Showdown in Buenos Aires, A Friend Suspects Man of Being Kenneth Lay

February 12, 2009

by Kevin Egan

A friend of mine recently returned from Argentina.  While there, he heardmore than one rumor that former Enron CEO, Kenneth Lay, was living in the country under an alias and in disguise.  Not one for conspiracy theories, he shunned the idea and proceeded to enjoy his vacation in the lovely city of Buenos Aires. 

Kenneth Lay, Master Criminal.

Kenneth Lay, Master Criminal.

 

While eating in a small café and getting drunk on local wine, my friend noticed a man, well dressed, in a striped white suit, with a long beard and bushy eyebrows.  At first he couldn’t place the face but then after recalling the rumors about the deceased executive, he suspected that the man before him might actually be Kenneth Lay. 

My friend swallowed what was left of his wine, paid his bill and began to follow this man around town.  The man stopped in many shops, conversed with local business men, and then casually strolled down the streets Buenos Aires is famous for, as if he hadn’t a care in the world.  My friend, by this time, seemed certain that it was Kenneth Lay he was following.  He told me the man in question had an air of indestructibility about him, as if he had pulled off the greatest caper known to man and there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it.  My friend felt enraged and searched for the local authorities, in order to arrest this person he thought was Lay and finally bring justice to those whose lives had been destroyed by his irresponsible business practices.

The first police officer he had found took his accusation very seriously.  My friend speaks incredibly good Spanish and was able to paint an extremely vivid picture of who Lay was and the crimes he had committed.  Several other cops were waved over and a fury began to erupt within them, feelings if it was they themselves who had lost their retirement money in the great debacle of the early twenty-first century. 

Then an officer, who I suppose would be the equivalent of a police captain, caught word of the outrage that had his subordinates in an uproar and quickly dismissed any accusations in regards to the mysterious man.  He said he recognized the man my friend thought was Lay and had known him for a couple of years as a very polite and trouble-free gentlemen.  He didn’t feel there was any reason to disturb the man with such ludicrous charges and insisted that everyone drop the matter immediately. 

Smelling a rat that transcended national borders, my friend, along with the original officer that he had spoken with, remained on the trail of the man, hoping to find something that would expose his masquerade and, again, bring justice to the workers that will struggle for the rest of their lives because of the mischievous and dastardly deeds committed at Enron.

They followed him into coffee shops, gift shops, what appeared to be a brothel, a train station and finally a park, where he met a man in a thin grey suit, who did not look as if he was a native to Buenos Aires.   The two amateur sleuths snuck as close as they could to the two men, without seeming as if they were up to something.  Bits of conversations could be heard but there were also times when the sound of children playing and birds singing drowned out what seemed like crucial indictments of the man’s guilt.  Words like “Bush” and “Suckers” were, however, heard clearly numerous times, inciting more rage from my friend and his companion.  In fact, the police officer could not refrain from standing and shouting at the man, calling him the Spanish equivalent of “a villain,” “a bastard” and “a treacherous scoundrel.”

The man in the thin grey suit reacted quickly.  He pulled out a gun with a silencer attached to it and shot at the police officer, hitting him in the shoulder.  The officer shot back, but because of the injury he sustained, he missed, hitting a nearby tree.   The man in the suit then pressed a button on his cellphone and within seconds, a person wearing a dark helmet came speeding by on a Vespa.  The Vespa slowed down just enough for the man in the suit to climb on back and disappear into a crowded street.

The man suspected to be Lay, watching his associate escape, fled himself, pushing several children out of his way, knocking most of them to the cement ground.  My friend, after ensuring the police officer was okay, chased after the man, almost touching the shoulders of his suit jacket as they both reached an intersection in which a bus and a large truck had collided maybe twenty minutes before.  The man, however, took advantage of the massive crowd of people lingering in front of the truck and quickly squeezed between them, breaking away from my friend and then shooting down an alley.  By the time my friend was able to maneuver his way through the conglomerate of Argentinians, the man suspected to be Lay was gone.  And so was my friend’s hope to bring justice to those workers back in America. 

You could imagine my surprise when my friend returned to the United States and filled me in on the details on his adventure.  I could barely believe it myself.  Except I am a conspiracy theorist and his tale only incited the rage within me even more, since it is my belief that Kenneth Lay is still alive and had faked his own death in order to escape a prison sentence for the dastardly crimes he had committed against the U.S. financial system, as well as Enron employees. 

Anyone know the number of a good Nazi hunter?           

 

     

 

           

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Che, Part Two-Reviewed

February 3, 2009

 

Benecio Del Toro as Ernesto "Che" Guevara in the comic romp, Che, Part Two

Benecio Del Toro as Ernesto "Che" Guevara in the comedic romp, Che, Part Two.

by Kevin Egan

At the end of Che, Part One, viewers were left with quite a cliffhanger. After Castro (Demian Bichir) fell to his death in a field of vines and every enemy of Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Benecio Del Toro) had been eliminated through violent means, our protagonist had been dubbed heir to the thrown, while simultaneously shutting out his wife from his affairs. It was an unsettling moment as the door was closed so forcefully in her face. Still, we loved the Guevaras and desperately desired to see more of them. With Che, Part Two, director Steven Sodenbergh pulls no punches, giving us viewers the family epic we had been waiting for. Saturated with plot twists, celebrity cameos (Adam Sandler as Batista) and endings upon endings upon endings, this sequel supercedes the possibilities already established by other films, taking us into unexplored territories.

Part Two begins exactly where Part One left off, except this time around, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) returns to the present time to warn Che about his troubling children and the havoc they are wreaking in the future. This catapults Che on another wacky adventure, outsmarting his old nemesis, Biff (Thomas F.Wilson), and rescuing his family from danger. Then, once Che believes he is clear of all hijinks, an apparition of his mentor, Ben (performed elegantly by the late Alec Guinness) appears, instructing him to go to the Degoba system, to study with an old Jedi master named “Yoda.” While Che follows this path outlined for him by his old friend, his children find themselves in trouble once more, except this time it comes in the form of a shark. Luckily for them, a desperate-for-any-kind-of-work Michael Caine (as himself) shows up to help them in their struggle.

Just like in Part One, Del Toro is again magnificent in the triple roles of Guevara, his wife and his ornery grandfather. And although the “fat suit” he wears through the second half of the film will most likely earn the make-up team an Oscar nomination, it is what Del Toro does with the suit that one finds most appealing. His ability to conjure up deep and funny voices for all three of the characters, as well as contort his face to provide the most comic expressions, is a skill unrivalled in the cinema today. Robert DeNiro himself could do no better.

Without giving too much away in regards to the ending, Che, Part Two borrows from the classic comedy, Clue, offering multiple endings, each shown separately, depending on which theatre you attend. If you’re like me, you’ll see it more than once, hitting every theatre in town, for no other reason than to ensure you catch all the unbelievable ways in which Che’s fate hangs in the balance. This one’s a keeper!

4 out of 5 stars.  Bring the kids!!!


Bush Calls for One Last War in Final Hours

January 20, 2009

tmq_obama_bush_200by Kevin Egan

Washington (AP)- In his final couple of hours in office, George W. Bush declared war against the state of Hawaii, claiming that its native inhabitants may possibly be connected to terrorist organizations in the Middle East. 

In a last-minute joint-session, Congress quickly acted, approving the war,  stating the evidence that Bush has promised to provide as early as next week, was strong enough to support his decision to go to war.  Though 44th President Barack Obama has already publicly denounced the war, he has gone on the record, stating, “Withdrawing troops from the state of Hawaii will be a long, painful process.  I wish I could do it in a day but that is asking the impossible.”  He then went on to set 2010 as the starting point for the withdrawal. 

When asked whether or not attacking one of our own states seemed reactionary and senseless, all parties involved refused to comment.   


The Fifteenth Round, a Bucket of Tears and Losing a Home

January 19, 2009

article-1116606-030f4469000005dc-710_468x286by Kevin Egan

I promised myself when Dennis asked me to contribute to Operation Itch that I wouldn’t write about politics, considering almost everything on the site is political in nature.  I also can not express myself politically as well as people like Dennis so I usually write about what I know best: music and film.  I do, however, plan to take this next week to let out my final gasps of frustration at what has happened over the last eight years.  I just want to get in a few more final jabs before the bell rings, ending the fifteen round. I’m well aware that nothing I write will cause the knockout I wish it would.  Obviously, my opponents are too powerful to be punished for their sins but like Rocky Balboa in the original Rocky film, after he realizes he can’t beat Apollo Creed, I just want to know I went the distance and I did my best and got a good few shots in before the end of the fight.  Although, the truth be told, the damage done over the last eight years will be echoing throughout the world for years to come, much like the brain damage Rocky suffered after going the distance against Apollo.

 Okay.  That being said…

I was a lone man, sunk in the middle of my couch, crying like a child.  President-elect Obama was on the television accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.  Although, there were parts of his speech that were moving, I was not crying because I was touched by what he had said.  I was well aware that he was a politician, an expert on rhetoric, knowing just what buttons to push to tug at our hearts and minds.  It was an historic nomination but that was not what brought me to tears. 

Obama had dedicated a bit of his speech to the last eight years of our country’s history and how troublesome they were.  That was nothing new for someone who had been screaming “Treason!” since the stolen election of 2000.  Still, for some reason, at that moment, it all hit me at once.  Every awful moment, from the stolen election of 2000 to 9/11 to the lies that sold the Iraqi War to the war itself to the stolen election of 2004 and beyond, hit me like a stack of concrete blocks square in the gut.  I felt my stomach curling up.  It was the same feeling you get when you first hear the news that someone close to you had died.  And then the tears came.  They poured down my face uncontrollably.  I was at their mercy.  They couldn’t be stopped and if they could, I wasn’t the one that could stop them. 

Eventually, they subsided and I felt a cleansing of sorts wash over me.  I felt a peaceful calm inside of me for the first time since this disastrous mistake began.  I had spent the entire eight years filled with such feelings of anger and hatred that I truly hadn’t even realized how large of a shithole the Bush Administration had dug for us.  The reality of all those soldiers dying for the sake of one man’s obsession to please his father had suddenly felt real and tangible.  It was no longer something you read about in the paper or talked about in a bar.  I could see the faces of those dead soldiers and their families.  I could also see the piles of dead, innocent Iraqis that were killed just to satisfy Dick Cheney’s lust for power.  It was horrible.  And finally, there was the fate of Democracy, the foundation on which this country was built, that had fallen into the filthy, bloodstained hands of Karl Rove.  It WAS like I had lost someone close to me.  I had lost my home: America. 

I plan on celebrating next week.  And though I realize the historical and cultural significance of the Obama Presidency, I will be raising my glass to the end of one of the most villainous collection of scoundrels that have ever seized control of our government.  What they had done was illegal, immoral and incorrigible.  And sadly, as much as I cheer for the end of their treasonous reign of power, the truth is, no one will be punished.  They will walk away and wipe their hands clean of the entire ordeal, leaving the rest of us with the task of cleaning up their disastrous mess.

It’s going to take a long time before the effects of this Administration are no longer felt.  I hope President-elect Obama has plans on beginning that healing process.  He has “talked the talk,” as they say.  Now, it’s up to him to…well, you know the rest of that saying. 

Anyway, it would be nice to have a home again.     


Tipper Gore to be Inducted into Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame

January 15, 2009

by Kevin Egan

CLEVELAND (AP)-In what might be the most controversial news in the world of rock ‘n’ roll since the passing of Elvis Presley, it was announced today that Tipper Gore, wife of former Vice President, Al Gore, is to be inducted in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, causing both praise and outrage from rock ‘n’ roll fanatics throughout the world.

Gore, 60, besides being known as the wife of the former vice president, had also made a name for herself back in the Eighties by leading a group composed mostly of Washington wives called, The Parent’s Music Resource Center (or The P.M.R.C., as it was more infamously known).  The P.M.R.C.’s main task was to force the music industry to label  each record it released, in the same manner films were rated by the MPAA, particularly those that included “explicit lyrics.”

In response to many of the rock videos Gore had watched as part of her research with the P.M.R.C., she had once publicly cried, “The images frightened my children!  They frightened me!  I am frightened!  Way frightened!  The graphic sex and the violence were too much for us to handle.”         

200px-tgore1

Eventually, a Senate-hearing on the “dangers” of rock music was held and artists including Frank Zappa, Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider and legendary folk artist, John Denver, came to the defense of the first amendment rights of the artists in question.  It was later decided that each record company would “voluntarily” label albums if they felt they might cause a disturbance in certain communities.  Still, once the smoke had cleared, Tipper Gore had become a full-blown enemy of the rock world.   

Ironically, years later, after her husband and Bill Clinton had won the 1992 presidential election, The Gore’s made an appearance on MTV, the very channel they had once accused of perpetrating “pornography,” thanking all the young people that had supported them in their campaign.  Those that remembered the Tipper Gore of the 1980’s were shocked and somewhat perplexed by the appearance.

Mike Scorzelli, 39, Massapequa, N.Y. remembers: “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  I remember thinking, ‘Wasn’t that the same broad that tried to outlaw music videos like seven years ago?  Now, all of a sudden, everyone’s on MTV’s kissing her ass?  That’s so f**ked up.’” 

And if that wasn’t enough to inflame the rage of those that remembered Gore’s past as “Public Enemy No. 1,” Al Gore, himself, during his bid for the presidency in 2000, was, surprisingly enough, financially backed by such famous rock stars as Sheryl Crow, Joe Walsh, Stevie Nicks and Dweezil Zappa, son of one of Tipper Gore’s most outspoken opponents, Frank Zappa.

Apparently, all had either been forgiven or “forgotten.”

When asked why Tipper Gore was being inducted in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, spokeswoman for the institution, Helen Gurchnecht, replied, ”The Hall of Fame is going ‘green’ this year and there’s nothing more ‘green’ than the Gore’s.   Rock ‘n’ Roll is no longer about playing loud, living fast and expressing yourself creatively.   These days, it’s more about whether or not you bring your own shopping bag to the grocery store.  Or if you decide to walk to church instead of taking the family SUV.” 

Along with Tipper Gore, other inductees will include Run DMC, Jeff Beck, Little Anthony and the Imperials and longtime friends of the Gore’s, Metallica, who have publicly defended the Hall of Fame’s choice to induct Gore. 

“Tipper kicks ass,” says drummer, Lars Ulrich.  “We all belong to the same country club and enjoy each other’s company immensely.  In fact, we recently had the Gore’s over for cocktails and it turned out that my butler used to be their butler, like fifteen years ago.  We got a great laugh out of that one.  It’s such a weird and crazy world.” 

Although the rock ‘n’ roll elite seem to have embraced Gore, regardless of her past assaults on their art and culture, there are still some rock ‘n’ roll fans that will never forgive or “forget” the havoc she wreaked back in the Eighties, no matter how “green” she may have become.

“I’ve got two words for Tipper Gore,” says Robby “the Snake” Fontana, 41, Freehold, New Jersey.  “Go f**k yourself.”  

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

      

 


Alaska? I Nearly Killed Her by Kevin Egan

November 7, 2008

One thing I like to boast about more than anything is the fact that I’ve been to forty-nine of the fifty United States of America.  For a few years, I was only able to boast about conquering the “Lower Forty-Eight” until I finally ventured to Hawaii, where I got sun-poison the very first day I was there and had to spend the following day at the movies, cringing at the comedy wreck that was “Talladega Nights.”  Still, when I returned home, I crossed “The Aloha State” off my list, leaving one state left before I could proudly claim I had been to all fifty. 

 

Two stories over the last couple of months have brought that last state into the spotlight in ways it had never been before.  For the first time in the state’s history, one of their major political figures was chosen to be a Vice-Presidential candidate.  Alongside this “historic” precedent, U.S. Senator, Ted Stevens, also from Alaska, was found guilty on seven felony charges, including accepting gifts from an oil executive.  It’s been quite an eight weeks or so for the state that hasn’t been known for much else besides lingering between Northern Canada and the former Soviet Union. 

 

Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and Vice-Presidential candidate, proved herself less informed and less prepared for office than the inarticulate numbskull that has been occupying the White House for the last eight years.  Not only had she once been exorcised of evil demons by a witch doctor, she also failed to ask a simple question about which magazines she reads.  Her “folksy” enthusiasm during the campaign reminded me of a line from The Simpsons, “Your moxie more than makes up for your lack of talent.”  Luckily, Americans from the “Lower Forty-Eight” were bright enough not to fall for her act and sent her back to Juneau packing. 

 

Unfortunately, this past Tuesday proved that the Palin fiasco wasn’t just a one-time mistake.  It looks like, even after his conviction, the citizens of Alaska have actually re-elected Ted Stevens, despite his criminal activities. 

 

What this says about the Alaskan people and whom they vote for is something, we, down here in the Continental United States, as well as Hawaii, should consider before feeling as if this state has truly become a part of the Union.  First they elect a woman who may look like Tina Fey but has the voice and the wit of Mrs. Pool from The Hogan Family.  They then elect someone who is most certainly going to be spending the rest of his life in jail.  Does anyone remember when Washington D.C. actually re-elected Marion Barry after he was convicted of smoking crack?  Same thing.    

 

One can only wonder whether or not the unique changing of the seasons that occurs up there in that corner of North America may have somewhat of a “freezing” effect on the brain, causing all rationality to disappear when entering the voting booth.  Heck, once George W.Bush is out of a job, he may consider Alaska as the next state to claim residence in, in case he ever wants to serve in public office again.  I’m sure the folks up there could easily find it in their hearts to forgive the man for the atrocities he has wreaked on our nation.  He certainly has that “folksiness” thing going for him.  Apparently, that goes a long way in this state that was so easily duped by Palin and Stevens.

 

As far as completing my quest to reach that “fifty state” mark, I’m thinking I may hold off for a while.  I’m not quite sure of what to expect if I ever made the journey.   Sarah Palin frightened the hell out of me.  If there’s more of them like her up there, then I say, “Leave ‘em up there and let’s all remain down here, where common sense has finally regained its rightful place.”   

 


SNL, Palin and the Death of the Joke by Kevin Egan

October 20, 2008

companion video by Davis Fleetwood at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcbZGfv_WjQ      

also appears on http://operationitch.wordpress.com/2008/10/20/snl-palin-the-end-of-jokes/

 

Chevy Chase as a Bumbling Gerald Ford

Chevy Chase as a bumbling Gerald Ford

Recently, for a very brief moment, one had the feeling that Saturday Night Live, after years of catering to the mainstream, had once again strayed away, regenerating the controversial balls they had lost years and years ago.  Tina Fey’s portrayal of Sarah Palin was not only hysterically funny on a comedic level, it was satirically accurate, in regards to the Vice Presidential candidate’s ignorance of the issues, refusal to speak with the press, and condescending approach to the “average American.”  It was a satirical indictment of what is very, very wrong with the McCain/Palin ticket.  Anyone in this country with half of a brain cheered the portrayal, since we all felt the McCain/Palin ticket were taking us for fools.  It also articulated a frustration many of us had been feeling since 2000, when the most inarticulate and most grammatically incorrect President in the history of our country seized control of our nation, driving its future into ruins.  Although over the past eight years, SNL rarely criticized, mocked or satirized the Bush Administration, it seemed as if they finally were once again taking an anti-establishment stance, by taking legitimate comedic jabs at the most unqualified and frightfully conservative Vice Presidential candidate this country has ever known. 

But that was then.  By now, SNL has already had Palin appear on the show, doing her own comedy routine, “responding” to Tina Fey’s portrayal, alongside the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels.  Her appearance on the show, no doubt, will show what a “good sport” she is and how she can take any criticism, including Fey’s more than accurate interpretation of her patronizing of “Joe Six Pack.”  SNL, as they have always done since the mid-eighties, have once again played it “safe,” by bringing in the brunt of the joke and allowing them to respond in their own charming way.  Although they have been selling themselves for over twenty years as “cutting-edge,” the truth is, the last thing they would ever want to do is upset the powers that be.  And in case that happens to be McCain and Palin down the line, it must have seemed like a good idea to soften the accuracy of the joke by allowing Palin proper response time.   No doubt, the fact that NBC is owned by General-Electric had something to do with this.

The problem here is not only political (which it is, and we’ll get to that), or economical (which it also is, TV=money), but it lies in the most fundamental aspects of good comedy that have been betrayed by Lorne Michaels, servant to the establishment and killer of all things funny.  From a comedic standpoint, there was no need to bring Palin in to “respond” to Fey’s portrayal.  The joke had been executed effectively and that should have been that.  Time to move on to the next zinger.  I don’t remember Gerald Ford being brought onto the show a week after Chevy Chase portrayed him as a clumsy, imbalanced goofball.  Nor was Mr. Rogers ever brought on the show to challenge Eddie Murphy’s hilarious version of Roger’s program, “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood.”  To bring in Mr. Rogers would have been going for the cheap laugh, stealing away the effects of the social satire that Murphy was articulating.    

Palin’s presence was an insult to Fey’s spot-on, and truthful performance, which should earn her an Emmy, if the gods above are just and fair.  Bringing Palin on the show was the equivalent of the chicken returning to the scene of the crime to justify “why he crossed the road.”  Pointless.  Senseless.  And most importantly, not funny.

Politically speaking, obviously, Michaels cowardly chose to not “take a stand,” so he did what was fair and brought Palin in to make light of the entire affair, again, weakening Fey’s indictment.  The problem is, and this also brings us back to the fundamentals of comedy: A joke always takes a side.  It has to.  Otherwise, it’s not funny.  There has to be a victim.  Jokes are never fair and never polite.  There is always a subject addressed in the joke and that subject is always ridiculed.  That is the point of jokes.  Groucho Marx never came out at the end of a Marx Brothers movie and apologized to Margaret Dumont for mocking her throughout the film.  To do so would’ve robbed us of all the laughs he generated by ribbing her from all angles.  Abbott never apologized to Costello and Charlie Brown never kicked that football.  If it had been any other way, we never would’ve watched. 

What Michaels did, by allowing Palin on the show, was apologize for the hilarious examination of Palin’s posture, presentation, and inconsistencies by Tina Fey.  By doing so, he failed to stand behind the joke, as well as Fey.  What he did was an insult to Fey and her abilities as a comedian.  He took back every laugh enjoyed, as we relished in Fey’s highly creative approach, bringing to light the stupidity, the patronizing tone and the frightfully effective touches of the Sarah Palin character.