Monthly Archives: February 2012



Watching Bill O’Reilly struggle on Saturday Night Live, I was reminded of how much we 1) take professional actors and comics for granted, and 2) should discourage other people — politicians, athletes, and journalists, mostly — from accepting “acting” roles, no matter how small the part.

O’Reilly was stiff and self-conscious on SNL (above, hiding behind an elbow).  But I don’t think anyone will ever surpass Brett Favre’s wooden performance in There’s Something About Mary (below).








Oscar Predictions:


Unlike last year, I haven’t seen a lot of this year’s nominees.  That’s my excuse if the following picks are wrong.  Nevertheless, this is what I gather from Hollywood scuttlebutt:

Best Picture, Director, and Actor will all go to The Artist.  Actress — Viola Davis.  Supporting Actor — Christopher Plummer.  Supporting Actress — Octavia Spencer.






Survivor’s new season began last week, and that’s no longer a big deal.  But I don’t think that this venerable time-waster of a show gets enough credit (or blame) for its influence on the television landscape.  Yeah, yeah, I know that MTV’s The Real World was the first American “reality series.”  But nobody watched The Real World.  And yes, American Idol dominated ratings for the past decade.  But Idol is really nothing new; it’s just an update of old variety shows like Star Search.

But 12 years ago, wow.  Survivor’s first season finale attracted a whopping 58 million viewers.  The show was on the cover of Time magazine.  Richard Hatch (above) was a household name.  So hats off to you, Survivor.






The Grouch was bored and so he created a blog featuring his odd short stories.  If you’d like to read these twisted tales, drop him a line at 




Quote of the Week:


Reporter to Clint Eastwood:  “Mr. Eastwood, who’s your favorite president of all time?”

Eastwood:  “You mean in our lifetime?”

Geez, Clint, not all of us have been around since the 18th century.




Who is Jeremy Lin?  According to the editor of Entertainment Weekly, “The mass affection for Lin — a Taiwanese-American national treasure — says something good about us.”

Who is Jeremy Lin?  He’s a rich basketball pro who played well for a couple of weeks.  His New York team is below average and has a losing record.  Lin is not likely the second coming of Michael Jordan.

But if you are looking for evidence of an East Coast bias in the news media, look no further than these clowns proclaiming to the rest of us that a slightly above-average basketball player who just happens to play in New York is someone’s idea of a “national treasure.”






This Finnish dude who was caught staring at Princess Mary of Denmark, or part of Princess Mary — can we really blame him?  I’d never heard of this woman, but now we have Google and so here is a royal picture of royal Mary at the beach:




© 2010-2024 (text only)



It’s an irresistible concept:  Natalie Portman, in her first movie, playing a 12-year-old girl who, after her family is slaughtered by crooked DEA agents, hooks up (no … not like that) with her neighbor – a professional hit man played by European star Jean Reno.  Watch it for free by clicking here.


© 2010-2024 (text only)


by Elmore Leonard



When it comes to crime fiction, there seem to be two types of consumers:  fans who want Martin Scorsese to keep making mob movies until the day he swims with the fishes, and who gobble up books like Elmore Leonard’s “tough-guy” novels; and people who enjoy a good gangster story – but only to a certain point.  There’s no question that Leonard is a skilled writer, especially with pacing, but a little bit of his clichéd bad-guys routine goes a long way with me.  I don’t automatically smile because the hero has a Brooklyn accent, and I’m not on tenterhooks because the characters carry guns. 

And Leonard’s female characters?  The main woman in Get Shorty is thinly drawn and exists primarily to lust after our “cool” hero, a loan shark who goes Hollywood and who barely has to lift a finger to attract her and (the few) other women in the story.  But if you love this tough-guy stuff, well, then this is a book for you.


© 2010-2024 (text only)




 Finally, some well-deserved recognition.






Liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, above, was robbed at knifepoint last week while on vacation in the Caribbean.  It put me in mind of the adage that a conservative is a former liberal who’s been mugged.  Could this incident spell trouble for the liberals?






Cable news conspired to ruin my Valentine’s Day by endlessly replaying clips of Newt Gingrich being wink-wink coy about his plans for the special day with his beloved Callista.  “All I can promise you is that I believe she will be quite happy tomorrow night,” Newt said at a fundraiser.  “But I’m not going to get into — no more details!” 

Thank you, cable news, for the mental image.






I see way too many commercials.  I’m sure that you do, too.  The vast majority of these ads suck eggs, but once in awhile I’m surprised by a good one, like GEICO’s ad in which an older guy hires three middle-school girls to nag him about his eating habits. 

But then the commercial runs again.  And again.  And again and again and again and again ….  I don’t like it anymore.






Why all the glorification of Whitney Houston?  From what I can tell, she was a drunk, a druggie, and a promiscuous party animal who wasted her talent.  And she was a role model for American girls?






Andrea Mitchell is rapidly becoming my go-to-gal for comic relief on cable news.  Mitchell amuses me with her Pollyanna reactions to current events.  Last week, Andrea was “shocked” by revelations about infamous horn-dog JFK’s sexual proclivities.  This week, Christian conservative Foster Friess told Mitchell, “You know, back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraception.  The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.”

Replied my favorite comedienne:  “Excuse me.  I’m just trying to catch my breath from that, Mr. Friess, frankly.  Let’s change the subject.”

Good stuff.  I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that Andrea has such a great sense of humor.  After all, she is married to that well-known joker, Alan Greenspan.






Season two of Downton Abbey is concluding, which is sad news for some of us.  Jessica Brown-Findlay, who plays prim-and-proper Lady Sybil, has had enough of prim and proper.  Says Jessica about the difference between Sybil and her character (below) in the new film, Albatross:  “I don’t mind giving everyone a shock.  I have to admit it gives me a thrill to be able to deliver someone who is such a contrast.”  Can’t argue with that.




© 2010-2024 (text only)



Take Shelter is the kind of movie that works on some levels, but it’s also the kind of movie that you probably won’t be anxious to see more than once.

The film does have a lot of things going for it:  It’s a story with supernatural elements that does not insult the intelligence.  It’s a film that depicts mental illness in a sensitive, never sensational, manner.  It’s well-directed, relatively absorbing, and features some fine performances.  But it’s ultimately unsatisfying.

As usual, the culprit here is the script.  The plot is unfocused and, as another reviewer points out, in the end Take Shelter is a disappointing “shaggy dog story.”




Director-writer Jeff Nichols does capture a world seldom shown in the movies:  blue-collar, rural America.  Curtis (Michael Shannon) and Samantha (Jessica Chastain) are working-class stiffs raising a young girl with a hearing disability in small-town Ohio.  Curtis has a problem, too.  He suffers from visions and nightmares that are disturbingly realistic.  Are they a harbinger of doomsday?  Or has Curtis inherited a psychological disorder from his mother, a woman who was institutionalized for similar reasons?

Mostly, Take Shelter is an examination of one man’s descent into mental illness, but we don’t really empathize because we’re never quite sure what kind of movie we’re watching — is it a drama about the devastating effects of mental illness, a la A Beautiful Mind?  Or is it an apocalyptic thriller, an Armageddon in Ohio?  The movie doesn’t really deliver in either respect.         Grade:  B-


Shelter3     Shelter4


Director:  Jeff Nichols   Cast:  Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Natasha Randall, ron Kennard, Scott Knisley, Robert Longstreet   Release:  2011







     Watch Trailers and Clips (click here)



© 2010-2024 (text only)




In the third quarter of Sunday’s Super Bowl, NBC’s Al Michaels brushed back a tear (presumably) and informed viewers that the Patriots wanted to win the big game for team owners the Kraft family.  It was a touching moment.  Never mind New England fans; the Pats wanted to win for their multi-millionaire owners.

Earlier, New England quarterback Tom Brady had this to say about Myra Hiatt Kraft, who recently died:  “She is a woman who has been smiling down on us over the course of this season.”

I guess Mrs. Kraft decided not to smile down on the Pats during the Super Bowl and instead switched channels to Downton Abbey.  Meanwhile, Brady’s genteel wife, the supermodel Gisele Bundchen, wasn’t smiling either.  Gisele did urge fucking fans to fucking pray for the fucking Patriots.






Speaking of Downton Abbey, is it possible that the series is already jumping the shark?  Plot developments in the show’s second season have been worrisome.  One episode threatened to turn into a World War I version of Glee, with cast members gathered round a piano and breaking into song.  And there were not one, but two tear-jerking bedside vigils for wounded soldiers.

When Saturday Night Live decides it’s time to lampoon your show, which it did to Downton last week, it could signal the beginning of the end.






MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell was “shocked” by revelations about JFK’s salacious, teen-intern-banging ways.  Shocked?  Where has Mitchell been for the past, oh, 50 years? 

But I do feel bad for Andrea’s co-worker, Chris Matthews, who must have lost one of the thrills on his leg when, once again, his presidential idol was exposed as a creepy pervert.








No surprise that viewers are abandoning network television.  Judging by the abysmal pilots, NBC’s Smash (above) and ABC’s The River (below) are both crap.







83rd Annual Academy Awards - Show


Whenever the curtain falls on some Tinsel Town legend, headlines lament the end of Hollywood’s golden age.  This was the case when Liz Taylor died, and again last week when some other acting coot — I forget who — bit the dust.  But these declarations about the end of Hollywood golden-agers must come as a surprise to still-breathing icons like Kirk Douglas (95), Olivia de Havilland (95), Mickey Rooney (91), and Joan Fontaine (94) — among others.






Quote of the Week:


“What happens when a film becomes this huge, massive hit and you’re all starting to think you may win an Oscar?”

— CNN’s Piers Morgan, above, to the cast of The Artist when the stars appeared on his show.  The Artist, which has been in theaters for months, recently crawled past the $20 million mark at the box office — a mere pittance by Hollywood standards.




An FBI report on Steve Jobs includes some dirt about the much-admired genius, stemming from the 1970s when Jobs was “experimenting with marijuana and LSD.”  I guess that when you are a big shot, you don’t “do drugs” or even “take drugs.”  No, you “experiment” with drugs, as if Jobs got high while clad in a white lab coat and taking notes in a university classroom.


© 2010-2024 (text only)


 by Janet Evanovich



These Stephanie Plum novels are like mom’s meatloaf:   The ingredients never change, but they still taste good on occasion.  The only news from this 17th installment in the series is that “good girl” Stephanie finally stops fantasizing about cheating on longtime boyfriend Morelli – and goes ahead and does it.  Several times.  Morelli, supposedly an ace cop, either suspects nothing or doesn’t care.  Problem is, if he doesn’t care, why should readers?


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