Retrospective

Variety does a two-part cover story on Bruce Springsteen.  And it’s worth a read, if you’re an uberfan.

And I guess I am.

Others are not – and among this blog’s audience, that’s in large part due to Springsteen’s limo-left politics.  I’ve always figured I care as much about musicians’ politics as I do about politicians’ iTunes playlists; I’ve also noted that if I limited my music by politics, I’d be listening to nothing but country-western and Ted Nugent.

But on the subject of politics:

I’m ambivalent about … sort of getting on a soapbox. I still believe people fundamentally come to music to be entertained — yes, to address their daily concerns, and yes, also to address political topics, I believe music can do that well. But I still believe fundamentally it’s an affair of the heart. People want you to go deeper than politics, they want you to reach inside to their most personal selves and their deepest struggles with their daily lives and reach that place; that’s the place I’m always trying to reach. I’d never make a record that’s just polemical, I wouldn’t release it if I did. To me, that’s just an abuse of your audience’s good graces. But if I’m moved, I’ll write, say, something like “American Skin” [inspired by the 1999 shooting death of Amadou Diallo by New York City Police officers — who were later acquitted]. That just rolled very naturally for me, and that’s as good a topical song as I’ve ever written. And when it comes up, I write ’em. If I felt that strongly, I’d do it now. But I watch myself, because I think you can weigh upon your audience’s indulgence in the wrong way.

Someone tell Katy Perry.  mu

Anyway – worth a read, if you’re a fan.

Autopilot

The big screen has been consumed with comic book series and remakes of older movies – somtimes (Batman, Spiderman) movies that aren’t even all that terribly old.

And now – the small screen?

Roseanne, Will and Grace and Curb Your Enthusiasm are coming back.

Wheeeeee.

Never really cared for any of ’em.  I mean, sure, Curb was funny, but in the same way the UK version of The Office was funny; the long slow buildup of hatred for Larry David was hilarious, but wore thin, fast…

No word on  Firefly or Freaks and Geeks. Both of which I finally binge-watched in the past eighteen months or so, and can finally see what all the fuss was about.  Although one minor beef with Freaks and Geeks, which was set in more or less my senior year of high school, making it all the more cringe-worthy; while the final episode was at least in concept believable (I’m tiptoeing around spoiling things, here), did Judd Apatow really thing the Grateful Dead were relevant to high school seniors in 1980?

Zero Sum

I caught the movie Dunkirk the Saturday before last.

I’ll be reviewing it in a separate piece later this week or early next.

In the meantime – this “Feminist” review of the movie is enough to make you wonder if we really saved western civilization at the end of WW2, or merely delayed its demise.  It’s from “Marie Claire”, and it’s as bad as you might expect. 

One extracted bit of foul written effluvia – by no means the worst:

But my main issue with Dunkirk is that it’s so clearly designed for men to man-out over. And look, it’s not like I need every movie to have “strong female leads.” Wonder Woman can probably tide me over for at least a year, and I understand that this war was dominated by brave male soldiers. I get that. But the packaging of the film, the general vibe, and the tenor of the people applauding it just screams “men-only”—and specifically seems to cater to a certain type of very pretentious man who would love nothing more than to explain to me why I’m wrong about not liking it. If this movie were a dating profile pic, it would be a swole guy at the gym who also goes to Harvard. If it was a drink it would be Stumptown coffee. If it was one of your friends, it would be the one who starts his sentences with “I get what you’re saying, but…”

The “writer” – one Mehera Bonner – is so tied to pop-culture cliches, I was tempted to think the whole thing was a McSweeneys level parody of “feminist” writing.  Indeed, the title suggests “parody” with all the subtlety of a “Real Housewives” makeover: “I Think ‘Dunkirk’ Was Mediocre at Best, and It’s Not Because I’m Some Naive Woman Who Doesn’t Get It”

If that’s not parody, Ms. Bonner, then yes – your are precisely a naive, cossetted, hot-house flower “feminist” who does not, in fact, “get it”.

Kyle Smith at NRO simultaneously gives Bonner more respect than she deserves, and savages her “writing” even more brutally:

Feminists have a habit of obsessively dividing the world into teams — us, them. Ideas and even facts get considered in the light of whether they are good for Team Woman or not. Instead of seeing men and women as close collaborators in the human project, feminists often suppose that the sexes are rivals, opponents. This is sheer tribalism. Bonner looks at Dunkirk and is irritated that men like the film. She sees it as a celebration of manly courage and bravado, or at least manly endurance and grit, and this repulses her. Feminism means constant maintenance of an imaginary set of scales, and she fears Dunkirk adds weight to the masculine side, tipping the culture away from women. If Dunkirk — “Christopher Nolan’s new directorial gift to men,” she calls it — shows men at their best, it must therefore be bad for women.

There’s a much larger column involved here.

How’s That, Now?

At the end of a generally good review for the upcoming Dunkirk in USA Today, the reviewer writes (with emphasis added by yours truly):

The trio of timelines can be jarring as you figure out how they all fit, and the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way. Still, Nolan’s feat is undeniable: He’s made an immersive war movie that celebrates the good of mankind while also making it clear that no victory is without sacrifice.

Hm.  In a war fought almost exclusively by men, in Northwestern Europe which was, in 1940, almost entirely white1, go figure.

[1] In fact a large part of France’s army was colonial troops – including many of their best and a significant part of the covering force that allowed the evacuation to happen at all,- were colonial troops from Chad, Morocco, Cameroon, Tunisia, Algeria, Vietnam and, especially, Senegal.  It’ll be interesting to see if they turn up.

Color Me Shocked

Steven Colbert – a person who’d still be playing character parts on Law and Order if there weren’t a wave of pervasive liberal smugness to ride – is in a bit of “trouble” for saying the sort of thing that would have gotten a Congressional hearing if Rush Limbaugh had said it.

It’s all just wind in sails, of course; Urban Liberal Privilege means that there’s no penalty for violating PC codes when one is attacking apostates (and as an NYC plutocrat, who should be a “progressive” and was a Democrat, Trump is surely an apostate).

Honestly?  Up until the last year or two, I’d have figured it would fly for the same reason that black people can drop the n-bomb or the Irish can call themselves “harps” but have license to pound the stuffing out of anyone else who does; I always figured Colbert was gay.

I’m told he’s not.

Now, I don’t care either way.  I’ve seen a lifetime grand total of 40 minutes of Colbert.  I don’t plan to add to it.  Ever.  Even if he has a late-life epiphany and becomes a conservative firebrand.  His delivery, his style, and even the timbre of his voice annoy the living bejeebers out of me. Also, he’s just not very funny.

Unclear On The Concept

File this under “Evidence of a shoddy education”: around the world, (we are told) the movie adaptation of George Orwell’s “1984” is being screened…

…to “protest Donald Trump“.

Forget for a moment that Orwell wrote the book as a satire of contemporary British far leftists snd their tendency to eat each other, not to mention the horrors of the Stalinist regime that they were busily sweeping under the rug at the time.

No.  The funny thing, I’m going to bet, is that the “progressives” – who will no doubt need to buy two tickets to the screening to save a chair for their self-righteousness and indignation – after the election we just had, will no doubt will see themselves as Winston Smith, rather than O’Brien.

Weekend Plans

In the not too distant future,
This weekend, AD,
my house will be all quiet,
except for my TV.

I’ll have MST3K on,
and I won’t even turn the volume down.
Won’t stop for rain or snow or hail
and all your calls will roll to voice mail

I’ll watch wretched movies,
the worst of all time (la la la)
Even “Manos Hands of Fate”,
though I might just lose my mind.

I keep in mind that his is time
that I can not ever get back,  (la la la)
As I’m sure I will be notified
by the silhouette backing track

(Ro Bot Roll Call)

Cambot!
Gypsy!
Tom Servo!
Croooooooooow!

If you’re wondering what I’ll eat and breathe,
and other logistic stuff,
repeat “MST is on Netflix”
And you will know enough,

More Mystery Science Theater, Three Thousand!

I’ll Have A Merlot With My Derangement This Evening

I caught this on MPR last week; arts reporter Marianne Combs’s piece on the new season at the Guthrie, featuring the new “Trump Derangement” theme:

This fall, the Guthrie will stage Lillian Hellman’s “Watch on the Rhine.” The show deals with the rise of fascism on American soil at the start of World War II, but Haj says it feels startlingly relevant today.

“There’s a line in the play that says something like, ‘We don’t send people back — we’re Americans. That’s not what we do.’ And that line was written in 1941,” Haj said. “The reason we do the classics is not to look at plays or stories under glass; it’s to understand that many of these classic texts have absolute resonances to our current times.”

The Guthrie follows “Watch on the Rhine” with Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit,” which at first might seem like a non sequitur. But Haj explained that Noel Coward, a contemporary of Hellman, wrote the play at the onset of World War II.

The message – “we, the Guthrie’s artistic directors, believe we’re living in times just like 11933 Germany; we believe our audience is like the British of 1940, who need something to take their mind off being firebombed every night”.

But don’t dare accuse anyone of Trump derangement!

The Delicious Dish

It’s fun to make fun of National Public Radio.

The upper-middle-class white liberal bias; the pretentious production style; the air staff’s frequently sloppy, mannered delivery; the unearned condescension to all other media; if you’re a radio person, the massive budgets and huge staffs combined with the often dismal state of practice of the radio craft; the complete inability to do a show off-script (listening to NPR reporters trying to ad-lib on the morning of 9/11 would have been funny under less dire circumstances) – I mean, Terri Gross is considered a brilliant broadcaster because…

…she can freestyle an interview (or at least be made to sound like she’s freestyling after repeated cycles of NPR’s obsessive editing).

It’s fun to make fun of public radio:

For all that?  There are shows I do like.  I enjoyed Prairie Home Companion while Garrison Keillor hosted it (while ignoring and mocking his puerile politics), and might like it even more with Chris Thile at the helm.  MPR’s news does an adequate job of seeking balance – not perfect, not great, but adequate, which means if you grade on a curve against other media they rate an A.   On Being with Krista Tippett can be an incredibly interesting show.

And then there’s been “Splendid Table“.   For a couple decades, now Lynn Rossetto Kasper has been hosting the show – and by “hosting”, I mean “saving it from the suffocating, self-parodying cliches that are most public radio”.    Rossetto Kasper brought an air of engagement, mirth…fun to  the show, and to a subject that inspires all too much leaden foodie navel-gazing.

Brought.

Rossetto Kasper is retiring from the show after 21 seasons.  She’s being replaced by Francis Lam, former top foodie at NYTimes Magazine and an accomplished chef in his own right.  He clearly knows his food.

I got my first, er, taste of Mr. Lam’s style this past weekend.  And it’s dreadful.

I’m going to put part of the blame on whomever produces and edits the show – and being an American Public Media (the production spinoff of MPR) joint, God only kjnows who that is, since like most APM shows it’s got a staff list longer than a Michael Bay movie.  But whoever it is who decided on Mr. Lam’s broadcast style seems to have given the directive; “Don’t just do public radio cliché; define and supercharge them!”.

A paraphrased, but typical, piece of a Lam interview:

LAM:  So tell us about [whatever].

GUEST:  I’m glad you asked.  It’s really about [interesting explanation redacted]

LAM:  Ah.  […several seconds of exaggerated pause, apparently to connote depth and thoughtfulness…].  Interesting.

So yeah, the editing was dreadful.

But Lam himself comes across as…oh, drat, now I have to go into my thesaurus to find new terms to describe the clichés of the public radio delivery.  Lugubrious?  Disconnected?  Stylized to the point of caricature?  I don’t know.

Maybe it’ll improve.  Maybe it was an isolated episode.

Or maybe, in the era of Trump, Public Radio is making a concerted effort to be more pompous, more caricaturish, and less accessible to the plebeians.

Let’s hope for improvement.

The Looooooser Is…

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Wrong winner at the Academy Awards?  Should have kept the sealed envelope in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnall’s porch.  Then nobody would know the contents until revealed by Carnac the Magnificent.  Would have been a lot more entertaining.

 Joe Doakes

I’m not one of those sticks in the mud that swears off all Hollywood over a little matter of pervasive arrogant cultural bias…

…but I cant’ imagine much less entertaining than even a well-executed Oscar broadcast.

The Enemy Of My Enemy…Still Makes Me Feel Slimy

Lena Dunham.

On the one hand, she writes indulgent, entitle twaddle like Girls.  Including lines like:

… and the other thing about me is I give zero f***s about anything, yet I have a strong opinion about everything, even topics I’m not informed on.”

Which is simultaneously risibly vacuous and as perfect a sample of Urban Liberal Privilege as you can find.   (The phrase “Zero F****s Given” is a primary indicator of a deeply vapid person).

On the other?  She throws Paul Krugman under the bus.

Talk about a fight where there is no winner, except all the rest of us.

 

Diary Of A Burst Of Stifling Entitlement

A candid history of the soon-to-be-late HBO series “Girls”, starring, well, everyone involved in the show.

I’ve seen a grand total of five minutes of “Girls” – don’t ask – and won’t pretend to care for it any more than creator/star Lena Dunham or executive prod Judd Apatow will claim I’m supposed to.

But written in between the lines of the article is the extent to which Urban Liberal Privilege greases the skids of Hollywood.

Richie Guns The Motor And Fonzie Takes Flight

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Lately, I’ve been watching the reboot of “Hawaii 5-0” on Netflix.  Started out as a typical cop show with the usual shoot-outs and chase scenes, but the real value of the show was the scenery.  No, not island volcanoes and surfboards; every dialogue scene featured the main characters standing on the beach talking in the foreground while bikini-clad hotties paraded behind them.  After a while, it became amusing – apparently the beaches in Hawaii have nothing but hotties.  Where are the pasty beach whales from Minnesota, desperate to get their 5-day tan before the vacation ends?

 Now that I’m into Season 3, the scenery has changed.  Lots of flying over rain forests and aerial views of high-rise hotels, nowhere near as much background beach action.  And the storyline has changed, too, not as many chase-them-until-you-shoot-them action scenes, more trouble-with-her-boyfriend and who-will-get-custody drama.  I started out watching Starsky and Hutch but now I’m watching General Hospital.

 I suspect it’s a deliberate shift away from Guy Show over to Chick Flick.  They’ve ruined it.  I’m done watching before they go full Law and Order, preaching the blessings of gun control, the evil of Christianity and the absolute necessity of whatever ‘right’ is the fad today.

Joe Doakes

I suspect a writers room full of people who want to write Something Meaningful.  With predictable results.

The Wise Celebrity

Cary Grant – one of classic Hollywood’s greatest actors, and a lifelong Republican – on expressing his political opinion:

“I’m opposed to actors taking sides in public and spouting spontaneously about love, religion or politics. We aren’t experts on these subjects. Personally, I’m a mass of inconsistencies when it comes to politics. My opinions are constantly changing. That’s why I don’t ever take a public stand on issues.”

Smart guy.

The Good Hollywood Liberal

In the wake of the left’s disgraceful self-clowning at the Golden Glob Awards, the right’s perception of the Hollywood Liberal may be at Peak Meme.  And for good reason.

But Christian Toto, writing in the National Review about filmmaker Peter Berg (no relation) cautions on the danger of painting with too broad a brush about “Hollywood Liberals”.

The lesson?  We need a brush exactly broad enough.

Bringing A Nail Clipper To A Gunfight

Hollywood is threatening a strike until Donald Trump retires…

…well, OK.  Not “Hollywood”.  Just some actors.

Brad Pitt, Amy Adams, Dakota Fanning and Ralph Fiennes are among the A-listers…

…who are not mentioned anywhere in the piece about the supposed strike:

Rosie O’Donnell, Debra Messing, Ed Asner and Michael Shannon are among the dozens of artists, entertainers, and activists who have attached their names to an effort calling for a month-long protest to stop President-elect Donald Trump.

Those are the four they led with?

Rosie O’Donnell, whose picture s in the DSM-V under “delusional?”

Debra Messing, who turned all that “Will and Grace” star power into one entire season of The Starter Wife on the USA Network before it got tanked?

Is Ed Asner really still alive?

And…Michael who?  Wasn’t he “Lord of the Dance” 20 years ago or something?

Gotta Move Fast

My piece earlier this noon hour, about the complete collapse of Jessica Chastain’s anti-2nd-Amendment melodrama Miss Sloane, reminds me of a problem that’s emerged this past year.

Sloane was the second movie in the past 12 months involving an issue in which I’m fairly intimately involved, and that I’ve actually wanted to go to a theater to see (the other  was the hilariously-mistitled Truth, which passed unlamented by anyone but the left’s movie critics in the winter of 2015), albeit only at a second-run theater like the Riverview; I’m not gonna give Hollywood the satisfaction of paying full price to watch its propaganda.

Either, it seems, did anyone else.  Both movies disappeared from box offices faster than the Vikings left the playoff race.

The “problem”?  They leave the theaters before I can get around to going to review them.

It’s a smile problem, in the great scheme of things, but still.