Home Brew Music Stuff

All home brew stuff: my '90s MexiJapaParts-O-Caster, a converted old McGohan industrial paging tube amp, funky 1960s Hammond M3 organ speaker cab w/ early '70s Altec 12", and an outrageously good sounding overdrive pedal my friend David in Mass. made last month.

Something olds, something news, something funky, something blues...

1990s Stratocaster MIJ + MIM Parts-O-Caster, Pt 3.5

It's been over a year since Pt 3 in the series of posts about the Strat-O-Franken-Caster project, mostly because for the most part it's done. Good enough for rock and roll - it stays in tune, plays well, and really screams when you lay into it. And the combination of the flat top Duo Sonic pickups, mounted on a gold anodized aluminum pickguard instead of plastic, give it a unique tone that's unlike most Strats - the bridge pickup sounds very Tele like, and none of the switch positions have that thin hollow "quack" sound usually associated with a Stratocaster.

So there's been a couple changes, but nothing major:

First, I sent away for another Duo-Sonic pickup to put in the bridge position. This new one is a bit hotter than the one I had in there, always good to have a bit louder pickup near the bridge. In the photo at the top of the page, it's already been installed, and the pickup that was in the bridge slot was moved up to the neck position to replace a no-name ceramic, so now it's all Duo-Sonics, all the time. And since it's lowered for equal volume with the other two, there was enough space under the strings to put a Duo/Mustang cover on it. Why? Because it looks interesting, no other reason. I kept the middle pickup where it was  - it's on more than the others, and this particular pickup is really great sounding, so I got superstitious and didn't want to anger the tone gods.

Next, David in Massachusetts sent a Japanese made Gotoh nickel plated jack boat:

It looks much like the chrome plated Fender jack cup that was on there, except... more nickel-y. In the picture you can see the ancient ("vintage") Switchcraft jack from who knows when. Rather gnarly, dude.

I bought a really cool looking switch tip from David's eBay store:

It's a 1950s Daka Ware barrel knob in a dark red color. Actually way cool and uniquely different, and that's a good thing.

Also changed the headstock string guide from the original bent sheet metal tree that came with the neck, to a round machined nickel one:

It's a brand new Fender brand guide, nothing special, except for the story that came with it. I went to that big box chain Walmart-of-music-stores place (won't say the name but it rhymes with Guitar Center) and asked the guy in the accessories department if they had one of the vintage style round guides. He said yeah sure, and took it down from the wall, but before handing it to me, he asked, "So what kind of Telecaster are you puttin' it on?" Uh, actually I'm going to install it on a Stratocaster. "Bad idea! I wouldn't recommend that!" Whoa. Any reason why not? "It's gonna really screw up your tuning, man!" Really. I thought all the mid '50s Strats had these same round string guides.

He looked at me, shaking his head and smiling with the pitying look that only the truly sanctimonious have. "I don't think so. Who told you that?" Well, actually, I've played a couple old Strats. "They were probably fakes! Anyway, it's the wrong part for a Strat, you don't wanna do that." Oh, okay. Well, in that case, I'll just get this anyway, and put it on my Tele.

After I paid for the guide, he finally handed it to me and said, rather smugly, "You'll be glad you didn't put that on a Strat, you'da been sorry!"

The world is full of experts lately. No matter, I got the round string guide, and I should have gotten it for free, after all that. And have I had any tuning problems since installing it on my FrankenStrat? No, and I never thought I would.

I've been thinking about getting a Strat-sized lipstick pickup for awhile, mostly because its chromeness would look great against the background of a gold anodized pickguard. Found one on eBay, and it turned out to be kind of a difficult install. The good news is that it fit in the slot, barely:

The bad news was the mounting screw arrangement. The pickup mounting tabs were drilled and threaded for the smaller size that's used for humbuckers, and that's what kind of screws were included. Not only were they too long to fit in the body's pickup cavities, but the heads were so small they slid right through the larger holes in the Strat pickguard, which is a regular spec Fender part. I had to re-tap the pickup to accept Fender sized screws, and luckily the local hardware store had some flat heads in the correct gauge and length, although in unplated steel. I would have preferred slotted nickel oval heads, but can't have everything, at least locally, that same day.

This lipstick pickup sounded good enough, although not as good as the ones in my old Danelectros. However, it was way underpowered, and no way was there going to be any balanced multi-pickup combo positions.

Oh well, kept it in there for a couple weeks, trying to get used to it, and justifying it staying with the fact that it looked great. But one day I swapped the lipstick back out for the other Duo-Sonic pickup, and sold it on craigslist in a couple hours, for $10. Guy who bought it was ecstatic, going to put it into an old Roy Rogers small acoustic that someone else had already messed up with a few holes in the top. Overall, the lipstick was an interesting experiment, too bad it didn't work out

Probably, there's just one more mod, and that's putting in a brand new Japanese Gotoh vintage-style trem bridge, and then that's it, I'm done. Until I think of something else.

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If you want, check out the other posts on the build of this Parts-O-Caster: Pt 1, Pt 2, and Pt 3, and maybe also some of my other guitars. And if you have some extra time, head over to the Topics field in the right sidebar, where there's more guitar related stuff.

Paradise Lost

Hi Marilyn (and you too, John) -

Well, nice to hear from you, and thanks for asking, but no, everything is not okay. It's kind of like what I felt when Rod passed away, but maybe 5 or 10 times as bad. I lost a friend then yes, and now it feels like I lost my country. And I've tried analyzing it from a bunch of different viewpoints, but the feeling won't go away. And June is in much the same place - for some of the same reasons, and some a bit different, but in the end about the same.

When I first came to America, it was rough - WWII wasn't very far in the past, and there was a lot of hatred for Japanese people everywhere. For the first few years, until we moved to a better, less rural and more diverse community, I was confronted with the worst of human behavior; sometimes I would get beaten up, sometimes had rocks thrown at me, and got yelled at a lot. For a little kid, that was hard to take. I cried a lot, beat up some other kids in return and I was the one who was punished for it, and I also did a lot of thinking. Eventually I learned that I could use an ability to make friends, and my basic competence, to deflect most of it, and I survived.

Ever since then, I, and a whole lot of other people in America, have been living in the fiction bubble that things were getting better, that maybe racism was a thing of the past, with only a few hold out pockets of dumb ass redneck bigots here and there. Boy, were we all wrong.

Since Barack Obama was elected, the howling hordes of crazy Tea Party Birther assholes nationwide have come out of the shadows and continually reared their ugly heads to do what they could to delegitimize our first black President. And now, whipped into a new frenzy by an explicitly racist and fear-based election campaign, the white nationalist neo-Nazi fringe has shown they aren't a fringe at all, and put the original Birther, the KKK endorsed Trump, and his entire party, into total and complete control of power in the US government.

As a result of that, there is this:


A national registry of all Muslims, using as legal precedent and justification, the list of Japanese Americans during the 1940s that led to their incarceration in concentration camps.

No, I don't think I and my children, and others of Japanese ancestry will again be rounded up, but I weep tears of despair and rage when I think about the sheer terror that Muslim families, as well as families of undocumented immigrants, are living in right now. That's right - terror. The families that will be targeted will most likely be left alone, but they will always live in terror, beginning now. And that is the whole point behind why the despicable people who dream these things up, do them.

We have elected a terrorist, a man who made a pitch to the country based on fear and naked bigotry, and the consequences of that will shadow America for a long time. The over 50% of white women and almost 70% of white men who voted this monstrosity in, as well as all those who chose not to vote at all, have shown themselves for who they really are, and the picture is not a pretty one. A national registry for an entire religious group wasn't such a great idea in its original German, and the translation isn't any better.

So, does how I feel have anything to do with maybe being a sore loser, my team lost, boo hoo, so get over it? But I know it's not that, since I didn't feel like this in past lost elections, and also literally tens of millions of others are having very similar reactions, at this very moment. I worked hard, and so did a lot of us who were paying attention, to make others aware of what was going on and what the stakes were, and maybe that makes the outcome worse, I don't know.

I'm not good company right now, and I don't know when I will be. I pick up a guitar or mandolin or bass, or sit at the piano, and the notes won't come. I am not consumed with angry thoughts or have fear for the future; it's more that something has died inside of me, some sort of deep grief, and I have no inspiration anymore. I rake leaves, I make meals and feed the family, and write blog posts. I go for bike rides, and last weekend I helped my kid make a costume for the Eucon comic and game convention, and I do all the things I usually do every day. But some sacred fire has gone out, and it's so difficult to make music, or sing songs, that it's hard to motivate myself to get started. Eventually I'll be okay, and hopefully so will we all.

I have no wish to go to any open mics in Cottage Grove or Marcola and hang out with the country folk, and I don't much feel like working up a set to do at a benefit event for the school district in the redneck part of town. Besides being disappointed, I don't hold any real animosity toward all the basically good and kind people who nevertheless voted for hatred and division. I've lived around them most of my life, and I also know how easy it is for charismatic leaders to incite mob behavior in simple, impressionable minds. It's just that at this time I don't want to be around the simple folk.

June and I went to Portland the week before the election, and when we visited the Japanese Garden in Washington Park, it struck me how great it felt to be in a crowd of such diversity - literally children and women and men from all over the world, all shades of all colors, and speaking in many different languages and accents. That's my dream of the perfect country to live in, and it's just a dream, but may I eventually find it. Right now, it feels like Paradise lost.


What Does The President Do?

Getting back to one of the points raised in yesterday's post, maybe I should have been clearer about why so many people are scared shitless right now. It's kind of like a political version of the old fable about the five blind men and the elephant - we tend to perceive the nature of a wider existential threat through the prism of what matters most to each of us.

Set aside for the moment that the cause of such a high level of fear right now is because we elected someone who promised us fear, who ran a campaign based on fear. Instead let's look into some of the concerns that many are having, and what the implications and near term causal effects of a Trump presidency may be. 

Just for starters, and all based on the actual campaign rhetoric and behavior of our new President-elect (and there's lots more - it's almost overwhelming to think about the mass chaos that this elephant has brought with it):

- Immigrant families are worried that they will have their lives uprooted if they get rounded up and deported.
- Muslims are worried that they will be required to register for and be placed on a national watch list.
- Gay and lesbian couples, and their families, are worried that their marriages will be declared void, and their rights as citizens taken away.
- People of color, especially Latinos and Blacks (and I fall under this category also), are worried that they will have to live under the threat of a nationwide "Profile, Stop, and Frisk" policing policy.
- Women are worried that they will have their reproductive rights and the ability to make their own health care decisions taken away from them.
- Many women are worried about living in a society where half the population feels that sexism, misogyny and sexually predatory behavior is normal and tolerable, as exemplified by the president-elect's behavior.
- Older people are worried that their hard earned over a lifetime senior benefits, such as Medicare and Social Security, will be taken away and replaced by new systems that provide much less economic security.
- People in general are worried that a bellicose international posture will result in new wars.
- Young men of draft age are worried that those new wars will be of a magnitude that for the first time since the 1970s, the national military conscription draft will be called up.
- Those who believe the scientific truth of the threat of global climate change are worried that nothing will be done to prevent catastrophic weather events, rising sea levels, and world wide average temperature shifts in the near future.
- Everyone who recognized the very real probability that the President-elect has severe mental and personality disorders, as well as autocratic tendencies, are worried that his equally sociopathic cronies will work to erode the rule of law and enable the rise of an authoritarian state.
- Those in most socio-economic categories are worried that new tax codes will drastically reduce taxes on the very wealthy, and shift the burden onto everyone else.
- Anyone dependent on the social safety net for basic needs, such as mobility services for the disabled, special needs education and school lunch programs, the very poor on food stamps, mental health and crisis prevention services - the list goes on and on - are all worried that funding for those programs will be cut off or drastically rolled back, due to tax cuts.
- All of us who value, and visit, public spaces, parks, national parks and forests and wilderness areas, are worried about the possibility of mass privatization of public land.
- And there's more, lots more...

You Did Vote, Didn't You?

To all of you who are genuinely worried about any or all of this, I'd like to say: Thank you for voting, and at least trying to make sure that the worst wouldn't happen. To any of you who happened to vote for the candidate who promised to disrupt all of our lives, including your own, congratulations, and may you enjoy it. And to those who either didn't vote, for whatever reason, or voted for a third party candidate as a form of protest, or to "follow your conscience", I don't know what to say. Except that everyone who was paying attention, and who worked hard to make you aware of what was going on and what the stakes were, are now feeling - what? Disgust, dismay, disappointment, and next we'll just skip the "E" words and go straight to "F". Not that most of you would ever admit it now, anyway.

Well, time to lighten up. Except for the fact that most of us are soon going to be noticeably poorer, I fearlessly predict that there won't be too very much chaos and there won't be a total downfall of democracy. At least, it won't be total. Maybe dented a bit, but maybe we can get that fixed, after this dark interlude is over, if and when we make it to the other side. Hey, there's going to be a whole lot of hurt, and a whole lot of pain for many of us, but basically we're going to be okay. We're America, we've been though bad shit before, and we always survive.

The Out To Lunch Presidency

This guy who we elected President isn't some kind of evil genius, as many people think. In reality, he's something like an idiot savant, who's incredibly good at one or two things, like self promotion and competition, but basically finds it hard to put one thought in front of the other. Good thing he's rich enough to hire a staff to do his thinking (and dressing, and scheduling) for him. No way he's the New Hitler. More like the New Reagan, who was well known during his time as President for being totally out of the loop on everything going on around him, and slept through national security briefings. Reagan was a borderline Alzheimer's case who still had the ability to turn on the lights inside his head long enough to give a speech or do a photo op, up until the last days of his presidency, when he kind of drifted away.

Trump has given every indication that he doesn't really want to handle the very tough job that being President of the United States is. Back before the Republican Convention, when the hunt for  someone to run as his vice presidential candidate was on, he reached out to Gov John Kasich of Ohio, and gave him the offer of the century, the possibility of being "the most powerful vice president in history". In the Trump campaign's scenario, the "vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy", essentially being the president, and Trump would "be in charge of making America great again”.

The Trump campaign didn't seriously believe he was going to win the election, and did no planning for the eventuality of a win, and are only now putting together a transition team. A few days after the election, his team was still clueless enough to think that all they had to do was show up at the White House, and it would be totally staffed, ready for them to move in. Recently, Trump has announced that he would be living at the White House only part time, and requested national security clearances for his children, who many expect will actually run the show.  He still goes on late night Twitter rants, and expresses the wish to keep having rallies, presumably to continue getting his accustomed psychic recharge. This doesn't sound like someone who was actively planning on being the new Dictator of America.

What Does The Future Hold?

So what does the future hold, and What Does The President Do? Good question, and at this point, my crystal ball is as dependable as anyone else's. No one really knows, so here goes:

A wall will be built. There's already something of a wall, between California and Baja, kind of like a solid steel fence that runs along the border. Remember, the Trump presidency, like his candidacy, will just be a media shit show, with the prime focus on optics, and not actual policy or results. So there will be a great 7 to 9 day media sensation surrounding a big concrete wall being built along a few miles of the border with Mexico, it won't be completed and will accomplish nothing, and all the reporters will go home and all of the Trumpistas will be happy.

There will be a few deportations of immigrant families, all well documented by the media, and that will be that. Nothing like the mass deportations that were promised to a drooling white nationalist Trump voter base, but enough to keep them, once again, complacent and happy. The truth is, and the Republican business elite knows this well, that our economy has come to depend upon a large workforce who are willing to work for sub-minimum wage, who demand no health care and retirement benefits, and don't dare to speak back to their bosses. The illegals will stay, as a permanent sub class, as they always have been.

The Muslim watch list isn't going to happen, but there will be a ton of talk and an active push for it; even for right wing America, absolute curtailment of liberty is going too far. The down side is that all of the media attention is only going to further incite the crazies on the right; expect some isolated violent acts and some mosque vandalizing, but that's it. That's even too much, really, but now that we know, post election, the true extent of racism in this country, it's the best we can hope for.

Nationwide profile, stop and frisk? As any one of us of color already knows, that's the way it rolls, right now, it is the way it is, national policy or no policy. As with other things, expect a lot of bullshit talk, and media demonization, but things won't change, for better or for worse. It's bad enough as it is.

For the main part, same sex marriage won't be threatened, too much. The rabid right wing Christian fundamentalists (how it pains me, who used to be a Sunday school teacher, to write those words) will always need to have something to react and push back against, and may even convince some of the more backward Southern state legislatures to enact local restrictions. There has to be some issue where the Trump presidency wants to at least appear conciliatory, and this will be it. However, if, as some are speculating, Trump resigns or gets impeached within a year, and Pence, a well known homophobe, becomes President, that's another story.

War. There will be war. With who, or why, who cares? It must have been very dull this past decade for everyone who thrives on the excitement that a run up to a war brings. So what if we wake up a few mornings later and wonder what we've done, and who is this stranger in bed with us? This country loves war, or at least the promise of one, and the whole Iraq experience will have taught us nothing. A broader point is that war is immensely profitable; for some people, nobody you or I know. Hopefully it will be a limited war, and not too expensive, without too many casualties.

On the national security front in general, wiser heads will prevail - remember, Trump will be an essentially absentee president, and in any case, he probably knows he doesn't have a clue what's going on, no matter his bluster. Expect a few well written speeches, and visits to the White House by Russian President For Life Putin, but NATO stands, and China is still at least a decade away from building the military required for their planned Pan-Asia takeover. By then, hopefully, we'll have someone in charge that does have a clue.

President Obama made the point that Trump wasn't stable enough to be in charge of the nuclear codes, and that's an unsettling thought. Hold that thought.

Reproductive rights: same as marriage equality - the radical Christian right wing needs an on-going but illusory threat to their existence in order to sustain the vitriol that keeps them funded. So look for another media shit show, a lot of hue and cry on the news shows, a couple congressional committees wasting a ton of money, and besides Planned Parenthood being completely defunded, not a whole lot of change will actually happen.

Climate change, the EPA, wilderness and public spaces, clean water and air guidelines? Republicans always want to roll it all back, and give it all way. They're going to start doing it again, and we have to be vigilant and do what we can to minimize the total harm. Donate to the Sierra Club and other natural conservation groups, so they can keep funding the ongoing legal fight.

Social Security and Medicare. It's a real hoot to think about all those dumb ass Baby Boomers who are totally in bed with a political party who openly says they're going to eliminate senior benefits. Not even waiting until after the inauguration, House speaker Ryan, with the assurance of a presidential signing, announced his planned elimination of Medicare. The fight is on, and may Grandma, and all the stupid Boomers, not starve or die of cancer until it's resolved.

As for the upcoming tax realignment, as well as privatizing Social Security and Medicare, in case you haven't noticed, the Republican mode of governance is as a kleptocracy: "Kleptocracy (from Greek: κλεπτοκρατία, klépto- thieves + -kratos rule, literally "rule by thieves") is a government with corrupt rulers (kleptocrats) that use their power to exploit the people and natural resources of their own territory in order to extend their personal wealth and political power." And they now have total power, complete control of all branches of government. And they have as their leader, one of the greediest men ever to go into politics, probably the most money hungry ever in our nation's history, who also admires the head of the world's premier openly kleptocratic government, Russia. And he, along with his cronies and his family, are going to bleed us dry. Considering that one of the members of Trump's transition team is interested in the life-extending properties of blood transfusions from younger people, that's a fitting analogy.

Keep Calm and Carry On

So relax, things won't get too very bad; what these people are really interested in is money. We're only going to get a whole lot poorer, and we'll survive that.

Autumn Days

Big Leaf Maple in Full Fall Color

Here are some fall photos, from the back yard, and around the neighborhood.

Back Yard Fence, with Autumn Blaze Maple Leaves, and a Clay New Mexico Moon
Finch Munching an Echinacea Seed Cluster
Squirrel Food

One Week Later

Usually, I approach doing a blog post sort of like writing or arranging a song - lay down a riff, and then let imagination and inspiration take over, and build the rest up from there. It's been an uninspiring week, and even now, it's tough to get started, hard to find a riff. And it's not just me; all around my town, and all over the country as well, there are a lot of otherwise happy and energetic people who find it hard to get up in the morning, difficult to eat with any real appetite, hard to sleep through the night without waking up worrying about the uncertain future. Even though I've had way more than my share of really crappy behavior thrown at me through the years due to my heritage, I can't imagine what it must feel like to be part of an immigrant or refugee family at this very moment.

For many millions of us, this is the closest that we've ever come to feeling as if we live in a time of existential crisis. And it's not that we all share just one issue or concern - almost everyone you talk to has their own point of view on how the results of the election threaten to upend any sense of security in their lives. Racial and cultural minorities, members of non-Christian religions, those with alternative sexual orientations, anyone concerned with women's reproductive rights or climate change or awareness of the fragility of the network of multi-national non-aggression treaties, all those and more - all are facing a very clouded and unknowable future.

If history is any judge, at least in recent American history, hopefully nothing too disturbing will happen. All of the socially charged and violence inciting rhetoric that came out of the President-elect's oddly shaped mouth may prove to have been merely campaign bluster, and that he really doesn't have authoritarian or dictatorial urges, and possibly, no deeply rooted convictions of any sort, besides his own desire for self-enrichment. If that's true, in the long run we'll be okay, although somewhat poorer. But in the meantime, those of his supporters who were lathered up into a fine froth of bigotry and hate are having their own brand of fun.

The Orange County, New York, Beth Shalom Cemetery was defaced a few days ago:

So far, the only connection between this incident and the Trump campaign is that it happened in "Orange" County.

The 100+ year old African-American Hopewell Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi was spray painted with an election campaign message, and then set ablaze:

Local authorities are investigating the incident, although it is being assumed that this was the work of "just some teenagers letting off steam". Sources in the area say that if it had been adults who committed the crime, they would have used explosives.

Ayman Mohyeldin passes on an email received by journalist Hannah Allam from a Senate staffer:

And in the hills of West Virginia, two local dignitaries in Clay County are happy to give fashion advice to the First Lady, and the First Lady elect:

The original Facebook post was deleted, and a hilarious "apology" post went up instead:

My local correspondent, an expert in Southern culture, assures me that these are just a couple of high spirited Virginia belles, and we shouldn't take too much offense, since "that's just the way they talk down there."

Here are the two First Ladies:

Over the past eight years, Michelle Obama has become a familiar face to everyone in America. On the other hand, so far no one knows what Mrs Trump actually looks like.

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As of this writing, no one has yet lost their lives in any of the various practical jokes, hi-jinks, church fires, and mob beatings done by America's new winners; hopefully, there won't be any. It's kind of depressing to think that the fate and future of our (already) great country has been decided by the kinds of people that leave really nasty comments on YouTube and Twitter.

In the 227 years of the history of the Presidency of the United States of America, every one of the prior holders of the office have been, no matter how you may feel about their politics and policies, all of them gentlemen. This year, a man who is the epitome of ostentatious vulgarity, nothing like a gentleman, has been elevated into power with the help of his minion Vulgarian hordes. I don't think those hordes are going to let us, or him, forget that fact any time soon.

Election Day

The town I live in is a majority not-Republican place;  not so much pro-Democratic exactly, since a lot of us are wary of anything that feels too organized. Except for the Ducks football games, maybe. Anyway, it's the kind of town where Lucy Vinis, the progressive candidate in the supposedly non-partison mayoral race, won the primary back in the spring by such a large margin that today's run-off vote is merely a formality.

In Oregon, we have mail-in + drop-off ballots, and that's convenient and I wish the whole country had the means to make voting easier, and less like a chore. But. I do miss the experience of getting out there with everyone else. I'm seeing pictures from other states of whole crowds of people walking together, singing songs and laughing, as they all go to an early voting polling place, like it was a rally on the move, a demonstration march for a cause they all believed in. And I wish I was there with them.

In our family, we do vote earlier, seal the ballot envelopes, and sign them. Then, instead of mailing them in, we wait until Election Day to take the ballots to the drop-off location. In a good way, this feels like being part of something beyond our individual selves, part of a larger experience, our national rite of participatory democracy.

Here's some fun videos that I meant to put up on the blog during the last few months, but didn't get around to. Still entertaining, though.

James Corden and Denis Leary, as Hillary and Bill:

Alphacat (Iman Crosson), as Barack Obama:

Weird Al Yankovic, with "Bad Hombres, Nasty Women":

Here's genius - Auralnauts' brilliant Star Wars Trilogy edit Darth Trump, "made with 100% all natural Trump sound bites":


Pre Election Final Edition

Here in Oregon we have mail in ballots, so most of us have voted already, and a few other states have early voting days. But in just a few hours polls all over the country will open for the big one - Election Day.

Here are the closing statements, via final campaign ads, for each of the candidates running for President. Hillary Clinton:

The takeaway from Clinton's message: "Is America dark and divisive, or hopeful and inclusive? … This has to be our mission together, to give our kids, and every American, the chance to live up to their God given potential."

In sharp contrast is Donald Trump's final ad, appropriately titled "Argument for America":

As The Washington Post's Dana Milbank notes,

"In the final hours, the mask came off.

On Friday, he [Trump] released a closing ad for his campaign repeating offending lines from that [October 13] speech, this time illustrated with images of prominent Jews: financier George Soros (accompanying the words “those who control the levers of power”), Fed Chair Janet Yellen (with the words “global special interests”) and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein (following the “global power structure” quote). The ad shows Hillary Clinton and says she partners “with these people who don’t have your good in mind.

"Anti-Semitism is no longer an undertone of Trump’s campaign. It’s the melody."

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota said the ad is aimed targeted “to a certain part of [Trump's] alt-right base. “When I saw the ad I thought that this was something of German Shepherd whistle, a dog whistle, to a certain group in the United States. I’m Jewish, so maybe I’m sensitive to it. It had an Elders of Zion feeling to it, an international banking conspiracy to it and then a number of Jews are pictured. It’s an appeal to some of the worst elements of our country."

Anti-Defamation League Director Jonathan Greenblatt wrote in a statement released on Sunday, "Whether intentional or not, the images and rhetoric in this ad touch on subjects that anti-Semites have used for ages. This needs to stop. All candidates need to be especially responsible and bid for votes by offering sincere ideas and policy proposals, not by conjuring painful stereotypes and baseless conspiracy theories."

Dark and divisive to the very end. It's not surprising that Trump, whose first foray into politics was his embrace of the racist "Birther" delegitimization of our first African-American President, and began his campaign with explicit demonizing of Mexicans, should end his run with a call to action that is, at its core, Anti-Semitic.

But it seems to be the country we now live in - a very sizable and vocal portion of the electorate finds motivation in messages of fear, distrust, and division, while all the rest of us tend to look forward to the future with hope and optimism.

Here's what optimism looks like:

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Okay, here's a whole other view, from two of our favorite Brits. The Tale of Election 2016, with Benedict Cumberbatch and James Corden:

Wake Up, Sheeple

Whether or not Paul Noth's New Yorker cartoon is referencing Donald Trump's campaign for president, that's the first thing that came to my mind when I saw it. The one big difference is that the candidate in this cartoon is probably telling the truth.

Sometimes, when I look at photos of the people at Trump's campaign rallies, I go a bit nuts thinking about the disconnect - I mean here's a guy who is the exact polar opposite of his supporters, and somehow they've convinced themselves that he's not only going to be their savior, he's also, maybe secretly, deep down inside, one of them. But think about it for awhile - he was born into wealth and privilege, and never handled a tool or worked a job for wages in his life. He started his career with a fortune, and made a whole lot more by stiffing virtually everyone who ever did any work for him.

Trump has never owned a dog, and doesn't know a thing about baseball. Never worked on his own car, much less driven one, and never sat with his girl in the front seat somewhere outside of town, listening to the radio. He's a germophobe who can't stand to be touched, and eats burgers and pizza with a knife and fork. He grabs that pussy but never learned how to sweet talk a lady. He's never told a joke, and no one can recall ever hearing him laugh. He's got a fake hairdo, his manicured hands have skin that looks like they belong to a young child, and he never goes anywhere without a ton of makeup.

I grew up among real honest to God people, and this guy ain't one of them. Oh wait - he wears a baseball hat. With a business suit.

Seriously. Wake up, sheeple - didn't your Dad ever tell you not to vote for ex reality TV show hosts with orange spray tans?

Holy Shit, You've Got To Vote

Great video from Funny Or Die.

Big difference between Democrats and Republicans is that humor (and creativity in general) seems to be limited to one side. Unless you think that Ted Nugent grabbing his crotch at a Trump rally, or that guy in the comments section yelling in all caps, "ON NOV 9TH WERE GONNA DEPORT ALL YOU PEAPLE< HA HA!!" is funny.

Director Joss Whedon and Robert Downey Jr at Save The Day, with their first video:

Another video from Save The Day, "Quiet":

Save The Day's final for this election season (see all of their videos on YouTube):

And in case you've missed it, last Saturday's SNL cold open, with Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin:

One last video, and it's a longer one: Bill Maher's entire stand up monologue, Whiny Little Bitch ("When they go low, we get high!"):