Government Shutdown Scores Only 37% on Rotten Tomatoes

As far as theater is concerned, the U.S. government shutdown last night scored only 37% on Rotten Tomatoes.  For those unfamiliar with  Rotten Tomatoes, it provides viewer ratings for TV programs and films.   A 100% rating is considered a “once-in-a-lifetime” cultural experience, while 0% suggests that it is a media event equivalent to taking your garbage to a recycling center.

Even renown film critic, Manohla Dargis of the New York Times, commented on the low Rotten Tomatoes rating by saying that “this tribal tragedy has been replayed many times, but hardly rises to the level of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.”  While I don’t often agree with Manohla, her assessment is spot on.   What I can’t understand is how the government shutdown received such a high rating in the first place:  Perhaps, there were no great NBA games on live TV.

As theater, the government shutdown would have closed on Broadway before it opened.   The inane plot consists of  two war tribes painted in blue and red articulating patriotic positions to appeal to the “American people.”   With silly sound bites rather than soaring monologue, these tribal leaders are simply staking out their ideological territory in preparation for the next election.  It is far easier to be loved by tribal members with the same war paint than the American public who recognize “real” theater (read sport).

Cartoon from Salt Lake Tribune

For those in doubt, consider the smug smiles of these pontificating bureaucrats at Intermission:  They still receive their paychecks whereas “non-essential” government employees will be laid off.

I far prefer the words of the Bard

“Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow”

. . . rather than entertain the vision of these morons (masquerading as leaders) returning for Act 2 to clean up the mess that they have created.

While the larger-than-life blond Quetzalcoatl currently sits off stage with his finger to his Twitter App rather than the Red Button (fortunately), rest assured that we will once again be treated to much “sound and fury signifying nothing” in the next Act.  Like most of the audience, I won’t be on hand for the second Act.  Rather, I will be watching a steady diet of college basketball and the NFL semi-finals.

As Red and Blue tribal members bruise each other to a purple compromise, this silly charade that masquerades as “government of the people” is little more than a poor encore for a well-staged confrontation between the Capulets and the Montagues or (more recently) the Sharks and the Jets.

If you have seen this story before, this modern day media abomination is rightly relegated to the garbage bin:   the Congress of the U.S.

Welcome to “reality politics U.S.”:  It ain’t pretty, but Americans sell it well.

Editor’s Note:  I would like to apologize to Manohla Dargis of the New York Times, who said no such thing.   In today’s limited PC lexicon, this attribution to her is little more than FAKE NEWS.    From my own perspective, I consider it satire.

A Few Final Thoughts on our Visit to England

We arrived at JFK late last week from a glorious three weeks in England.  Things got off to a bit of a rough start:

  • We eased through passport control leaving many irate passengers queued at understaffed immigration booths.  Nevertheless, JFK baggage-handlers made sure that our bags were the last off the plane;
  • The car we booked to pick us up failed to appear.   It seemed that the Ukrainian car service had gone out of business (were they deported?) and the “new” owners had just put up a new website;
  • We booked an Uber for the first time, but the driver failed to appear.  We needed to book another one, but I still got charged $5 for cancelling the service for the one that failed to appear;
  • We listened to a hilarious “talk radio” segment on the Uber ride home where a guy was convinced his girlfriend was cheating on him because he got mononucleosis.  His justification for infidelity:  “I never get sick, so she must have been kissing someone else.”

I thought I had just arrived in a third-world country.  Upon reflection, it is!

Things proceeded downhill rather quickly after listening to media and political pundits trade insults on TV and the radio.  Nevertheless, hope spring eternal when I discovered that the left and the right can get together as “Morning Joe” stars Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough announced their engagement.

Mika did have the good sense to turn down Donald Trump’s kind request to “oversee their vows.”

Christ Church College, Oxford


Frankly, things are different in England:

  • You have knife killings rather than gun killings since private firearms are banned;
  • You can listen to BBC or ITV news without spilling your “cuppa” tea;
  • They watch World Championship snooker where athletes in smart tuxedos bash balls about rather than each other;
  • The NHS (National Health System) didn’t upgrade their Windows XP system so that it could be easily hacked using purloined NSA malware (what are friends and allies for?);
  • The best hot chocolate in England can be found in a “burger” restaurant, actually it is Burgers of Marlow;
  • Yes, they have a Harry Potter tour at Oxford College.  Tour guides smile amiably, but point out that the great dining hall at Christ Church College served only as inspiration for the Potter movies.  Nevertheless, this has not dissuaded the College from increasing entrance fees from £1.50 to £7.50;
  • The “New College” of Oxford was founded in 1379.  The original Tappan Zee bridge built in 1955 is now being replaced by a $4 billion bridge to help New Englanders bypass New York City.

An American was recently asked what she thought about her tour of Windsor Castle.  She responded, “It was great, but why did they build the Castle so close to the airport?”

Despite their imperfections – like all others when one is prone to generalize – you must admire the Brits.  Keep doing what you are doing.  As Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “I’ll be back!”

The Mayflower and the Churchill War Rooms

Over the last 20 years or so, I have been dabbling about in crafting a family tree.  Mind you, I am not a genealogist and could care less whether our relatives were descended from Charlemagne or Jack the Ripper (wasn’t he a member of the Royal family?)

The Mayflower Pub

A couple of weeks before our visit to London, I discovered that one of Sheila’s relatives (Constance Hopkins – Age 14) came over on the Mayflower to the “New World” in 1620.   As things go, one can never be entirely sure that one’s family tree is 100% accurate, but then few people would have predicted that Donald Trump would be President.

Mayflower Pub

As we finished our Brunel, London Walk, we popped over to the Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe for lunch.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Mayflower was moored immediately below the pub (it had a different name then) in the Thames, before sailing with 65 passengers to rendezvous with the smaller Speedwell that was bringing Puritans from Leiden, Holland.

The Speedwell sprang a leak and all settlers eventually sailed together on the Mayflower, departing from Plymouth in late 1620.

On the wall of the pub was a picture featuring the silhouettes of the 102 settlers and of the 1620 Plymouth voyage of the Mayflower.  Immediately below, was another picture showing those settlers who made it through the first year in Plymouth.  Roughly 50% had perished!

Our lunch was rather pedestrian, but it was thrilling to share in a piece of history with distant relatives.

The Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms are NOT part of London Walks.  Surprisingly, I don’t recall visiting them during previous visits to London.  Nevertheless, it is a useful visit for those who wish to visit an “active war room” exposed to great danger during the bombing of London in WWII.

A Churchill Museum was added to the bunker complex in 2005. In under two hours, one can gain a great appreciation for the brave men and women who lived under most dangerous conditions to help direct the Allied war effort. Also, the exhibit helps highlight Churchill’s irascible personality and energy during that period.

Certainly worth a visit. Get to the War Rooms early (they open at 9:30 a.m.) to avoid queueing.