Wednesday, November 30, 2016

It's Already Christmas Again?

Mates, the Captain is just not feelin’ it this year.

Not even enough to write a “Bah Humbug!” post.

This is more of a “Meh!” post.

Did you ever watch the movie “Christmas with the Kranks”?

I’m not surprised if you didn’t. Critics were pretty much unanimous that it was a stinker.

Based on 130 reviews, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 5% on the Tomatometer.

“A mirthless movie as fresh as last year’s fruit cake, 
Christmas with the Kranks is a coarse, garish comedy 
that promotes conformity.”
-Rotten Tomatoes

“In any normal year this dire comedy would be the undisputed lump of coal 
in our psychic stocking, but coming on the heels of Surviving Christmas, 
it’s a close second.”
-J.R. Jones,

You get the idea…

But, yes, the Captain liked it!

It doesn’t hurt that Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis hold the starring roles.

Here’s the story line: Luther and Nora Krank are going to be home alone at Christmas for the first time in years. Their daughter is in the Peace Corps, stationed in Peru. So Luther, after reviewing the previous Christmas, suggests taking the $6,000+ they spent last year and apply it to a 10-day Caribbean cruise instead.

This means no Christmas decorations, no custom Christmas cards, no Christmas tree from the Boy Scouts, etc.

This makes a lot of sense to the Captain.

As usual, there is always a price to pay for bucking tradition – especially at Christmas – but the Kranks try their best.

Until their daughter calls on Christmas Eve to say she’s bringing her new Peruvian fiancĂ© home to experience a traditional family Christmas.

Long story short, Nora quickly assembles “Christmas”, and a reluctant Luther Krank gives the cruise tickets to a neighbor whose wife is battling cancer.

"God bless us, everyone!"
 Essentially, the moral to the story is that, try as you may, you just can’t avoid the over-commercialization of joy of Christmas.

Here’s the thing:

-The Captain and First Mate have no children. Never have, never will.

Oh, there are several beloved nieces and nephews, but we’ve pretty much come to the point that we don’t buy presents for them all because there are so many.

And they never visit, they never call…

And frankly, I can’t think of anything I want from “Santa” this year. Nothing to get excited about. We have good jobs, and a comfortable income which enables us to buy for ourselves most anything we want. “Exchanging Gifts” is reduced to simply granting permission to buy a more pricey toy that we would probably eventually buy anyway.

-I preach at three churches and none of them want a Christmas Eve service – a long-standing tradition for the Captain and First Mate. And with Christmas Day falling on Sunday this year, I am prepared for a disappointing church attendance as well.

-The First Mate will be away visiting her family the week leading up to Christmas, and she’ll be covering at the hospital on Christmas Day so others who have children will be able to be home with their families.  

She's an angel!

-We both work long hours, so we would only get to enjoy our decorations between our typically late dinner and bedtime.

-Thus, the idea of climbing into the attic to retrieve boxes upon boxes of decorations – only to have to return them there once the decorating is complete – and reversing all that when Christmas is over – doesn’t excite me.

Why is there a bed in the attic?
-We have two new kittens, who have already demonstrated that no decorations will be safe in this house this year.

This year, the Captain could very well see myself pitching the idea of a Caribbean vacation to the First Mate… if I could get a guarantee of warm and sunny!

Captain’s Note: The average temperature for December in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, is 84 degrees.

Honey, this could be us...!
Just sayin’…

I have beloved friends who go all out at Christmas time with decorations and merriment. I have even had to restrain a couple of them to keep them from decorating their homes in September!

Which is fine if that is what they want to do, I guess...

But the Captain also has friends who will endure this season of merriment alone this year, due to death, divorce, distance, or other circumstances beyond their control.

Perhaps this year is the year I should realize that Christmas is not all about me…

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I Left Facebook

I left Facebook.

Okay, it’s only been six days…

But it has freed up an amazing amount of the Captain’s time!

More time for pillagin’ and plunderin’!

And Rum.

Lots and lots of Rum!

Frankly, there was just way too much post-election “wah-wah-wah!” From both sides! The Hillary fans are being sore losers – suddenly now the Electoral College is a bad thing – and the Trump fans (who are genuinely surprised they won) are being sore winners.

There are protests by Hillary fans – whose lead in the popular vote has swelled to 1.4 million votes. And some people think they can sway the members of the Electoral College to change their votes when they do their duty on December 19th.

And there are the ironic pleas of the winners – “Why can’t we all just get along?” – after eight years of lying and obstructing President Obama’s agenda, threats of violence throughout the campaign should they lose, and promises by leading Republicans that they would vote against Hillary on everything she proposes!

Earlier this week the Captain engaged a Trump apologist in denial. Trump has already back-pedaled on his campaign promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act on his “first day in office”.

“Repeal and replace” were his actual words. First. Day. In. Office.

Which even the Captain knew was impossible since, after six years of perpetual votes to repeal Obamacare, the Republicans never proffered an alternate plan.

According to this stranger on Facebook, candidate Trump really didn’t say all those things the video footage from the campaign records him saying. (For more on that, check out Mother Jones’ list of everything President-elect Trump said he would do on his first day in office.)

The exchange denigrated into “nu-uh”… “Uh-huh”, and that’s when I decided I was done. The Captain needed a break.

Honestly, I thought all the political posts would settle down once the initial grief of losing an election passed.

I mean, we do this every four years, right?

And for some the 2020 Presidential Campaign has already begun.

But it hasn’t passed. In fact, the Facebook angst seems to be growing worse as the Trump administration takes shape.

Now, in a previous post, I reminded my mates we are Americans. We need to abide by the outcome of the election. Trust the process.

But since then, the Captain has grown anxious as the Transition Team – headed up by Vice President-elect Mike Pence – begins naming possible Cabinet members and other presidential appointees.

It is getting really scary:

            -Reince Priebus, the chair of the Republican National Committee, who stuck with Trump throughout the campaign – demanding other Republicans toe the line – has been nominated for Chief of Staff. This should roil the people who elected Trump, since his first pick is a member of the Establishment.

            -Steve Bannon, formerly of far-right-wing news site and spokesmodel for Alt-Right, has been tagged for Chief Strategist. (The Captain didn’t even know there was a White House Chief Strategist!) Bannon’s opinion of women, minorities, and immigrants is well-documented at Breitbart, but the position of Chief Strategist does not need to be confirmed by Congress so this is a done deal.

            -Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, a 20-year junior Senator from Alabama, has been tapped for Attorney General. It bears noting that Sessions, who would become the nation’s top law enforcement officer, was rejected during the Reagan-era for a Federal Judge-ship because of his well-documented racist views. (Check out a more thorough treatment of the Senator here.) This prospective appointment has white supremacists dancing in the streets!

Captain’s Note: Sessions will need to be approved by Congress, so there is still hope.

            -Lt. General Michael “Lock Her Up!” Flynn, has been picked for National Security Advisor. Flynn is extremely anti-Muslim, is hoping to foment regime change in Iran, and doesn’t care much for international law or the Geneva Conventions. His company is also a consultant / lobbyist for Turkey.

            -Tea Party Republican Mike Pompeo has been recommended for Director of the CIA. After three terms in Congress, Pompeo became a household name during the failed Benghazi hearings.

There are many more positions to fill, which is especially challenging for a President-elect who has no political experience. Senator Ted Cruz, who really, really, really wanted to be Attorney General – so much so that he overlooked Trump’s heinous insults during the primaries and endorsed the candidate – is still hoping his name will be called for the empty chair on the Supreme Court. Governor Mitt Romney, who called Trump a “phony, lying, dishonest fraud’ during the campaign, is auditioning for the position of Secretary of State.

Also in yesterday’s news it was announced that A&E network is cancelling “Duck Dynasty”, which frees up the Robertson family for Cabinet positions as well!

Now let me ask you, mates, do you see what all of these prospects have in common?

Yes, they are all white men.

Which is apparently what candidate Trump meant when he said he would “Make America Great Again”.

As one of Trump’s acolytes said recently, “The Government doesn’t have to look like a Benetton ad.”

And with a Republican-controlled Congress, the Captain does not anticipate a significant challenge to any of the Trump team’s picks.

Vice President-elect Pence with the Republican House of Representatives.
With his usual arrogance, President-elect Trump has boasted he will not take a salary while in office, and he won’t take expensive vacations (like his predecessor did).

He also announced he won’t spend much time in the White House, preferring to spend his time at his penthouse suite in Trump Tower in New York, or at one of his resorts, rather than at that 200-year-old shack on Pennsylvania Avenue.

This will create a security nightmare that will far exceed the cost of any salary or expensive vacations a President might want to take.

Update: Melania Trump has announced she will not leave New York, so as to not disrupt her son Barron's schooling. This means the Secret Service will have to move into Trump Towers, for which the U.S. Government (read "tax payers") will have to pay Donald Trump an inflated rent. In addition, it has been noted that all of the Trump children will receive Secret Service protection, and the bill has already reached $1 million per day!

Captain’s Note: Trump Tower is an aging 58-story glass-and-steel high rise on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan filled with apartments, offices, and stores. Everyone working and living there will have to have a security clearance. Outside there is a tremendous amount of automobile and pedestrian traffic. The building has not been retrofitted with post-9/11 security features. The Secret Service is already moving to replace all ground-floor and penthouse windows with bullet-proof glass.

I suspect the Captain could sail to Hawaii for the cost of just one of those windows!

So the political drama continues – in daily/nightly news reports and on Facebook.

Yes, I still peek occasionally.

And the Captain simultaneously prays for and cries for my country.

Probably the only way to get away from it all is to enter a monastery far, far away. But we ruled that option out years ago.

I couldn’t remove myself so completely from the world.

Just from Facebook. For now.

Sadly, over the past six days the Captain has discovered just how dependent I have become on Facebook, my primary social link with family and friends. Already I miss the photos of vacations, children and pets; what you're eating for dinner; and the funny memes and videos. 

If I don’t eventually return to Facebook, I’ll have to learn how to socialize for real all over again.

I’m not sure this introvert is ready for all that.

Update: Despite candidate Trump’s boast that he never settles – he always wins! – Trump’s lawyers settled the pending lawsuit about the failed Trump University for $25 million.

As expected, President-elect Trump claimed victory.