Monthly Archives: March 2016

by Wilkie Collins White


I do love me some Victorian literature. Dickens, Thackeray, the Brontes — masterful writers, all of them.  The Woman in White, published in 1859 by England’s Wilkie Collins, is not one of my favorites from that era, but it does have its charms.


The plot:  A pair of plucky Britons does battle with an evil Italian spy when the corpulent con artist attempts to swindle a young heiress by replacing her with a lookalike impostor.

What I liked:  The lengthy melodrama was initially published in serial form, and it’s easy to see how magazine readers of the day got hooked. Collins is a master at building slow-burn suspense: It can be a bit of a slog on the way to a chapter’s climax but, once you get there, the payoff is often rewarding. Collins also introduces a villain for the ages in the egotistical, silver-tongued Count Fosco.

What I didn’t like:  The youthful heroes aren’t nearly as interesting as the malevolent count. The beautiful heiress is typical of so many “damsels in distress” found in Victorian literature, a fragile specimen who faints at the slightest provocation and must be shielded from anything and everything remotely unpleasant. (She’s an apparent precursor to some of today’s college students, with their “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces.”) Here is one passage describing the precious snowflake that is Lady Glyde:


“The effect of the good news on poor Lady Glyde was, I grieve to say, quite overpowering. She was too weak to bear the violent reaction, and in another day or two she sank into a state of debility and depression which obliged her to keep her room. Rest and quiet, and change of air afterwards, were the best remedies which Mr. Dawson could suggest for her benefit.”


And that’s how she reacts to the good news.


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.    Worry1      Worry2










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U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro attend a baseball game between Tampa Bay Rays and Cuba's National Team at the Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana


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Quote of the Week:



“I had no idea that Trump and Pecker went back as far as they do.”

— MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, commenting on Donald Trump’s friendship with National Enquirer honcho David Pecker.


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Share None


***** Spike


Battle of the Sexists


Just when it looks as if the presidential campaign can’t possibly get any more juvenile … the nation must now prepare itself for what looks to be an epic battle between Hillary and Donald. In other words, boys against girls.

According to her detractors, Hillary wants to help everyone except white males. According to his detractors, Donald mostly wants to, uh, help attractive females. Toss in Melania, Monica, Megyn, and Bill, and this election should be the most fun any of us have had since we gave each other cooties in kindergarten.

(In the picture above, that’s Trump on the left, obviously. Not sure if the girl is Clinton or Fox anchor Megyn Kelly.)


***** None


The so-called golden age of television seems to be in a creative lull – at least in terms of one-hour dramas and miniseries produced in the U.S.A. There are a few pretty good new shows (Billions, The People v. O. J. Simpson, et al), but nothing I’d call “must-see TV.”

Thank goodness for the British, at least this week, for giving us two dramatic treats: And Then There Were None on Lifetime (I know, I know – Lifetime? I can’t believe it either), and the second season of Happy Valley on Netflix. The former is my second-favorite adaptation of the classic Agatha Christie mystery. Lifetime’s British import (pictures above and at bottom) is gloomy, moody, and more faithful to the original novel, but I still give a slight edge to the 1945 movie, which is completely different in tone (light and fun), but oh-so-entertaining.

As for Happy Valley, I binge-watched all six episodes in one day, mostly for one reason: Sarah Lancashire (pictured below) absolutely rules as crime-fighting grandmother Catherine Cawood, a Yorkshire copper whose beat comprises a valley community that is anything but happy. Yes, I said “crime-fighting grandmother,” which in this case is nowhere near as precious as it sounds. We are not talking about Miss Marple. Click here to read my review of the first season. Happy Valley None


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Share Trump




Sure is a relief that America put all of its racial problems behind it in the 1960s … isn’t it?




Instead of shutting down Trump rallies, I suggest we shut down this kind of thing: Girl


***** Obama


I don’t suppose Obama’s good news has anything to do with the current crop of idiots hoping to move into the White House.


***** Trump 2




Trump can be very humble about his good qualities. After all, he admits that Lincoln might be more presidential, and that the Bible might be better than Trump: The Art of the Deal. But as this wacky article from The Daily Beast demonstrates, no one is more entertaining than Trump when he pops up in your dreams.




Louis C.K.’s courageous stand


A summary of the comedian’s political advice to his followers this week:


Trump is Hitler, but I don’t want to lose any conservative fans, so I recommend that you vote for that bold and fresh Republican voice, John Kasich.


Then again, I can’t really blame Louis for speaking out. This is easily the craziest presidential election process that I’ve ever witnessed, and I’ve voted in all of them since 1976. But geez … John Kasich?


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Unfriended Unfriend


For anyone who’s ever been creeped out by an anonymous lurker, or a troll, on the Internet, Unfriended will hit home at least for the first half of the movie, in which a small group of tech-savvy teens find their Skype call invaded by an unwelcome visitor. Unfortunately, events that follow – involving a ghost and some vicious online behavior – grow more and more ridiculous. If nothing else, the movie, which occurs entirely online, is a good primer for novice users of Instagram, Facebook, and other sites where the kids hang out.  Release: 2015  Grade: B-


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Share Leo


Like everyone else in America, I was moved to tears when much-maligned Leo DiCaprio was finally recognized by his peers with an Oscar for his role in The Revenant.

What made Leo’s acceptance speech so memorable was the moment we were all pining for: Leo’s sage advice to the little people to do not as he does, but as he says, and to strive hard to combat global warming.

OK, that’s a bit unfair. We understand, Leo, that you give a lot of time, energy, and bucks to promote the cause. But don’t you think it also might help if you set a better example in your personal life? Leo Leo


***** Downton


Downton Abbey ends tomorrow, and it seems to be going out not with a bang, but with a whimper — probably because it’s one of those series that overstayed its welcome by a season or two. Nevertheless, I’m sorry to see the old gang go.

Pictured above is either the cast of Downton Abbey, or a diverse gathering from one of Donald Trump’s rallies.


***** Trump


Since penis size was the highlight of the most recent Republican debate, I believe I speak for the entire country when I say that we are all looking forward to Hillary and Donald debating the merits of her fat ass versus his big dick. Moore


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