Monday, November 02, 2015

Truest statement of the week

Today, we have a feckless President absorbed by his post-White House plans, amateurs or place-holders throughout the foreign policy establishment, a self-serving nilitary, and a singularly inept Intelligence service. And a disengaged public.

-- Michael Brenner's "Back in the Iraq Quagmire" (CounterPunch).

Truest statement of the week II

Barack Obama, elected on promises to end US wars in the Middle East, is presiding over an unprecedented eruption of American militarism that threatens to drag the entire region and potentially the whole world into a military conflagration.

-- Bill Van Auken's "Obama orders Special Forces troops into Syria" (WSWS).

A note to our readers

Hey --

A Monday.  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.

And what did we come up with?

Michael Brenner gets his first truest.
Bill Van Auken gets another truest.
From their knees, they beseech. Cowardly and craven.
Ava and C.I. check out NBC's two new sitcoms.

We continue our long running series looking at SUMMER STOCK this go round.
And we test out items in the test kitchen.
CBS took the axe.
A title Amy's earned several times over.

What we listened to while writing. 
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


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

Editorial: How they beg

US President Barack Obama is a War Hawk.

Only the deluded continue to fool themselves.

But who's standing up?

When Bully Boy Bush was in the White House, people stood up.

They called him a liar.

They called him a War Criminal.

They called him out.

Barack has gone to war on Libya.

He's still in Afghanistan.

He's still in Iraq.

In fact, October saw a high profile death in Iraq -- a combat death.

Master Sgt Joshua L. Wheeler was the latest announced fatality in the never-ending Iraq War.

Jon Soltz took to Huffington Post with "Please, White House, Call It Combat in Iraq and Syria" which found the veteran pleading not for an end to the ongoing war, just begging Barack to -- pretty please -- call in combat.

Friday, came news that the White House was putting ground troops in Syria and planning more US troop involvement in Iraq.

And Peter Van Buren took to to whine "Tell Us Why We're At War in Iraq, Mr. President."  The title, actually, may have shown more strength than the column itself.  Van Buren could be find desperately whining at the end:

We want to believe, Mr. President. We want to know it is not a lie.
So please address us, explain why what you are doing in Iraq is different than everything listed above. Tell us why we should believe you – this time – because history says you lie.

At what point does either man plan to stand up?

Do they intend to act like grown ups?

Because, in a democracy, citizens are the final say.

Not politician who are nothing but overly paid servants.

They are supposed to do the bidding of the people.

so we really shouldn't beg them as if they were royalty and we were cerfs.

Again, they serve us, not the other way around.

They serve at our pleasure.

So when Barack thinks he can get away with lying and pretending combat is not taking place for US soldiers in Iraq?

He needs to be called out.

He needs to be publicly shamed and loudly rebuked.

And grown ups can grasp that.

Even if two little boys last week were too busy begging on their knees to stand upright.

TV: NBC tries comedy on Friday nights

"Our show has gotten so much better!"

Or: "We've added a new twist!"

Or even: "We've addressed the criticism you made."


These are some of the tired lines we hear from friends with shows we've slammed as they try to interest us in another look.

Life is short and, most of the time, bad shows stay bad.

They rarely get better in a later season.

So when a friend begged us to give UNDATABLE another look, we said, "Pass."

"I'm calling in a favor," was the response.

Which is how we got stuck wading through 10 episodes of the last five weeks.

10 episodes?

UNDATABLE, in its third season, has moved to live format.

And that means a live East Coast episode and, later, a live West Coast one.

If you're only going to watch one, we'd recommend the West Coast which is often sillier but also sturdier.

So the East Coast episodes are awful?


Not at all.

In fact, the show is watchable.

More than watchable, it's actually funny.

We'd argue Chris D'Elia still looks as if he needs a delousing -- and that ratings would be higher if he got a hair style -- or just style.

His timing has improved.  His confidence has returned.

The false bravado found in so many line deliveries in season one (we're referring to the actor's self-bravado, not his character's) have vanished.

He's almost as entertaining now as he was on WHITNEY.

Where he stumbles, where the episode stumbles, is when the opening revolves around his Danny and Brent Morin's Justin.

Smart writing would include Bianca Kajilch and/or Ron Funches in every opening scene because they have the instinct to set the comedic tone.  If it's floundering a bit -- as when Morin and D'Elia are riffing off one another -- the show's uneven until Kajilch or Funches shows up.

That's not to slam the talent of either D'Elia or Morin, but it is pointing out that the comic rhythms of Kajilch and Funches tend to be truer and they walk onto the set with energy that makes you feel like something is going to happen.

Along with those four, David Fynn (Brett) and Rick Glassman (Adam) have come into their own as well.

Bridgit Mendler?

It's be great if someone would get around to writing something for the actress to actually do.

This season sees her Candace slinging some sass as Kajilch's Leslie but little more than that.

In fact, that's our most serious complaint against the show.

If you read our take back in June 2014, you know that's saying a great deal.

And, again, UNDATABLE has gone from unwatchable to a solid sitcom.

Unwatchable is what people are saying about TRUTH BE TOLD.

We'd missed the show but hadn't missed all the copy and talk about how bad the show is.

So imagine our surprise to discover that the show paired with UNDATABLE actually shows promise.

TRUTH BE TOLD, at its worst, recalls CBS' awful YES, DEAR.  At its best, the chemistry indicates it could be something more.

Could be but probably won't.

Friday, NBC decided to cut the order for 13 episodes down to ten.

One would think Tone Bell's work as Russell alone would make them want to get on board with this show, back it and give the audience a chance to find it.

But as great as Bell is -- and he's a natural who hits every note without breaking a sweat -- the other three leads -- Vanessa Lachey, Bresha Webb and Mark-Paul Gosselaar -- hold their own and already have meshed as an acting team.

The scripts could be a little sharper, yes.

But when a group of actors finds collective chemistry, a network should sit up and notice because that's what brings the viewers in.

Friday nights, NBC's airing an hour of comedy that surprised us and, if you give it a chance, it might just happily surprise you as well.

Film Classics of the 20th Century

In this ongoing series on film classics of the last century, we've looked at  The Fullerbrush GirlThe Net,  Your Friends & Neighbors,  Shampoo,  The Player,  Dick Tracy,  How To Marry A Millionaire,  Blow OutYou Only Live TwiceSleeper,  Diamonds Are Forever,  Sleepless In Seattle,  My Little Chickadee,  Tootsie,  After Hours,  Edward ScissorhandsChristmas in Connecticut, Desk Set,  When Harry Met Sally . . .,  Who Done It?,  That Darn Cat!,  Cactus Flower,  Family Plot, House Sitter,  and Outrageous Fortune.   Film classics are the films that grab you, even on repeat viewings, especially on repeat viewings.

Judy Garland was and remains the biggest star Hollywood musicals have ever seen.

It was at MGM where she played Dorothy in THE WIZARD OF OZ.  Other early MGM films found her teamed with Mickey Rooney -- and not just in the Andy Hardy films but also in their let's-put-on-a-show films.

And when the curtain came down on the MGM career, she was in another let's-put-on-a-show film.


Jane (Judy Garland) and Esme (Marjorie Main) are on the farm and losing the workers.

But nothing gets Judy down.  As Jane, she just hops on a tractor and starts singing.


Well . . . one thing gets her down.


Gene Kelly showing up at her farm.


On the arm of her sister Abigail (Gloria DeHaven) who's promised Gene and company that they can use the farm to rehearse their upcoming musical.


That's a lot of people on the farm.

But in the end, only two people are drawn together.


She sings and  her sister splits.


Which leaves Gene Kelly's musical without a leading lady and him without a gal.


Gene can go it alone.


Or . . . Judy can take her sister's place.


And she does it amazing well.


All works out well.


But if the film classic is remembered for just one thing, it's Judy's performance of "Get Happy."




The plot is obvious but the charm and talent of Judy and Gene (and Phil Silvers) elevate the film to a classic.

From The TESR Test Kitchen

I love slurpees, you love slurpees, she loves slurpees, he loves slurpees, we all she-bop.

But sometimes you might want a slurpee at home, waiting in the freezer, not needing you to go out and fetch one.

With that in mind, we came across The Slushee Maker from Cool Gear and Slushy Maker from Chill Factor.

One works, the other just steals your money.


Slushy Maker (from Chill Factor) lies that you can pour liquid into the cup (after the cup has been in the freezer) and squeeze the sides and it will make a slurpee.

What it will make is a huge mess.

You never get any part of a slurpee but you do get the liquid popping out of the cup each time you squeeze.

By contrast, there's Slushee Maker (from Cool Gear) which actually does work.

You fill it with liquid and put it in the freezer.

And, low and behold, it actually works.

EXTANT (2014 - 2015)


After two seasons, CBS has cancelled the Halle Berry series EXTANT.  

At TV GUIDE's story on the cancellation, Sam R left the following insightful comment:

I was ambivalent about Extant until the middle of Season 2, when the story changed direction and became something extraordinary. Despite lifting ideas from other works, it was unique in a number of respects. One is its unusual take on the 'hero's journey' for Halle Berry's character, involving transformation via alien DNA. In a lesser story, it would have made her a victim or a monster, but instead she becomes stronger and more enlightened. Instead of making her inhuman, it enhances her humanity, potentially making her the next step in human evolution.
The story also serves as a sucker punch directed at the part of the audience that thinks in nativist, zero sum game, us versus them terms. What, at first appears to be a biological alien invasion, instead becomes an allegory about everything from refugees, to children of immigrants, to people of mixed race. Those in the audience who sided with the Threat Assessment Algorithm and officials who wanted to militarize the Humanics (humanoid robots) program and use them and a virus to commit genocide against the alien-human hybrids are dealt a hard blow. I suspect that the highly controversial nature of this theme is the reason for much of the hatred being directed at both the series and at Halle Berry. I personally got in a heated argument with someone at work who got angry and stopped watching precisely at the point when Halle Berry switched sides and began defending the hybrids.
There is also a unique element to the Humanics part of the story. On the one hand, the robot child Ethan, develops, through life experience, more humanity than most humans. On the other hand, Lucy, who is activated as a fully formed adult and, without the benefit of life experience, is trained to kill, becomes a manipulative sociopath.

Liar of the Month: Amy Goodman

She just can't stop lying.

Amy Goodman opens her mouth and outflies another lie.

ego tripping workout

[Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Ego Tripper's Workout."]

Even for Amy Goodman, last month saw ever more blatant lies.

She culminated her month of lying with this:  "Well, for more on the debate, we’re joined by a number of guests. Here in New York, we’re joined by Jill Stein, the 2016 presidential candidate for the Green Party."

Her friend Jill Stein would like to be the Green Party's 2016 presidential nominee.

But . . .

here's the thing.

The Green Party won't select their presidential nominee until their convention which will be held in August 2016.

This edition's playlist


1) Janet Jackson's UNBREAKABLE.
3) Carly Simon's ANTICIPATION.

4)  Ben and Ellen Harper's CHILDHOOD HOME.

5) The Doors' THE DOORS.

6) The Mamas & the Papas' THE PAPAS AND THE MAMAS.



9) Steve Grand's ALL AMERICAN BOY.

10) Sade's LOVERS ROCK.


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.

"It's not a misfortune, it's an injustice" -- most requested highlight of the week.

"Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Cranky Clinton..." and "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Classy Clinton..." -- Isaiah did two comic looks at Cranky Clinton.

"Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. reports on a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

 "Loser of the week" -- Mike hands out the award.

"John Lewis said what?" -- Ruth needs it repeated.

"Arrow," "Extant," "The Originals" "scandal bores while heroes reborn continues to heat up" -- Stan, Betty, Marcia and Rebecca cover TV. 

"The Last Time I Saw Richard" and "Musical Tweet of note" -- Kat, Elaine, Rebecca, Trina and Ann cover music.  

"Our Brand Is Crisis" and "Quentin Tarantino" -- Ann and Stan go to the movies.

"It's The Lack of Sincerity" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Shrimp Dip in the Kitchen" -- Trina serves up a recipe.

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