Category: Weekly Reviews




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.


© 2010-2023 (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.



© 2010-2023 (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.



© 2010-2023 (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.


© 2010-2023 (text only)




If you’re a Baby Boomer like me, mass shootings and war in the Middle East are both, depressingly, old news.

If you are a Millennial or Gen Z, you might be hopeful that there are solutions to both problems. That’s a good thing. We need hope and solutions.

Or you might simply be hopelessly naïve.

I hate to say this, but as an old dude who’s been reading about war in the Middle East for my entire life, and about mass shootings for most of it … I give up.

Good luck, younger people.





Good Halloween viewing: The Traitors


Second-rate celebrities mix with regular folks to play a murder game at a cool-as-fuck Scottish mansion. I thought I might hate it. But I am four episodes in and very much hooked.






Bad Halloween viewing: Malignant


James Wan has directed some great horror flicks (the first Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring), and this movie is never boring. It’s just stupid. Very stupid.

Let me count the ways it is bad: continuity errors (daylight in one shot, nighttime a shot later), special effects that look like special effects, hackneyed dialogue, and too damn many jump scares.

If you want to see a better movie with a similar theme, check out Brian De Palma’s Sisters.






Proper way to eat with a fork?


It doesn’t seem possible that I have lived as many years as I have, yet only recently have I noticed so many people eating food with their forks turned the wrong way.

I use my fork the way the lady does in the picture above, not the way it’s used by the dude.

Have I been wrong all these years? Tines up, or tines down? Important question.





I have yet to see Old Dads on Netflix, but I do enjoy Bill Burr’s stand-up routines and his podcasts. The headline above irritates me.

It implies that critics are to be trusted and the viewing public is a collection of dopes. Makes me want to see the movie even more.


© 2010-2023 (text only)



. Nixon         


I am very old. I was born during the Eisenhower administration. I remember the day Kennedy was shot.

For most of my life, two guys have been the consensus choice for “worst” presidents. They would be Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter (that’s them above, for you kiddies).

We owe Nixon and Carter an apology. Watergate and the Iran hostage crisis were peanuts compared to the insanity going on under Joe Biden.





I’ve been waiting more than 20 years for this.

For the longest time, had you asked me, “Which actress has the finest ass in Hollywood?” I would have said, “Gwyneth Paltrow.” This was based on one scene with Jack Black in Shallow Hal (below).



Alas, word leaked that the derriere in question did not, in fact, belong to Gwyneth. It was allegedly the butt of a body double.

But now Paltrow has graced us with the picture below. Looks like the Shallow Hal ass, to me.



On the other hand, if Gwyneth’s rear end had anything to do with Harvey Weinstein, I want nothing to do with it.


© 2010-2023 (text only)




I don’t pretend to have any answers — or even understand the questions — when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What I do understand is that we Americans can expect enormous pressure to get more and more involved in the conflict. Just like we face enormous pressure to stay involved in the Ukraine-Russia war.

I see upsides for Ukraine and upsides for Israel when they successfully drag us into their battles. We have lots of money and resources. I do not see any upside for the United States.

We have too many pressing problems of our own — foremost, the ticking time bomb that is our southern border.

If that makes me a dreaded “isolationist,” so be it.





Why is it that so many progressive “journalists” look exactly like this guy? They smirk and sport scruffy beards that attempt to compensate for their essential unmanliness.

They are Arnold Schwarzenegger’s infamous “girly men.”

Also, methinks it’s time to change the word “progressives” to “regressives,” since so many of their policies are taking the world backwards.





We said goodbye this week to houseguest Cameron (above) on Big Brother. He wasn’t exactly “Mr. Popularity” with the other contestants.

But I’ll miss him. I’ve been watching this stupid show since it debuted on CBS in 2000. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone who was such an underdog and yet remained so cool under pressure, winning challenge after challenge in the face of unanimous opposition. 

So, a pox on the house of the remaining contestants, who are just a collection of dolts and snakes.


© 2010-2023 (text only)




Good News! (unexpected)


It’s not often that I see side-by-side headlines that both make me smile (above). Despite RINO outcries about “unexpected consequences,” and “be careful what you wish for,” the ousting of Kevin McCarthy by Matt Gaetz and friends was a breath of fresh air.

No matter what happens next, the warnings of Republican chaos are preferable to an untenable status quo. Good riddance, McCarthy.


As for Aaron Rodgers … I’m a Vikings fan and spent years rooting for former Packer Rodgers’s comeuppance. But the quarterback’s refusal to take the jab and willingness to take jabs at sellouts like Travis Kelce have made me a Rodgers fan — at least until he faces the Vikes.





Bad News! (expected)


I’m tired of hearing criticisms of the FBI come with the caveat: “But the FBI rank and file are very good people.” It’s the same caveat we hear about teachers and their unions: “But the rank and file are very good people.”

The rank and file are tainted by their leaders.  Individual teachers and FBI agents are the only people who can stop the madness.





Middle East Turmoil


I just heard about this an hour ago.

So, beyond an obligatory “what the fuck?” reaction, I have no comment.




Lake and March in Witch


I watched I Married a Witch the other day, enjoyed it, and decided to check out some background information about the film. From Wikipedia:



This was almost as entertaining as the movie. Director X hated screenwriter X who hated actor X who hated actor X who hated ….




Kudos to Tim Pool for recognizing the importance of culture in our national war between the Reds and the Blues. He wants to create Red-friendly music, videos, and coffee bars.

But Pool badly needs a partner, a modern Walt Disney, to help him achieve his goal. His on-the-road shows, including Friday’s panel in Florida with Matt Gaetz, are lifeless and dull.

What Pool needs is a partner who understands show-biz pizzazz. He can’t do it by himself.




Speaking of (sort of) culture … if you are mentally ill and a fan of Big Brother, as I am, there are YouTube channels devoted to BB recaps and analysis. This is one of the better ones.

As a bonus, the host is a Minnesota girl.



© 2010-2023 (text only)




Once again, I tell you that I am a teen girl trapped in an old man’s body.

How else to explain that I dig the music of Harry Styles and Miley Cyrus?






The guy who wrote this article comes down pretty hard on the cast of this year’s Survivor, whom he describes as “superfans” and Comic-Con attendees.

One young guy is so flabby that he can’t climb a ladder. A woman decided three days of roughing it was too much and so quit the show at the first tribal council.

I have mixed feelings about these people. It’s true that they seem awfully soft.

On the other hand, who doesn’t love a good trainwreck? These contestants have enormous potential for head-scratching, jaw-dropping antics.




“I think the border is the number two issue … If they don’t get ahold of this corrupt FBI/Department of Justice, we don’t have a country left.” — Devin Nunes


That’s a tough call: government corruption vs. the deluge of illegal immigrants. The first problem leads to the second, so I must agree with Nunes.





How can they cast a show like this without Evel Dick from Big Brother?


© 2010-2023 (text only)




When I was in high school (back in the Dark Ages), the announcement that we would be viewing a documentary was a mixed blessing. Watching a movie — any movie — was always preferable to watching a teacher at the blackboard. But the films themselves were often dry and dull. You had to decide whether to learn about the migration patterns of geese — or take a surreptitious nap when the lights went off.

I thought of this yesterday after I watched The Saint of Second Chances on Netflix, about St. Paul Saints founder and owner Mike Veeck. The film was entertaining … but entertaining to a fault?

Documentaries these days, unlike those long-ago docs about migrating geese, are often more watchable than most fiction offerings on Netflix. But I don’t trust them. (See, for example, the popular-but-tainted Making of a Murderer from 2015.)

Saint borders on hagiography, with many unanswered questions about Veeck’s life, and lots of sugar-coating. At one point, we learn about the rehabilitation and redemption of baseball star Darryl Strawberry, who, we are told, rediscovered his “love of the game” after a short stint with the Saints. I later checked Strawberry’s bio and learned that a few years after his return to Major League Baseball, he was again suspended for drug violations.

I guess he forgot about his love for the game. No mention of his relapse in the movie.

Veeck himself is portrayed as a fun-loving hustler who wanted nothing more than to bring joy to the world. The facts that he was apparently a heavy drinker and, for much of his adult life, an absentee father, are glossed over.

It is an entertaining movie; critics and regular folk alike seem to love it. But is it a “documentary”?

I think we need a new genre description. Perhaps “docufantasy”?





The Upside of A.I.


Now that artificial intelligence has entered the picture, I’d just like to say this: If I manage to offend you with my opinions on this site, just remember that it might not be my ramblings. It could be the opinions of some trouble-making robot.

On the other hand, if you enjoy what you read here, the scribblings were no doubt penned by me.




Am going to add a new category to Reviews in Short: “Would I Watch It Again?”

Now you know.


© 2010-2023 (text only)