DNC’s master plan to reelect Trump makes headway, say sources

“We couldn’t be happier with the progress we’ve made, particularly in the last two nights,” said a smiling Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez. “We’ve had a well-oiled, styled plan to get the job done and we’re doing just that.” Perez referred to the latest incarnation of the Democrat’s master scheme where the 47 viable presidential candidates spent the better part of a lauded CNN debate insulting each other over things they said when they were twelve. “The way we figure it, we want to leave a final candidate to face Trump who’s so battle scared, so discredited that they stand no change in the general election. It’s the way to get the job done,” Perez commented as he donned a MAGA hat, cackling, “lots of people talk about a circular firing squad, well, we’ve got that, only each candidate has a flamethrower!” Local Democrat activists seemed most pleased with the prospect of a second Trump term. “It just warms my heart to hear our front running candidates propose policies that are both simultaneously unaffordable, making the Trump tax cuts look tame, AND also sound like lunatic fringe ideas concocted in a Moscow salon that are toxic to 84% of American voters,” said Michelle Anderson of Soho, “my friends and I couldn’t be happier with how this has played out.” Perez ended his interview early as he was offhand informed by an aide (that this reporter overheard) that the planned candidate-on-candidate sexual assault (with racists remarks included) scheme was going according to plan. Perez seemed pleased, stroking his MAGA hat as if it were a white fluffy kitty.

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smart kiddies sacrifice life enjoyment for unneeded skill

I can’t remember how old I was but it must have been middle school and I got roped into the National Geographic Society Geography Bee by my school. I didn’t plan on this at all, I don’t even think I knew what it was. They threw all of us into the mix, but I was into history and that comes with maps. So all of a sudden I find myself in the finalists room for the entire school with 30 or so other kids. And I’m like, what the hell just happened?

I get one of the hard questions right and a fellow student of mine is so impressed/mad that he physically punches me in the arm with full force (in today’s stupid bubble wrapped school world, he’d sadly be expelled for such behavior). Then I get derailed by “what causes the planet’s U shaped valleys?” I said the Ice Age, they said glaciers. I still contend I was right enough to get the question called correctly! But back then I wasn’t the internationally recognized flintlock pistol dueling master I am today, so I had to take my loss with grace. I think I placed seventh in a very large school. Good, not bad.

I never ended up ever doing it again. It just didn’t matter to me and eventually I aged out of the competition’s block. I had other things to do too, I played oh so many, many, many sports, loved family and friends, read a lot, watched a bunch of television, played video games. As in, I was a kid. Later in life I ended up catching some of the Geography Bee on television (I can’t remember why or where) but I see this kid win it all. And in the victory interviews his Mom is like, (I’m paraphrasing), “Oh, all he does is read atlases.” And I feel so, so sorry for this kid. Somebody get the kid a baseball glove! For fuck’s sake.

Yesterday eight kids simultaneously won the Spelling Bee. Because apparently kid competition talent is so elite and trained these days that spelling “erysipelas” is a no brainer for 2/3 the side of a soccer team of kids. Spoiler alert, these kids don’t play soccer. They sit at home and read a dictionary. Some of them or even all of them actually hire private spelling tutors to compete in these events.

All for what? Well, $50K certainly helps. But really who needs to spell obscure words? I’m not sure how many common words are used in the course of a normal English conversation, but I’m pretty sure erysipelas isn’t needed. So is this a useable skill for these kids in their lives? No. Is $50K nice? You bet. Is it worth channeling these kid’s lives into a single comprehensive goal? No way. It’s why I find television cooking competitions for kids so personally offensive. I love to cook, but man, those kids, all they do is cook. It’s wrong. Kids should be kids.

And in general, I don’t really like the idea of a kid (or any human for that matter) channeling a life into one supreme task. There are too many awesome things to do in life. I don’t want to be the best at geography, I want to be good at many, many things. Or even average at a whole bunch of things. Kids should be the same way. We have a whole bunch of belligerent ideas on this degenerate blog, but I’d ban the Geography Bee, Spelling Bee, Robot Bee, Accountant Bee, Human Resources Bee, all of it. Let kids be kids.

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go get a basketball! immediately

Game of Thrones will provide an ending that each individual viewer deserves

Once upon a time Ian McShane (a first rate actor who for whatever reason received the most bit of bit parts in Game of Thrones) got himself in a lot of trouble for leaking part of the plot prior to airing. McShane’s response has remained one of my favorite quotes for some time: “I was accused of giving the plot away, but I just think, get a fucking life. It’s only tits and dragons.” They should put that quote on the Blu-ray box cover for this series.

If you remember back to the very beginning, that’s all this show was originally intended to be. When David Benioff and D. B. Weiss pitched this to HBO they spouted a whole bunch of high minded nonsense, but what this show really was always meant to be is a play on the typical fantasy genre, just with the sex and violence thrown into overdrive. It was kitty litter for men who loved Lord of the Rings but didn’t get the level of nudity and decapitations they wanted.

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But, somewhere along the way this show became mainstream. For example, routinely the number one most read Washington Post article on the Monday after each new episode is Game of Thrones:

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Somewhere in this fact is a weird (and very disturbing) correlation and theory that the newspaper readers of the capitol’s elite are also big time Game of Thrones fans.

We’ve long been haters of Game of Thrones on this blog.

To paraphrase, the criticism has always focused on the nihilism, the manipulation of base instincts, the lack of any character to really cheer for, and generally the lack of any real point. Game of Thrones has had such an influence on the screen and many other shows have sought to copy it. Here’s what I wrote back in 2017 whilst ripping apart Ripper Street:

“This is very much in the vein of Game of Thrones. I no longer watch Game of Thrones but generally keep abreast of what happens in the show. And I’m always struck in discussions with friends or coworkers who still watch and who try to self-rationalize what they see on screen. They seem to think somehow that by the end of Game of Thrones it will all somehow all work out. They talk themselves into it. Almost as if they need it.

They typically will focus on Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen as an example of the good one, or the one to root for, or the one who by the end of the series will emerge with at least some sense of accomplishment. This is in fact a specific plot point brought up within the show itself, where Danny is there to break the cycle, to stop the chaos, to bring some sense of peace to an absolutely horrific world.

But I always ask my friends and coworkers why this must be so? Why must, or should, Game of Thrones end in such a way? Why can’t the white walkers just kill everybody in the last episode? Why can’t Daenerys end up on the throne atop a pile of murdered corpses? Why must there be any redemption or peace at all, when all that’s occurred thus far is chaos and has no meaning?”

And so here we are, Game of Thrones is almost done and indeed Daenerys has ended up on the throne atop a pile of murdered corpses. To which I’ll say, what were viewers expecting? What did they think this show actually was?

It has greatly amused me to read the online reviews from professionals and ordinary people as they try to come to grips with the reality of what this show actually is, and always has been.

Myles McNutt over at A.V. Club had this to say after the white walker battle a few weeks ago:

“This is yet another large-scale battle, similar to the Battle Of The Bastards, where the moment you start getting your breath back and begin taking stock of what happened, the spell of the immersion breaks and you realize that there’s not as much “there” there as you were hoping for.”

It’s because there’s not a “there” actually “there”. The only thing that’s “there” is tits and dragons.

Or here’s a Twitter quote from ordinary average person “carol”:

“turning daenerys the mad queen because everyone betrayed her, making her look like a fool and weak, kill her dragons… in this essay I will explain why mean can’t write female characters”

This brings up another point I’ve always found weird, that Game of Thrones is some progressive icon movement, which probably helps to explain the Washington Post popularity. But to “carol” I guess I again come back to what did you expect? Game of Thrones was your feminist icon show? Really? Spare me.

Before I stopped watching this show I remember the scene where Petyr Baelish (played by the always excellent Aidan Gillen) gives a monologue soliloquy on why he’s such a manipulator. Gillen is so talented, this is a scene worthy of Shakespeare. Except, during the entire scene behind Gillen are two women engaged in extremely hardcore lesbian sex. Did “carol” or other people forget that this scene (and many other like it) happened? Or did they think that Game of Thrones matured? Or did they try and rationalize these aspects of the show somehow?

I think history will look back on this show and people will be like, why was this trash so popular? For example, remember Survivor, back in 2000 over 50 million people (50 million! when the US population was way smaller) watched the Season 1 finale. I was one of them. What the hell were we all thinking? I feel so ashamed and baffled.

Everybody is searching for any connection to other humans in this social media world. Once upon a time Friends and Seinfeld would routinely crank north of 30 million viewers each episode. Now almost no show can reach those numbers, not even Game of Thrones. So unless you love sports or politics, a lot of people are left searching for their water cooler topic, their connection to another human being. I think Game of Thrones became that topic. And in the process a lot of people tacked a lot of faith and emotions onto a show that simply didn’t deserve such a commitment.

This show will provide an ending that each individual viewer deserves. If someone loved Lord of the Rings but wanted more severed limbs and tons of sex, this show gave them what they wanted. If somebody was looking for high drama, meaning, purpose, or even joy, then they were foolish and are going to get the horrifying ending they deserve.

It’s always just been tits and dragons, folks. There are so many entertainment other options nowadays, with limitless shows to choose from, use your eyeballs wisely.

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burning away misguided expectations

Sacred Games & Mr Sunshine – The Review (preview) (with age conundrum)

Either because the censorship goons block things or because Netflix severely restricts content by region I don’t have access to most of my queue out here.  As a result I’ve watched a lot of random stuff lately.

If I get around to it (hopefully tomorrow) I’ll review all of Sacred Games and the first few episodes of Mr Sunshine.

In the meantime, help me, please help me with this huge crisis.

From Mr Sunshine, Lee Byung-hun is how old?  See him below here in his US Marine Corps regalia and snazzy early 20th Century bespoke suits?   How old?

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Wrong.  Dude is 48.

Now here’s Kim Tae-ri.  She’s how old?

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Wrong.  She’s 28.

At first I couldn’t get around the fact that to me, Kim looks like she’s 16.  So it got weird where Lee is involved in this relationship with an underage girl and all.

But she’s not, she’s 28.  But I still think she looks under 20.

Then there’s Lee.  Dude looks like he’s 28 but is in fact 48.

And so:

1) I’m an idiot.

2) There is nothing that makeup or costumes can’t cure to make actors look two decades younger than they really are.  Think science will conquer death?  Wrong, immortality lies in a makeup drawer.  I guess.

3) Should it be considered a little weird that these two folks have two decades age between them in what is at least half a love story’s worth on content?  Maybe.  But this happens all the time in the entertainment industry.  And probably is accurate to the period as well.

4) In real life, the situation would be reversed.  They’d each look two decades older than they really were.  Korea was a complete mess of tears, conquest, unforgiving weather, and brutality during that time.  In many ways, it still is.

5) Is Lee supposed to be 48 in the Series despite his looks?  If so, it makes sense that he’s only just a captain because it shows flashback scenes where he’s fighting as an enlisted man.

6) Is Kim supposed to be 28 in the Series despite her looks?  If so, it makes sense as she’s essentially referred to as an old maid for not being married yet many times in the Series.

7) In conclusion, I”m still and idiot.  See you soon.

Godless – this was good

Netflix has rolled the dice on an awful lot of content.  They’ve placed their faith in a business model where they generate their own stuff and not show other people’s stuff.  In short, they want to be HBO, not a distributor like Blockbuster [cue scene of creepy cemetery with Blockbuster jingle playing in background].

The problem is as they’ve transitioned to this model they’ve ended up producing or contracting a large amount of garbage.  In other words, Netflix is no longer infallible and falls into the same trap as other content creators.  Sometimes things work out, sometimes they’d don’t.

If you’re looking for one where Netflix mostly succeeds, you can safely go with Godless.  This was good.  It wasn’t great, but good.  With all the recent Netflix failures I’ve had, I’ll take good, and be happy for the experience.

As Western’s go, this one’s pretty straightforward.  The plot almost doesn’t quite matter.  What you get is incredible acting, set design, costumes, etc.  And you can then check out your brain and enjoy the experience.  The plot isn’t magical, but it works and works well.  You care what happens to these people.  You’re invested in what’s happening on screen.

Where it nearly comes off the rails is in tone, which is why I can’t consider it great.  I could list several examples.  Instead I’ll just list one:

Is this a shocking, horrific Western like Unforgiven?  It certainly starts out that way.  The very first scene is a town massacred with a child hanging from a church.  But, then later in the series they seem to forget about this horror and it becomes some kind of cooky Western where in a battle where thousands of bullets are flying they won’t allow themselves to show one horse shot (because everybody loves horseies) and an important villain comically gets shot out a window into a pile of flames.  Not the biggest of problems, but often in Godless the tone just didn’t make sense.

My biggest two positive takeaways:

1) They take their time.  Did you ever think a modern series would take 15 minutes of screen time just to show how a cowboy tames a wild horse?  I didn’t.  And I loved it.  In a world where studios think the viewer’s attention span is eight seconds this idea is to be supported.

2) Jeff Daniels.  I don’t get why people don’t think Daniels is one of the great actors of our time.  This is a dude who can play an outstanding role as random dude (a), George Washington, a comedy idiot, a Civil War general, and here in Godless an absurdly creepy villain.  Daniels is simply amazing.  Godless is worth it just to see him go at it.

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This was good.

having had some time to think on it

I probably first discovered Bourdain in about 2007.  This was during his time at No Reservations back when I still had cable.  It was well before anybody really knew who he was.  At this point he was just another obscure cable television host.

Sure, those in the food scene knew him and he’d written a relatively famous book.  But most average folks had no idea who he was.  I got immediately hooked on No Reservations and ended up watching most episodes.

It was also at this point that Bourdain began to become a wider part of the food / travel scene and also our wider modern culture.  I remember he gave some interview online and I forwarded it to my brothers.  I think they thought this was weird, and were like, who’s this random guy?

But years after that I remember my brother forwarding me a radio interview he’d done.  Bourdain in a few short years had gone from relative obscurity to being well known across a variety of circles.

I kind of kept in touch with what Bourdain was doing over the years but never really got into Parts Unknown.  Whenever I was at the airport or entirely bored in a hotel, if it was on, I’d watch it.  But I never sought it out.

Part of my issue with Parts Unknown is it had a poor food to travel ratio.  This was also the case with later episodes of No Reservations.  I could be entirely mistaken but it seems as time went on, more and more of each episode was just Tony eating.  Whereas in say 2007 most of the episode was travel focused.

Again I could be wrong, that’s just my impression.  I like food too, but the most compelling parts of No Reservations to me was never the food, but always Bourdain traveling and giving his thoughts on life and the local areas.

Ultimately what drew folks to Bourdain was his ability to to put himself into the shoes of anybody on the planet, understand them, capture that, and then explain it to somebody else not there.

This is not an easy skill to master and employ.  And one that if you spend eight seconds on social media and the news, that most folks don’t even care to learn.  Today’s culture seems to be about conquest, not understanding.

And that was never Bourdain.  And that’s why people like me who are just not into celebrities or modern culture sort of worshiped this guy’s message.

One of the most compelling episodes is where Bourdain spends time with Ted Nugent.  A guy who even his most fervent supporters could not deny is a total lunatic.  Bourdain had his politics too, but he always wore it with a light touch, something other entertainers could learn a lot from.

I forget the line, I’m summarizing, but Bourdain essentially says something like: I don’t have to agree with you, to like you.  If I’m remembering this right, then that line should be tattooed onto everybody’s skull cavity today.

I’ve avoided thus far writing about his death, so I could think on it.  In the end, sadly I believe he’ll be known to many as just another celebrity who killed themselves.  I don’t know why he did it.  Nobody ever will I suppose.  It doesn’t matter though.  Life is sacred, but suicide is all too easy.

My coworkers and I found another coworker at a gas station with a whiskey bottle and a loaded pistol in his lap.  I still get the shakes wondering what if we’d been a half-hour late.  Like most people who’ve been to the darkest of places, once or twice I was probably at very serious risk of suicide.  My family, my friends, my dogs, my coworkers helped me back.  But essentially, suicide is no joke, and it’s everywhere.  Even when somebody seems like they’re okay, you should always be there to help, always be there for somebody, because you never know what’s going on inside somebody’s head.  Nobody can do life alone.

I suppose in the end, all I can say is that there are many, many voices in today’s world.  Most of them are simply not worth listening to.  Anthony Bourdain was a voice to absorb, and to pass on.

We need more people like him.

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Hostiles & Fort Apache – and how to properly capture misery on screen

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Misery seems to be the trend lately with just about anything you can watch on screen.  We’ve written about this a lot lately, including just a few days ago.  It’s everywhere.

Take two movies I watched on my last plane flight.  First off, The Last Jedi.  I remember Star Wars growing up, I loved it.  What fun.  So did we really need a Star Wars movie where Luke was sad, tired, and depressed?  Where Solo is a corpse?  Where all the other main characters are confused, angry, etc, etc?  Forget all the plot controversy, it was just an unhappy movie to watch.

The other airplane flick I caught was Hostiles.  This Western had a reputation as violent and covered with despair.  It was certainly that, the opening scene involves the murder of three children including an infant.

Overall, I didn’t hate Hostiles, I kind of enjoyed it.  But it’s not a great movie.  Why?  Because other than the awfulness, I’m not really sure what the movie was trying to do.  At the end of the movie I was asking myself: “What was the point of all that?”

Instead of running my mouth and complaining about all this malaise and darkness in our entertainment again, I’m instead going to contrast Hostiles with another dark movie in Fort Apache.

Granted, this is unfair.  Hostiles has some top name actors but they’re not legendary.  It’s directed by some random guy.  Fort Apache has two screen legends and probably the guy in the top three of directors all time.  It’s like comparing a rabid panther against a duck in a cage match.  But bear with me, because there are a lot of similarities between these movies.

They’re both traditional Westerns that focus upon the Army, specifically the cavalry.  Both have humanized and sympathetic portrayals of the American Indians.  Each has a substantial number of the main cast die on screen.  And they end with an intent that you reflect upon the misery you’ve just watched.

I’m going to focus on the endings of these movies because otherwise this post would be sixteen pages long.

Hostiles ends with Christian Bale’s character burying Wes Studi in his native land.  Then a stereotypical gang of racists comes up and demands Bale dig up Studi’s corpse.  A gunfight ensues in which everybody dies except Rosamund Pike, Studi’s grandson, and Bale.  Pike and her now adopted son go to Chicago, Bale is going to walk away, but ultimately gets on the train with them as it pulls out.  Roll credits.

Fort Apache ends with Henry Fonda getting most of his regiment wiped out in a foolhardy battle worthy of Custer.  John Wayne actually wants to duel his regimental commander at one point to stop it.  Then Wayne and Miguel Inclan (playing the Apache warlord Cochise) have a poignant conversation about the situation.  Cochise lets Wayne and his remaining soldiers live.  We end with Wayne now the regimental commander and when confronted with the myth of Fonda’s last stand by reporters, Wayne lets the myth live.  As in, Wayne lies.  Roll credits.

So what was the point of Hostiles?  Well, I think what they were going for is at the beginning of the movie Bale hates Studi and only his orders are keeping him from murdering Studi straight up.  Yet by the end of the movie Bale is willing to shoot his own kind to defend Studi’s grave.

Okay, got it.  But the problem is that’s all there is going on.  In the meantime there is the aforementioned on screen murder of three children, three women are raped (off screen), numerous very bloody battles, and the final scene in which pretty much everybody dies horribly.

So if all Hostiles has is Bale simply learns not to hate at least one Indian and his family, then what exactly was the point of all the murder, rape, violence, gore, etc?  Was it to set the scene and mood?  Was it to provide the action and shock that the writers and director seem to think a modern movie demands?  You could have told the story of Hostiles with maybe only one or two people gunned down.

That they didn’t do this means that any character progression in Bale, that he ends up a better person, is simply just lost amidst the gore, the awfulness, the constant death.  It’s why as the viewer I had to actually think about what the point of the movie was afterwards.  Because in the moment all you can feel is the violence shoved right in your face for two hours.

Contrast all of this with Fort Apache.  At it’s heart this movie is a study of Fonda’s character.  It’s about how an otherwise decent, hardworking man can be consumed by arrogance, racism, and narcissism that leads to the unforgivable sin where a military commander loses most of his men in a battle that need not ever have been fought.

It gets even worse with Wayne.  Wayne ends the movie by perpetuating the myth that Fonda’s actions were right, just, and glorious.  Then Wayne takes his regiment and leads them on the attack against the Apache.  All the moments Wayne had where he conversed with Cochise, where he knew Fonda was wrong are blown away by the simple act: Wayne is going to do his duty.

And thus you see the point of Fort Apache is the great wheel that was the Indian wars of the American West.  Everybody gets ground down in what in the end was a series of savage endless wars that lasted decades.  Decent guys in Wayne, Fonda, and Cochise trying to do the right thing, their duty, leads to death where alternatives were still available.  It’s brutal to consider.

Fort Apache accomplishes all of this without a single gory murder, rape, or scene where Wayne and/or Fonda are shown in some kind of vicious traumatic rage, or hatred, or crying or screaming like crazy people, all things in Hostiles repeatedly.  Yeah, this is a movie made in 1948 so of course it’s tamer, but the point remains valid.

I think television and movies are going down two trends.  The idea is that a tale must be an adventure theme park ride or it must shock you.  In both cases, the plot is a side concern.

The Jurassic movie recently came out.  I’m sure that film will make over $1B.  It has a plot that probably makes no sense, but that doesn’t matter.  People see this movie because it’s a theme park ride where dinosaurs eat people.

Where Hostiles could have really taken it’s time with a thick plot full of thought and motives, it instead spends most of its on screen time in the shock category.  And thus, its message gets lost in the darkness.

I don’t need all my entertainment to make me happy.  Dark movies have their important place.  But give me the Fort Apache kind any day.  That’s the way to do it.