The Ugliest Negative Ad of the Political Cycle…Is Against Jonathan Miller?!?!

This shocking negative campaign ad was recently posted on YouTube by a shadowy political campaign finance group, likely funded by billionaires who desperately want The Recovering Politician, Jonathan Miller, to lose Dancing with the Lexington Stars:

If you despise this type of campaigning please vote for Jonathan Miller here to win Dancing with the Lexington Stars. Each vote costs $5 and benefits the extraordinary work of Surgery on Sunday and the Lexington Rotary Club Endowment Fund.

Of course, if you agree with the message of the ad, then please go here and vote for anybody but Jonathan Miller.  Every $5 contribution helps some truly needy and deserving people in our community.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: “Survivor: For Real”

reality tvIdea for a new reality TV show

“Survivor: For Real”

Twelve companies that provide online services (e.g. reservations, etc) –and then make it nearly impossible to ever reach a human by phone and, if you do, it is only to talk to a well-trained call center worker who has memorized every conceivable polite way of telling you you will get absolutely no help— will have their CEOs and call center employees transported to a marooned island with no food or shelter or cell phones.

jyb_musingsAlso on the island are the frustrated customers of these 12 companies and they will have much more food and shelter than they need –as well as having cell phones. But this group will be unable to talk live to any of the CEOs or call center workers who are begging for food and shelter because they will be on their cell phones and can’t be bothered. But they will be very polite about explaining why they can’t talk or help right now. And tell them to have a nice day and ask if they would agree to participate in a customer service survey.

The ensuing fun will be something most every viewer will be able to appreciate.

Best Speech of the 20th Century? RFK or Blutarsky?






Yesterday, on the 46th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., I wrote this piece at The Daily Beast declaring Robert Kennedy’s eulogy to King as the greatest speech of the 20th century.

A loyal reader, the obscenely youthful looking media personality/stand-up comic/right-wing-nut-job Lee Cruse disagreed:

Cruse makes a point: John “Bluto” Blutarsky’s most famous line:

What? Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!…

is certainly more quotable than RFK’s exegesis on Greek poet Aeschylus:

And let’s dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

But it is only fair to compare the speeches as a whole.  So, in the spirit of a fair competition, I post the videos of both orations and ask the RP Nation to decide.  Is either the greatest speech of the 20th Century?  Or does another surpass it?  King’s “I Have a Dream”? Reagan’s “Tear Down that Wall”?  Carl Spackler’s “It’s in the hole!”?

Let us know in the comments below:

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The Trouble with Predicting the Future

George JetsonWe can’t know the future but we can try to guess as accurately as possible what the future will likely look like for us. But at best we can only approximate small parts of it. And it is imposible to know which parts will be correct.

When I was a boy I watched the Jetson’s cartoon every Saturday morning. Not so much because I enjoyed the storyline but rather because I wanted to get glimpses into what my high-tech futuristic life would be like.

jyb_musingsAs it turns out—over 40 years later–very little in my world resembles what was promised to me in the Jetson’s cartoon. No spaceships, no spacesuits, no hopping from planet to planet. Not even a robot dog that comes fully house trained.

The only similarities, if I really press myself, is that I am as goofy and ineffectual as George Jetson and my wife is as hot as Judy.

But the rest I will have to wait on.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: American Hustle

american hustleI haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave yet but my favorite movie of 2013 was American Hustle.

The casting is flawless; the story is corrupt but uniquely American and irresistible (and less about the con game depicted than the co…n games each of us plays with ourseleves); the acting is mesmerizing; the mood, style, ennui and chutzpah of the period–the 70′s–is captured brilliantly; the writing, dialogue and camerawork make you feel like you are personally sitting in the background of each scene watching old friends; — and then there’s the soundtrack, a soundtrack tied to the core of the characters personalities and storyline as expressed in one of the early scenes as Irving, Christian Bale, realizes he’s falling in love with Sydney, Amy Adams.

“She was unlike anybody I ever knew.
She was smart. She saw through
people in situations. And she knew
how to live with passion and style.
She understood Duke Ellington.”

jyb_musingsBut my favorite song on the soundtrack isn’t from Duke Ellington but E.L.O.’s Overture which seems perfectly emblematic for this storyline and moment in time.


Kentucky Hustle?

I watched American Hustle again last night and was amazed that a 22 year old (at the time) young lady from Louisville, KY dominated every scene she was in.

And she is in scenes with Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and many others.

Can we have a shout out for this KY star?

I love the scene when there is the big meeting with the mob bosses and everyone is intimidated by them except Jennifer Lawrence’s character, who sashays toward them and takes over their conversation in a matter of seconds.

That scene is emblematic of what she’s done with Hollywood, too.

You go, girl!

Lauren Mayer: Pet Rocks, Puka Shells and Pop Stars – Going Viral, Then & Now

Every generation in modern history has had its cultural, sartorial or entertainment fads ‘du jour’ – in the 1920s, it was flagpole sitting and Charleston contests, in the 1950s it was Davy Crockett caps and bobby soxers squealing for Frank Sinatra, the 70s had lava lamps and David Cassidy.  These trends became popularized first by word of mouth, as a few adventurous souls made things look cool.  Then it would take weeks or months for a fad to catch on, and months or years before it became so popular it was no longer cool.   (I remember the first puka shell necklace I saw – worn by a 13-year-old at summer camp who was rumored to be so fast, she let boys French kiss her. So anything she wore was bound to be cool and a little dangerous – until about a year later when you could buy plastic puka shell necklaces at Woolworth’s . . . .but I digress)

However, these days trends can start, flare up and die out much more quickly, whether it’s a longer-lasting fad, such as Lululemon yoga pants, or a quick meme, like Mitt Romney’s unfortunate choice of the phrase “binders full of women.”

So it’s probably not surprising that the Oscars weren’t even over before someone created a ‘Travoltify-Your-Name’ app, in honor of John Travolta’s now-legendary mispronunciation of Idina Menzel’s name.  Add in a generation of teen girls who feel empowered by the characters Ms. Menzel has played, as well as the tendency of girl-power-anthems to sound alike, and I may have come up with the ultimate trend-driven, flash-in-the pan pop song.


John Y’s Musings from the Middle: An ad I wonder if we’ll ever see…

Announcer’s voice:

“Is your real life making you depressed because your virtual life is so much more awesome–and only getting awesomer?

1800342_10153925372130515_2104593490_n(Screen: Image of a “virtual life” making fun of an image of a despondent “actual life”)

Then you may want to consider asking your doctor about ProzacFB.

ProzacFB is a new drug that blocks the brain receptor identified by neurologists called 5HC2-FB (that creates pleasure from receiving “likes” on Facebook).

jyb_musingsOnce this pleasure receptor is blocked, patients will again be able to return to activities like reading books, exercise, manual hobbies, and interacting more frequently with live human beings.

It doesn’t mean that your virtual life will be ending…..only that your real life life won’t be so darned jealous of it.”

(Screen: Image of an “actual life” staring down image of a “virtual life”)

Lauren Mayer: It’s Not Nice To Tease (But It’s So Fun!)

The Oscars weren’t even over before the internet was buzzing with critical comments about celebrities’ appearance & wardrobe, and with critical comments about those critical comments.  Can’t they just enjoy their intimate little industry awards ceremony (televised to millions and millions of watchers) in peace?

When celebrities and politicians put themselves in the public eye, they’re fair game, since they achieved their status through public attention.  I do agree that it’s not nice to hit below the belt (although when Joan Rivers does it, it’s pretty entertaining).  But it is perfectly appropriate to criticize public figures for the choices they make, whether it’s to dress like a swan, complete with an egg purse (no one will ever top Bjork’s outfit!), or to disregard the one name you’re supposed to introduce (which has already launched apps that will ‘John Travolta’ your name into something unintelligible).

Likewise, when politicians say or do ridiculous things, it is understandable when we mock them, whether it’s John Oliver’s iconic ‘Carlos Danger’ dance when he was subbing on The Daily Show, or all the humor that was prompted by Sarah Palin’s insistence that she could see Russia from her house.  (Although even Ms. Palin could be overshadowed by some neighborhoods – during the ’08 election, I had been a runner-up in a Palin impersonation contest, and thus was invited to come in costume to the Castro, San Francisco’s colorful gay neighborhood, to introduce a local news feature on Halloween.  I walked several blocks in a red suit & her signature hairstyle and glasses, carrying a larger-than-lifesized stuffed fake moosehead, and no one even stopped to look at me.  But I digress . . . )

So sure, sometimes I feel a twinge of guilt at making fun of politicians in these weekly songs.  But hey, I can take it as well as dish it out – I know that by posting my videos on youTube, I will get insulted and called a variety of names (which are usually spelled wrong).  And if politicians like Ted Cruz do things like urging their supporters to pray for more anti-gay discrimination laws, or insist that if people listen to Ted Nugent, it’s Obama’s fault, then they can’t expect me to resist material like that!

My Response to the Death of One of My Childhood Favorite Comedians? Son of Beach, Sheet!



Rest in Peace, Zichro Livracha, Harold Ramis

h/t Brad Gendell

John Y. Brown, III: Why I Was Disappointed by Episode 1 of House of Cards

house-of-cards-posterAfter reading my RP colleagues, Jonathan Miller (Why I Hated Episode 1) and Jeff Smith (Why I Enjoyed Episode 1) reviews on House of Cards first episode of season two, I couldn’t resist saying “Deal me in, too”

For starters, I am a fan. And after season one, a devoted and complete fan.

I love the series’ metaphoric title almost as much as the brazenly brilliant first season. Our government’s structure, the series seems to be saying, is at once both as fragile as a figurative “house of cards” while also being carefully upheld by unnerving stratagems on par with a figurative card game of brutal skill and exacting chance.

But if Season 2 had a subtitle, it might be “Still Not Collapsed—Yet.” Of course, my opinion is only based on one episode and may change. I hope it does. And to keep disappointment minimized to the reader of this post, I will not include any spoiler revelations beyond letdown.

I can’t recall if I first heard of the “Most Improved Player Award” being offered in Major League Baseball or in the NBA. But I do recall thinking it is a worthy recognition to bestow on the deserving recipient who progresses the most from the season before. And that noteworthy distinction is true in every field of endeavor.

Awarding the opposite credential (we’ll call it “Most Diminished Player of the Year”), for falling the farthest from the prior year’s loftier perch, would seem mean-spirited and unhelpful. But if such an award existed in the the intensely competitive industry of television, House of Cards, season two, seems to be a strong favorite to win based on the second season’s initial episode.

jyb_musingsWhy do I say this? The first episode of season two reminds me of so many original breakthrough series that start off taking our breath away but eventually cashing in by lazily falling back on easy formulaic routines. It may be season two or three or four before there is an episode when we realize the series is trying to recreate surprise and unique drama more by clever camera angles and pounding background music than by a refreshingly original story line that seems to be writing itself.

Sometimes the series recovers after a single episode lapse. But the lapse is usually a sign of creative fatigue. Or at least lassitude. And signals we should start to lower our expectations of what’s to come.

Tonight at dinner a song came on in the restaurant and my daughter said, “I am so sick of this song. This band started off so great and now all their songs sound alike.” Without knowing the band, I offered, ”Yeah, I suspect the band either got lazy or played it safe instead of staying true to themselves.” I got the same feeling later tonight as I watched the opening show of season two House of Cards.

The cover for season one had no tag line. Just the protagonist, Kevin Spacey, sitting cockily and inexplicably in place of President Lincoln in a faux Lincoln Memorial. How could you not wonder what it was about? Season two has the protagonist sitting with a confused but plotting look on his face with his wife’s back to him and has the tagline, “There are two kinds of pain.” How could you not assume that one of them is disappointment?

Does it mean the series isn’t worth watching in season two? Not at all. Especially if a series was as spectacularly well-written and crafted a show previously as was House of Cards first season. The series first episode is still catchy and clever. But not much else. I’m still going to watch all of season two. But not because episode one of season two laid out such a suspenseful and promising narrative. But rather because season one was so good I have to believe their will be some inspired nuggets to be found in season two, even if it ends up as the most diminished series of the year.


Follow up: After watching episodes 2, 3 and 4, I have become a re-convert to House of Cards. Not a series grounded in the realm of the possible  But one grounded in brilliant dramatic writing and suspenseful theater. And that’s good enough for me.

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