“The Only Way Home Is Through Berlin”

It’s an aphorism I’ve kept in my mind through a *lot* of life’s ugly travails and misfortunes this past 20-odd years, along with “This, Too, Shall Pass”. Together, the two lines are wonderful, complementary views of coping with life’s vicissitudes; trouble ain’t forever – but sometimes, the only way past a problem is to finesse, claw or bludgeon your way all the way to the other side of it.

Through divorce, dips in the employment situation, post-divorce shenanigans, teenage problems, pandemics, riots and all of life’s other ups and downs, both aphorisms have been priceless.

The original line was from Tom Sizemore, as Sergeant Horvath in “Saving Private Ryan”.

Sizemore didn’t write the line.

But if anyone else – John Krasinski or RuPaul or Mark Wahlberg or even Tom Hanks or Morgan Freeman, even a young Clint Eastwood – had delivered the line any other way, it wouldn’t have had the same impact.

But something about the way Sizemore delivered that line made it memorable enough to keep it front and center all these years.

And for that, I remember Tom Sizemore.


To: Madonna
From: Mitch Berg, Former Club Jock, Current Irascible Peasant
Re: Things I Find Threatening

Ms. Ciccone,

The world is full of threats. Nuclear weapons. Crime. “Anti”-Fa. Baggage fees, resort fees, airline fees (or so the President told me during his State of the Union).

But while you were, in your prime (30-40 years ago) a very influential pop star, and were a reliable floor-packer when I was a club DJ, one thing I’d never, ever call anything about you is…


…a “threat”.

I wasn’t aware that filler caused excessive grandiloquence.

That is all.

Deathless Art


The art dealer representing Hunter Biden said the president’s son had the potential to be one of the most influential painters of the modern era, but declined to say whether he’d cooperate with a congressional investigation into sales of the art.

Georges Bergès, who has been overseeing the sale of Biden’s paintings, said the 53-year-old would ‘become one of the most consequential artists in this century.’

His comments came as the New York Post pressed him on whether he would comply with requests from the House Oversight Committee, which asked to see the names of individuals who purchased Biden’s artwork and the price they paid for it.

It’s art. You wouldn’t understand, peasants.

When The Post asked Bergès whether or not he intended to cooperate, the art dealer declined to comment and instead waxed poetic about the heights of Biden’s artistic prodigy.

‘I represent Hunter Biden because I feel that not only his art merits my representation, but because his personal narrative, which gives birth to his art, is very much needed in the world,’ he said. 

‘His is a story of perseverance; Hunter’s story reflects what I believe is the beauty of humanity, judged not by the fall, but by having the strength to rise up, by having the character required to change and the courage to do it.’

The worst thing about current events is, unlike books, you can’t skip to the end to see how i t


I graze a bit on NPR, mostly to find material. Let’s just say it’s a “target rich environment”.

The network has a couple of shows – chock full of vaguely-black sounding accents and topics, slathered over the same progressivized-for-your-protection content they provide the other 162 hours a week, shows like “It’s Been a Minute” and “The Takeaway”, that seem to try to address, not so much the “black” audience, but NPR’s huge, relentlessly white progressive audience, apparently to make them feel, if not “more authentic”, at least a little less guilty.

But I’m here to bring the guilt back.

In recent months, I’ve heard 2-3 shows on the relentlessly woke networks – interviewing the stars of the movie “The Woman King”, an “afrocentric feminist” story about a sub-Saharan kingdom’s unit of female warriors.

The movie – and the gushy, smarmy, self-congratulatory interviews – gabble and prate on and on about female power and empowerment and inspiration and enough word salad to unstop a cement colon.

What doesn’t get mentioned? The real life “warrior women’s” main military and economic justification; procuring slaves to sell. They were a revenue-generation tool for the Dahomey monarchy.

Go ahead. Tell me where the slavery talk is. I’ll wait.

National Review’s Armond White – one of modern media’s most intellectually consistent and rigorous film critics, and incidentally a black man – was not amused:

Historical fraudulence is a problem, but the reasons behind it are what cause alarm. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood and screenwriters Dana Stevens and Maria Bello gainsay Dahomey’s role in the slave trade, trivializing the complications of that original sin. Instead, they offer another Millennial gender-flip, conceived to further sexual confusion via racial frustration and feminist anger.

This approach cannot be taken seriously because, like Black Panther and The Lion King, The Woman King is juvenile. The film’s comic-book premise treats black audiences like children. That adolescent kick over hair-pulling catfights is extended into an almost laughable, pseudo-political history lesson pitting women against men…Thus, she gives us Dahomey as Wakanda, a made-up history for uninformed viewers who feel so “unseen” that they can be robbed and conned again.

But let’s not bury the lede here.

NPR, and Hollywood.

Erasing Slavery.

It’d be so cool if NPR engaged with the proles. I’ve got so many questions.

Because Of Course

I have no investment in comic books. I don’t want to generalize this, but I really don’t recall anyone in my social circle – or anyone I knew at all, really – reading them after about age 12.

So in the “epic battle“ between DC and Marvel, I vote “present“. If I care to vote at all.

Which I don’t.

Watching the descent of Hollywood into endless reboots of DC and Marvel properties is not the most depressing aspect of watching western culture today. But it’s not far from the bottom of the barrel, to be honest.

I’m not saying, I want the comic book industry to kill itself off.

But if I did, I’d want to see a lot of stories like this:

The “gay Superman“ gimmick a couple years ago was one thing; at least he still looked like Superman.

The anorexic superman played by “transgender man“?

Well, isn’t that just so 21st-century.

UPDATE: I’m told I’ve fallen for a joke tweet.

Then it’s a pretty brilliant joke, since the premise is exactly that plausible, in Hollywood, these days.


Angela Lansbury died earlier this week. She was just short of her 97th birthday.

I’m from a generation, sociology and geography that mostly knows her from Murder She Wrote and thousand viewings of Beauty and the Beast when my kids were little, and the bit of trivia that she was in, and exceptional, in one of my favorites, Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer.

But if I ever want to know how important an actor really is, today as in 2004, I go to Sheila O’Malley:

If you think there is another career like Angela Lansbury’s – if you think a comparison can be made to somebody else’s career – you’re wrong. There IS nobody else. If Judy Garland were still around, doing television and movies and Broadway, then MAYBE. But other than that: Angela Lansbury stands (stood) alone. Angela Lansbury never rested on her laurels, and never stopped working. She showed up everywhere. She was bone-chilling in The Manchurian Candidate. She was sassy and insouciant as Elizabeth Taylor’s teenage sister in National Velvet. She was Auntie Mame. She was Mrs. Lovett. She was Jessica Fletcher, dammit.

It’s high time I watched Gaslight again.

Sometimes A Bomb Is Just A Bomb

I don’t, as a rule, go to “romantic comedies“ unless I’m dating someone who wants me to go to one.

As I am about as straight as a cis gender white male can get, the odds of me going to a gay romcom are right down there with Stevie Wonder pitching a called third strike against Luis Arraez.

Billy Eichner, the inexplicably famous producer and star of the LGBTQRomcom “Bros”, has spent the last week blaming people like me for his movie catastrophically taking the previous weekend.

So it’s mildly entertaining to see Matt Brennan, the LA Times entertainment writer and deputy A & E editor, throw a bucket of cold water on a Richner’s snit.

“No one wants to support a movie at the point of a bayonet.”

Openers spiraling rant last week reminded me of a conversation I had with an LGBTQ activist probably 15 years ago. The person said “tolerance“ for gas wasn’t enough; what they we’re looking for was to have the lifestyle “celebrated“.

And which I responded, as a conservative who’s participated in a gay bashing on the side of the gay guy, that I didn’t have time or spare energy to celebrate my own sexuality. He’s just going to have to get in line.

Note to Billy Eichner: want me to show up to a movie? Do it gay film noir.

I still probably won’t go, but at least you’ll have a shot


A friend of the blog emails:

Something else I recently watched on Disney Plus is Hamilton. It was long. I wasn’t enthusiastic about watching the entire show in one sitting -might be better live.

But, I started listening to the soundtrack. Some of those songs are pretty good. I think they are uplifting in a “I’m proud of my country and it’s history” way. It’s good to hear modern day pride in our country and our founders.

But, one song sticks with me in particular. “You’ll be Back.”


It makes a mockery of the King of England. But, I can’t help think some of these lyrics apply to many present day Democrats.

There are times that honestly wonder how many would repudiate the terms of the Declaration of Independence, in a double blind test…

Somewhere In Hollywood, Tomorrow Morning

SCENE: At a studio at “Yoicks”, a new streaming service. On one side of the table, Bernie BRICKMAN, head of development for Yoicks, sits, brow furrowed, reading a script. By his right elbow sits Beyonce CAPRIÉ, his assistant.

Across from him is Ashley KLEIN, age 27, graduate of Oberlin’s screen writing program, veteran of the writer’s room at several streamcasts – Cringey, Can You Hang and Millennial Hellscape Bachelorette.

She’s pitching script for a new show…

BRICKMAN: …Sounds Like A You Problem. Cool.

KLEIN: Gen-Z angst and hopelessness meets post-Covid dystopia in a world shaped by Trump.

BRICKMAN: I like it! Let’s see. So we’ve got…

KLEIN: The show follows the ongoing life, love and adventures of Isabella “Izzy” Cohen, 26 years old, from Darien Connecticut, a graduate of a small liberal arts school who works at a social justice non-profit (CAPRIÉ makes a check on a checklist), and as she navigates the modern world of work, love and society.

BRICKMAN: So the cast of characters…

KLEIN: Yep. Roommate Queen Jenkins, her high school and college classmate, valedictorian at both, majored in Afro-American studies, and is the youngest woman on the partner track at her downtown law firm (CAPRIÉ makes another check on the checklist), who’s navigating a complicated relationship with her boyfriend and supervisor, junior partner Geoffrey Belcher, a former Ivy League lacrosse player – which is complicated by her friendly and occasionally intimate relationship her her and Izzy’s other roommate, Natasha Kim, a genderqueer Asian woman of color (CAPRIÉ makes yet another check on the checklist) who works as chef and caterer, and is a closet alcoholic (CAPRIÉ makes another check).

BRICKMAN: And Izzy’s love interests…this Kyle Dershowitz…?

KLEIN: Kyle is sort of a neurodivergent child-man-child (CAPRIÉ makes another check on the checklist), lost in the world, clinging to Izzy as his only real link to the heterosexuality he is so clearly uncomfortable with (CAPRIÉ makes another check on the checklist). He loses his job as an executive assistant to Izzy’s in the first episode, and has to go to work at Natasha’s catering company, and he thinks he’s good at it, but he is just terrible, and realizing that sends him into spiral.

BRICKMAN: I see Dershowitz as sort of a Woody Allen type character…

KLEIN: Yes, only less masculine, especially after Izzy meets her other boyfriend, Tyrone Marley, a Jamaican-American bicycle messenger and rapper (CAPRIÉ makes another check on the checklist). The love triangle is the big conflic

BRICKMAN: And Queen tells Izzy to follow her truth…?

KLEIN: Yes – but the twist is, Izzy has no idea what her truth, or any truth, is (CAPRIÉ makes another check on the checklist).


KLEIN: Could get dark (CAPRIÉ makes another check on the checklist). .

BRICKMAN: So, Beyonce – where does that leave us?

CAPRÉ: (Adjusts her glasses) It appears it checks every box on the modern young adult streaming dramedy checklist.

BRICKMAN: Awesome! Let’s talk directors!


America: F___ Yeah.

Tom Cruise’s Top Gun sequel Maverick is the biggest open in Cruise’s long, lucrative career.

The 59-year-old superstar just got his first $100 million opening weekend with “Top Gun: Maverick.” In its first three days in North American theaters, the long-in-the-works sequel earned an estimated $124 million in ticket sales, Paramount Pictures said Sunday. Including international showings, its worldwide total is $248 million…“These results are ridiculously, over-the-top fantastic,” said Chris Aronson, Paramount’s president of domestic distribution. “I’m happy for everyone. I’m happy for the company, for Tom, for the filmmakers.”

Was it because it was the first post-Pandemic tentpole picture?

But even as the months, and years, went by and many other companies chose to compromise on hybrid releases, Cruise and Paramount didn’t waver on their desire to have a major theatrical release. A streaming debut was simply not an option.

“That was never going to happen,” Cruise said in Cannes.

Was it because the pandemic gave it a three year marketing runway?

“This is one of the longest runways for a marketing campaign for any film ever. And it only served to create more excitement around the movie,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. “This movie literally waited for the movie theater to come back.”

Was it because it wasn’t another Godforsaken comic book superhero movie? Truth be told, that’s almost enough reason to go to Maverick all by itself. The endless comic book franchise is living evidence of Hollywood’s creative bankruptcy. I haven’t been to one since the first X-Men and Spiderman (the Toby McGuire/Kirsten Dunst one) movies.

Or could it be because it’s the first tentpole movie since American Sniper that isn’t an endless parade of woke tropes, a movie that isn’t afraid to show masculinity, merit, patriotism and military values as virtues rather than punch lines?

Fearless prediction: look for Woke Hollywood to try to simultaneously undercut and exploit this.

Life Is Art Is Life

Joe Doakes from Como park emails:

Still working from home (two weeks to flatten the curve, you know). Can’t log in today. My “remote authentication certificate” is not recognized.

Called the Computer Support phone number. Recorded message says they’re experiencing a problem with remote login software but will send updated information to affected users by email.

I am – literally – living in a Dilbert cartoon.

Joe Doakes

Dilbert has been running since 1989.

If it took you until 2022 to realize this, you’ve had a very good run indeed.

Going Not So Much “Where No-One Has Gone Before…”

…but in this case, “going where late night TV and Saturday Night Live apparently don’t dare go anymore”: Saudi TV lampoons Lesko Brandon:

I’m old enough to remember when all presidents were fair game on American TV.

The Invisible Man

SCENE: A suburban family room. MOTHER and FATHER are anxiously looking at their SON, who’s watching…TV.

MOTHER: It’s all he’s watching lately. .

FATHER: What is it?

MOTHER: He’s binging Band of Brothers

FATHER: Again? This is like the third time.

MOTHER: And before that, it was 13 Hours. And then Taken.

FATHER: I caught him watching Die Hard the other day.

MOTHER: He has the scene of him rescuing his wife from being pulled out the window with Hans Gruber as his social media avatar.

FATHER: God. I wonder what’s going on with him?

So I started binge watching “The Flight Attendant” last night.

Pros: it’s really well written. That’s nothing to sneeze at. I’ve been terribly disappointed by the writing in a lot of things I’ve seen lately (I’m looking at you, Love Life, whose laziness completely wasted Anna Kendrick).

The writers toss out a completely un-subtle “Crime and Punishment“ reference in the first couple minutes, and then go on to deliver on it throughout everything I’ve seen so far (#StuffEnglishMajorsLike). And Kaley Cuoco makes a completely believable protagonist.

Bonus pro: it’s got Rosie Perez, who may be the most underrated actress of her generation (although she’s just a tad underutilized in the first couple episodes).

It’s not Dial M for Murder, much less Gaslight, but it ain’t bad.

Speaking of that Ingrid Bergman / Charles Boyer classic…

Cons: These aren’t all in re Flight Attendant alone – far from it.

Hollywood writers seemed to have gotten together and signed a weird, junior high quality pact amongst themselves: “For decades, we wrote women as one dimensional caricatures; madonnas, whores, bimbos and housewives. Let’s pack a century of retribution into a couple of years worth of television and movies.“

Apparently, women can be protagonists, or nuanced, complex characters, or turbocharged badasses, for good or evil – or at least not incompetent caricatures.  That’s a good thing.

On the other hand, rules for men of these days seem to be boiled down to:

  • Gay besties
  • stock black, Asian, Latino or Semitic guys
  • The villain (usually an older white guy, usually played with all the subtlety of a mustache-twisting melodrama villain, although occasionally a white woman)
    – The love interest – who is usually safely ethnically ambiguous.
  • pathetic, beaten down sacks
  • Buffoons, tools, frat bros (apparently all white anglo-saxon protestant males get lacrosse scholarships. I didn’t know that), frat bros that have grown up to be buffoons and tools, cliché rednecks and every kind of cad ever offered up by central casting.. Almost inevitably white, although I guess it’s a sign of evolution the screen writers are showing the occasional less than bright/moral/ethical black male character.
  • Part of a married couple – usually as a hapless schlub whose league his spouse is waaay out of, but with plenty of dysfunctional, abusive cads thrown in. (Same sex couples apparently are immune to most serious dysfunction in Hollywood. Who knew?)

Patronizing? I think so.

Virtue signaling? Sure.

 Lazy? Completely.


FATHER: Junior? Why are you watching all these…

MOTHER: …movies and TV shows?

SON: Because it’s fun, for a change, for the first time in my life, to see people like I am, or plan to become, not portrayed as idiots, buffoons, fools, blackguards and expendable simps?

MOTHER: (sotto voce, to FATHER). Do. you think we should call a therapist?

Delp and Goudreau

This is a CD I’ve been meaning to get around to for a long time, and finally checked off that box. It features two members of Boston, Brad Delp and Barry Goudreau. It was recorded in Goudreau’s home studio and released in 2003. The cover and reverse photos were taken on the beach near Goudreau’s home.

Delp was the clear, high, strong voice of Boston, and while Goudreau (on guitar) was sometimes overshadowed by Tom Scholz, he was part of the founding of Boston and, pun intended, instrumental in the sound of the first two Boston albums that together have sold over 30 million copies.

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“Everything the Left touches, it destroys”
— Dennis Prager

To add a corollary: everything modern, left-infused culture touches, it also destroys.

For a variety of reasons, Cyrano De Bergerac was one of the bits of literature I grew up positively steeped in. I won’t say Dad – a speech, writing and literature teacher – was obsessed, per se, with the De Rostand book and the many theatrical and film versions that’ve appeared over the years (Jose Ferrer’s version was a particular favorite, especially once we got a VHS) being fairly constant fare at the Berg house.

And if you’re not familiar, it’s a pretty brilliant concept. I won’t spoil it; it’s most accessible version to Americans maybe the 1987 Steve Martin version ,Roxanne, which is as 1980’s a Steve Martin comedy as you can think of, but I think is an underrated adaptation…

…that stayed fairly faithful to the concept of the original story.

Which is more than we can say for what Woke Hollywood’s done with it.

If they decide to do a “woke” remake of Casablanca or It’s a Wonderful Life or Best Years of our Lives…

Oh, I fear I’ve already said too much…

I Wanna Make Some History

Last week’s kerfuffle between Spotify (and their contract employee, Joe Rogan) and Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Barry Manilow and (reportedly) Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters, may not mark the point where the iconoclasm and “rebellion” of popular music fromthe 1950s through the 2000s finally died.

But it’s certainly a waypoint on populist conservatism’s path to being the real iconoclasts.

Kid Rock wraps himself, crudely and profanely, in the Constitution in a new song aimed at the President, “woke” culture and the cancelers.

Armond White reviews it:

The strongest lyric on Kid Rock’s new single “We the People” is 235 years old: “In order to form a more perfect union / Do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.”…On the day Kid Rock released his song, rock-music veteran Neil Young publicly threatened Spotify with an ultimatum: Either remove its broadcast of the political commentator and comedian Joe Rogan, or he’d remove his music from its streaming service. It’s enough to make a true rock and roller revolt…In this sudden ideological skirmish, Kid Rock wants to reclaim populism and protest against Young’s imperious assertion of authority and limited expression.

As with most things Kid Rock has done in the past three decades (but by no means all), light leaving “safe for work” right now won’t reach us for centuries. A radio edit bleeping out the profanity would sound like Morse Code.

You’ve been warned. Here goes.

Very NSFW. Probably not for family consumption, either.

Don’t…Er, Mess With The Babysitter

The 1980s was the golden age of teensploitation movies; the Breakfast Club, 16 Candles, Pretty in Pink, Saint Elmo’s Fire, Risky Business, Weird Science, and many, many less memorable ones.

For me, maybe two of them have held up over time; Better Off Dead and Adventures in Babysitting.

And now, 34 years later, Elisabeth Shue talks about the making of the movie.

Your turn, John Cusack.