Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Thaw

Great job on Cuba, Comrade Obama. Our policy was just about to work!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gun nuts like me

 
The gun control movement seems to be building some steam. Ever since Sandy Hook, there seems to be a new consistency to the drumbeat for change in this arena. This past election season, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg funneled a few million of his billions into television ads targeting pro-gun candidates. I feel, however, like I'm moving against this cultural tide. I feel as if there are definitely Americans out there that should consider arming themselves. They're called African-Americans.

The idea of such a militarized and undisciplined state lording itself over a populace unarmed seems to me an increasingly imperfect idea. This country is not obscenely violent because of the citizenry's access to firearms. It's obscenely violent because the government for, of, and by the people cheapens life through the perpetual machinery of war and its commitment to frequent public executions. My problem with the pro-gun rights movement, however, is its utterly-reliable and inexhaustive racism. Absolutely no high-profile gun advocates-- no gun libertarians, no reactionary politicians, no NRA representatives, no Ted Nugents-- have spoken out against the government-sponsored murders of Michael Brown, Darrien Hunt, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, John Crawford, and others.

Crawford was the black man viewed as a danger and shot dead by police in an Ohio Walmart because he was carrying a gun through the store that happened to be a product available for purchase in said store, and one that he had recently taken off one of the store's shelves. Walmart has infamously promoted the fact that the corporation allows weapons to be open-carried in their stores if the store is located in a state in which such an act is permissible by law. But that sublime and popular act of strutting while packed would seem to be a privilege enjoyed only by white people. The idea of a black man walking armed with a gun into, around, or out of a retail store anywhere in the United States strikes me as outlandish. There's been only one "arm yourself" social movement during the course of the National Rifle Association's 15-decade existence that did not get the advocacy group's very public endorsement, and that was the Black Panther movement.

If they were carrying real guns, would Brown, Hunt, Garner, or Rice still be alive? Likely not. But knowing that I live on the safe and comfortable side of the tracks in a divisive, brutally-racist society, I can't, in good conscience, be the white guy that counsels young black men not to arm themselves. Are my fellow white Americans not irrationally terrified of young black men? And would a higher percentage of these young men carrying heat not terrify white America all the more? Yes. And probably. But Martin Luther King Jr. came to them in peace, and in the spirit of non-violence, and they murdered him too.

There is a slaughter happening out there. These stories of police brutality are popping up daily. I don't own a gun, and I never will. It never even crosses my mind to get one. But then I'm not a target of law enforcement. I enjoy the all-American privilege of being white.

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Looked like a good kid: If you have Twitter, look this one up: #CrimingWhileWhite. White brothers and white sisters of strong social conscience are posting their stories about instances in which police let them get away with ridiculous shit thanks to the color of their skin. My favorites are the ones we most take for granted as white people, those such as Alex Halpern's, "Played with realistic guns my entire childhood, wherever we wanted. #CrimingWhileWhite." Another favorite is this one: "Shoplifted when I was a teenager. Was apprehended but never charged because I looked "like a good kid."

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Another under-reported example of white privilege: The sport of hunting. If you're white, you certainly know several people that like to hit the great outdoors this time of year, every year, to sack themselves a deer, a moose, or an elegant bird. Black people won't do this. They don't go hunting. They're not "big into it." I looked up the topic of black people hunting on Yahoo! Answers. Whites there seem to agree that the aversion of black people to hunting game is cultural. "Larry" wrote four years ago, "The 19th Century paradigm of blacks hunting for meat they often couldn't afford to purchase, will be seen as low class by relatively newly monied black families easily able to hunt at the supermarket in dignity and panache. Only when the values and traditions of warrior-class and independent-minded individualists become perceived as superior to necktied Lemming's herd behavior deadend thinking, will progressive blacks take that step forward by taking that step seemingly backward, by generally more of them getting into hunting!"

Inspired thinking, "Larry." No sarcasm. This is some world wide web-epic armchair quarterbacking. And you left out only one element, but a big one. If a black "sportsman" goes marching into a rural environment holding a rifle with both his hands, it won't matter if he's dressed himself in fatigues or a bright neon orange jumpsuit. White people in that immediate vicinity are liable to lose their shit.

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Headline: "Sony cancels the December 25th release of 'The Interview.'" American state-sponsored assassinations are an unfortunate, disgraceful reality, and Seth Rogen is the un-funniest man in Hollywood, but I don't think anybody is going to call this action a profile in courage.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

People's History of the Moeller Television Festival (13th year)

The following are samples of wisdom dropped into the festival comment box last weekend. (All comments are anonymous, sic'd, and lacking context.)

Special thanks to Tim for coming from Peoria, IL. To Jamie for coming from Chicago. Congratulations to Megan for making her first festival

Does everybody know how Aidah and Chris' toilet seat works? Does anyone know how to fix a toilet?

Why do people always take a drink @ awkward moments? Do these moments make people thirsty?

Has everyone seen the trailer for Star Wars 7?

The account office was next to a betting service - is this smart?

How's the chili doing?

You read the cards just add to it

John Hamm's Cardinal hat is blocking the screen

Wow that sweater. Who does Heathcliff think he is? Dr. Hibbard from the Simpsons?

The Moeller TV Festival pushing the edge of controversy.

Denise would never go for a military man.

Chris had a very romantic wedding proposal

What's in the guacamole dip? It's delicious.

There are still 6-disc CD changers, you know?

What's in the pineapple- it's delicious? Who cut it like that?

I remember when this plant to the left of the TV used to be Chris' Christmas tree.

Rob, when are you going to love your woman 100%?

Even before this episode started I knew Lucy would "Have some explaining to do."

Aaron is my personal A.T.M. Aaron Thomas Moeller

Fred hated Ethel. When William Frawley died, she bought a restaurant a round of drinks.

Chaos can be expected when women work outside the home.

Unfortunately, Amanda Milligan was type cast as a chocolate dipper after this episode aired.

That is just like my marriage.

Do you call your husband, "sir", Alex? When are you going to love him 100%?

I don't get it. He never once told her to go to the moon.

Who the fuck is Ricky Margaret McBride?

Jennifer Aniston hated David Schwimmer. She bought everyone drinks when she heard Ross had died.

Aaron, could you explain why Alex needed to put this in Open Remote?

If your last name is Moeller I think you should have equal shares in the amount of shows watched

They got away with a lot on TV in those days.

Could be the amerretto, but I think I just watched a show about a man in a woman's body

Historic first screening episode

There's an episode when he jumps into the body of a chimp.

This is the worst episode of Mad Men I've ever seen.

I think there are two openings in the secretary pool for Lucy & Ethel.

When shows like this were on, you only needed 3 channels.

$12 didn't fill our tank on the way here, but $30 did! Gas is 15 cents cheaper here than Cedar Rapids

Scott Bakula is from St. Louis but he doesn't have a bobblehead yet.

They didn't ask about ebola

Did you see the enormous cell phone?

Do the new people want a tour of the Cardinals room? Before it goes away?

True statement. Everyone dies from something

I need coveralls, gloves, a mask, a special receptical and a dead spider grabber to kill a spider.

I had a cell phone customer this week who didn't have a thumb

This is what Brandon does when he goes to Las Vegas.

There's a Tarantino version of this.

The only thing that could add more tension to that episode would be the discovery of a bat in the hotel room

Peter Lorre is in Casablanca

I can honestly say I have never been more intrigued by an episode of a show @ the festival than by this one.

You can get a brandy for 45 cents in 1960.

Lowest-rated WKRP ever.

I like the part where Herb Tarlek's wife pointed out that Ferris Bueller is a righteous dude.

Listen to that beautiful licensed music!

I think Herb quantum leaped into a chimp body with that kind of arm hair

I was one of the people who watched this live online.

Fun fact: Johnny Fever never said "More music and Les Nessman." It is spoken one time- by Venus

Maybe it's the glasses but Hugh looks like he is related to Letterman.

Loni Anderson would be a great option for TMZ's "Good Genes or Good Docs"

Loni Anderson's plastic surgery is better than most.

Fawlty Towers is like Newhart with a much angrier innkeeper

The maid character and John Cleese were married and co-created the show

Why is Jack studying for a cooking exam in his bedroom?

Suzanne Somers plastic surgery is better than most

I'm glad Aaron chose an episode with the Regal Beagle

Chrissy cries like Ophelia

Oh, I think Chrissy has heard of Shake & Bake.

Does that police officer have a court warrant?

It's not a true TV Festival if you're not a little sick of TV at the end of it

The Mr. Covington theme sounds a lot like the theme to Mr. Belvedere

What was the best show of the festival?

 

 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Brown and Garner

 
Violence is a natural impulse when confronted with stories of injustice like those of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. This is not to excuse violence, but to point out only that it's the instinct and to understand that not everyone has the power to control it. Further, to act out against a business is really a political act when it's done in a country that has always valued property rights above human rights. I feel like I've got a lot of innocent dead kids I need to cry for before I cry for the temporary closing of somebody's business.

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Cheers to the pro athletes that have publicly stood up for justice in these cases-- LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Reggie Bush, Derrick Rose, and your St. Louis Rams-- Jared Cook, Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, and Chris Givens. (Now it's time to see some support from white guys.) Saying that there's no room for political expression in sports ignores the fact that most of these events-- in person and often on television-- are a relentless display of nationalism and militarism.

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Slate's William Saletan suggests that white people view the Brown and Garner cases differently because "evidence, not race," separates them. I call BS. Both men were unarmed, non-threatening victims of badly-trained, bullying cops. They are only viewed differently by white people because we've been sold a very specific image of Darren Wilson, and the name of the man who murdered Eric Garner, Daniel Pantaleo, is largely and surprisingly unknown. The Ferguson and St. Louis County police departments, as well as the St. Louis County prosecutor, also engaged in a targeted assassination of Brown's character in the aftermath of the shooting while Staten Island cops didn't go to the same extreme. There's plenty of racism to cover both cases. According to the article, nearly a third of whites in the poll thought race was either just a small factor or a non-factor in the Garner case, and that was the one of the two that carried video evidence.

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After the release of this terrorism report, it's easy to see where our local police departments get their inspiration. In an authoritarian state, justice-- or the lack of it-- comes from the top down. In a democratic one, it's bottom-up.

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If I hear one more of these CIA assholes mouth off on the news about the "mood of the country" after 9-11, and using that alleged atmosphere of fear as an excuse for their violent terrorism against the United States Constitution, I'm going to scream. Plenty of us have been harping about civil liberties since the very beginning.

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A fourth black teen has been arrested in the death by hammer of a Bosnian immigrant in South St. Louis on November 30th. Dozens will take the opportunity to go to social media tonight and attempt to draw a parallel between this case and the Michael Brown one. See how dangerous young black men are? Where are the protests over this death? Here's the difference: these assailants were not public employees sworn to protect and defend... and also, they were arrested!

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Let me get this right. You're Mr. and Ms. Voter. It's your patriotic duty-- and mine-- to go to the polls and elect these representatives, but you don't care that the CIA lied to your elected representatives in Congress and to the president?

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

TV Fest program report 2014

Aaron and I each prepare a welcome page each year for the Moeller Television Festival program. Here's what we came up with for this year's rousingly- successful event. Aaron's first...


Two Timelines 

Future Obituary 

TV Festival Pioneer Dies 
Aaron Moeller, one half of the famed duo that invented television festivals, passed away peacefully on Sunday at the age of 104, surrounded by his loving wife, Alexandra, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The pioneering events, begun by Moeller and his brother, Chris, were known as the Moeller Television Festival, a title which also included a Roman numeral that changed strategically every year, and represented an annual gathering of TV-watching friends. Aaron Moeller, compared to his brother, was known as the younger, more vibrant and creative twin, the one who notoriously contributed less to the food catering, but leant more genius to the programming. 

Moeller often suggested he got the idea for TV festivals from a conversation he had in 1961 with former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, while at a United Nations event encouraging the channeling of aid for third world countries toward research into creating a type of "clicker" for "changing the channel on the TV box without getting up", but historians agree that that claim was unrealistic as Moeller wasn't born until 1975. Instead, researchers are now mostly in agreement that the idea actually originated when a two-year-old Moeller was the youngest guest ever on the PBS version of the old Dick Cavett Show in 1977, replacing an ailing Groucho Marx (as the youngster was already considered the world's foremost expert on the life of then recently deceased, Zeppo Marx), and he signed off with the remark, "Hey Dick, why don't you come over to my crib on Saturday? We'll watch some old Lucy episodes". 

He left behind the aforementioned family; his favorite shows, Cheers, WKRP in Cincinnati, and The Wire; his favorite actor, Bob Newhart; his favorite actress, Fran Drescher; and the haunting theme song to Taxi, the hearing of which he considered perhaps his earliest memory in life. It was his Rosebud. His sled. 


Alternate Future Obituary 

Aaron Moeller, Inventor of Nothing, Dies, As If You Care 
Aaron Moeller, brother of Chris, who died unknown years ago, died his own self on Sunday. I can tell you're really bummed about it. Moeller was a nice enough guy, but relatively dull and uninteresting and I'm not sure why you're even reading this online obituary. You can go back to googling fetish porn now if you want, nobody's stopping you. 

His therapist, Dr. Bob Smartly, offered some insight to this unremarkable fellow. "I always got some paperwork done during our sessions. He mostly liked to watch television. He actually had the makings of a megalomaniacal dipshit, but he lived such a rudder-less existence, nothing ever came of those tendencies. With any loss in life, there's always a need for grieving. It's always untimely and tragic when a person dies, but not really in this case." Dr. Smartly also quoted something Moeller would frequently state, "Yes, it's true I have my loving friends, my wife and family, but I don't want that to define me. I prefer my legacy be the things I might have potentially invented, but never did." 

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And mine from page 2...


Theatrical star Gilda Gray started a national dance craze in 1922 when she introduced the “Shimmy” to audiences on the Ziegfeld circuit. This “new” step, however, had already been heating up theaters and dance halls since at least 1909. Gray’s was a variation on an old dance pattern called the Shimmy Sha-Wabble. 

That’s all I have written so far of my rough-hewn biography of the legendary and “roaring” 1920s. I call the book “The Decade of the American Grain.” Somebody’s going to finally get this historical period right-- and that person is me, but convincing publishers of the fact has been like convincing a Sig Ep to stop dressing like a truck driver. I’ve been knocking myself out sending proposals by email, but unless you’re interested in assaulting the market with more boorish lady porn, or with another “Think Like a Man” self-help monstrosity, the marrow-suckers in the New York houses are only motivated to spit in your eye. 

What I need is a five-figure advance, some of that old-fashioned folding money. The story I’m telling requires research in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Berlin. It requires palm-greasing and backscratching, palm-scratching and back-greasing, tip money for porters. My literary agent believes I’m really on to something. According to her, the book has the potential to leave a large cultural footprint. It may just turn the entire community of letters onto its ear, like when Gilda Gray brought back the Shimmy Sha-Wabble on stage at the Ziegfeld Follies. This book is to be my triumphant return to respectability, my Mildred Pierce, my middle finger to the Paris Review. La revenir de l’enfer. The pot of gold at the end of a drab and colorless rainbow. 

Now, short of a holiday crowdfunding miracle-- that’s where you all come in-- “The Decade of the American Grain” will not be written. The ‘20s will remain forever misunderstood. Expressionism will fade, and art deco will be euthanized. Valentino’s corpse will need to be dug up and reburied. Women will be allowed to vote. I have recently taken to drink, and been told that I must leave Miss Emery’s rooming house at once or else enjoy only the privileges of the paying guests. In addition to spirits, I’ve begun nursing an addiction to essence of peppermint. I have found that the aroma pleasantly distracts me from my daily trials, but has also caused me terrific discomfort in the general area of my diagonal flaps. 

I have never asked you for anything before, and I am drawing now only from my last breath. Traditional avenues of investment have been exhausted. An anonymous donor from New Zealand has already made a goodly contribution for this story that cries out to be told. It’s a chance for a few generous souls to be a part of history and to feel the warm feeling of charity. You may also donate your car, truck, boat, or RV to claim a substantial tax deduction and to provide much-needed transportation support for literary research. 

Thank you all for your interest in erasing just a little of the pain from our troubled lives, 
Chris Moeller

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Big Day Saturday

 

Moeller Television Festival XIII is just around the bend. It's this Saturday, December 6th. In recent years, Aaron and I shoot for the first Saturday after Thanksgiving weekend for this most-precious annual event, but this year, the date just happens to mark the 10th anniversary of this blog.

Yes, I know what you're thinking, and you're correct-- "The Chris Moeller Archives" has been on the internet longer than YouTube. I am not shitting you. I'm older than Huffington Post also. And unlike Arianna, I've never published a post with the title "9 Things You Didn't Know About Britney Spears, Even If She Is Your Godney." Admittedly, part of the reason for this is that I struggle to keep up-- are we supposed to like Britney now or aren't we? What about Lindsay Lohan?

Anyway, enough about me. Here are some my favorite TV episodes, as chosen by me and my brother. You'll see them at the Aidah and Chris Moeller residence in Des Moines if you show up for MTF XIII at noon, or thereafter, on Saturday.

THE EPISODES

"Episode One" Life's Too Short #1 HBO 11/10/11

"Isn't it Romantic?" The Cosby Show #145 NBC 2/22/90

"Job Switching" I Love Lucy #36 CBS 9/15/52

"The One With the Videotape" Friends #174 NBC 10/18/01

"What Price Gloria?" Quantum Leap #13 NBC 10/25/89

"The Court Martial" The Phil Silvers Show #25 CBS 3/6/56

"Dead Possum" Maron #2 IFC 5/10/13

"Man From the South" Alfred Hitchcock Presents #168 CBS 1/3/60

"Real Families" Episode number unknown CBS 11/15/80 (This is WKRP In Cincinnati episode number 49 in disguise)

"WKRP in Cincinnati: A Paley Center Reunion" Streaming 6/4/14

"The Germans" Fawlty Towers #6 BBC 10/24/75

"Handcuffed" Three's Company #73 ABC 1/29/80

"The Gang Saves the Day" It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia #100 FXX 10/9/13


Hope to see all of you on this very momentous day. You can RSVP me at 515-249-3457. As always, all food and drink, including alcohol, are provided.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The police state, Black Friday weekend edition

A headline today in the St. Louis Post Dispatch reads: "Police arrest 16 outside Ferguson police station; 15 from outside area." The white reactionaries contributing to the newspaper's online comment thread, who are legion, have already been beside themselves accusing instigators from outside the area of making the Michael Brown case larger than it needs to be.

There were 200 protestors marching in Seattle on Friday also, more than 100 each in New York City, Oakland, and Los Angeles, and better than one thousand outside the United States Embassy in London. Presumably all of these people are from outside the Ferguson area.

The sight of protestors-- representing the ostracized class-- disrupting order and interrupting commerce on National Shopping Day is going to rankle. But just to make one thing clear: They're not telling Americans that their country is racist. They're reminding them that it is.

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Apparently Michael Brown's marijuana use was a major theme for prosecutors during the three-month grand jury investigation of Officer Darren Wilson. Hmm, might it have been that old "reefer madness" that caused Brown to act like a "demon," according to Wilson's grand jury testimony? Maybe it was cannabis that allowed Brown to build up that "Hulk Hogan" strength.

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Cleveland police have struggled so far to turn up anything embarrassing in the personal life of the 12-year-old with the toy gun, Tamir Rice, they shot dead last weekend a second and a half after arriving at the scene of a police call. (Even the caller to the police said twice on the 9-1-1 audio recording that the gun was "probably fake.") But Cleveland's Plain-Dealer has helped the defamation efforts against Tamir by uncovering that his father has a criminal record, and that might be something the public will be willing to swallow. I'm not sure yet how it will aid in the defense of the officer that splattered the preteen's brains across a local park, but what's important is that white folks are doing our part to help.