Monthly Archives: October 2020

 

R.I.P. 007

 

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I’m at the point where I don’t plan to vote for or against Trump or Biden. I’m going to vote against the media.

 

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Since most of us agree, at least in theory, that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, I’m suggesting to conservatives that, should Trump lose the election, they immediately launch investigations, lawsuits, and impeachment proceedings against President Biden.

Hey, if that was fair for Trump, it must be fair for Biden.

 

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Should things go badly on Tuesday, and America rushes toward its destiny with George Orwell’s 1984, I am envisioning my future self as either a) Rod Taylor’s character in 1960’s The Time Machine, in which I will be stranded in a society of airheaded snowflakes (Millennials), who are periodically terrorized by the physically repulsive Morlocks (Deplorables); or b) the old man (Peter Ustinov, above) in Logan’s Run, who is the only person left on Earth with memory of things like free speech and books.

 

Above, a Deplorable attacks a Millennial in The Time Machine

 

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My fear is that, should Biden prevail, it will be because people who don’t follow politics believe that the only way to halt our endless riots, boycotts and protests is to give Trump the boot.

These folks might sigh heavily and say to themselves, “I give up. Let’s try someone else.”

OK sure, Biden might bring some (temporary) relief. But at what cost?

 

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What No One Seems to Be Talking About:

 

Maybe we don’t talk about this because we already have our plate full battling the coronavirus, but … what’s to stop some other evil entity – be it China again or some other country – from unleashing another virus on the world? And what if the new virus is even more deadly?

 

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I’m old enough to remember the “British Invasion” of the early 1960s, and it was a thing to behold – especially in music and movies. The Big Three back then were The Beatles, Alfred Hitchcock (The Birds, Psycho) and last but certainly not least, Sean Connery’s James Bond.

So, forgive me if I’m a bit depressed over the passing today of another giant of my childhood.

 

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Dinkle (Not) vs. King

 

 

Last week, I said I’d get back to you if Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit went sour. It didn’t.

I’m going to give it Grade: A.

I don’t do that very often.

 

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It’s Halloween. Let’s end this review with the scariest ad of the season:

 

 

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I don’t know how to play chess. In the past, I didn’t care to learn because chess seemed like a boring game to me. Today, I confess I don’t play because chess intimidates me. If I were to begin playing and then suck at it, and continue to suck at it, I might have to admit to myself that I am not smart enough for this intellectual pursuit.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not intrigued by the so-called Game of Kings. I read a book about American chess genius Bobby Fischer (Endgame), watched a documentary about him (Bobby Fischer Against the World), and was moved by 1993’s Searching for Bobby Fischer, Steve Zaillian’s drama about a child chess prodigy.

And now there is Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, an addictive miniseries about another chess wunderkind, played by Anya Taylor-Joy (pictured above).

I am finding the climactic chess matches between Beth (Taylor-Joy) and whatever (always male) opponent she is matched with just as exciting as Rocky Balboa’s boxing encounters with Apollo Creed. No, wait; I am finding the scenes in Queen’s Gambit more exciting.

Rocky can swallow all the raw eggs in the world and cry “Yo, Adrian!” until he’s blue in the face, and he is still not as intriguing as the socially stunted, steely-eyed Beth Harmon in Queen.

Of course, I’ve only seen the first three episodes. If future episodes suck (unlikely), I’ll get back to you.

 

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Kristen Welker was surprisingly good as a debate moderator. Also, she looked smashing in that outfit.

 

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At this point, I’m guessing that everyone who is going to vote knows who he or she is going to vote for.

Then again … I remember driving to my polling place in November 2016, and still not being entirely sure about who I planned to vote for.

 

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Dinkle vs. King

 

 

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Silly me. I thought the week’s big news would stem from Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing, which instead has been the week’s big snooze.

Although I will have to say, it’s good that we got to the bottom of whether she hates puppies (Sen. John Kennedy) and whether she’s raped anyone (Sen. Mazie Hirono).

 

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“Why would the NBA take 500 million dollars-plus from a country that is engaging in ethnic cleansing?” — Megyn Kelly to Mark Cuban

“So basically, you’re saying nobody should do business with China ever,” Cuban retorted. “They are a customer of ours, and guess what, Megyn? I’m OK with doing business with China.”

 

By that logic, Cuban would have had no problem “doing business” with Hitler in 1944.

 

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I’ve always felt that the danger of “election interference” from Russia pales in comparison to election interference from Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Jack Dorsey. Seriously, who has more influence on social discourse in America, Russian political ads, or the overlords of Facebook, Twitter and Google?

 

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The Banality of Evil

 

I used to think the face of evil looked a lot like this:

 

 

Not anymore. Now I think the face of evil looks like a frat boy:

 

        Mark Zuckerberg                      Sundar Pichai                       Jack Dorsey

 

The problem with these guys is that they have no background in journalism, yet their platforms have been thrust – big-time – into the arena of politics. And nerds-at-heart Jack and Mark and Sundar want nothing more than to be in with the “cool” people. Because they are nerds.

Come to think of it, that’s the same problem most mainstream journalists have.

 

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Twitter and Facebook are censoring Donald Trump, the White House spokeswoman, House Republicans, and the New York Post – and there are still Democrats who scoff at the idea that social-media titans are attempting to swing the election to Joe Biden?

 

 

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What she said.

 

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I’m throwing another lifeline to Netflix’s To the Lake. It’s a good show that is apparently getting zero attention (a measly three reviews on Rotten Tomatoes). If Netflix could give a boost to Schitt’s Creek, surely it can raise the profile of this gem.

 

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It’s been years since I watched The Price Is Right, but I happened to be home in the daytime recently and good grief. Is there a more attractive woman than Price model Manuela Arbelaez (below)?

 

 

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by Sidney Lumet

 

We often hear movie directors described as artists (the good ones) or box-office kings (all too often, the bad ones). But I think that the best of them might better be described as superb “craftsmen.” They don’t just mold the story and the actors; they are on top of every technical detail. Think of Alfred Hitchcock — or Sidney Lumet.

Making Movies is a great book for film students and film nuts (people like me). It is not for you if you are seeking juicy gossip about celebrities. You’ll also be disappointed if you are interested in biographical information about Lumet. Other than a few brief mentions of his wife, there is next to no personal data.

But Lumet, who died in 2011, directed some of my all-time favorite films, including Fail Safe, The Verdict, Dog Day Afternoon and Running on Empty. Behind-the-scenes details about any of those gems are catnip to me. This book is loaded with them.

Some of Lumet’s observations about the trials and tribulations of making films are dated, because this was published in 1996, long before digital movies and streaming services like Netflix became commonplace. But what hasn’t changed is the passion and devotion to a single goal common to most great movies — and great moviemakers. For that sort of thing, this is a book for you.

 

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If the polls are right – and they are never wrong, are they? – half the country is about to find out what the other half has been feeling for the past four years.

The big question: If Trump does in fact go down in three weeks, will the unhappy right react the same way that the left did, i.e., like whining, screaming, recalcitrant, spoiled brats?

 

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TV Tidbits

 

My early impressions of two new series on Netflix:

 

The Haunting of Bly Manor – cliched stuff. It’s handsomely produced, but Henry James-pedigreed or not, everything in this show feels so been-there, done-that. Caveat: That’s based on viewing just the first episode.

 

To the Lake – a very pleasant surprise. I’ve consumed one other Russian series, The Method, which was watchable but odd. It felt as though many of the characters and stories on that crime drama had dropped into my television from Tolstoy’s Russia, even though the show was set in present day.

 

Above, The Method with Paulina Andreeva and Konstantin Khabenskiy

 

But Lake, through four episodes, is relentlessly gripping. The story is stale – deadly, zombie-like epidemic envelops the world – but the Russian creative team makes it fresh and exciting.

 

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One thing both The Method and To the Lake have in common: hot actresses. Unlike Russia-Gate or whatever you want to call it, this is one Russian invasion I can live with.

See for yourself (click on photos for a larger view):

 

 

Paulina Andreeva (The Method)

 

 

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Viktoriya Agalakova (To the Lake)

 

 

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Maryana Spivak (To the Lake)

 

 

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Natalya Zemtsova (To the Lake)

 

 

Because it was absolutely essential to the plot, at one point in the third episode, three of the four female stars of To the Lake appear in a nude sauna scene. This includes the pregnant Natalya Zemtsova, who was either actually pregnant during filming, or had use of one very convincing prosthetic stomach.

 

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The Grouchy Editor has been criticized for focusing too much on naked ladies at the expense of actual news (see above). But Hugh Hefner has gone to that bunny hutch in the sky, and someone has to carry on the tradition.

Also, what are we supposed to do when the New York Post informs us that the head coach of our favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings, is dating this girl?

 

 

 

No wonder Zimmer’s team is 1-3. How’s a coach supposed to concentrate on football when he wakes up to that in the morning?

 

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Haunt

Above, frightened young people in Haunt

 

Wait …

Sorry about that. That picture is from a GEICO commercial.

 

Above, frightened young people in Haunt

 

I was relieved when Haunt did not open with an aerial shot of young people in a van driving through the country, because way too many horror flicks begin with an aerial shot of young people in a van driving through the country. Alas, my hopes were dashed some 30 minutes later when — you guessed it — young people in a van drive through the country. At night. On their way to an “extreme” haunted house.

I liked the premise of this movie because it’s simple, like most horror movies should be. Terror at a haunted house. If it was good enough for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it should be good enough for Haunt.

But once our heroes arrive at the spooky joint, I was instead reminded of the GEICO commercial in which clueless kids run from a chainsaw-wielding maniac — rather than hop in a running car and simply drive away. In Haunt, our heroes encounter a gang of deranged people who, for reasons that are never explained, decide it would be fun to create an elaborate maze with which to terrorize random young people.

I began clock-watching — always a bad sign — to see how much longer the movie would last. At least the Geico commercial was only 30 seconds long.  Release: 2019  Grade: C-

 

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“Wokeness” rules the day in Enola Holmes

 

Enola Holmes

 

Watching Millie Bobby Brown in this Netflix movie, I was reminded of early Hayley Mills. Brown and Mills started out in kid-friendly hits (Disney flicks for Hayley; Stranger Things for Millie), then both branched out into more tween-oriented fluff: Enola Holmes and The Moon-Spinners.

We’re talking about two youthful Brits with charisma up the butt, appealing to both kids and adults. When I was a youngster, I was infatuated with Hayley. If I was a tween today, I might well be equally smitten with Brown. For both of these charmers, the word “spunk” comes to mind.

As an adult, however, I was put off by Enola Holmes’s heavy-handed feminism and the imposition of woke sensibilities on 19th-century Britain.

But this is 2020, and that sort of thing is, apparently, inevitable.

Kids grade: B+

Adult grade: C

 

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Some election-outcome advice:

 

The tough thing is going to be maintaining an even emotional keel. Just remember, if your guy loses, it’s not the end of the world. Also good to remember: If your guy wins, most of the problems we have right now are not going to go away.

You’re welcome.

Now if only I was confident that I will be taking my own advice.

 

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Everyone was on pins and needles, anxiously awaiting the (supposedly) traditional “October Surprise.” Leave it to Donald Trump. He doesn’t do surprises; Trump does bombshells.

 

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Debate Takeaway:

 

I was surprised to learn, courtesy of Chris Wallace, that a small group called the Proud Boys is largely responsible for all the violence plaguing our cities. Silly me. And good for Chris, son of Mike, for pressing Trump on why he won’t denounce this scourge on society, these “Proud Boys.”

I am so clueless. Here I was, thinking that it was leftist groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter that were wreaking all the havoc.

 

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I keep harping on this, probably to no avail. But Tucker Carlson put it better than I could:

 

 

If we could just get a handle on our outrageous income inequality, 95 percent of our other problems would go away, or at least diminish. Everyone has to have a shot at The American Dream — or at the very least, believe they have a shot at it.

 

 

What she said. Although, I would also put the onus on Republicans.

 

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Dinkle vs. King

 

 

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