Sunday, June 07, 2015

Truest statement of the week

Most people who call themselves progressives or who protested the war in Iraq didn’t really want fundamental change. They don’t have the stomach to challenge the assumptions upon which American aggressions are based. That is why they so quickly forgot their supposedly antiwar sentiments and clung so fiercely to Barack Obama. They want to wrap themselves in the flag or in being on a winning team but that means being a part of America’s horrendous tale of conquest, race based terrorism and numerous other oppressions.

-- Margaret Kimberley, "Who Is On The Left?" (Black Agenda Report).

Truest statement of the week II

Muammar Gaddafi prophesized correctly that NATO’s transformation into a jihadist air force would turn Libya into “another Somalia” – a vortex of Salafist chaos that would destabilize the entire region. “We came, we saw, he died,” cackled Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who yearns to bring the same ghoulish statecraft to the Oval Office in 2017. Does any decent person actually consider this banshee a “lesser evil”?
Bernie Sanders does. The Vermont senator promises to endorse Clinton as soon as he drops out of the presidential race – thus nullifying whatever “message” he plans to deliver during the Democratic primary process. But of course, having pledged in advance to support Hillary, de facto Democrat Sanders cannot risk running a campaign that might reveal the sheer awesomeness of her evil. Therefore, there will be no Democratic Party discussion of U.S. and allied sponsorship of the Islamic State and al Qaida, in the same way that serious criticism of Israel is off-limits for Sanders and all national Democrats.

-- Glen Ford, "Rand Paul Makes More Sense than the Democrats' 'Left' Champion" (Black Agenda Report).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.  First, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

What did we come up with?

Another one for Margaret Kimberley.
Another one for Glen Ford. 
Oil, of course.  It's always the oil.

Ava and C.I. use Sense8 to take on Netflix's 'model' of dumping an entire season in one day.

Short feature!
A list piece we attempted and failed a few weeks back that we reworked.
Consider this a 101 basic introductory course.

  • This edition's playlist

  • What we listened to.

  • Plea from Cindy

  • Repost.  We're only doing one repost to be sure it gets the attention it deserves.  

  • Highlights

  • Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

    And that's what we came up with.


    -- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

    Editorial: What (still) matters in Iraq

    They can't reclaim Mosul.

    And they can't reclaim Ramadi.

    But Iraqi forces did apparently reclaim Baiji. Or at least say they did.


    Baiji came under attack a few weeks ago -- while prime minister Haider al-Abadi was in the US -- at the same time as Ramadi.

    The immediate response was to bomb Baiji (and ignore Ramadi).

    Baiji was more important than Ramadi for some reason.

    And now it's more important than Mosul as well, judging by the effort to reclaim it.

    Why is that?

    What's so different about Baiji?

    What CNN 'forgets' to inform you, AP tells you right in the  headline to Sinar Salaheddin's article: "Iraq: Troops Advance Against IS in Key Refinery Town."


    Yes, this wasn't about the town or the people.

    It was about a refinery.

    As usual, the Iraq War remains about oil.


    TV: Binging

    . . . and purging.

    Let's be honest, that is the phrase.

    Binging and purging.

    And it's not a good thing.

    We recognize that when it comes to food.  Why won't we do the same with regard to TV shows?


    Sense8 is the latest Netflix series.

    It's also the latest project from Lana and Andy Warchowski, film making siblings who found huge success with The Matrix trilogy and who bombed recently with Jupiter Ascending.

    Unlike many people, we happen to really enjoy Jupiter Ascending.

    We also think it will be seen as a classic film in time.

    However, we're not fan girlz who abandon critical thinking.

    Meaning, the Warchoskis are the reason the film bombed at the box office.

    Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis co-star in the film.

    Mila looks like Mila.


    Was he supposed to be a 70s porn star?

    There is the ridiculous eye brows, yes.  Then there's the ridiculous facial hair.

    And, here's the big problem for audiences -- as test cards from teenagers noted at numerous previews: Where was Channing's pit hair?

    When pit hair keeps coming up at previews, you shouldn't dismiss it.

    In addition to the eye brows and the facial hair, the film also gave Channing animal ears.


    And wings.

    Don't forget the wings.

    That's a lot to go along with.

    And that's before you remove Channing's pit hair.

    When you do that, an uneasy youth audience becomes outright scared.

    Like it or not, Lana's a woman who was born in a man's body.

    We're not mocking her.

    We are noting that she and her brother make films whose target audience includes a lot of teens.

    Those teens can get a little nervous at times.

    And when you go too far with the look for Channing, then you lose them.

    Removing Channing's pit hair made them uncomfortable with the character and with the film.

    He's a character in transition.

    Is he supposed to be Lana?

    That's what teen audience are obsessing over and had Channing had his (minimally) hairy pits, they wouldn't be wondering about what sort of transformation was being done in the film to Channing.

    The brother and sister team has always pushed the limits.

    They did so very successfully in Bound and in The Matrix.

    Fortunately for everyone, Sense8 is another success.

    There's not a false note in the entire 12 episodes.

    They even pull off a group sing-along of Four Non Blondes' "What's Going On?"

    They even pull off a sci-fi conspiracy series that spends far more time on character than it does suspense.

    But what they struggle to pull off is a lasting impression.

    Maybe a lasting impression of  Max Riemelt's cock.

    Male frontal nudity is still so rare that the sight of that member may remain in the brain -- even after you forget that Max and his impressive staff show up at the non-wedding of Kala (Tina Desai).

    You may remember that they're brilliant in their roles and that so are Ami Ameen, Doona Bae, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Tuppence Middleton, Alfonso Herrera, Jamie Clayton, Erendira Ibarra, Brian J. Smith and both his biceps and the blood vessel standing out in the center of each bicep.

    You might really remember how Jamie Clayton's performance connects and how the scenes with Nomi and her family underscore that your issues with transpeople are your issues.  They have nothing to do with anything but how you react and if that's intolerance, that's on you.  A certain female blogger has a nasty case of transphobia.  That's her problem.  And the series especially succeeds when it shows Nomi's mother and the petty tantrums the woman has because she will not accept that Nomi is Nomi and not Michael.

    This might be one of the most powerful secondary stories in the first season of Sense8.

    And maybe you'll remember it.

    You might even remember that the villains come to life and are so much more than stock characters.

    But will you really appreciate the care and attention that went into this artistic creation?

    How can you?

    Land of snap decisions
    Land of short attention spans
    Nothing is savored
    Long enough to really understand

    -- "Dog Eat Dog," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album Dog Eat Dog

    Sense8 is a show to ponder and explore, to think about.

    And it's just really hard to do that when you're streaming 12 episodes in a row.

    Netflix continues to release all their shows (save one which is a joint-production with Canadian television) in a huge dump.

    It does not make for effective television.

    It does leave you drained and overwhelmed.

    And promising yourself, riddled with guilt while you wipe away the sweat and splash cold water on your face, that this is the last time you binge and purge.

    Netflix pretends like its model is something new.

    It's not.

    It's basic cable TV.

    TV Land and Lifetime, at the same time, were pioneering this model with marathons -- that's what they were called then, not 'binging' -- of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and thirty-something.

    Sense8 is daring entertainment.

    It's actually a great deal more than that.

    But the model Netflix wants to work with undermines the development of a show like this -- the most pioneering sci-fi television since Star Trek debuted in the '60s.

    Barack realizes a downside of The Drone War


    A frustrated Barack notes, "If only I'd use those drones for good one of them could have found the conference center we're supposed to be at and we wouldn't be wandering through the hillside right now!"

    10 films we want to see remade

    Mad Max, Carrie, Poltergeist, Total Recall, The Women,  . . . It seems the studios can't stop raiding their own pasts.

    We don't think they've raided wisely but as long as they're raiding, here's 10 films we'd love to see remade.

    1) Valley of the Dolls.

    Come on, you know Lindsay Lohan would be perfect as the next Neely O'Hara

    2) Cat People.

    The film Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway should have made together instead of Love & Other Drugs.

    3) What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

    This Bette Davis and Joan Crawford classic has been remade for TV with Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave as the two sisters.  But it's due for a return to the big screen.  Faye Dunaway would be perfect in the Davis role.  Jane Fonda, Barbara Hershey, Alfre Woodard or Sally Field could excel in the role of Blanche.

    4) Showboys.

    In this remake, a la Magic Mike, the burlesque dancers take the stage as part of an all male review in a gay club.  We see Zac Ephron as the lead with James Franco or Jamie Foxx in the Gina Gershon role and Jennifer Lopez in the role of stage director Tony Moss.

    5) Against All Odds.

    In this noir remake, Gerard Butler plays the injured football player and Halle Berry essays the Rachel Ward role.

    6)  The Barefoot Executive.

    Jonah Hill and a monkey.  Need we say more?  Add Vanessa Williams in the role of the network exec and the film makes itself.

    7)  The Glass Key.

    Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger team up again for the first film since LA Confidential.

    8) 3 Days of the Condor.

    This time the lead role is played by a woman: Angelina Jolie.

    9) The Glass Bottom Boat.

    Michelle Pfeiffer takes on the lead in this remake of the Doris Day classic.  Russell Crowe or Matt Dillon plays her love interest.

    10)  Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

    Matt Damon and Ben Affleck star in this remake, now set on a gay cruise, which finds Damon in the role Marilyn Monroe made famous and allows Ben to tackle one of film's most camp musical numbers ever "Isn't There Anyone Here For Love?"

    We didn't include A New Leaf because Jim Carey's been working on getting that remake up for years now.  As a bonus we will note it's time to remake A Star Is Born yet again and we'd recommend Beyonce as the up and coming star who falls in love with an established star.  Each version of the film has modernized it so we'd offer it's time for it to revolve around a same-sex couple and we'd argue that either Jada Pinkett Smith or Angela Bassett would be great in the role of the already established star.

    Variety lies again (Ava and C.I.)

    The summer popcorn movie season is shaping up to be a huge disappointment.

    This may or may not change.

    But into this mess comes Brent Lang and Variety -- not to offer clarity but instead to offer lies and spin.

    First off, let's acknowledge there's a difference between studios and theaters.

    Thanks to the 1948 anti-trust decision by the Supreme Court (United States v. Paramount Pictures Inc.), the movie business changed tremendously.

    To illustrate, Sandra Bullock was very popular with theater owners from 1996 through the  '00s.

    Murder By Numbers, Force of Nature, Hope Floats, Practical Magic . . ,

    These weren't blockbusters.

    She had blockbusters, Miss Congeniality (2000) and The Proposal  and The Blind Side (2009).

    The studios loved those two films.

    But theater chains just loved Sandra.

    She delivered an audience.  A steady audience.

    A modestly successful film starring her brought in people after opening weekend.  Usually, it brought in adults willing to spend at the concession stands.

    The theaters make the least money off of opening weekend ticket sales.  As the film continues to play beyond that opening weekend, the theaters get a larger percentage of the ticket sales.

    They get the profit from concession sales throughout.

    But that's why a steady performer like Sandra meant more to them than someone whose film does brisk business for the first three days and then falls flat.

    If you can grasp the above, and we're sure you can, you may also grasp the deceit Variety served up in this paragraph:

    With the domestic box office a diminishing part of a film’s revenue pie U.S. audiences aren’t as important as they were a decade ago. “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” for instance, has generated 67% of its $1.3 billion bounty from foreign markets, while “Mad Max: Fury Road’s” best chance at recouping its $150 million production budget lies with how fervently overseas’ crowds embrace its apocalyptic vision. 

    In North America, studios get a higher percentage of the ticket sales on opening weekend.

    If you can grasp that difference, you should also grasp that a film making more money in overseas ticket sales (than it does domestically) is not a good thing.

    The ticket sales from a foreign market?

    A lot of that money stays in the foreign market and doesn't come back to the US.

    (The same is true of foreign films that play in US theaters -- a lot of the money from those films stay in the US with the foreign studios receiving a much smaller percentage of the profit.)

    Too often ticket sales are wrongly seen as profit for the films.

    They're not profit.  A percentage is and the percentage for US films is greater when they play in North America.

    Ticket sales can -- and should -- be used to measure popularity but if Jaws 16: Steel Magnolias Blood Bath rakes in $69 million on opening weekend, that $69 million in ticket sales did not go all to the studio.

    There's still -- thank E! among others -- a very infantile grasp in the US on ticket sales.

    There's another problem as well.

    Hollywood is a legend around the world.

    But if Americans are seen (consistently) being bored by US films, distancing themselves from US films, then the luster for these films overseas starts to fade.

    The biggest bomb of the summer will be (and should be) Tomorrowland.

    What idiot decided to greenlight a $190 million film with no box office star?

    Oh, right: Disney.

    George Clooney cannot carry a film.


    His entire filmography makes that clear.

    The Oceans are ensemble films, A Perfect Storm was as much Mark Wahlberg and Diane Lane's film and that leaves what?

    The only other films that crossed the $100 million mark domestically for George were Batman & Robin (a bomb that destroyed the franchise) and Gravity where he played the role of "the girl" (it was Sandra's film).

    He can't carry a film.

    He can't open a film.

    So why do you cast him as the male lead, as the adult lead.

    And that's before you factor in his inability to shut his mouth.

    He's ticked off people more left than centrist Democrats and he's ticked off pretty much all of the right-wing.  The non-political just know he's long in the tooth and does vegetable movies (good for you! but not satisfying).

    Clooney's politics and his film choices meant that ticket buyers would stay away.

    The film's a bomb and proves (yet again) that George Clooney is not a leading man.

    Best news of last week


    As we pointed out in "The essential dance tracks" back in August of last year:

    In the world of dance music, Janet is the word.
    Ms. Jackson, if you're nasty.
    Running down a brief listing of the essential dance tracks, Janet places four songs on our top ten (eleven, there was a tie).
    In the world of dance, Janet is the ultimate artist.

    Which is why  the best news of last week was:



     NEW YORK/BERLIN, 3 JUNE 2015 – BMG is proud to announce that it will release the first album in seven years from Janet Jackson, icon, music artist, B.E.T honored, award-winning songwriter, producer, singer, Oscar and Golden Globe nominee and winner of the NAACP Best Supporting Actor award, publisher, dancer, businessperson, philanthropist and one of biggest-selling artists in popular music history.

    The worldwide partnership with Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation will see the release in Fall 2015 of her first as-yet-untitled album and a commitment to pursue the full range of options within the broader Bertelsmann group of which BMG is part. With Rhythm Nation Janet Jackson becomes arguably the first female African-American recording artist to form her own record label. At Rhythm Nation Janet plans to offer a home to both new and established recording artists.

    The partnership with BMG makes Janet Jackson the biggest worldwide superstar yet to quit the traditional record label system for a so-called artist services deal, designed to put artists in the driving seat. Unlike a traditional record deal, under an artist services deal the artist retains ownership of their recordings and full oversight of all costs and revenues.

    With sales of over 160 million records worldwide, Janet Jackson stands as one of the best-selling artists of all time as well as one of the most awarded with a string of hits that have left an indelible impression on pop culture. Her lengthy string of hits has powerfully influenced popular music, leaving an indelible impression on pop culture and opening doors through which other top artists have followed, many acknowledging her impact on their musical perceptions.

    Ms. Jackson’s May 16 announcement of an upcoming new album and a world tour via #ConversationsInACafe sent fans into a social media frenzy.

    BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch said, “Janet is not just a supreme artist, she is a unique cultural force whose work resonates around the world. It is an honor that she has chosen BMG to release her long-awaited new album. We look forward to collaborating with her across every platform.”

    Janet commented, “Thank you to the talented team at BMG, my new artistic home. The opportunity to be creative in music and every form of entertainment has great potential here.”

    Jon Cohen, EVP of Recorded Music at BMG Chrysalis US said, “Janet is a cultural icon and pop star like no other. The release of her long-awaited new album will undoubtedly be one of the musical highlights of 2015. It is an honor to work with her.”

    Janet began her career at the age of seven when she first performed with her family at the MGM in Las Vegas. The worldwide breakthrough came with her third album Control in 1986, her legendary collaboration with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis which created the musical fusion of pop, R&B, soul, dance, jazz, rock and rap which defines her unique sound. Control won four American Music Awards out of twelve nominations and was nominated for an Album of the Year at the Grammys.

    Next came Rhythm Nation 1814, a socially-conscious album critiquing injustice, illiteracy, crime, drugs, and racial intolerance, which last year celebrated its 25th anniversary. It remains the only album yet to have launched number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in three separate calendar years

    1993’s janet sent her career into the stratosphere and brought the worldwide smash ‘That’s The Way Love Goes’. From 1995’s Design Of A Decade retrospective through studio albums The Velvet Rope, All For You and Discipline, Janet has continued to thrill and inspire her fans worldwide.

    Janet Jackson is one of very few music artists to have also achieved a successful acting career. Initially known as a young TV star, her first three films opened at number one at the box office with her next two big screen projects opening in the top three. Janet’s music has also made an impact in the film world when the artist received an Academy Award Nomination in the Best Music, Original Song category.

    Zach Katz, Chief Creative Officer, BMG Chrysalis US, said: “Janet’s list of achievements and accomplishments is truly staggering. She is a global artist whose career has touched on virtually every area of popular culture. Her new album will undoubtedly have a significant impact. We look forward to collaborating with her and Rhythm Nation to nurture a new generation of artists.”

    Venus Brown, for BMG Chrysalis US added: “As die-hard fans of her work and of the musical jewels that Janet Jackson has bestowed upon the world, we are beyond thrilled that she has chosen BMG to be her new partner. Her music and her video and concert styling, particularly Rhythm Nation 1814, changed the course of pop music.”

    The agreement with Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation Records is the latest high-profile milestone for the new BMG, just six-and-a-half years since its launch. Key to the BMG approach is a commitment to transparency and fairness to artists, typified by its Artist Services deals. Over the past year BMG has released albums by the likes of alt-J, The Smashing Pumpkins, Anastacia, Backstreet Boys, Nena, Bryan Ferry, You Me At Six and The Charlatans.

    Janet Jackson is represented by William Morris Endeavor, Sterling Winters Company, attorneys Tom Hoberman and Don Steele, and JDJ Entertainment.

    About BMG
    BMG is an international company focused on the management of music publishing and recording rights. BMG’s services cover the entire range of rights administration, development, and exploitation, placing the needs of songwriters and artists at the heart of its business model. Since its launch in 2008, BMG has established a presence in eight core music markets and now represents the rights to around 2.5 million songs and recordings, including the catalogues of Chrysalis, Bug, Virgin, Mute, Sanctuary, Primary Wave and Talpa Music, as well as many prominent artists and songwriters attracted by its service-orientated model. BMG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of international media company Bertelsmann, whose group interests embrace broadcasting and TV production (RTL Group), books (Penguin Random House) and magazines (Gruner + Jahr), media services (Arvato) and print (BePrinters). In the United States of America and Scandinavia the company trades under the name BMG Chrysalis, in Benelux under the name BMG Talpa Music.

    This edition's playlist

    1)  Pretenders' The Isle Of View.

    2) Bruno Mars' Doo Wops & Hooligans.

    3)  Ben and Ellen Harper's Childhood Home.

    4) Joni Mitchell's Shine.

    5) Janet Jackson's All For You.

    6) Tori Amos's Unrepentant Geraldines.

    7) Janet Jackson's The Velvet Rope.

    8)   Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life

    9) Carly Simon's Have You Seen Me Lately?

    10) Joni Mitchell's Court & Spark.

    Plea from Cindy

    To help get the word out, we're reposting this from Cindy Sheehan's website:

     Plea from Cindy

    Dede, Cindy and fellow Gold Star Mom Amy Branham before our first trip to Crawford. 8/6/05

    Dear Friend,

    It is with great concern but with hope that I write to you to let you know that my sister/best-friend/peace colleague, Dede Miller has recently been diagnosed with Stage 3, very aggressive and rare breast cancer.

    For a few months, she (and by extension as her primary support person, I) has been struggling with the monolithic bureaucracy of LA County "health" care. I have traveled from my home several times to LA to be with her. I can't see how a person can go through what Dede has had to go through alone.

    Dede has been by my side forever, not just since Casey was killed in Iraq. Dede, being a single person without children has been like a second mom to my kids and now the beloved Auntie to my five grandkids (she gets all the fun). However, since Casey has died she has been with me--getting arrested for peace; organizing Camp Casey and all of the other harebrained schemes I have come up with; campaign staff; and now my only co-worker in Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox and The Soapbox People's Network. 

    Back in 2005, Dede decided to leave corporate America to help me work for peace and now is finding it difficult (if not impossible) to survive with breast cancer AND fighting for her life to access basic services like medical care and disability (she doesn't qualify). Besides working for peace, we have been on the frontlines working for economic equality and social justice, and when we need it, it's not available. 

    Our family is working together to try and get Dede all the advantages she needs to heal herself from this terrible disease. We appreciate all of the well-wishes and healing thoughts, but we really don't need any more alternative therapy advice, we are exploring ALL options and know about these options.

    What we do need (besides your healing energy) are donations to give Dede this fighting chance to beat this awful (yet tragically) prevalent disease.

    One of our good friends, Jolie Diane, has set up this GOFUNDME page for Dede--please give what you can and/or share this campaign. 

    It's our most important campaign to date. Dede has been fighting for you full time, now please give her a fighting chance to continue in the struggle.
    PO BOX 6264
    VACAVILLE, CA 95696

    Love & Peace,

    Cindy Sheehan


    This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

    "Iraq: Failed follow ups and whining that bombs are..." -- most requested highlight of the week by readers of this site.

    "Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. reports on a Congressional hearing.

    "Idiot of the week: AJ Delgado" -- Mike calls it.

    "Cameron Crowe's full of s**t," "Tomorrowland," "elizabeth banks," "Clooney can't carry a film," "Spy makes clear Kristen Wiig is lucky, not funny" --  Kat, Betty, Rebecca and Stan talk film.

    "Aquarius" and "Gilmore Girls" -- TV coverage.

    "That useless Bob Somerby" -- Ruth breaks it down.

    "Melissa Manchester," "Soul Kiss (Olivia Newton-John and Barry Gibb)," "Welcome back,"
    "Janet's returning" and  "She's back" -- Kat, Mike, Stan and Trina talk music.
    Creative Commons License
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