Game Of Thrones Season 3 – A Meme Is Born


Well, I’m finally caught up to the South Park parody of Game of Thrones.  I think- it’s been a few years since I’ve seen it, but it seems to have been created at the end of season 3- definitely by the end of season 4.  I’ll look it up later.

Anyway, after binge watching 30 of the (at the present time) 69 episodes, I’ve come up with a couple of games of my own- a drinking game (original, I know), and all the different ways I’m reminded of other characters in entertainment.  So forgive me as I interchangeably reference the characters properly, and with my personal association.  Try to keep up- surely the show would want it that way!

So I wasn’t crazy about all the romance, often turning captioning on and the sound off, but I realize that it was necessary to push the story along.  Well, most of it.  Greg Brady’s marriage to Heidi Fleiss was one of the few pure, straightforward, even wholesome romances this show has to offer- obligatory nudity notwithstanding, of course- and oh, weren’t we all happy to find out she was pregnant!  That was certainly how we were supposed to have felt, isn’t it?  However, anyone who’s been watching this show long enough knows that happiness is only to be felt by the viewer for one reason and one reason alone- that it will be ripped apart.  I saw the death of the poor woman coming a mile away, although I confess to being completely caught off guard as to when it happened.

I certainly wasn’t expecting Rob Stark to die then and there.  He seemed to be doomed at some point, but I assumed it would be later in the series.  And his mother, a cross between Mrs. Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie and Peggy Hill from King of the Hill, had to watch, right before her own death.  She wasn’t my favorite character, as her constant stumbling and bumbling and pseudo-pride caused all kinds of problems for everyone, but her last seconds among the living was heart-wrenching to watch.

As for the man who caused it, the guy who played the Squib in The Harry Potter movies, that’s no surprise.  He was a wretched degenerate, a very close second only to Craster.  (An honorable mention goes to Joffrey, but he’s really more of a psychopath than a degenerate.)  When he not only showed mercy, but was downright magnanimous about it, something just didn’t feel right.  One of the many drinks to have in the GOT drinking game is that the more mercy a sadistic character shows, the more vicious the torture will be carried out.

And on that note, how about Handsome Dennis Leary, finally getting a taste of his own sadistic medicine?  I like the character Jaime Lannister, as well as the actor who plays him.  He’s believable whether brutal, charming, (seemingly) merciful, or hurting inside.  But there are major inconsistencies in his behavior, almost worthy of a daytime soap opera.  So now, he’s a misunderstood kingslayer?  He was doing it to save all those people?  Okay fine.  He’s still a guy who, almost gleefully, pushed a ten year old off a ledge to die, after being caught having an affair with his sister.  Even in a show where belief is suspended over and over again, it’s a real stretch to ask the audience to go along with that premise, and still believe he has a heart.  Nevertheless, I bought into the storyline, because it was well acted, and the chemistry between him and Breanne felt very real…even if saving her from fighting a bear felt like something out of Xena Princess Warrior, or Hercules, or some other campy pseudo-historical fantasy show from the WB network in the early 2000’s.

I also enjoyed watching Aria and The Hound form a truce, and what may develop into an unlikely friendship later on.  (One can hope.)  I don’t believe The Hound is a bad guy- I think HE wants people to believe that.  There’s no question he’s done many bad things, but who hasn’t in this show?  (Wait, don’t answer that.  We’ll get there.)  Aria is one of my favorite characters, and as of now, is the RIGHTFUL Strong Female Protagonist, even though I didn’t care for an unnecessary attempt at comic relief, as she cold-heartedly knocked an innocent old man unconscious to show The Hound that she means business.  (Come on, writers- this is Game of Thrones, not The Three Stooges!)

I’m still trying to identify all the other protagonists in the story fair and square, even though I have hindsight in knowing a few of the survivors.  It seems like the Sean Connery-ish guy assisting Stannis will be around for a little while, thanks to the fact that he learned how to read (reading saves lives, kids!), and it was nice to see Aria’s crush make it to safety.  Or, so it seems.  But what’s the deal with Lady Evil?  She’s a magical, mystical, woman!  At times, she seems to be caught completely off guard, other times, all knowing.  Obviously, young Keanu Reeves will be sparred until AT LEAST when he gets to the Three Eyed Vulture.  Beyond that?  Well, I guess it’s up to The Lord Of The Light from there, who seems like a real jerk.  (Thank you, Norm MacDonald.)  By the way, I salute the writers for coming up with yet another jaw dropping, stomach churning twist- when the aforementioned Lady In Red pointed out to Stannis that his wife was “sick” and she “disgusts” him, I assumed she meant disfigured by an illness.  Nope.  Perfectly normal looking lady.  But keeping her stillborn children in a jar and talking to them as if they were people?  Well, that was…unexpected.  So unexpected I couldn’t understand what was going on.

Lessee, what else, what else…oh, the Lannisters!  They are still hovering around the center of the GOT universe, for now.  Sansa marries Tyrian, while Cersei The Queen is about to marry Loras the queen.  And Tywin, at the head of it all.  He’s got it all worked out, doesn’t he?  I wonder if Sara Yoko Silverman will do anything about it, at some point.  The only thing she seems good for right now is turning Tyrian, normally THE BEST character in Game of Thrones, into a lovesick fool.  Most interesting of all, though, is the unknown aspirations of the aspiring Queen…um, I forget her name.  But she seems to have Joffrey’s number.

HOW MANY MORE STORYLINES ARE THERE????  *sigh*  Ok, I’ll go through them.  Theon Greyjoy being tortured by Sean Astin…the visuals are disturbing- add “torture porn” to the list of genres in GOT- but if there was one guy who deserved to be punished like that, it’s this guy.  In some ways, he’s the MOST despicable character on the show.  All the other degenerates and sadists have little or no conscience.  Theon was treated like family by the Starks- AT LEAST as much as Jon Snow was- only to turn around and lay waste to all those who he grew up with.  Despicable.  And I let out a small groan and chuckle as his sister assembled a boat of the greatest killers to rescue her brother!  Yeah, she’s a regular Joan of Story Arc.

The Jon Snow thing slowed down for a bit, especially with his budding romance.  But that ended up with a huge payoff, especially with The Knights of The Watch in shambles, their beloved leader betrayed and killed.  (I can’t entirely blame them, though- sucking up to the degenerate Craster almost has me rooting for the White Walkers.)  Jon had a groan-worthy moment himself, though, as he chuckled when his girlfriend pointed an arrow in his direction.  I’m glad she shot at him.  He deserved to pay for his arrogance.  But do you know who REALLY needs to pay for arrogance?  Yeah, that’s right- I saved “the best” for last!

Six episode past when I wrote this, my opinion has only hardened.  The only ones more in love with Danaryus “Khaleesi” Stormborn, House of Targaryan, mother of dragons, freer of slaves, warrior of social justice, are the writers who created her.  They’re so in love with her, they forgot to write an interesting story!  If this was a video game from the early 90’s, the Khaleesi storyline would be the bonus round, where you try to collect as many coins as possible in 30 seconds.  No enemies, no obstacle- just get those coins!  The only brief moment where it looked like this might be going somewhere was when Heir (Hair?) of Fabio barged in while Khaleesi was taking a bath (naturally), and put a knife to Khaleesi’s personal secretary, only to declare that he wanted to fight for her.  (Couldn’t he have just…knocked?)  Then, we get the now-famous image of her greeted as a liberator.  Was there any doubt??  Of ALL the ways they could have ended the season, THIS is what they chose.

All in all, the season was mixed, but with lots of promise ahead.  The Lannister push forward continues to be a driving force, presumably until winter comes, and the series becomes Night Of The Living Dead.  Arya continues to be given more and more reasons to be angry, becoming more and more dangerous.  Whatever weirdness is going on with Stannis Baratheon, it’s clearly going in some very curious directions.  And then, all the wall, winter is coming, etc. etc..

So much to watch, and I can’t resist writing these recaps.  I try to keep it short, but really- how can I?

(Two other minor notes-

The punk rock song at the end of episode 3 was ill-advised.  I like punk rock as much as the next suburban white boy, but part of the appeal of GOT is being sucked into the idea that the viewer is watching something straight from Medieval Times.  Deviating from that, even in the credits, pricks the bubble.

Are they really going to give Doofus from Duck Tales a love interest?  When did Judd Apatow become a writer for this show?  That’s not entirely fair- Sam is a nice kid, not an immature slacker.  But it’s the same principle.  Men needn’t be conventionally good looking to end up with someone, or good looking at all.  The same can’t be said about women.  That’s just the way it is in fiction, and at times, even in real life.)


Game Of Thrones – 1/3 Of The Way Through, The Strongest Image Is The Weakest Link

Khaleesi truly does have incredible powers, as the rules of the show don’t seem to apply to her.

I wasn’t planning on blogging about Game of Thrones again until I finished the third season, but at the exact one-third point, I had an epiphany.  All these years, I couldn’t figure out the massive appeal of the show.  A large part of that was simply due to not WATCHING the show, but the mass marketing just didn’t do it for me.  And what exactly was that mass marketing?  Outside of some grizzled guy with a sword and the slogan “Winter is Coming”, virtually all of it revolved around an incredibly attractive (dyed) platinum-blonde princess with a bunch of dragons.  Now that I’m twenty four episodes deep, it’s become painfully apparent that this part of the story- if you can even call it a part of the story- is, by far, the weakest link in an otherwise captivating television series.

Don’t get me wrong- Danarerys “Khaleesi” Targaryen is the most visually appealing character, in a show filled with visually appealing characters.  And Emilia Clarke’s charisma is unmistakably the reason why she was the face of the franchise for such a long period of time.  But in a world of complex characters, doing complex maneuvering, with complex outcomes, Khaleesi’s story arc is more like a straight line, with every “Mary Sue” / “White Savior” checkbox filled out.  So far, her whole story can pretty much be summed up in a few sentences…

Girl that has been oppressed throughout her life by a cruel, ignorant brother, is sold as a wife-slave (or slave-wife) to a handsome savage.  Girl becomes a woman, learns to adapt to savage culture, discovering magical powers along the way.  Her captor husband vanquishes brother, then dies protecting her from those who don’t believe in her power.  Woman marches forth to build an army of primitives that she has liberated from the clutches of evildoers, who she destroys wherever she encounters them, on her way to becoming queen of all the land.  Oh, and she has magical dragons that she refers to as “her children”, to help with all of this.

If anyone had isolated this part of the story from the rest of the show, I’d probably have turned it off somewhere in the first season.  Compared to the rest of the series, it’s almost like watching a different television show.  Where are Khaleesi’s tough choices?  She points out how awful it is that so many people are enslaved (duh), but what about the trade-offs that the other characters have to face, when being gripped by their conscience?  Look at the way Jamie Lannister’s protector ruined everything, when she didn’t have the heart to kill the man in the woods, who turned out to be an informant.  Khaleesi has no such concerns, because she has MAGICAL POWERS!  Think about the hard choices Jon Snow has had to make repeatedly throughout the series, not knowing which “family” he needs to fight for.  Not Khaleesi, though.  She fights decisively for HER family, the Targaryens- a family she’s never even known, outside of her wretched brother.  Basically her family is a family of one, consisting of herself.  Ergo, she fights for herself.  And, like many power-hungry characters in the show, she is hellbent for the Iron Throne.  Unlike any other character, however, the writers seem to indicate she is justified in this quest, because, you see, she will be a benevolent ruler, as National Geographic Guy assures her and the viewing audience.  And speaking of National Geographic guy, the only hint at merging this story from “the edge of the world” with the rest of the GOT universe is a minor character from season one, washed along the shore to compete for prestigious role of Main Guy Who Explains Stuff To Khaleesi.  Weak.

I will gladly recant all of this, if there are twists and turns ahead, which make all of this worthwhile.  But for now, whenever this part of the story comes on, I will be hitting mute, and use closed captioning to follow along.  My sensitive ears can handle dragon screams, but the self-righteous preening has gotten to be too much.

Game of Thrones Season 2- Where Is All This Going??

I know from the posters that the Beatle haircut doesn’t last for Aria.

With less than four weeks to watch an additional 51 episodes, I’m just going to bullet point this stuff. There’s only so much Game of Thrones I can cram into my life, and still literally keep my sanity. Here goes…

  • So far, the show is still centered with a theme of rival Medieval English kingdoms, although that’s very clearly about to change, as the supernatural elements are beginning to tear away at the seems.  Not much is clear about this show’s direction, but that much is.  The White Walkers, who opened the series as little more than a teaser for things to come, are literally on the march at the end of Season Two.  Khaleesi is officially the heir to Ronnie James Dio…umm, I mean the House of Targaryon…as the master of dragons.  And Stannis Baratheon, probably the last guy anyone would expect of possessing supernatural powers driven by dark magic, does, in fact, possess supernatural powers driven by dark magic.
  • For now, though, the primary stories still involve all the different houses at war with each other, and to whatever limited extent this show can be explained in a “conventional” way, the Starks are the good guys and the Lannisters are the bad guys.  Of course, this isn’t a conventional show, and Tyrian Lannister is arguably the easiest guy to root for in the series so far.  Ned Stark was, in hindsight, little more than a McGuffin to drive the story along, as well as get the viewers emotionally invested into what’s going on.
  • Speaking of hindsight, knowing what I think I know about the series, the real protagonists are starting to emerge now.  (Sorry, Ned.)  Three of four of them make sense- Tyrian (a dwarf), Jon Snow (a bastard), and Aria Stark (a girl), all of whom have incredible courage and potential, yet were screwed over by life- Tyrian by being a dwarf, Snow by being a bastard, and Aria by being a girl- are beginning to come into their own.  Sansa, apparently released from King Joffrey’s grasp- for now- apparently plays a big role in the series, although I’m not sure how yet.
  • Oh yeah, and Khaleesi- how can I forget??  Sold into slavery to begin her life, there seem to be great things ahead for her.  What, exactly, isn’t clear yet.  She’s the most famous face of the show, and yet two seasons in, still seems like she’s on a completely different show!  (Tyrian even alludes to this, saying, “One game at a time,” when she is brought up in discussion.)  I’m guessing that changes sometime in Season 3.  It has to, right?  How much longer can she wander around the desert, where her main company is some guy who looks like he was poached from National Geographic!
  • I kind of wonder how much I like or dislike a character based on my own personal taste, versus how much the show wants a character to be liked or disliked.  For example, I like the “evil” Cersei FAR more than the “good” Mrs. Stark.  Cersei can be heartless, occasionally downright cruel, but seems to be very self-aware of it, as well as the merciless world that shaped her into that person.  It almost seems like there’s a good woman deep down inside, which was buried by circumstances.  By contrast, Mrs. Stark pretends to be a “proud” woman, but in reality, is anything but.  She treated Jon Snow like dirt, for something that was her husband’s fault.  She blamed Tyrian for a crime that he didn’t commit.  Then, she released the infamous Jamie Lannister behind her son’s back, because she was dumb enough to be outwitted (again!) by Little Finger- who really should have the nickname Middle Finger, because he really sticks to everyone- and I mean everyone– he encounters.  Am I supposed to feel sorry for her for always being at such a loss?  Because really, I just snicker every time her ignorance blows up in her face.
  • What was the deal with “The Thirteen”?  Was that something from the book, that just got crammed in, due to time constraints?  I didn’t understand that plot at all.  The graphic of them standing together was good for a laugh, though.

    How they all kept a straight face is beyond me- best acting in the series so far!
  • The Stark kid who can’t walk is like Kenny from South Park.  How many times can we be tricked into thinking he’s dead?  I’m guessing one of these days, it won’t be a trick.
  • I enjoyed some characters finally abandoning pretense of noble but violent honor, showing ACTUAL fear, as The Dog backed away from the fire in the middle of the battle, and the new Knights of the Watch ran for their lives, once they realized they were being invaded by White Walkers.
  • Last but least, there seemed to be more of a romantic bend in season two.  Maybe they’re going somewhere with it- ie. the men falling in love weakens them- but I really hope not.  (They probably will, though- Game of Thrones doesn’t seem to let any plot line go to waste.)  To me, at least for now, it just feels like an eyeball rolling distraction.  And of course, we had to be reminded of Khaleesi’s love for her beloved captor…um, I mean late husband.  For such an unnervingly graphic show, Game of Thrones has a lot of heart to it, but the romance just doesn’t do it for me.

Anyway, lots more to write about, but even more to watch.  Onto season 3.  See you in a few days…


Game of Thrones, Season 1 Review- Better Late Than Never

Spoiler alert- the guy in the picture didn’t win

Okay, I get it now.  I didn’t necessarily resist joining the cultural phenomenon on purpose, although I admit to having a contrarian nature.  It just seemed like too much work to get into a series that sounded like it had an identity crisis.  What genre was this?  It looked like an adventure series, sort of like a modern-day Neverending Story (ironically set in the Middle Ages), yet it sounded like there was a lot of pornography and other disturbing stuff going on.  And yet nearly every single person I encountered that had watched the show over the years- and I mean literally nearly everyone- LOVED it!

I binge watched Breaking Bad, right as the series was ending, because it came on a basic cable marathon, and had a very easy to understand narrative- a down-on-his-luck high school teacher gets cancer, so he starts selling meth to provide for his family.  Shocking, original, and straightforward, even if the series inevitably took some twists and turns.  But THIS thing?  Dragons?  Debauchery?  Nudity?  Incest?  What the hell??  I punted, until about a week ago, when Twitter lit up with every single trending topic dealing with Game of Thrones.  Finally, I gave in.  And boy, did I ever!

Basically, this thing does combine seemingly disjointed genres into one insane but riveting package.  What if Tony Soprano gets killed before the end of Season 1?  What if Joaquin Phoenix’s character in The Gladiator had free reign, without a Russell Crowe-like protagonist to stop him? (Ned Stark basically had Tony Soprano’s power and respect, with The Gladiator’s moral compass.) What if the Malfoys got their hand on the deathly hallows?  What if the family from Blades of Glory, quite literally, succeeded in stealing the gold?  What if there was more than one kid that had The Shining?  And this is only the first season- apparently, there are seven more of these!

There’s also another story line lurking, literally beyond the horizon, involving some ghastly ghouls, surely teasing yet another genre that was touched on in the first scene of the first episode- horror.  It didn’t seem to go anywhere in season one, but I trust the writers have something really incredible- and probably not for the feint of heart- just waiting to be unleashed at the right moment.  My guess is that it’s an allegory for people squabbling about petty problems, without any awareness about REAL danger that threatens them all.  But we’ll see.  Or at least, I will.

Here are some other thoughts I had about season 1-

  • I’m a pretty squeamish guy myself, although there was only one moment that really unnerved me- Khaleesi’s ruthlessly ambitious but idiotic brother- basically, an older version of Joffrey without the network to back him up- thinks he’s going to be coronated, instead gets burned to death by liquid metal, in a sadistically ironic “ceremony”.  There were far more gory moments in the series, but it wasn’t the visual aspect that bothered me so much- it was the psychological, instead.  As deserving as he was of this fate, being murdered during a time where one is wrapped in their own vanity feels very cruel- which, of course is the point.  Jason Mamoa’s character smiling as he says in a gravelly voice, “A crown fit for a king,” makes the whole thing that much more chiling.  (This isn’t just a product of fiction, by the way- search for “execution of the Romanov family” sometime, if you must.)
  • Ned getting killed was brilliantly painful, but it was strangely heartfelt, as well.  The two Stark daughters, on complete opposite ends of the spectrum personality wise, both felt incredible pain as they watched their father die in undeserved disgrace.  One of the greater disappointments of the Harry Potter series was that Draco Malfoy never amounted to much more than a brat.  Harry had tons of worthy enemies, but none that were his peers.  With very few exceptions throughout the series, Malfoy’s presence seemed more designed to distract, and allow Harry’s friends to band together.  By transitioning Joffrey from entitled brat to evil ruler,  the story becomes that much more enthralling, particularly as the main protagonist is killed before the end of the first season!  Speaking of which…
  • As someone who couldn’t avoid hearing and seeing tidbits of Game of Thrones throughout the years, I was always under the impression that Khaleesi was the main protagonist, seeing how the actress who plays her was on a plurality, if not majority, of the all the pictures I’d seen of the show.  Clearly she’s the most famous face- and body, *ahem*- of the show, so I was surprised at how much smaller her story was, relative to a few of the other main characters, particularly Ned Stark.  I’m guessing that her role is much bigger in season two and beyond, and the final scene seems to imply that, especially with poor ol’ Neddy out of the way.  Again, speaking of which…
  • One reason why I probably wasn’t as horrified/sad/whatever as I should have been at such a powerful scene as Ned Stark getting beheaded was because I was actually kind of expecting something like that.  Given that I could only remember seeing him in one picture, and I knew the show was (in)famous for killing off primary characters (I’ve seen the South Park parody, and been warned several times), I figured he would be cut down (literally, apparently), at some point.  I admit I was surprised at HOW early he was cut down, but it’s not like there aren’t enough other characters to follow along!
  • The Lannister storyline of lust that dare-not-speak-its-name was also something I’d heard about.  Initially, it seemed like a gratuitous shot, implying that they were depraved, soulless people, because they engaged in this act- sort of how gay characters would have been portrayed in the not-too-distant past.  I was definitely wrong about this, as it was anything but gratuitous- it simply showed just how in love with themselves they were!  From their “logic”, it makes sense- since nobody was as awesome as they were, nobody else was worthy enough to “breed” with them.  Twisted, but consistent with what we know about these characters.
  • As original as this show is, they couldn’t help but to engage in a few tired tropes, particularly as the Dancing-With-Wolves/Avatar native celebration/savagery/etc..  The romantic language was cringe-worthy, as well- “my sun, my moon, my stars, my planet, my solar system…” My GOD!  Stop it!
  • I also found it problematic that Khaleesi falls for the guy that starts out raping her.  This season was filmed in 2011, and the book written way earlier than that.  I’m guessing (hoping?) such a storyline would have been modified, had it come out today.  There were other aspects of the show that were a bit…much, but it’s hard to define that line, as the line is different for everyone.  But the Khaleesi thing?  It reminds me of a sick joke in Monty Python’s Life Of Brian- “You were raped?” “Well…at first.”  And at least that was a joke, intended to offend and sound absurd!  Sorry, I don’t think there’s a place for something like that, even for a show like this.
  • What was the deal with Khaleesi’s right-hand man?  That guy had the easiest acting job on the show.  “The Dathraki are mating with their pray.  Basically, they’re sexual Klingons.”  He seemed more like the narrator of a nature show, than a character on this show.  When Khaleesi’s brother says to him, “I see the way you look at my sister,” I thought to myself, “Really?  You do?  How does he look at your sister?  I thought he was too busy doing anthropology research on the Dathraki to look at anyone else!”
  • Oh, I almost forgot this one, probably because I was TRYING to forget- the most disturbing thing in REAL life was the kid breast-feeding off of his TV mom.  How is that even legal?  The world of child acting is shady enough to begin with- what parent says to a kid, “Hey junior- we found the perfect role for you!  Make sure you get the audition right the first time, okay?”  It wouldn’t surprise me if he screwed up the scene on purpose a few times.  I probably would, if I were that kid!  Moving to the opposite end of the spectrum…
  • I was most sad when Aria sent her dog away, after he protected her from The Dork Prince.  (See what I did there?)  I felt so bad for the pooch- he must have been so confused.  It was probably a throwaway scene for 99% of the audience out there, but not me.
  • Even a show with multiple layers often reveals consistent patterns.  In Game of Thrones, it’s clear that the writers have a soft spot for people who have gotten screwed over by life but try hard anyway, and hate- I mean REALLY hate- anyone who brags about their inherited place in the world.  Whatever evil deed gets rewarded in this universe, flaunting your family’s status isn’t one of them.
  • I’ve seen a few complaints that the SJWs got a hold of the series later on.  I guess I’ll find out for myself, but for now, I personally appreciate a show that has strong but flawed female characters, and doesn’t seem to try preaching anything- just moves the stories along, with complex characters, that can’t seem to escape their fate.
  • Jon Snow seems like a nice guy.  I doubt his buffoonish friend (“Neville” in Harry Potter’s universe) makes it, though.

This review was supposed to be short.  So much for that.  I hope you enjoyed it.

David Collum Makes A Strong Case For His Point Of View, While CNBC Barely Even Tries

David Collum Makes A Strong Case For His Point Of View, While CNBC Barely Even Tries

In his extensive year in review blog, Dr. Collum puts in an enormous amount of thought, effort, articulation, and…best of all…charts-

On the other end of the spectrum, we have this gem from CNBC- “A reason for hope- back-to-back down years for the stock market are rare“.  The entire argument can be found inside the title.

This, by the way, is how I became a permabear (and goldbug) in the first place.  In the earliest part of my adult life, I bought stocks, just like everybody else.  But as I read more articles from ALL points of view, the bear side just made so much more sense.  More than an entire generation of papering over one financial crisis after another has, ironically, had the effect of giving people MORE confidence in our broken system- after all, if any problem can be “solved” by sweeping it under the rug, who’s to say we can’t continue down that path indefinitely?  (Interestingly enough, this reasoning does not fly with the public when it comes to environmentalism.  Well…at least, not when it comes to discussing environmentalism- implementation is another story altogether.)

The question is, can The Powers That Be paper over the next (and apparently, impending) financial crisis?  We’ll find out soon enough…
Palladium Rhapsody (lyrics only)

Palladium Rhapsody (lyrics only)

With the success of the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, and the coming apart of our financial bubble (this time, it SEEMS like the real deal, but we’ll see..), it feels like the perfect time for a song parody.  I admit to being inspired by- and also “borrowing” liberally from- the creative “Crypto Karaoke” account on YouTube.  Try this at a karaoke bar- for the 5% of the audience who get the joke, it will be worth it!  Enjoy…

Palladium Rhapsody
-Original Lyrics from Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”
-Original Parody from Crypto Karaoke’s “Blockchainian Rhapsody

Is this the real life?
Or is it fantasy?
Caught in a stock slide,
No escape from a bankruptcy.

Open your eyes,
CNBC lies, you see…
I’m just a poor boy,
But that will change instantly, because
Bull markets come, bull markets go.
Buy gold high, buy gold low.
Anywhere its price goes,
doesn’t really matter to me…to me.

Hold on…stick with the plan.
Don’t let the FED inside your head,
Though precious medals might seem dead.
Hold on, the gold bull’s just begun.
If you sell now you will throw it all away.
Hold on, ooo-woo-ooo!
The dips will make cry,
But the price will come right back this time tomorrow.
Hold on, hold on,
Because the price now doesn’t matter.

Too late.
Nasdaq’s time is done.
For years tech stocks were all buys.
Now it’s time for them to die.

Goodbye fiat money.
I’ve got medals.
There’s no need for all the brokers who steal from you.
hold on, oo-woo-oo!  (“any way the market goes”)
The fiat system’s gonna die.
Gold’s dips are your chance to go buy some more.

(guitar solo)

“I see The Federal Reserve’s brilliant plan!”
“Where’s The Proof?
Where’s The Proof?
Are They Even A Real Bank Though?”

“Markets Are All Crashing,
Trolls Are Really Bashing Me!”
“Bartiromo! Bartiromo! Bartiromo!  Bartiromo Bartiromo let me go!  (Manifico-o-o-o….)”

“I’m Just A Poor Boy,
Don’t Have Any Gold To See…”
“He’s Just A Poor Boy,
Bought Stocks For His Family.
Now He Will Pay For This Monstrosity!”

“Easy Come, Easy Go
Will You Keep Rates Low?”
J. Powell
“No!  I will Not Keep Them Low!”
“Keep Them Low!”
J. Powell
“I will Not Keep Them Low!”
“Keep Them Low!”
J. Powell
“I Will Not Keep Them Low!”
“Keep Them Low!”
“Will Not Keep Them Low!”
“Keep Them Low!”
“Will Not Keep Them Low!”
“Keep Them Low-ow-ow!”
“No no no no no no no no!”

“Oh, my Maria
My Maria
My Maria Bartiro(mo)…

The bubble popped, now why won’t you start listening to me, to me, to meeee!”

(guitar kicks in)

“So you think you can mock me, just give it a try…
as you bought all your stocks near their all time highs!
Oh, baby, get out of your stocks, baby!
Just got to get out, just got to get out of stocks here!”

“The stock price doesn’t matter,
All of you will see
The stock price doesn’t matter…
the stock price doesn’t matter…to me.”


(“Your money should go into gold.”)

Why write a long blog post, when a picture is worth a thousand words…

Why write a long blog post, when a picture is worth a thousand words…

…not to mention a few thousand points on the Dow??

(disclaimer- I didn’t create the image on the right, so whoever actually did is free to take the credit.  Everyone on the Internet already knows that I didn’t create the image on the left.)

With all the many topics that get debated these days- some of which are so trivial- it amazes me that one of the most important issues of our time goes untouched- Why do we allow one single person to control interest rates for the entire U.S. financial system?  (Woodrow Wilson could not be reached for comment, on account of being dead for 94 years.)

Anyway, what the so-called “permabears” have been warning about for years, even decades, seems to finally be at hand.  It’s still early, but that’s kind of the point- what happens when the wheels REALLY fall off this time?  The Fed managed to put them back on twice already in this still-young century.  Can they do it again, or has luck run out (FINALLY) for those who have put faith in this financial system’s ability to bounce back, from one Fed-induced crisis after another?  As of now, current Fed chairman Jerome Powell doesn’t even seem interested in saving the system, but he likely doesn’t realize what danger it’s in, or just how fragile his predecessors- specifically Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, and Janet Yellen- have set it up for him.

Stay tuned….

Despite All Its Problems, America Continues To Bless Colin Kaepernick

Despite All Its Problems, America Continues To Bless Colin Kaepernick

It’s hard to imagine now, but at the beginning of the current decade, Colin Kaepernick was primarily known for being a promising young quarterback.  Even then, he seemed to relish an image as something of an antihero, emerging from the ignorant noise of his loudmouth, no-nothing detractors.  This goes back at least as far as his first commercial, when a younger, much shorter-haired Kaepernick starred in a three-minute (!) spot for headphones, of all things. (Just imagine him trying to put those things on now.)  We see Kaepernick getting off a bus, as thousands of feral-like fans try to viciously shout him down.  Kaepernick, with a sense of cool not seen since The Fonz, ignores them all, stoically listening to a song titled, “I’m The Man.”  Of COURSE you are, Colin.

Before causing trouble with his social justice crusading, Colin Kaepernick just liked to cause trouble.

At the time, this was a curious ad. Who in the ACTUAL world hated Colin Kaepernick? He was an emerging star, helping to lead his 49ers to the Superbowl in a rookie season- very marketable, and hardly the polarizing figure that this ad portrayed. Perhaps disappointed by his LACK of notoriety as his star began to fade in 2013, Kaepernick was spotted in public wearing a Miami Dolphins hat- something kind of weird for a quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers to do. Though somewhat obnoxious, it was far from the stuff of full-blown outrage. Still, there were a few 49ers diehards that took the bait, complaining about Kaepernick’s disloyalty- and, in an act of foreshadowing of much bigger things to come, disrespect. Finally, Kaepernick had his real life targets to ridicule, and ridicule them he did, posting a very sarcastic looking picture of himself holding up a Dolphins hat. Making less headlines on the field, Kaepernick seemed to relish the notoriety off the field.

103250-780x550Fast forward another three years to 2016.  Barely on the public radar by this point, Kaepernick grew his hair out, generating his off-field persona as a social justice warrior for a community that, quite honestly, he was never part of.  That’s not to say he doesn’t actually care about this community, as only he knows his true intentions- and to be fair, he has donated lots of money to causes he advocates.  (This is something ALL successful pro-athletes, entertainers, and multi-millionaires in general should do, but that’s for another discussion.)  But regardless of his intentions, the methods Kaepernick used were not exactly constructive towards advancing his newly adopted cause(s).  Rather than bring people together to try working on practical solutions, Kaepernick deliberately stirred the pot, preaching to the choir of people who already believed what he was saying, while deeply alienating those who didn’t, with an incendiary press statement about the United States.  While there are certainly plenty of issues to discuss regarding this country, including that of the troubling relationships between the police and the inner-city communities which they serve, Kaepernick’s initial statement- and this is for those who say Kaepernick’s protest is “only” about police brutality- was a far more sweeping condemnation about the country that made him a rich man, stating that he refused to “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”  (I suppose it’s also too oppressive for him to vote, as he skipped the 2016 election altogether.)  And while we’ve all spent WAY too much time already “debating” (actually, screaming at each other) about the merits and liabilities of kneeling, how about the fact that Kaepernick actually started his protest by sitting on the bench throughout the anthem?!  (It wasn’t enough for him that he’d spend the next three hours doing that?) It was only after realizing it would be better PR for him to kneel, and the rest is history.

And what about the socks controversy? Before becoming the world’s most famous shoe salesman, Kaepernick sported some rather nifty socks, showing pigs wearing police hats. Kaepernick responded with his usual eloquence- seriously, he’s a smart man- along with his typical faux indignation, lamenting this distraction from “the real issues”.  But come on- does someone as intelligent as Colin Kaepernick really not know that these socks would generate a “distraction”? It seems like a reasonable assumption that he went out of his way to purchase these statement-making socks- it’s not like they sell them at Walmart!

And hey, speaking of big, heartless corporations, enter Nike into the picture. Not afraid of exploiting controversies any more than they’re afraid to exploit third world workers- this is a company that once cynically used Tiger Woods’ infidelity to sell their products– they recruited Kaepernick to be the new face of their marketing campaign, under one of the most ironic marketing slogans in American history, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” For the sake of argument, let’s assume that everything Kaepernick stands for is pure and just, as are his motives. What exactly is he sacrificing? Already worth more than he’ll ever be able to spend in his life, Kaepernick’s unremarkable talent was simply not enough to justify the PR headache that any NFL owner surely would have had to deal with, had they signed him. Instead, he was signed by Nike, making far more than he ever would have as an (AT BEST) run-of-the-mill quarterback. And for this, he’s being compared to Muhammed Ali refusing to serve in Vietnam- or even ROSA PARKS?! Only in today’s America can this be done with a straight face, just as only in today’s America can this be consider “sacrificing everything”.

The American flag in the background is a nice touch.

But give credit where it’s due- Colin Kaepernick has achieved the outlaw, antihero status he longed for, probably beyond his wildest dreams, while Nike’s sales have spiked upwards. By hitching itself to his wagon, Nike made a bold but savvy move- alienating Trump’s MAGA crowd, but becoming the hero of the left- a group normally associated with being AGAINST big corporations.  Any boycott Nike will see from this PR stunt will likely be far outweighed by the sales they will generate, as early indicators seem to suggest. At the end of it all, the only “sacrifice” made will be of the Nike products that are being burned to a crisp by the misguided counter-protesters, thinking they’re making some sort of statement besides, “We’re not very intelligent.”  They’d have been far better served donating those clothes to charity, and simply stating that they’re never buying Nike again.  But that’s just not how things are done these days, in a highly politicized environment filled with venom, rancor, and silliness.

As for “The Man” Colin Kaepernick, we’ll likely never see him take another snap in the NFL again.  That’s too bad, because had he done so, he’d likely remind us of the REAL primary reason why he’s not in the NFL anymore- quite simply, he’s just not all that good.  Instead, he gets to be the martyr for a cause that he didn’t even expand beyond the base of people who already agreed with him in the first place.  No matter.  This whole thing is making Colin Kaepernick a rich(er) man, to the point where even HE will have to say, “God Bless America.”

Humbled but undeterred- a reminder of the exceptionally dangerous current financial environment

Humbled but undeterred- a reminder of the exceptionally dangerous current financial environment

Since 2009, I’ve been so very, very wrong about how the markets would play out.  (I was wrong for about 6 years before THAT, until I wasn’t.  But being right didn’t last.  Anyways…)  But in the same way that we need to worry about climate change, even though many near and even intermediate term forecasts have been so off- and make no mistake, they have been- the core reasons why I jumped up and down about the markets all those years has only gotten worse, and that’s not even counting what’s going on with our current President.  Maybe it will, somehow, someway, keep going up for a while longer.  I honestly don’t know, and I came to terms with that a few years back.  But my beliefs that trouble is ahead at SOME point have never been stronger.
You don’t have to take my word for it, though, because I’m not alone.  There are still TWO of us roaming the earth!  Doug Noland is a guy I used to read regularly, back at the turn of the century.  He’s one of the few so-called “permabears” remaining.  He is an even rarer breed among those who can acknowledge that things haven’t played out the way that was expected, and yet still hold onto his beliefs.  I hadn’t read him in years, but I checked out his webpage, just to see what he had to say.  His posts are REALLY long, so I cut and pasted the most relevant part.  If you want to read the whole thing, the link is included below.

Happy trading, and check your 401K before they wreck your 401K.  Be careful out there….

“When I began posting the CBB almost twenty years ago, my focus was on “money,” Credit and the U.S. boom. I didn’t anticipate geopolitical developments would some day play a role in my analysis. But I also never contemplated a global Bubble of today’s dimensions and characteristics.

I never imagined how an explosion of government debt and central bank Credit would be used so recklessly to inflate intertwined Bubbles spanning the globe. Never did I contemplate how this new age global “system” (already highly unstable two decades ago) would be nurtured, backstopped and resuscitated into today’s monstrosity. I never could have envisioned how the U.S. would run huge Current Account Deficits for another 20 years and still maintain such command over a dollar-based global financial apparatus. Who would have believed a global financial arms race was even possible – especially amidst such escalating animosity and hostility?

This is a strange period. It’s strange here at home – in society, in politics and in the markets. It is strange globally. The unprecedented nature of what we see at home, abroad and in the markets provides a lot of leeway with interpretation and analysis. Somehow, there’s a dominant contingent that believes the U.S. is on the right course – that the economic boom will accelerate, markets will, as they always do, continue to rise. The future is bright, all the polarization and social angst notwithstanding. Markets offer unassailable confirmation.

It would be great if the optimists were right. But this was a week that corroborated a much darker interpretation of developments. A decade of unrelenting easy “money” and booming finance has masked a metastasis of festering issues – financial, economic, social and geopolitical. And we’re now only a more general bursting of the global financial Bubble away from having to simultaneously face a bevy of very serious issues. As they tend to do, developments can seem to move at glacial pace – and then, rather suddenly, they can be more akin to lava.

As I have posited repeatedly and expounded in more detail last week, the global Bubble has been pierced at the “periphery.” I also believe the backdrop is now conducive to contagion at the “periphery” (finally) gravitating toward the “core.” The Turkey-induced risk aversion that erupted this week in European equities (bank shares!) is an important escalation in “Periphery to Core Crisis Dynamics.” “Risk off” is gaining a firm foothold, and global financial conditions now tighten by the week. Market pundits expect cooler heads in Ankara and Washington to prevail over the weekend. If not, it could intensify what was already a particularly long and hot summer. ”