grouchyeditor.com Days

 

Everyone’s Report Card for Donald’s First 100 Days

 

Donald:   F

Media:   F

Republicans:   F

Democrats:   F

American People:   F

The World:   F

Kim Jong-un:   Incomplete (testing)

 

Hey, plenty of room for improvement!

 

*****

 

Fortitude is a deeply stupid show, with plots that grow more and more outrageous, hammy performances from some decent actors, and no redeeming value.

So why do I keep watching it? I am mesmerized by the sets. I can’t seem to get enough of the remote Icelandic village where they film this ridiculous series: the cozy bar, the imposing mountain, the cool city hall, the frigid, deadly environs. I just need to hit the mute button, sit back, and enjoy.

 

 

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Butt of the Joke

 

 

“Off camera, [Tomi] Lahren was a ‘diva’ who expected royal treatment to the extreme, sources said. Lahren demanded staffers heat up her ‘butt warming pad’ in the microwave before every show, those sources said. ‘She expected to be treated like a queen,’ one source said, referring to Lahren’s butt pad demands as ‘dehumanizing’ to her staff, adding: ‘To demand they warm your butt pad is absurd.’” – The Daily Caller

 

 

If she’s still looking for a butt-warmer, we can lend a hand.

 

 

 

*****

 

This is what happens when you insult a celebrity on Twitter:

 

 

 

*****

 

Somehow, I became Facebook “friends” with a guy named Anthony who lives in New Zealand or Australia or someplace like that. I don’t know a thing about him, but his posts are a never-ending source of amusement.

 

 

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Musings About S-Town

 

It’s not like the first Serial podcast, which was a whodunit. It’s not like the second Serial, which was about military desertion. But it is like the first two series in that it’s an engrossing bed-time story.

 

Headlines and ads that promote S-Town as a “murder mystery” or “true crime” are full of Bull-S. It’s a human-interest podcast, the story of a closeted gay man stuck in the sticks of Alabama.

 

It does paint a stereotypical picture of Woodstock, Alabama. Very little time is spent interviewing residents who actually like the place – even though they exist. Listeners who disdain Trump voters will have their worst, Hills Have Eyes impressions of Middle America confirmed by the parade of racially insensitive, tattooed, drunken illiterates.

 

Host Brian Reed’s prissy delivery was an acquired taste for me. If the residents of Woodstock come off as stereotypical rednecks, Reed sounds to me like a stereotypical wine-sipping, Hillary-loving, Brooklyn hipster. In fairness, when you venture into the heart of the Deep South, as Reed does, you probably can’t be accused of seeking a “safe space.” 

 

There is no denying the charisma of John B. McLemore, the main character. We spend hours listening to him ramble and carp about everything from global warming to small-town gossip, but I never tired of his spiels.

 

 

*****

 

 

I recently watched a decent movie called The Witch.

There is a scene in which a boy lost in the woods stumbles upon a spooky hut – you know, like in “Hansel and Gretel” but without Gretel. And out of the doorway steps a witch, but a very beguiling witch. Who was this sexy but ominous-looking actress?

Some model from Australia named Sarah Stephens, it turns out. Her creepy witch cast a spell on me, so here she is doing her day job:

 

 

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Red Eye, the cancelled late-night panel show on Fox, went out not with a bang but a whimper. The brainchild of Fox court jester Greg Gutfeld, Red Eye was an odd hybrid of political talk, video clips, and general gibberish, but I’m going to miss it. It was just about the only show on cable news that allowed guests to say whatever the hell they wanted to say, no matter how warped.

But mostly, I’m going to miss Red Eye because it usually featured at least one leggy piece of ass like former Miss America Kirsten Haglund, who on Wednesday’s show gave her seat-mate a boner:

 

Here is Haglund giving all of us a boner:

 

.                 grouchyeditor.com Kirsten Haglund   grouchyeditor.com Kirsten Haglund   grouchyeditor.com Kirsten Haglund

 (Click on pictures for a larger view)

 

*****

 

Foreign Crime Dramas on Netflix

 

I recently watched three of these subtitled sobrieties on Netflix, and all of them featured nude cadavers being examined by cops:

 

.                 grouchyeditor.com Bordertown    grouchyeditor.com Break    grouchyeditor.com Sejour

.                         Bordertown                     The Break                 Hotel Beau Sejour

 

My favorite was the dead black guy’s penis that kept popping up in episodes of The Break. The penis was on the morgue slab; the penis was in a photo pinned to a bulletin board. The penis was everywhere.

 

As for the actual quality of these shows:

The Break:  Very good

Hotel Beau Sejour:  Illogical but absorbing

Bordertown:  I can’t make heads or tails of it

 

*****

 

Rumor has it that Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly had a tough time choosing between several covers for his new book about old-school sexual harassment:

 

grouchyeditor.com Old Schoolgrouchyeditor.com Old Schoolgrouchyeditor.com Old School

 

*****

 

grouchyeditor.com Syria

 

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grouchyeditor.com Aesop's Fables 

We can learn something from these ancient stories, which have been handed down from generation to generation since a Greek slave named Aesop supposedly compiled them. What can we learn? Humans have been passing down state-the-obvious drivel for a long, long time.

“The Tortoise and the Hare,” “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” – for every one of those legendary tales, which actually have a point, Aesop delivers ten more pearls of wisdom like this one:

 

The Gnat and the Bull

A Gnat alighted on one of the horns of a Bull, and remained sitting there for a considerable time. When it had rested sufficiently and was about to fly away, it said to the Bull, “Do you mind if I go now?” The Bull merely raised his eyes and remarked, without interest, “It’s all one to me; I didn’t notice when you came, and I shan’t know when you go away.”

 

Feel smarter now?

 

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Arrival

 

If Arrival is supposed to be the 2001: A Space Odyssey for today’s generation, I feel sorry for today’s generation. The film plays mind games with us and yearns to be profound, but I found it pretentious and nonsensical. It’s like those time-travel movies that expect to be taken seriously, even though time travel is considered impossible – at least by today’s science.

When aliens land on Earth, star Amy Adams’s linguist is recruited to decipher their message. The “universal truths” she decodes are meant to be hopeful, but I’m thinking most of us would go mad at worst, or be psychologically paralyzed at best, were they our actual reality.

And dare I point out that Arrival’s clichéd plot is sexist? Once again we have a situation in which all the boys want to do is make war, and only a female is intuitive enough to break through to the aliens.  Release: 2016  Grade: C+

 

**

 

Room

grouchyeditor.com Room

 

Room is structured as two movies in one, and both halves are superb. The first half is a harrowing thriller, apparently inspired by the Ariel Castro kidnappings in Cleveland, in which a young woman and her son are imprisoned for years in a small shed. The second half is a gut-wrenching drama about the fallout when the victims (Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay) finally escape and must reintegrate into the real world. Release: 2015  Grade: A

 

**

 

The Love Witch

grouchyeditor.com Samantha Robinson

 

I’m not sure if this colorful but clunky film is intended as parody or homage to 1960s supernatural thrillers (think Hammer Films), but either way it feels forced and flat. Comely Samantha Robinson (above) plays a modern-day witch who uses potions and sex appeal to seduce one hapless male after another, but alas, none of them are up to her retro-feminist standards. If you want to chuckle at genre fare like this, I suggest you check out the real deal. Say, The Brides of Dracula? Release: 2016  Grade: C

 

**

 

The Witch

grouchyeditor.com Witch

 

A Puritan family in 1600s New England, banished to the wilderness for transgressing against village mores, finds life in the wild an unholy nightmare when someone – or something – begins to bedevil them. Mostly, this is an ultra-realistic, atmospheric study of the struggle to survive at that time and place, with religion serving as both a source of comfort and terror to the family as it confronts something wicked in the woods. Release: 2015  Grade:  B+

 

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The Spookiest Man in the World?

 

I still don’t understand why this dude was able to skate after lying to Congress.

But when former spooks keep warning us that the intelligence community is spying on all of us … makes you wonder if Teflon James Clapper might have dirt on everyone in D.C.

It’s hard to prosecute a guy who knows what you’ve been up to in the bedroom.

 

*****

 

Most Recent Word that the Media Loves to Use:

“pivot”

 

*****

 

 

I keep hearing that the Age of the Robots has arrived. There are stories about robots on the roads, robots in the service industry, robots in the sky, etc. But when I go to the grocery store or drive around the city, I never see any robots.

I must live in a bad neighborhood.

 

*****

 

 

I got hooked on American Crime last year, but I’m not sure if I can make it through another season. I doubt that there is a drama on television that is more relentlessly depressing than this show.

Want to know what it’s like to be a teenage prostitute? How about an illegal alien working the fields? Or a low-income social worker desperate to have a baby? Want to die in a burning trailer? All of this is from just the first three episodes this season.

Also, I believe the show should be renamed American Close-up. The camera is routinely placed six inches from each actor’s face and then just sits there.

 

*****

 

 

I finally found a sitcom that makes me laugh out loud – something I haven’t done since Curb Your Enthusiasm.

I keep extolling the virtues of Schitt’s Creek, because when no one knows your show exists, your show isn’t long for this world.

 

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Barney Fife in a haunted-house movie – who wouldn’t hand over their last (and only) bullet to see that?

OK, maybe you wouldn’t. But I have a great deal of affection for The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, the 1966 Don Knotts vehicle that might have been the first motion picture I saw all by myself, unfettered by parents or older siblings, in an honest-to-goodness movie house.

I recently re-watched Mr. Chicken, and I am happy to report that I still find it enjoyable. Silly and featherweight, sure, but fun. Is it remotely scary? Not unless you’re about the same age I was when I first saw it 50 years ago. But it’s suitably creepy in that old-dark-house mode that Hollywood does so well.

 

 A Barney and Otis reunion

 

The plot:

Luther Heggs (Knotts) is a lowly typesetter at the Rachel (Kansas) Courier Express. Luther dreams of becoming a big-time journalist and of winning the prettiest girl in town, Alma (Joan Staley). Unfortunately for Luther, he is Luther: timid, bumbling, tongue-tied and inept. But opportunity knocks when Luther is tasked with spending the night in the Simmons Mansion, or “murder house,” to commemorate the 20th anniversary of a murder-suicide that might or might not be unsolved.

 

The “murder house”

 

What I Like:

1.  Nostalgia, if you were a 1960s kid. The jazzy opening theme reminds me of early James Bond soundtracks. The spooky mansion is straight out of The Munsters (reportedly, some of the same Universal Studios sets were used in both Munsters and Mr. Chicken). The locale is a small town in the Midwest; I was raised in a small town in the Midwest.

 

Reta Shaw demonstrates small-town flirtation with Dick Sargent

 

2.  The Don Knotts in this film is the Don Knotts we knew from The Andy Griffith Show. I was never a fan of Knotts’s other famous TV character, Mr. Furley from Three’s Company. Mr. Furley was too lascivious. I preferred naive Barney Fife. Regardless, very few actors did fear and false bravado as well as Knotts.

 

Don Knotts does his thing

 

3.  The plot is your basic haunted-house story, nothing you haven’t already seen with Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis, or Bob Hope. But the screenplay is peppered with delightfully quirky throwaway scenes: The elevator that won’t stay put. The picnic speech. The oddball townie who, out of nowhere and seemingly everywhere, keeps hollering “Attaboy Luther!”

 

 The intrepid reporter

 

4.  That organ music.

 

The infamous organ

 

5.  Joan Staley. Who is Joan Staley? This is Joan Staley (NSFW).

 

Alma matters to Luther

 

6.  And finally, for anyone who appreciates vintage 1960s cinema and sitcoms, this movie features the finest collection of comic actors from that era – although if you blink you might miss some of them. Take a look at the rogues gallery of familiar faces who appear in Mr. Chicken in the sidebar at the end of this review.  Grade: B+

 

 Our hero

 

Director: Alan Rafkin  Cast: Don Knotts, Joan Staley, Liam Redmond, Dick Sargent, Skip Homeier, Reta Shaw, Lurene Tuttle, Philip Ober, Harry Hickox, Charles Lane  Release: 1966

 

 

Watch the Trailer (click here)

 

Remember These Faces?

 

.                    

                             Hal Smith                               Reta Shaw                           Dick Sargent

.                    

                             Burt Mustin                           Lurene Tuttle                       Eddie Quillan

.                    

                            Charles Lane                         Harry Hines                         Ellen Corby

.                       

                            Herbie Faye                            Jesslyn Fax                        James Millhollin

 

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grouchyeditor.com Ghost

 See below

 

*****

 

Quote of the week, courtesy of some political wag on Fox News:

 

 

grouchyeditor.com Wimpy

“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

 

 

Words of wisdom, indeed. The speaker on Fox – I didn’t catch his name – was of course quoting J. Wellington Wimpy, pictured above, who is immortalized in Popeye.

 

If you are unfamiliar with J. Wellington Wimpy, just know that in any civilized culture it is important that some prominent names be passed down from one generation to the next. For your edification, here is a clip of the burger-loving icon.

 

*****

 

grouchyeditor.com Ghost 

Hollywood has lost its way with its alarming lack of nudity in recent horror movies. Horror fans used to be assured that, even if the movie sucked, which was most of the time, at least there would be a gratuitous shower scene. Or two.

 

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, 50 years old but still a lot of fun, played on television the other day. We did a search for leading lady Joan Staley (above with co-star Don Knotts) and discovered that she was Playboy’s Playmate of the Month in November 1958:

 

.                    grouchyeditor.com Joan Staley                 grouchyeditor.com Joan Staley

 

.                    grouchyeditor.com Joan Staley               grouchyeditor.com Joan Staley

(Click on pictures for larger views) 

 

And so even in 1966, Hollywood horror-makers knew that cheesecake was key.

 

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Shadow of Truth

grouchyeditor.com Shadow

 

Shadow of Truth is a crime documentary in the mode of Making a Murderer, but I thought it was even more disturbing than Netflix’s 2015 miniseries. Both series suggest that an innocent man is incarcerated for a murder he didn’t commit. But in Murderer the mystery revolves around an apparently commonplace sex-crime, whereas in this Israeli series, the killer of a high school girl was, possibly, motivated by a bizarre, gruesome compulsion. One complaint:  Four episodes are not enough to do justice to such a convoluted case. Release: 2016  Grade: B+

 

**

 

Lights Out

grouchyeditor.com Lights Out

 

A Malevolent Something named “Diana” terrorizes a single mother and her two kids in this James Wan-related horror flick (he produced). Diana only appears to her victims when the lights are off, and director David Sandberg makes good use of our primal fear of the dark and the fact that what we don’t see is often scarier than what we do. Too bad Sandberg’s treatment of our other sense, hearing, is much less sensitive. To me, it’s cheating when every scare-shot is accompanied by a DEAFENING SOUNDTRACKRelease: 2016  Grade: C+

 

**

 

Train to Busan

grouchyeditor.com Train to Busan

 

I guess it’s a cultural thing, but Korean movies are often unintentionally humorous to my American eyes. The South Korean actors don’t just cry; they wail hysterically. They don’t just shout; they scream at the top of their lungs. It comes off like a clinic on how to overact.

On the other hand, it’s refreshing to find a snark-free, sarcasm-free story — like time traveling back to 1950s Hollywood for wholesome, goofy fun but with modern special effects. Busan is non-stop entertaining, with heroes who are clearly good and villains who do all but wear black hats when passengers on a high-speed train do battle with zombies. It’s a lot of fun. Just try not to chuckle too much at the acting.  Release: 2016  Grade: B+

 

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