Marshall in the Middle

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Folding Table Diners

By Chuck Marshall

 Folding Table Diners- A Metaphor 





     There once was a restaurant with excellent food, service, atmosphere,  fair pricing and these unusually solid and beautiful tables.    All who dined there were happy, and all who dined there were satisfied.  It's popularity grew so much that a perpetual line  formed outside of it.  The wait was often very long,  but all who got in agreed "it was worth the wait".  One day a group of diners got tired of waiting and decided they would sneak through the back door of the restaurant and grab a seat to dine and be happy.  The group, got in through the back,  past the kitchen,  and stole to the front and set up a folding table for themselves that they had brought with them.  They sat and waited.  The staff fed them, and served them and treated them graciously.  Then, one of the other diners pointed out to the waitress.  "Waitress, they brought in their own table and didn't wait their turn.  There is a line of people waiting outside to come in.  This is not fair."   The waitress replied that the "folding table diners"  had been there a long time and had gotten use to the excellence of the restaurant and that it would be wrong to send them out the door.  Word spread outside the restaurant that this dramatic event had happened and the kitchen became a major path into the restaurant for those inclined to not wait their turn.  The restaurant management replaced its fine, solid and beautiful tables with the smaller, folding tables to accommodate all the "folding table diners".    What was once a beautiful restaurant with strong, stable tables was now a room full of rickety legged, folding tables that diners could barely eat off of  for fear and doubt in their sturdiness.   It had become like any other restaurant.  Nothing special. 

 Management and the waitresses declared themselves "very fair" and moved the sturdy and beautiful tables to their own dining rooms for themselves and their families to enjoy.  

The End.   




Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore: An American Treasure

By Chuck Marshall




                                              Mary Tyler Moore in Ordinary People 1980


*Today I break away from politics.  Readers should keep in mind that "Marshall in the Middle" also reflects my middle class background and experiences so I'd like to indulge that aspect of this blog today and will  probably do so more often in the future.

     Sad news yesterday that Mary Tyler Moore passed away.  I was a huge fan of hers, and watched, "The Mary Tyler Moore"  show with my family as a kid.  She was a beautiful, modern, intelligent, funny and independent woman all while maintaining her femininity.   Her show demonstrated smart stories with an edge that never took themselves too seriously or bashed  you over the head with their politics.   Funny and smart.  An accomplished actress, Mary Tyler Moore was also widely regarded as an astute business woman running MTM productions with her second husband, Grant Tinker that produced a huge list of very popular programs in the 1970's and 80's.   I greatly admired her.  

     Nominated for an Oscar for Ordinary People., she played the icy mother of the lead character, Conrad Jared (played by Timothy Hutton who won the Oscar for  "best supporting actor", a ludicrous title since he was the LEAD actor, not the supporting actor), and after watching that movie I knew her talent had more dimensions than anyone thought.  Always the funny, open protagonist, her character in Ordinary People was nothing like that.  This is one of my favorite movies for what I consider the best acting demonstrated from every single main character; Donald Sutherland, Judd Hirsch, Timothy Hutton and of course Mary Tyler Moore along with superb directing from Robert Redford.   I still don't think its been topped in my mind for acting talent.

     This movie has a lot of personal connections also.  It came out my senior year in high school (1980) when the lead character is also around that age.  I identified with him and his awkward nature, his cynicism, resistance to sports,  frequent masturbation (LOL- a somewhat taboo subject at the time) and a tendency to read too deeply into other people's motives.  My English teacher that year  was EXTREMELY popular and she had a son who was acting out in LA.  He  had auditioned for the part of Conrad's deceased brother (shown in flashbacks).  My English teacher's son was killed that same year that Ordinary People came out, 1980,  in a tragic, senseless shooting.  I remember a friend of mine  read the letter from our teacher to the class regarding the entire tragedy- it was one of the most moving things I have ever heard.  The conclusion went something like this;  "the last thing David said to me was "I love you Mom" so don't wait,  take the time, go to your parents and tell them you love them."   Our class was dead quiet except for girls crying for 10 minutes straight.  I wanted to cry too.   Understandably, our teacher was never the same after that.  Her inspired teaching and efforts diminished by a crazy woman in California.  I witnessed a broken heart.  This was the beginning of an anger in me towards people who find excuses or sympathize with murderers.   The wounds to the heart and soul of the family will never diminish.  It will never really be over for them.      

    So, you see this movie  has enormous connections to me and I think consequently caused me to scrutinize the movie and  Mary Tyler Moore's performance more than I think I might have otherwise.  Everyone always says how "icy" her character was,  and it was, but there's also a window of vulnerability and intelligence and pain and authenticity that Mary Tyler Moore revealed that I don't think any other actress could have  done.   As many of you know, "black and white" don't settle well  with me and her nuanced performance of a complicated woman who lost a son in an accident and nearly lost another to suicide was remarkable.   Mary Tyler Moore offered up the character as more than just "the bad mother" that she could have easily done.  It was done with facial expression and body language by a brilliant woman.   It was an intelligent and moving demonstration of superior acting.  She was nominated for the Oscar as best actress but didn't win.

Goodbye Mary Tyler Moore and rest in peace.  You were a national treasure.








Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Diversity of Thought


By Chuck Marshall



     The  reaction of the Democratic party, the media, and Hollywood this past two months is revealing and somewhat frightening to me.   How can any American citizen see the results of an election that we all knew was based on the Electoral College majority, then claim their rightful victory because they won the majority popular vote ?   This is like children  playing a game  and when one of the kids starts to see that he or she is certainly going to lose, that the rules no longer apply because they're "not fair".    In addition, the Russian "hacking" did nothing but report on the trickery of the Hillary Clinton campaign, something American journalists should have been doing themselves but chose not to.    The childish tantrum from the Democrats, I hope and pray, is simply the far left members who tend to be just as ignorant and ridiculous as the "mouth breathers" of the far right wing of the Republican party.

     Those with extremist ideas concern me, not just because their hypocrisy is nauseating, but also because -given the right circumstances- they are ripe for oppressive tactics to seize power and control of the government and society in general.  The Media and Hollywood elites especially concern me because it reveals such hostility to any ideas that don't fit in with their world- view.  The media and entertainment industry are a significant influence to us all regarding ideas and philosophies of  life, so this is no minor point.   These people were not elected for any sort of leadership, and I'm feeling more and more that they are a threat to individualism and liberty through their slanted expressions that allow for no contrary opinions.  To disagree with them is to invite "black balling" and a wall of silence and hostility.  "You are less because you don't think like I do".   Case in point, the ridiculous "commercials" produced by Hollywood stars begging for all manner of people to somehow block or resist the new president-elect Donald Trump.  How are average citizens who voted for Donald Trump supposed to take that ?    These Democrats are all about "diversity" with the glaring exception of "diversity of thought",


     In short, as an American citizen of moderate political beliefs I see the Democrats, the media and the Hollywood elite as openly hostile to me and my country as a sovereign nation with secure borders and independent thought.  It's essential we all fight and resist any and all groups that intend repression of thoughts and express hostile judgment towards those that disagree with them.   I encourage Democrats to muzzle the mouths of your more extreme members and settle down to reorganize your overall strategy as a major political party and remember your historic responsibilities as Americans to respect opposing speech,  ideas and ways of life.  Finally, I encourage the Hollywood activists to "once and for all" shut up.

 



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

President Obama and Biden Time


By Chuck Marshall







     This will be my last blog focusing on President Barack Obama.  Looking back at my blog history, I really didn't blog about Obama too much, often in reference but never the focus., so this is oddly unusual for me.   When he started his presidency (for the record, I voted for McCain and Romney in both his elections) I felt resigned to the fact and was hopeful he would make good on some of his promises.  I would say he accomplished very little that will last., and most of his Presidency was essentially "biding time".   The Dems would say that's because the Republicans didn't allow him to do anything.  I would say it's the job of the President to work with Congress to get  something done.  The real power to act and move the country forward past rhetoric comes from Congress and the truth of the matter is an effective President needs to also be a good salesman to Congress and the American people.  Obama was not.   

     Last night was the last speech from Obama to the American people.  President Obama is a beautiful speaker.  His ringing oratory is very nearly a work of art,  in my humble opinion.  The problem is they're just words.  Ringing oratory does not move the country forward.  His speeches are like a slice of a favorite page in a history book to be looked at and admired for their sweetness to the ears and heart but -like candy or a summer fling- they cannot be relied on for significant or lasting effect.     

     So now we come to the end of the Obama presidency and what do we have ?  With the exception of the "execution" of Osama Bin Laden and the securing of our country from any "significant" terrorist attack, there is nothing but a long list of executive orders and federal judge appointments and a horrendous health insurance program,  doomed from the very beginning for its lack of ingenuity or bipartisan support.   This very long list of  executive orders can be removed from the law of the land with the stroke of Donald Trump's pen.  In the end, his Presidency didn't accomplish much and really Obama was just "biding time" as the first African-American President.  While that fact is significant,  I'm afraid that will be the extent of what he is remembered for as well.  

*But you very well may read some of his speeches in history books.  

    



Thursday, January 5, 2017

It Takes a Thief to Know a Thief


By Chuck Marshall





     I read an article today in the Orlando Sentinel from the Associated Press regarding Trump's appointment for the SEC chairman (aka- the lead cop for Wall Street) and I was somewhat befuddled to read a comment from Senator Sharrod Brown (D) of Ohio who made this comment regarding the Wall Street Attorney;  “It’s hard to see how an attorney who’s spent his career helping Wall Street beat the rap will keep President-elect Trump’s promise to stop big banks and hedge funds from ‘getting away with murder".  Huh ?   In my humble opinion it makes MORE sense to have an attorney to police Wall Street of this nature because he is most familiar with the "tricks" that Wall Street is liable to try. 

     A lot of Trump's picks for his cabinet are of a similar vein.  They're people from the "world" of the category that needs the oversight.  For example, Tillerson (former CEO for Exxon-Mobil) as Secretary of State who is only about 10 times more qualified for the position than Senator John Kerry.  Tillerson  has the experience dealing with and negotiating with world leaders.  John Kerry is a US Senator familiar with the swamp that is DC and- just as we all would suspect-  that familiarity does not translate to anything productive on the world stage.    His negotiating and diplomatic skills have proved less than impressive., in my humble opinion.  In the end, he's been very successful at wasting a lot of time and negotiating NOTHING in our favor.  *Prez Obama, et al should relax though because he was critically successful at not offending anyone.  

     Only in government do you get these idiotic appointments for positions because of their "opinion" on these things.  Another perfect example is the head of the Dept. of Energy., Steven Chu.  Mr. Chu has abundant experience in physics, even winning the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997.  The man is truly brilliant... in physics !   Exactly how does that qualify him to run the department of energy ?  I suppose the fact that he's Asian especially caused excitement in the Obama administration as they chose him.   The left is aghast that Trump picked "lilly white" Rick Perry.  Rick ran the state of Texas for nearly a decade - seemingly successfully- and is consequently  familiar with moving things forward over a large organization.  Who is better qualified ?  Mr Chu or Mr. Perry ?  I choose Perry.  

     I am not necessarily enthusiastic about all of Trump's cabinet picks, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt regarding all this.  The historic choices of Presidents to please certain groups and to appoint "window dressing" to vital  positions is absurd and needs to stop.  Maybe he will succeed in draining the swamp, after all ?