to say here.  This is the most gut wrenching episode of the entire run, and not for the obvious reasons.  This is the culmination of dissatisfied actors, unkept promises and compromises that never should have been made.  This was a historic episode that is really still talked about debated today.  Should the producers have done what they did?  Was it necessary to kill Henry Blake off camera the way they did.  He had filmed his last scene and was done already.  Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds defended the decision as a way to show the wastefulness of war and I agree with that sentiment completely.  For a comedy show in 1976, did they go too far?  I don’t know.  My gut tells me that they did, but M*A*S*H was one of the shows that pushed the envelope.  Stay tuned.  I have a rant about this topic.  Basically, McLean Stevenson, for all of his comedy genius, never should have accepted the role.  The other thing is that while this was a very obvious good bye to McLean Stevenson, it was also Wayne Rogers last episode.  If there is one thing I am disappointed in the producers of this show in, it is the treatment of Wayne Rogers and Trapper John McIntyre.  Of course, if they don’t leave, we don’t get Sherman Potter or BJ Hunnicutt, who is one of my all time favorite television characters.  More on this episode later.

M*A*S*H Best Episodes Rules

So I went through seasons 1 and 2 of M*A*S*H and listed my top 5 episodes of each season.  I will get to all 11 episodes, but I am going to set up some rules.

I am separating the seasons in to groups:

Group 1 – Seasons 1, 2 and 3 – This is obvious.  These are the Blake and Trapper years.  They both leave after season 3 and the show changes drastically after that.

Group 2 – Seasons 4 and 5 – These are the BJ and Frank years.  Frank leaves after year 5, once again changing the show.

Group 3 – Season 6 and 7 – These are the years with Charles before Radar left the show.  The show didn’t change drastically with the exit of Radar, but it did change.  The biggest change, besides Radar leaving is Klinger finally stopped wearing dresses when he became the company clerk

Group 4 – Season 8, 9, 10 and 11. – These are the last 4 years with what would be the final cast.

For each group, after getting the top 5 for each season, I am going to go through those seasons one more time and I will allow myself to make substitutions within a Group.  Foe example.  Season 1 is pretty weak, but season 2 is pretty strong.  If an episode that didn’t make the cut for season 2, I feel is better than one of the top 5 of season 1, I will make the change.  I will allow 1 change change per season, so the least I can wind up with for a season will be 4 and the most I can have in a season is 6.

In the end I will have a list of my top 55 episodes.  I am then going to attempt to rank these episodes from 1 to 55.

I welcome comments.