A personal note from the Phenomenal Desk of Donald J. Trump directly to you…
I’ve had a lot, I mean A LOT of people, thousands and thousands, probably millions of people tell me that they can’t wait to make America great again and how badly they want me to build a wall.
I’m happy to say that the President of Lego, a very good friend of mine (he’d vote for me if he could) said to me, “Hey, I want to do what I can to make America great again.”
So I bought the Lego Corporation. He wanted to give it to me, but I said no, you’re a hard-working man and you deserve to be paid for it. So we’re gonna build a wall, which thanks to the President of Lego, a great guy by the way, is now going to be ten feet higher.
We’re opening up a factory in Detroit (and making Mexico pay for it), and we’re going to bring in new jobs to the great, great, really great city of Detroit, because let’s face it, Detroit is a disaster. A total disaster. I’m going to bring in thousands and thousands of jobs to Detroit. And Detroit is going to WIN. How many of my opponents, which frankly, I think should all just give up already, they’re losing so badly to me, I’m beating them by a LOT…how many of these liars are bringing in jobs, I ask?
Anyway, before we get started on this tremendous project, I want to give the American people a piece of the action. You can get your very own Trump Make America Great Again Build a Wall Gold Commemorative Brick.
The Trump Make America Great Again Build a Wall Gold Commemorative Brick
This is a very special brick. It’s very special. It’s a tremendous brick. It’s made of authentic virtual gold, and it’s made in America because we are going to make America great again and quite frankly, the more bricks you buy, the more jobs I will create in America, because I hate to tell you folks, but the rich need to be richer to create jobs. And don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. If they do, just punch ’em in the face. With one of these incredible bricks.
These bricks are so incredible, I could throw one at a protester on 5th Avenue and I still wouldn’t lose any votes. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone brought a brick to the GOP convention in the event I don’t win the Republican nomination.
These gold Trump bricks are a perfect addition to any home, whether you choose the Executive line for your Boardroom, or the Evangelical line–I love the Evangelicals–are they even Christian?–for your pulpit.
Our most popular line, the Bigget, comes in a boxed set of four amazing bricks to ensure that rusted out Ford in your weed-overgrown driveway stays level.
And all of my bricks, these are tremendous bricks, folks (Chris Christie has already bought a thousand for his backyard in Jersey), all these bricks come with a Certificate of Authenticity, so you know it’s a good brick.
You pay practically nothing for this brick, because I’m such a nice guy. It’s just a few dollars every month for the rest of your life, that’s it.
And don’t think the money raised from this is going toward building a wall at the border. Mexico is still paying for that wall, and they’ll be HAPPY to do it. And don’t think the money will go toward my presidential campaign. I’m paying for that out of my own pocket. No, this is a business venture, one of my many amazing business ventures, one that has made me very, very successful.
So you’re gonna want to get a LOT of bricks, believe me. A lot of bricks means a lot of jobs. And a lot of jobs will make America great again. Imagine if everyone had their own wall of Trump gold bricks…
We need to win, folks, we’re not winning any more, but if you start your own gold brick wall, we’re all gonna be winners. And we’re gonna unite the party–we need to unite the party and trust me, these bricks are gonna do just that.
So get a brick, get out and vote, and get that guy with the Sanders sign outta here. Unbelievable, this guy.
I always carry cash. Always! Even when I go for a walk in my neighborhood. You never know when you’re going to come across a makeshift taco stand or a Girl Scout Cookie table, or a gun-toting alien demanding bus money because his spaceship crashed nearby and he’s desperate to get away from the scene. And you don’t want to test a sweaty anxious little green man.
My mother told me that I should always carry my ID and $20.00 (which is probably more like $100.00 in today’s money) so that I wouldn’t be arrested for vagrancy. So it’s ingrained in me to make sure I never leave the house without some sort of greenery.
The other day, I’m heading east on Interstate 80 toward the Carquinez toll bridge knowing I don’t have the $5.00. I did have it earlier in the day on the way to San Francisco and paid the toll to cross the Bay Bridge, but now…now that I’m trying to get home, I only have $2.00. I debated stopping in some derelict neighborhood ATM two exits before the bridge, but figured hey, I can’t be the first person to get to the bridge without cash. Surely they must have some sort of system in place for innocent people like me. Maybe a credit card will do the trick. Who would refuse a Gold Mastercard, am I right?
I mean, the lanes might be labeled CASH, but that’s as opposed to having FASTRAK, whatever the hell that is. So CASH really means NOT FASTRAK, as in, you have to stop and pay something rather than being the privileged special people who get to fly through a FASTRAK lane without stopping.
So I pull up to a toll booth and flash my Gold Mastercard and you know what he says? Well, you know what he said: No credit cards.
I go back and forth with him in disbelief that you actually have to have cash every time you enter a toll booth. Doesn’t he know that nobody carries cash any more?
“So what do I do?” I ask him, craning my neck, looking from side to side. “Can I just turn around and come back with cash?”
He tells me no, that I will get a bill in the mail. I think that’s a great alternative, until he tells me that I will also have to pay an additional $25.00 penalty. WHAT???? And if I don’t pay that in time, I will have to pay a $75.00 penalty.
All because I didn’t adhere to my mother’s advice from lo so many years ago.
And that’s it. He hands me an information card and I drive off wondering how they will figure out who I am and where I live to send this “bill”.
The card says, and I quote:
It is a violation of the California Vehicle Code for any person to enter upon a vehicular toll crossing without lawful money sufficient to pay the prescribed tolls, or a transponder for electronic toll payment.
In my humble opinion, the California Vehicle Code can suck it.
On the drive home, I’m thinking, I’m too old to get penalized for this crap. I’d aqcuire this FasTrak thing so I can fly with the best of them through the toll area, but I figure it’s a monthly fee and I don’t travel across the bridges that frequently. Once a month, maybe. And I didn’t want some big windshield-sized square in front of my face all the time blocking my view of turkeys and small children crossing the street.
I go home and forget about the whole thing until the bill arrives in the mail days later. And when I say “bill”, I apparently mean “Notice of Toll Evasion”.
Toll Evasion? Really? That sounds so … illegal. “Evasion” makes me think of scandalous white color crime and Leona Helmsley, for those of you old enough to get that reference.
But get this…I also see this sentence:
Is this your first violation? Sign up for a FasTrak account and we’ll waive the penalty fees.
Are you kidding me? An incentive to get a large white square in front of your face as you drive? And it comes bedecked with the FasTrak logo so you can advertise for them wherever you go, telling the world that they know you have a choice when it comes to bridge toll transponders and they appreciate that you’ve chosen FasTrak?
By the way, that’s a lie. Bridge toll payment companies are not a competitive industry. FasTrak is a monopoly in the Bay Area bridge toll arena and they can charge whatever the hell they want. (And it’s $5.00. And it’s cash. And you’d better have it on your person or you will be forever marked as a “Toll Evader”)
So it turns out you can use FasTrak like a prepaid rewards card, like Starbucks Rewards cards. But without the rewards. And no free bridge crossing on your birthday. And no 25% off breakfast days. And no free App Pick of the Week. Just a big ass white square blocking your view of small woodland creatures simply trying to live life without becoming another greasy spot on the highway rather than being able to hold up your phone for a quick bar code scan. But otherwise, it’s exactly the same.
So I fall for their monopolistic incentive and sign up for a FasTrak account, preload it with $25 and then nothing. It doesn’t say that my penalty fee has been waived. It doesn’t say if I still need to mail in a check for $5.00. It just took my money and ran.
The next day I called them and said, hey man, what do I do now? Do I still owe you money or what? They assured me everything was taken care of and I no longer owed them anything. And thank you for shopping at FasTrak, your FasTrak transponder will be arriving shortly.
Now I’m waiting for the UPS cargo plane guy to pull up today and ask me to sign for a package the size of a billboard.
Have you ever had a vegemite sandwich? OMG, me neither!
But Tom Gleisner has. You know…Tom Gleisner? Award-winning writer and producer of Dreamland? You know, the Australian TV show, Dreamland? Used to be called Utopia? Until it got super famous and transported to the UK and the US? You know…the US? Used to be called No-Man’s Land (or whatever the people before us called it)? And then Christopher Columbus discovered it? And then he didn’t? You know, Christopher Columbus? The one we made a national holiday for because he didn’t discover America?
Tom Gleisner. Would you buy a used car from this man? OMG, me too!
Well anyway, I had the opportunity to interview Tom because I’m awesome, and he’s awesome, and whenever you have two awesome people one must interview the other. And when he declined to interview me (I’m still embarrassed about all the begging) I had to interview him. Er, I mean, I had the opportunity to interview him.
Tom and Working Dog Productions created Utopia, then changed it to Dreamland (because Americans can’t handle the truth!), then Netflix bought it and launched it in December, which means it’s available for streaming RIGHT NOW! Dreamland is a bit like The Office without the documentary interview bits. The New York Post called it “one of five Australian TV shows to binge watch.”
It’s a comedy series set within the Nation Building Authority, a fictitious government organization responsible for overseeing major infrastructure projects. The series explores the collision between bureaucracy and grand ambitions. It’s not as excruciatingly boring as I just made it sound. In fact, it’s painfully funny.
And thanks to Tom’s good sportsmanship and put-up-with-me-ness, he answered my ridiculous questions. Let’s say we were lounging on leopard sofas sipping Cool Ranch Dorito Mai Tais on a sun-drenched veranda somewhere in tropical Papua New Guinea (because he had a meeting to get to, so I got stuck with all the traveling.)
. . .
NGIP: So, Tom…can I call you Chuck?
Tom: Sure, but I can’t guarantee that I’ll answer to it.
NGIP: Thanks, Chuck. So, Chuck, Utopia/Dreamland is a Logie Award-winning Australian television series. Logie sounds like something that would fall out of your nose. Unless it rhymes with “emoji”, in which case, it just sounds like something Olympic. Regardless, are your Logie awards equivalent to our Emmy awards here in the U.S.? Because we have Emmys falling out of our noses like mad over here.
Chuck (formerly known as Tom): Our television awards, the Logies, were apparently named after one of the inventors of TV, a Scottish engineer by the name of John Logie Baird. There’s a fact you’ll never need to draw on again. There’s actually quite a strong U.S. connection with the Logies because, over the years, we have invited numerous American stars to attend our awards ceremony as guest presenters. Of course, when I say “stars”, these have tended to be of the slightly B-list variety. Think someone who played the butler on The Nanny. Or Lee Majors from The 6 Million Dollar Man – several years after the series was axed. That said, we have had some genuinely big names present awards, including Michael Cole from Mod Squad who, in 1973, became the first person to say “shit” on Australian TV. The high-point of U.S.- Australian relationships came in 1979 when Muhammed Ali (yes, the boxer) somehow agreed to present a Logie. Things went well until the host (inadvertently) referred to him as “boy”. And somehow lived to host the telecast the following year. The major difference between our Logies and your Emmys, apart from the quality of the gift bags, would have to be credibility. The Emmys are peer voted. The Logies are decided by readers of TV Week magazine. I think you get the idea.
NGIP: Why did we (the U.S.) get Dreamland instead of Utopia? I feel like America got screwed by the UK here, Chuck. Am I wrong?
Chuck: I think there were two other “Utopias” going round. One is (or was) a UK science fiction series. And then didn’t you guys make a short-lived reality TV a few years back called Utopia? 15 people were sent to a remote location (Iowa from memory) where they had to form a society. Don’t think it lasted long – but I guess Netflix wanted to avoid any potential confusion. Hence Dreamland – which was always one of our alternative titles anyway.
NGIP: I was a government employee myself for several years and can appreciate the observational humor here. In fact, Chuck, it’s almost too painful to watch it hits so close to home. Did you write this from personal experience?
Chuck: Neither Rob, Santo nor myself have ever worked in a government office but we know enough people who have. The levels of bureaucracy are insane, everyone seems to have a job title that means nothing (“Head of Deliverance”?) and everything that is designed to make the work day more efficient seems to involve the exact opposite. It’s a hell of an environment to work in – but pure gold for comedy writers.
NGIP: As you know, we Americans are gun-toting, xenophobic right-wingnuts. Why would we be interested some foreign import such as Dreamland? Is it anything like Crocodile Dundee? Because I think that’s the last thing we watched over here and we liked that one.
Chuck: I’m afraid the series is genuinely lacking in terms of traditional Australian elements. There are no kangeroos, crocodiles or members of the Hemsworth family to be seen. But hopefully the humour is universal. And the frustrations of office life seem to know no borders.
NGIP: My “Netflix Streaming” queue is at something like 350. Where would you put Dreamland in that lineup if you were I?
Chuck: I would definitely move it into the top ten, somewhere between House of Cards and the last Republican Presidential debate.
NGIP: I’m only halfway through Season 1. When do the goats show up? I was told there’d be goats.
Chuck: May have been a typo. Or false advertising. I’m pretty certain we do have a frog in series one but I realize that’s small comfort.
NGIP: I have this great idea for a Utopia/Dreamland episode for next season: This crazy woman in a goat costume arrives at the offices of the Nation Building Authority with a really bad Australian accent, greeting everyone with “G’day Mate” and loudly craving “Shrimp on the Barbie”. Tony and Nat hate her because she is clearly not an Aussie and she’s horribly offensive about Australian stereotypes, but everyone else in the office, including Rhonda and Jim, love the idea of a goat-themed campaign for the next “project” and start broadcasting a name-the-goat contest. On the day of the contest the goat dies in a freak accident on live TV and the Prime Minister (played by one of the Hemsworth brothers, now that you mention them) tearfully declares it a national mourning holiday. What do you think?
Chuck: It’s definitely got potential. The struggle will be finding a goat capable of doing an Australian accent. There’s probably an animal casting agency out there somewhere, but I’d have to check.
NGIP: Speaking of animals, how many pet koalas do you have?
Chuck: I hate to burst your bubble but koalas are actually the worst pet in the world. Despite their cute and cuddly demeanour they bite, scratch and pee on everything. And, to really top things off, 90% of Australian koalas suffer from chlamydia. Enough said.
NGIP: Speaking of next season, will there be a Season 3?
Chuck: We are currently tossing ideas around. Which is a writers’ expression meaning “to procrastinate over lunch”. But we have loved writing Dreamland and would enjoy the chance to keep the series going.
NGIP: When was the last time you ate a vegemite sandwich?
Chuck: A few weeks ago. You know, I reckon every nationality is entitled to one seriously weird foodstuff. The Scots have haggis, the French snails, you guys eat whipped cream from a can… Is a sour, black, yeasty sandwich spread really all that bad?
. . .
And then his phone rang and he jumped up and ran out the door. That silly Chuck, such a busy man. Feeling lucky for getting even those ten minutes with him, I ordered another Mai Tai (Nacho Cheese this time) before the plane ride home.
I want to thank Chuck for taking time out to speak with me about Dreamland. And if they go back to calling it Utopia, I’ll go back to calling him Tom.
If you have Netflix streaming, check out Dreamland. I don’t mean to sound philosophical, but searching for Utopia will get you nowhere.
Have you ever fancied yourself a race car driver? You must have, because I see you weaving in and out of lanes on the freeway, cutting me off, stealing my right-of-way at intersections, doing doughnuts in the Krispy Kreme parking lot…. That’s not you? Don’t you drive a beat-up, brown Dodge with a “Real Men Do It Fast and Get It Over With” bumper sticker while your rusty tailpipe drags a bunch of sparks behind you? Are you sure? Huh. I could have sworn that was you. I even yelled your name once and you waved and smiled and flipped me the bird and everything. Now I’m going to wonder what other “real man” is out there tailgating the crap out of me.
But that’s not why I brought you here. No, today I am going to evangelize your ass.
I’ve never been to Austin, Texas, before. And I would never go to South by Southwest (SXSW) because… crowds. So instead, I’m going to Circuit of the Americas (COTA – say, does everything in Austin have an acronym?) this week to attend a Formula One race where there will only be 47 million people – far less than SXSW.
Now you might be asking yourself, what the hell is Formula One? And you would be right, because until it was forced upon me, I took no notice of it either. And by forced, I mean every time I walked through the living room, there it would be on the television. My husband tried to convert me and I resisted until one day, I decided to watch this horribly boring looking sport. But then something happened. It grew on me. I was inexplicably drawn in. Then I was hooked. Now I salivate when the opening theme music comes on and Leigh Diffey begins to speak.
And if I may put more words in your mouth, two additional questions you’d pose would be:
1) Is that like NASCAR?
2) Aren’t you American and female?
I can’t BEGIN to tell you all the reasons I, an American woman of a certain age, could possibly look forward to a sporting event involving cars. I’m not into cars, really. But I do like me some F1. That’s what we fans call it: F1. It’s short for “Not NASCAR”.
Okay, I’m kidding — I actually CAN tell you all the reasons I’ve become an F1 fan. Or five of them, anyway.
Five Reasons This American Middle-Aged Gal Loves Formula One
It’s not NASCAR
Formula One is the Kate Middleton of auto racing. It’s world famous, fashionable and sophisticated. It’s sponsored by Rolex. And judging by its manners, it was raised right, too. But it doesn’t exclude. It’s also more popular than NASCAR, if you would open your Budweiser-bloodshot eyes and cross the pond for a minute. It’s among the top five most popular spectator sports in the world. Nearly every race driver, including those in NASCAR (or drag racing or Indy or whatever), wants to drive a Formula One car.
The racing season takes you all over the world. It is not xenophobic. They do not drive around in circles all day long. (They drive around in crooked circles, which is different).
The track varies with each race. Sometimes it’s on coastal city streets (like Monaco or Singapore, where the rich and famous watch from their diamond-encrusted yachts). Or in the forest (like Belgium or Germany, where rich and famous woodland creatures watch from their bark-encrusted treehouses). Others have dedicated tracks (like Abu Dabhi and Circuit of the Americas, where Saudi Princes or Hollywood Royalty watch from their caviar-encrusted VIP boxes).
Formula One race in the streets of Monaco – (photo by Pat Guiney)
The F1 commentators do not say “Y’all” and “Ah’ll tell ewe whut” as they scratch various parts in their overalls. F1 commentators say, “Indeed” and “Thanks, mate” and “would you like a cup of tea?” and “After you. No, after you.” It’s all very evolved and Britishy.
It Has Personality, Character and Accessability
Lee Diffey, David Hobbs, Steve Matchett (and Will Buxton not pictured because he’s always down in the pits.)
The British and Aussie boys behind the mikes explain some of the rules so newbies like me can get drawn in to the action, like a story. You know what’s at stake. They wave you on over and ask you to sit down with them and watch the race.
They catch you up on the latest news. They crack jokes, have nicknames and tease each other.
Before each race they play an “essay”, a narrated montage of sorts, by Sam Posey that is topical, geographical, and sheer poetry.
Last year, NBC Sports took over the broadcasting of F1 from the Speed Channel, opening it up to more Americans.
F1’s Popularity is Growing in the U.S.
Americans are slowly working their way into the sport, but I totally beat them to it. The relatively new Circuit of the Americas track in Austin brings the Formula One race to the United States. And this year, Manor’s Alexander Rossi (who hails from Nevada City, CA, a mere 60 miles from my house, so I’ll just figure out a way to take credit for that, too) gives us an American driver for the first time in years.
Next year… Haas F1 racing will give us an American Team. Let’s hope this all sticks. Yes, I’m aware that Gene Hass owns a NASCAR team, can we not talk about that? Actually, let’s talk about that. Since NASCAR fans know who Gene Haas is, that brings a new awareness and potentially a new audience to Formula One.
F1 has a Dramatic Narrative (read: soap opera)
Oh my Lord, the drama. The “silly season” stuff: Which driver is driving for which constructor next year? Whose contract is up? And then there is the other silly season: Who just got married? Who isn’t getting paid by their employer? Whose house just got robbed? Who got fired? Which city fell off the calendar this year? Who didn’t make it to Q3 today? Which constructor’s freight was held up at the airport because of nonpayment? Which driver said something snarky on the radio to the pit crew for all the world to hear? What team is accused of cheating? And pray tell, what color will Will Buxton’s pants be this week?
F1 is sexy
There are the cars. Gentlemen…
Ferrari at the 2015 Singapore race. (photo by Tecnica)
And then there are the drivers. Ladies… (and at least 10% of the gentlemen…)
Every week my husband would ask, “So, who’s your favorite driver?” It took a couple of years before I finally proclaimed that it was Valtteri Bottas, Number 77 of the Williams Martini team.
from Valtteri Bottas’ Instagram (@valtteribottas)
Why him, you ask? Because Valtteri Bottas can grab the bull by the horns, get off to a good start and really hug the curves. He’s also a pretty good Formula One driver.
Yes, there are more pics for the girls than the guys, but we have to wait in way longer lines for the bathrooms, so now we’re even.
Oh all right, don’t get your panties in a bundle. If it will shut you up this should appeal to everyone…
from Nico Rosberg’s Instagram (@nicorosbergofficial) – photo by Tom Koenig
So anyway. Austin (or, “ATX”, as the hipsters call it). This week. There’s a possibility I’ll meet some Formula One-related people. Maybe my favorite driver. Maybe the commentators. Who knows? Whatever I can do without appearing too obsessive, stalkerish or nuisancy.
But enough about social disorders, lack of borders and restraining orders, I have to go pack. Toodles!
This blog post was brought to you by the letter “F” and the number “1”.
Hello and welcome to Mashup Meme Monday where I make it sound like I’ve been doing this meme forever when in fact it’s the first and probably the last time ever. I saw the nonstop roller coaster, guns and post-apocalyptic car chases, Fast-and-Furious-on-steroids event that is the new Mad Max: Fury Road.
My one sentence review (in addition to the one before this) would probably say that it’s all action, no talk, no character development, minimal plot, but my god if you haven’t seen a good car chase scene since The French Connection and you need a good feminist twist on what is usually a predominantly male theme and even though the cast is 12 million guys and 6-10 chicks half of whom are scantilly clad and you wouldn’t mind seeing Charlize Theron with half an arm hold her own against Tom Hardy, well then….this movie is for you. And even if you think you don’t want to see this movie you should because of the feminist angle and because….seriously ladies, Tom Hardy.
Coincidentally (or ironically, I never know when to use ironically correctly), we saw Mad Max at the Century Theater whose famed domes are now being demolished so it was a post apocalyptic scene inside AND out.
Also? You may have to see it to get this thing I made: