Monday, February 14, 2022

Truest statement of the week

The term “black on black crime” is a particularly pernicious trope. It is a ruse used to absolve the systemic racism which kills Black people in a plethora of ways. It invalidates Black people’s suffering and gives license to law enforcement and its many acts of brutality.

Ironically, it also describes what is happening among a group of Black officials in New York City. The new mayor and his police commissioner committed a brazen political mugging of the Manhattan District Attorney.

New York City mayor Eric Adams personifies the political imperative to perpetuate an unjust system. Adams was a police officer himself before he went into politics. He has promised to give the police everything they want, including those things that Black people do not want. His mayoralty is a classic case of the dangers of Black faces being in high and inherently corrupt places.

Adams uses fear of crime to gain support for stop and frisk procedures and bringing back the plain clothes units which killed men like Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo. New Yorkers are propagandized by the media into thinking that a police presence makes them safer and that criminal justice rules should never be questioned. Those who don’t believe in police state impunity are intimidated into changing their minds.


-- Margaret Kimberley, "Eric Adams' Black on Black Crime" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).



Truest statement of the week II

New York Times writer (and now Howard University Journalism Professor) Nikole Hannah-Jones, went public this week with a call for journalists not to cover shoplifting crimes, even criticizing MSNBC’s Al Sharpton for his discussion of a viral video of a man who recently stole steaks from a New York City Trader Joe’s. Hannah-Jones is a leading voice for advocacy journalism and her public criticism of the coverage of the rise in shoplifting vividly shows what such journalism means for the profession.

[. . .]

Here Hannah-Jones is demonstrating how such advocacy journalism works. There is no question that there is a sharp rise in shoplifting across America, a trend that has resulted in the closing of stores in some cities. As I have previously written, this is due to a lack of deterrence in major cities where prosecution is rare for such crimes and many stores do not even bother calling the police.  Even in liberal states like California, politicians have been compelled to establish task forces to combat retail theft. Various Democratic politicians have decried the rising crime trend.

That would seem news. It impacts average citizens with the closure of stores and increase prices due theft. However, by covering the story, Hannah-Jones objects that reporters are working against social justice. She has previously declared that “all journalism is activism.” In this case, she would have media bury such stories because that is not the narrative that she wants viewers to hear.

-- Jonathan Turley, "Advocacy Journalism 101: Howard University Professor Hannah-Jones Criticizes MSNBC for Covering Shoplifting Stories."  (JONATHANTURLEY.COM).









A note to our readers

Hey --

Sunday night on the west coast still..

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, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
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?




Ava and C.I.'s piece is new, otherwise, we're posting from community sites.



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








What the world needs now is love sweet love.  Jackie DeShannon took Burt Bacharach and Hal David's song into the top ten in 1965.  Many others have covered the song including Nell Carter serving up an inspiring version in an episode of GIMMIE A BREAK and Dionne Warwick recording it multiple times over the years (her EP FRESH TAKES, released last week, for example offers a version of the song she;s been recording repeatedly since 1966).  All this time later, the world still needs love.

It also needs to grow the hell up.



Watching REACHER on AMAZON and IN FROM THE COLD on NETFLIX, we were reminded of that.


That's not a slam on either show -- we highly recommend both.  

REACHER stars Alan Ritchson and, we're not complaining, his curvy butt -- continuing a tradition dating back to at least TITANS on which he played Hawk and, let's not forget, it's the same hot ass that Simon Cowell reached for when Alan sang "You Are The Sunshine of My Life" to Paula Abdul on AMERICAN IDOL.  The six-foot-two-inch actor  registers a very strong physical impression.  Maybe that's why his acting hasn't gotten the acclaim it deserves?

REACHER is an action-adventure series built around the character of Jack Reacher from the Lee Child novels.  Reacher was trained in the military and is now out (of the military -- out of the military only, be great if we had a gay action character as a lead in an AMAZON series).  He gets into various scraps in the novels, in the films starring Tom Cruise and now in the AMAZON series.

It's not an acting role, not on the page.  You have to fill it out and that's especially true in the series.  They've given him so damn little in the script and apparently wrote it for a 70s Charles Bronson.  Again, the world needs -- now -- both love and to grow the hell up.  Fortunately, Alan's smart enough to bring his own style -- which is more than current -- into the role and breathe life into it.  He floods it with charm and a warmth that cold, inexpressive (to the point of wooden) Bronson never could.

That's important because, as hot as Alan is, as Shirley MacLaine says in TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, "Gorgeous isn't everything."  If Alan was just coasting on his looks, we'd still be thrilled with the shower scene he has with Willa Fitzgerald (Roscoe) but we wouldn't really care if the two made it beyond one quick hump.  We also wouldn't care about the death of his brother.  That's the event that keeps him in a town he was just wondering through.  And the script doesn't provide Alan with much but he brings out the pain in looks, in varying his vocal reactions and in his body tension.  Yes, Alan is something to look at, to marvel over, but, if you pay attention, you also see he's also a very strong actor.  

That should have been obvious on TITANS when a number of the audience wished they'd killed off the moralizing and inept Dick Grayson (portrayed by the strangely faced Brenton Thwaites  -- enjoy whatever thrills you can take from him now, that face will not age well).  Maybe the nude scene distracted from the power of Hawk dying in the episode?  


Alan's helped by strong performances from Willa, Malcolm Goodwin (police detective Oscar Finlay), Maria Sten (Reacher's former military buddy Neagley), Martin Roach (FBI agent Picard) and Kristin Kreuk (the BEAUTY & THE BEAST and BURDEN OF TRUTH star first worked with Alan when he played Aquaman on SMALLVILLE).  Special praise goes to Kristin who plays a victim and could have left her a ditz but made some strong choices -- not on the page -- which gave her character a spine and a brain. 


If REACHER -- already one of AMAZON's most streamed series to date -- has a weakness, it is the script.  There are no real surprises so don't expect any suspense over who the bad guys are -- you know all along.  Trust your instinct on one that you keep thinking, "I must be misunderstanding" -- you're not.  The people making this just hope you're really slow and won't grasp that a car parked outside and spying on what is basically a person in protective custody just managed to show up -- and just managed to show up when it's first noticed.

The real story of REACHER is that Alan's a star.  And that Tom Cruise should find another character to play.  Never having been closeted lesbians (Rosie O'Donnell, for example), we've never felt the need to be impressed by Tom Cruise.  Yes, we enjoyed his BVD dance in RISKY BUSINESS (less so Nick Jonas' attempt to recreate it in the video for "What A Man Gotta Do" which was far less adventurous and, honestly, rather bland).  TOP GUN has always bored us to tears but, yes, we've been in stores before where the big TV on display had the film on and we've stopped a moment to watch Tom wander, teary eyed, through the latrine in, what else, his tighty whitey's once more.  And having seen that, we honestly feel we've seen everything that Tom Cruise could ever offer.  Brian De Palma used him wisely in the first MISSION IMPOSSIBLE.  In the second MI, Thandiwe Newton had a chemistry with Tom -- something only one other woman has ever had onscreen with him (Rebecca De Mornay).  And that's really it.  JERRY MAGUIRE?  There was more heat between him and Jonathan  Lipnicki than between him and Renee  Zellweger.  

Like Joan Crawford, he's somehow managed to hang around.  Now Joan had talent -- though she became a caricature as time went on.  Tom?  Not showing in any of the roles he's played.  Like Joan, he shot to fame for stripping down for a dance -- Joan in OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS and Tom did the same in RISKY BUSINESS.  Joan went on to be a film star for the 20s, the 30s, the 40s, the 50s and the 60s -- top billed star for five decades, something very few ever achieve.*  Tom's been a film star of the 80s, the 90s, the 00s, the 10s and now the 20s -- five decades as well.  After five decades as a film star, Joan had to move over to TV exclusively and maybe it's time Tom did as well?

Watching REACHER with Alan (who at 39, is no 'youngster'), you realize just how physical the part of Jack Reacher should be and how clearly Tom has failed at that in the films JACK REACHER and JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK.  Harrison Ford stopped playing a similar genre character, Jack Ryan (from the Tom Clancy novels) at the age of 52.  Though it's hard to determine Tom's current age by looking at his heavily upholstered face, he, in fact, turn 60 this summer and he is, in fact, way too old to be playing Jack Reacher -- or, for that matter, Ethan Hunt, unless the next installment in that franchise is MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 7: OVERCOMING THE BROKEN HIP.


The realities of age are the realities that the entertainment industry has long allowed male actors to avoid -- by pairing them with women half their age and by pretending they're still capable of being action stars.  Women, Joan Crawford excepted, are generally quickly put out to pasture.  


Women also are treated in condescending ways.  Strength?  It's been absent from women's portrayals in entertainment.  


Oh, sure, if you go to song, you can argue that Nancy Sinatra sang "These Boots Are Made For Walking" but the reality is that she walked right out of strength after that hit, she quickly ended up doing sickening duets with Lee Hazlewood and, sadly, her own father (not for nothing was "Something Stupid" dubbed "the incest song").  Lesley Gore may have had a hit with "You Don't Own Me" but she followed it up with "That's The Way Boys Are" and other garbage.  Carly Simon had the strength to compose and perform "You're So Vain" but was following that up with weaker songs -- and, of course, with "Slave" (which she wrote with Jacob Brackman, "I'm just another woman raised to be a slave," she sings).  Strength, for women, was a one-off.   Or, worse, something to run from.  By the 80s, Pat Benatar had built up her operatic range as the perfect vehicle for tough stances -- "Treat Me Right," "Love Is A Battlefield," "Invincible," "Heartbreaker," "Hell Is For Children," etc.  But she quickly turned her career over to Neil Giraldo and the hits just stopped coming.  Pat the submissive wife wasn't selling.  We've commented on how she destroyed her own career many times but we want to draw your attention one more time to "Life is too short, Pat, so why waste precious time?" -- our piece on her ridiculous 2019 tour billed as Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo 1979 -  2019: 40th Anniversary Tour.  No one ever paid a dime for a ticket to see Neil Giraldo and the world doesn't know who he is.  Pat's on a suicide mission trying to inflate Neil's ego and it's a mission she forgot to include their daughter Hana on -- which is why, on E's RELATIVELY FAMOUS: RANCH RULES, when Hana introduces herself to the offspring of other famous parents, she says, "I'm Pat Benatar's daughter."  Like everyone but her own mother, Hana knows the world doesn't care about Neil Giraldo.  In "Tina Turner: A retrospective," we've already written of how this fear of strength in women harmed Tina on the charts.  You can also include Alanis Morissette as one who fell from the charts as she surrendered her own strength.

Today in songs that make the charts?  Pink's both an exception and a quandary.  Her work involves multiple levels and then you get the videos adding even more levels.  We see "Try" -- the song and the video -- as an expression of the need to own your actions and responsibilities -- a strong statement.  But we do understand others don't feel the same.  More often we get the insipid.  Taylor Swift's had a lot of success and the obvious question is: Why?  Like Aretha Franklin in her famous evaluation of Taylor, we really aren't all that impressed.  A bunch of feather weight songs that supposedly include a number of kiss-off songs but they all sound like they're sung by a meek 12-year-old, not like a 32-year-old woman.  Then there's highly embarrassing Billie Eilish who, especially since the release of her second album, seems little more than the wooden dummy of her ventriloquist older brother Finneas.  (Want to hear real art?  Skip Billie's two albums and stream Finneas' OPTIMIST.  That's art.)

In film and TV?  There have always been a Barbara Stanwyck or two who played strong women.  But they've been few and far between.  Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis and her friend Sigourney Weaver have carried on Stanwyck's mantle.  Sadly, there's been little real attempt to further develop strong women.  In 1991, we were all supposed to be applauding Jodie Foster's pathetic character in the homophobic and anti-woman SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.  A slasher film with a focused script (Ted Talley created the transitions in the script that allowed Jonathan Demme to finally make a coherent film -- each scene ends with a statement or an image leading into the next one), SILENCE OF THE LAMBS introduced 'strong' Clarice -- a Daddy's girl haunted by Daddy's death.  Jodie would play the same pathetic type in CONTACT and many other women would show up on TV and in film in action roles due to their Daddy issues.  Lamenting and mourning Daddy became the key to allowing women to fight back, to fight period.  It infantilized the female characters, but we were never supposed to notice that and, certainly, actresses like Jodie never copped to the reality of what they were actually playing.

REACHER has Roscoe and Neagley thick in the action.  Roscoe has lost her father . . . and her mother.  But she's not plagued by Daddy issues and there's no real backstory for Neagley -- a true wonder.  A woman can come on and do action scenes without the show runners or director feeling the need to explain how and why.

IN FROM THE COLD stars Marganta Levieva who is probably best known for playing the real Emily Thorne (Amanda Clarke's juvie cell mate on REVENGE).  It's an action thriller.  Jenny Franklin, Marganta's character, is actually a Russian spy and assassin who went into hiding in the US.  Cillian O'Sullivan plays CIA agent Chauncey (we're not doing spoilers) who blackmails Jenny to get her help on a mission that involves so much -- an assassination attempt, taking over people's minds and the attempted assassinations of a world leader and a possible US presidential candidate.

Along the way, we learn that Jenny has a super power.  But long before that emerges, we see her fighting and we never question her ability to take on this man or that woman.  The script says she's a former spy, we take it to be her training.  We don't need to hear about Daddy and how that haunts her and, good little girl, she's going to do this or that -- as instructed.  

No, she's a strong woman and an independent one -- watch the final scene of the season and grasp that there's one more twist in a series full of them -- one more twist right before the credits.

It's a series to watch.  

So is PEACEMAKER, as we told you last month.  We bring it up now because much was made of the latest episode confirming what was already known -- or should have been -- that the lead character played by John Cena is bisexual.  Did everyone miss the 'smiley face' in the first episode?  The object Vigilante commented on, laying out visible in the middle of Chris' living room, but didn't know what it was?  It's a fleshlight or flashjack.  Once known as pocket p**sies, these devices, even back when they were known as pocket-ps, have been used primarily by gay men and numerous gay porn stars promote them (and numerous gay porn videos feature them).  A bisexual male on a DC series finally and he's a lead.  Probably helped that Greg Berlanti wasn't involved in this DC show.  He's over so many of the others, after all: TITANS, SUPERMAN AND LOIS, LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, THE FLASH and the now-ended ARROW.  He could -- and has -- employed many gay actors, he just ran from putting gay male characters onscreen.  You have to wonder about the fear and self-hatred there.

Self-hatred's long been used to overlook the homophobia of some actors -- Will Smith, rumors insist, is gay.  We really don't care if he's gay or straight or bi, we just think he owes everyone a public apology.

ZOOM and the pandemic have meant that we do our various conversations over the internet.  No more are we able to go onto campuses or into union halls or whatever.  We miss the face to face, honestly.  But what we have on the plus side, the up -- as Mike would say, is that we've been able to expand the groups we speak to since we aren't traveling.  And one of the groups we've added a lot more of is LGBTQ groups.  

Things are better for young LGBTQs than they were for previous generations but things are still not where they should be.  As we've enlarged the scope of our groups, a friend who is a therapist asked if we'd mind speaking with her group.  They were nine gay men, in their forties, who basically did not feel listened by society or represented in the media.  Would we speak to them?  Being told that, we were dying to speak to them.  And we were not disappointed.

There's a story that's not really told and they brought it to the forefront (as have other gay male groups we've spoken to since).  We thank them for that.  Like them, we marvel over how this part of the story really isn't told.

Being gay is easier than it used to be. 20 years ago, or even just ten in some places, there was so much harassment.  We have honestly advised men who've shared their experiences to consider filing lawsuits.  And we're not joking and we're not litigious people.

Films and TV shows thought they were being 'sympathetic' and true telling of the gay kid in school who got picked on by some bully.  That's the story we've heard rejected over and over for the last five months from many different groups of gay men.

No, what we've heard is about how the whole school system was after you.  That was the bully, yes.  And there was usually a coach -- at least one -- and a principal egging them on.  Adults were around and they not only were not protecting these children, they were actively participating in harassing them.

And it was accepted back then.  It was 'normal.'  That's in part due to a point we've made here forever: the socialization of males by this society is one of bullying.  Toughen up, don't cry.  You can see it, as we've often noted, in two films from the 80s.  In both, two characters join the military and are treated horribly.  In the one about the male, AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, Richard Gere is harassed by his drill sergeant (Louis Gossett Jr.) and, instead of rejecting that harassment, we are supposed to applaud it and feel all warm inside.  In the other, PRIVATE BENJAMIN, Goldie Hawn and her team get their revenge on the harasser (Eileen Brennan).  The male socialization is bullying in this society.  That's not acceptable (even with the well known existence of 'mean girls') when it comes to females.  

So sometimes, a gay man will offer that maybe the principal was trying to help him by bullying him, by mocking him in front of other students, by sneering at him and calling him a "fairy" and worse in front of the whole school assembly.

We say f**k that.  We say sue those assholes.  And what about statute of limitations?  Who cares.  File the paperwork, have it thrown of court as a result of being beyond some time limit.  But in between the those two moments, let that elderly abuser know that the world knows what he or she did.  And let them sweat it and let them be haunted by it.

They have made no effort to find these former children and apologize to them.  So f**k them.  To lead a school into targeting a young boy because he's gay?  You were an adult.  There's no excuse for what you did.  And if the court of law can't put you on notice, the court of public opinion certainly can.

NETFLIX is offering AMEND: THE FIGHT FOR AMERICA -- a documentary series.  Episode five is "Love."  Yes, what the world needs now.  Professor Martha S. Jones talks about the impact of LOVING V VIRGINIA -- a breakthrough case that especially impacted her life because her mixed race parents married years before the verdict in LOVING.  

This landmark case gets far less attention than it deserves.  We've noted it many times such as in 2008:

Loving v. Virginia was a breakthrough, a legal landmark, for the United States. In a debate, Barack Obama was asked, "Senator Obama, the laws banning interracial marriage in the United States were ruled unconstitutional in 1967. What is the difference between a ban on interracial marriage and a ban on gay marriage?" Obama mouthed a lot of nonsense about 'equality' and then went on to state it's a decision for different denominations to make. There should have been a gasp heard round the country.

Barack is a lawyer, a trained legal mind. Though we find it difficult to believe he's never studied Loving v. Viriginia (as difficult to believe as Clarence Thomas' Senate testimony that he'd never thought about Roe v. Wade), we'll allow that maybe it fell into some gap in his education. But as a trained legal mind, he does grasp court billing. "v. Virginia" means versus state. Not versus a denomination.

In that historic case, the Supreme Court of the United States found the laws of the state of Virginia to be unconstitutional and illegal. That finding meant that all states could no longer refuse to issue marriage certificates to couples of different races. Obama's weak-ass response should have been considered weak ass. (John Edwards also embarrassed himself in that debate noting he was against "gay marriage" and "I do not" support it leading us to shout back at the screen, "Gee, John, we weren't aware you were being inundated with proposals!") But it was also dishonest. A law student, forget the former president of the Harvard Law Review, grasps that Loving v. Virginia was not about whether "denominations" could make a decision, it was about what the government could do. To provide perspective, imagine the issue was illegal search and seizure on the part of the government (forbidden by the Constitution) and Obama had responded, "I think it's up to denominations." The government was discriminating and the Supreme Court stood up for the rights of all. A trained legal mind should grasp that. If Obama didn't, he's either not much of a student or he's a really bad liar.

It's good that the episode starts off with LOVING because that is at the root of equality.  And other cases are cited including LAWRENCE v TEXAS and the appalling BOWERS v HARDWICK.  Episode five revolves around the importance of The Fourteenth Amendment and how its importance and relevance leads to the historic OBERGEFELL v HODGES. 

We applaud much about the documentary but episode five, for all of its applause, also has to answer for something.


Will Smith produced the series.  And probably should have stayed off camera.  Why doesn't Will have an Oscar.  Well, Jada, it's partly because he's not really an actor -- don't confuse stardom with acting ability -- but it's also because of his hateful past which includes a lot of homophobia and Academy voters just don't embrace hatred and intolerance.


In episode five, Will declares of Cincinnati in the 70s, "The message to its LGBTQ citizens is be quiet, stay hidden or get out."  Will, could of course, admit that his message to the LGBTQ citizens has been be quiet, stay hidden, get out or be mocked and demonized.

That is what he has done.

Some try to argue that he's gay or bi in real life.  He presents as straight.  Take him at his word.  But even if he were choking a cock every night, that doesn't justify the damage he has done.  

Early on, he told MOVIELINE that the reason he wouldn't kiss Anthony Michael Hall in SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION -- as required in the script and has had happened when it was a stage production without Will Smith -- was because Denzel Washington told him not to.

Did Denzel tell him that?

We have no idea.  And the reason we have no idea is because Denzel, a movie star for decades, didn't go public.  If he was against gay people or playing one or whatever, he had the brains not to say so publicly.

Will didn't.  And this is throughout his career.   


Is he homophobic, we wanna know.


How can we tell what's in his soul? 

It's in his recordings: "All the filthy stinking nasty people be quiet. All the homeboys that got AIDS be quiet. All the girls out there that don't like guys be quiet."  It's in his films -- such as HANCOCK, and BAD BOYS 2It's in his red carpet encounters.**

Will gave interviews about how ''gross'' two men kissing were.  He's done that since, 1991. 

We can't tell what's in his soul, we can only register the meaning of his statements and his actions.

Now he just wants to act like it never happened?  Like decades of homophobia from a one-time action-movie star didn't have an impact:?

His comments egged on others as much as any teacher or principal at a school.

He needs to publicly apologize.  It's that simple.

We'll gladly forgive him.  But not without a public apology.  Again, we have no idea what Denzel thinks about LGBTQ people.  Fine.  He didn't blast hate in interview after interview.  Will Smith publicly made it an issue -- with his films, with his recordings, with his interviews and with his public actions.  He can't just sneak in with this documentary and act like the past didn't happen.  In episode six, he notes "change and growth" (with regards to The Fourteenth Amendment and immigration).  We can accept that he's changed and grown if he wants to apologize.  He and Jade aren't publicity shy and they certainly don't mind talking about themselves and their private lives -- be it her extra-marital affair or what have you.  So having caused so much damage to the way society saw the LGBTQ community, he needs to apologize.  If he does it with love, society can receive it with love.

The world needs more love and it needs more maturity.  More and more, entertainment offerings appear to be catching up with that realization.




*If you want to count the abomination that is 1970's TROG, you could argue Joan was a film star up to 1970 -- six decades.  We don't count it because it's a low budget, B-movie.  Not a studio film.  

** Yes, in this section we are riffing on "The Shoop-Shoop Song."

Mike picks the Idiot of the Week

Idiot of the week

First up, Jimmy Dore.





We're returning to Idiot of the Week.  The winner?  Branko Marcetic.  For his latest column

I like Branko which is why his latest is so troubling.  It's pure garbage.  

He's got his dick hard over Tucker Carlson and wants to mushroom stamp himself all over Tucker.   He offers stuff like this:

Carlson currently has a lock not just on Republican viewers, but a surprisingly high number of independents and Democrats, too. This is dangerous, because beyond every other noxious, neoliberal position he holds, Carlson, like Hawley, Douthat, and others on the Right, isn’t actually antiwar — rather, they simply prefer to pointlessly stoke conflict with a different boogeyman in the form of China, and see tensions with Russia as undermining that disastrous boondoggle.


Remember that.  I don't give a f**k about Tucker.  I do give a f**k about standards.  


Branko's calling Tucker out as "dangerous" while praising lunatic Bernie Sanders who is insulting Putin.  Here's Branko on old man Bernie:


Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) weighed in on the standoff in Ukraine with the most comprehensive stance he’s taken on the conflict so far. Liberals, progressives, and socialists should all pay attention.

Writing in the Guardian, Sanders places the blame for the crisis firmly at the feet of the “liar and demagogue” Vladimir Putin and his “gang of oligarchs,” but makes clear his unease with the “familiar drumbeats in Washington” and the “simplistic refusal to recognize the complex roots of the tensions in the region.” Pointing to not just the devastating potential of war in the region, but the ruinous ripple effects that even just imposing sanctions would have on ordinary people in Russia and throughout the world, he urges all parties to “work hard to achieve a realistic and mutually agreeable resolution” — starting with taking seriously the “legitimate concerns” in Moscow about NATO’s eastward expansion.

“To put it simply, even if Russia was not ruled by a corrupt authoritarian leader like Vladimir Putin, Russia, like the United States, would still have an interest in the security policies of its neighbors,” Sanders writes. “Does anyone really believe that the United States would not have something to say if, for example, Mexico was to form a military alliance with a US adversary?”


Branko, you stupid f**k.


What old man Sanders is writing is garbage that will encourage war.


How f**king stupid are you, Branko?  Or can you not think when Bernie's got his old man cock down your throat?


You stupid piece of s**t.  


Do you want war?


I don't.  


And when senile Sanders writes that garbage, he's not preventing war, he's encouraging it.


It's a complex issue and most people aren't paying attention.  When Senile Sanders writes that, many will take away, "Oh, even Sanders thinks Putin is evil."  That's the take away.  So, if he's evil, war is okay or at least tolerable.  That's what they're going to take away from that garbage.




And Bernie Sanders has always been an imperialist.  

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"





Trina serves up a recipe and covers inflation


Monterey Spaghetti in the Kitchen

Starting off with a recipe Sylvia recommended from Taste of Home:


  • 4 ounces spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 can (2.8 ounces) french-fried onions, divided



  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat egg. Add sour cream, Parmesan cheese and garlic powder.
    Drain spaghetti; add to egg mixture with Monterey Jack cheese, spinach and half of the onions. Pour into a greased 2-qt. baking dish. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until heated though. Top with remaining onions; return to the oven for 5 minutes or until onions are golden brown.

Are you noticing that prices are going up again.  Again.  Joe Biden is a disaster.  And he's not helped by an inept Congress.

It's 2022.  I don't give a damn about January 6, 2021.  They've watered that fern one too many times and it is now brown and dying.

Congress is nothing but a bunch of crooks trying to deflect from their own actions by obsessing over events over a year old.

I wasn't alarmed by the riot in real time.  I'm not alamred by it over a year later.

I am bothered by rising gas prices.  I am bothered by 2021 seeing the worst inflation in decades.  I am bothered by soaring food prices.

A bunch of lazy and do-nothing crooks are in Congress.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday:

Betty cover science


Dinosaur or Dino-sore-throat?

Dolly The Dinosaur?  She was discovered back in 1990.  She's in the news again.

CNN reports:


About 150 million years ago, a young long-necked dinosaur fell ill, likely coughing and suffering from a fever as it wandered what is now southwest Montana.

The fossil of this dinosaur, nicknamed "Dolly" for Dolly Parton, has revealed what could be the first evidence of a respiratory infection in a dinosaur, according to new research. A study detailing the findings published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.
The diplodocid, an herbivorous dinosaur with a long neck, reached about 60 feet (18 meters) in length and was between 15 and 20 years old when it died, according to Cary Woodruff, lead study author and director of paleontology at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Malta, Montana.
Dolly's remains, including a complete skull and neck vertebrae, were first discovered in 1990 at a site in Montana yielding other dinosaur discoveries. They aren't able to determine Dolly's gender based on the fossils.


 Sid Perkins (SCIENCE NEWS) notes:

Lesions found in the vertebrae of a 150-million-year-old juvenile sauropod dubbed “Dolly” point to a lung infection that moved into her bones, vertebrate paleontologist Cary Woodruff and colleagues report February 10 in Scientific Reports. That’s at least 50 million years older than the previously reported respiratory infection in a titanosaur unearthed in Brazil.

Dolly, a long-necked dinosaur, was probably closely related to Diplodocus. At the time of her death in what’s now southwestern Montana, she was about 18 meters long and less than 20 years old, Woodruff estimates.

The fossils that the team analyzed include the dinosaur’s skull and the first seven neck vertebrae, which contained air sacs connected to the lungs and other parts of the respiratory system. The bones of many of today’s birds, which are modern-day dinosaurs, have similar features. 

On the fifth through seventh vertebrae, the fossils have bone lesions at spots where the air sacs would have intruded into the bone, the team found. The oddly shaped and textured bumps protrude from the bone as much as 1 centimeter, says Woodruff, of the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Malta, Mont.

And here's one more video report.



"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS): 

Marcia critiques an online erotic novel


Dog Days Are Beginning is an awful online novel

Please refer to Rebecca's "review of 'the dog days are beginning'" and "pink and more on 'dog days are beginning'" and "henry wolf's bad gay fiction" and I think I'm missing one. 

But my point is that Rebecca's been covering Henry Wolf's "Dog Days Are Beginning" which is an online novel at Nifty.Org which offers LGBTQ erotica.

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 Those are the 17 chapters.

She and I were talking about it and she had high hopes for it at the start.  But then she ended up really hating it.  I told her I'd give it a read.  I also told her that, as a lesbian, I'd long ago learned to read while substituting.  What I mean is that I knew I was gay in middle school -- and came out then.  I didn't have computers and fan fiction to read.  And it was the rare novel at the supermarket that had two women doing anything.  So I'd read about some straight couple and I'd sub a woman in for the man.  He penetrated her with his penis?  It became she penetrated her with a dildo, etc.  

I don't think that's uncommon for lesbians and gay men of my generation.  We had to take what we could and we'd sub whatever we had to.  There was one Jackie Collins' novel, for example, where I went through with a pen and changed a man's name to a woman.  (Her novel Choices, by the way, did feature a gay character and I do remember him having a sex life that was covered in the novel.)

So I told Rebecca I'd give it a look.


What you need to know?  Mark and Steve are a couple in the future.  They are married.  Mark is established at a corporation and making a good salary.  Steve is just a little bit younger than Mark (they met in college) and he has just graduated. 


Steve is having trouble finding a job.  He keeps getting turned down by everyone -- and having hissy fits at home that Mark has to calm him down from.  Mark says he'll check at his company and see if they have anything.


He does but it's just an internship.  Steve leaps at that chance but Mark explains that it's only for subs.




In this near future, there are Norms and there are Subs.  Norms are people who have all the rights that you and I have.  Subs are people who have no rights and are owned.  You can choose to become a Sub.  

Steve has no luck getting a job so he comes back to this Sub idea.  As Mark points out, they do a little bondage and domination in the bedroom so it could be like that.  Steve wants a job and is game.  Mark cautions him that he'd actually have to legally become a sub, they couldn't just pretend.  


So off Steve goes for a week of training.  At the end, Mark shows up to take him home and first he and Mark sign the papers -- Steve surrenders all of his rights and property and Mark is now his owner.


The interns, we are told, just do menial activities.  We are told that before the training and after.  But the company's merged and, turns out, they'll be sex slaves and their uniform is basically a jock strap and a collar -- they're all men, by the way.


Now when Mark took Steve home from sub training, Steve was shell shocked (Mark thought he had PTS) and wouldn't do anything, he'd wait for Mark's orders and he wouldn't get on the furniture because he was told subs don't belong on the furniture.


I'll come back to the plot but let me note problems.


This is erotica.  That means sex.  The two main characters are Mark and Steve.  So you'd think we'd have scenes of them having sex.  We really don't.  Not once the sub dynamic kicks in.  We go whole chapters without sex and we get only one -- out of 17! -- chapters where the two have sex as sub and dom.


Do you get how much of a problem that is?


This is garbage.  It's garbage written by someone who's never had sex and who is probably a 28-year-old virgin. 


It's so disappointing.


Once Steve starts being an intern, Mark changes.  And that's fine -- if Wolf had followed up on it.


Mark's talking about how Steve's blowing it at work.


First a friend warns Mark so, at home, Mark tells Steve that from now on, at home, Steve will wear his slave/sub uniform and nothing else -- jock strap and collar.  Steve thinks -- but does not say -- that this was only supposed to be for work.  


Steve should have said.  At any point he should have pushed back.


That's not me saying that Steve shouldn't have been a sub.


He should have.  That's the storyline.


But there's no story without conflict..  And if Steve's not resisting or trying, what's the point.  He's this aimless, do-nothing lead character and it's boring as hell.


After this, Mark then decides that he will call Steve "boy" and that Steve will always address him as "Sir" or "Master."  It'll make Steve more of a sub. 


Again, no resistance.


Then Mark is giving Steve orders at home so that Steve's doing all the chorse.


Then he gifts Steve with a padlock to put on his collar.  It says "Property of Mark" on it.  It's heavy and pulls Steve's neck down and he has to angle himself when he eats because the collar will otherwise scrape the plate.  


Then, what should have been their first fight (they should have had an argument long before, but this really called for one), Mark is watching TV and, after cleaning up dinner, Steve joins him in the living room, sits on the couch and Mark informs him that a friend has warned him Steve's still not getting into being a sub at work.


Steve blurts out that he's tried and --


Mark cuts him off and says that, as a sub, Steve shouldn't be interrupting Norms.  He should learn to be silent.  He then explains that his friend told him that he should treat Steve like a piece of furniture.  That would help Mark know how to treat Steve and help Steve learn his place.


Does furniture belong on the couch?


Steve's confused.  You want me to sit on the floor?




This whole thing was ripe for an argument, ripe for Steve objecting.  


That would have provided conflict and drama.  Mark could have asserted his ownership of Steve.  


Instead, pathetic and dull Steve just goes along.


He's the most passive and boring character in the world.


It was pathetic.


Mark never got to enjoy being a Dom once.


In chapter 16, the two finally have sex as sub and dom.  Finally.


It's the stupidest thing in the world.


It should have been an erotic story about power exchange and the battles within over whether to give yourself or not and, if to give yourself to another, how much.


Instead it was so boring it was like that awful Alyssa Milano movie on Netflix.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Elaine covers movies


RIFKIN'S FESTIVAL and Woody's other films

Stan noted earlier this week ("Woody Allen's new movie") that Woody Allen's latest film RIFKIN'S FESTIVAL is available for rental or purchase at AMAZON.

I checked it out and thought it was a funny movie.  It's a light comedy with some wonderful touches and I'd encourage you to check it out.  I think Gina Gerhson and Wallace Shawn both hit career high marks in the film and that Louis Garrel exhibits a wonderful, sexual quality in the film.

It's too new for me to rank it in terms of favorite comedy films or even favorite Woody Allen comedy films.  I've only watched it twice now.  But I do like it and do recoomend it.

I'll go ahead and rank the top ten comedy films, Woody Allen comedy films, but the new one won't be on the list because it's too new.


Diane Keaton and Woody Allen take on Napoleon and so much more.  I love their disputes and exchanges -- near the end when they're debating while knocking Napoleon out with a gun, at the beginning when addressing what might happen if everyone wanted a blintz at the same time.  I really love this movie and it makes me laugh out loud every time -- I've seen it over 100 times.


Diane Keaton and Woody Allen again.  This time, he awakens in the future.  Diane's a poet who struggles with her muse (if only butterflies turned into caterpillars!) and he's on the run from the government.  Miles and Luna are a couple I'd love to see a sequel for.


Diane and Woody again.  Here they are a married couple and Diane's worried they've lost their spark and zest for life.  Woody just wants to get into bed and watch an old Bob Hope movie.  Did a next door neighbor murder his wife?  This is a hilarious film and Anjelica Huston, Alan Alda and Joy Behar are great in supporting roles.


Diane and Woody.  A great film but it's one I've seen over 500 times and probably take for granted.  It's also a longer film -- longer than the three above.  I probably watch it less these days as a result.  Diane's wonderful and you see why Woody would fall for her and suffer when it ended.  Shelley Duvall gives the best performance of the supporting cast as she goes on about being a rock journalist who covered a Dylan concert and goes into detail about him performing "Just Like A Woman."


A hysterical film.  One of Woody's best and also the best film Mia Farrow ever made.  She's Tina, basically a gun moll.  Her late husband was a juice man for the mob.  But they shot him in the eyes.  "He's blind?" Woody asks.  Dead.  Oh, yeah, Woody says, because the bullets, they go right through.  It's got a wonderful ending that's moving because it's earned the right to be.


As great as Tracey Ullman is in this film -- and she's great, with Hugh Grant or with Woody, she's great, Elaine May, in a supporting role, nearly walks away with the film.  Hilarious from start to finish.


No more pancakes, Woody moans while under hypnosis.  No more cooking by Mia's character.  She's an awful cook.  But she's also the only person who can cure his Zelig, someone so uncomfortable in his own skin that he can easily morph into another person.  This is a very short film, 79 minutes, but very funny.


One of his comedy and drama mixtures.  A great cast and Dianne Weist won a much deserved Oscar -- as did Michael Caine.  But Barbara Hershey is so wonderful that she could have won the Oscar instead of Dianne and no one could argue much over it because the two of them hit highs rarely captured on film.  Julie Kavner is also very funny in the film.


This film was really haed when it came out but I thought it was funny then and only find it even funnier now.  Debra Messing has a small role.  If she'd had more roles like this one, she could have transitioned to film star.  She's very good in the film and so is Treat Williams.  

10) . . .

I'll leave that one to you.  Amazing comedy films include BANANAS, TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN, SCOOP, RADIO DAYS, BULLETS OVER BROADWAY and, from NEW YORK STORIES, his OEDIPUS WRECKS.

"Iraq snapshot"(THE COMMON ILLS):

The Oscar nominations (Stan weighs in)

Best Director

One more time, you can find this year's Oscar nominees at the Oscar's website




Kenneth Branagh

Drive My Car

Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Licorice Pizza

Paul Thomas Anderson

The Power of the Dog

Jane Campion

West Side Story

Steven Spielberg 

Steven Spielberg?  That's a joke.  His film bombed at the box office and was so boring.  The original WEST SIDE STORY stands as the best.  Steven just proved he's an imitator.  Natalie Wood remains Maria.  

For me, it comes down to Paul Thomas Anderson and Jane Campion.  LICORICE PIZZA was not a film I planned to like.  I didn't even want to see it.  It has the worst promotion I've seen in years.  But my girlfriend wanted to see the film so we went and it was really amazing.  If you see the film, I think you'll like it but if you're put off by the advertising I do understand.

Jane Campion has made an amazing film with  THE POWER OF THE DOG.  

I went into it not knowing anything about the film.  I didn't know the storyline or what to expect.  I knew Kirsten Dunst was in it but that was about it.  Was it a western, was it a drama?  I had no idea and wondered that for the first few minutes.  

The film grabs you and pulls you in -- it's arresting.  Jane has directed some great films including: THE PIANO, IN THE CUT and HOLY SMOKE.  A strong argument can be made for the award going to her both for the incredible quality of THE POWER OF THE DOG as well as her winning the award for her body of work.  

This week, I've covered a few other award categories:

And I recommend you read Elaine's "RIFKIN'S FESTIVAL and Woody's other films" about Woody Allen's new film and his other strong comedies.

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

  • Best cinematography
  • Best Picture
  • Oscars -- best actor and actress



    Best cinematography

    Again, you can find this year's Oscar nominees at the Oscar's website.  This time, I'm looking at the films nominated for Best Cinematography:




    Greig Fraser

    Nightmare Alley

    Dan Laustsen

    The Power of the Dog

    Ari Wegner

    The Tragedy of Macbeth

    Bruno Delbonnel

    West Side Story

    Janusz Kaminski 

    DUNE looks like garbage, like a really bad 80s TV movie.  WEST SIDE STORY had all the money in the world and it really doesn't appear to have gone up on screen.  If I learned in ten years that Steven Spielberg was in the midst of a coke phase when making this film, I wouldn't be surprised at all.  Drugs?  That would explain where the money went.  I loved THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH and would be okay with it winning.

    But for me, it really should be between THE POWER OF THE DOG and NIGHTMARE ALLEY.  NIGHTMARE ALLEY is just amazing, you can turn the sound off and just marvel over the visuals.  It would be a very good choice.  So would THE POWER OF DOG.  It's less ambitious in some ways but it really sneaks up on you and captivates you, the cinematography.

    Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"



    Best Picture

    You can find this year's Oscar nominees at the Oscar's website.  This time, I'm looking at the films nominated for Best Picture.

    Best Picture



    Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas, Producers


    Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger, Producers

    Don't Look Up

    Adam McKay and Kevin Messick, Producers

    Drive My Car

    Teruhisa Yamamoto, Producer


    Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve and Cale Boyter, Producers

    King Richard

    Tim White, Trevor White and Will Smith, Producers

    Licorice Pizza

    Sara Murphy, Adam Somner and Paul Thomas Anderson, Producers

    Nightmare Alley

    Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale and Bradley Cooper, Producers

    The Power of the Dog

    Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Roger Frappier, Producers

    West Side Story

    Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers 

    I would be okay with NIGHTMARE ALLEY or LICROCIE PIZZA winning.  On the second one, we saw it tonight.  I didn't know Bradley Cooper was in it.  The ads were so irritating that I didn't want to see it.  It was as though I 'had to' see it because some critics liked it.  

    But then my girlfriend said she wanted to see it so we went tonight and on the way she said that Bradley was in it.  He was actually very good and he played Jon Peters -- hair dresser turned movie producer turned studio head.

    Those would be worthy choices, those two.

    DON'T LOOK UP is not worthy nor is Spielberg's WEST SIDE STORY which managed to sap all the life out of one of the strongest and most long running hits in Broadway history.  KING RICHARD also doesn't qualify as a good choice -- it's a bad LIFETIME movie.

    The real winner is THE POWER OF THE DOG.  It's the amazing film that holds your attention.  I had no idea what it was about or what was going to happen.  And the film had my interest from the start.  It's a really incredible film.  Again, LICORICE PIZZA and NIGHTMARE ALLEY are strong films and I'd ben fine with them winning; however, THE POWER OF THE DOG is the best film of what got nominated.

    (I agree with Jimmy Kimmel that DON'T LOOK UP was a lousy choice and something like the latest SPIDER-MAN would have been a much better choice.)

    Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"



    Oscars -- best actor and actress

     So we finally know who's nominated for the Acdemy Awards.  For this post, I'm just noting the Best Actor and Best Actress nominees.  Find all the nominees at the Oscar's website.

    Actor in a Leading Role


    Javier Bardem

    Being the Ricardos

    Benedict Cumberbatch

    The Power of the Dog

    Andrew Garfield

    tick, tick...BOOM!

    Will Smith

    King Richard

    Denzel Washington

    The Tragedy of Macbeth 

    What a joke.  BAFTA got some slapback over its nominees and that included Will Smith.  He's not an actor.  He's a shuck and jiver who grins and tries to pretend that's acting.  This is 'diversity' at work.  It's not about talent, Will has none.  Denzel?  He earned his nomination and thens ome.  He could win and it wouldn't be an embarrassment.

    Javier?  Not a bad performance but he's not playing Desi.  Andrew Garfield deserved the nomination but the role's not enough to warrant a statue.

    Benedict Cumberbatch and Denzel.

    They are the only real contenders who are deserving.  I'm not a big Ben fan.  I think he's pretty awful in most films.  This is the best he's been on the big screen and if he won, I'd be okay with it.

    I'd also be okay if Denzel won.  Yes, Denzel's won before.  But Denzel gives strong, stellar performances over and over and this is one of his best.  

    I'd give it to Denzel.  But if Benedict won, I'd be okay with it.  He is really good in his role.  Anybody else?  They're stealing an award they didn't earn.

    Now for Best Actress.

    Actress in a Leading Role


    Jessica Chastain

    The Eyes of Tammy Faye

    Olivia Colman

    The Lost Daughter

    Penélope Cruz

    Parallel Mothers

    Nicole Kidman

    Being the Ricardos

    Kristen Stewart


    And here's where 'diversity' hurt us.  By nominating worthless Will, we're all supposed to be happy.  Ruth Negga should have been nominated for PASSING.  But including worthless Will means voters felt that they had 'checked that box' already.  Ruth delivered a real performance and she's a true actress.  She should have been nominated.

    I don't see Olivia as deserving at all.   Jessica?  I like her as an actress.  But that film?  Did anyone take it seriously.  Kristen did deliver.  I hated SPENCER and I'm not a Princess Di fanatic but we did have to watch that film because my girlfriend thinks Diana was a saint.  Kristen did deliver.  Nicole did as well -- and with a piece of garbage script.  I haven't seen Penelope's film so I can't comment on her performance but she is a strong actress.

    Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"







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