Wednesday, July 31, 2019

2109 Court TV




It’s baaaak! Court TV has returned to the air. Sort of.  Zombie television. Want to watch the OJ trial gavel-to-gavel? (Once was once too much.) Miss seeing Vinnie Politan-all-the-time?  He’s back too.  A group called Katz has put this thing together.  

Evidently, they must have bought the file tapes from the previous owner.  They’re advertising a 37-part special on the Simpson trial. But other than Anchor Vinnie, they seem not to have gathered the rest of the galaxy of stars that made the original Court TV a household nuisance. 

Watching it was like watching paint dry, alternating with people wetting down the paint to make sure it never dried.  

The real stars have been flung out of their heavenly positions and have landed in other parts of the universe.

Jane Velez-Mitchell:  Gone with the wind.  Polishing her awards from PETA?  Making the case for women who love women?  Running the JaneUnchaned News Network, whatever that is?

Jack Ford: Still viewable at CBS, sometimes PBS. 

Ashleigh Banfield: Played Katie to Jack Ford’s Bryant on Court TV, then CNN, then Headline News and now… um…

And the biggest of them all, the reprehensible Nancy Grace. She was most recently seen on Oxygen TV, one of those mostly-re-run channels you find at the nosebleed end of the cable/satellite TV dial.

In her day she was a big draw because she was brassy, opinionated, and just the perfect hell-raising, cut off disagreement commentator you love to hate.

About Vinnie:  He saw them sharpening the ax at the original court TV and got out before his neck was officially endangered.  Ch. 11 in Atlanta snapped him up.  And he stayed there until Katz came calling.

Katz is conveniently (for Vinnie) located in Atlanta, the town Ted Turner failed to turn first to Hollywood, then New York and now… well, Atlanta.

A fledgling pay-tv outlet struggles without a big name or two to trumpet.  So possibly wide “clearance,” can be an impossible dream. For example, the two major satellite networks don’t clear it. The Scripps TV Stations do, but there aren’t a lot of them and so the website offers readers an e-z form to fill out and badger your cable or satellite company.

Which you will do.  Which will result in … nothing.

They’re on Hulu, though. That’s at least something.

But they’ll soldier on, at least for a while.  They’ll stick cameras in the courtrooms to witness cases of little consequence and hope against hope for the next OJ, or Jody Arias or Casey Anthony, who also was known to viewers of Nancy Grace as Tot Mom.

In all likelihood, the Jury, you, will self instruct to ignore. 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Comments? Send ‘em here: wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2019

Monday, July 29, 2019

2108 Downscale Restaurants





You know the kind.  They’re not part of a chain. They don’t advertise on national TV.  They’re not cutsie small townish places in big cities … that never works.  Neither do “Fancy Big City” restaurants in small towns.

Talking here about places that are not quite dirty enough to be called a dive.  But dirty enough so that they’re just beyond “well broken in” and haven’t yet reached “held together by willpower.”

Places where they don’t look at you funny because you’re black, white, Hispanic, gay, straight, tall, short, fat or thin but because you’re wearing a tie. And it’s tied right. And doesn’t have a stain.  

Most of all, they are places where the food is good and covers most of the plate, where shot glasses are for people who ask for shots, not for measuring overpriced booze to make sure you’re not getting a fraction of a fraction of an ounce more than you’re paying for.

Oh, and that food?  Not prepared from an Old Family Recipe, not prepared by something from page 345 of the Official Manual of MegaChain Delight operations. And something prepared by the cook, not the Executive Chef with a Culinary Institute degree on the wall for all to see.

No farm-to-table.  No organic.  Nothing gluten free or Keto Diet friendly.  

Just well cooked food and plenty of it.  Is that too much to ask?  If it is, it shouldn’t be.

Far too many places act as if the big plate is a large white canvas on which a small amount of unidentified but evidently edible stuff occupies a tiny spot, and seems to preen before your very eyes.

Cloth napkins optional.

So are waitstaffers who say “Hi, I’m Chloe.  I’ll be helping you tonight.”  In some places, this turn of phrase invites the reply “Sure, Chloe.  I’m Vaclav. How are you planning to help?”  followed by a leer. 

Just come over to the table holding an order pad and tell us your name if it’s not embroidered on your uniform shirt.

EMS people, guidance counselors, cops, firefighters and lifeguards help.  Waiters (yes, waiters, not “servers” of any of today’s myriad of real, fluid and imagined genders) take your food order, make recommendations, answer questions about the menu and bring or cause someone else to bring what you order to your table.

And they don’t ask you 30 seconds into the meal “how is everything?” Maybe wait a full two minutes for that.  After all, it’s hot when they bring it.  Or it should be.

Can someone please advise waiters to mention a couple of the recommended deserts instead of asking “Got room for dessert?” The answer to that question should be either “No, thank you, I’m full” because you should be or “Oh, that massive slice of red-berry cheesecake I just saw someone carry looks delicious. May I try that?”

One more thing.  Almost every wait-person who wants to take plates away will ask thus: Can I take these out of your way?  (Some ask “may I.”) Suggested answer: “Yes, please do. We need room to string the ping pong net.  The game starts in ten minutes. Please also take the glasses and cups.”

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Comments? Send ‘em to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2019

Friday, July 26, 2019

2017 Send Me Back



Helen Thomas wanted to send me back.  Now so does trump. Okay, I'll go. Except that I was born in New York City, which as far as I know is in the United States, though many in might disagree.  

Then there are my parents' countries of origin. Dad was from Germany. Mom was from New York but of Russian extraction. Or Ukrainian or who-knows-what-ian.  So where would I re-locate?  In the middle, of course, somewhere in between. East of Germany are the Czech Republic and Poland. West of Russia is... um ... Poland and the Czech Republic. Neither seems right.

I hear it gets pretty hot in Prague this time of year.  Poland is a bit cooler, but always cold to Jews. Or hot for “us.”  So I guess if I'd czech out of here I'd Czech in there. And change my name to Vaclav. Every other male in the Czech Republic is named Vaclav.  Gotta try to fit in.  You know… assimilate.  Like some people used to do here.


Maybe the UK?  Oh, but Boris Johnson is like trump but with a stiff upper lip so I probably couldn't get the British equivalent of a green card. Hmm. I wonder if my ex would help. One side of her family came from England, back when that meant something. (Andy Borowitz reported in the New Yorker that things were getting so bad with Boris that Queen Elizabeth was moving to Canada.  This is incorrect.  Here’s the truth: She’s going to Ireland and applying for political asylum.)

Guess I'll have to stick with Prague. I wonder if they teach Czech as a second language to people closing in on 80. And I wonder if their Indian and Pakistani doctors are as good as our Indian and Pakistani doctors.

One Pakistani doctor I know went to med school in... in... I was going to say Prague. But I think it might have been Budapest.  

Didn’t trump once say his father was born in Germany?  Quick, someone send him back before he finds out his father was actually born in the Bronx.  Come to think of it, don’t.  Send him back to the Bronx where AOC might be his representative in Congress.

Also, it’s where people know how to take care of people like trump. 

(Note to the NSA and my hacker friends on the right: The above sentence is satire.)

SHRAPNEL (Bobby Three Sticks Edition):
--Our congressional representatives didn’t ask questions, they made speeches. That’s what they do.  And that’s why we might learn more from impeachment proceedings although the Republican Senate would never convict.

--Post-testimony headlines diminished the effect the Mueller interrogation may have had on the average and interested viewer. He over-exercised his right (or orders) to remain silent. But the bad cops were inept and the good ones too busy making speeches.

I’m Vaclav Rozek. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Comments? Send them to the former wesrichards@gmail.com
© VR 2019



Wednesday, July 24, 2019

2106 Auf Wiedersehen or is it Adiós to the VW Beetle



This may be the most storied and influential car in history with the possible exception of the Ford Model T. And you may think new ones disappeared years ago.  But until last week, you’d have been wrong. The “real” Beetle remained in production in Volkswagen’s Puebla, Puebla province Mexico from 1967 until Wednesday, July 10, 2019 when the last one rolled off the line.

The original Beetle could not meet US emission standards, so VW scrapped it in the US.  But Mexico?  Who cares if all those fumes kill a few hundred people a year and help melt the Polar ice?

No, the “original” Beetle with an occasional update -- like a gas gauge and some other frivolous stuff soldiered on.  Wait. Maybe “soldiered on” is not exactly the best way to describe something fathered by Hitler and birthed by the Porsche family.

Ok. It’s been around since the late 1930s and for sale in the US since the mid-50s.  People bought them because they ran well, lasted well and showed that a mere defeat at the hands of the allies didn’t do much harm to German engineering, although today, that’s not what it once was, either.

You could replace the engine in a Beetle in an hour or so, using only a pair of pliers and a screwdriver. Not much plastic on those bodies.  Just steel.  And they still got decent gas mileage.  

Up until a few years ago, you could buy a new Mexican VW for three or four thousand dollars.  It would cost you another three or four to retrofit US emissions equipment.  But you’d have a really good new car for half the price you can buy new in this country.

We’re expecting a big uptick in the prices of used Beetles here.  Before the shutdown you could get a decent one for about $1700, which was the price new in 1958.  Some listings show prices of up to $5,000 used.  That’s still not a bad deal.

And that would include leather seats and a gas gauge, as opposed to the rare base model which had neither.  A gas gauge became standard sometime in the 1960s.  So did a larger rear window.  If you’re a wimp, you can add air conditioning for about $2,000.

But why, you may ask, would you want one of these in the first place?

Maybe
--It’s a nostalgia trip.
--Your left foot has nothing to do and complains.
--It’s a chick magnet, assuming the “chick” is of age to collect Social Security.
--It’s a cop magnet and you love being pulled over so some kid in blue can gawk.
--You’ve always wanted one.

VW has this habit of shooting itself in the foot.  When the Bug became a best seller they started making a bunch of different models.  One had a fancy body. One looked like a bus but smaller.  One looked like a WWII Jeep and others looked like every other car.  People didn’t want something that looked like every other car and eventually, the company pulled back.

Then they came out with the New Beetle, a rolling junk heap with some of the cuteness of the original but none of the sturdiness.

Later came the commercials that showed how fast their low-emissions diesels could accelerate and how fast they would go with low emissions. Slight problem, the engines turned out to be major polluters and the built-in software to evade fume detection were included in the base price.

So, Wiedersehen, old freund.  And Adiós, amigo. 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Comments? Please send to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2019



Monday, July 22, 2019

2105 Consultant School






Where do people learn to be consultants?  Most are home schooled. We know what that can mean.


 If you want to become one, you need a better credential.

The job is pretty simple. You steal a guy’s watch and then charge to tell him the time.  Thing is, sometimes victims have more than one watch.  The iWatch tells time in addition to all the more important stuff it does, like locating the nearest Burger King or counting the steps you took today or finding the temperature in Toledo.

Most watch thieves have a special banker’s box to store the stolen “smart” watches.  They segregate them from the regular kind so there will be no cross-pollination and interbreeding. (Not sure that’s legal. But I’ll ask my lawyer as soon as gets out of Greenhaven.)

Meantime, you can start your own consultant school.  We’ve established an experimental version here at the Wessays™ Secret Mountain Laboratory (successor to the former Secret Waterfront Laboratory, where the patented Cholesterol Pipeline was developed to serve clustered fast food joints and food courts at the 23 malls that haven’t yet failed.)

The WestraDamus Mid-Atlantic School of Consultancy has small classes and a sliding fee scale.  We do not accept federal loans.  But we do teach beginning courses like 

-How to convince a client that he’s facing unrecognized problems.
-How to solve them, but not all the way… 
-Developing clients’ dependence on you.
-How to shift blame and avoid responsibility for your screwups as a consultant.
-How to be like the big guys.
-Grow or die.
-How to harness the public relations industry to your clients’ advantage.
-How to explain why the media didn’t pay any attention to your efforts at publicity.
-How to tell prospective clients about your successes even if you have none.
-How to pad and what to charge for ancillary services like photocopying, phone conversations, business lunches, travel expenses.
-How to convince potential clients that your certification from MASC -- Mid-Atlantic School of Consultancy -- gives you a leg up on those with homeschooling.

We are working on a jargon glossary.  But that has a “Top Secret” label right now.  We don’t want to tip our hand. But once it’s done, it’ll be like a second language for your clients who can then hold public discussions that no one else will understand.  This is a key to not having to rent too much office space.  You can hold your jargon conferences at Dairy Queen or the Dew Drop Inn or Madison Square Garden without fear of being understood by the uninitiated.

And never forget that a good consultant is worth his weight in helium.

SHRAPNEL:
--What we did on our first summer vacation in decades.  Not much. That was the whole idea.

--The horrible phrase “shut-in” has fallen out of use, thank goodness. For this, you can thank today’s most maligned villain, the internet. Everyone now shares a virtual out-a-tude.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Comments here:  wesrichards@gmail.com
© WR 2019

Monday, July 15, 2019

Mini 005 The Crew





Greetings from the broken and crime infested country from which three of the four liberal Democratic Party women came, these United States.  And thanks president Drumpf for helping bring a slight sense of unity to the Democratic Party, even if it doesn’t last all that long.

Drumpf took to Twitter to tell the four women to go back to their countries.

--Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (D-NY) Born in the Bronx.
--Rashida Tliab: (D-MI) Born in Detroit.
--Ayanna Pressley: (D-MA) Born in Chicago.
--Ilhan Omar (D-MN) Born in Somalia.

Like all first term congress members, these women have a lot to say, but lack understanding of how things get done in the House of Representatives.  You can bet that’s true of any newbie with a job like that.  So if you think this quartet is taking America off the deep end, not to worry.  First, that’s the nature of the beast.  Second, we’re already there anyway.

About that unity thing… it may have brought disparate members of the party together in condemning Drumpf. But something had to.  

And where were the Republicans who reacted in horror.  It’s hard to find any.  Zonked on Jonestown style Kool-Aid.

(Regular Wessays resume one week from today.)


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Mini 004 Accosting Acosta






I don’t believe the rumors.  Labor Secretary Alex Acosta did not benefit from his treatment of the child-bopping tycoon Jeffrey Epstein.

Acosta was a federal prosecutor in Florida and cut a deal with Epstein for a 13-month sentence.  You should get such treatment.  It was nights under guard.  But during the day he was allowed to go to his office and… um… do whatever it is that “financiers” do.

Yeah, you heard right.  Part time prisoner.

Now the case against Ep has moved to New York.  Usually, they put a little ice on a slapped wrist.  Brings down the swelling.  Then they put him in the Iron Maiden.  See what it’s like in the arms of that girl, Jeffy.

Ah, but what about the Secretary of Labor?  His main job in the current cabinet is to make sure coal miners are exposed to more black lung potential and that the managers of restaurants can skim some bucks from the wait staff tip jar.

And the rumor.  Simply not true.  He did not get a thumb drive copy of Epstein’s Rolodex.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Mini 003 In the Hopper

Coming sooner than you want... a school that teaches you how to become a "consultant." It's all the rage, but what are you going to do with all the watches you steal?

The final curtain for the VW Beetle -- not the crummy copy they're selling now, but the genuine article were still making in Mexico.

Next full-scale Wessay 7/17.7/19

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Mini 002 July 4, 2019




Welcome to America’s 243rd Birthday.  Two hundred-43.  That’s pretty old for a country that acts the way we do. By the standards of nationhood, that’s actually about middle age.

 We’re supposed to know the difference between right and wrong… just and unjust… equal opportunity… equal rights. 

Do we? We’re supposed to be the ultimate experiment both in healthy competition and healthy collaboration.  Are we?

The ship of state has been taking on water for a few decades now, and no one’s volunteering for bailing duty. That’s okay.  Someone else will take care of it. 

The government!  No. Private enterprise! No. The guy next door! No.  All of the above? Yes.

Back in the days when we were just emerging as a world power, someone came up with this question: “What have you done to preserve, protect and perpetuate Americanism today?”

Well?  What have we?

4744 The Running of the Bull

  Newsday Photo   A bull escaped from a farm in Moriches on New York’s Long Island and has been playing hide and seek ever since.  It’s not ...