Monthly Archives: November 2023




I am reading On the Clock, a 2019 expose by journalist Emily Guendelsberger about blue-collar employment at companies like Amazon and McDonald’s.

I feel qualified to toss in a few opinions about this book. After working more than 30 years in the white-collar publishing world, I’ve spent the past five years doing low-wage warehouse work. (Don’t ask why; that’s another story, although it does not involve prison). You can safely say that I’ve experienced two vastly different American work settings.

Guendelsberger’s book is illuminating. It should be required reading for anyone who has only experienced the realm of the college-educated worker bees. Here are a few of my early impressions (through 80 pages) of On the Clock:

It’s a lot like Barbara Ehrenreich’s 2001 book, Nickel and Dimed. In both cases, reporters go undercover as low-skilled employees at corporate behemoths like Amazon (and at smaller venues, such as restaurants).

I do have one big issue with both books: Ehrenreich and Guendelsberger had an enormous advantage over most of their blue-collar coworkers. This advantage was psychological. Both writers knew that eventually they would escape the mind-and-body-numbing routines of unskilled labor.

Toiling at McDonald’s for a month or two is nothing compared to knowing that you could well spend most of your adult life in such an environment. In Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich acknowledges this fact, but she downplays it. You should not do that.

I’m not far along enough into Clock to know if Guendelsberger will make the same mistake.

Aside from this shortcoming, Dimed and Clock are invaluable resources. I am convinced that college-bred, often pampered, white-collar America will learn something important. If they can be bothered to read the books.





The Grouch is happy to see TV journalist Liz Collin making news with her new documentary, The Fall of Minneapolis.

Rip van Dinkle is also tickled at Liz’s success. The two of them met back in 2015, when the topic of their conversation was … well, never mind.





Using the logic of this Media Matters headline, Donald Trump should never have done all those New York Times interviews, given how often the newspaper burned him.

Trump’s repeated acquiescence to Times requests for interviews was a classic example of the idiom, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Shame on Trump.


© 2010-2024 (text only)



The Killer


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: David Fincher is possibly our finest working movie director. Any filmmaker whose resume includes Se7en, Zodiac, and The Game — yes, The Game; you can have Fight Club, I’ll take The Game — is top-tier to me.

But Fincher’s latest, The Killer, is an underwhelming disappointment. We learn about the life of a perfectionist assassin-for-hire played by Michael Fassbender and … well, that’s about it. A hit goes awry for our protagonist, and he spends the rest of the movie tracking down the bad guys who retaliated for his screwup by assaulting his girlfriend.

The movie is what we expect from Fincher in that it looks great, and sounds great, and it is absorbing. But the most important element, the story, is no great shakes. Release: 2023  Grade: C+


Would I watch it again?  Possibly, but only to see if there is some hidden genius at work that I might have overlooked. (I doubt it.)




No Hard Feelings


In my misspent youth, I used to devour movies like this one as a matter of course — especially the good ones, like Risky Business starring a fresh-faced Tom Cruise.

But that was back in the sinful ‘80s and ‘90s.

I had a bad feeling about a 2023 sex comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence. I suspected it would be one of two things: watered down thanks to “MeToo,” and/or saturated with political correctness.

OK, so I was wrong. No Hard Feelings is actually a sweet, sometimes raunchy, occasionally laugh-out-loud good time. Lawrence plays a cash-strapped woman who is hired by a wealthy couple to “date” (whatever that means) their virginal son, who is seriously lacking in social skills.

Despite its 1980s-style, ballyhooed skinny-dip scene featuring a fully nude Lawrence, No Hard Feelings is less Porky’s, more John Hughes. Release: 2023  Grade: B+


Would I watch it again?  Maybe. Or possibly just the skinny-dip scene. 


© 2010-2024 (text only)


by Agatha Christie


A 1931 “standalone” Christie novel (no Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple) in which a séance at a mansion in Dartmoor reveals to the participants the murder of a prominent villager.

The story is notable not just for the missing Poirot and Marple, but also because it is a bit of an homage to Sherlock Holmes, in particular The Hound of the Baskervilles. The setting, plot elements, and at least two characters are clear references to Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous novel.

Did I figure out whodunit? No, Agatha fooled me again. And yet the resolution of the mystery, although surprising, was not as ingenious nor as satisfying as in Christie’s best novels.


© 2010-2024 (text only)




Give us a break


Last weekend, which was a long one thanks to the holiday, I avoided the news. Instead, I binge-watched three seasons of The Traitors, read a book, and took in a bit of football.

I felt much better.

On the one hand, we all need to keep an eye on the news — especially these turbulent days. But good grief, we also need to take a break from all the bleakness. For our mental health.

That’s my excuse for having very little commentary on the news this week.




Non-politics stuff:



A)  Much excitement in these parts over the Vikings’ new “passtronaut,” quarterback Josh Dobbs (above, in orbit). But excitement never lasts long, in these parts.

Expect Dobbs to fall flat Sunday night against Denver.


B)  Two things everyone does, that I do not: Own a cell phone. Watch superhero movies.

I confess, I am occasionally tempted by both. I got hopelessly lost yesterday while driving to a doctor’s appointment in an unfamiliar neighborhood. It would have been nice to have GPS or a phone to call for directions.

As for superhero movies … hundreds of millions of moviegoers can’t all be wrong. Or can they? I suppose I could start by checking out one of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies. Or not.


C)  Dear Netflix:

Now that you’re streaming the final season of The Crown, and with past greats like Peaky Blinders and Ozark in the TV-show graveyard, I am seriously considering dropping you.

You keep raising subscription prices without adding anything new worth watching.


D)  I wonder if Elon Musk has any idea that “shadow banning” is still rampant on X. 

Asking for a friend.



© 2010-2024 (text only)



I can smell the beginning of the end for artists who create covers for books, records, movies, etc. Why pay anyone hundreds or thousands of dollars for a design you must then wait for, when within seconds artificial intelligence can do the job for free?

I typed in “Three Stooges as vampires” and got the pictures above and below in less than 30 seconds.



I typed in “grouchy editor” and got this:


Nice, but I am not bald, dammit


I typed in “Elizabeth Montgomery in a bikini” and got threatened with a suspension. This angered me, so I searched other A.I. sites until I found one that produced the pictures below. Eh — not bad, but not great.



Clearly, A.I. is a genuine threat to many creative types.




It’s hard to write hundreds (or thousands) of movie, TV, and book reviews without resorting to cliches. I am certainly guilty.

I thought of this recently while reading about a television show that the reviewer called “highly addictive.” I’m sure that I’ve used that phrase.

Here’s another cliche that annoys me:



For some reason, this particular cliche is beginning to grate on me. “The movie doesn’t know what it wants to be.” Ugh.

I’ve used that, but I must not do it again.





I like and agree with a lot of what Vivek has to say. He seems to be a truth teller.

If only he didn’t remind me so much of a yipping chihuahua.




I am officially addicted to The Traitors. I finished season 1 of the U.S. version of the reality show, then watched season 1 of the British version, and am now gripped by season 1 of the Australian version. (There are more out there; seems every country in the world is producing this show.)

Which did I think was better, the U.K. or U.S. Traitors? Nobody does a murder mystery better than the Brits.  The U.K. show was less snark, more genuine emotion; less showbiz, more real suspense.

Bottom line: No matter the country of origin, The Traitors is a show that knows what it wants to be. Plus, it’s highly addictive.



© 2010-2024 (text only)



I’ve been watching Big Brother on CBS since it premiered in 2000. Go ahead and judge me.

But in all that time, I have never seen a contestant as entertaining as 63-year-old Felicia Cannon of Atlanta.

Felicia habitually wears her bathrobe around the house. No big deal. But what Felicia carries in the pocket of that robe might be … a chicken leg. Or a baked potato.

Felicia doesn’t mince words when it comes to her fellow houseguests, most of whom are decades younger than she is. Especially “fuckin’ Bowie Jane.” Felicia has little time for these youngsters.

The first video below is Felicia from earlier this week, faceplanting while attempting to make her bed. The second video is a remix of Felicia moments, put together by some Internet wag.


Amazingly, miraculously, Felicia has made it into the final four in the final week of this season. She has a slim, but possible, chance of winning the whole thing.

I am cheering for you, Felicia. And so are millions of other BB fans.




In other news, Joe Biden continues to drive the country over a cliff, and Democrats continue to do everything possible to ensure Donald Trump is unable to run for president. Oh, yes, and World War III continues to loom.

Heavy sigh.


© 2010-2024 (text only)