Oscars 2016

oscarOkay…prepare to disagree…but the #Oscars are designed to recognize the world’s best performances in the best films regardless of skin color, age, political leanings or religion. The process is far from perfect but it is supposed to be the opinions of a qualified group of people in the entertainment business. It is obvious that the Academy voters today are no longer proportionately representative of the entertainment community or the US at large.
For the record, the US population is roughly divided with 64% European-Americans; 16% Hispanic-Americans; 12% African-Americans; and 5% Asian-Americans.
There were only two Americans last night who won individual Oscars–Leo DiCaprio and Brie Larson. The other six individual Oscars went to Mexico (Alejandro and Emmanuel); Britain (Mark and Jenny); Sweden (Alicia); and Italy (Ennio). That seems pretty diverse to me, although African and Asian-Americans were not represented.
Oh, you meant only in the nominated actor categories?
Okay, here is the list (Note only 9 out of 20 are Americans):
Bryan Cranston–American
Matt Damon–American
Leo DiCaprio*–American
Michael Fassbender–German/Irish
Eddie Redmayne–British
Christian Bale–British
Tom Hardy–British
Mark Ruffalo–American
Mark Rylance*–British
Sly Stalone–American
Cate Blanchett–British
Brie Larson*–American
Jennifer Lawrence–American
Charlotte Rampling–British
Saoirse Ronan–Irish
Jennifer Jason Leigh–American
Rooney Mara–American
Rachel McAdams–Canadian
Alicia Vikander*–Swedish
Kate Winslet–British
I didn’t mind the upfront statements addressing the issue of minority representation, well justified. But when it continued the entire show, rather than highlight the issue it turned into more of an entitlement statement. We all have faced bias…wrong color, age, weight, speech, etc. but I would hate for us to return to the days of quotas where demographics outweigh qualifications in any field.
We will never all agree on the choices made by the Academy…like when will they pick performances and films that people have actually seen? Sorry if your favorites didn’t get nominated or win, but to steal a saying from the sports world…there’s always next year.
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Bus. Casual Web Head_MP_8831Richard Allan Jones is a frustrated actor, a member of the Screen Actors Guild and author of the comedy-adventure novel, DRAFTED.

New Year’s Eve 2015

baby03It’s hard to believe that we are are already 15 years into the 21st century. Where are the flying cars? And I’m not talking about drunk drivers on New Year’s Eve launching off bridges.flying car

Where is the utopian lifestyle of the Eloi (minus the Morlocks)? MorlocksWhy aren’t we vacationing on Mars this coming summer with the kids (I mean if Matt Damon can do it, why not the rest of us)?

martian_0 I realize most science fiction placed these changes as far in the future as 2525 (except for Kubrick who only stretched to 2001), but that is only 510 years away. Shouldn’t we be further along? What happened to our Star Wars future? No, wait…there’s the dark side, evil empire and Darth Vader…never mind. How about Tomorrowland? (Although even George Clooney couldn’t save that one). Star Wars cinematographer dies at 99

Instead, we seem to be trudging along with the same script of our father’s father’s father…War, hunger, poverty, disease, prejudice, crime, homelessness, political bickering, and so forth. The only difference is we do it faster today and it costs more.1951-xmas-ignorance-want

As 2015 comes slowly to a close, and we look forward (I think) to a new year and making personal resolutions that we won’t keep…lose weight, join a gym, read more books, not mention any members of the Kardashian family for six months…let’s try to put in a few for our fellow man (or woman), like the golden rule. For all of 2016, I will do unto others as I would have them do unto me. Or as Yoda would put it, “Unto others do I will as myself.”

I’m not a big fan of organized religion (look what that has done for us so far), but I am a huge supporter of a reasonable moral code. Most of us know how to tell right from wrong, so let’s all make an effort to put more checks in the “Right (Correct)” column  this next year and have a little better understanding about the other fellow’s situation. It’s individuals that make change, not organizations or governments. Circle-Of-People-Holding-Hands-Around-A-World-Flag-Globe

Now, let’s join hands in a really big circle and sing Kumbaya (no, seriously, take my hand and start singing!)

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Richard Allan Jones is the author of the comic adventure, “Drafted” and the upcoming political thriller, “Identity Check.”

drafted_cover-41 richallan-300dpi-3125x4167 - Copy

 

My First Ride-Share

Most of you by now are familiar with the new “civilian” ride sharing services across the country, where average guys or gals come pick you up and drive you to your destination in their own personal car. The cost is less than a traditional taxi and is negotiated up front. Friends tell me they have been chauffeured in some very classy cars like BMW and Mercedes. This concept, however, goes against everything our mothers ever told us, “Never get in a car with a stranger.”

Nevertheless, the last time I had to schlep down to LAX, I called a new cut-rate ride service. In anticipation, I waited at the curb in front of my abode. Right on time, an unmarked white van pulled up. The muscular driver rolled down the passenger window and called out, “Get in the back.”

I hesitated when the side door slid open and a second man said, “if you come voluntarily, I won’t have to put on the blindfold.”

I replied, “I think I’ve changed my mind.”

The second man, the one wearing a ski mask, said, “I’ve got candy,”

I couldn’t help but notice as I climbed in and the door slammed shut that there was no window or door handle next to my seat. I tried to ignore my predicament while I unwrapped my chocolates as we sped away.

The driver barked out, “You are a rich American, yes?”

“No,” I replied, licking the candy wrappers. “In fact, I’m barely existing on social security.”

The van stopped so suddenly I almost got brained with an Uzi flying past me from the very back. The two men started arguing in a foreign language and slapping each other around. The argument stopped almost as suddenly as it started, and the driver once again headed the van down the road.

“Would you like some music,” the driver asked, turning on some high-pitched warbling. “Now, where did you wish to go?” He smiled at me in a creepy more than friendly way.

I replied, “How about the nearest police station.”

Minutes later I found myself on a street corner watching the van speed away after tossing out my luggage. My first ride-share experience now nothing but a bad memory.

Next time, I vowed, I would take the bus unless Sandra Bullock is driving.

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Richard Allan Jones is the author of the comedy/adventure novel, “DRAFTED,” and the soon to be published suspense thriller, “IDENTITY CHECK.”

Alms For An Ex-Leper?

Monty-Pythons-The-Life-of-Brian-The-ex-leperA writer is suppose to write every day, right? But I have to be motivated by a topic to feel it is worth my time and yours. Do you care about which cereal I ate for breakfast this morning…I don’t and I was there. At the same time, I need to write on this blog more often to develop my writing skills, and give you, the readers, something interesting to peruse when the boss isn’t watching, or you are tired of looking at clips of cats doing silly things.

With that in mind, I’m sharing the headline from today’s paper where the L.A. City Council has passed a resolution to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour by 2020. Some 80,000 worker are impacted by this decision.

This is amazing to me on several levels. First, that the minimum wage is only $10 now. That barely buys you a happy meal, even with an employee discount. Secondly, that 2020 is only five years away. Who knew that I would live that long…the 21st century…era of Buck Rogers…and where the hell are all the flying cars. And finally, when I was earning minimum wage, back in the 60’s, they paid me a whooping $1.25 hour.

I know, inflation; the sixties were 50 years ago; new cars only cost $3,000; a cheeseburger at the golden arches was $.25, fries $.15, and the ketchup free.golden arches

But still…did I really work an eight-hour day and get paid only ten bucks…before deductions!  Was I insane or just didn’t know any better?  Some of my jobs were considered “fun” — like being a lifeguard or working as a DJ at a radio station, but seventy dollars for a seven-day week! …social security and medicare got more money a week than I did!

Back to our minimum wages in 2015…$400 bucks for a five-day week seems like a lot; but new cars cost $30,000; a hamburger at a west Hollywood restaurant runs $14 (with fries), although the ketchup is still free. These folks have to be thinking the same thing I did back in the 60s…am I insane? No wonder it is so hard to get people to drag themselves out of bed, face a hellish commute, and come home exhausted every night. Forget trying to save for retirement. money

So, Mr. Government Official, I say get these cheap corporations to pony up a decent wage that keeps up with inflation…don’t wait another five years to make this right.

As for me, I’ve picked out my corner, got a nice tin cup, a set of slightly soiled rags to wear, and a legible sign that reads, “Alms for an ex-leper.”

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Rich Allan is the author of the comedy/adventure “Drafted” now available on kindle at amazon.com, as well as the soon to be released thriller, “Identity Check.”

My Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions For Other People

baby03Everyone knows you make and break New Year’s resolutions for several reasons:  lazy, forgetful, impossible, what was I thinking, etc. Many people do not even bother because we are bad at follow-up, but very good at making excuses…i.e. You promised to clean out the garage two years ago, but still claim you can’t find a decent broom.

So I decided this year to make NY resolutions for other people…resolutions that they should make for themselves, but will never do so. Once I publish these, it will be up to you to see that the person (s) keep their resolution and do it in a timely manner. Okay?  Here are my top ten:

1.  The Kadashians are to enter a witness protection program and never be heard from again.

2.  Democrats & Republican will merge and form the Unity Party saving billions of dollars in wasted time fighting each other and not getting anything done.

3.  Following that merger, Rush Limbaugh will lose all sense of purpose, quit his radio show, and join an African tribe that only eat the droppings of wildebeests.

4.  Kim Jong-un will realize he does have a sense of humor and will agree to appear in “The Interview” sequel, playing “Curly” from the Three Stooges.

5.  Conversely, James Franco and Seth Rogen decide to stop making low-class, potty/drug-induced non-funny films, and announce they are producing a re-boot of “Gone With The Wind,” and they would be playing Scarlet O’Hara and her evil twin sister.

6.  Fox News will be bought out by BET (Black Entertainment Network), everyone is fired, and the channel re-purposed to fictional stories about jazz and the blues.

7.  The movie studios will decide that featured background actors have been grossly slighted over the years and they will now receive credit in the titles for their contribution, because they are just as important as the guy who cleans up after the horses & camels, the food truck driver, and the second hairbrush holder for the real actors. (Okay, this one, I admit, was for me)

8.  The Golden Globes will change their current unknown selection process to a random drawing. Every producer or first cast actor who appeared in a film/TV show that year will put their name in a giant hopper and 50 names will be drawn at random. Show will still be televised because (much like previous shows) every time your name isn’t called, you have to do a shot. Everybody loves to see their favorite celebrity get smashed.

9.  The United Nations will now recognize all legitimate countries, and introduce a new conflict resolution process where the leaders of the countries in conflict will arm wrestle or play beer pong to select a winner. Loser backs off or is forced to sit in the corner until he/she agree to do so.

10. Ford and Chevy vow to fight the new open relationship with Cuba, fearing that if consumers find out how to keep their car working for 50 years, they will go out of business.

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Richard Allan Jones is the author of the comedy/adventure novel, DRAFTED.

My First Novel
My First Novel

The Night Before Christmas 2014

carolers‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even Uncle Ernie, sitting in the corner completely soused;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
While Aunt Iny ran screaming from a gift of Victoria Secret underwear;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of iPhone 6s danced in their heads;
And mamma in her teddy, laying in my lap,
purred like a kitten taking a long winter’s nap,
When out on my lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed & called the cops as if it mattered.
Away to the window, I flew like the CW’s Flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the bad sushi that Kabuki had trashed.
The moons from the nearby sorority on the new-fallen snow,
Gave a luster of a Hollywood premiere to the 101 traffic jam below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a big-old sleigh and eight flying reindeer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew my medical marijuana must have kicked in quick.
More rapid than eagles his foul-smelling beasts came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, The Donner Expedition!
To the top of the world! To the top of the Great Wall!
Now fly away! fly away! fly away all!”
So up to my house-top the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of coal, and the illegal immigrant St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
Santa dressed as a cat burglar crying from a sore aching tooth.
I did three quick tequila shots, and then turned around,
As down the chimney came St. Nicholas with a bound.
Dressed all in faux fur, from his head to his foot,
His clothes all flashy, like a pimp at a magazine photo shoot;
A bundle of toys lay on his back,
And he looked like an employee from Macy’s, who just got sacked.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
(Likely cause he’d been drinking steady since last February),
His chin beard glowed as white as the snow;
While his pipe smoke encircled his head like a heavenly halo,
originating from a substance the narcs called blow;
He had a broad face and a round little belly
That shook when he laughed, like the Kardashians wrestling in a tub full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a weight watchers poster self,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon let me know, I had just encountered AMC’s living dead;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
ripping off the presents & stockings; just like a typical high school jerk,
Then laying his finger inside of his nose,
he mined out a booger as big as his toe;
He ran back to his sleigh, as quick as sand,
And flew away before the police could slap cuffs on his hands.
But I heard him exclaim before he flew out of sight—
“Put Santa Clause two in the DVD tonight!”
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Richard Allan Jones is the author of the comedy adventure, “Drafted,” available at amazon.com.

Ode To Summer

828377_belly_buttonI  just spotted the first sign of summer. No, not a robin (we don’t have them in California). It was a group of women all dressed in shorts, tank tops and wearing flops, the official uniform of warm weather.

When I was a kid, summer stood out as oasis from all the stress of being a teenager–school exams, homework, dating, pimples, trying to buy beer and get into clubs with a fake driver’s license, and hoping that Annette would answer my love letter soon.annette

Summer represented three months of uninterrupted bliss, hanging out with friends, sleeping late, working on my tan, rock concerts with music so loud your ears were still ringing a week later, summer romances, cruising Main Street, making out in the back row of the drive-in theater, scarfing down burgers and milk shakes brought to your car by cute girls on roller skates, throwing up in the bushes in front of your parent’s house, or working/goofing off at a meaningless job to get a store discount and enough money to take your girl out on Saturday night and maybe get to second base. This is what most mature adults today think about when they refer to the “good old days.” Drive-In_Theater

CAR_HOP_GIRLNow I ask you, where did the traditional summer go?

Today, school administrators push for year-round school so students “won’t forget.” Kids go to school now through June and start back again in August. Really? July? That’s it? One of the big perks of summer was remaining uninformed for twelve straight weeks and destroying as many brain cells as possible. We wanted to forget the previous year of school–being turned down a record 24 times trying to get a date for the junior prom, and having your teacher scream at you in front of the entire class for having the math skills of a fence post.coupe

We are also now deprived of a summer’s worth of  TV reruns. Yes, the same shows with the same adverting you had already watched on the three TV networks the previous nine months. There were no DVRs. No 300 channels, Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime to choose from. No video games either, unless you count “pong” — two straight line with a circle bouncing back & forth going “Ping” on one side of screen and “Pong” on the other.  No wonder we spent so much time outdoors in the summer.

gilligans-island-castjpg-36f949a7535dd51eNow mass media offers us three “seasons” of new series & streaming movies that we can watch anywhere/anytime on our tablets or cell phones, but could never get to everything interesting, even if we watched 24 x 7 until our eyeballs fell out. I’m still trying to get through all the episodes of Gilligan’s Island (yeah, okay, I’m a little behind).

Kids don’t need fake driver’s licenses for beer anymore (“ugh, too fattening”), they just need a “condition” to get a medical marijuana card. (By the way, any of my readers have some helpful hints on doing that?)marajuana

And whatever happened to spending the summer at the beach–hanging out, surfing, ogling the women, wild night parties around the fire, with bongos & guitars, like in the movie “Bikini Beach.” Drive down to Santa Monica in the summer now and the beach is deserted, except for a few tourists. Not sure where all the students are (maybe cramming for their SATs). Of course, tanning is out now…something called skin cancer and premature aging.

bikini-beach-2Makes me wonder what will people in the future will refer to as the “good old days of summer?”

(Old man talking to his grandson) “I remember in July 2014, where I spent the entire month binge watching all 202 episodes of “Game of Thrones,” while finishing up my masters degree in physics.”

Doesn’t quite cut it, does it? I’m sticking with my summer memories, thank you very much. Now excuse me, I want to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Maybe I’ll go make sand castles on the beach, or visit the mailbox to see if today is the day that return letter from Annette shows up…

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Richard Allan Jones is the author of the comedy/adventure novel, “Drafted,” available at #amazon.com, as well as the soon to be released new thriller novel, “Classified Connection.”