With Friends Like This, Frank Guinta Doesn't Need Enemies

One of the decisions I have to make in our primary a week from tomorrow is whether to vote for Frank Guinta or Dan Innis to oppose my current CongressCritter/Toothache, Carol Shea-Porter. I've been getting negative mailers for both: Innis trashing Guinta, Guinta trashing Innis. I can't imagine what Pun Salad Manor's mailbox is going to look like for the next few days. (I wish I had easy access to a scanner, so I could stick the ugly-ass things somewhere you could see them. Trust me.)

But based solely on the mailers, I'm leaning toward Innis.

Guinta (actually "Friends of Frank Guinta") tells me:

DAN INNIS & CAROL SHEA-PORTER. ONE IN THE SAME.

Yes, that last bit is in red and manages to botch the cliché "one and the same".

Innis's crimes? Well, he's a "liberal professor". (Eek!) And, back in February, he was willing to (hypothetically) vote for the "clean" debt ceiling increase then under consideration. (Only 28 Republicans voted for that, which was just enough to squeak it through.) He (allegedly) supported a gas tax increase.

And, Guinta claims, Innis fails to support a "Balanced Budget Amendment".

Whatever Innis's other sins, this last bit sticks in my craw. A Constitutional amendment to mandate a balanced budget is a real stupid and phony idea. If Innis doesn't support it, good for him.

Why? You may remember from civics class the process for getting a balanced-budget amendment: Two-thirds vote from both houses plus ratification from 38 state legislatures.

But the procedure for getting a balanced budget is: a simple majority vote in both houses. (With maybe a two-thirds vote to override any veto.) Much simpler.

A BBA-advocating politician, especially one running for Congress, is basically promising to evade his or her own responsibility for keeping spending in line with revenues. Why would you vote for anyone like that?

[Innis's official proposals on taxes and spending can be found here (PDF). Modulo the usual campaign vagueness, they look OK to me. Guinta, on the other hand, is short on specifics. His tax proposals are OK, if pretty standard.]

Not that Innis's mailer's are a lot better. Actually, they're not from Innis, but the "American Unity [Super] PAC", and they are careful to state: "Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee." This PAC was established by billionaire hedge fund manager Paul E. Singer, who is conservative and gay. And the PAC is pretty much organized to support gay and gay-friendly conservatives. And Innis is both.

Anyway, the mailers are even less issue-oriented than Guinta's: each points out the stunningly obvious: Dan Innis is neither Frank Guinta nor Carol Shea-Porter! Who, together, have represented our Congressional district for the past eight years. "Seems longer!"

There's a hint of cleverness: on one mailer, portraits of Carol and Guinta are labelled: "Mrs. Been There" and "Mr. Done That." Heh!

My fearless prediction: Guinta will trounce Innis next week, with or without my vote. And (in any case) I will hold my nose as much as necessary to vote against Carol Shea-Porter in November. Polls show a tight race, so in addition to holding my nose, I'll also have to cross my fingers.

[Update 2017-11-30: Innis lost the primary, Guinta lost to CSP, and now CSP has declined to run again in 2018. "May you live in interesting times."]


Last Modified 2017-11-30 4:00 AM EST

Standing in the Shadows of Motown

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

The story of the "Funk Brothers", studio musicians that played on Motown records between 1959 and 1972. You know what that means, my friend? It means that they were part of the magic combination that produced wonderful music to which people will listen centuries from now, if not millennia. (Am I exaggerating? I don't think so!) As they note right up front: the Funk Bros. "played on more number ones hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the Beatles combined."

The documentary is a combination of archival footage, present-day (well, 2002) interviews, and some dramatic re-enanctments. It's narrated by Andre Braugher. And, best of all: a 2002 live concert with the surviving Brothers backing up performances of the classics by folks like Joan Osborne and Ben Harper.

They came from diverse backgrounds. Some arrived in Detroit from the South as part of the mass African-American post-WW2 migration. Others were natives. Some were classically trained musicians (keyboardist Joe Hunter notes his admiration of Rachmaninoff), others were largely self-taught. They were gathered together by Berry Gordy, harvesting them out of Detroit jazz and blues clubs. (Another shocker: a couple of white guys.)

Like a lot of musicians of that era, a depressing number of Funk Brothers are no longer with us. (But only one was lost to heroin addiction, as near as I can tell.)

I don't want to overstate this: the Funk Brothers were a sine qua non part of the mix, contributing a solid collaborative genius to the Motown magic. And it's a documentary about them. But if I had to quibble: the movie gives pretty short shrift to the headliners, backup vocalists, songwriters, and producers. I'm not sure if anyone has the overall combination of brilliance and luck to assemble such chemistry today. Or ever again?

I ordered the soundtrack. So should you.


Last Modified 2014-12-10 12:28 PM EST

The Croods

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A perfectly OK, average, by-the-numbers animation. I had slightly higher hopes, but that's the way it goes.

The Croods are a modern stone age family, a page right out of history. Well not that modern: they seem to spend most of their time cowering in a handy cave hiding from various deadly fauna. Sloped brows seem to indicate genes heavily skewed toward the Neanderthal.

Status quo is threatened by "Guy" (Ryan Reynolds), a smart (Homo Sapien?) kid who warns them of impending geologic doom: earthquakes and tectonic lava flows have their cozy cave in the crosshairs. It doesn't help that Guy and daughter Eep (Emma Stone) seem to be destined for self-directed genetic experimentation. Grug, the dad (Nicolas Cage), is frustrated by Guy's know-it-allism and also his designs upon Eep.

Anyway: the family starts its odyssey toward what they hope is safety, but their journey is fraught with peril: colorful sabretooths, carnivorous birds, the ongoing geologic disaster, and internal dissension. Will they make it? It's a cartoon, so what's your bet?

Warning: not an accurate picture of prehistoric life. John Cleese has a writing credit, but Pythonesque zaniness is undetectable.

Bonus: Cloris Leachman plays "Gran", Grug's acid-tongued mother-in-law. She's a hoot. ("I was in love once. He was a hunter, I was a gatherer. It was quite the scandal. We fed each other berries, we danced. Then father bashed him on the head and traded me to your grandfather.") Maybe not enough to get adults to watch the movie in the first place, but enough to keep watching.


Last Modified 2014-12-10 12:28 PM EST