Spoonful of Clorox by Randy Rainbow

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Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

After having a chance to watch one parody and getting ourselves motivated into throwing Donald Trump out of office, our next parody will surely give Anne Hathaway grey hairs and Julie Andrews a heart attack. After all, they both played an important household character that we, as children, enjoyed watching growing up. This piece, performed by comedian Randy Rainbow is a response to a series of absurd comments made by President Donald Trump on experimenting with treatments that has caused an uproar among everyone and their dogs, literally.

And while sugar is not healthy when taken in excess, these products should absolutely NOT be taken at home and kept out of reach of children. And the lady in the black dress and umbrella approves of this message. Enjoy the irony and the laughs, but keep the warning labels on the jugs and needles.

 

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Randy Rainbow (known officially as Randy Stewart Rainbow) is an American actor, comedian and satirist, whose specialty is creating parodies of personalities and other events. He is credited for pieces, like “Randy Rainbow Calls Lindsay Lohan”, “Randy Rainbow Calls Dr. Laura”, “The Morning After Chelsea’s Wedding” and „Hey Gurl, It’s Christmas.“ Since the start of Donald Trump’s Presidency in 2017, Randy has created aslew of parodies that are long enough to list that a person can get writer’s cramps from even listing them. 😉 A Spoonful of Clorox, using the household cleaning products as a target of the parody, is the latest in the Trump series. He resides in New York and has been really active in the show business. He has a blog you can access here. You’ll find his satirical songs and the like on his YouTube page here.

Vote Him Away by Roy Zimmerman

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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

While politics, especially with regards to the situation in the US, are not really appropriate in times like the Corona Virus, this Genre of the Week looks at the parody of one song and how song artist Roy Zimmermann made it into art, supporting the dire need of change American have been desparately looking for. And for the record, we feel your pain, especially to the doctors and nurses who are working around the clock and risking their lives saving others infected by CoVid 19. This song’s for you all. ❤  🙂

 

The original song that was used for this parody can be found here.

 

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Sports in 2020: A Vision that is just a Vision

Stadium woes

As I write this article within the confounds of my home with family, I’ve been paying attention to the latest updates regarding the CoVid 19 outbreak on both sides of the Atlantic with a mixture of sadness and anger. Sadness because of many people that we know (in)directly who have been infected and in some cases have died. Anger because of the way countries have managed the virus, because of political incompetence, delayed responses and especially, the lack of supplies needed to fight this virus: mouth masks, ventilators and most importantly, medicines needed to both treat and inoculate the general public.

But one element that has become a real thorn on the side of many is sports. Yes, sports.

While sports provides a fraction of the revenue to help the economy of the country in general, it only serves as a fraction of the general revenue needed to keep the country running. With business, commerce, infrastructure, education, environment, manufacturing and even agriculture producing between 10 and 15% of the revenue for the country, sports belongs to the category of leisure time activities and produces a maximum of not more than 5%. It is understandable that many sporting leagues are concerned that with the Corona Virus forcing the governments to impose a total lockdown, keeping people in their homes and banning large public gatherings, they are losing revenue at an alarming rate. The longer the lockdown, the longer they will have to wait until they can resume play again, the more likely that if not the teams, the leagues themselves will be driven towards bankruptcy. Already today, the US Rugby League filed for receivership. Soccer leagues in Europe and the Americas may be next in line, as well as hockey, basketball, etc.

With billions of dollars in revenue and players receiving a lion’s share of the money, many are fearing a loss of income for longer periods of time, even if the leagues agree to continue paying for a limited period of time.  This holds true if the lockdown is (partially) lifted and sports events can resume but in empty stadiums, where despite having no fans, contact between players can also potentially risk contracting the Corona Virus.

Therefore, I have one question for the sporting leagues, which is more important: sports and economy or the health and well-being of the general public?

Let’s look at some grim facts that indicate the latter is much more important. Europe is struggling to contain its virus as two thirds of the cases have stemmed from there.  Germany alone has over 62,400 cases at the time of this article, ranking it third behind Italy and Spain. Already talks of extending the lockdown are in place as the peak will be reached by June. Asian countries are experiencing a slowdown in the number of new cases, whereas China is receiving only a trickle of new cases daily. Still, they are not out of the woods just yet as much of the country remains on lockdown. As for the US, let’s hope nobody writes a book on the country’s failing health care system, with grim prognosis of between 200,000 and 2.2 million dead and the virus expecting to linger through August.  Who would want to play baseball in an empty stadium? Let alone soccer?

Almost all of the leagues have been trying to find a date to resume play for the sake of finishing the season. In the case like Major League Baseball, they are attempting to have a full to 75% full season that would start in June and end in November.  Yet for the likes of the soccer leagues in Europe, the NHL in ice hockey and the NBA in basketball in the USA, they are all delaying the inevitable- the cancellation of the remaining season. And it is understandable because of the financial implications that cancelling the season has. However, as the old saying goes: Money can be replaced; People cannot be replaced.

Already, the Olympics have been pushed back almost exactly one year. It was a decision that was difficult for Japan, but it was a must for the safety of the athletes. The German ice hockey league decided to cancel the rest of the season with no teams being promoted or demoted for the next season. This model would work for the German Soccer League (Bundesliga) as well as all other international soccer leagues.  The same goes for handball and basketball. The NCAA has cancelled all spring sports and granted an extended year of eligibility for seniors and more space in the colleges’ sports programs. Almost none of the college sports had begun before the decision was made to call it off. High school spring sports will not be that lucky with seniors having to walk off with their diplomas but without any chance of setting sports records, unless states agree to “redo” the entire school year. But that’s a different story.

What we are getting at here is we need to look at the real statistics and ask ourselves, are sports really worth the risk?  I can imagine the world on total lockdown for much of the year, but much of the population having a slow recovery from the shock of losing business and people for months to come. Sports will be as hard hit as the global economy, where four out of five analysts are predicting the first Great Depression in over 90 years. The virus will reshape the lives of the global population in many aspects. What was important in our lives before the pandemic hit will be down at the bottom of the global food chain- at least for awhile. While one can assume the virus will disappear towards the end of the year, we may not be so sure about the predictions, given our current status. One can try and restart sports in the fall, beginning with American football, basketball and ice hockey, it’s realistic to say that 2020 will not see any sporting events around the globe. Only when the virus disappears and everyone is treated and inoculated will we see sports again in stadiums and on TV.

That would put us down to 2021, if everything goes as planned. For now, all sports leagues may want to look at the real situation in the now, 2020, and ask themselves: “Is it worth continuing the season and risk another outbreak?” For many sports fans it would be a blessing, however….

It’s safer to plan for 2021 when we know the virus will disappear, the curfews will be lifted and everyone is ready to pay for a good game in the stadium.

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“The AfD is here to stay!” The Failure of the Minority Government in Thuringia and its Implications for the upcoming 2021 Elections in Germany

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Erfurt, Germany. February 5th, 2020. Four months after the State Elections, which saw the far-left party Die Linke receive the majority of the votes, but not enough votes to continue the Red-Red-Green Coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens, the chance for a minority government under incumbent Prime Minister, Bodo Ramelow was buried. The new Prime Minister is Thomas Kemmerich- from the FDP (Free Democrats).  After five years of leftist governing, the State of Thuringia has taken the sharpest right  possible, creating an earthquake that is being felt all the way to Berlin. And with that, one party is setting the stage for a potential upset in 2021, the year German Chancellor Angela Merkel steps down and elections for a new Chancellor will take place- namely the Alternative for Germany Party (AfD).

The far-right party has been making waves by entering the state parliament in each of the elections of 16 German states.  Yet with Kemmerich as the new state minister, even though he comes from the FDP, the AfD effectively has entered unchartered waters, but whose history runs parallel to the events that brought down the Weimar Republic in 1933.  Erfurt is swallowing another bitter pill- its second in a week’s time after its professional soccer team, Rot-Weiss-Erfurt folded due to lack of liquidity. But this pill is one that has the potential to be as deadly as the hemlock that Socrates was forced to drink as part of his death sentence.

In other words, Germany and its democracy are both starting to die. The pill was taken thanks to the AfD’s successful plot to bring an unknown person into power from a party that had just entered the parliament after achieving the 5% vote needed and had only four representatives in Erfurt after the elections on October 27th.  How did this happen?

It was easy as this: Despite signing the agreement with the Left, SPD and Greens to continue with the coalition, a prime minister for Thuringia was needed, hence the in-house elections. Of the votes to be casted by 90 representatives, one must have the absolute majority of votes the first two of three rounds- meaning 46 out of 90. Ramelow got most of the votes in the first two rounds but was shy of the mark each time. In the third and decisive round, where the simple majority would’ve sufficed for Ramelow, the AfD, who had nominated a candidate of their own, threw their support behind Kemmerich instead, and together with the Christian Democrats (CDU), pulled off the most controversial upsets never seen since the Fall of the Weimar Republic.  While Kemmerich has signaled no interest in a coalition with the AfD, thousands of demonstrators and politicians have cried foul play, with all but the AfD demanding an explanation- and new elections. Even authorities in the CDU in Berlin including party chair Annagret Kramp-Karrenbauer have turned on the Thuringian CDU for their plot with the AfD to oust Rammelow and have therefore demanded new elections.  As of this post, Kemmerich has rejected calls for it.

Why is the AfD so dangerous? One name to answer: Björn Höcke, who heads the party in Thuringia. Many have dubbed him as Hitler 2.0 for his controversial remarks aimed at refugees, immigrants and the Jewish community.  According to the BBC, Mr Höcke sparked an outcry when he condemned the decision to place the Holocaust memorial in the heart of Berlin, describing it as a “memorial of shame”. He, like his party colleagues, have pressed for restrictions on the freedom of speech and the elimination of foreign languages in favor of just German and would rather see a GEXIT, like it happened with Boris Johnson’s BREXIT out the EU, which will certainly mark the beginning of the end for the United Kingdom as Scotland prepares to campaign for independence and Northern Ireland ponders unification with Ireland, an EU member. Attempts to oust Höcke have failed, resulting in some members leaving the party.  Yet with this victory in Erfurt, many in the AfD are making the point very clear: We are here and we will prevail, no matter how you isolate us.

Imagine what will happen in 2021, when Merkel leaves to enjoy her much-deserved retirement after having ruled Germany for as long as Helmut Kohl and Konrad Adenauer. The elections will take place and the majority of the voters put their ballots in favor of the AfD. It was bad enough that the party came in third in the 2017 national elections and in second in over a third of the elections in the German states. The damage caused by the concerted efforts by the AfD, FDP and CDU in Thuringia to bring Kemmerich into power as prime minister has raised some questions about the identity of the FDP and CDU and its potential to cozy up to the AfD and their far-right policies. Especially the hardest hit is the CDU for the party, with its center-right conservative mentality but is known for its tolerance towards foreigners living in Germany, as many voters, dissatisfied with Merkel’s policies, have left the party and taken refuge for the AfD, mistaken by their false sense of security. Even if the AfD was to finish in second, it will still find ways to collude with the CDU, FDP or other parties as a way of gaining power. Can you imagine the likes of Höcke, Alexander Gauland, Alice Weidel and Frauke Petry taking over Berlin and ruling over Germany?

If not, and thankfully, the majority has still learned from what happened under Hitler, then it is up to each and every single party who is opposed to the AfD to do something. The AfD is here to stay and we need to deal with it. The only way to do so is the following:

  1. Reinvent yourselves. Each party must break with tradition and find new platforms that counters the AfD’s but also appeals to each age group.
  2. Stay calm and be creative in countering any anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant and even anti-German comments and plans by the AfD or anyone the the party supports. Ripping up speeches in public after a president addresses the nation and throwing flowers on the ground at the feet of a newly elected prime minister are considered counterproductive. What is productive is what the party can do to outmanuver the AfD, regardless of themes being talked about on the state and national levels.
  3. Most importantly, find someone who has the capability to fill the shoes of Madame Chancellor at the quickest and most professional way. Having celebrity status to add to the political experience is an accessory compared to the most important element needed for Germany- public image. Without public image- appearance, eloquence and the ability to move the public, the candidate will be half the image. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Margaret Thacher were all successful because of the element that we seem to lack- public image.

In this day and age, looking at the current trend in the UK and USA, facts and figures are no longer enough. The right-wing virus is too strong for that. Complaining and mudslinging is a waste of time. This was something the Democrats in Washington have learned the hard way with Trump being acquitted of all charges in the impeachment hearings- the same day this debacle happened in Erfurt. What Germany needs very badly now is someone with the image and the iron fist to put an end to the dominance of the AfD and put it out of commission, once and for all. It starts in Berlin, in 2021. Once a prominent person is in place and restores order, the AfD will die off like the terrorist group, the RAF.

Like in the US with the Presidential elections this year, 2021 will be the year of decisions for the Bundesrepublik Deutschland. We’ve seen what happened in Erfurt. If nothing is done, we will see this happen again in Berlin with the federal elections. And we will end up rewriting history on how German democracy perished because of the likes of Gauland, Höcke, Weidel and Petry.

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Like Father like Daughter: The Aspiration to become one of the Greats

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While watching some of the tributes from many players, mentors and coaches who knew Kobe Bryant, one film came to mind which was his devotion to his family. Kobe had four children and one of them, Gianna, wanted to follow in his footsteps and become a basketball great. In fact many children looked up to him as their mentor because of his balance between basketball life and family life. It was no wonder that he has collected especially many younger fans during his stellar career as a basketball profi. While Gianna will not be able to live his dream (she also perished in the crash), there will be many children who will continue the tradition that Kobe and his daughter have left off, which is making basketball a great sport to play and to cheer.

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Photo: gin-roman07 via Instagram

 

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Christmas Genre: The Green Book

Segregation. A term that regrettably should not have been coined and listed in the dictionary. Yet it has been, because of years of history where whites were degelated to their worlds and blacks (or being more politically correct, colored) to theirs. A place where only whites could have the fancies of hotels, restaurants, restrooms and schools where the colored had the run-down facilities. A place where even a world-renowned artist, like pianist Dr. Don Shirley, feels like a loner not being accepted anywhere in society because of race and social background.

 

That is until he meets a person who opens his eyes to a world that he had never knew existed. One where he is accepted after opening up.

 

If there’s a comment that marks the start of this film critique The Green Book, it would be this: “It doesn’t take a genius but courage to change people’s hearts.”

While this comment came towards the end of the film, it definitely sums up the motive of Dr. Don Shirley’s trip to the Deep South- the southeastern corner of the United States, a region that has a storied history of slavery and segregation of blacks; a region where despite intervention from Washington in terms of war (The Civil War) and laws (including Lincoln’s Emancipation declaration, and Martin Luther King’s Equal Rights Movement), the gap between the white society and the society of the colored people still exists to this day.

The setting of the story was the last couple months of 1962, less than a year before Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech and its subsequent Civil Rights Laws that followed by 1964.  It featured two very different characters from two contrasting worlds. In one world, there’s Dr. Shirley, the pianist who plays like a genius and with passion. He lives in “his own kingdom” above Carnegie Hall, rather spoiled because of the performances in rich settings and high expectations. Playing with only the Steinway piano is a fraction of the high-end life he was used to, whereas his passion for classical music is bordered with the popular culture presented by his chauffeur and body guard, Tony Vallelonga (a.k.a. Tony Lip), the other main character of the story.

Unlike Dr. Shirley, who is sensitive but a philosopher and psychologist with patience, Tony Lip is a very colorful character. Lip is a chauffeur who is unemployed after Copacabana closes for repairs. He had been in a brawl with two members from a mafia who harassed a woman during the concert His ability to annihilate “unwanted” guests, combined with his colorful and sometimes emotional interaction with people in general and creative strategies to either persuade others to do something they don’t want or reject offers that are fattening were the primary reasons why Dr. Shirley hired him to be his chauffeur and bodyguard for the tour in the Deep South. Tony Lip is Roman Catholic and has an extended family, all living in the Bronx, and all who have a passion for Italian culture and baseball.

Dr. Shirley hires Lip to take him through the Deep South where despite his musical performance that impresses the communities they visited, he deals with several forms of segregation that were typical in reality but none that the characters have ever seen before.

Any ideas what they may be?  Use this mindmap below and list them, there are more than what the six points are mentioned:

Segregation

Note: This mind map can be used at the beginning of the film as well as at the end when listing the examples of segregation that Dr. Shirley and Tony Lip witnessed in the film.

Inspite the differences between the two there were many reasons why Dr. Shirley hired Tony to do the job. Likewise there were just as many reasons why Tony took it on, despite the fact that he would be on the road in “No Man’s Land” for two months, away from his family in the Bronx.  An activity below will give you a chance to look at the two characters carefully and help answer the question of why this arrangement took place.

Tony Vallelonga (a.k.a.) Tony Lip Dr. Don Shirley
 

Profession:

 

 

His character:

 

 

 

His weakness(es):

 

 

 

The reason(s) for taking the job as Dr. Shirley’s chauffeur?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Profession:

 

 

 

His character:

 

 

 

His weakness(es):

 

 

 

The reason(s) for hiring Tony Lip to be his chauffeur?

This can be done after the scene when the two characters are on the road and have stopped at their first concert.

 

But most importantly, we also have the Funnel-Theory, where certain elements merge into one and the differences the two characters have become non-existent. Here we have two different Funnels- the classic one and the reversal one.

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reverse funnel

With the second one it has to do with finding common values which led them to becoming friends in the end.

The Green Book does have an underlying meaning as it goes beyond receiving the tour guide for blacks. It has some grave differences between black and white society that goes well beyond the food and the lodging. It has to do with the mentality that existed in the Deep South and the struggle to accept the values that had been ingrained in the fabric of their culture during that time. A lot of the underlying divisions seen in the film exist even today in the US, but also in other countries, where minorities are sometimes treated as second-class citizens.

Yet the Green Book takes place at Christmas time, where in the end, after breaking down the barriers, both Tony and Dr. Shirley became best friends and were accepted in the other’s culture. It opens the pages to something new and opens the hearts of many that welcome new people who just want to be included and part of society, despite different backgrounds. The film does both- eliminates the barriers and opens the door to new cultures which we can accept and embrace. It’s something we should take with- even beyond the holiday season.

 

 

Photo Flick: 1989 Part 2

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This next Photo Flick in connection with the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall takes us to the Drei-Freistaaten-Stein.  Here is where the states of Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia meet. The marker is legendary for this is the exact location of previous kingdoms and countries. The original marker was placed here in 1840, marking the boundaries of the following Kingdoms: Saxony (KS), Bavaria (KB) and Reuss (FR). The agreements with KS and KB was made on 13 August, 1840 and with FR on 23 October, 1854.  While the Kingdoms were folded into the German Republic under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck in 1871, the boundaries were divided again after World War II, with Thuringia and Saxony going to the Soviet Union and thus becoming part of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Bavaria went to the US and it eventually became part of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).  From 1949 until the Fall of the Wall in November 1989, this area became part of the Death Strip, with armed guards patrolling both Germanys with the East German guards trying to keep people from fleeing to Bavaria. One can see the markings of what was the border when walking to the monument after parking  at the site between Grobau (Saxony) and Münchenreuth (Bavaria). What used to be barbed wire fences, ditches, watch towers and concrete paths has now become a green strip of land, aproximately 500 meters wide. The concrete  paths where tanks and jeeps used to drive on has become part of the hiking trail that runs along the former border. And even though the ditches still exist, they are being covered with trees and other vegetation.

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And of the marker?

It still exists but in a different form. A new marker and picnic area was created and opened to the public in November 2007. The initiative was spearheaded by the State of Thuringia and supported by the other two states. There, a marker duplicating the one from 1840 was created and placed in the middle of a concrete triangle panel which spans a ditch but points at the direction of each of the three states. Each side, representing a state, has a bench and refuse can.  What surrounds the three state corner nowadays are windmills and cornfields, plus some wind as the area is on higher elevations near the Fichtel Mountains.  It’s a quiet place to reflect on the past and present, but also provides a great view of the entire Vogtland Region.

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More on the history of the marker can be found here.

 

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