Tuesday, December 13, 2016

In Memoriam: Alan Thicke (1947-2016)

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message 'He is Dead'.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

"Funeral Blues"
 -W. H. Auden

Monday, November 14, 2016

I Miss Mayberry

Except I don't really miss Mayberry. That's just a line from a song by Rascal Flatts. There was no real Mayberry, it was just a fictional town in a sitcom. But some thoughts occurred to me about Mayberry as I was streaming some episodes of the Andy Griffith Show on Hulu the other day... and if there's any weirder juxtaposition than digitally streaming episodes of the Andy Griffith Show, I can't think of it.

Anyway, we were talking about Mayberry. It seems to me that most of the people who voted in Donald Trump as our soon to be president did so because they bought into his notion to "Make America Great Again." I've wondered to myself when America has ever been greater than it was under our current president. Our economy is booming. Unemployment is at an all time low. More Americans have health insurance than ever before. Gays and Lesbians (and all those other letters whose meanings I'll admit I don't understand fully) are able to marry and have kids and be happy.

So, again, I ask myself... when was America ever greater than this?

And the only answer I can think of is... in Mayberry, a fictitious town in a sitcom from the 1950s.

Mayberry, of course, was an idealized representation of a perfect American Utopia, that was no more real than Brigadoon, Terabithia, or any of the various planets from Star Wars. The worst thing that ever happened in Mayberry was once a year part of the population had to suffer through some of Aunt Bea's awful pickles. If Mayberry was real, it's a safe bet Andy was probably on the take, Floyd the barber was a closeted homosexual, and Otis the town drunk would've died of cirrhosis of the liver.

But, again, Mayberry was an idealized version of the perfect American small town, and it represents everything Donald Trump and his supporters wish America could be. But does it? No black person ever had the chance to enter Mayberry, but if one did, there's no doubt in my mind Andy and Barney would welcome him or her in with open arms. There were no homosexuals in Mayberry -- at least not openly -- but I can't imagine Andy would think twice about hatching some scheme to help some gay guy who accidentally invited two different men to the Saturday night dance.

But, again, Mayberry was just a TV show, so what it represents about American society is just fantasy. However, it might be important to note that the actors who played Andy and Opie openly endorsed Barack Obama for president, and the actor who played Gomer Pyle spent most of his life as a closeted homosexual who was finally able to marry his long-time partner in 2015, a month after same sex marriage was legalized.

Come to think of it, I guess I do miss Mayberry... and I think America under President Obama was the closest we've yet coming to fully realizing that perfect utopia.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

In Memoriam: Robert Vaughn (1932-2016)

I don't have much to say about the life or passing of Robert Vaughn other than that I liked him. I liked him a lot. As the years went by, his appearance in a film or television program was rarely a mark of quality, but it was a sure bet he'd make it worth watching.

Honor his memory by watching some episodes of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. They still hold up.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Steve Jobs

This movie opens a few years after the success of the Apple II, and just before the launch of the iMac, so as anybody who knows anything about the history of Apple can tell you: this entire films chronicles the period in Steve Job's career where we pretty much did nothing of note. Is that harsh? I don't mean to be harsh, I just find the decisions made in the structuring of this film to be kind of inscrutable. Almost nothing is said about how Apple helped to create the home computer industry, and even less is said about how Apple later transcended the computer industry and used its tech to basically take over the world.

It's basically just two hours of Steve Jobs being an asshole.

To its credit, I did watch the entire film, but I can't say I was ever truly entertained. I think I kept watching because I kept waiting for the movie to start, but then it never really did. The film basically consists of three long scenes, each taking place just before the launch of major products... Well, two major products and also the NeXT. It's incredibly repetitive and strange, which each scene hitting entirely the same beats and plot points. The tech demo won't work, Jobs is made and yells at people, his wife and daughter just want to be loved. And then it ends.

I believe the coda of the film is that these products are all a part of Steve Jobs, and none of them will be successful until he made peace with himself and his inner demons. Of course, that's a pretty trite thing around which to base a film, but I don't even think it was supported by the plot. He never did make peace with himself, he just started to be kind of nice to his daughter a little bit.

About the acting I will say it was all pretty good, with Kate Winslet stealing the show as long-suffering Steve Jobs lackey Joanna Hoffman. I also really liked Michael Stuhlbarg as Andy Hertzfeld. I didn't get Michael Fassbender as the titular main character, and I thought he came across as more of a movie star than as any kind of real marketing genius. That wasn't the Steve Jobs I knew. And, of course, this movie continues the long tradition as casting any random fat guy with a beard as Steve Wozniak.

Hey... here's a question: Why has nobody made a movie about Steve Wozniak? I realize it would be boring, but so are all of the movies about Steve Jobs. At least this one was.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Locker Room Talk = Plantation Talk

Admittedly, I'm not much of an athlete so I can't claim to have spent that much time in locker rooms, but I've spent enough time in locker rooms to have an idea of what goes on in there. Even more so, I'm an admitted degenerate so I have some concept on how men talk with one another when we think no women are present, and -- even more so -- I am something of an authority on how we think we are completely alone. I can honestly say I have never heard anybody talk about grabbing a woman by her pussy, nor have I ever even considered the possibility of such a thing taking place. Even when I'm alone, most of my fantasies involve women grabbing me.

To be clear: the problem isn't the use of the word pussy. I think it's safe to say most men use the word pussy. We use it frequently and reverently. That isn't an excuse or defense, we use it even knowing it's awful and that if any woman her us say it, she'd be less inclined to let us see hers. The problem is with what Donald Trump said he wanted to do to with it.  He wanted to grab it, which is offense to morals as well as science. You can grab a cock, but you can't grab a vagina.

But anyway: Locker room talk, which before the past couple weeks was something about which most men took some measure of shame, has now, somehow, become a defense for saying something awful, even when the person caught speaking was nowhere near a locker room. Locker room talk, in reality, isn't really as exciting as Trump and his cronies seem to think it is. It has actually been my experience that most locker room talk is highly unsexual and boring. After all, very few people want to brag about their sexual prowess after just showering with a bunch of other dudes.

So let's call Donald Trump's comments on that video what they actually are: Plantation talk. Comments like his aren't so much the kinds of brags you'd hear in a locker room, but so much matter of fact talk by rich, entitled white men who see women and minorities as their inferiors.

Would anybody be shocked to see an early kinetoscope of a slave owner saying something like, "Sometimes you have to grab a negress by the pussy"? Well yes, but only because the kinetoscope was invented in 1897, but you get my point.

Trump's comments -- or at least his defense of those comments as something all men say -- remind me of an anecdote about Richard Nixon. After the first day of filming his now notorious interviews with David Frost, his advisors suggested he attempt to lighten up on set and try to appear a little more fraternal with his interview and his crew. So he showed up on set and asked,  "So, David, did you engaged in any fornicating over the weekend?"

Even Richard Nixon would have been shocked by Trumps comments, and it's hard to argue Nixon isn't the lowest form of comparison any person could make to a GOP candidate for president.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

In Every Generation...

 This is actor Robert Conrad

 This is actor Art Hindle

 This is actor Larry Manetti

This is actor Misha Collins

Somebody explain to me how these aren't all the same person? Is he a Highlander? Is there a Robert Conrad gene? I need to understand how this can happen. Are there others?

Hot Wheels: The Movie!

Forget about the presidential debate, I've got some REAL news to discuss: Mattel is producing a Hot Wheels movie. And, no, this will not be a blog post mocking this idea, but one enthusiastically applauding it for one reason: It's going to be directed by Justin Lin.

Justin Lin, of course, is the beloved, adored, and highly acclaimed (by me, anyway) director of such films as Better Luck Tomorrow, Star Trek: Beyond, the third thru six Fast and Furious films, and several episodes of HBO's True Detectives. That's a legit resume, and even if you scorn the Fast and Furious movies, at the very least you have to admit they made a lot of money and that they feature cars that go fast. Those cars, of course, were all very hot and had wheels, making him the perfect choice.

There are no story details as of yet, so one can only guess as to what this film will actually look like. Will it be live action or CG? Will it feature fill size cars or little toy cars? Will they have human drivers or be autonomous? Will he cast long-time collaborator Sung Kang, who is the Robert DeNiro to his Martin Scorsese?

All of these questions will be answered soon enough, but no matter what I'll be there opening night. (Unless I kill myself first.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My Thoughts on That Debate

I am not an undecided voter. In fact, I am decidedly against Donald Trump, and have been for most of my life. As long as I can remember, he has been a figure of ridicule and scorn and pretty much the embodiment of everything that is wrong with our culture. He also seems like a bit of an asshole. But anyway, I went into this debate already knowing who I was going to vote for, and watched pretty much just to see how much damage their guy could do to my gal. The answer is... none, but I think he probably damaged himself. If I was undecided, this debate would've made that decision pretty crystal clear.

To begin with, Hillary Clinton isn't really my gal, so much as she's the one running against Donald Trump. I think she'll make a fine president, but I do think she's beatable because she's so divisive, and I'm not entirely comfortable with some of her history, nor am I gung ho about the concept of voting for a relative of a former president. That just seems weird to me. And, no, I wasn't rooting for Bernie. I was kind of hoping Martin O'Malley would get the nomination.

Oh, but after having watched this debate, any doubts about her electability or ability to lead this country went away. This was as good and commanding a debate performance as I've ever seen, going all the way back to, well, her husband. I actually thought John Kerry did really well in his debates, but both Gore and Obama were mediocre. But Hillary was like Lloyd Bensten shoved into the body of Ross Perot then sent to the same tailor as Ernst Stavro Blofeld. I think the Lloyd Benten part was a compliment.

But Donald Trump was just an idiot. What can you say about a guy who, when accused of being sued for not allowing any black people from renting an apartment in one of his buildings, his only defense was to say they reached a settlement where he didn't have to admit guilt. He actually said that. Innocent people usually don't settle, especially not when they are rich and white.

Anyway, I'm not a political commentator and I don't really have much all to say. I just haven't written on this blog in a while, and I thought this would be a good excuse to get back into it.

Alicia Vikander Review: Ex Machina