by C.S. Lewis

 

Wikipedia describes British intellectual Lewis as a “Christian apologist.” Really? Maybe I’m misinterpreting the term, but it doesn’t seem to me that Lewis’s writings do much “apologizing” for Christianity.

But I digress. In The Screwtape Letters, Lewis plays devil’s advocate — literally — through “Screwtape,” a high-ranking demon and advisor to his nephew “Wormwood,” a novice demon attempting to corrupt a young Englishman. In a series of letters to the nephew, Screwtape details the tricks of their trade: how to plant ungodly thoughts in an individual’s head, and then how to encourage those thoughts to flourish.

This is accomplished chiefly by appealing to the Englishman’s vanities, fears, etc., and then finding ways to justify his delusions. The great Enemy to Screwtape (and Wormwood) is, of course, Christianity.

Lewis said that he found the writing of Screwtape Letters to be “easy,” but also unpleasant. It’s not hard to see why. Like a film actor who enjoys playing villains on screen, it was probably fun to play-act Satan’s assistant. And yet, there are so many depressing aspects to human nature — so many pitfalls to being a good person — that you might not want to dwell in that role for very long.

 

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I spent a lot of time this week (gasp!) listening to women.

Not in real life, mind you, but on YouTube.

Imagine that. The Grouch doesn’t just ogle women; sometimes he listens to them!

It turns out that not every young American female is in thrall of (or dependent on) big, bad government in general, or the Democrat party in particular.

There are young women out there with different viewpoints. I don’t agree with everything these ladies espouse, but a lot of what they have to say makes sense.

Most of them advocate for more traditional ideas of society; some of them also seem to be a bit “black pilled.” Too late to reform today’s America, they say, but there is hope for future generations.

Here are links (in green) to a few of the interesting women I (gasp!) listened to:

 

 

Mary Morgan takes on a roundtable of sex workers.

 

Lauren Chen, Pearl Davis, Rachel Wilson, and Isabella Moody discuss male-female relationships in 2024. Oh yeah, and Tim Pool moderates.

 

There are some obvious contradictions here. If these women truly believe a woman’s place is in the home, then what the hell are they doing on Internet podcasts?

On the other hand, if women’s issues only gain credibility when they are addressed by actual women, then who else is going to promote conservative views? Your neighbor with a houseful of kids is much too busy.

 

**

 

Stupid Idiom of the Week:

“The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

 

Yeah, not so much in 2024. These days, if you are a powerful person who screws up, you either get promoted (“fail up”) or retire with a golden parachute.

 

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The news is awful, again, this week. But you already knew that. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels, repeating the same gripes week after week. My complaints, in general, can be summed up in two words: “Biden bad.”

We are planning a new category for The Grouchy Editor. It will be called “The Male Gaze.” The male gaze is in the doldrums these days, having fallen into disfavor with the “woke” and disappearing from reliable havens of the past like Hollywood movies. In mainstream films today, you are more likely to see a bottomless male than a topless female.

We’re going to do our small part to rescue the male gaze. This week’s “Review” is a taste of what’s to come.

 

 

 

You should never, ever grab or pinch a young woman’s bottom. Unless she asks you to. Or unless she is a Hollywood starlet hoping to impress and you are a famous director.

I thought of this when I learned of 25-year-old TikTok star Natalie Reynolds, who pushes the envelope — to put it mildly — for hits, views and likes. Reynolds is the “naked woman” referred to in the New York Post headline above.

Her videos range from cringe-inducing to borderline illegal. In one, she infiltrates a Florida neighborhood for convicted sex offenders. In another, she apparently harms (kills?) small animals. I’m not sure about the legality of these videos, but I do know I have no intention of watching them.

 

On the other hand, I can’t resist a good ass-grabbing video, which seems to be Reynolds’ specialty:

 

 

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Above, random dude grabs a piece of Natalie’s ass

 

Above, Natalie asks a stranger if he will take pictures of her butt

 

It’s hard to say who gets off more on this focus on Reynolds’s derriere, the random dudes or Reynolds herself. How else to explain her post below, in which her bottom takes a two-minute beating?

 

 

All of this ass-grabbing put me in mind of famous ass-grabbing from the past. Like the scene below from David Lynch’s Wild at Heart, in which starlet Charlie Spradling allows Nicolas Cage to, uh, examine her rear end:

 

 

Below, Cage and Laura Dern discuss the Spradling grab:

 

 

Spradling appeared in a number of mainstream movies in the 1980s-90s. Below, a screen capture from Mirror Mirror, in which she showers before succumbing to a gruesome murder, followed by her first video appearance in a soft-porn thing called High Seas Fantasy, when she was about 20.

 

 

That’s our tease for “The Male Gaze,” which in the future will take a periodic look at the objects of male ogling, past and present.

 

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Gaza Madness

 

I’m trying to follow all of the recent media uproar: the student protests, war in Gaza, D.C. politics, etc.

I am trying. But it’s hopeless. Somebody’s not telling me the truth. Or everybody’s not telling me the truth.

 

I was told, I believe, that there would be “no American boots on the ground” in Gaza:

 

 

But American boots on a pier that’s attached to Gaza ground? Doesn’t count, I guess.

 

*

 

Meanwhile, House Republicans, I was told, “control the purse-strings” of government expenditures. Yet Republicans seem more than happy to fund whatever military misadventure — Ukraine, Gaza, wherever — Biden chooses to initiate.

 

*

 

 

Now they say Biden would like to invite Gazan refugees to come live with us in the U.S. — just like the millions of “newcomers” moving in from our southern border.

 

Well, we didn’t really want Gen Z to inherit any of the country’s wealth, did we?

Poor Gen Z.

Poor all of us.

 

*

 

 

Now that we’ve decided Kristi Noem is a puppy-killing villain, can I please get un-banned from Twitter for saying that she has “nice tits”?

Just curious.

 

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by Ayn Rand

 

If I read this Ayn Rand novella just 10 years ago, my reaction to it might have gone something like this: “Interesting. Far-fetched, but interesting.”

The dystopian world Rand creates in her story depicts a society in which totalitarian collectivism rules. The protagonist is a confused soul living in a city where nothing is done — or even thought — by “I” or “me.” To do that is a crime. The only acceptable pronoun is “we.” People don’t have names; they are assigned numbers. Everyone follows, like docile sheep, the dictates of the “Council.”

Interesting, I would have thought in 2014. But people are not docile sheep, I would have thought, 10 years ago.

Flash forward to 2024, in which “he” and “she” are routinely replaced by “they,” and in which violating groupthink can cost you your livelihood. Individualism is dangerous because it threatens the well-being of the group, we are told.

I suspect the reason Anthem is not routinely cited with Brave New World and 1984 as warnings about the perils of — insert your “ism” here — is because Rand planned it in 1937 as a magazine article. It’s a very short novel. It doesn’t have the meat of 1984 or Brave New World. But it effectively conveys the same message.

 

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Best TV shows of the 21st century

 

Disclaimers:  A) This list is fiction only; no news, no documentaries, no reality TV.  B)  There are some conspicuous titles missing, not because I think they are undeserving; I simply haven’t seen them. These include shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, and Mad MenC)  Most shows on the list were superb from start to finish. A couple (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Black Mirror) are on the list for their early seasons only.  D)  These are my preferences — not a critics’ consensus, not your list, just my favorites. Here’s my list, in no particular order:

 

The Shield

 

The Shield: Two scenes stick with me, 20 years after I first watched them, on this cop drama that aired on FX at the beginning of what we now call Peak TV. The first scene is the rape of an authority figure (Captain Aceveda), who is forced to literally bend the knee to a very bad man (“Mum,” season three). The second scene is the defilement of an innocent little girl, which we don’t see but can imagine simply from seeing a dove tattoo inked onto her cheek (“The Quick Fix,” season two). The scenes are a reminder that evil can touch anyone, the weak and the powerful — which also happens to be the show’s main theme.

 

Curb Your Enthusiasm

 

Curb Your Enthusiasm: The best comedy I saw in the 2000s — although after the first few seasons, it gradually lost its sharpness. My comments here.

 

Game of Thrones: See my recent review here.

 

Breaking Bad: There have been many great crime dramas. This is the best of the best. My review here.

 

The Crown: It’s soap opera, sure, but delicious soap opera about Britain’s royal family.

 

Doc Martin

 

Doc Martin: Here we have The Andy Griffith Show for the 21st century. By the way, that’s a compliment.

 

Black Mirror: When it transitioned its creative base from England to Netflix, its quality dropped. So, its deterioration is Netflix’s fault. But when it was good, early on, it was very good.

 

Rectify

 

Rectify: This wouldn’t be much of a list if it didn’t include at least one great show of which you probably haven’t heard. Aden Young starred as an ex-convict who attempts to adjust to life on the outside after serving his sentence. The adjective “absorbing” was invented just for this drama. My review here.

 

Honorable Mention

 

Shows with flashes of genius, but which were not consistently great: Peaky Blinders, Ozark, Rescue Me, Louie.

 

**

 

Sometimes you feel like taking a break from the real news, and instead becoming TMZ:

 

 

I realize that the incident on a New Mexico film set was deadly business. But aside from that, I always find hothead Alec Baldwin’s misadventures with paparazzi and the public oddly entertaining. Possibly it’s the enraged expression on his face.

 

*

 

 

It’s got to be culture shock for Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes when he has to go from placing his hands on wife Brittany’s shapely derriere (orange bikini, above) to placing his hands between the legs of some beefy center on the line of scrimmage.

 

*

 

 

I’m not at all sure to whom these pictures are meant to appeal. Sydney Sweeney fans? Man haters? Clothed Female Naked Man fetishists? At any rate, she seems to enjoy ogling this dude’s nutsack and/or ass.

 

 © 2010-2024 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

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by James Herriot

 

I was seeking relief from the anxiety, tumult, and horror that is politics in 2024. So, when I read the adjectives “warm” and “joyful” in the blurbs for All Creatures Great and Small, I was hoping they weren’t some book publicist’s hyperbole.

Happily, they are not.

Creatures is a series of 67 short stories depicting the life of a young veterinarian in rural Yorkshire, England, in the late 1930s. Real-life vet James Herriot slightly embellishes his encounters with denizens of the countryside in stories that are sometimes sad, often hilarious, but always entertaining. If that sounds a bit sappy, rest assured it is not.

The vignettes are richly varied. In one, Herriot meets a rich man whose wife and daughters hold contempt for him; on the same day, he visits a dirt-poor farmer whose young daughter venerates her father. Which of the two men has a better life?

In another tale, an elderly widower loses his best and only friend: an old dog that Herriot cannot save.

But the majority of the stories are funny. Herriot’s life with his boss and a co-worker — two eccentric, bickering brothers — is a treasure trove of humorous episodes. And then there are the farmers: variously obstinate, inarticulate, hostile, friendly, or admirable.

I highly recommend this book. I would call it “warm” and “joyful.”

 

 

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So Many Questions …

 

I recall being told, back when Republicans took the House of Representatives, that it was great news for the right because the House “controls the purse strings.” Theoretically, the House could shut down any cockamamie proposals pushed by Democrats by simply refusing to pay for them.

Uhhh … that doesn’t seem to be happening.

My question: Is House Speaker Mike Johnson just as bad (or weak, or corrupt) as predecessor Kevin McCarthy when it comes to reining in the left?

 

**

 

It seems that Republicans in Congress are no better than the Democrats. It seems that we are royally screwed. Especially if the country votes to re-elect this delusional clown:

 

 

**

 

If Trump is convicted in New York and ordered not to leave the state, does that mean that one presidential candidate will be campaigning from Trump Tower and the other from Biden’s basement?

 

**

 

I waited five years after the conclusion of HBO’s Game of Thrones, but due to popular demand, here at last is my review of it. (Spoiler alert: the dwarf does not end up on the throne.)

 

**

 

Just in case you were wondering whatever happened to the crazy lady who alarmed fellow airplane passengers about a man who “wasn’t real.”

 

 

That’s what I call milking your 15 minutes of fame.

 

 

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OK, so I’m a bit late to the party with Game of Thrones. The show ended its run in 2019. But I was curious to find out what the fuss was about, so I spent the past four months binge-watching all 73 episodes.

I had read the first installment of George R.R. Martin’s celebrated Thrones novels years ago. I thought it was OK, but not so good that I wanted to continue reading the books. When it came to fantasy literature, I preferred The Once and Future King, or even the Harry Potter novels.

But HBO’s adaptation of Martin’s books was a cultural phenomenon. And I had missed out (I did see season 1).

In December of last year, I decided it was time for me to check out the entire series.

 

Click on any picture for a larger view

 

Main takeaways: It is a very good show. Not my all-time favorite, which remains Breaking Bad, but it’s probably in my top ten; possibly in my top five. Also, the much-maligned eighth and final season was fine. More on that later. Impressions:

 

1)  Let’s face it. The story is silly. Very silly. It has fire-breathing dragons, witches, giants, and vampire-like ice people. The miracle is that all this fantasy silliness lives in harmony with character-driven scenes in which actors deliver clever, occasionally profound dialogue. There are so many larger-than-life personalities in play, and we know it’s just a matter of time before they clash.

It’s this riveting soap opera that makes the series so addictive — even though the dragons are a hoot. 

 

2)  Season eight’s episode titled “The Bells” is essentially a 60-minute fight scene. Normally, I get bored with fight scenes before 60 seconds elapse.

Too many shows conflate deafening sound effects, speed-of-light edits, and swirling camera angles with “action.” They are not good action. It’s annoying chaos when you cannot tell who is who, what is what, where is where, and when is when.

To this episode’s credit, I was absorbed for the entire hour. Thrones is exceptionally good about this in most of its action scenes.

 

3)  I am going to defend season eight as a whole. I thought it was fine. I’m thinking a lot of fans were disappointed by the ending because their favored characters did not wind up on the throne. If you loved Arya and Arya wound up ruling the seven (or six) kingdoms, you’d probably be fine with season eight. Ditto for Jon Snow, Daenerys, et. al.

Season eight also had satisfying wrap-ups for most of the show’s major characters.

 

King’s Landing

 

4)  Much of the CGI in Game of Thrones looked fake, including King’s Landing castles, and the dragons, but I didn’t care. Ray Harryhausen’s skeleton soldiers in 1963’s Jason and the Argonauts also looked fake, but I enjoyed them anyway.

 

5)  The themes were timeless. If you follow politics in 2024, you will recognize many of the same issues and characters in fictional Westeros that we see on the daily news. Are things better with men in charge, or women? How much democracy is too much democracy? Is blood really thicker than water? Are the White Walkers a metaphor for climate change? Would you shoot your abusive father while he is sitting on the john?

 

6) All the gratuitous nudity. Call me old fashioned, or call me a chauvinist pig, but I appreciate that the naked ladies looked like real naked ladies from any historical time period — save the last 30 years. Medieval broads did not have Life Time Fitness. They did not have abs or pecs. They were soft and cuddly.

 

7) Season eight was heavily criticized for abandoning the show’s leisurely pace. But if I had a complaint about earlier seasons, it was that some of the plotlines tended to drag. I am thinking of Arya’s endless apprenticeship as “a girl.” I am thinking of Daenerys’s reign in the continent of Essos. For the most part, Bran’s journey was a bore (the three-eyed fucking raven?).

 

8)  Too often, when the good guys are suddenly surrounded by bad guys, or even armies, and things look dire, they are rescued at the last minute by allies with perfect timing. You can get by with that sort of deus ex machina occasionally, but it happens a lot in Thrones.

 

Overall, Game of Thrones was an excellent show. Its dark moments were often shocking. Its action sequences were well done. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss took a lot of shit for, allegedly, letting down fans in the show’s later seasons. I think they did a bang-up job. A better job than George R.R. Martin in the first book.

I’m going to miss Game of Thrones. Is it my favorite show of all time? No. Does it make my top ten? Definitely. In my top five? Hmmm, maybe. Ask me again in a few years.

 

 

Favorite duo:  Arya and “The Hound” (above)

 

Character I was supposed to love, but did not:  Jorah Mormont

 

 

Character I disliked at first. But much like his waistline, he grew on me:  Samwell Tarly (above)

 

Best villain: Can’t list all of them. But here are my top five: Cersei Lannister, Joffrey Baratheon, Tywin Lannister, Ramsay Bolton, Walder Frey

 

 

Glue holding the entire series together:  Tyrion Lannister (above), of course

 

Best nudes:  Because I have little interest in Hodor’s crowbar or Peter’s dinklage, I’m focusing on Thrones’s actresses.

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

Carice van Houten (above) was not shy about showing her goods — all of them

 

Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter, Oona (above) in a cheeky scene

 

Hottest Nudes

 

Nathalie Emmanuel front (above) and back (below)

 

 

Emilia Clarke (above and below), who was every (male’s) queen

 

 

 

Airdates: 2011-2019   Grade: A-

 

 

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Many years ago, when I was a lowly college student, I was walking with my roommate to a bar in downtown St. Cloud, Minnesota. As we progressed, we approached a group of people, two men and their two female dates.

As we passed the foursome, I was suddenly stopped in my tracks. My glasses went flying. Without halting and without any exchange of words, one of the dudes had punched me in the nose.

To say I was stunned would be an understatement.

So, I can relate to the women being randomly punched on city streets.

However, aside from our gender, there is one key difference between my random assault and theirs: I didn’t vote for it.

These young women, living in New York City and most likely liberal, probably voted for policies like sanctuary cities and jail reform. Now they are learning the consequences of their votes.

 

**

 

Like much of America, I got caught up in the hype over Caitlin Clark and wound up watching not one, but two women’s college basketball games.

It was entertaining.

Because I am an avowed dirty old man, I couldn’t help but notice Clark teammate Gabbie Marshall and a former player named Kelsey Plum, who was watching one game from the stands.

Marshall and Plum might not have Clark’s star power, but I discovered that they do have Instagram pages:

 

Gabbie Marshall

 

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*

 

Kelsey Plum watching the game

 

When a girl poses for a photo like the one above, she does realize that the focus of attention is her bum, does she not?

 

April must be camel-toe month at The Weekly Review (see last week).

 

**

 

Israel versus Everyone Else in the Middle East

 

Like most people on the Internet, I like to have opinions on current events.

But as for Israel and its enemies in the Middle East … I don’t have a clue.

I give up. You tell me.

 

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