Cultural Nausea

I want to make a video, fisking John Oliver’s moronic piece claiming Australia’s gun laws “debunk” the “American gun ownership myth”. Spoiler: the only parts that are wrong are the parts where Oliver is moving his lips.

The problem is, watching John Oliver gives me a very unpleasant physical reaction. Watching him literally makes me ill.

It’s not just how he smugly mangles context and cherry picks factoids, and mugs for the trained seals in his audience; that was Jon Stewart’s schtick, too. But I can watch (and heckle and fisk) Stewart and enjoy doing it.

John Oliver could read a phone book, or “Goodnight Moon”, or even quotes from Margaret Thatcher and William F. Buckley, and I’d still feel my skin crawing, and start wanting to throw up.

I don’t even react like this to the useless Steven Colbert.

I literally get ill watching Oliver.

The only other thing like it? I get a headache watching Tim Burton movies. No kidding – I even got a headache watching one Burton movie even before I learned what it was and who directed it. It can be a Burton movie I love (“Nightmare before Christmas”) or hate (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”), but it’s the same headache. Something about his style. I don’t know.

But even that reaction is nothing like the one I get from John Oliver.

No, I’m not exaggerating.

Does this happen to anyone else?

Prediction: Dead On

I favor defunding of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Not because I’m against art. Far from it. This blog. and my talk show, perhaps the Twin Cities’ finest two pieces of political performance art, should be proof of my commitment to art.

t the lesson is straight out of Econ 101; if you give people money to do something – in this case, to make art that may or may no be garbage, but matches some funder’s agenda or another, people will line up to take the money.

Now, I’m not sure that this “installation” last week was funded by the NEA:

According to a press release from the activist group Indecline, over two-dozen “men and women of color and members of the LGBT community” placed leashes and custom made dog collars on white men in red M.A.G.A. hats and walked them on all fours up and down Hollywood Boulevard on Sunday.
The group says that their “performance” was based on Cardi B’s recent Twitter battle with Tomi Lahren, in which the crass rapper told the right-wing pundit,  “Leave me alone, or I’ll dog walk you.”


(Note – vile misogyny is apparently OK if it’s a “conservative” you’re misogynizing).

But on another level, even if there wasn’t a single penny of NEA money behind it (and I can’t imagine there wasn’t, at some level or another), the whole farce is a symptom of the sort of entitled, smug, cliched “art” that arises from “artists” who have little to fear financially, and nothing, really, to fear socially.

To say nothing of critically.


How do you fight a piece of popular culture that completely mangles history?

You put out some popular culture of your own

Historians fighting back against the pop revisionism of Hamilton with a musical of their own.

Reed’s “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda” is an uncompromising take-down of “Hamilton,” reminding viewers of the Founding Father’s complicity in slavery and his war on Native Americans.
“My goal is that this to be a counter-narrative to the text that has been distributed to thousands of students throughout the country,” said Reed, who teaches at the California College of the Arts and the University of California at Berkeley and whose latest novel is “Conjugating Hindi.”
Reed, whose play had a recent reading in New York and who is raising money for a four-week production in May, is part of a wave of “Hamilton” skeptics — often solitary voices of dissent amid a wall of fawning attention — who have written journal articles, newspaper op-eds and a 2018 collection of essays, “Historians on Hamilton.”
Miranda’s glowing portrayal of a Hamilton who celebrates open borders — “Immigrants, we get the job done!” — and who denounces slavery has incensed everyone from professors at Harvard to the University of Houston to Rutgers.
They argue that Miranda got Hamilton all wrong — the Founding Father wasn’t progressive at all, his actual role as a slave owner has been whitewashed and the pro-immigrant figure onstage hides the fact that he was, in fact, an anti-immigration elitist.
“It’s a fictional rewrite of Hamilton. You can’t pick the history facts that you want,” said Nancy Isenberg , a professor of American history at Louisiana State University who has written a biography of Aaron Burr and is the author of “White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America.”

It all fits into my plan to do a musical on the life and legacy of Calvin Coolidge.

A Spoonful Of…Doakes?

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails a movie review:

I saw “Mary Poppins Returns.”  Sold out show.  Herewith, my movie review.  Don’t go.  Wait for Netflix.  SPOILER ALERT: Mary Poppins wins in the end.  Sorry if I ruined it for you.

First off, let’s be clear.  The original Mary Poppins movie is one of my childhood favorites.  After 50 years of listening to the songs on my mother’s phonograph and watching the reruns on television, I know it by heart.  The movie is better than the book, by the way.  The theater was full of old people my age – it’s clearly a nostalgia movie, not targeted at kids like all the modern Disney princesses.

Mary Poppins Returns clearly was intended as an homage to the original.  They rebuilt Cherry Tree Lane perfectly.  It’s a musical: the singing and dancing is spectacular.  It’s a Disney movie: the human-animated scenes are incredible.  Emily Blunt as Poppins is excellent: not a Julie Andrews mimic, but believable.  Stern and smart-alecky, but playful and softhearted, too.  She slides up the banister, her parrot umbrella talks, her carpet-bag-of-holding is still bottomless, same shoes, same quips about Michael being stubborn, Jane inclined to giggle, Mary being practically perfect, same mirror trick, music from the first movie plays in the background at opportune moments.  All scenes to bring a touch of the old into the new because the audience knows the inside jokes and expects to see them.  In that, the movie does not disappoint.

Having said all that, this version isn’t as good as the original.  Not just because sequels never are, but because the film makers misunderstood the first movie.  They saw the elements and thought they could repeat the success by using the same elements.  They forgot that the original story made fun of the parents for their human foibles (a classic Comedy).  This story is a Comedy only in the sense that the Good Guys win in the end.  The story itself is no fun.

In the original, Mr. and Mrs. Banks are so preoccupied with adult concerns, they have no time for the kids. The bankers are such a stiff bunch they can’t understand a simple joke. The whole theme of that movie is “lighten up, be more childlike.”  Splurge on feeding the birds.  Go fly a kite. Mary Poppins leaves the Banks family when the parents are focused on the family again, as they should be.

This movie is darker.  Jane and Michael have grown up. Jane is modern feminist: unmarried, activist for labor unions.  Michael is a pajama boy:  works a meaningless day job to support his real life’s work as an artist whose pictures won’t sell.  He lives in the family house with his three kids but no wife – she recently died – and he’s losing the house to foreclosure.

The bankers in the first movie were starched shirt, upright, careful investors but they weren’t wicked, evil, cheats.  They didn’t try to steal Michael’s tuppence, they wanted him to prudently invest the tuppence in railways to India instead of wasting his money feeding the birds.   The banker in this movie is a crook who intentionally tries to cheat Michael’s family to steal their house.

The big difference between the films is the first was a Comedy but this is a modern Liberal movie.  Crooked banker. Exploited workers.  Dead Mom.  Heartless lawyers.  And, of course, the obligatory 18% Black characters and one Admiral in a wheelchair, historical accuracy be damned.  Yes, Mary Poppins and the Banks family win in the end but even that is annoying [HERE’S THE SPOILER, SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH]: the tuppence the banker got from Michael in the first movie was indeed prudently invested which, with interest, is now worth enough to pay off the mortgage in the second movie.  The bankers were right – adult prudence over childish frivolity – which destroys the theme of the first movie.  Did the film makers even realize they were stabbing the first movie in the back?

The film makers dutifully included all the elements from the first film:  animation, penguins, Dick Van Dyke, singing, strange words, dancing, a cannon, bankers, a country fair, a horse race, one of Mary’s weird relatives, flying a kite, even a shaggy dog.  But the movie is a jumble as if it was made by cargo cultists who saw the images but didn’t understood what they stood for.  The songs have nothing to do with the action.  Crooked bankers and a dead Mom don’t make a lighthearted, uplifting story.  The characters themselves don’t grow in wisdom, Mary Poppins swoops in to save the day. She’s not a nanny, she’s a superhero.

Mary Poppins Returns made me want to cry.  No, not for the exploited workers or dead Mom Banks, couldn’t care less.  I wanted to cry for what’s been lost.  Disney didn’t understand why the first movie was beloved so their remake is a swing-and-a-miss.  Not Jar Jar Binks bad, but certainly Ewoks bad.

A friend argues that the first movie was just as political as the second, but the first movie reinforced my political beliefs so I liked it.  Feminists are air heads.  Prudence is boring.  Kids are the most important people in the family.  This was the dogma of the 1950’s so it’s no wonder I liked the first movie but not the second. I’m a relic.  Times have changed.  Move On!

I wanted to cry because I miss London. Not the actual city but the London I know in my mind from Ebeneezer Scrooge, Constable Grant, Sherlock Holmes and especially, from Mary Poppins.  I miss the London of my imagination.  It’s dead and Liberals killed it.  That, most of all, is their unforgivable sin.

Joe Doakes

At least they didn’t make Mary a lesbian.

Er – they didn’t, did they?

Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Just Take My Money

Roger Daltrey has a new autobiography,  Thank You Mr. Kibblewhite.  It sounds like…

…well, exactly what one would expect of a Daltrey autobio.


The band that would become The Who began in 1961 as the Detours, when Roger Daltrey, then age 17, talked bassist John Entwistle into joining his group. A few months later, guitarist Pete Townshend would join. During that period, Doug Sandom, a decade older than the rest of the members of the Detours, served as their drummer. He would leave the band in 1964, and be replaced by the now legendary Keith Moon, then age 18.

All during this time, Daltrey was driven by a statement from his headmaster at Acton County Grammar School, Mr. Kibblewhite, who told him on his 15th birthday that “you’ll never make anything of your life, Daltrey,” after expelling him for truancy. Determined to escape his lower-middle class existence in the west London district of Acton, Daltrey was driven to be the lead singer of a rock and roll group. What he couldn’t know is that he had stumbled into the rock and roll group, one of the most influential bands of the 1960s and 1970s.

And it’s off to B&N for me.

Aborted In The First Trimester

Michelle Wolf’s really awful Netflix show canceled after three months:

The move comes just a couple of weeks after BET announced it was cancelling The Rundown with Robin Thede after its first season. That cuts the number of late-night-style shows hosted by women in half, with only TBS’ Samantha Bee and Hulu’s Sarah Silverman left standing.

And with a little luck, Bee’s wretched show will be dying from apathy before too long.

It’s not all good news: The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale also got tubed.


The Fringe

A friend of the blog writes:

Marxist collectivism mixed with the egalitarian charm of Rousseau.

The MN Fringe Festival is the most natural child of The Blue Blouse (Синяя блуза) theatre troupes of early USSR.

Here you will find every SJW/Artiste that suckles at the teats of state government and the Foundation Hive.

The big buzzword in this year’s prospectus is the delivery of a limited number of Juried, Curated (read pre-censored) productions

I think that’s all true – at least in directly. Because the writer is correct – it’s impossible to calculate the damage that government subsidy of art has done to, well, Art. And the Fringe Festival is often a great place to see what happens when society pays for way too many mediocre terrible artist to create too much “art”.

That’s Entertainment

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Something new for SITD – a movie review.

I almost skipped “The Greatest Showman” because the reviews were bad.  Critics hated it.  P.T. Barnum wasn’t cool.  The film focused on the wrong things.  They wanted it to be about racism, not circuses.  But I’m tired of being scolded for sins I didn’t commit and I’ve always enjoyed the circus so when I happened to be on an airplane where the film was available to watch on the seat-back screen, I dove right in.  I’m glad I watched it.  I recommend you watch it, too.

I don’t know much about Barnum’s personal beliefs and I really don’t care.  Every genius, every general, every giant had warts but that’s not why we remember them.  And sure, the film shows historical social disapproval of inter-racial dating, but that’s nothing new.  The plot device is “star-crossed lovers” and it’s as old as Pyramus and Thisbe, as classic as Romeo and Juliet, as popular as Showboat or West Side Story.  Get over yourselves, people, it’s just a movie and more importantly, it’s a lot of fun.  I particularly liked the “Come Alive” scene and the finale.  They show the circus that I remember when I was a kid and the magic came to town.

We could use a lot more of that in America, today.

Joe Doakes

I keep wondering if, much less when, the social pendulum is going to swing back the other way.

It just keeps swinging out toward “absurd”.

Actually, that’d be a fun blog project someday; trace the rise and fall of ideological intolerance over time.  Toxic Metastatic PC isn’t the first bout of it our culture has had, although it’s a doozy.


Things I Never Thought I’d See

A worthwhile speech at an MTV Awards show:

David French noticed it:

Look, I know Pratt’s speech wasn’t exactly the message a Baptist preacher would share, but it’s an antidote against a lie. He’s speaking to a generation of young people who know that something is very deeply wrong. It’s a generation wracked by depression and anxiety in spite — or perhaps because — of the fact that they’ve been told time and again how perfect they are….

We conservatives spend a lot of time sharing outrageous celebrity clips. We grit our teeth through awards shows. And we properly lament messages that have distorted our culture. But every now and then, there’s a ray of light, and it can come from unlikely sources, including from the lead singer of the fictional band “Mouse Rat.” Last night, Pratt used his platform to share some important truths. Yes, it’s a small drop of reality in an ocean of cultural lies, but we can still hope those truths find purchase. Or, to put our plea in the words of our Savior: He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

So go forth and don’t be a turd.

Berg’s Seventh Law In The Headlines

Berg’s Seventh Law: “When a Liberal issues a group defamation or assault on conservatives’ ethics, character, humanity or respect for liberty or the truth, they are at best projecting, and at worst drawing attention away from their own misdeeds.”

Remember during the campaign, when Donald “The Donald” Trump’s history of sexist japes, braggadocio and womanizing went from being a Hollywood inside joke to grist for a desperate Clinton campaign to dig out of a hole?

Of course you do.  You couldn’t escape it.

And as I saw that unfolding in Hillary’s attempt to claw her way into office, I kept thinking;  “Yes, it’s about drawing attention away from Bill and her history of committing and abetting unspeakable horrors upon women to the winking and chuckling of their buddies in high lefty places”.

But I  also thought “it’s gotta be more than this”.

And with the juxtaposition of Roseanne Barr (whose show was tanked within a day of her racist jape on Twitter) and Samantha Bee (who will be a cause celébre on the left, just you watch), it became clear; the borg that is Big Left just doesn’t think their own (the “elite” at the top of the prog pile – the Clintons, Emmanuels, Feinsteins, Waterses and the like) can be guilty of anything.  

Case in point:

When you have a movement whose “elite” (koff koff) takes private jets halfway around the world to conferences where they tell everyone else to move into apartments and take transit? That sends its kids to private academies but hectors you for putting yours in a charter school? That parks its money in tax shelters run by rooms full of tax lawyers and tells you you’re unpatriotic for wanting your taxes lowered?

Who tell you “Misogyny is bad” while excusing…ugly stupid misogyny (in terms so patronizing and sexist that they’d have gotten any Republican politican exiled to rural Alaska)?

I guess I can see why they deflect to “Racism” when talking about why Trump won.

Wait Just A Minute Here…

You’re saying that a woman who said bankers should be beheaded, who did an “ironic” version of the National Anthem that would have been tossed out of a karaoke bar, who claimed (apparently falsely) to be an incest survivor, who posed as Adolph Hitler in a Jewish satire magazine, who tweeted out George Zimmerman’s parent’s address and phone number (and called Zimmerman a “vigilante”), said something stupid and outrageous?

I need to be writing this down.

Another Idea Whose Time Has Come

Planned parenthood is giving Disney some writing advice:

And if your goal is to indoctrinate children, that will be a perfectly fine idea.

Although if you want to sell tickets in the parts of the Merica where people actually have children, probably not so much.

I’ve got a few suggestions, though:

  • We could do a version of Beauty and the Beast where Belle is a competition three gun shooter who befriends the Beast – a handsome guy who majored in women’s studies, has been thoroughly cowed by campus feminism, and needs to be brought out of his shell.
  • Perhaps reboot of Cinderella, where the heroine is a plucky young National Review reader who is constantly tormented by her social justice warrior stepsisters?
  • Maybe a version of Aladdin, where Jasmine is the spoiled daughter of a liberal K St. lobbyist who encounters a plucky young ex-paratrooper entrepreneur who turns her world upside down?

The possibilities are completely endless.



I never cared for Donald Trump – his public persona, at least.

And I certainly have never been a big fan of Roseanne Barr.

The debut of the reboot of Rosanne shows what I know, I guess.

Roseanne made a triumphant return Tuesday night, blowing past projections with a 5.2 adults 18-49 rating and 18.2 million total viewers for the debut of its revival, which drew 10% more viewers than the original series finale 21 years ago.

While nostalgia was expected to bring in eyeballs, no one predicted such a huge turnout on premiere night for the blue-collar family sitcom with a Donald Trump-supporting protagonist, especially among the younger demographic. But then, few predicted that Trump would become the Republican nominee and would win the presidential election when he first announced his candidacy.

But one thing that has become predictable is that liberal Hollywood and New York are shocked, shocked, that people in “flyover land” can take a break from fawning over Los Angeles and New York-centered, virtue-signal-clogged, impeccably progressive entertainment to partake in a little of (let’s be honest) the cultural Resistance:

But it worked, leaving many TV insiders shellshocked today by the magnitude of the revival’s ratings success that revealed the untapped potential of comedies that provide realistic portrayal of blue-collar America. What’s more, Roseanne did that while also making a social commentary, something rarely seen since All in the Family, Norman Lear’s 1970s classic that has long been rumored to get a reboot.

Y’know what’d be fun (and never, never get greenlit)?   A reboot of All in the Family with a crusty, intolerant patriarch who was a former hippie, longtime “progressive” activist and virtue-signaling bigot, whose daughter marries a hard-working conservative square-stater.

That would be a fun reboot.


For a few years, I listened to the NPR comedy game show Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me – a tongue-in-cheek program that features a panel of dubious celebrities answering current-events questions to win prizes for members of the audience.  The host is the razor-sharp Peter Segel.    Sure, the condo prog politics bubbled under the surface; it’s NPR, after all.  But it was generally so good – and so in line with what passes for political comedy these days – that it worked.

But lately – not coincidentally, for the past year and change – Wait Waiot‘s shots at  President Trump have gotten flabby, predictable – really, cringeworthy.  The sound of a staff of writers taking the cheap easy laugh, over and over.

It’s not just obscure radio comedies.  Donald Trump seems to be making comics dumber:

…the Trumpian option in their comedy has rendered [Bill Maher, Steven Colbert, Seth Meyers and others] charmless while strikingly limiting their audiences to those who share their politics. I recently wrote a book on the subject of charm, in preparation for which I asked a great many people to name five persons in public life they thought charming. No one could do it. In a political time as divisive as ours, a public figure loses roughly half his following—and hence his charm—just as soon as he announces his politics. For an entertainer to do so is perhaps even more hazardous.

The whole thing is worth a read.

Culture Police Blotter

While smoking the happy weed is the latest libertarian distraction, the term “Marijuana” is suddenly on the outs:

Today “cannabis” and “marijuana” are terms used more or less interchangeably in the industry, but a vocal contingent prefers the less historically fraught “cannabis”. At a time of intense interest in past injustices, some say “marijuana” is a racist word that should fall out of use.\

Bu then, by that same token, isn’t smoking ganja (I’m swtiching  to appropriating Jamaican culture, thanks) itself appropriative?    Aren’t all those lilywhite honky weed activists stealing the recreation of all those Mexican immigrants and black jazz musicians?

And as long as we’re going to start policing the language for appropriation – shouldn’t we scupper the word “Jazz”?  Originally a New Orleans black term for the horizontal mambo, it was originally adopted by white critics to disparate “negro” music.

Isn’t it time for a more complete linguistic housecleaning?

You Just Knew This Was Coming

I mainaged to get through the nineties without seeing more than an episode or two of Frazier, Roseanne,Seinfeld, and of course the big sitcom icon of the era, Friends.  

But thanks to the miracle of Netflix, I managed to binge my way to currency in the NBC classic sometime over the past year.

And when I watched it, I thought “what an almost quaint throwback; it almost felt like a seventies sitcom” – which, in many ways, it was; a transition between the  manners of 70-s and ’80s TV and what we have today.

But as I watched – and mostly enjoyed – I couldn’t help think that stories like this were pretty much inevitable:

Having been given a new life on Netflix two decades after it debuted on NBC in 1994, Friends is being seen by a suspicious new generation with beady new eyes. Those eyes are more determined to find something to be offended by than anyone was in the 1990s, when the Paul Reveres fighting the political-correctness revolution were already warning you, “The idiocy is coming! The idiocy is coming!”

“Millennials watching Friends on Netflix shocked by storylines,” ran the headline of a piece by Ilana Kaplan, writing from New York for the Independent. Examples of the kinds of things Millennials apparently find shocking: “New audiences claimed that Rachel would have been fired for sexual harassment because she hires an assistant who isn’t qualified for the position because she wants to date him.” Fat jokes — “Some girl ate Monica!” cried Joey (Matt LeBlanc) — are also now out of bounds, the Independent huffs. Using the royal “we” for extra authority,

Cosmopolitan writer Katie Stow says “the show is getting ripped to shreds for its ‘problematic’ content and — even as hardcore fans — we can’t help but agree,” scoring the sitcom for “chucking offensive and inappropriate hand grenades all over every episode.” This must be the first time in recorded history that anyone compared Friends’ cutesy banter to hand grenades.

I can not wait for the millennials to have teenagers and twentysomethings of their own.

The Poet Receives The Graft; The Taxpayer Gets The Shaft.

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I suppose it’s nice that St. Paul still has a Poet Laureate, but I can’t find a website of her commissioned works.  Last poem I recall her writing for St. Paul was “Ode to the City Budget” or something like that, from about 2006.  You’d think a government worker would be more productive.

Wait, what am I saying?

On the one hand, a person might be forgiven for thinking that awarding the Poet Laureate title to a poet who produces no poetry, was simply an excuse to shovel a little graft to a Party insider.  It is St. Paul, after all.

On the other hand, awarding an honored title in exchange for doing nothing is a long-standing Democrat tradition, see, for example, my congresswoman, Betty McCollum, “The Phantom Rep”).

Joe Doakes

A Laureate Poet in Saint Paul
Accepted her government’s call.
She looked once and laughed
at her office’s graft,
and then walked away with a haul.