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How Did I Miss That? The Butler, a Bieber, a Bridge and Babylonian Playboy

Ramin Setoodeh, writing in Variety, agreed with my view that The Butler got shut out of the Academy Awards competition because Oscar has the attention span of a fruit fly. The earliest release date among the best picture nominees was October 4; The Butler was released in August. My Cousin Ray Sixkiller protested that my comparison is unfair to fruit flies.

The big news from the Academy Award nominations involved snubs on the level of Barbara Streisand’s failure to get nominated for 1991 Best Director for Prince of Tides. Rolling Stone nominated for Most Egregious Snub: Robert Redford for All Is Lost and Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips in the Best Actor Category. Oprah Winfrey for Best Supporting Actress in The Butler. Shutouts for Fruitville Station and Inside Llewyn Davis. Oscar, Cousin Ray agreed, “had his little gold head up his little gold butt.”

In spite of a generally great year for movies, there was a stiff competition for Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers’ Worst Movie of the Year, with After Earth scoring a very narrow win over The Lone Ranger. “Plainly,” Cousin Ray said, “disrespectful of Johnny Depp’s Cherokee grandmother. The Lone Ranger should have flown away with Worst Movie like the bird on Tonto’s head.”

Morning Joe played video on Friday of Barbara Bush once more expressing Bush fatigue. She did say Jeb is the best candidate before expressing that she hoped he did not run. “With all due respect to the former First Lady,” Cousin Ray said, “has she considered the entertainment value of another Bush-Clinton contest?”

WFAA in Dallas reported that the victims of Allen Stanford, who is doing 110 years in the Club Fed for stealing about $6 billion dollars, have recently been paid out a penny on the dollar of their losses. Six of Stanford’s victims have committed suicide and over 100 have died in the five years since the SEC came down on Stanford. The head of the Stanford Victims Coalition said the best hope for the victims is a new law stiffening the obligations of securities brokers. Cousin Ray didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. “Did she watch what happened to Dodd-Frank?

The Dallas Morning News reported that the court-appointed receiver for Stanford’s businesses has sued both the Republican and Democratic National Committees to recover Stanford’s contributions for the victims. The receiver also sent requests to more than 50 Senators and House members requesting return of contributions. He got less than 20 returned. Cousin Ray called this a futile attempt “to clean the political grease trap.”

The people who vetted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as a vice presidential candidate with Mitt Romney are feeling vindicated by the George Washington Bridge scandal. “They could have gotten Christie on the ticket,” Cousin Ray pointed out, “by having him vetted by the same crew that vetted Sarah Palin.”

The New York Times reported Saturday on the botched first execution in Ohio with a new “drug cocktail,” made necessary because pharmaceutical companies won’t sell medicine to kill people. The debate quickly degenerated into comparing the suffering of the executed to the suffering of murder victims. “That’s a fair argument,” Cousin Ray observed, “if everybody believes the criminal justice system in the US never makes a mistake.”

Hiroo Onoda died of natural causes at the age of 91. He was the last Japanese soldier to surrender in The Philippines and return to his home islands in 1974, having refused to believe the war was over until his former commanding officer traveled to The Philippines and formally relieved him of duty. Lt. Onoda presented his sword to the Philippine President, who returned it.

Mitt Romney, asked in the Sunday New York Times whether he would run again: “Oh, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. No, no, no.” “I guess he’s saying he has no plans to be the Hiroo Onoda of the Republican Party,” Cousin Ray speculated.

I wondered how the young Mitt would have developed if he had been sent on his Mormon mission to Haiti rather than to France, a country with a higher standard of living than his own? “His French would not be as good,” suggested Cousin Ray, “but he could still say ‘Let them eat cake!’”

The Victorville Daily Press announced the birth on January 18 of Andrew Jacob Cervantez, who arrived at 15 pounds, 2 ounces and 24 inches long. “There is no truth to the rumor,” Cousin Ray said, “that Daniel and Vanessa Cervantez have retained an agent to sort though the football scholarship offers.”

The lineup for the Super Bowl came down to the Seattle Seahawks besting the San Francisco 49ers by a feather. According to Monday’s Morning Joe, one ticket outlet quoted from $2,500 to $800,000. “Road trip!”, laughed Cousin Ray, calculating that Seahawks fans were driving 2,853 miles and Broncos fans 1,773 miles—if people who could afford those tickets were driving. reports Cool Runnings redux. The Jamaican bobsled team has raised money to compete in the Sochi Olympics with the help of Crowdtilt, an Internet crowdfunding site. “Those patriots should get a medal,” Cousin Ray opined, “just for being willing to leave Montego Bay for the Caucasus.”

Speaking of patriotism, German carmaker BMW has been raising money for the US Olympic team.

Tuesday night, CNN broke the Rob Ford drought with a video of an inebriated Ford in a Steak Queen restaurant orating against the Toronto police chief in a faux Jamaican accent. The Toronto Star followed the next day with another video that shows Ford sitting with his former driver, Alexander Lisi, who is out on bail from an extortion charge that allegedly involved efforts to suppress Ford’s crack smoking video. Cousin Ray wanted to know if Ford was just trying to whip up support for the Jamaican bobsled team and got off message?

A lawyer for Curtis Reeves, who allegedly shot a Florida movie patron dead after an argument over texting, said that Reeves could stand his ground after being attacked with a bag of popcorn. “Skittles, iced tea, and now popcorn,” Cousin Ray marveled. “Florida junk food can kill you quicker than other junk food.”

Gov. Chris Christie (R-New Jersey) was quoted in the New York Times as telling Republican political donors, “Come see me next year.” His presidential campaign is on hold, Cousin Ray snickered, “because he has a bridge to sell.”

A new bridge is rising over the Hudson River to replace the Tappan Zee, which was finished in 1955 and supposedly had a useful life of fifty years. One proposal to help defray the estimated $3.9 billion price tag is to sell naming rights. “What would Michael Bloomberg want with a bridge,” Cousin Ray asked, “and what will New York tell Mr. Zee’s relatives?”

According to the Sparks Tribune, the small Nevada town has had about 100,000 trout, bass and catfish wash up dead at the Sparks Marina. Authorities blame the polar vortex cold snap. Cousin Ray suggested Nevada should import some of those fish-friendly chemicals from West Virginia. “As long as they don’t plan to drink the water, of course.”

The Times of Israel reported on a museum display of erotic art on clay tablets dated 1,500 years before Kama Sutra. “Cultures collide over who invented sex,” Cousin Ray laughed, “or at least who invented pictures of it.”

Moving from sex to violence, Glenn Beck was asked on Fox News to reflect on his time there, before he was shown the door for being too extreme even for them: “I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart ...” Cousin Ray remembered Beck’s remarks about President Obama’s “deep-seated hatred of white people” and remarked “Beck sold a lot of gold and freeze dried food along with the fear.”

NBC reported Thursday morning that Justin Bieber was arrested for drag racing and DUI in Miami Beach in a rented Lamborghini. I asked Cousin Ray how many teenage millionaires he knows driving Fords and Chevys, but he shut me down with the shocking news that he does not know any teenage millionaires.

The Los Angeles Times reported that evening that Bieber hasn’t had a valid driver’s license for at least six months. “Well,” Cousin Ray commented, “I guess they won’t take away his license.”

According to the Toronto Star of August 3, 2012, Bieber told Rolling Stone “I’m actually part Indian. I think Inuit or something? I’m enough per cent that in Canada I can get free gas.” Cousin Ray remarked that our Cherokee grandmothers sure did get around, but he doubted that Bieber “needs any more gas.”

Florida, a state with a substantial Jewish population, is resisting serving kosher food to prison inmates. The state complains that non-Jewish inmates are demanding kosher food because it tastes better, at a comparative cost of $7 a day vs. $1.54 a day for standard fare. Various proposals have been floated to police Jewish identity, such as quizzing inmates about the Torah. “Welcome to the world of American Indian identity,” said Cousin Ray, who joked that Florida could start by checking for circumcision.

Paul Krugman has published another op-ed about statistics abuse. Did you know that the income of the bottom fifth of Americans has risen 186 percent since 1979? Sure it has, unless you adjust the number for inflation—then the income of the bottom fifth has fallen. In contrast, the income of the famous 1 per cent has quadrupled and the top .1 percent has done even better. “If these guys seriously believe they are being rewarded for ability and hard work,” Cousin Ray suggested, “we should send them to Pine Ridge to turn that economy around.”