Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Truest statement of the week

The corporate media will often show images of sparse food store offerings in Cuba or Venezuela to make the case against socialism. (The same reports never mention the damage caused by U.S. sanctions.) But the reverse never happens. Despite thousands of photographs showing empty shelves, people waiting on long lines for food and water, and property damage caused by governmental neglect, very few will ask if capitalism is to blame for this catastrophe.

Of course, it is easy to blame this one state, but it is America writ large, where human rights take a back seat to the needs of the oligarchy. Despite endless claims of superiority the commitment to protect human rights here is largely rhetorical. Just ask Texans who burned their own furniture in an effort to stay warm.

-- Margaret Kimberley, "Freedom Rider: No Human Rights in Texas" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).




A note to our readers


Hey -- 

Wednesday morning still Sunday here on the West Coast.   

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: The Pope went to Iraq

The Pope made a historic visit to Iraq.  The western press attacked the visit prior to it beginning.  Xenophobia informed the US press 'coverage.'  Pope Francis went down in history as the first Pope to visit Iraq and we're noting this from THE COMMON ILLS:




Today, Pope Francis concluded his trip to Iraq.  Riya Baibhawi (REPUBLCWORLD.COM) explains, "Pope Francis, who, on March 7, concluded his three-day visit to Iraq, said that the country would always remain with him. The top pontiff stopped by the ruins of homes and cathedrals in ISIS destroyed Mosul before finally attending Mass at the jam-packed Franso Hariri Stadium in Kurdistan’s Erbil."  This was a historic trip, the first visit of a Pope to Iraq.  It was a defining moment for the pope and it was a defining moment for the press.

The western press clearly was not up to the job -- a reality made clear by one western outlet after another -- especially in the US -- carping and and fretting while ignoring the true intent of the visit.  Once Pope Francis landed in Iraq, western outlets didn't get much better as Martin Chulov (GUARDIAN) made clear, "The pope concluded his two-day trip to Iraq with two highly symbolic stops in areas [. . .]"  Huh?  Do they no longer teach basic math in the United Kingdom?  Pope Francis landed in Iraq on Friday (one day), he continued his visit Saturday (two days) and he concluded his trip on Sunday (three days).  Martin Chulov reduces a three day visit to Iraq to a "two-day trip."  And it's not just his stupidity but the editors at THE GUARDIAN as well.  By contrast, VATICAN NEWS gets it right even in a headline "Highlights of Pope Francis' third day in Iraq."  The lack of care with basic facts taken by THE GUARDIAN is a telling as any lengthy report that they could have filed (but didn't).  THE GUARDIAN can get that it was a three day trip in a photo caption, at least.

Despite an underlaying xenophoia to the western coverage ahead of the visit, Pope Francis made it through Iraq without any attempt being made on his life.  The Iraqi people more than lived up to the spirit of the pontiff's visit.  And the United Nation's News Center explains, "Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth of the United Arab Emirates, welcomed the historic papal visit to Al Tahera Church, one of the sites of the UNESCO-led Revive the Spirit of Mosul initiative."

The Popes visit, as Philip Pullella and Michael Gregory (REUTERS) note, was about healing and peace.  He had already defined himself ahead of the trip as "a pilgrim of peace."Alex Arger (THE DENVER CHANNEL) reports that Pope Francis spoke of the importance of hope and of it being "more powerful than hatred and peace more powerful than war."   Francesco Bongarra (ARAB NEWS) quotes Pope Francis declaring in his remarks at the Syriac Catholic al-Tahira Church in Qaraqosh today, "Even amid the ravages of terrorism and war, we can see, with the eyes of faith, the triumph of life over death."  SCRIPPS MEDIA notes "he called for unity and forgiveness for Muslim extremists, as he visited several churches destroyed by ISIS."  Nicole Winfield and Samya Kullab (AP) observe, "Bells rang out in the town of Qaraqosh as the pope arrived. Speaking to a packed Church of the Immaculate Conception, Francis said “forgiveness” is a key word for Christians."

THE NATIONAL's Mina Aldroubi Tweets:

Mosul’s Church square decorated with two symbolic crosses to welcome #PopeFrancisInIraq .. thank you

In Mosul, John Bacon (USA TODAY) notes, the Pope declared, "Here in Mosul, the tragic consequences of war and hostility are all too evident.  How cruel it is that this country, the cradle of civilization, should have been afflicted by so barbarous a blow, with ancient places of worship destroyed and many thousands of people -- Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, who were cruelly eliminated by terrorism, and others -- forcibly displaced or killed."  Cindy Wooden (CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE) quotes the Pope stating, "If God is the God of life -- for so he is -- then it is wrong for us to kill our brothers and sisters in his name.  If God is the God of peace -- for so he is -- then it is wrong for us to wage war in his name. If God is the God of love -- for so he is -- then it is wrong for us to hate our brothers and sisters."  Mosul is the city that ISIS seized in 2014 and controlled for three years until June of 2017.   

Fanar Haddad Tweeted:

Mosul might be the highlight of this great visit. A symbol of hope in the midst of devastation (that unfortunately still hasnt been cleared up). It's an unequivocal message to extremists: you do not belong here. #Mosul #Iraq #PopeInIraq.

Mosul, Rasha al-Aqeedi Tweets (with photos), is "Where the Iraqi government could not masquerade its failure, inefficiency, and corruption.  3 years later and Mosul's historic Old Town remains as it was.  The Pope sees it."


Before he began speaking in the KRG area of Iraq today, he first arrived at the airport there.  Fazel Hawramy (RUDAW) explains that those greeting the Pope upon arrival included KRG President Nechirvan Barzani whom the Pope told, "I am grateful that, despite being in war, you received the displaced Christians and other minorities from Mosul, Nineveh Plains, and Qaraqosh. You opened your arms to Christians.  The enemy came to destroy this country but you served and opened your arms to the displaced Christians and other groups. War brings destruction, but you defeated the enemy and reconstructed your country.”

Erbil witnessed the largest turnout for the Pope as over 13,000 turned out in and around the stadium he spoke at.  FRANCE 24 explains it was The Franso Hariri Stadium which was "named after an Iraqi Christian politician who was assassinated by extremists 20 years ago." Franso Toma Hariri was a member of the Kudristan Democratic Party who faced assassination attempts in 1994 and 1997 before being assassinated February 18, 2001.  The stadium is now the official home for Iraq's national football team.  Andrea Tornielli (VATICAN NEWS) notes that Erbil is where many Christians went to flee Mosul when ISIS took over the city.  Chris Robertson (SKY NEWS) explains Erbil was the last event of the trip and that the Pope will be back in Rome on Monday.  VATICAN NEWS quotes Pope Francis declaring everyone should "work together in unity for a future of peace and prosperity that leaves no one behind and discriminates against no one."  Alice Fordham tells Michel Martin (NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED), "He spoke in Erbil - I saw him this afternoon - about not seeking revenge. And he said things about not having a narrow idea of community and faith, but the importance of inclusion, of building an open society. And I've spoken to several priests here and to local leaders, and they very much hope that his message will encourage Christians to return to their villages, to stay in Iraq and to build a diverse Iraqi society."  

In Erbil, he delivered the following Homily:

Saint Paul has told us that “Christ is the power and wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:22-25). Jesus revealed that power and wisdom above all by offering forgiveness and showing mercy. He chose to do so not by displays of strength or by speaking to us from on high, in lengthy and learned discourses. He did so by giving his life on the cross. He revealed his wisdom and power by showing us, to the very end, the faithfulness of the Father’s love; the faithfulness of the God of the covenant, who brought his people forth from slavery and led them on a journey of freedom (cf. Ex 20:1-2).

How easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking that we have to show others that we are powerful or wise, into the trap of fashioning false images of God that can give us security (cf. Ex  20:4-5). Yet the truth is that all of us need the power and wisdom of God revealed by Jesus on the cross. On Calvary, he offered to the Father the wounds by which alone we are healed (cf. 1 Pet 2:24). Here in Iraq, how many of your brothers and sisters, friends and fellow citizens bear the wounds of war and violence, wounds both visible and invisible! The temptation is to react to these and other painful experiences with human power, human wisdom. Instead, Jesus shows us the way of God, the path that he took, the path on which he calls us to follow him.

In the Gospel reading we have just heard (Jn 2:13-25), we see how Jesus drove out from the Temple in Jerusalem the moneychangers and all the buyers and sellers. Why did Jesus do something this forceful and provocative? He did it because the Father sent him to cleanse the temple: not only the Temple of stone, but above all the temple of our heart. Jesus could not tolerate his Father’s house becoming a marketplace (cf. Jn 2:16); neither does he want our hearts to be places of turmoil, disorder and confusion. Our heart must be cleansed, put in order and purified. Of what? Of the falsehoods that stain it, from hypocritical duplicity. All of us have these. They are diseases that harm the heart, soil our lives and make them insincere. We need to be cleansed of the deceptive securities that would barter our faith in God with passing things, with temporary advantages. We need the baneful temptations of power and money to be swept from our hearts and from the Church. To cleanse our hearts, we need to dirty our hands, to feel accountable and not to simply look on as our brothers and sisters are suffering. How do we purify our hearts? By our own efforts, we cannot; we need Jesus. He has the power to conquer our evils, to heal our diseases, to rebuild the temple of our heart.

To show this, and as a sign of his authority, Jesus goes on to say: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (v. 19). Jesus Christ, he alone, can cleanse us of the works of evil. Jesus, who died and rose! Jesus, the Lord! Dear brothers and sisters, God does not let us die in our sins. Even when we turn our backs on him, he never leaves us to our own devices. He seeks us out, runs after us, to call us to repentance and to cleanse us of our sins. “As I live, says the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezek 33:11). The Lord wants us to be saved and to become living temples of his love, in fraternity, in service, in mercy.

Jesus not only cleanses us of our sins, but gives us a share in his own power and wisdom. He liberates us from the narrow and divisive notions of family, faith and community that divide, oppose and exclude, so that we can build a Church and a society open to everyone and concerned for our brothers and sisters in greatest need. At the same time, he strengthens us to resist the temptation to seek revenge, which only plunges us into a spiral of endless retaliation. In the power of the Holy Spirit, he sends us forth, not as proselytizers, but as missionary disciples, men and women called to testify to the life-changing power of the Gospel. The risen Lord makes us instruments of God’s mercy and peace, patient and courageous artisans of a new social order. In this way, by the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit, the prophetic words of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians are fulfilled: “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s wisdom is stronger than human strength” (1 Cor 1:25). Christian communities made up of simple and lowly people become a sign of the coming of his kingdom, a kingdom of love, justice and peace.

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn 2:19). Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body, and about the Church as well. The Lord promises us that, by the power of the resurrection, he can raise us, and our communities, from the ruins left by injustice, division and hatred.  That is the promise we celebrate in this Eucharist. With the eyes of faith, we recognize the presence of the crucified and risen Lord in our midst. And we learn to embrace his liberating wisdom, to rest in his wounds, and to find healing and strength to serve the coming of his kingdom in our world. By his wounds, we have been healed (cf. 1 Pet 2:24). In those wounds, dear brothers and sisters, we find the balm of his merciful love. For he, like the Good Samaritan of humanity, wants to anoint every hurt, to heal every painful memory and to inspire a future of peace and fraternity in this land.

The Church in Iraq, by God’s grace, is already doing much to proclaim this wonderful wisdom of the cross by spreading Christ’s mercy and forgiveness, particularly towards those in greatest need. Even amid great poverty and difficulty, many of you have generously offered concrete help and solidarity to the poor and suffering. That is one of the reasons that led me to come as a pilgrim in your midst, to thank you and to confirm you in your faith and witness. Today, I can see at first hand that the Church in Iraq is alive, that Christ is alive and at work in this, his holy and faithful people.

Dear brothers and sisters, I commend you, your families and your communities, to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, who was united to her Son in his passion and death, and who shared in the joy of his resurrection. May she intercede for us and lead us to Christ, the power and wisdom of God.  

Greeting of His Holiness Pope Francis at the conclusion of Mass in Erbil

I greet with affection His Holiness Mar Gewargis III, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, who resides in this city and honours us with his presence. Thank you, dear Brother! Together with him, I embrace the Christians of the various denominations: so many of them have shed their blood in this land! Yet our martyrs shine together like stars in the same sky! From there they call us to walk together, without hesitation, towards the fullness of unity.

At the conclusion of this celebration, I thank Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda as well as Bishop Nizar Semaan and my other brother Bishops, who worked so hard for this Journey. I am grateful to all of you who prepared and accompanied my visit with prayer and welcomed me so warmly. In a special way, I greet the beloved Kurdish people. I am particularly grateful to the government and the civil authorities for their indispensable contribution, and I thank all those who in various ways cooperated in the organization of the entire Journey in Iraq, the Iraqi authorities – all of them – and the many volunteers. My thanks to all of you!

In my time among you, I have heard voices of sorrow and loss, but also voices of hope and consolation. This was due in large part to that tireless charitable outreach made possible by the religious institutions of every confession, your local Churches and the various charitable organizations assisting the people of this country in the work of rebuilding and social rebirth. In a particular way, I thank the members of ROACO and the agencies they represent.

Now the time draws near for my return to Rome. Yet Iraq will always remain with me, in my heart. I ask all of you, dear brothers and sisters, to work together in unity for a future of peace and prosperity that leaves no one behind and discriminates against no one. I assure you of my prayers for this beloved country. In a particular way, I pray that the members of the various religious communities, together with all men and women of good will, may work together to forge bonds of fraternity and solidarity in the service of the good and of peace salam, salam, salam! Sukrán [Thank you]! May God bless all! May God bless Iraq! Allah ma’akum! [God be with you!

Chris Livesay (CBS NEWS) speaks with an unnamed 24-year-old woman who attended the Erbil event and tells the reporter, "We feel safe now."  Christopher Wells (VATICAN NEWS) reports:


At the conclusion of the Eucharistic liturgy, Pope Francis blessed a statue of the Virgin Mary that had been vandalized by Islamic State militants. The head and hands of the statue had been cut off, but the head was later recovered and reattached.

Father Samir Sheer, director of Radio Mariam in Erbil, explained that the statue originally came from the Christian village of Karamles. "After the blessing," he said, "the statue will return to the Nineveh Plain. The hope of local Christians is that Our Lady will soon return to embrace her children in Karamles."

Iraq's President Barham Salih Tweeted:

Bidding farewell to His Holiness , our honoured guest who visited Baghdad, Najaf, Ur, Erbil, Nineva. His message of peace, human solidarity with #Iraq inspires us to persevere toward a better future for the people of Iraq and the wider region.




TV: A win and a mis-fire

Sitcoms are crowd pleasers . . . unless you're a member of The Water Cooler Set. Those too-cool-for-their-home-school types have done a lot to kill off humor on TV with their disdain and stupidity. We were reminded of that yet again when NETFLIX started airing THE CREW. 


THE CREW, for any who don't know, is a sitcom whose production companies include Burrow Owl Productions, NASCAR Productions, Hey Eddie Productions and Broken Road Productions. That second company may be why many critics sneering at the show are calling it a NASCAR show. It's a workplace comedy and the work takes place in a NASCAR garage.

If you're a NASCAR fan, you'll probably enjoy cameos and references. Our own knowledge of NASCAR can be summed up in two words: Jeff Gordon. He does get a mention -- and we caught it -- but, if like us, you don't know much about NASCAR, that's fine, you don't need a data base to enjoy the sitcom.

And we think most people will enjoy the sitcom. THE KING OF QUEENS. Irritating, honestly, in its first years. That wasn't the fault of lead actors Kevin James and Leah Remini. It was the fact that sitcoms can take a few episodes to hit their strides. As that CBS sitcom built up its supporting players, it became an often very funny sitcom -- one of the few in the fat husband and skinny wife genre (another strong one in that genre was STILL STANDING). Kevin followed that up with the sitcom KEVIN CAN WAIT which was very erratic in season one. Season two upgraded guest star Leah into series regular and the show improved significantly; however, the audience had already bailed on the show.

The critics bailed on THE CREW before it ever aired. They think they're above NASCAR. (We're not sports fans, we don't think we're above NASCAR or any sport, we're just not sports fans.) They also think they're above sitcoms. It's amazing to watch these howler monkeys fall for the most generic and cookie cutter shows -- which sometimes add female nudity and sometimes don't -- while they repeatedly savage and attack the sitcom genre.

Is it sexism? Lucille Ball was the first true sitcom star and I LOVE LUCY (the show she and then-husband Desi Arnaz created) created the basic blue print for a strong sitcom -- a blue print that continues to be utilized to this day. Again, when other genres continue to use the same templates, it's not a problem for The Water Cooler Set but when it's a sitcom, they snarl and hiss. They have done more to destroy the American sitcom than anything else. Producers are afraid to go with a multi-cam show. We hear about it over and over. They know the critics will come gunning for them. So what? Every big sitcom in the 21st century has been a multi-cam based show. That's FRIENDS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, WILL & GRACE, THE BIG BANG THEORY, TWO AND A HALF MEN . . .

But results don't matter, one producer loves to remind us. He cites TV LAND and the success it had with HOT IN CLEVELAND and other titles but it wasn't getting the critical respect so it switched to single-camera shows. It never had another hit sitcom. To this day, it has never had another hit sitcom.

That should tell everyone -- even the brain dead Water Cooler Set -- something.

Of the four most watched sitcoms on TV last season -- YOUNG SHELDON, MOM, THE NEIGBHORS and THE CONNORS, three were multi-cam. The audience didn't sour on them, just self-fancied 'hipsters' of The Water Cooler Set.

How does THE CREW shape up? It's actually very funny. Kevin is Kevin Gibson, the crew chief, Freddie Stroma plays the car driver Jake, Jillian Mueller plays Catherine, the new boss, Gary Anthony Williams plays Chuck, Aan Ahdoot plays Amir and Sarah Stiles plays Beth. All do a wonderful job carving out unique characteristics for their roles. A lot of care has gone into the ensemble and into the scripts. Andy Fickman did a strong job directing KEVIN CAN WAIT and does a strong job directing THE CREW.

Each episode develops the characters a little more. We thought we'd catch two or three to weigh in after a friend at NETFLIX asked us what we thought (critical consensus on this show has been savage). We ended up watching all ten episodes -- watching and enjoying.

Season two can only be better since two couples emerge at the end of the season -- a man and a woman in one and a woman and a penis in the other. Jake is just a walking penis, episode after episode. Season two may find new shadings for him or it may not.

We hope episode two of DEBRIS finds . . . something. Anything. The pilot was unwatchable. How it ever made it to air is something NBC should answer for. They should also answer if, looking back now, they realize what a mistake it was to cancel THE EVENT? That show actually pulled in an audience. Despite months and months of heavy promotion the audience did not show up. The small number of people that showed up became smaller and smaller at each 15 minute interval.

We understood that, we explained to an NBC vice president. We repeatedly had to stop the show ourselves. We powered on through but we cannot remember a worse pilot in the last twenty years. And we say that as two people who reviewed, among others, CAVEMEN and THE PAUL REISER SHOW.



Those two were MASTERPIECE THEATER compared to DEBRIS. The leads may exhibit chemistry -- in a later episode, not this one. What really stood out to us, and we shared this with our NBC friend, was that yet again, when casting a role for a Black woman, they went British. This has been an issue since Gugu Mbatha-Raw was cast as a lead in 2010's UNDERCOVERS. NBC is happy to sprinkle women of color into an ensemble but when it comes to a lead role, they tend to go British and someone might need to address that real soon. ABC has had hour long dramas led by Kerry Washington and Viola Davis, CBS has an hour long drama (ALL RISE) led by Simone Missick and another (THE EQUALIZER) led by Queen Latifah, THE CW has BATWOMAN led by Javicia Leslie but what does NBC have? Or does it just intend to rest on its laurels? To repeatedly state, "Back in 1968, we led the way with JULIA starring Diahann Carroll"?

The network should also address how DEBRIS lousy pilot ever made it to air. Time and again, people are talking into telephones. In an entire season of LAUGH-IN, Lily Tomlin's Ernestine didn't spend that much time on the phone. The leads need to be sporting chemistry to pull viewers in but, instead, everyone's forever on their phone. It's clumsy and distancing -- which really typifies the network as well.



Tweet of the week

From The Gravel Institute:

The best way to keep American soldiers out of harm's way would be not having them in 150 countries around the world.

Superhero Roundtable

 Jim: Roundtable time and participating are: Remember our e-mail address is and  Participating in our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; 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); 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; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Ava and C.I. plan to just take notes but might chime in.  This is a superhero roundtable suggested by a reader.You ask, we provide. This is a superhero roundtable. Superheroes are women and men with super powers -- plus Batman. That was a joke. Maybe it wasn't. Ann, I take it you didn't like Batman?

Ann: In the TV show played by Adam West, no. I couldn't stand Batman. He was pompous and he was fat. That's what we called him, the kids in my family, Fatman. I loved Robin and Ioved Batgirl. Pass on Batman unless it's Michael Keaton.

Jim: Not even Val Kilmer or Christian Bale?

Ann: No. Didn't mind Ben Affleck but I'm looking forward to Robin Pattinson, honestly. I'm interested to see how he will do.

Jim: Stan, you've enjoyed a lot of TV superhero shows but most got --

Stan: Cancelled! I loved THE CAPE, I loved NO ORDINARY FAMILY. Those two spring to mind immediately. I really miss both of those shows.

Rebecca: They were both good but I really do miss THE CAPE. I wish there was a campaign to bring that show back. Instead, we get a reboot of WALKER TEXAS RANGER. Come on now.

Wally: And don't forget NETFLIX. We had so many great MARVEL TV shows. JESSICA JONES, DAREDEVIL, LUKE CAGE, IRON FIST and THE DEFENDERS. Then they were all gone.

Jim: DISNEY+, they've said that they might do something with some of those.

Mike: If it's anything like what they did with WANDAVISION, pass.

Stan: Amen to that.

Wally: And that won't change the fact that we might have finally gotten Hellcat on JESSICA JONES. Patsy, Trish, was moving towards becoming her. I was waiting for Hellcat. I also thought that they cast those shows perfectly.

Jim: Does anybody watch those shows anymore -- go back and watch them.

Mike: I do with IRON FIST. My daughter loves that one best and so we rewatch it a lot.

Jim: I know Ty rewatches SENSE8.

Ty: I do.

Betty: Me too. That was a great show. Another show, similar to that, which I loved was THE TOMORROW PEOPLE which only lasted one season on THE CW. I will still watch that on THE CW SEED.

Jim: I loved THE TOMORROW PEOPLE. That was a great show.

Marcia: And that's the problem with liking a superhero show, a lot of them get cancelled and get cancelled quickly. That's changed a little with THE CW of late. 






Batwoman autographed

Jim: BATWOMAN has been renewed for a third season.

Marcia: And they should cancel it and put it out of its misery. Ruby Rose was perfect. Season one was perfect. They scramble now to justify and continue past storylines and characters and they should have known they'd be facing those problems by making a new character Batwoman. I also think Ruby was more prepared to fight for the character to be both more action oriented and deeper. Javicia Leslie seems too accommodating or maybe the writers don't listen to her? She's a good actress when she's given something to do but they don't give her much and the show is way too laid back for an action series.

Betty: And that wig is awful. The hair's too short and it sticks out. It looks like a book being opened up upside down.

Jim: Superhero looks -- when has an actor nailed it.

Ann: I'd say Gal Gadot and Lynda Carter both nailed it as Wonder Woman. I'd say Henry Cavill nailed it as Superman.

Rebecca: Ben acted the role well but I didn't feel he nailed the look in BATMAN V SUPERMAN. That may be in part due to the costume and the coloring of the costume.

Stan: Hugh Jackman nailed Wolverine. He was the perfect actor and he had the acting, he had the look, I don't know that anyone will ever be able to play Wolverine as well as he did.

Betty: Agree on Hugh Jackman but sometimes the actor is perfect but under utilized. The first three X-MEN movies did a better job with the female characters than all that followed; however, Halle Berry was perfect for Storm and she was given so little to do. I'm sick of that, in fact, women standing around and doing nothing or their powers being diminished which is the story of Scarlet Witch -- both in the MARVEL movies and in that awful WANDAVISION.

Jim: Any thoughts on Captain Marvel?

Rebecca: If it were Ms. Marvel, I might care. I loved Carol Danvers as Ms. Marvel back in the 70s comics.

Jim: Have the movies ruined any superhero characters?

Cedric: Green Lantern fan here and I will never forgive DC for that awful film. Up until DEADPOOL, I blamed Ryan Reynolds. But clearly he was not the problem. I will never get over how disappointing that film was.

Betty: Mystique.

Marcia: Thank you!

Betty: Rebecca Romijn was excellent as Mystique. I thought Jennifer Lawrence made a lousy Mystique.

Marcia: Same here. She was too strident, too serious. Rebecca made the character playful and interesting.

Betty: You nailed it. There was nothing playful about her performance. It was dour.

Wally: And made no sense. When was Jennifer Lawrence working with Magneto? She was a villain but Lawrence played her like someone with hurt feelings who stubbed her toe. Way too much drama.

Cedric: Her performance made me seriously question her acting ability. I'm not joking. She may not be a bad actress but she's not very versatile.

Jim: Would anyone say Halle Berry's Catwoman?

Ty: No. Halle played Catwoman beautifully. She was betrayed by a really bad script.

Jim: Okay and --

Ann: I'm interrupting. Can we pause for a moment? I don't need Scarlet Witch fighting Black Widow. I don't need movies where the woman can only fight a woman. That's part of the sexism that harms female superhero movies. CATWOMAN would have been a better movie if they didn't feel the need to pit Catwoman against a movie. Sharon Stone played a very dull villain -- I'm not attacking her acting, the character was poorly written like Mr. .Freeze in BATMAN AND ROBIN. This inability to honor women's strength and power results in a lot of garbage including WANDAVISION. This goes to exactly what Betty was talking about before.

Wally: I don't get why they do that. If they're afraid guys don't want to see it, everyone I know likes strong women. And SALT was a big hit. It's when women go timid or are watered down that they have a problem selling tickets to men.

Rebecca: There are a whole host of movies from the 90s -- women-led movies -- that outright sucked because they undercut the lead character. That list of films would include THE RIVER WILD starring Meryl Streep where, in the third act, her husband becomes this mini-genius and THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT -- a film which I love until the last scene -- where the boyfriend Hal is suddenly also a spy in the final scene because, apparently, all it takes to become a spy is to sleep with one.

Marcia: I hate both of those movies because they so undercut the women. And Wally's right, strong women -- especially in an action film -- are important. Audiences -- male, female, straight, gay -- love them.

Wally: And often you get the woman you're supposed to root for, a strong woman, and a woman who is more frou-frou. Look at TWISTER where we root for Helen Hunt to get back with Bill Paxton over Jami Gertz because Helen is strong.

Cedric: Exactly.

Jim: Lois Lane?

Ann: When she works, she's strong. Like Margot Kidder played her in the original Superman movies.

Ty: Or Amy Adams in the more recent movies.

Stan: Or Elizabeth Tulloch on the new SUPERMAN AND LOIS. I really love that show, by the way.

Ann: I do too. I didn't watch it until I read Ava and C.I.'s review because I've seen so much Superman -- the fifties TV show, SUPERBOY from the 80s, LOIS & CLARK, SMALLVILLE, the movies, etc. But they really found a way to take a fresh look at the story.

Jim: Anyone want to rank the various Supermans?

Betty: Top five? Henry Cavill is number one, Tyler Hoechlin would come next, Dean Cain at third, Christopher Reeves at fourth, George Reeve at fifth.

Jim: I'm surprised Christopher Reeves ranked so low.

Betty: I didn't see layers to his performance. For Tyler to come in second is really saying something because I had a real crush on Dean in the 90s. And I'd add that Teri Hatcher was a strong Lois too.

Jim: What superhero movie in the last 20 or so years impressed the least?

Cedric: GREEN LANTERN. If we go back further the worst superhero movie may have been SUPERGIRL. But I'd argue that even GREEN LANTERN would be worse than that.

Jim: Nobody wants to say DAREDEVIL?

Mike: I don't think DAREDEVIL was a bad movie. I think a lot of the griping about the movie from critics was just exhaustion with Ben Affleck after the media blitz that was BENNIFER.

Ty: I liked DAREDEVIL.

Jim: Worst TV show?

Marcia: SUPERGIRL. The minute Calista Flockhart was reduced on that show, the life went out of it. 


 scarlet witch


Stan: I think Mike would agree with me on this, WANDAVISION.

Mike: The last two episodes were huge improvements but that's no excuse for seven episodes of drivel. If this had been a movie, the first seven episodes would have been the first ten minutes. Because it was a TV show, they thought they could pad it out. It was awful. And I found SUPERGIRL boring as well.

Marcia: If I could add a category, Most Dependable Superhero Show, it would be THE FLASH. It doesn't get a lot of attention but it has been a very satisfying series -- episode for episode, season for season.

Jim: Thank you for that, Marcia. Does anyone have a superhero they want to see with a TV show or a movie that we haven't seen yet?

Ty: Readers will say Hellcat based on the e-mails.

Betty: SUPERGIRL was a joke but I'm going to say Power Girl. She was always a better comic book figure.

Ann: Batgirl. We haven't seen her since the 60s in live action and, no, I don't count Oracle, not even when she was wearing the Batgirl suit and using the device to help her walk.

Marcia: I would like to see them try Sheena again. Tanya Roberts recently passed and she was famous for being one of CHARLIE'S ANGELS, the film BEASTMASTER, the sitcom THAT 70S SHOW and the film SHEENA QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE. Sheena was one of the first, if not the first, female super heroes in comic books. Xena was similar to Sheena. I'd like to see Sheena in a TV show.

Wally: I'd like to see more episodes of HBO's TITANS -- there are a lot of great characters there.

Rebecca: SPIDER-WOMAN. With the gothic look the original comic book series had. Morgan Le Fay and the Brothers Grimm as villains. And hopefully the film Olivia Wilde's directing is about Spider-Woman as rumored.

Jim: Okay, we're going to wrap on that. This is a rush transcript.

Ty: Larry.

Jim: Thank you to Larry for the suggestion. 


One of my favorite novels of all time is Anais Nin's A SPY IN THE HOUSE OF LOVE.  It's one of her most popular works and has been cited by Carly Simon, Animal Logic and Jim Morrison.  A SPY IN THE HOUSE OF ANAIS NIN is Kim Krizan's biography of Anais Nin.  Krizan acted in Richard Linklater's SLACKER, WAKING LIFE and DAZED AND CONFUSED.  She and Linklater wrote the screenplay to his BEFORE SUNRISE and the sequel BEFORE SUNSET is based on a story by Krizan and Linklater.

An Anais fan who got to know Rupert Pole (one of Anais' husbands), Krizan writes a book full of insight that addresses various issues but never in a judgmental way.  Anais lived her life.  She's passed away, her life's not going to change.  There's no need to be a blustering boob named Patty Arquette and get all judgy on her.  And, honestly, who was Patricia Arquette to judge anyone?  How many failed marriages -- and that marriage to Nicholas Cage was always a joke (I'm referring to the marriage, not to Cage and making that call because it doesn't appear to have been a real marriage).

Anais transgressed all boundaries.  She is famous for her writing.  That includes her novels, her prose poem, her non-fiction (THE NOVEL OF THE FUTURE, the book on D.H. Lawrence), her erotica (such as DELTA OF VENUS) and her diaries.

She began her diaries as a young girl.  It was a letter to the father who abandoned her family.  

Later in life, for those who don't know, he would return when Anais was in her 30s (I think her thirties).  He wanted to sleep with her.  They did.  And then she abandoned him.  

Not behavior that I would want to exhibit, no, but perfectly in keeping with the way Anais lived her life.  

And what a life.  Ian Hugo was the name of one husband (I'm using the name he used for his art) and Rupert was another.  She married Rupert in the 50s.  She married Hugo in 1923 and Rupert in 1955 -- the second marriage takes place while still married to Hugo.  She will stay married to both men until her death.  She will not inform them of this.  Rupert thinks she has divorced Hugo.  Hugo either doesn't know about Rupert or (more likely) pretends not to know.

Krizan has a lot to work with and she does a great job making it come alive.  I highly recommend this book.  In fact, I'd rate it among the best books about Anais that I've ever read.  (I've read seven, if you're wondering.  I've also read all of Anais' published diaries and all of her published journals.)

KINDLE UNLIMITED (Elaine, Dona, Ava and C.I.)



In 2018, community sites took turns covering a book every week.  You can see "In 2018, we read books" to review that coverage.  We didn't want to repeat ourselves in 2019 or 2020.  So when Marcia came up with a way to cover books but with a twist, we were all for it.  Marcia's idea was for us to digital books -- we're largely a printed text crowd -- and to use AMAZON's KINDLE UNLIMITED.  So for 2021, we'll be doing a book a week and trying to just use KINDLE UNLIMITED. This week, we're talking with Elaine about her "JOAN: FORTY YEARS OF LIFE, LOSS, AND FRIENDSHIP WI..." and Dona about her "A SPY IN THE HOUSE OF ANAIS NIN (Dona)."  Elaine, starting with you, what did you think of Sara Davidson's JOAN: FORTY YEARS OF LIFE, LOSS, AND FRIENDSHIP WITH JOAN DIDION?

Elaine: I thought it was a well written.  I saw the Joan I knew reflected.

We were going to ask that.

Elaine: Yes, I know Joan -- C.I. and I both do.  And, yes, I saw that Joan in the writing, so high praise there.  I would strongly recommend the writing.


Elaine: This is not a book.  Sara could expand it and make it a book.  But my problem is that I was looking for a book to read, something to sink my teeth into.  This is a 42-page essay.  It's well written but it's not a book.  KINDLE UNLIMITEd should give a heads up or something.

How did you find the book?

Elaine: Was it Trina who pointed out how difficult it was to search?  I searched and she's exactly right, you have to wade through everything.  There should be an easier way, you should be able to search just for what KINDLE UNLIMITED offers.

And now we are going to bring in Dona.  Before we get to your book, Dona, how did you find it?

Dona: Like Elaine, I had to search and, no, it's not easy.  I would rate that the worst feature of KINDLE UNLIMITED -- the inabilty for search results to give you just what is available in KINDLE UNLIMITED.

Elaine: Dona, conspiracy talk here, I was thinking this might not be a bug, AMAZON might have planned this so that we'd be forced to look at digital books that are for sale and, hopefully for them, purchase something.

Dona: Good point.  I had not thought of that but it seems to be a likely scenario.

So, Dona, you liked Kim Krizan's A SPY IN THE HOUSE OF ANAIS NIN?


Dona: I loved the book and I highly recommend it.  Anais Nin comes alive on the pages and it's far superior to Deirdra Bair's book on Anais Nin.


That book has so many errors.


Dona: And it's also very insulting to Anais Nin.


Dona: It needs to be easier to navigate.

Elaine: My friend Sunny asked me to pass on that she is enjoying this series. She loves reading and has meant to sign up for KINDLE UNLIMITED but never has the time. She said she's unaware of any effort to seriously cover KINDLE UNLIMITED and what's offered other than what's being done right now at THIRD.

Dona: And I'll introduce a new term: Borrowing. That's the term KINDLE UNLIMITED uses for when you have a book. You're "borrowing" it. As opposed to checking it out like you would at a library. I'd also note that ten books seems generous to some but not to me. I'm reading a number of books for a number of reasons. I would like to see the ten doubled to 20. I like to have it in the cloud long enough to recommend it and what I find is that I'm replacing a book to read a new one and then I forget the author or the title when I'm wanting to share with a friend something that they should read. 

There's no history of books that we're aware of, a place you can go to click somewhere and see what books you've 'borrowed.' 

Elaine: Dona's got a good point. I'd like 20 as well and I'd also like a history so I'd know what I've previously read. For example, I like to read a lot of history and I like to come at it from various angles. Without a list of what I've already borrowed, I might borrow the same book again and be five or more pages in before I realize it.

 So two pieces recommended -- one an essay and one a book -- and some recommendations on how KINDLE UNLIMITED could be improved.  Thank you both.








In 2021, we'll be covering digital books.  So far this year, the coverage includes:



Rebecca's "the mommie dearest diary: carol ann tells all"

Kat's "How Mabel Normand's many scandals (at least five) destroyed her career"


Marcia's "Paul Jay's bad Gore Vidal 'book'"


Stan's "Adrienne Barbeau's bad book THERE ARE WORSE THINGS I COULD DO"


Trina's "Mexican Casserole and a book in the Kitchen"




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