So a central part of my life over more than a decade is about to end. On Monday, we get the last episode of Better Call Saul. The Breaking Bad universe has given us historically incredible television, and I await Monday with a strange combination of anticipation and dread. What will the ensuing weeks look like after I have nothing more from Vince G.?!?
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Sunday, August 14, 2022
Friday, August 5, 2022
Sometimes, ya gotta listen really carefully to find ERISA references in unexpected places. In the once-promising Search Party, on HBO Max by way of TBS, the search has indeed turned up such a reference.
The sad thing, for anyone who's watched the first two seasons before HBO took it over, is how this tight clever little series went so completely off the rails, maybe about as much as anything I've seen. Season 3 was obviously different, from everything from affect and tone to even cinematography; Season 4 was worse; and Season 5 became indescribably nuts.
Now, sometimes, as Bilal Hazziez of:90 Day Fiancé fame said, crazy is not always bad. Here, however, crazy was just crazy. And, hey [BIG SPOILER ALERT - read NO farther if you don't want a BIG spoiler], this comment is coming from someone (me) who . . .
. . . likes zombies!! On the other hand, maybe Search Party itself, in "Kings" (also from Season 3), provides a responsive parry to my critique. There, we get Jeff Goldblum's Tunnel Quinn (Jeff Goldblum?!?) uttering: "[P]eople confuse ambition for psychopathy. So maybe you're not crazy." Could be one of the better lines of all time!*
Anyway, here's the ERISA reference to which my NeverEnding search for ERISA references in pop culture recently led me:****
Chantal Witherbottom - Wait, what did I do?
FBI agent - You're being charged with the following felony counts: securities fraud, investment-adviser fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, international money laundering to promote specified unlawful activity, money laundering, false statements, making a false filing with the SEC, theft from an employee benefit plan -
Chantal - I don't remember doing any of that!
* Maybe even has an ADA-type quasi- ERISA angle?
** Don't remember stealing from an employee benefit plan?!? Who do you think you are, Jimmy Hoffa?
Saturday, July 2, 2022
I happened to find my way to an old Saturday Night Live bit, and was surprised to see my practice area find a way to wheedle its way in. Leave it to SNL to address in a resonant way the conundrum involving the advisability of making 401(k) contributions and the reality of needing current cash. While my own view is that you should beg and borrow to increase your 401(k) contributions, here's another view, courtesy of SNL's utterly hilarious Black Jeopardy:
Sasheer Zamata's Keeley: [L]et’s stay with "You Better" for $400.
Kenan Thompson's Darnell Hayes: Okay, the answer, your job wants to take $40 a month out of your check for a 401(k). [buzzer] Shanice.
Leslie Jones' Shanice: What is, "You better give me that money so I can buy me some scratch offs"?
Darnell: Yeah, you d**n right. You d**m right. I mean, why do I need a retirement plan when I got Monopoly Millionaire’s club?
Tom Hanks' Doug: Yeah, I play that every week.
Darnell: Well, that’s good for you. . . .
I found myself laughing out loud throughout the skit at various points, but I would really commend you to watch the interplay between Thompson and Hanks when Darnell goes to shake Doug's hand. (Hopefully, the PC police will allow me to point some of this stuff out.) Anyway, enjoy . . .
Saturday, December 18, 2021
Friday, December 10, 2021
Sunday, December 5, 2021
Monday, November 29, 2021
As we head into the Ghislaine Maxwell trial (it certainly has been quite the trials arc we're in), let us not forget the connection (in addition to that little Epstein connection) to pension fraud.
Ghislaine's beloved father, Robert, ran such enterprises as Macmillan Publishers, the Daily Mirror and the New York Daily News. After taking on large amounts of debt and experiencing a series of failures, he took to moving money around, and proceeded to loot £460m from the Mirror Group pension funds, resulting in huge reductions in pension payments.
He eventually was reported missing from his yacht in 1991, and his body was discovered in the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe an accident; maybe a suicide (sound a little familiar?). His sons eventually declared bankruptcy but were acquitted of wrongdoing. Various other rollicking family hijinks are the subject of a report here. Quite the ol' Silver Hammer for the Maxwell clan!
And now, the Ghislaine trial. As with so many things - yes, you guessed it - it all (sorta) started in the pension world.
Enjoy the trial!
Monday, November 22, 2021
OK, I admit it. I like Britney Spears. I like her music, and she seems (or at least at one time seemed) very nice. I thought South Park nailed the feeding frenzy that surrounded her (gee, South Park getting something exactly right; what a shock), and I even felt an affinity to the Leave Britney Alone guy.
The thought of family and hangers-on trying to control her really bothered me, as did her descent that followed. I guess these stories get to me - I was (and there's no sarcasm here) also pretty broken up about the whole Anna Nicole Smith thing. Oh well - a cross to bear, I guess.
So I was really quite happy to see Britney's conservatorship end. The end of this tragicomic* and horrifically public spectacle was a welcome end to the conservatorship chapter of her life, and we'll see if she's able to shed her anger and recapture herself.
All of which inexorably now brings me to, of course (!), the topic of VCOCs. Let's continue to talk about control.
A pet peeve of mine involves the question under the Plan Assets regulation of whether, under the vanilla opco rule (the first sentence of 29 C.F.R. § 2510.3-101(c)(1)) and its "majority owned" language, a parent must own a majority of the value, the vote or both of the operating subsidiary. To me, it's a matter of value, not vote, and here's my thinking:
- The DOL seemed to be looking for a simple, non-technical approach to vanilla opcos, an approach that's in pretty stark contrast to the one used in respect of VCOCs and REOCs. In the base case for vanilla opcos, the plan is investing in a widget or services company that's just going about doing its business. While the majority-ownership thing could cause unexpected hiccups in some circumstances (where, for example, there are material subs. that are not majority owned), the ordinary expectation is that when the plan makes an investment in a widget or service company, the company's assets won't be plan assets that are subject to ERISA. I don't think that the rules are looking for the plan fiduciary to call up the management of the target and start asking odd questions about the affiliated group's control structure. Thus, for example, the preamble to the final reg. homes in on the factual nature of the analysis and the "vast number of different activities" in which companies engage; and states that, "other than with respect to [REOCs] and [VCOCs] [!], it would be impractical to provide detailed guidance concerning the types of activities necessary for characterization as an operating company." (I take the point that the DOL was focusing on the nature of business "activities" rather than on organizational structure, but I would suggest that, consistently with the brevity of the governing rule in the first sentence of -101(c)(1) without any meaningful additional regulatory color, there's a general and palpable tilt towards a simplistic and streamlined regulatory approach to vanilla opcos.)
- I think it's worth further comparing the general vanilla opco rule to the VCOC/REOC rules. VCOCs and REOCs are different from vanilla opcos at the core. They are creatures of detailed regulatory provisions that serve as ERISA-specific exceptions (and, apparently, begrudgingly included exceptions) to being covered by the full panoply of ERISA's rules. The VCOC/REOC exceptions generally have no meaning outside of the plan-assets reg.,** and were apparently included by the DOL only begrudgingly. I frankly think that what I perceive to be an analytical disconnect here is that ERISA lawyers are often only really unpeeling the analytical onion regarding vanilla opcos in the context of exploring whether the opco is a qualifying VCOC investment. So, the basic context in which the opco is being examined is marked by the control-type and highly detailed thinking surrounding VCOCs. And then I think that color finds its way over to the consideration of the first sentence of -101(c)(1). But I would respectfully suggest that that's missing the forest for the trees. The vanilla opco rules just don't have all of this trouble-making baggage. Again, in the base case, the plan is investing directly in a company that's just going about doing its business; there's not VCOC at all. The reg. protects that company and the people running it, totally separate and apart from whether that company could be tucked under a VCOC. Thus, the single sentence that governs vanilla opcos has fundamental import and meaning totally outside of the regulatory regime for VCOCs and REOCs, and, for me, should be applied intuitively, straightforwardly and simply, without the laying of complicated and potentially treacherous control notions over basic concepts of economic ownership.
- With that said, and taking a step back, I would argue that, intuitively, ownership for these purposes is economic ownership. If some asks me if I own something, I look to whether or not I have the economics of the thing. Indeed, engrafting a control requirement under the "majority owned" rule could have the perverse consequence of rendering a parent not an opco, even where that same parent could be a VCOC. In this regard, let's say (see also the 95-04A discussion below) an entity owns 99% of an operating subsidiary as an LP. If the entity gets management rights, it could be a VCOC. Are we really suggesting that the very same entity, which could be a VCOC under the specific and delineated requirements applicable to hybrid operating companies / investment funds, can't be a vanilla opco, under rules where the bar is so much lower?***
- Maybe most significantly in respect of the structure and text of the reg., the DOL darn well knew how to worry about control-type considerations in the operating-company rules of the reg. Indeed, arguably at the very heart of the VCOC/REOC rules are the rights "to substantially influence"**** downstream activities. It would have been so easy for the DOL to establish express control/influence requirements in the first sentence of (c)(1), but the DOL rather proceeded with a "majority own[ership]" approach. I think that reading a control requirement into that generic language is unwarranted.
- Under 95-04A, I can run a VCOC through a wholly-owned sub., and have the sub. essentially be completely disregarded. Footnote 8 of the AO expressly contemplates a GP not owned by the VCOC. So the DOL is allowing an entity controlled to no extent by the VCOC (so long as there is mere substantial influence) to be used as a way of having the VCOC make qualifying investments, and yet an entity that is a 99% LP in an operating entity is somehow not an "operating company"? I'm not saying it's steel trap, because the VCOC-related considerations do not foursquare line up with the considerations surrounding vanilla opcos, but I would suggest that the 95-04A footnote pushes you away from control concerns, except where the control-related requirements are specified expressly in the rules.
For me, some ERISA lawyers who day in and day out deal with complicated control/influence issues under the VCOC/REOC rules may be making unnecessary mischief under a simple rule (in the first sentence of -101(c)(1)) for run-of-the-mill operating companies. I would suggest that, if I own most of the economics of a company, I, simply put, majority-own the company. Sometimes, the obvious and straightforward answer really is the right answer.
Sunday, November 21, 2021
So we just saw Gary Gulman earlier tonight. We've been fans of his for what seems like centuries, ever since his initial appearances on Last Comic Standing. [spoiler alert - I'm about to ruin a joke] Hooked ever since his quip that what he wants for Hanukkah is Christmas. Genius. When I see that he was the comedian heckled by Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck in Joker I could not believe it. And his HBO entry, "The Great Depresh", was remarkable for its combination of depth and humor.
[spoiler alert - I'm about to ruin a joke]
So now he launches into this bit about UFOs and IFOs and FOs and flying saucers, and he's remarking that, notwithstanding the talent of aliens to travel across the galaxy, they can't seem to do better with their flying saucers than slowly descending ramps. He then noted that, well, the ramps are ADA-compliant.
So he's an ADA expert, too! Who knew? I mean, I knew he was worldly and smart (so many grammar jokes; right up my alley), but . . . the ADA?!? Cool.
Saturday, November 20, 2021
Friday, November 12, 2021
During the November 4, 2021 installment of ESPN's Keyshawn, JWill and Max, we get a well-placed HIPAA reference from Max Kellerman regarding the Aaron Rodgers debacle: "[Rodgers] hides behind 'it's a personal [thing]'. We're not talking about HIPAA rights everybody. This is a public pandemic. It's a health crisis, a public health crisis." Spoken like a true HIPAA wonk, Max.
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
Previously, I've pointed out movies that are ERISA-centric, with my favorite example being Wall Street (a pension-overfunding movie*). See also a follow-on post (focusing on Casino). Well, I am now pushed to venture out into the non-ERISA world, as my friend Phil S. has pointed out to me that Body Heat** is a movie that is about . . . are you ready? . . . the Rule Against Perpetuities!!!!*** It turns out that the estate-planning mistake in the movie centered on the Rule. Wow.
In terms of my own fascination with the Rule, when I was in law school my T&E professor cited us to the case of Lucas v. Hamm (thanks to Jed B. for knowing the long-forgotten citation), which in effect stands for the proposition that, since negligence is a standard that harkens back to what the reasonably prudent person might do, and that in turn arguably looks to how the general populace (or maybe a subset thereof) acts, mistakes relating to the Rule Against Perpetuities don't rise to the level of legal malpractice because: NO ONE understands the Rule Against Perpetuities! Hilarious - absolutely hilarious.
Sorry for the non-ERISA distraction here, but this is just too good to pass up.
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Sunday, April 18, 2021
Some things confuse me. Like how I and the rest of the world (the DOL excluded) could've missed CIGNA v. Amara's eventual surcharge solution as the silver bullet to address ERISA's theretofore mission-critical missing-remedy conundrum. Too late for Mrs. Amschwand, but still better late than never, eh?
Then there's - how it can be that Leo Moracchioli is not recognized by the world at large as a, if not the, top rocker on the scene today? I mean, I know his thing is covers rather than originals (more on this in a moment), but there are big-time artists all over the place who don't write their own stuff. And, while I know the turn of phrase is hackneyed, the extent to which he makes other people's stuff "his own" is a thing to behold. His talent level on multiple instruments (every freakin' instrument?) is utterly stratospheric (a trait echoed by certain other members of his Frog Leap band (when he deigns to play with others)).
(OK, OK, I know the Amara/Leo connection is tenuous or maybe even altogether nonexistent, but (i) as I've said, the case is my favorite case and so I'll mention it whenever I get the chance, and (ii) I was going to find a way to talk about Leo no matter what.)
Just for starters, check out Zombie, Africa, Sultans of Swing, What's Up, the Pok[é]mon Theme (yes, that's right; trust me), House of the Rising Sun, Kiss (need to find that one on Facebook for some reason), Thriller, WAP (but be VERY careful with this one and do not not click if you're sensitive or if you have any reasonable sensibilities at all), Tragedy (for you Korn fans) and Hello, to name several from this seemingly endless wellspring. Heck, I don't even like some of these songs, and yet here they're just phenomenal. And, by the way, for those haters who are really dug in on the covers/originals thing, check out the Africa outro, an original that might be one of the finest instrumentals you'll ever hear. (While we're at it, for anyone who's interested, another crazy-good cover team is Sershen & Zarítskaya.)
One disclaimer/warning - once you go down this treacherous path, prepare to give up the rest of your day, as the Leo rabbit hole pretty much has no bottom.
Rock on . . .
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Well, the flavor du jour is clearly special purpose acquisition companies ("SPACs"). It's becoming pretty apparent they they raise a variety of issues on the executive-compensation side, and maybe (depending on the facts) even an issue or two on the ERISA "plan assets" side.
So as a result all I'm hearing is SPAC SPAC SPAC SPAC. Here a SPAC there a SPAC everywhere a SPAC SPAC.
Which got me to thinking. Can we get Monty Python or some clever and capable third party (fair use?) to recut the incessant repeats from the Spam sketch (which, as you may or may not know, is. the reason that people refer to junk email as "spam"), but substituting "SPAC" for "Spam"? SPAC SPAC SPAC SPAC; SPAC SPAC SPAC SPAC; etc.*
Just a thought . . .
* We can always clean it up later with some SPAC and Spam - ooh, sorry: Spic and Span.
Monday, January 18, 2021
I had to laugh while reading the yahoo!sports commentary on the wins by the Bucs and Packers that have set up a truly epic Conference Championship battle between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
The set-up for the piece is:
Somewhere behind that collective Champagne pop for the next generation, Tom Brady emerged as the aging “all-in” gamble of a hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise. And further north, Aaron Rodgers absorbed the Green Bay Packers spending a first-round draft pick on a player who is being groomed to eventually take his job. On Sunday [January 24, 2021], Brady or Rodgers is going to advance from the NFC title game with a shot to break up an NFL party that seems to be trying hard to rage on without them. Regardless of whether the AFC title game produces the Kansas City Chiefs and Mahomes or the Buffalo Bills and Allen, the quarterback storyline is set.
Super (if you'll forgive me) exciting. For me, the Tom Brady storyline is particularly captivating. But whatever your affiliation, there's a truly human element here. 43 (43!) today is just simply not what 43 was yesterday. Even Brees is over 40, and that barely even got noticed because of Brady. (A hilarious take on this can be found with the Blanda/Brady comparison found here.)
So why this post on this site? Well, after the piece's set-up, there's the following passage:
It’s then versus now, with Brady or Rodgers representing the final gasps of a golden era, and Mahomes or Allen repping a budding era of “everything” quarterbacks.
Youth against wisdom.
Porsche 911s against diversified 401ks.
Decades of big-game experience against big bodies, bigger arms and crazy off-script plays.
So Brady and Rodgers are "diversified 401ks"! I had no idea that a core element of my practice area is so coooooooool. Thanks for that, Mr. Robinson! (And I'll try to forgive you the unfortunate reference to the Porsche 911 as opposed to the far preferable reference to the much more desirable Chevrolet Corvette.)
This is turning into quite the postseason - enjoy the upcoming games!
Thursday, December 24, 2020
One of the main ERISA plans for our friends in Hollywood is allegedly at the center of a new cyber breach. The complaint in Gilbert v. AFTRA Retirement Fund sets forth a number of legal claims.
I would note, given some of the data-related ERISA noise making its way into the discourse, some of which comes out of the Vandy settlement agreement (particularly Section 10.9 thereof), that the complaint makes no ERISA allegations. Putting aside for the moment the question of whether that omission is a thoughtful one, I want to take this opportunity to log my own view that any suggestions that plan officials have somehow mishandled "plan assets" if and when data is misused are off-base. While there may or may not be fiduciary aspects to the way the plan is administered in respect of confidential data, I think that the assertion that the data itself is a plan asset is a bridge too far (sorry - needed a movie reference here), and would result in much analytical mischief. Just sayin' . . .
Monday, December 21, 2020
Holiday time has returned, and I want again to do a post devoid of an ERISAn theme. In the past I've focused on my own favorite Xmas songs and have even tried to create my own version of a Holiday season.* Now, once again, back to music.
This year, Dave Grohl, working with Greg Kurstin, has bestowed upon us a Hanukkah gift: The Hanukkah Sessions! I honestly think that Grohl may be the single most all-around talent that rock has ever seen.** One can only wonder whether he would have emerged like he has were it not for Nirvana's tragic and untimely demise.***
Anyway, check out the eight offerings. In particular, I'd commend you to Sabotage and Rock and Roll, which bookend the presentation. I'm blown away that he included those on this short list. Sabotage is a Top-10 song for me, and Rock and Roll is a Velvet Underground treasure that more people need to hear.*****
Thank you Dave Grohl, for this***** and for everything else you do.
** And I guess that Kurstin is the latest Mark Ronson. Guys like that are just incredible.
*** My own personal Grohl faves are All My Life and No One Knows. For me, the SNL performance of All My Life is as good as anything that's ever been, and the drums on No One Knows are as good as it gets. And the way he brings up audience members to play at his concerts is flat-out sick. See, e.g., the "Kiss Guy" performance.
**** Check out what I think is the song's best treatment on the incredible Rock n Roll Animal. And while we're on the topic of the VU's Rock and Roll, let's review the Best of . . . Amputee Songs. Here are three songs, in no particular order. Rock and Roll is clearly on the list ("Despite all the amputations, you know you could just go out and dance to a rock 'n' roll station."). Yet another Lou Reed song appears here as well: She's My Best Friend ("Ah, here's to Mullberry Jane (here's to Mullberry Jane). She made jam when she came. Somebody cut off her feet. Now, jelly rolls in the street."). Then there's a song with what I think are phenomenal lyrics from its beginning to its end, Harvey Danger's Flagpole Sitta ("They cut off my legs, now I'm an amputee God d**n you.").
***** It's fitting that maybe the two best rock poets - Robbie Zimmerman a.k.a. Bob Dylan (not a big fan, but there's no denying his status) and Lou Reed (the ultimate urban poet?) - would wind up in the same compilation.
****** So this Hanukkah treasure joins the unsurpassed Chanukah Song by Adam Sandler for non-Xmas Holiday fare. And while we're on the topic of Sandler, you must check out his tribute to Chris Farley, if you haven't already. I don't care if you don't even know who Farley (maybe a Top-5 physical comic of all time?) is - if this heart-felt memorial doesn't bring tears to your eyes you're a tougher soul than am I.
Friday, November 27, 2020
Saturday, November 21, 2020
I will choose to remember an otherwise horrific 2020 as the AC/DC in Employment Act ("A/D-EA"). I've been listening to AC/DC's tantalizing teasers, and then to Shot in the Dark since the day it was released. I tuned in in real-time to watch the premier of the Shot in the Dark video and listened to the entire PWR UP album on it's release date. Even generated myself a pretty cool logo. Try it.
I really believe that what this greatest-of-all-time band has done here is unprecedented. These guys are from 63 to 73 years old and sound like they just got together yesterday. The album doesn't sound in the least bit tired or hackneyed, and maybe even sounds fresher than some of their older stuff. And Shot in the Dark is right there with their all-time best. Sure, it all sounds like AC/DC, but - important message - that's a GOOD thing.
Getting Rudd back (from God-knows-where) was key. (No disrespect there to Slade, who's great.) And Brian Johnson at 73 might well sound as good or better than Brian Johnson at 30. (Sorry, Axl, but this is Brian's (and before him, Bon's) band when it comes to vocals.) Stevie is right there alongside of dear departed Uncle Malcolm (who lives on in the riffs used here) and Cliff is as always spot on (Thom, when ARE you going to get me to meet him?!?). And then there's Angus ('Nuff said).
But what's truly unprecedented is that this new music 50 years later is not some dinosaur-like homage to days gone by. No, it's a current release that's great in its own right. People from 8 to 80 are going to bang heads to this music, and it will soon become hard to remember what's from the fifth-plus decade and what's from earlier times gone by. There's no wistfulness for better times in these tunes; rather, there's just a celebration of some great new rock 'n' roll. With all due respect to the Stones (nice COVID song, I guess), no one's ever done anything quite like this at this stage of their careers and lives, and I wonder if anyone else ever will.
So, at Thanksgiving, let's give thanks to those who can show us that you never need to grow old in the head - age is just a number. Congress may not do much, but now we've got a whole brand-new A/D-EA.
Better than a walk in the park. Crank it (PWR it) UP, and rock on . . .
Saturday, October 3, 2020
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Monday, June 29, 2020
* . . . as Angela Kinsey's Angela Martin so informs.
** Research discloses that someone else with clearly too much time on her hands also noticed this loss of 401(k) benefits, although she did so in a much more timely fashion.
Saturday, June 6, 2020
Sunday, May 31, 2020
Sunday, April 19, 2020
Sunday, April 12, 2020
I guess I'll just stay here forever, you know? Putter around doing mundane things like some sad old retiree. Maybe I'll have Janet make me a hardware store so I can buy a hex wrench that I don't really need.
Thanks, Michael, for giving me my retirement moment during the finale of the Smartest Television Show Ever.
And stay safe and well, all . . .
Friday, November 22, 2019
Only here could you get a strained connection between Disney and Rocky in the guise of an ERISA discussion.
Years ago, I posted about how ERISA litigation might be entering a golden age, and compared (sorry) the situation to Disney's Golden Age, which began with The Little Mermaid. One self-congratulatory note there is that I bemoaned the Court's failure to grant cert. in the Amschwand case, and expressed hope that the Court might someday address the continuing inability of claimants with arguably sympathetic cases to be substantively heard to any extent because of the theretofore uniform rejection of a monetary remedy in ERISA cases. Voilà - we later got CIGNA v. Amara, which became and remains (laugh all you want) my favorite ERISA case.
Then, some time later, in a Rocky-themed post about winning, I noted (courtesy of my friend Andy G.) the WSJ report about Justice Souter's retirement being hastened by . . . ERISA litigation. To wit: "Justice Souter has complained about life in Washington and even about aspects of the court's work, such as the numbingly technical cases involving applications of pension or benefits law." ERISAns won one!
Now, in the context of yet another term with three cases,* my mind turned back to the possible continuation of this Golden Age (again, sorry) of ERISA litigation and then, in turn, to the Souter report. Fortuitously, my friend Steve R. has shown me some additional material that rings in the same Eeyore-type Souter-like* bemoaning of the sadness that ERISA litigation can be.*** In that spirit, I share the following;
- Justice Rehnquist said that “[t]he thing that stands out about [ERISA cases] is that they’re dreary,” and that the Court would grant review by virtue of “duty, not choice”
- Justice O’Connor referred to ERISA cases as being “tedious”
- Justice Ginsburg, whose first opinion on the Court was an ERISA decision, referred to ERISA cases as being “sloughy” (relating to being “shed or cast off”?) (relating to “a place of deep mud or mire”?) (relating to “a mental state of deep sadness or no hope”?)****
As Stan Lee might've said - 'Nuff said!
* I would argue that some years ago we had four cases, if you count Spokeo. It looked like ERISA might, even if indirectly, again (see R.A. Gray) make it into the Court's constitutional (!) jurisprudence. Spokeo, it turned out, was a dud, but it looks like Thole is now our current chance for some real constitutional fireworks.
*** The juxtaposition of the consistent bemoaning of ERISA and the undeniable propensity of the Court to take ERISA cases is an interesting one, at least to me.
**** Note also that rumor has it that it's the first-year justices who are allocated the . . . thrill . . . of writing the ERISA decisions.
Friday, July 12, 2019
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
What makes it THE most amazing thing ever is that an autistic guy who's legally blind could do this. But let's not lose sight of how incredibly perfect the audition is, completely putting aside Kodi's challenges. And have you seen his other stuff? For example, check out this compilation, this incredible performance and this rockin' show. Are you kidding?!?
Where does it go from here? What does he play on AGT? I'd love to see All By Myself (with its classical interlude (!)), anything from Deep Purple (the vocals and keyboards seem right to me), anything from Elton John (duh) and Piano Man (duh, redux). It's a Cheesecake Factory problem, though - since the kid can play ANYthing, what the heck do you select. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what twists and turns my newest obsession takes.
And, speaking of the best things ever, have you seen the trailer for Joaquin Phoenix's Joker? Honestly, it's maybe the best trailer I've ever seen in my life. (Maybe I'm just in an over-the-top mode, because I think the first "live action" Lion King trailer may be the second best.) Anyone who knows me knows that I think that Heath Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight is the best performance in the history of movies. Could it be that Joaquin's Joker will somehow avoid suffering by comparison? I guess we shall see . . .
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
P.S.: While few if any readers will understand this, I would like to say (having absolutely nothing to do with the above Elton John post) - Rocky, we love you, and always will.
Thursday, September 13, 2018
* Frankly, there's SO much in the Woody Allen cinematic universe that I don't like. (Indeed, there's a bunch in Mr. Allen's more general universe that I don't much like.)
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
So apparently ol' Buddy Dyker (Harris Yulin) from Ozark is tuned into the Teamsters pension saga. SPOILER ALERT (read no further if you're not through Season 2, Episode 2). Buddy is pushing Frank Cosgrove (John Bedford Lloyd) not to stand in the way of letting Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) have a casino built. In response to Cosgrove's protestation that he's "doing just fine," Buddy cleverly points out that, "Your Teamsters pension is suffering."*
Note that this isn't the first ERISA-like reference in Ozark. Way back in the opening voice-over, we here Marty saying: "Half of all American adults have more credit card debt than savings. 25% have no savings at all. And only 15% of the population is on track to fund even one year of retirement."
ERISA references aside, I can barely keep up with the Ozark world. So many people ripping off so many other people. Geez. Cool stuff, though. Maybe not Breaking Bad. But, then again, that's quite the high bar.
The Oscars and Glenn Close
And, speaking of rip-offs, let's talk a bit about the Oscars.**
I want to give you my list of the top Oscar rip-offs that have most tweaked me, in reverse order:
- Ennio Morricone, The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (soundtrack) - the ridiculously unbelievable music was like another character***
- Richard Gere, Chicago - his performance may have made the movie
- Jim Carrey, The Truman Show - not even a nomination?!?
- Burt Reynolds (RIP), Boogie Nights - not fair
- Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls - great performance in a let-down of a movie
- Leonardo DiCaprio, Titanic - not even a nomination?!?!?!?
- Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense - are you kidding me?****
- Glenn Close, like everything she's ever done - not one freakin' Oscar?
Reese Witherspoon, Julia Roberts and Marissa Tomei have Oscars and Glenn Close doesn't? Meryl Streep has 384 Oscars and Glenn close doesn't have one? I respectfully submit that the Close snub is the worst snub of 'em all - and quite the enduring one.
So I just saw The Wife. Look, I don't care a whit about what this movie or performance was or wasn't. Look, they found a way to give Oscars to Paul Newman and John Wayne, and they're just going to have to figure out a way to give Glenn Close this one. End it now and don't even put it up for a vote. The most obvious omission was for Fatal Attraction, but the whole situation is a debacle.*****
In the words of Oscar Rogers****** (Keenan Thompson), FIX IT!!!
* On the labor-law (if not quite ERISA) side, there's also a reference to right-to-work laws, and there's some cleverness regarding the pushing of casino labor back to the union.
** Yes, I know, this segue is completely indefensible. But I just saw The Wife, so here goes.
*** To stay with the theme of this post, they finally righted this omission, sorta, with the Oscar for his work on The Hateful Eight.
**** Even Michael Caine, in his incredibly charming acceptance speech, pretty much acknowledged the enormity of Osment's performance.
***** Now just imagine if her daughter gets one for Best Supporting Actress, and they snub her yet again. Oooh.
****** How's THAT for a fortuitous first name here?