Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Truest statement of the week

Unless you reside in the state that elected him, there’s a very good chance you’d never heard of Republican Senator Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma until he told a man to “stand your butt up” and challenged him to a fight during a Senate committee hearing.

Sean O’Brien, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, was testifying at that Nov. 14 hearing, but Mullin was all up in his feelings over mean things O’Brien had said about him on social media. And the best way for a Republican lawmaker in 2023 to handle this disagreement, Mullin decided, was to invite O’Brien to throw hands.

That same day, Republican Representative Tim Burchett of Tennessee claimed GOP Representative Kevin McCarthy intentionally elbowed him in the back — “a clean shot to the kidneys,” as Burchett put it — as he passed Burchett in a US Capitol hallway. Yelling back and forth, the two men publicly squabbled like children stuck in the back seat of the family car on a long trip. A smirking McCarthy denied poking Burchett, but later told reporters, “If I kidney punched someone, they would be on the ground.”

And some say women are too emotional to be leaders.

If you want to see the much-discussed crisis in masculinity in action, look no further than elected Republican men who are ferociously waging their uncivil wars.

--  Renee Graham's "A 'crisis' in masculinity? Look no further than the fussin' and fightin' Republicans" (BOSTON GLOBE).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Monday  night.

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? 

Renee Graham gets a truest.

We didn't have an editorial.  This is an important segment from DEMOCRACY NOW!

Ava and C.I. cover NYAD, RUSTIN, Andrea Mitchell, Joe Manchin and more.

Stan had the idea for this.  He's not happy with how it turned out.  I (Jim) understand.  I had spoken with him about it before hand and that's why I stayed out.  For it to be what he wanted, it had to be very focused and very limited in participation.  Live and learn.  And it's a good roundtable, it's just not what he envisioned.

We'd been toying with this idea for awhile and Dona said, "Short features or we're never going to be done!"  So we did some short features.

Like this one.

And this one.

And this one.

Passings noted in the community.

Repost of Kat's latest albums review.

List of books reviewed in the community so far this year.

Pope gets the tweet of the week.

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



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






Last week, DEMOCRACY NOW! spoke with a Middle East expert, Ruth Ben-Artzi who teaches political science at Providence College and who is the niece of the prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.



AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

We spend the rest of the hour with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s niece, a Providence College political science professor and Middle East expert. She’s the niece of Netanyahu’s wife, Sara Netanyahu. This month she was one of the signatories to a letter from Jewish and Israeli residents of Rhode Island that asks the state’s federal delegation to support ceasefire in Gaza.

In March, Ruth Ben-Artzi spoke out about distancing herself from all contact with the prime minister’s family. When asked by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz why she chose to speak out, she said, quote, “The answer is that I am ashamed, sad and angry. Ashamed that my relatives have no shame. That they are in a position of power that promotes and encourages violence, racism, nationalism and fascism. These are not the Jewish values I absorbed and to which I feel connected. Israel could remain a country in which Jews find a safe and free haven of equality and partnership with all the population groups within the state’s borders.”

Well, professor Ruth Ben-Artzi joins us now, again, a Providence College political science professor and Middle East expert. She’s an Israeli and U.S. citizen.

We welcome you to Democracy Now! Thank you so much for being with us. Your voice has so much power because you are the prime minister’s niece. Can you speak directly to him, to the people of Palestine and Israel and the world about what you want to see happen right now, Ruth Ben-Artzi?

RUTH BEN-ARTZI: So, I, first of all, speak as an Israeli citizen, as an American citizen, as a person who is observing everything that is happening, with my experience having grown up in Israel, and also as a political scientist who studies and researches these issues for many, many years now. From all of those different perspectives, I come to this realization, or that we came to this decision that a ceasefire is really the only way that any solution can ever be achieved.

I think that any — the continued violence that begets violence that begets violence is only going to bring us further away from a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And, you know, it’s really important to remember that we’ve been hearing also from policymakers, from American policymakers and even from Israeli policymakers, military experts, that there’s no military solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And if there’s no military solution to the conflict, there is no military way to eradicate Hamas, as well. The more harm that we’re inflicting, the more violence that is occurring, whatever anybody wants to — as a backdrop to either justify it or to explain it, does not make sense for the future. It only brings us further away from finding that solution, from being able to move toward that political solution.

And it’s clear that the day that this war is over is going to be the day that a political solution is going to have to start to be implemented. The occupation in the West Bank, the siege in Gaza that happened until October 7th, all of these kind of — what we typically call status quo, what we traditionally call status quo, but it’s not really status quo because things are changing. People are — the population is changing. The demographics are changing. The infrastructure is changing over all of these years of occupation. That can’t continue. The management of the conflict that has been the policy of the Israeli government at least since 2009 isn’t — it was never going to work. And it has no long-term prospects. The ceasefire is the only — we’re seeing the number of innocent civilians who are caught in the crossfires, the number of those who are victims of this war grow every single minute. And that is in addition to the humanitarian — to all the humanitarian concerns that — and the experts that you had on the show before me, the legal concerns, in addition to that, that also bring us further away from being able to implement the kinds of policies that we need to implement the day after the war.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Professor Ben-Artzi, you’ve also, like many, of course, expressed concern about the well-being of the hostages who are in Gaza still, about 240 of them. If you could talk about how you think a ceasefire might make it possible for their safe return? I mean, it was just reported that Israel and Hamas appear close to an agreement whereby 50 women and children, Israeli civilians, would be released in return for 50 Palestinian women and children prisoners being freed. So, if you could talk about the impact a ceasefire may have on the release of the Israeli civilian hostages in Gaza?

RUTH BEN-ARTZI: Right. So, in Jewish tradition, we have a tradition that is called pidyon shvuyim, which means that the release of the hostages comes first and at all costs. And that is to save lives. The bombing of Gaza — those hostages are in Gaza. When Gaza is being bombed, when we are — when we don’t know where those hostages are, it puts them in danger, too. There is going to be a day, or already, there’s a judgment for Hamas and for those who have inflicted the horrible violence on Israel on October 7th. But right now the focus has to be the release of those hostages. And the bombing, that is clearly not very specifically targeted and is putting those hostages in harm’s way, is only exacerbating the situation and putting the — I think, is putting the — and not just myself, but including the Rhode Islanders who signed this letter. I’ve also joined hundreds of political scientists who signed a letter to demand immediate ceasefire, for some of those same strategic reasons, humanitarian reasons, and also for what is for me in the front of my mind, the release of the hostages.

We buried today a peace activist who was murdered on October 7th, who was — who had spent decades in activism trying to help to bring a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and continuing that tradition. There’s Israelis who are continuing that tradition. There’s Israelis in Israel now and abroad. There’s organizations, both Palestinian and Jewish organizations, that are working towards that solution, to find a peaceful solution.

And to bring the hostages back, we have to have those negotiations. And if the negotiations have to — they have to happen with the group, with the terrorist group, that is holding those hostages. There is no other way. There is no other — there’s no other solution for this. Get the hostages out. This is what the families of the hostages are demanding. And then we can continue the political work of rehabilitating Gaza, removing Hamas from power, and finding a political solution, which is really the only way that the roughly 7 million Jews and 7 million Palestinians who live between the river and the sea will ever be able to find peace.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Ben-Artzi, we just have 30 seconds, but as the niece of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have the two senators from Rhode Island spoken to you, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, or Seth Magaziner and Gabe Amo, the congressmembers?

RUTH BEN-ARTZI: As Rhode Islanders, we speak to our delegation all the time. Our group that signed this letter and that sent them this letter spoke to our delegation. We’re in contact all the time. We have various connections in our small state. And I think that we have a listening ear to all the different voices —


RUTH BEN-ARTZI: — that are part —

AMY GOODMAN: — we have to leave it there. We thank you so much, Providence College political science professor Ruth Ben-Artzi, niece of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.


TV: Courage -- momentary and otherwise

The writers strike and the actors strike are over.  We can return to entertainment.  That is, if we can find it?


PARAMOUNT+ is offering something called FRASIER.  It's not the sitcom that ran for eleven seasons on NBC.  That CHEERS spin-off revolved around Dr Fraiser Crane, his father, his brother, Daphne (who eventually married Frasier's brother), Roz and assorted others and was set in Seattle.  This show?  It's got Fraiser in the regular cast just no one else.  They couldn't even bring Dan Butler back as Bulldog.

Worse, they couldn't bring laughter back.  

In fact, the best one-word term for this revival is "disappointing."

That would also be a good term for the fall season period.  Other than football, few new broadcasts have returned to prime time.  FOX has brought back THE SIMPSONS, BOB'S BURGERS, KRAPOPOLIS and FAMILY GUY on Sunday nights. But most have avoided scripted programing thus far and served up cheap 'reality' shows and game shows.  NBC has had a few new offerings and we'll look at those in the coming weeks.

Like Rosie O'Donnell, we weren't watching during the strike.  

We've been playing catch up.  NETFLIX currently has two strong and amazing offerings.  Both are films.

First up, NYAD.  This is play on the Greek myth but Sisyphus finally makes it up the hill.  The film stars Annette Bening as swimmer Diana Nyad and her friend and coach Bonnie Stoll played by Jodie Foster.  Is it true?  Diana Nyad's 2013 victory is in dispute for some.  We don't think anyone can dispute that this is a great movie that gets better as it goes along.  Annette continues to do the heavy lifting to demonstrate what film acting can be.  She's been doing that since she stole a scene from Meryl Streep in the jagged POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE.  She's delivered one amazing performance after another ever since -- THE GRIFTERS, BUGSY, AMERICAN BEAUTY, THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT, BEING JULIA, 20TH CENTURY WOMEN, DANNY COLLINS, FILM STARS DON'T DIE IN LIVERPOOL, THE SEAGULL, THE REPORT, CAPTAIN MARVEL, GEORGETOWN, HOPE GAP, JERRY & MARGE GO LARGE . . .   She's been nominated twice for a Tony, nine times for a Golden Globe (two wins), four times for an Academy Award, four BAFTA nominations (one win) and one time for a primetime Emmy.  NYAD is another triumph for her.

And it's a triumph for Jodie Foster.  Jodie really has a thankless role but she's got the talent to make something out of it -- and does -- and when there's nothing else to pull from, she floods it with personality making it her most winning role in years.  

To see two of the country's finest working actresses play opposite one another is amazing and inspiring.

Next up, RUSTIN.  This is the first film production from Barack and Michelle Obama and there's much to praise.  Aml Ameen isn't among the praiseworthy details.

He plays MLK and we have to yet again note that the American citizen Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. was American.  We wouldn't think we'd have to note that yet in one film portrayal after another, Americans keep insisting upon casting British actors in this role.  

It is offensive.  

We have made that point before Samuel L. Jackson started making it and we will continue to do so.  MLK was an American.  What is it about Black Americans that keeps leading film makers to conclude that Black American actors can't play MLK.  We stand by what we've said before: Racism.  Time to play a pimp or a drug dealer?  Cast an American Black actor.  Time to play MLK or Barack Obama or any Black inspirational American?  Find a British actor.  It's getting tired, it's getting old and it's always been insulting. 

It's sad that we yet again have to make this point.  It's sad that we have to make this point in a film produced by the Obamas and directed by African-American George C. Wolfe.  

Let's move to what we can praise.  First of all George C. Wolfe.  Strong direction and the best use of sound for scene transitions since Hal Ashby's COMING HOME.   He deserves praise for handling a large cast and establishing each character.  This film should bring him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Director.  We hope he's nominated.  

Also worthy of nominations?

Colman Domingo commands the screen in the title role.  Bayard Rustin was a complex person (more on that later) and Domingo brings him fully to life.  Gus Harper provides some strong moments that could result in a Best Supporting Actor nomination.  Glynn Turman deserves a nomination for that category as well and comes close to walking off with the picture with his portrayal of A Philip Randolph. There is no lead actress.  But there are three women who deserve to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress: CCH Pounder as Dr Anna Hedgeman, Audra McDonald as Ella Baker and Carra Patterson who really delivers in her brief scenes playing Coretta Scott King.

And, for the screenplay, we'd argue that Julian Breece and Dustin Lance Black are deserving for a nomination.

What about the screenplay for NYAD.  It's being presented as a true story and there are disputes regarding that.  So, no, we wouldn't advocate for it to get a nomination, sorry.  It's well written but we can't vouch for the veracity and, honestly, no one can except Diana and Bonnie.

RUSTIN focuses on the weeks leading up to The March on Washington and The March itself.  

Minor quibbles?  Mahalia Jackson is shown and, yes, she did perform that day.  So did Odetta, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Marianne Anderson.  Our concern is the last name. Historically, we feel Marianne should have been part of the day's march.  Even if only playing her singing "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands" -- especially since it happened and especially since Coretta sings it in the movie to her children and Bayard.   A case could be made for including Joan because she led the sing along of "We Shall Overcome" and "Oh Freedom." But due to the historical nature of the event and Marianne Anderson's having performed at The Lincoln Memorial before (1939 when the Daughters of the American Revolution would not let her perform at Constitution Hall due to the color of skin), we'd argue that was reason to include her onscreen.

These are minor quibbles.  As is Bayard Rustin's life after the event.  He didn't just become a neoconservative, he also supported war on Vietnam.  

RUSTIN captures the man at his most successful and most promising.  And that might be something to share.  

Maybe we're wrong to expect someone to lead and take the right stands over and over.  Maybe a moment's bravery at one important time is what we should expect of others?

RUSTIN captures a great moment for Bayard and for A. Philip Randolph, Dr Anna Hedgeman, Dr King, Coretta and Ella Baker.   It also captures Adam Clayton Powell at his worst. 

Again, maybe it's too much to expect someone to lead a life of strong activism?

Maybe we expect too much.  

Take Joe Manchin and Andrea Mitchell, for example.

Neither would ever show up in PROFILES IN COURAGE.  So maybe it's wrong to expect them to stand for anything?

Manchin, the Democratic embarrassment, is finally leaving the US Senate.  And that should be cause for celebration.  However, despite stating that he doesn't want Donald Trump to win the 2024 election, his actions of late seemed geared towards handing the election to Donald.

No Labels.  What is that?  A generic copy of a better tasting canned soup?  Nope.  It's a new political party.  Joe Lieberman and others are the public face for it and Joe's flirting with running for the US presidency on the No Labels party.   THE DAILY MAIL notes, "Slamming President Joe Biden for going too far left and former President Donald Trump for stooping to ;a level that he's normalized this visceral hatred,' the moderate Democrat said that everyone is 'sick and tired' of divisive politics."

This is not a parody site.  You read that correctly.  Manchin is accusing Joe Biden of "going too far left."  That's what happens when you mix in bitter with aging.  And Manchin is aging.  He's currently 76.  He wants to do a victory lap when, honestly, he'd be lucky to make it down the hall without a walker.  There's no glorious moments for a film about Manchin to portray.  

Which brings us to the newscaster.  Friday on MSNBC, we watched, mouths wide open in shock, as Andrea Mitchell insisted that there were calls for a cease-fire and "a massive rally in DC" for Israel "so really the war has energized people on both sides."

Huh?  They barely had 60,000 at the hate rally last week.  Rallies in DC calling for a cease-fire have resulted in far greater numbers repeatedly.  ABC NEWS, for example, used 300,000 for the DC rally on November 5th calling for a cease-fire.  The US media keeps trying to both-sides genocide.  You have to wonder, in a hundred years, what kind of a movie they'll make about Andrea Mitchell?  Is there even one brave moment they'll be able to work in?  Or will it just be an endless parade of cowardly moments from her 56 years and counting career?


Comic book movie roundtable

Ty: This is a roundtable prompted most recently by the bomb that is THE MARVELS.  Ruth's "Another review of THE MARVELS saying skip it,"  Isaiah's "I hated THE MARVELS" and Stan's  "THE MARVELS" covered the disappointment.  Comic book movie fatigue?  Sure, but there's more going on then that.  Stan?

Stan: I talked to C.I. about that movie before it came out and after and we were both in agreement that the superhero films had been doing the same wrong thing over and over. So we thought this would be a good idea for a roundtable.

Ty: And participating are   The Third Estate Sunday Review's  Ava, and me, Ty; 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;  Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Ruth of Ruth's Report; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub


Ty (Con't): Some have compared the superhero to the western or the musical and feel it is an a genre that has played itself out.  Thoughts?

Cedric: I would agree with fatigue.  There have been too many.  But I don't know that the genre is played out.

Isaiah: I was talking to a friend on Friday and she said she thought the the comic book movie should have ended when Robert Downey Jr.'s death in AVENGERS: ENDGAME.

Mike: That would be stupid.  That's a MARVEL movie.  Why would you end DC movies due to a MARVEL movie?

Isaiah: That's what I said.  And then I pointed out that DC is actually the better one.  In the last two decades, it's been MARVEL but, historically, DC has done a better job in terms of TV and movies.  

Rebecca: I'm jumping in.  DC had the first huge problem and it was Halle Berry's CATWOMAN.  And that's been the problem ever since. Michelle Pfeiffer was amazing as Catwoman in BATMAN RETURNS and no one was able to be that amazing again in terms of women.  When the long promised CATWOMAN was finally made it was hideous.  And the reasons that made it so awful have continued to destroy so many movies.

Betty: Really good point.  I want to work 'woke' in at some point so remind me on that but CATWOMAN should have been a solid film but it had Sharon Stone as a villain that was barely written.  And she was only the villain because apparently everyone was afraid of female Halle Berry fighting a man.  Michelle could do it but apparently that was a one-time only.  And you saw something similar in films like CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR when it was female against female in the fighting at the airport.  On the plus, when it was just Black Widow in the films, she did take on men in fight scenes.  Rebecca's right, it's been the treatment -- mistreatment -- of women that's really harmed the comic book films and TV shows.

Stan: WANDAVISION was f**k s**t garbage and I'm sick and tired of people pretending otherwise.  It was garbage.  It was insulting and it was sexist and it's so bad that maybe the only answer right now is no women directing female superheroes unless they actually like superhero comics, this is not for the Richie Rich or Archie's crowd..  I'm serious.  I'm sick of the cutesy and the rainbow bright bulls**t in the comic book movies and TV shows.

Marcia: Agreed.  I'm not watching a superhero for some college bimbo to work through her dissertation on the evolution of the sitcom.

Betty: I'm going to jump in with woke.  'Woke' in quotes is how I refer to corporations trying to pretend that they're aware and diverse.  So they hire these idiots who don't understand the basics.  Here they are: A superhero film or show requires that we see the lead character take on bad guys.  It's not that hard to understand.  But for bimbos hired by DISNEY-MARVEL, it seems really difficult.  So instead of giving us heroes battling evil, they give us SHE-HULK GIRL LAWYER and other crap.  They would never, ever take Hawkeye and put him in an limited series where the bulk of the episodes were about how he was a sitcom dad.  But they think that's how you handle female characters.  It's sexist and it's insulting.

Rebecca: Agreed

Ann: And Ava and C.I. covered this repeatedly -- "TV: Can anything be worse than fall 2020?" and especially see "TV: The way things are or are thought to be" and  "Media: They lie."


Rebecca: And that's why they exist, to tell the truth as opposed to nonsense The Water Cooler set churns out.  They are responsible, these liars, for encouraging this crap.  We arrive at THE MARVELS due to their lies.  No, it's not good to bring a character from the awful WANDAVISION and treat her as an equal to Captain Marvel or to do that with Ms. Marvel.  Captain Marvel should be the star of a Captain Marvel film.


Isaiah: And when she was, in the first one, people turned out to see it.  But we don't want to sit through kiddie nonsense.  MARVEL has treated too many properties with female leads as though the characters were Wendy out of the CASPER comics.  Or, as Stan said, rainbow bright.  It's garbage.  We expect to see supeheroes.


Marcia: And we expect to see them battle real villains.  To go to DC, that's where the second Wonder Woman movie failed.  You had a director that didn't want to show violence.  It was fine to have violence when it was a world war but now it was 1984 and she wasted everyone's time.  I'm not sad Patty Jenkins got fired.  WONDER WOMAN 1984 was embarrassing.  The CGI with Cheetah was awful but the whole storyline was an embarrassment.  And this was a case of Wendy-izing Wonder Woman.  If you can't handle the genre, if you're opposed to violence, don't direct a superhero movie.

Mike: That's where CAPTAIN MARVEL worked.  It had a great cast -- Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Annette Benning and Jude Law among others. And it had these great actions scenes.  But Ms. Marvel?  That show built up to . . . a male superhero!  Look at what actually happened on that show and the infnatilization of Kamala.  The latest Spider-Man was portrayed as young but he was not turned into an infant.  It was disgusting.  And then to shove her off on Captain Marvel for THE MARVELS?

Rebecca: Can I bring in BLUE BEETLE?

Ty: Sure.

Rebecca: That was an awful film too.  It didn't have to be.  But the idiot directing didn't know a damn thing about visuals.  Bruna Marquezine looks outright ugly throughout the bulk of the film.  She plays Jenny.  It looks as though her head is flat and her face does not work with that awful middle part.  When they go to the compound where Blue Beetle is being held, please note, they've finally done something to her hair and, even better, when she shows up at the end on the motorcycle, she's got a part that's no longer down the middle.  She looks wonderful and a real director would have looked at the tests shot for hair and make up and said, "No!" so that her hair would've looked right in every frame of the film.  But a real director would never have hired Xolo Mariduena for the lead.  He is not attractive.  It's not the big nose but it's the weirdness of it -- look at him in profile -- and the fact that when shot straight on, he looks like a pig and it looks like we're shooting up his nostrils.  I'm not done by the way, I've got quite a bit to say here.  Finally, a male hero who is naked.  Sadly, it's one we don't want to see naked.  His face isn't the only problem.  He's supposed to be 22.  Why does he have a body like a high school nerd?  They knew he was going to be nude.  He's hairless, he's too thin and he's a joke.  And let's deal with the lack of muscles.  If we're supposed to root for him, we need to be able to.  And if all the fighting strength and skills is nothing but the gift of tech, then why are we vested in him?  He needed to have some muscles on his body.  His side burns were disgusting and in some sort of diagonal growth manner.  Everything about him was unappealing.  It's the same disdain for women -- turning them into infants onscreen or thinking you can stick some ugly man in a lead role and trick us into salivating over him.  

Betty: I gotta agree on that.  And, like Rebecca, I thought, "What a waste."  Because when Blue Beetle goes back to human, most of the time -- it's supposed to be every time but it doesn't happen in the last third of the film -- he is nude after the change back.  And instead of getting a young man in the role, we were stuck with an awkward little boy.  He's not a high schooler, he's a man who has just gradudate from college.

Ty: So what's the solution?

Betty: People getting real woke.  Stop hiring the bimbos.  The bimbos get hired in the first place because they're not questioning the male power structure so the men in charge are more than comfortable working with them.  We don't want cutesy.  We want strong women. 

Ruth: Barbara Stanwyck played one strong woman after another in film after film. The answer is good directors.  And turning them into 'female collectives' is not an answer.  Feminist collectives?  Sure.  But  bunch of giggly overgrown girls who produce garbage like WANDAVISION is not the answer.  Stan had a good point about auteurs. 

Ty: What was that, Stan?

Stan: Stop chasing the same film over and over.  Get an auteur and turn them loose on a superhero film.  It could really pay off.  Tim Burton changed the Batman films, for example.  Bryan Singer redid what we expect with the X-Men films.  We need an end to the sameness.  

Marcia: And we need real villains.  Not nameless aliens from outer space like in the first Avengers film.  And don't bring in Cheetah and disappear her for half the movie.  Grasp that Sharon Stone as a new cosmetics bad guy is not necessary, there are legions of villains in both DC and MARVEL.  We want real villains.  That's why the Iron Man movies worked, why THE BATMAN worked, etc. 

Ty: Okay and on that we'll wrap up.


30 best episodes of AMERICAN DAD

Roger as Laura

1) "The Dentist's Wife"

2) "Widow's Pique"

3) "Stan's Night Out"

4) "Langley Dollar Listings"

5) "I Am the Jeans: The Gina Lavetti Story"

6) "The Enlightenment of Ragi-Baba"
7) "Family Affair"
8) "News Glance With Genevieve Vavance"

9) "Shallow Vows"
10) "Frannie 911"
11) "The People vs Martin Sugar"
12) "Pride Before The Fall" 
13) "Julia Rogerts"
14) "Jenny Fromdabloc"
15) "A.T. The Abusive Terrestrial"
16) "The Vacation Goo"
17) "A Boy Named Michael"
18) "The One That Got Away" 
19) "The Pinata Man"
20) "Stanley Slickers II: The Legend of Ollie's Gold"
21) "Irregarding Steve"
22) "Wild Women Do"
23) "Rough Trade"
24) "Little Bonnie Ramirez" 
25) "She Swill Survive"
26) "Roger's Baby"
27) "Roger Codger"
28) "Roger Needs Dick"
29) "Top Of The Steve" 
30) "Death By Dinner Party"

Check out our "A baker's dozen of classic AMERICAN DAD episodes" from 2019 to see earlier choices.

10 movies to watch at Thanksgiving


3) MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (the original)

10 foods we want most this Thanksgiving


1) turkey
2) ham
3) dressing/stuffing 
4) mashed potatoes & gravy
5) cranberry sauce
6) green bean casserole
7) pumpkin pie 
8) corn casserole
9) greens
10) 'Thanksgiving sandwiches' (a roll stuffed with ham and/or turkey as well as a slice of cranberry sauce)


Top 20 Favorite Christmas songs



1) "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" -- Darlene Love
2) "Overjoyed" -- Diana Ross
3) "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" -- Judy Garland
4) "Silent Night" -- Stevie Nicks with Robbie Nevill
5) "Winter Wonderland" -- Diana Ross
6)  "Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)" -- John Lennon and Yoko Ono
7) "Someday At Christmas" -- Diana Ross 
8) "DJ Play A Christmas Song" -- Cher
9) "Santa Baby" -- Eartha Kitt 
10) "The Night Before Christmas" -- Carly Simon

11) "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" -- Diana Ross
12) "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" -- Johnny Mathis
13) "River" -- Joni Mitchell
14) "I'll Be Home For Christmas" -- Frank Sinatra 
15) "The Little Drummer Boy" -- Stevie Wonder 
16) "Ava Maria" -- Diana Ross
17) "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" -- the Pretenders 
18) "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year" -- Johnny Mathis 
19) "The First Noel" -- Diana Ross

20) "Frosty The Snow Man" -- the Ronettes 

All of Diana Ross' Christmas songs can be found on WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS TIME (2018) and if you're looking for one album to play at Christmas this year or one to buy and play, we strongly suggest this one. 

2023 passings



These are the deaths community members found worth noting this year.


Lisa Presley -- Elaine noted her passing.

Christine McVie -- Kat covered her passing.


Adam Rich -- Marcia noted his passing.


Jeff Beck -- Kat noted his passing.


Lance Kerwin -- Rebecca noted his passing.

Barrett Strong -- Ruth noted his passing.


Lisa Loring -- Rebecca noted her passing.


Burt Bacharach -- Rebecca noted his passing.


Raquel Welch -- Elaine noted her passing.


Stella Stevens  -- Rebecca noted her passing.


Richard Belzer -- Ruth noted his passing.  


Kevin Alexander Gray -- C.I. notes his passing.


Pat Schroeder -- Kat noted her passing.


Lance Reddick -- Mike notes his passing.  


Darcelle XV -- Elaine notes his passing.


"Mark Russell" -- Ruth notes his passing 


"Elizabeth Hubbard" -- Trina notes her passing.


"Mary Quant and more Peabody nominations" -- Elaine notes a passing.


"Harry Belafonte" -- Kat notes a passing.

Gordon Lightfoot" -- Kat notes a passing.


"jacklyn zeman, rose schlossberg, john travolta and..." -- Rebecca notes the passing of Jacklyn Zeman.


"Iraq snapshot," "Tina Turner (1939 to 2023)," "The groundbreaker Tina Turner," "Tina Turner," "Lauren Boebert gets burned by AOC," "MAX and NETFLIX, Eva Longoria," "Tina Turner, Eric Swalwell, John Roberts," "They've ruined their reputation," "Hate merchant Tulsi Gabbard," "tina turner passed but the hideous gop lingers," "Tina " and "The wrong people are dying" -- The community notes the passing of Tina Turner.


 "Gay actor George Maharis has died" -- Stan notes the passing. 

"10 great songs that Cynthia Weil co-wrote" and "Cynthia Weil" -- Marcia and Kat note Cynthia Weil's passing.

"Hate merchant Pat Robertson has passed away" -- Kat notes the end of Pat Robertson.

"Glenda Jackson" -- Ruth notes the actress's passing.



"Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. notes the passing of Daniel Ellsberg.


"Andrea Evans" -- Kat notes the passing of a soap opera icon. 


"Tony Bennett" -- Kat notes the passing of a great singer.


"Paul Reubens," "Pee-Wee's Big Holiday" and "One more time on Pee-Wee Herman" -- Betty and Marcia note the passing of Paul Reubens.

"Robbie Robertson" -- Kat covers the passing.

 "David Jacobs" -- Kat notes the passing of a TV creator. 


"Arleen Sorkin" -- Marcia notes the passing of a voice, sitcom and daytime TV actress.


"billy miller has passed away" -- Rebecca notes a passing. 

"DiFi dies" -- Betty notes the passing of an elderly fool.

"David McCallum led a long life" -- Stan notes the passing of an actor who starred in two huge TV shows. 


"rudolph isley " -- Rebecca notes the passing of a music legend.


"Phyllis Coats -- TV's original Lois Lane" -- TV's first Lois Lane remembered by Kat.


"Piper Laurie" -- Marcia remembers the late actress.

"Suzanne Somers" -- Isaiah notes the significance of Suzanne Somers.


 "Mailbag" -- noting the passing of Mark Goddard.

 "lara parker" -- Rebecca covers the passing of Lara Parker.


"Carla Bley" -- Marcia notes the passing of a jazz pioneer.


"Gregg Sutton" -- Kat notes the passing of a musician.


 "Matthew Perrry" -- Ruth notes the passing of a sitcom star.


 "Tyler Christopher" -- Betty notes the passing of a popular soap opera actor.


 "Peter White has passed" -- Ruth notes the passing of a soap opera icon.


"rosalynn carter " -- Rebecca notes the passing of a First Lady.


Kat reviews new albums by Ann-Margret, Cher and Dolly Parton

Reposting of Kat's latest album review:

Kat's Korner: Seasoned entertainers (Dolly Parton, Ann-Margret and Cher)

Kat:  2023 saw many trends in music.  I guess the one we're left with is seasoned entertainers.  Dolly Parton just released a new album, before that Cher released one and before that you had Ann-Margret.  All three are singers, all three are actresses, all three began their careers in the sixties.

What are the results?

On ROCKSTAR, released last Friday, Dolly Parton tries to make a rock album.  Does she succeed?  Not really.  She makes a strong Dolly album but whether it's her singing or her arrangements, no, it's not a rock album.

It's not a bad album.  

At 30 tracks, it may be overly lengthy. It may not be -- it may grow on you with repeated listening -- the way the Rolling Stones' BIGGER BANG did with me.  Where it works best?  

"Wrecking Ball" performed with Miley Cyrus is one of the best tracks.  Maybe because Miley and Dolly have known each other for years (Dolly is Miley's god mother).  "What Has Rock and Roll Ever Done For You" works because Dolly and Stevie Nicks seem to have a mutual love and respect for one another.  Despite THE NEW YORK POST critic telling people this is a Fleetwood Mac song, it is not one.  Stevie has tried to get the Mac to record it and release it repeatedly.  Including during the recording of TANGO IN THE NIGHT.  Since I'm mentioning that album, let me note that MUSICIAN magazine wrote about how Stevie wanted the track on that album -- it was the same story where they detailed Lindsey Buckingham quitting the band -- and throwing Stevie against the hood of a car and choking her before Mick Fleetwood and John McVie were able to pull him off her.  Why mention it?  There's a push among revisionists to whine about Lindsey not being the band anymore and to blame Stevie.  Because Christine McVie talked about it and because it happened on stage, they can't dismiss Lindsey kicking Stevie repeatedly onstage during a concert.  But they're trying to use his epilepsy as an excuse for that.  Epilepsy, sorry fan bois, has many symptoms; however, beating women isn't one of them.

On her own, Dolly does an amazing version of Prince's "Purple Rain."  

It's right up there with Etta James' cover -- which is high praise.

And she's never off in her singing.  But some voices mix better than others.  Dolly and Miley work, Dolly and Stevie work, Dolly and Sting work ("Every Breath You Take"), Dolly and Debbie Harry work ("Heart of Glass"), and the voices on "You're No Good" should work.  The song made most famous by Linda Ronstadt finds Dolly reteaming with Emmylou Harris -- she and Harris and Ronstadt recorded many times together as a trio -- but Sheryl Crow is added to the mix and it doesn't work.  I think Sheryl and Dolly could have worked as a duo but as a trio, it just doesn't cut it.

The artists that work best are the ones who meet Dolly where she's at.  Simon Le Bon (of Duran Duran) is amazing effective singing Dolly's "My Blue Tears" with Parton, for example.  Ann Wilson bends and shades to meet Dolly on the cover of "Magic Man."  Steve Perry seems to forget that "Open Arms" is supposed to be a duet and a blending.

If you need a letter grade, I'd go with A.  Not A+.  But, again, repeated listening may result in a higher grade and it's a rich album that I plan to listen to many times over.  It's a great Dolly album, it's a great album for 2023.  There's speculation on how Dolly follows this up?  Some are saying a soul album or a pop album.  POPSTAR, SOULSTAR.    If she does another album of duets, she needs to include a song with her former RCA label mate Diana Ross.  Diana and Dolly's voices can blend and meet -- and as ROCKSTAR reminds (but shouldn't have to), that's how you get a good duet.

BORN TO BE WILD is Ann-Margret's first pop album to chart in the top 100 on the BILLBOARD album charts since her album with Al-Hirt, 1964's BEAUTY AND THE BEARD.  The thirteen track album finds Ann-Margret teamed with many artists -- including Joe Perry, Canned Heat's Harvey Mandel, the Oak Ridge Boys, the Yardbirds' Jim McCarty and Paul Shaffer.

Vocally, she works best with Mickey Gilley on "Splish-Splash."  In fact, I wish the whole album had been like that.  Ann-Margret was 'the female Elvis' to many.  It would have been great to her exploring some hard rocking fifties rock.  Imagine her laying down "Jail House Rock" or "Heartbreak Hotel."

As it is, she succeeds on "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" where she and Cliff Richard make vocal magic together, on "Rock Around The Clock," "The Great Pretender" and "Born To Be Wild." 

On this album, she sings a slew of songs from the fifties, sixties and seventies that often don't need to be sung.  For example?  In 1981, Diana Ross covered Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers' "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" and made it her own.  Ann-Margret doesn't do that.  She sings it nicely.  But does it mean anything to her?  I had the same question when listening to her version of  "Earth Angel" cover. It's pretty enough but are there any feelings behind it?  With her cover of  "Son Of A Preacher Man," I wondered, "Why did she even bother?"

The best and the worst song on the album are one and the same.  She covers "Teach Me Tonight."  Now she's 81, I'm not expecting vocal marvels.  Nor am I expecting her to sound like she did when she performed on her first album back in 1961.  But she finds a way to sing it that is engaging and passionate.  

"But you said it was her worst!"  It is.  Not because of her.  Because of her partner, Pat Boone.  Not a fan of Pat's but even I was surprised to hear him sounding like Pat Buttram's Mr. Haney on GREEN ACRES.  The final track is "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" which she does a fine job with.  As an album, I honestly give it a B-minus.  As an Ann-Margret album?  This may be one of her top three albums.  Fans will love it.

As I just noted, she concludes BORN TO BE WILD with a seasonal song.  Cher's latest album is all seasonal and is entitled CHRISTMAS.  Darlene Love joins her for the Phil Spector classic "Baby, Please Come Home" -- Darlene sang lead on the original version.  In 1967, Stevie Wonder recorded "What Christmas Means To Me" and he joins Cher on her cover of the song.  She also covers "Run Rudolph Run" and "Santa Baby." The rest of the songs are largely new or from the last two decades.  Largely?  She rescues the British sixties band The Zombies' "This Will Be Our Year."

Helping her out?  Besides Darlene and Stevie, Cyndi Lauper, Tyga and Michael Buble also join her.

The album's made it to number 32 on BILLBOARD's top 200 album sales chart and to number one on BILLBOARD's Christmas album chart.

How come?

Because it's a great album.  I'm not a fan of Christmas albums (see my "Cher and Christmas albums"). But this is a great album.


Cher doesn't care.  

She's made the album she wants and what didn't work didn't make the album.  It's her album and it's her vision.  And it works 100%.

Which is why CHRISTMAS is the album for everyone, while Dolly's ROCKSTAR is for fans of popular music and Ann-Margret's BORN TO BE WILD is for fans of Ann-Margret. 




"Mafia Wives (Susan Williams' WHITE MALICE)" -- C.I. reviews this book.


 "The Sewing Circle" -- Marcia reads Axel Madsen's THE SEWING CIRCLE.


 "Ellen Sander's The Lifestyle That Classic Rock Unleashed" -- Trina reviews this book.

"Phyllis Diller 1917 – 2012: News, Quotes, Interview" -- Ann reviews this book.

"Call Her Heroic (Ava and C.I.)" -- Ava and C.I. review this book.

"Boze Hadleigh's Hollywood Gays" -- Marcia reviews this book.


"Robert Sellers wrote a book of garbage" -- Kat reviews HOLLYWOOD HELLRAISERS.   



"SCREAM VI and THE BOYS" -- Stan reviews Ron and Clint Howard's THE BOYS.



"the world according to joan" -- Rebecca reviews this book.


 "Elton John and Whitney Houston" -- Kat reviews Elton John's autobiography and a biography on Whitney Houston.

"DON RICKLES: THE MERCHANT OF VENOM" -- Isaiah reviews this book.




 "Vincent Price and Universal" -- Marcia reviews John L. Flynn's 75 YEARS OF UNIVERSAL MONSTERS and Vincent Price's I LIKE WHAT I KNOW: A VISUAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY.







"JOAN BAEZ: THE LAST LEAF" -- Ruth reviews  this book by Elizabeth Thomas.


 "A JOYOUS TRANSFORMATION: THE UNEXPURZGATED DIARY OF ANAIS NIN, 1966 -1977" -- Ruth reviews a book by Anais Nin.


"An aging queen writes a bitter book about The Way We Were" -- Marcia reviews a bad book about THE WAY WE WERE.



"Travis Stewart's bad book supposedly on Stevie Nicks" -- Kat reviews a bad book supposedly about Stevie Nicks.


"Austin Breakfast Tacos: The Story of the Most Important Taco of the Day"-- Trina strongly recommends this cookbook.

"GET LOST" -- Isaiah looks at this comic magazine

"Lucille Ball and HERE'S LUCY" -- Stan reads up on the second half of Lucille Ball's life.

"Melody Thomas Scott's Always Young and Restless: M..." -- Ann reviews this autobiography.

"ROCK AND ROLL NIGHTMARES" -- Elaine reviews this book about crime in the music world. 

"ALL THE LEAVES ARE BROWN" -- Kat reviews this book about the Mamas & the Papas.

"SAPIENS: A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMANKIND" -- Mike reviews a science book.




"Split Image: The Life of Anthony Perkins" -- Ann reviews a biography about Anthony Perkins.


 "Andrea Warner's BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE: THE AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY" -- Mike wonders why he bothered to read this book?

"Worst summer read ever is by Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince" and "'the fondas: henry, jane and peter' is a very bad book" -- Marcia and Rebecca review Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince's THE FONDAS: HENRY, JANE AND PETER.


"Cookbooks and Air Fryer Cauliflower in the Kitchen" -- Trina reviews two cookbooks.


"Do not read ENDLESS HIGHWAY at AMAZON" -- Isaiah lays it out for AMAZON's KINDLE. 


 "Naomi Klein's DOPPELGANGER" -- C.I. reviews Naomi Klein's latest book.


 "Demetrius Sherman's BLACK COMIC BOOK HISTORY" -- Isaiah reviews a book about the history of comic books.

"Stefan Kanfer's Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball" -- Marcia reads up on one of her favorite entertainers. 

"Anne Edwards is a waste of time and a killer of trees" -- Elaine reviews Anne Edwards' A REMARKABLE WOMAN: A BIOGRAPHY OF KATHARINE HEPBURN.  

"Howard Zinn's A PEOPLE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES" -- Elaine reviews Howard Zinn's book.

" robert dance - a lousy writer - knows damn little about joan crawford" -- Rebecca reviews a really lousy book about Joan Crawford. 


"REBELS ON THE BACKLOT (Ty)" -- Ty reviews a book by a lousy writer.


"Sam Staggs' FINDING ZZA ZZA: THE GABORS BEHIND THE LEGEND" -- Stan's review of a book on the Gabor sisters.


"Media: MY NAME IS BARBRA, my game is pity party" -- Ava and C.I. review Barbra Streisand's MY NAME IS BARBRA. 






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