Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Truest statement of the week

 It has become a righteous ritual: the recitation of the names of those whose lives were snatched away by the armed agents of the U.S. state. Mass movements were assembled around the names Oscar Grant (2009) ,Trayvon Martin (2012) and Michael Brown (2014), prompting women of the movement to launch the #SayHerName campaign  in 2014, to “lift up” the stories of Black women victims of police violence, “who they are, how they lived, and why they suffered at the hands of police.”

The ancient ritual of “pouring out” libations on the ground to memorialize the beloved dead was popularized by Boyz II Men and Tupac Shakur in the Nineties, and has long been incorporated in formal and informal recognition of the deceased heroes and heroines of the Black liberation struggle. 

But what of the scores of political prisoners that the U.S. state has condemned to a social death in the world’s largest gulag? These men and women still struggle under the most hellish conditions against the same enemies of humanity that hundreds of thousands rallied against in the George Floyd mobilizations. “Free Huey,” “Free Bobby” and “Free Angela” were once rallying cries that energized millions. But seldom are political prisoners’ names shouted during today’s mobilizations against the murderous U.S. mass incarceration state or the global imperialist killing machine. Who is “lifting up” their stories and telling a new generation “who they are, how they lived, and why they suffered at the hands of police” and jailors?

This is a grave political error, not an oversight. Movement activists of today will inevitably become the political prisoners of tomorrow. Some have already been sentenced to long terms in prison for alleged “crimes” in Ferguson and Baltimore during the rebellions of 2014-15, and agents of the state have doubtless drawn up lists of “Black Identity Extremists” (whatever the current official categorization) and their non-Black allies, for surveillance and arrest when the political time is right. Others have died mysteriously. Unless folks are under the delusion that victory over the “fascists” is imminent, the condition of political prisoners should be a deeply personal, as well as political, concern to all activists and their families and friends. The cage doors will clang shut for many of us before this struggle is over, in addition to all the libations that will be poured for the dead.

-- Glen Ford, "Political Prisoners: 'Say Their Names'" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

Truest statement of the week II

 It notes that Trump had pledged to end “forever wars” but has instead continued and expanded them. The same, of course, could be said of Barack Obama, who ran in 2008 as a supposedly antiwar candidate, and then continued the wars of the Bush administration, adding his own (Libya, Syria, Yemen). Biden’s promises to end US military intervention in the Middle East are equally worthless. The core interests of US imperialism are involved: oil, military alliances with Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the conflict with Iran, the struggle for influence against Russia and China.

The Democratic platform backs a continued US military presence in Iraq “to train our Iraqi partners,” and in Syria to keep up “the offensive against ISIS” while restoring the US alliance with Kurdish forces in Syria that Trump reneged on.

The platform declares “Our commitment to Israel’s security, its qualitative military edge, its right to defend itself” to be “ironclad.” Initially, the platform language referred to the Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank, a term that was removed at Biden’s personal insistence. The draft now merely criticizes “settlement expansion” and “annexation.”

Biden pledges to “close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay,” as Obama pledged in 2008. Twelve years later, the prison still stands and not one of the prisoners has been brought to trial.

-- Patrick Martin, "Biden’s blueprint for a right-wing presidency: Part two" (WSWS).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Early Wednesday morning.  At last. 

Let's 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? 


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

Editorial: An English language newspaper buries a story in Arabic

So much in Iraq does not get covered by the western press.  The topics ignored have long included The Disappeared.  The western press published an article last week about The Disappeared.  We're not applauding that.  Why?

As C.I. pointed out Saturday, the article was only published in Arabic:

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom's INDEPENDENT is known for publishing the 'facts' from Paddy Cock-Burn.  He's seen as anti-Arab -- for good reason -- and he misses so much.  Including this article at the Arab edition of THE INDEPENDENT written by Ghufran Younes.  She notes the area near Falluja is infamous for its number of missing people -- missing as a result of the militias liquidation operations in Anbar Province.  In June of 2016, Faiz al-Rikan explains, approximately 735 residents were abducted.  A man whose three sons, ages 16 to 26, were abducted speaks of his sadness over his missing children.  They are among The Disappeared.  Since 2017, the High Commission for Human Rights has received complaints of at least 8,615 Iraqis being disappeared. Professor Anas Akram Muhammed sits on that commission and states that  a national database is needed to track the disappeared and their numbers.  The Commission works with the United Nations Development Program.  The Iraqi Center for Documenting War Crimes' Omar al-Farhan states that Iraq is the top ranked in the world when it comes to the number of people who have been disappeared by government forces (including the militias).

It's a major report.  It has clear news value -- certainly more pertinent than anything 'Middle East expert' Paddy Cock-Burn has filed recently as he's restyled himself to become a US 'resistance' 'fighter.'

We should all be asking why THE INDEPENDENT has elected to publish this very important article only in Arabic?

Friday evening, it went up at THE INDEPENDENT's Arabic site and it's been talked about non-stop on Arabic social media.  But, for some strange reason, THE INDEPENDENT -- a British publication -- feels no compulsion to publish the article in English.

It's no where to be found at their English site -- not in the news of the world and not in Middle East news.  Someone needs to answer why that is.

The Arabic speaking world is well aware of The Disappeared in Iraq.  A real service would have been THE INDEPENDENT publishing that same story in English.

TV: Who gets to be the focus?

Unlike Katha Pollitt, we believe media portrayals and representation impact society. We think it's worth analyzing and responding to these portrayals. Whether you admit it or not, what the camera holds up to the country influences the way many people see the country and the world.


On TNT, THE ALIENIST just wrapped up a tight, eight-episode second season. Dakota Fanning really carried this season. Her character, Sara, opened up a detective agency between seasons one and two. She has specialized in missing children. When not attempting to figure out what happens to the pregnant women who are mistresses of various well off men, she and John (Luke Evans) went through the push-pull complications.

Dakota Fanning was strong in season one but she really came into her own this season. This season also featured more women: women who were pregnant, nurses who were taking care of them, etc.

But it didn't really feature any equal for Sara. The show seems content to be about multiple men and one woman.

We're reminded of the imbalance across the entertainment spectrum.

Take HULU which recently cancelled HIGH FIDELITY. As Zoe Kravitz has rightly noted, they are not a service known for diversity.  From VARIETY:

One day after Hulu canceled her series “High Fidelity” after one season, star ZoĆ« Kravitz called out the streaming service for not having shows with much diversity.
Kravitz took to her Instagram on Thursday to post some behind-the-scenes photos with her “High Fidelity” cast members after news broke that the show was canceled.
“I wanna give a shout out to my #highfidelity family. Thank you for all the love and heart you put into this show. I’m in awe of all of you. And thank you to everyone who watched, loved and supported us. #breakupssuck,” she wrote.

Zoe has a solid point. People of color barely exist on HULU. Women of all colors do not fare any better. For years, HULU has emphasized men over and over: THE CONFESSION, THE PATH, CHANCE . . . In fact, it often seems that if it weren't for homophobia, HULU wouldn't cast women in any roles. They'd just have Aaron Paul snog Kiefer Sutherland and brokeback what they couldn't bareback.

It's strange. Especially when you consider what has been the hit shows for streaming services.

NETFLIX? They hit it out of the park with HOUSE OF CARDS -- that show starred Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. They followed it with the largely female cast of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. Their other hits? STRANGER THINGS and GRACE AND FRANKIE. They've put out a ton of programs -- mostly starring men. Most of those tanked. Over at AMAZON, they offered garbage like ALPHA HOUSE (featuring neutered men who blustered), HAND OF GOD, MAD DOGS, SNEAKY PETE, JEAN-CLAUDE VAN JOHNSON and so much more. When did AMAZON finally have a hit show? THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL. Seeing a pattern? HULU should. It wasn't until they offered THE HANDMAID'S TALE that they had must-see viewing.

But it's as though the streaming services are the big four back at the end of the 80s and no one wants a hit show if it's led by women. They'll take it, the way CBS took MURPHY BROWN and ABC took ROSEANNE, but they don't really want it.

And when you grasp that the streamers are aping the big four in the 80s, you start to grasp why people of color aren't leading shows HULU produces. As in the 80s, people of color can be sidekicks or fish-out-of-water, they just can't be lead characters. The only exception to that is NETFLIX which actively seeks a diverse slate of characters and actors for their programming.

HULU wants applause for LITTLE FIRES. But do they think we don't notice that Kerry Washington's entire character is "the other"? Now Kerry Washington can play all types of characters, she's a diverse actress, but it is telling that when HULU finds a project with her that they like, she's the other. We had problems with AMERICAN SON but Kerry wasn't the other in that NETFLIX offering. HULU has a number of image problems and you'd think they'd be working to address those. HIGH FIDELITY delivered an audience. Why wasn't that enough?

With the lack of diversity on so many platforms, it probably in incumbent upon the streaming services to be as open as possible when ending a series.

And it's probably time for consumers/viewers to start applying pressure. HBO deserves applause for the diversity they offer. That's especially true in the diversity of roles that they offer actors of color. The same cannot be said for many others. Too many networks, when noting their actors of color, repeatedly point to shows that portray African-Americans as crooks. We can all be crooks and criminals but we can all also be other things. It's a shame that too many outlets, when they do cast people of color in major roles, are casting them as perps.

Zoe raised an important point.

And it's a point that causes us to shake our heads and grimace every time Ben Mankiewicz is yammering away about the new TCM podcast he's hosting. We shake our heads as he goes on and on about director Peter Bogdanovich. Peter's 81-years-old. He last had a hit movie with MASK. Peter doesn't get along well with actors. On WHAT'S UP DOC?, he tried to tell Barbra Streisand where to put inflections in her dialogue. She studied him for a moment, raised an eyebrow and asked, "Are you trying to give me line readings?" He never did it again. He never did it again with Barbra. She was the only reason the film was being made. (It started out as A GLIMPSE OF THE TIGER and was shut down, Barbra was brought onto the project to help the studio and her ex-husband Elliott Gould avoid a lawsuit.) Others weren't so lucky. Now Ryan O'Neal, for example, benefited from Peter's line readings and Peter acting out the scene to show him what he wanted. But most were like Barbra. Cher truly did not need line readings. Eric Stolz told her to just nod and do it her way, that he did that himself and Bogdonavich never noticed. MASK wasn't a happy set. That's been the reality of too many Bogdonavich films. MASK was a hit, WHAT'S UP DOC? was a hit, PAPER MOON was a hit, THE LAST PICTURE SHOW was a hit. That's really it. Now we both love AT LONG LAST LOVE -- a film that was trashed. But even if you want to allow for that, except for 1985's MASK, Peter hasn't had a hit since 1975.

Why is he being interviewed? THE PLOT THICKENS: I'M STILL PETER BOGDANOVICH. So what?

Yes, we're bothered by Peter's homophobia. Yes, Peter is personally nice to gay and lesbians. But let him talk too long -- or write too long -- and he's going to put his foot in his mouth. He also has a habit of 'inning' dead gay performers. It's ugly in 2020. Time has passed him by and then some. Peter spent his career making enemies. That's also a fact. And it's a fact that never comes up in the podcast nor does his sexism.

Those are reasons not to interview Peter, all of those.

But what bothers us is it's Peter -- a White male.

When you start out a new program with that, it doesn't usually improve.

Take a look at the offering of another famous-because-of-my-relatives person: George Stevens Jr. Junior never directed a classic film the way his father did and Ben never wrote classic scripts like his relatives. But Junior and Ben both cash in on the family name. Junior assembled 2012's CONVERSATIONS AT THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE WITH THE GREAT MOVIE MAKERS THE NEXT GENERATION FROM THE 1950S TO HOLLYWOOD TODAY. Yes, that is a wordy title but what's more disturbing is that this 2012 book offers 28 men and only 4 women. And of the 32 people? Only two are African-Americans (Sidney Poitier and Morgan Freeman). Those figures are shameful.

And when Ben Mankiewicz starts off with Peter Bogdanovich (who is one of the 32 people in Junior's book), we don't see it improving in the years to come. We see many more White men and every now and then a token non-White male.

Among the people who should have been chosen instead of Peter? Harry Belafonte, for starters. He's 91-years-old -- exactly how much time does Ben think he can wait before doing a podcast with Harry? Oscar winners Sidney Poitier (93) and Jane Fonda (82) are two more who have much, much more to offer in terms of experience and reflection. Faye Dunaway's 79, Cicely Tyson's 95. When are these artists getting their shot at the podcast.

Peter loves to play the victim. Usually with "I was happy and successful and people couldn't stand me for it" type talk.  At least that's not maudlin.  Other topics?  Point of fact, his centerfold girlfriend's tragic death did not elevate her to the level of artist and his need to inflate her talents long ago led to people crossing the street when they saw him coming down the sidewalk just to avoid him. Grasp that. Grasp that Ben Mankiewicz and TCM are serving up a completely unqualified guest -- someone who can't grasp why the industry turned on him, who doesn't realize that someone being gay isn't a bad thing or something to lie about, someone who is a sexist. Better guests were ignored because, apparently, the most important qualifications for Ben Mankiewicz are White and male.

Movie Star Roundtable

 Jess: A movie roundtable.  Participating in our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty,   and me, Jess, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;   Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen;  Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ;  Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.On Sunday, TCM aired -- or is airing as we being this roundtable, the following films: PROTOCOL, SWING SHIFT, BEST FRIENDS, THERE'S A GIRL IN MY SOUP, CACTUS FLOWER, BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE, SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES, FOUL PLAY, FIRST WIVES CLUB, SHAMPOO, DOLLARS and CRISSCROSS.  It's August and TCM is focused on block programming focusing on a single star.  Sunday, it is Goldie Hawn.  We love those movies and have highlighted three of them -- CACTUS FLOWER and SHAMPOO and FOUL PLAY-- in our ongoing Film Classics of the 20th Century.









Ty: And we've also highlighted Goldie Hawn's HOUSESITTER and her THE DUCHESS AND THE DIRTWATER FOX which weren't included in TCM's line up.  I don't believe that we've highlighted anyone in that series, Film Classics of the 20th century, as much as Goldie Hawn.

Rebecca: Because she's a star.  She's a real star, a first-rate star, a first-rate actress, someone who has made the country happy in so many movies.  They programmed 24 hours of Goldie and they still had films that were left out -- like HOUSESITTER, THE DUCHESS AND THE DIRTWATER FOX, the thriller DECEIVED, the classic DEATH BECOMES HER, the classic PRIVATE BENJAMIN, THE GIRL FROM PETROVKA, the classics WILDCATS and OVERBOARD, the Woody Allen film EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU, the Steven Spielberg film THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS, SNATCHED, THE BANGER SISTERS, THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS and BIRD ON A WIRE.  Some of those were huge hits.  It's a testament to Goldie's star power that they programmed 24 hours of her films and still had so many strong films that didn't get included.


Cedric: And that's something I made a point to catch, the Goldie block.  I love her movies. 

Jess: Trina highlighted her ten favorite Goldie Hawn films back in May


Trina: I did.  I feel for TCM, seriously, in picking just 11 films.  When I picked my top ten, I noted that I loved many other Goldie films but those were just my top ten favorites.  We, as a family, we always made Goldie one of our go-tos.  Snow day, feeling down day, Goldie Hawn movies can bring you around.  I think PROTOCOL is wonderful but I love them all.


Mike: I'm looking at the films my mom picked:

1) Housesitter

2) Private Benjamin

3) Shampoo

4) First Wives Club

5) Death Becomes Her

6) Protocol

7) Overboard

8) Foul Play

9) Crisscross

10) Best Friends


Mike (Con't): So they played six of the ten that were my mom's picks.  And we did watch Goldie growing up.  My mom and dad both love her movies, my brothers and sisters do too.  She's someone we grew up watching and loving.  


Elaine: She's a good ad for them.  She's a star.  She's a star who is popular and she's a star who became a type.  The great stars, the biggest, became types.  You knew, going into the movie, who they were going to be.  Joan Crawford, in the 30s, working woman, Bette Davis would be high drama, Marilyn Monroe would be the lovable blond, Cary Grant would be Cary Grant -- that's not an insult.  The world loved Cary Grant even Cary wished he could be Cary Grant.  Goldie's a great actress and a wonderful star. 


Ann: And it's about time that TCM started adding stars who have emerged since the start of the 1960s.  Most of the movie stars they focus on are from the 30s, the 40s and the 50s.  


Isaiah: Great choices when it's people like Cary Grant, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Audrey Hepburn, James Stewart, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Lana Turner, Alan Ladd, Ava Gardner, etc.


Marcia: But not so much when it's Greer Garson, Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Janet Gaynor, Gregory Peck, Norma Shearer, William Holden, Luise Rainer, Robert Montgomery, Joan Fontaine, Jane Wyman if she's not co-starring with Rock Hudson -- 


Isaiah: Dull and boring.  Every one that Marcia's listing.


Marcia: And offensive when it comes to John Wayne's westerns.  


Cedric: On the westerns, my question is always: Why?  They end up showing them on a Friday night lately.  The genre's not that popular to begin with.  It's not going to draw new viewers.  There are already multiple channels that offers westerns.  Why would you use your prime real estate of Friday nigh ton TCM on a movie whose genre is going to reduce the number of potential viewers.  And I'm talking about people who just don't like the horse operas.  But it's also true that, for many, the whole issue of the treatment of the Native Americans in these films is going to run off audiences.  TCM needs new movies to show.  Sunday's block of Goldie Hawn films is a good start.


Ty: We're doing this feature for two reasons: Goldie Hawn got recognized and we're thrilled about that.  They've been slowly including her films more and more over the last ten months or so.  Expanding beyond, for example, CATCUS FLOWER and adding BEST FRIENDS and SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES -- both of which were very popular per the 'most popular' section of their streaming site.  We love Goldie and are thrilled to see her recognized.  But the second reason is we have done a lot of TCM pieces and Jonelle e-mailed asking for more "because it seems like you make suggestions at your site and it ends up happening at the network."  We wish.


Ann: Because Stan's made suggestions at his site and they've been carried over here for many of the George Segal films that are not available to be aired -- films like WHO'S KILLING THE GREAT CHEFS OF EUROPE?, for example.


Ruth: There are so many films that could be included and are not and I am especially feeling that to be true of the films that are not available on home video.  


Isaiah: I'd like to think that recognizing Goldie could lead to more recognitions.  I'm thinking Sidney Poitier, for example.  He's noted, or his films are, but I don't think he's been a block in August.  




Jess: That was 12, by the way.  That's fine, they showed 12 Goldie Hawn films. And it would be great to see that day of Sidney in August.


Ty: As opposed to Black History Month, agreed.  


Cedric: Support.  Let's not ghettoize Sidney by making highlighting his films something we just do in Black History Month.  He's an Oscar winner and a star.  He belongs on the schedule any month of the year.


Ann:  I agree with that.  And hopefully the recognition of Goldie will lead to the recognition of others from the 70s, 80s and 90s.  I absolutely want diversity   I'd like to see a day -- and I'll take any month of the year -- dedicated to Alfre Woodard and my 11 would include Robert Altman's HEALTH, CROOKLYN, DOWN IN THE DELTA, RADIO, CROSS CREEK, PASSION FISH, EXTREMITIES, BOPHA!, GRAND CANYON, BLUE CHIPS. FUNNY VALENTINES and PRIMAL FEAR.


Isaiah: And there are White actors I'd like to see highlighted as well.  Before we get to them, though, it's an absolute crime that Eddie Murphy does not have a day in August.  NORBIT, DADDY DAY CARE, DREAMGIRLS, COMING TO AMERICA, BOWFINGER, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, DOCTOR DOLITTLE, NUTTY PROFESSOR II, TRADING PLACES and BOOMERANG.  I'm leaving out the BEVERLY HILLS COPs and the two 48 HOURS pictures due to language that might be a problem for TCM.  But I'd like to see some blocks around actors of color.  There's also a lot of White actors that haven't gotten blocks who should have them.


Rebecca: Meryl Streep is not a star.  She's a leading actress but she's not a star.  I know Isaiah's not going to say her but I want to get that on the record.  She doesn't have films that America loves.  The films she has that are popular, they're popular for someone else.  OUT OF AFRICA is a lousy film and was a lousy one in real time but racists chose to look the other way.  Even so, it's Robert Redford's film.  DEATH BECOMES HER belongs to Goldie Hawn.  THE DEVIL WORE PRADA belongs to Anne Hathaway.  THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY belongs to Clint Eastwood.  She's not a star, she's never been a star.  Even when she tried to be box office -- or maybe especially when she did -- she's failed: THE SEDUCTION OF JOE TYNAN, LIONS FOR LAMBS, FALLING IN LOVE, PLENTY, THE RIVER WILD, THE STILL OF THE NIGHT, etc.  She is an actress whose critical reputation is greater than her box office appeal -- far greater.

Isaiah: Agreed.  Her career is a joke.  It's a sign of mistaking ugly for talent.  Diane Keaton has talent -- which is why she walked away with MARVIN'S ROOM, stealing it from Meryl.  Diane's a star and she should certainly get a block on TCM.  Even if you leave out THE GODFATHER trilogy, Diane's acted in important films. LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR, SLEEPER, ANNIE HALL, LOVE & DEATH, MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY, BABY BOOM, THE GOOD MOTHER --

Marcia: I love that film!




Rebecca: I love that movie!


Isaiah: Another great one.  MANHATTAN, POMS -- I'd argue that it's a better film than it's given credit for and if they hadn't tried to hide in the ads that Diane dies in the film -- it would have been received better, CRIMES OF THE HEART, MANHATTAN and THE FIRST WIVES CLUB.


Elaine: Great suggestions.  I also agree that Diane deserves a block.


Jess: Is there a film you would have noted, Elaine?


Elaine: THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL is flawed but it's a fascinating film.  I'd also note a very little known comedy that she did, PLAN B.  I enjoyed that film.


Mike: Of her under-rated films, I'd go with HANGING UP -- strong direction from Diane and strong acting from Diane, Meg Ryan, Lisa Kudrow and Walter Mathau. 


Ruth: Going back to FIVE FLIGHT UP, Danny Glover is someone who should get his own block of films on TCM.  There's that one, with Diane Keaton, FIVE FLIGHTS UP, SILVERADO, PLACES IN THE HEART, BELOVED, ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, SHOOTER, THE COLOR PURPLE, THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN, TO SLEEP WITH ANGER, GONE FISHIN', GRAND CANYON, FLIGHT OF THE INTRUDER, Ann's pick of BOTHA! for Alfre Woodard also works here for Danny Glover, THE SAINT OF FORT WASHINGTON -- I would have given Mr. Glover and Matt Dillon Oscars for that film -- and, of course, THE LETHAL WEAPON films. 

Jess: Danny Glover would be a good choice.  And he's popular already but I don't think most people realize how many great roles he's played.  Picking him would be a way to shine a light on a star who has repeatedly surprised us and entertained us.

Ty: Good point.  Now Goldie won an Oscar in 1970.  Barbra Streisand won an Oscar a few years before.  Could they build a block around her.

Rebecca: A real block?  No.  Barbra?  How do you do it?  Do you do a musical block?  Okay, FUNNY GIRL, ON A CLEAR DAY, the awful FUNNY LADY, A STAR IS BORN and YENTL.  Throw in the awful HELLO DOLLY, I guess.  If you go with drama?  THE WAY WE WERE, THE PRINCE OF TIDES and NUTS.  If you go with comedy?  FOR PETE'S SAKE, WHAT'S UP DOC, UP THE SANDBOX and THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES.  A block combining that would be erratic.  Barbra's a star, there's no question that she is.  

Trina: She directed three of the films you named.  It's a shame she hasn't directed more.

Rebecca: I guess you could use the theme of quality.  In which case, the films would be: FUNNY GIRL, ON A CLEAR DAY, WHAT'S UP DOC, UP THE SANDBOX, THE WAY WE WERE, ALL NIGHT LONG -- with Gene Hackman, YENTL, THE PRINCE OF TIDES and THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES.  How many is that?

Jess: Nine.  

Rebecca: Yeah, it's not easy pulling together a Barbra block.  But it's not easy doing it with Mae West and Mae's a star as well.  

Ruth: They just do not have enough movies for a full day block?

Rebecca: That's what I feel.

Mike: I am amazed by how many films she has that I can't stand.  The ones that I like, though, I tend to love.  I think YENTL is amazing and the finest musical she's starred in -- yes, I know she directed it.  The next one that I love is THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES and I love that one.  It's really funny and it pulls at the heart and it's a classic film.  Yes, she also directed that one.  Of the films she did not direct?  I'd go with WHAT'S UP DOC -- great throughout.  That's a real problem with her films -- THE WAY WE WERE, for example -- the middle tends to sag. I'd like to see Wesley Snipes get a block.  WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP, WILDCATS, THE WATERDANCE, MURDER T 1600, BLADE, DOWN IN THE DELTA, MO' BETTER BLUES, PLAY IT TO THE BONE, TO WONG FOO THANKS FOR EVERYTHING JULIE NEWMAR!, UNDISPUTED, my personal favorite of all of his films THE ART OF WAR, PASSENGER 57, MONEY TRAIN, ONE NIGHT STAND and U.S. MARSHALS.  How many is that? 

Jess: 15.

Isaiah: Until Mike listed it right now, I didn't realize that Wesley Snipes had that many films I liked.  I think, like we were saying earlier about Danny Glover, a day highlighting Wesley could really elevate how we see him.  I'd also argue we need a day of Halle.  


Jess: 19 with 2 X-MEN films.  Why doesn't Halle have a block already?  She's won the Oscar, she's made some incredible films.  Where's her block?  I agree with Isaiah and Marcia, she deserves one.

Ann: For me, the ones that come to mind right now are the Doris Days.  Doris gets blocks all the time -- and deserves them.  But what about the more recent rom-com stars?  Meg Ryan.



Jess: That's 13.

Ann: Good.  Now Julia Roberts?



Jess: That's 16.

Ann: Sandra Bullock?


Jess: That's 19.

Ann: One more, Drew Barrymore.


Jess: No E.T.?  Okay, without E.T., that leaves us with 17 films.  


Jess: That's 13.

Trina: Jack Nicholson deserves a block, Susan Sarandon does, Michelle Pfeiffer does, Cher does.  Yes, Cher has made fewer films than Barbra Streisand but Cher's catalogue, her filmography, makes for a strong block.


Cedric: I'd note that Denzel Washington and Jessica Lange are two more who deserve an all day block of their films.

Elaine: I agree with Trina and Cedric.

Jess: Agreement.  That's a great note to go out on.  This has been a rush transcript.

Islamic State in Iraq: 'How I survived an IS massacre' - BBC News


Ali Hussein Kadhim, an Iraqi soldier and a Shia Muslim, was captured in the city of Tikrit by so-called Islamic State militants in June 2014. He says he will never forget what happened next to him and an estimated 1,700 military cadets. The cadets, many of them young teenagers starting their careers in the military, were lined up in groups and shot. This is Kadhim’s own account of how he "miraculously" escaped the massacre at Camp Speicher. UK viewers can watch 'Once Upon a Time in Iraq: Episode 5' on Monday 10 August at 21:00 BST on BBC Two and on BBC iPlayer. Digital Producer: Ahmen Khawaja Commissioning Editor: Kimberley Rowell Please subscribe HERE

The Troubles With HULU

 Ava: HULU has ticked off a number of subscribers.  We're going to discuss that, C.I. and myself, with Stan, Betty and Dallas.  C.I.?  Dallas and I are part of THE THIRD ESTATE SUNDAY REVIEW and C.I. is part of that as well as doing the site THE COMMON ILLS.  We'll be discussing the changes in HULU as well as trying to offer the history -- including changes -- of HULU.


C.I.: HULU is a streaming service that first became publicly available in 2008 -- we're ignoring the beta testing although Ava and I were a part of that.  HULU offered a limited number of films -- the two most streamed at this time were Doris Day's CAPRICE and Vincent Price's DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE. It offered episodes of TV shows -- programs that aired on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and THE CW.  The episodes would show up a day after they aired. You would see commercials whether you watched TV episodes or movies.   Stan, I know you probably want to add something.

Stan: Oh, about early?  Yeah, sometimes it wasn't the next day at five in the morning.  One time, for example, they had NBC's superhero show THE CAPE up an hour after the episode aired.  There was another show I loved that this happened with as well.  

C.I.: Fox was the first to get pissy.  They wanted their episodes on HULU a week after they aired.  The work-around for that was you could go HULU PLUS and not have to wait a week, with HULU PLUS, you could still watch the next day.  For Mike, he ended up grabbing HULU PLUS to be able to watch FOX's FRINGE the next day.  HULU PLUS required you to pay a fee.  You still had commercials, but you paid a fee or you stayed with free HULU which meant you had to wait a week after an episode aired to catch it.  Betty?


Betty: HULU PLUS was very popular.  Popular enough to become a joke on FAMILY GUY.  October 1, 2017, season sixteen, episode one, "Emmy-Winning Episode," they're doing a BREAKING BAD parody and Peter tells Lois they've got real problems.

Lois:  For five long years, orange was my new black. Peter, I don't care if it's drug money. I have grown accustomed to Hulu Plus. If you think I'm going back to regular Hulu, you're crazy! 

Peter: We don't even watch that much Hulu. 

Lois: I still want it just in case! 


C.I.: FAMILY GUY also did a commercial for HULU, by the way.  NBC was the next to get pissy.  Their ratings were in the toilet and instead of facing the fact that their sitcoms weren't popular -- single-camera sitcoms, at that -- they were convinced that people were not watching it on live TV because they had the choice to stream. Ava and I argued that point with various suits at NBC.  Ava?

Ava:  We told them, "This isn't people watching online who would watch on broadcast.  This is an audience that's only going to watch if they're able to watch when they want to watch.  Pulling the shows from streaming will not increase their network airing ratings.  People will just stop watching."  They didn't believe us.  They were convinced that HARRY'S LAW's rating would increase considerably if they pulled it from HULU.  They pulled it and . . . the ratings did not increase.  They pulled other programs and saw the same problem.  At which point, they told us that the decision had been made to do their own streaming service -- NBC-UNIVERSAL.  That's what it was going to be called.  In a piece, we noted PEACOCK's been planned since 2011 and we were basing that on our conversations with NBC -- mostly face to face or on the phone but we do have several e-mails and, I checked, it does go back, the e-mails to 2011.  

C.I.: HULU was never in competition with NETFLIX.  Unlike NETFLIX -- which bleeds money to this day -- HULU began turning a profit by 2010.  HULU's competition was TV that could be streamed online.  An early example would be AEREO which allowed you to stream and record broadcast TV but it faced court challenges and the court sided against AEREO.  SLING TV came along offering something similar.  You could watch a la carte -- on demand -- or you could watch live.  Channels included TCM, COMEDY CENTRAL, SUNDANCE and other channels.  SLING TV comes along in 2015.  Almost immediately, HULU is threatened and announces that they're going to roll out HULU+LIVE TV.  Stan?

Stan: I was a SLING subscriber.  The announcement came months before HULU offered the plan.  They sweetened the deal, improved on SLING, by offering live broadcast channels -- they sold it as local channels but it was a way to watch your favorite network shows live.  Now to get the channels I had on SLING -- no local channels -- I had to get their Blue and their Orange package.  Those channels, plus broadcast channels, were covered in the HULU+LIVE TV.  I was all for it but I had to wait months for it to be offered.  As soon as it was offered, I immediately dropped SLING.

Dallas: Same here.

Ava: We'll return to the history of HULU in a moment with some comments from me but, right now, I want to establish that you -- Betty, Dallas and Stan -- if asked in June, you would have said that you were pleased with HULU?

Dallas: Absolutely, I loved it.  I used it more than NETFLIX or DISNEY+ or anything.  I watched all my favorite shows.  It was easy to manage and there was so much I wanted to watch.  I streamed constantly.  

Betty: I would agree with that.  I used it.  My daughter used it.  We found so many programs we enjoyed.  I'd love to tell you that movies were things we watched but we really didn't.  We'd watch shows on FREEFORM, for example, that we'd never heard of.  It was so easy to use and to navigate.

Dallas: Because of the "My Channels" feature, right?

Betty: Exactly.  My Channels let you explore, first, what was on live right now starting with the channels you watched the most and then, when you clicked 'more channels,' all the channels.

Dallas: And you could move over and go through the networks, network by network.  You could look at CBS, for example, and go through it to see all the programs that would be airing during the next 18 or so hours.  You could do that with every network.  It was the chief navigation tool I used.  

Stan: Same here.  They have a feature called "Live TV."  It is not the same thing as My Channels and it does not offer the same features.  I don't care for it.  I never used Live TV because, when I tried it, it was useless.

Betty: I would agree with that.

C.I.:  At the end of last month, HULU rolled out a redesign.  It looks like AMAZON PRIME and it removed My Channels.

Stan: I was furious.  I was outraged.  I immediately called customer service.  I was lied to.  I was told, when I explained I was going to cancel my subscription over this, I was told to give them one more week, that there had been a lot of complaints.  I gave it a week and not only did they not return My Channels, I also saw Dallas' conversation with HULU customer service.

C.I.: That was published here last edition, "HULU has "no definite answer" -- or any real customer service."  Dallas, talk about that encounter.

Dallas: I'd read Stan's post about how HULU told him over the phone to give it another week.  Ava and C.I. had been told My Channels wasn't coming back and they shared that with me.  I went online and i.m.ed with HULU customer service.   I wanted an answer about My Channels.  What I got was someone who may not have been in the US -- did HULU outsource their customer service?  HULU's supposed to be an American company.  Read the transcript and see if the guy I'm talking to sounds like someone comfortable speaking English.  He didn't come across that way. He certainly didn't know a damn thing about HULU.

Betty: You explained My Channels to him over and over and he couldn't grasp what that was.  This is someone who works for HULU?

Stan: That really was something.  He kept telling Dallas things like uninstall the app and then reinstall it and that should help.  Should help him get the channels that are missing.

C.I.: It's frustrating to read that conversation.  What's more frustrating is how long that slow conversation took.  Talk about that.

Dallas: It took over 20 minutes to get a person.  And they told me it would be 20 minutes.  I went online and ordered two pizzas from Dominos.  I kept checking and and checking.  My pizza arrived and I got that and then started to get some plates for everybody but then I realized, 'Wait, customer service!' So I run over to the laptop and -- I'm still waiting.  It's been 35 minutes and no one.  Now once the guy finally shows up, there was the longest lag in ever reply.  It was like it was 2000 and we were communicating via AOL  or YAHOO messanger.  It was like dial up.  And if I had to explain to him or correct him, it would take forever before he would reply.

Betty: If that's HULU's idea of good customer service, they are in trouble.

Ava: And they are in trouble.  Right now, they are in trouble. Of their own making.  By refusing to address the customer's discomfort with the removal of My Channels, they've created their own problem.  All three of you are not using HULU currently.  You've either switched to YOUTUBE or are in the midst of a trial subscription with YOUTUBE.  How's that going?

Stan: I love it.  It's much more user friendly.  I love having PBS programs to watch.  There's so much more there.

Betty: I'd agree that it's better.  I will note that people may miss out on not having, for example, full season access to, say, AMERICAN DAD.  There's a work around --

Stan: The cloud.

Betty: Right, the cloud.  The cloud's unlimited.  So you can just record as it airs over the year.  

Dallas:  With HULU, I was constantly having to check my DVR because if I didn't and went over, the stuff in there was recorded over or kicked out.  That's not the case with YOUTUBE TV.

Stan: You don't get HULU's original TV shows but who really watches them?  Having PBS and TV LAND, my Cloud with YOUTUBE TV is always full.  Oh, and it's got ACORN too.

Ava: Can you pull up your recorded shows and give us some examples of what you're keeping currently?

Stan: Sure.  It's called "Library."  It divides it into "New in your library," "Most watched," "Scheduled," "Shows" and "Movies."  "New in your library" is whatever has been recorded most recently.  "Most watched" is whatever in your library you most often watch, "scheduled" lets you see which shows that will be airing soon are ones that you'll be recording.  "Movies" is movies you've decided to keep and the same with "Shows."  Okay, under shows, I have AMERICAN MASTERS, THE SIMPSONS, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, AMERICAN DAD, RICK STEVE'S EUROPE, ROSEANNE, FATHER BROWN, KEEPING UP APPEARANCES, NOVA, JUDGE JUDY, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE, PERRY MASON the original and the HBO one, COLUMBO, THE NANNY, MARVEL'S AGENTS OF SHIELD, AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE, ALL RISE, THE NEIGHBORHOOD, BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA, THIS OLD HOUSE, WILL & GRACE, ENDEAVOUR ON MASTERPIECE, THE GOLDEN GIRLS, MARTIN, POP's ONE DAY AT A TIME -- the one with Rita Moreno, BOB'S BURGERS and THE GOLDBERGS.


Dallas: I watch THE NEWSHOUR on YOUTUBE TV, for example.  I have my local PBS station as an app on my ROKU TV but I usually didn't watch very often because it's opening another app.  So it's something I'd open on Saturday, for example, to try to catch up.  Now I watch THE NEWSHOUR live each night.  I don't trust CNN, MSNBC or FOX.  I know PBS has its own bias but THE NEWSHOUR is the only over the airwaves news broadcast I try to catch and feel I can depend upon.  With HULU, I had added on HBO and STARZ.  With YOUTUBE TV, I only have HBO as an add on.  There's more than enough to watch without needing STARZ.


Betty: One thing I really like is that I can see what's playing live and I can divide it up by show type if I want.  I love sitcoms, for example, so I can go to the live section and grab sitcoms as the show type and just go through the various sitcoms that are airing right then.  It's like My Channels but you can customize it.


C.I.: So it sounds like you are in agreement that leaving HULU was the right thing to do?

Betty: I don't see myself going back.

Dallas: Same here.

Stan: I put mine on pause -- my subscription.  If they restored My Channels this week, I'd think about going back.  If they restore a few months down the road it's too late.

C.I.: Stan, you feel like HULU really betrayed their customers?

Stan: I do.  I feel betrayed.  I paid for the service and I praised to my friends and I praised at my blog and then one day they make a change that's awful and hideous -- it was "New Coke" as you pointed out -- and they won't fix it.  People are complaining at their own website, people are complaining to their customer service and they don't care.  So, honestly, I don't care to continue subscribing.

Ava: And you have to be a paid subscriber now.  They no longer offer the free service.  I don't see, without that, how they're going to attract new customers because I don't see how the word -- or good word -- is going to get out.  The betrayal Stan's talking about is something reflected in the e-mails our last piece got.  This was a huge mistake on HULU's part -- dropping My Channels.  But the even bigger mistake was digging in and refusing to make their customers happy.  Returning My Channels is an easy fix.  That HULU refuses to address the problem does not reflect well upon the company.  And with that, we're going to wrap up.  This is a rush transcript.  Thank you to everyone for participating.

#OnceUponATimeInIraq #FRONTLINE Once Upon a Time in Iraq (full film) | FRONTLINE


The story of the Iraq war and the chaos that followed, told by Iraqis who lived through it. This journalism is made possible by viewers like you. Support your local PBS station here: The voices of Iraqis take center stage in “Once Upon a Time in Iraq,” an unprecedented, two-hour FRONTLINE documentary special. They share their personal accounts and lasting memories of life under Saddam Hussein, the U.S.-led invasion of their country and the years of chaos that followed — from sectarian violence to the rise and brutal reign of ISIS. #OnceUponATimeInIraq #IraqWar #FRONTLINE Love FRONTLINE? Find us on the PBS Video App where there are more than 300 FRONTLINE documentaries available for you to watch any time: Instagram: Twitter: Facebook: Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Abrams Foundation, the Park Foundation, The John and Helen Glessner Family Trust, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.

Marcia weighs in on Elvis

 Marcia wrote a long essay about music, about facts, about a documentary and so much more.  We're reposting it.

A few thoughts on Elvis and music

  I watched a documentary called The King.  A bunch of whiny bitches who need to shut the f**k up.  That includes Chuck D and a priss-pot 'brother' who doesn't know s**t and needs to shut his mouth.  I'm searching for that priss-pot's name.  Oh, Van Jones.

Our 9-11 Truther, Van Jones.  He's the priss pot on camera.  What a jerk.  What a con artist.  What a piece of filth.

Let's deal with Chuck D -- F**k you, Chuck.  You oppressed women, who the f**k do you think you are to come in and condemn anyone?

"You turn on a movie and you get an Elvis movie, you turn on the radio and you get an Elvis song," whines Chuck D.

Chuck felts his penis was too small because Elvis Presley was on TV in movies.  It upset tiny peeny Chuckie.  And so he hated on Elvis.

He didn't crown Elvis the King of Rock and Roll!

Who the f**k cares, Chuck?  Your crusty ass lips are old but they ain't that old.  You weren't around to crown him.  He predates you.

Elvis could sing.  Elvis became famous because he could sing and because he was sexy as hell -- even my lesbian ass can feel the sexual heat off Elvis -- and because he was pretty as f**k.  It's a look that many lesbians cultivate, by the way.  Ruby Rose, at her sexiest on Batwoman, looked liked Elvis.  

Those three things made Elvis a star -- singing, sex appeal and gorgeous.  

If you want to talk rip offs, let's talk Pat Boone.  Pat covered R&B hits and did bland versions that White radio would play when they wouldn't play the originals.

Somehow, to Van Jones, "Elvis as hero doesn't register with most Americans."

"Take Black music and become famous," whines Bitch Van The Bitch Jones.

"Hound Dog"?  It's not Black music, Bitch. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote that song.  Big Mama Thornton didn't write the song, dumb ass bitch.  Two White men, two Jewish men at that, wrote the song.  They let her record their song.

She did a lousy version of it.  Yeah, she's wailing away -- in front of a big band, swing beat.  It sounds like s**t.  The writers produced it but she went along with it.  Oh, and the growl she sang with, Jerry showed her how to sing that.  So let's stop pretending.

Call it R&B, call it rock, when Elvis sang it, the music was completely different, it had the attitude that was in Big Mama's voice but not in the music that went with her recording.

 In the documentary, Van The Bitch Jones whines, "Why do you care so much about rescuing Elvis Presley from the charge that he's a racial appropriator?"

I care about the truth, Bitch.  I get it, you make up facts and you spout loony conspiracy theories and CNN puts you on air despite all that so you think you can get away with any lie, but you can't.  You're an idiot.

F**k you, Van Jones.  He's not a hero unless you're prick face idiot.

He's a famous singer.  He's a legend.  But I don't consider him a hero.  I can enjoy Michael Jackson's music to this day because I don't consider him a hero.  I think he did molest young boys.  But he's not my hero and I can listen to the music and enjoy it without having to glorify Michael as some hero.  I don't think most entertainers are heroes.  I'll hail Diana Ross and Berry Gordy as heroes because they broke the color line and they showed what equality was.  At the height of the Beatles, while most American acts struggled to keep up, Diana Ross -- on Berry Gordy's Motown -- sang 33 top 40 hits -- 12 of which went to number one.  She was all over TV as a musical guest breaking the color line, she was on shows like the Ed Sullivan Show, American Bandstand, Shindig, Hullabaloo, The Sammy Davis Jr. Show, The Red Skelton Show, The Andy Williams Show, The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Bing Crosby Show: Making Movies, The Dean Martin Show, TCB and GIT On Broadway (with the Temptations), The Dinah Shore Special: Like Hep, the TV show Tarzan.

Notice something too about these bitches Chuck D and Van Jones.  They never celebrate a woman.

They could be making these arguments to celebrate a woman but they're sexist pigs.

Diana Ross broke the color lines.  She was the first African-American woman to be accepted as a trend setter in fashion and beauty regardless of color.  She set trends for young women in the sixties -- young women of all races.  And for some boys and men during that time.

She was the first Black woman to become a superstar.  She moved beyond chart hits, she was an influencer.  She was all over TV and she was glamorous and she broke the color lines.  

But these pieces of human s**t like Van Jones and Chuck D can't give a woman credit.

You get that in the special as the bitch boys whine about how the King of Rock and Roll should be Little Richard, Bo Didley, Chuck Berry -- anyone but Elvis.


F**k Little Richard.  His best known hit is a song about having gay sex but he wants to run in and out of the closet.  Kiss my Black lesbian ass from the grave, Little Richard. "If it don't fit"?  He didn't fit because he was forever hiding in the closet and speaking out against the 'evil' of being gay.  He's a fake ass who couldn't even be honest in the last ten years of his life -- he died at 87 and he was back in the closet.  Johnny Mathis -- a much bigger star than Little Richard ever was -- is gay and 84-years-old and has been out for decades.  Johnny Mathis had 20 top forty hits -- two went number one.  

I love how Van Jones is celebrating Muhammad Ali in the film.  It's that kind of a world, is it Bitch Jones?  We're going to pretend that Ali didn't set back women's rights, we're going to pretend he didn't out right slam women's rights?

You f**king pice of s**t.

Bo Didley is a moment in time.  A one hit wonder.  Only one song of his made the top forty.  That's going to be a King of Rock and Roll?

Facts never mattered to Van Jones.

Chuck Berry?  He certainly deserves some title.  If he's a king, though, he's one dwarfed by Elvis who was a bigger king.  But Chuck's the only one from the fifties who comes close to Elvis -- Black or White.  

I don't get The King.  It's trying to use Elvis as an analogy for the US (they keep saying "America" throughout the film -- that's xenophobic on the part of the expert witnesses like Chuck D and Van Jones and on the part of the filmmakers, "America" includes Canada, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Cuba, Puerto Rico . . .) and that's false -- like most analogies are -- and really not fair in terms of he died in the 70s and they're condemning the US today.  If they wanted to use the analogy, then the US needed to die within a year or two when Elvis did (1977).

Chuck D is not remembered for anything.  He's a rap pioneer, is he?  Because, hate to break it to you, Chuck, no one in rap does your music.  Rap has left you behind, erased everything you stood for.  It's a party genre now.  It doesn't want to try politics and it has no place for you.  You are the empire in decline now in the world of rap.

I'm not a huge Elvis fan.  

I can probably name 50 musical artists that I like better.  But I do admit he was a great singer.  And there are songs of his I love.  

Here are my top ten favorite Elvis songs:

1) "A Little Less Conversation"

2) "Blue Suede Shoes" 

3) "Love Me Tender"

4) "Are You Lonesome Tonight"

5) "Can't Help Falling In Love"

6) "Crying In The Chapel"

7) "Suspicious Minds"

8) "Jailhouse Rock"

9) "Heartbreak Hotel"

10) "Burning Love"

When I say he's not my favorite, I'm not trying to be rude.  I just mean that artists who  were alive and making hits when I came up are usually my favorites.  I don't think I knew of Elvis until after he died. Like Kamala Harris, I was a child of busing, that's when I come up.  

As a child, I knew Diana Ross, the Jacksons, Stevie Wonder, Carly Simon, the Spinners, Natalie Cole, Cher, Joni Mitchell (my dad got heavily into her starting with The Hissing of Summer Lawns -- and followed her work forward as well as picking up on the previous albums -- but I can remember, to this day the Thanksgiving where he first listened to that album and listened to over and over throughout the weeks up to Christmas -- then he started getting her previous work but for those weeks that's all he listened to), Donna Summer, Michael Jackson as a solo act, Ray Parker Junior, Fleetwood Mac, the Pointer Sisters ("He's So Shy" was their hit that first grabbed me), in the 80s (my teenage years) Tina Turner,  Janet Jackson, Ashford & Simpson (I didn't discover them until 1982's Street Opera), Prince, Pat Benatar, Paul McCartney (when his single "Coming Up" is when I discover him), Lionel Richie . . .

I love a lot of music.  Here would be my top fifty -- Diana's at number one because she is my all time favorite but the rest could fall in any order.

1) Diana Ross

2) Prince

3) Joni Mitchell

4) Stevie Wonder

5) Solange

6) Cher

7) Aretha Franklin

8) the Beatles

9) Janet Jackson

10) the Mamas and the Papas (I love them -- my favorite track?  I'll go with a little known one "Snow Queen of Texas" and "Safe In My Garden")

11) James Brown

12) Tina Turner

13) Patti Labelle

14) Sting

15) Dionne Warwick

16) Alicia Keys

17) the Pointer Sisters

18) the Pretenders

19) Eurythmics

20) George Michael (if I ever loved a man, it was George Michael)

21) Mavis Staples

22) Jody Watley (yes, her 80s work is excellent but I listen to everything she puts out to this day and love it all)

23) the Spinners

24) Earth, Wind & Fire (I was dismissive of them and refused to listen to them until "After The Love Is Gone" -- then I loved them and loved everything they put out after and before)

25) Rihanna

26) Carly Simon

27) Joss Stone ("Drive All Night" remains my favorite Joss song)

28) Laura Nyro (I got into her big time in college)

29) Ashford & Simpson

30) Jimi Hendrix (Electric Ladyland is my favorite of his albums)

31) Blondie (I got on board when they released "Heart Of Glass" and I've never left)

32) the Rolling Stones (I honestly missed them as a child but when I was a teenager, Michael and Mick did "State of Shock" and that got me into the Stones -- favorite songs include "Angie," "Fool To Cry," "Start Me Up" and "She Was Hot" -- and I loved Tina and Mick at Live Aid)

33) Sade

34) Luther Vandross

35) Chaka Khan

36) Lauryn Hill (her first album has never left my playlist)

37) Sly & The Family Stone

38) The Fifth Dimension

39) Fiona Apple

40) Tori Amos

41) Usher

42) Roberta Flack

43) Richie Havens

44) Melanie (Safka)

45) Millie Jackson

46) Natalie Cole ("Dangerous" is my favorite recording but I love pretty much everything she did)

47) Jon Butcher (love everything but "Wishes" is the song, absolutely)

48) Brenda Russell (I lived on Get Here for a semester in college and I have never stopped listening to that album)

49) TLC (one of the great groups of all time -- Destiny's Child was always a Dollar Store knock off of this group)

50) Jill Scott

Elvis doesn't make my top 50.  Doesn't mean he's not great.  I love Mary J. Blige and Rickie Lee Jones and they didn't make my top 50.  I listen to music more than I watch TV.  I read sy fy books more than I listen to music but that's probably the only thing I do more than I listen to music.  I'm sure Elvis would be in my top 100.  He was a great singer and I don't see the need to tear him down -- especially with lies.

 Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

This edition's playlist

 Pretenders - Pretenders are pleased to announce brand new...

4) Brandy's B7.

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