Tuesday, February 27, 2024

TV: Lorne Michaels tries to shift the overton window

Where was the Trump clan reject?  That was our question in the lead up to this past weekend and since.  Remember her?  The ruler on comedy.  The saggy mess that trashed Jon Stewart.  (If you don't remember her, see "Media: It's The Stupidity, Stupid" from last week.) Comedic Czar Trump didn't even bother to Tweet about it, did she?


About what?  Let's note the climate we're living in -- a climate that Donald Trump's supporters have created.where state senators feel they can call LGBTQ+ people "filth."

This, sadly, is not an anomaly.  And Trump Comedy Czar felt she could attack Jon Stewart for a joke about how old both Donald Trump and Joe Biden are.  She felt this was 'bothsidism.'

No, you stupid idiot -- and those of you who supported her -- that's not the problem.

We saw the problem on Saturday when SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE elected to bring on Shane Gillis as the host.  



For those who don't know, the minor comic was supposed to be part of the 2019 cast because elderly idiot Lorne Michaels (he turns 80 this year) thought Gillis was hilarious.  But following the announcement, multiple examples of Gillis' racism, sexism and homophobia turned up in the press and old man Lorne was forced to drop Gillis from the cast and declare his 'jokes' to be "offensive, hurtful and unacceptable.”

Did Gillis learn from it?  No, he got even more hateful.  

Somehow, in senile Lorne's mind, continuing to be "offensive, hurtful and unacceptable"  made him the go-to for a host.

Do you get how offensive that is?

If you don't, maybe your a member of the Trump family.

This is passed off as 'bothsideism.'  It's not.

Bringing on a racist (homophobe, sexist) is not the same as a Democrat or a Republican.  This is hate merchant.  And when Lorne brings on a hate merchant to host, he is normalizing hatred and encouraging violence.  This is outrageous.  

Gillis bombed in the monologue and in the skits.

No surprise, he's a very limited 'talent.'  

The take away is that, for 80-year-old Lorne, you don't have to be funny.  You just have to be a hate merchant and he'll put you on to give 'the other side' a hearing.  

This is the 'bothsideism' you call out.

The KKK do not get to host a program so that we can hear 'both sides.'  Allowing a hate merchant like Gillis to come on does not represent Republicans, it represent hate and fascism. 

Lorne Michael is -- and has been for far too many years -- an embarrassment.  But as he works in his final years to shift the Overton window to include racism and hate in polite conversation, he reaveals how truly craven and disgusting he is.  Remember, this is the man who built up Rudolph William Louis Giuliani before 9/11 -- before 9/11. 

His latest stunt proves that he's far too old to be producing the show.  It also proves something about closet cases but we'll table that for a later date.

Some people ignored this in the lead up for very good reason -- they didn't want to promote it.  We understand that.  In the lead up, a number of us worked on bumping up FOX's game show THE FLOOR which aired against the first 30 minutes of SNL.  

But the reality is that most people just looked the other way because they didn't give a damn.  That's sad and that's disgusting.  The same hate merchants attacking Black History are the same hate merchants attacking reproductive rights and they are the same hate merchants attacking LGBTQ+ people and they are the same hate merchants attacking Asians and Muslims and so many more.  Shame on elderly Lorne Michaels for platforming a hate merchant in order to mainstream violence.

If you're not getting how bad this was and how completely unqualified Shane Gillis was to host, grasp that an opening monlogue should never include this apology, "Look, I don't have any material that can be on TV, all right? I;m trying my best. Also, this place is extremely well-lit. I can see everyone not enjoying it. This is the most nervous I've ever been."  But his did.  
His did.

A note to our readers

Hey --


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?






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

Truest statement of the week

 As I wrote in my Gaza Diary last week, Israel is committing war crimes so brazen & outrageous that no one had even thought of legislating against them. What’s more, almost every act of this war can be independently documented, often in real time. The entire war is a crime.



--  Jeffrey St. Clair, "Roaming Charges: Somewhat Immature" (COUNTERPUNCH). 



Aaron Bushnell


In the US, President Joe Biden still can't come to the aid of the Palestinians.  More and more people   just can't stomach anymore of the killing.  Aaron Bushnell was one such person.

Yesterday reports emerged about the actions Aaron took.   Jordan Freiman (CBS NEWS) reported, "An active-duty U.S. Air Force member is in critical condition after he set himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, officials said. The man set himself on fire around 1 p.m. ET and both the U.S. Secret Service and Metropolitan Police Department responded, the agencies said."  Didi Tang and Michael Balsamo (AP) added, "Law enforcement officials believe the man started a livestream, set his phone down and then doused himself in accelerant and ignited the flames. At one point, he said he 'will no longer be complicit in genocide,' the person said. " And ALJAZEERA noted, "In December, a protester set herself on fire outside the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta. A Palestinian flag was found at the scene, and the act was believed to be one of 'extreme political protest'."  Chad De Guzman (TIME) became the first reporter at a US outlet to name Aaron, "The burn victim, who identified himself in video of the incident as 25-year-old Aaron Bushnell, reportedly succumbed to his injuries on Sunday night, according to independent journalist Talia Jane, who posted on social media that she is in contact with Bushnell’s family and friends." 

MIDDLE EAST EYE has posted the video.  As he walks up to the embassy, he explains what has led to this.  He then pours gasoline on himself and then sets himself on fire.  Here are his final words.

Aaron Bushnell: I am an active duty member of the United States Air Force and I will no longer be complicit in genocide.  I'm about to engage in an extreme act of protest.  But compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers is not extreme at all.  This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal. Free Palestine.  Free Palestine!  Free Palestine! Free Palestine!


Book Talk (Ann, Marcia, Trina, Ava and C.I.)




As we did in 2021 and 2023, we're attempting to again increase book coverage in the community. After a review posts, we try to do a discussion with the reviewer.  This go round, we're talking to  Ann about "J Randy Taraborrelli's awful Beyonce book," Marcia about "Sheila Weller's Carrie Fisher: A Life On The Edge" and Trina about "Sheet Pan Fajita Shrimp in the Kitchen."  Marcia?



Marcia: I wanted us to do this again and I got a lot of e-mails asking if we were going to.  I spoke with Trina who said she'd kick things off for 2024.

Trina: A lot of people didn't want to do this.  Let me clear on that. I read Lisa Grant's SUPER EASY COOKBOOK FOR BEGINNERS: 5-INGREDIENT RECIPES AND ESSENTIAL TECHNIQUES TO GET YOU STARTED.  It's a straight forward book and I can talk about that but with the review, I tried to keep it brief and simple because we thought -- Marcia and I -- that one reason so many in the community were luke warm on another year of books was because it felt like assignments to them. 

Ann: And then Marcia goes next and writes a mammoth book review.

Marcia: I didn't plan on that.  I was reviewing Sheila Weller's Carrie Fisher biography and it's just so damn embarrassing.  It actually reminded me of a book that Ava and C.I. have called out.  IS THAT A GUN IN YOUR POCKET?  The author savaged Elaine May's directing while creating this myth of Jodie Foster as a great director.  Jodie's a great actress.  She is not a great director.  Sorry.  By contrast, Elaine My has created art when directing.  Sheila was just a little fan girl of Carrie Fisher and it got old real quick.

Ann, you had a different reaction -- or are we reading that wrong? -- with the Beyonce book?

Ann: No, you're right.  The bad author thought every event and every step had to go into the book.  Elizabeth Taylor was a child star.  That's why you can focus on her childhood in depth.  There's no point to do that with Beyonce.  And instead of telling her story, it looked like a timeline.  There was never roomto examine the significant moments because everything was treated as spellbinding and amazing and once in a lifetime -- it was just too much damn hype.

You don't recommend the book you read?


Ann: I certainly don't.


Marcia: I never want to read Sheila's bad book again.


Trina: I actually think Lisa Grant's book was interesting to read and would be very helpful to beginning cooks.  She breaks things down clearly and walks you through.  One of the two best beginners cookbooks I've ever read.  And I'm not naming the other because I'll review it when my turn rolls around next.

Okay, thank all of three of you.





We like chocolate.  We like Twinkies.  But we haven't enjoyed what Hostess has served up in the last ten years.  

Back in 2014, "the summer of Twinkie fun," the chocolate version left us underwhelmed.  Then in 2018, they tried a fudge crusted abomination that we still need to brush our tongues to remove the taste.

But now?

Chocolate Lovers Twinkies.


Hostess Chocolate Lovers Twinkie 13.58oz 10ct - image 2 of 11

At last, Hostess has pulled it off.  It's a foamy chocolate cake, soft and tasty,with a chocolate creme center.  This is what a chocolate Twinkie should taste like.  Make a point, if you're a fan of Twinkies, to check this one out.

Book list




1) "J Randy Taraborrelli's awful Beyonce book" -- Ann reviews a book on Beyonce.


2)  "Sheila Weller's Carrie Fisher: A Life On The Edge" -- Marcie reviews a puff piece bio.


3)   "Sheet Pan Fajita Shrimp in the Kitchen" -- Trina reviews a cookbook.






Music: Kat reviews Melissa Manchester's new album


Kat's Korner: Melissa Manchester's back

Kat:  "Whatever it is, it'll keep till the morning.  Haven't we both got better things to do?" Beautiful sentiment right.  Great song.  But when I think of the song, I think of Magic Mountain and my first journey as an aunt.  "Aunt Kat, Aunt Kat, we want to go to Magic Mountain!" But my sister and her husband were working constantly so it was left to the aunt or it wasn't happening.  Going to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk or something similar, no problem.  But Valencia?  

It's not Los Angeles, let's not pretend.  Yeah, it's LA county.  And like most spots in LA county, you might as well toss the maps out the window because they're really not going to help.  Same with advice from friends.  My boyfriend at the time agreed to drive, then bailed and told me, "It's just off Interstate 5." ,Turns out, that's a bit like saying you can get straight to The Golden Gate Bridge via The Castro District.  You can't really, you have to maneuver a great deal, but people will tell you that you can -- and they are wrong.

At some point, you get off I-5 and it's like four or five turns (and I think it used to be more turns back in the day that we're talking about).  It took forever to get there and we left at seven in the morning.  We then did the rides, my niece wanted a t-shirt with Farrah Fawcett on it, my nephew wanted a poster (I think it was The Eagles, he will correct me if I'm wrong), we saw some sort of animatronic puppet show and, again, rode the rides.  We're getting some food at this mammoth complex when my other niece starts crying (when she found out I was doing this review, she said to put that in) and I'm like, "What, what?"  She pulls some nice earrings out of her pant pocket and explains she swiped them.  "S**t!" is my response.  She's wanting to go back and, I'm sorry, we couldn't find our way back if we tried.  And she wouldn't stop crying because we had to return them.  I told them to stay at the table.  Walked around the other side of the food court.  Found a young woman in a Jefferson Starship t-shirt, gave her five dollars and she walked back to the table with me and explained she was in charge of the store and would take the earrings back and everything was fine.  And it was.  My niece stopped crying and a stranger got five bucks and a new pair of earrings. 

Now to address the damage.  Bribe them all not to relate that story to the parents.  And all could be bought but one nephew (I have five kids with me) but then I thought of Maggie.  Friend forever and someone who -- at that point -- had dreamed of doing hair.  She loved fixing our hair in high school.  And she fixed everyone's hair.  And loved it.  Until she started getting paid for it and dealing with people who weren't friends and who thought they could bring in a photo of, say, Raquel Welch and say, "Cut my hair like this" and that they would then look like Raquel.  No.  They looked like exactly the same woman but with a haircut like Raquel had.

This was either while she was getting ready to quit or right after she had and I told my nephew that Maggie would cut the hair on his Sabrina Duncan CHARLIE'S ANGEL doll so that it looked right (the doll did not have the bob Kate Jackson wore on the show but something similar to what she wore in the TV movie).  At last, everyone's going to keep the secret.  By now it's starting to get dark and we need to go.  But I don't know the direct way out.  And anyone carrying five kids through an amusement park knows that it is not a straight shoot with no stops.  

By the time we got to the car, it was no longer getting dark, it was dark.  And we've got five to six hours still to go to get home.  If we can make it to Interstate 5.  One wrong turn after another and I'm getting frustrated but saying we're going the right way.

Then that song comes on and, yes, "I think we can make it."  Melissa Manchester was singing that and we were finally heading in the right direction.  And we were in the car all singing along with Melissa.

You told me you need meNeeding me nowIs something I could useMidnight blue
Wouldn't you giveYour hand to a friend?Maybe it's not the end
And I think we can make itOne more timeIf we try
One more timeFor all the old timesMidnight blue

Someone else is singing it now.  Melissa still.  But also Dolly Parton.

That is the most beautiful duet.  And it's from Melissa Manchester's brand new studio album RE:VIEW.  It's her 25th studio album and she's revisiting some of her favorite songs.  Like her big hit "You Should Hear How She Talks About You."  I should say big pop hit -- the song, written by Dean Pitchford and Tom Snow, made it to number five on BILLBOARD's Hot 100.  Melissa had seven top forty pop hits and placed sixteen songs in the Hot 100.  But she wasn't a pop star.  She, like Anita Baker, was more of an artist for adults, charting the road of love and life, not of crushes and high school.  She had 18 top forty hits on the adult contemporary chart -- seven of which went top ten. 

Clive Davis ran ARISTA when Melissa started recording and his opinion was that her songwriting was good enough for album tracks but that she needed to record songs written by other people in order to have a hit.  Clive's very smart but that was a dumb opinion.  He wanted her to be a pop singer and that was a very limited road for her.  Her voice went beyond what was allowed in most pop songs.   And leaving aside singers like Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin who could not only take a song onto the pop chart but also to adult contemporary, dance  and soul charts, female pop singers did not have long careers as hitmakers.  As the seventies wound down, it was noted that Olivia Newton-John was one of the few female singers to have a hit pop song each year -- that would end in the 80s with "Soul Kiss" ("The Rumour" would go top forty in 1988 but even if 1985's "Soul Kiss" stayed on the chart for one week or more in 1986, she had no song in the top forty during the year of 1987).

Not only was Clive overestimating the career of a female pop star, he also underestimated Melissa's songwriting chops.  She co-wrote "Midnight Blue" with Carole Bayer Sager and it went to number one on the adult contemporary chart.

RE:VIEW finds Melissa exploring her discography and finding new meaning.  And listeners should love it.  "Just Too Many People" was an adult contemporary hit in in 1975 making it all the way to number two and it made it to number thirty on the pop top forty.  I'm sorry, I do not recall that song from back then.  I first heard it a few weeks back when C.I. posted Melissa's new version of it here at THE COMMON ILLS.

And I thought it was a great song, could tell by the way she sang it that she wrote it or co-wrote it (she co-wrote it with Vini Poncia).  Was not aware it was a song from the seventies or that Melissa was re-exploring her catalogue.  The song is perfect for today and that's probably one of the reasons she elected to redo it.

But this album should not just be about Melissa reconsidering her own work.  It should be about listeners, critics and the industry reconsidering Melissa.

She's an amazing singer.  She was and she still is.  She got her musical start as a backup singer and backup singers rarely have success when moving to the front of the stage.  Sheryl Crow managed it, PP Arnold managed it (in England) . . .  Probably the most famous example is Cher who started out singing backup on the Ronettes' "Be My Baby," on Darlene Love's "Christmas Baby Please Come Home," on Darlene Love's "A Fine Fine Boy," on the Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron" and on the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'."  The skill required to sing back up can't often derail the ability to sing upfront and hold the audience's attention.  So Melissa going from backing up Bette Midler to a successful solo artist was not a sure thing.  But her talent was so immense that she pulled it off.  Both as a singer-songwriter and also as an interpreter of songs written by others.  On RE:VIEW, she revisits her hit song "Don't Cry Out Loud" written by Peter Allen and Carole Bayer Sager.

Let's not "baby cried the day the circus came to town"?  I loved the song when it first came out.  But it came back to life for me because of THE COMMON ILLS and Rebecca's SEX AND POLITICS AND SCREEDS AND ATTITUDE.  At those sites, and in real life, they use that phrase repeatedly.  Some outlet drops their coverage of war resisters in November of 2008 to avoid embarrassing Barack Obama -- and to abandon Ivan Brobeck who returned from Canada on election day 2008 to draw attention to the plight of war resisters?  Well didn't that outlet just "baby cried the day the circus came to town."  

And I'd think about that song each time and I wonder what was Melissa doing now.  Why did I have to wonder that.  Cher is finally up for induction in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (she better get inducted this year) and I'm looking at the males also in the running and thinking, "What a sad bunch of nobodies."  Not all of them.  But, a number of them.  And yet they're covered and discussed endlessly.

Why has Melissa Manchester not gotten her flowers?


When C.I. went into the hospital in 2021 and was in and out of consciousness for about a week, she kept muttering about a bad book and then wrote "DUMB BITCHES or SISTERHOOD IS NO EXCUSE FOR PRAISING A BAD BOOK" about Gillian G. Gaar's 'classic' 1992 book -- according to Naomi Wolf, Susan Faludi and others who didn't read the awful book or read it but didn't know one damn thing about music history.  In her review -- her return to the internet after a week of hospitalization -- C.I. ripped that book apart for its racism, its sexism (the author played by men's rules on inclusion, not very feminist) and its many, many never-ending errors.  Here's C.I.:

Song writing is an area that Gillian is particularly ignorant in. In the midst of a (brief) section on the legendary Laura Nyro, she types:

While none of these albums achieved great chart success (though Melissa Manchester's version of "Midnight Blue" from SMILE gave Manchester her first top ten hit) . . .

How stupid do you have to be to type that?

You clearly didn't listen to what you're pretending to be an expert on. Yes, on SMILE, Laura Nyro has a song about midnight and blue. It is not the same song that Melissa took into the top ten. Melissa's song was written by Melissa and Carole Bayer and appeared first on Melissa's January 1975 album MELISSA. Laura's album? SMILE? Released in February so it's hard to see how Melissa could have recorded the song first. If that's not obvious to you, let's note the year as well -- SMILE was released in February of 1976 -- a year and one month after MELISSA was released.

SMILE was Laura's return to recording after a four year absence. No, she wasn't giving songs away during her semi-retirement. Equally true, Laura's song is "Midnite Blue," not "Midnight Blue." Let's include both songs here so there's no further confusion.

This is Laura Nyro's "Midnite Blue" from 1976's SMILE.

This is Melissa Manchester and Carole Bayer's "Midnight Blue" from 1975's MELISSA.

Sorry, Gillian, they are two different songs. Next time trying doing the actual work required to write a book.


And that 1992 'classic' book error was repeated over and over so today you can find multiple books and essays repeating the lie. 

"Midnight Blue" is a classic song and was a big hit and a book by a supposed feminist took the songwriting credit from Melissa (and Carole) and gave it to Laura.

That goes to what a raw deal Melissa Manchester has gotten.  The male critics today have largely ignored her and she couldn't count on a so-called feminist to give her credit for the works she'd done.

Listening to RE:VIEW is a great experience.  I hear a song like "Fire In The Morning" and I can remember it on the radio years ago but hadn't heard it since.  It's a great song and all ten tracks are great songs and great recordings.  Gerald Albright joins her to sing "Just You And I" (another hit she co-wrote with Carole) and she sings "Whenever I Call You Friend" with Kenny Loggins and Dave Koz.  She and Kenny wrote that song which became a top five hit for Kenny and Stevie Nicks in 1978.  But Melissa and Kenny never recorded the song together until now.

"Through The Eyes Of Love," "Come In From The Rain" and "Confide In Me" round out the album and make a strong case for Melissa to finally get her flowers.  She's once again given them to her fans with RE:VIEW.

This edition's playlist

diana cover 2


1) Diana Ross' THANK YOU.


2) Chase Rice's THE ALBUM


3) Adele's 30.  


4) Green Day's  'SAVIORS.'


5) Robbie Williams' XXV.




8) Sting and Shaggy's 44/876.



9) Ben Harper's CALL IT WHAT IT IS.



10)  The Mamas and the Papas' THE PAPAS & THE MAMAS.



8) Mavis Staples' LIVE IN LONDON.

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