Monthly Archives: February 2018

America’s Sweetheart?

 

 

I recently watched a documentary about Julia Roberts, and it appears that the lady with the big smile (and laugh) might have been “America’s Sweetheart” on the big screen but, alas, not so much in her personal life.

Five years ago, I thought spunky and charming Jennifer Lawrence might be Hollywood’s newest A.S., but she’s morphed into a P.P. – Polarizing Princess.

So Roberts and Lawrence are out of the running. And our A.S. is not likely …

 

… Nancy Pelosi with her “crumbs” comment.

The problem isn’t her message, because Pelosi is mostly correct. Compared to what the Fat Cats got out of this tax overhaul, lowly workers are getting crumbs.

The problem is the messenger. Sorry, Nancy, but multimillionaires like you don’t get to decide what the rest of us consider “crumbs.”

 

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America’s Sweetheart? (Part 2)

 

 

How do you deflect attention from your failure at the Olympics? If you’re media darling Lindsey Vonn, you try to make it all about your touching devotion to a dead grandfather – with help from a fawning press.

I suppose that’s better than resurrecting your hacked nudes. Do these pictures represent America’s Sweetheart?

 

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 (Click thumbnails for a larger view)

 

Nah, you can have Lindsey Vonn, Julia Roberts, and Jennifer Lawrence. Seems obvious to me that the real America’s Sweetheart is about to celebrate her birthday. So here’s an early “Happy 96th” to Doris Day!

 

 

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I think I speak for no one when I say that I’d like to thank the Republicans and Democrats for releasing their memos regarding the Christopher Steele dossier and the FISA Court request.

Then again, now that the GOP and Dems have explained things, I suppose we can all sleep better, because our political parties never lie, spin, or try to sway public opinion.

 

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The jury was out last week on Babylon Berlin, a German import on Netflix. Now that I’ve seen all 16 episodes, I’m prepared to give this impressive drama a big “thumbs up.”

Yeah, the subtitles are a pain, the plot is convoluted, and there are a few moments that stretch credibility, but the show looks amazing and there are some unforgettable scenes – especially for a TV show. Like this number:

 

I can’t get that song out of my head. But that’s a good thing.

 

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by Steve Rushin

 

I loved this book – but I’m hesitant to recommend it. I pause because although I’m clearly in the author’s target audience, you might not be. If I say “Mel’s Matinee Movie,” do you smile, or do you scratch your head?

Rushin grew up in a middle-class family in Minnesota in the 1970s. I’m a bit older than him, but I also grew up in a middle-class family in Minnesota in the 1970s. Rushin’s love letter to all kid-related things from that time and place naturally resonates with me. I can’t help but smile at references to Metropolitan Stadium, Southdale shopping mall, Fran Tarkenton and, yes, Mel’s Matinee Movie. But again, do you give a rip?

On the other hand, Rushin’s main theme is family life, and his anecdotes about the suburban Rushin clan will likely appeal to a wider audience. One of the blurbs on the book’s jacket compares Sting-Ray to Jean Shepherd’s depiction of family life in the 1930s. I think that’s probably apt. Even if you did not grow up, as Rushin and I did, in the frozen tundra 50 years ago, much of his warm and humorous book is universal.

 

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TV Update

 

I can’t decide if I really, really like Netflix’s foreign import Babylon Berlin, or if I just kind of, sort of, like it. It’s one of those shows that defies a standard “review,” not least because – I admit it – I’m not always quite sure of what I’m watching.

It’s a German production, and therein lies the problem: You need to brush up on your German history to follow the complex plot. And I don’t mean World War II history, but rather pre-Hitler Germany, with its confusing confluence of socialist-Stalinist-capitalist influences.

But there’s a lot to like about this 16-part series, including:

 

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The characters.   Leads Volker Bruch and Liv Lisa Fries (pictured above) are photogenic, charismatic, and sympathetic. Sure, Bruch plays a drug addict and Fries’s role is a part-time hooker, but hey, they’re Donny and Marie compared to the seedy characters in their orbit. Speaking of which, the supporting cast is superb, especially Peter Kurth (below) as corpulent, maybe-good-maybe-bad cop Bruno Wolter.

 

 

The visuals.   It’s an expensive ($40 million) production, and the money shows. The cabarets, mansions, and tenements of 1929 Berlin are rendered in magnificent detail.

 

 

The music.   It’s strange yet mesmerizing. It’s Marlene Dietrich singing “Falling in Love Again (Can’t Help It)” — not literally, but that captures the spirit.

 

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I will never understand the appeal of watching B-movies on the Syfy channel. The other day, the network ran Lake Placid 3 which, as far as I can tell, is attractive for two reasons and two reasons only: laughing at the cheesy special effects, and ogling naked starlets. Yet on SyFy, sex and nudity are edited out.

Here is what you’ll see of starlets Kacey (Clarke) Barnfield (the brunette), and Angelica Penn (the blonde) on the SyFy version of Lake Placid 3:

 

 

Here is what you’ll see on the DVD:

 

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BuzzFeed has a scary article about the future of artificial intelligence and how we humans are probably all screwed. Actually, there are quite a few articles and books about the future of artificial intelligence and how we humans are probably all screwed.

Soon, we’ll be seeing videos in which Trump (apparently) confesses that he is in fact Russian, and Obama (apparently) confesses that he was a woman named Marissa before having a 1980s operation in Denmark – and we won’t be able to tell that the videos are fake.

 

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Today’s false story that we planted on the Joker’s Updates bulletin board to get a rise out of Big Brother fans:

 

 

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Voice from the Stone

 

My main complaint with modern horror is that so much of it substitutes sound and fury for genuine suspense. Rather than build tension, these movies assault the senses with loud noise, frenzied camerawork, and gore. But there is an opposite extreme, exemplified by Voice from the Stone, in which the burn is so slow that it induces boredom.

Emilia Clarke looks lovely as a nurse employed by a grieving widower to look after his disturbed young son at their Italian estate, which, like Clarke, is lovingly photographed. But the first hour is so understated and muted that by the time things finally start to happen in the third act, I was nearly comatose. Release: 2017 Grade: C-

 

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Big Brother fans are excited because ousted Trump administration bogeywoman Omarosa (above right) is in the hamster house.

As for me, I prefer the joy of spreading false rumors in Big Brother chat rooms, like this one at Joker’s Updates:

 

 

“Shannon,” by the way, is Shannon Elizabeth. You might remember her from American Pie. If you don’t, these screen captures might jog your … memory.

 

 

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My Facebook page informs me that War of Kings, above, is a “featured game.” I’m sure it’s all about a skillful female hero who fights her way to … ah, who am I kidding? It’s obviously about her shapely ass.

 

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 “(Fill in the blank) Sparks Twitter Outrage”

Can we retire this clichéd, tired phrase already?

It’s too easy for lazy editors to find 23 people who are upset about something – anything – and to then create a stupid story about it.

Exception:

“Twitter ‘Outrage’ Sparks Twitter Outrage”

That one we can keep.

 

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This nasal-voiced, annoying chick on the Match.com commercial who says, “Come find me!” Doesn’t seem all that smart.

I am picturing some creepy serial stalker, sitting at his computer in the basement, watching this commercial and taking her request as a personal challenge.

 

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These two clowns got booted from the Winter Olympics in South Korea for startling spectators with their hilarious Donald Trump-Kim Jong-un impersonation.

Big mistake. They were vastly more entertaining than watching whiny athletes like Lindsey Vonn.

 

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Normally, I might cheer for the Philadelphia Eagles on Super Bowl Sunday simply because I’m tired of Tom Brady and the Patriots and their crab-faced coach.

But man … that would mean rewarding Eagles fans, and Eagles fans seem to be the largest collection of undeserving thugs in the country.

 

 

Go Patriots! … I guess.

 

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When the news is so relentlessly depressing, it’s tempting to just put your head in the sand until it all goes away.

 

Notice I said your head, not my head.

 

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We asked Rip to live Tweet the Grammy Awards. From time to time, he got bored and strayed off topic:

 

 

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