Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Truest statement of the week

“My first acts as your next President will be to Close the Border, DRILL, BABY, DRILL, and Free January 6 Hostages being wrongfully imprisoned!” Trump wrote on his misnamed Truth Social website on March 11, 2024.

The imprisoned January 6th insurrectionists are neither “hostages” nor are they, as Trump has called them, “patriots.” All those jailed were tried and convicted in legitimate and independent houses of justice with qualified and non-partisan jurists.

 Patriots do not attack police officers who are doing their job by protecting human life and property under their charge. Patriots do not wedge and smash police officers between doors. Patriots do not attempt to gauge out the eyes of the people who honorably serve to maintain law and order.


Patriots do not shout racist and antisemitic rants, call for the hanging of the Vice President of the United States, call for the murder of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, or attempt to intimidate and injure elected officials and their staff.

Patriots do not defecate on the floors and walls of the national Capitol, the people’s house.

Hostages are generally innocent bystanders who happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time as opposed to insurrectionists whose intent is to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.

==  Donald Trump’s nationalism puts the world in grave danger. What this country needs is a patriot.


Truest statement of the week II

Do they not teach math in Oklahoma?  No, three on one is not mutual combat.  One on one is mutual combat.  Three on one is an attack.

It has been appalling to watch this case and see adults try to minimize the bullying that led a child to take their own life.


-- Marcia, "3 people ganging up on one is an attack, not 'mutual combat'" (SICKOFITRADLZ). 



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.













 Repost from THE COMMON ILLS:

Iraq snapshot

Monday, March 25, 2024.  Protests, outrage and activism continues to grow as the assault on Gaza continues.

As the assault on Gaza continues, more protests and actions take place in response.  Maya Pontone and Rhea Nayyar (HYPERALLERGIC) report:

Protests and actions have taken place around the world.  JTA notes:

The University of Turin is suspending a collaboration agreement with Israeli universities and research institutes after a wave of student protests over the Israel-Hamas war.

The school’s academic senate voted on Wednesday to ban participation in an initiative financing joint research projects between Italy and Israel, while rejecting calls for a broader cessation of ties with Israeli universities.

The decision has raised concerns among Italian Jewish leaders even after the university’s rector emphasized that collaboration currently in place would continue.

Des Moines' KCCI notes, "People in Des Moines are calling for an end to the violence in Gaza in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.  On Saturday, the Catholic Peace Ministry organized a rally outside the Polk County Democratic Party's convention at Lincoln High School." RTL explains, "After more than five months of war in Palestine, Luxembourg City saw another round of protests on Saturday. Between 200 and 300 protestors gathered in a demonstration organised by the Committee for Fair Peace in the Middle East (CPJPO). The protestors demand an immediate and sustainable ceasefire, an end to the Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank, and the release of all hostages." ANADOLU AJANSI adds, "Israel's attacks on Gaza were again protested in marches Saturday in Vienna, Berlin and Dublin."  CTV reports, "Two of Quebec's largest unions joined a demonstration in downtown Montreal in the snow on Saturday in support of the Palestinian people.  The march was largely focused on a demand for an Israeli ceasefire in Gaza."  Anthony Segaert (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD) reports:

Police have arrested 19 people after they gathered at Sydney’s Port Botany to protest the arrival of an Israeli cargo ship they accused of transporting weapons and supplies for the country.

Hundreds of protesters, joined by federal Greens senator and deputy leader Mehreen Faruqi, began protesting close to the facility on Sunday evening before marching across Penrhyn Road, the main access point out of the city’s port facility.

Hundreds of people, including members of dozens of faith communities, walked 22 miles from Berkeley to Alameda on Saturday to advocate for a cease-fire in Gaza.

The 22-mile journey was intended to mirror the distance that those fleeing Gaza must travel to reach the Rafah crossing, where more than half of Gaza’s population has taken refuge, according to the Associated Press. The East Bay demonstration was one of more than 150 planned across cities in 19 countries in recent weeks, according to the Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage, an organization connecting churches and other faith groups to organize the demonstrations.

In addition to a cease-fire, the protesters are calling for the immediate release of all hostages, the flow of food, water, aid, fuel and humanitarian assistance, and the end of the Israeli occupation of Gaza.

 More and more people speak out.  Saturday, Philip Dewey (WALES ONLINE) reported:

Charlotte Church performed as part of a group singing in support of Gaza at Barry Island Promenade. The Welsh singer has lent her voice to a number of pro Palestine causes, calling for an immediate ceasefire on the Gaza Strip.

The Big Sing for Gaza event took place on Saturday at the popular tourist attraction, with fundraised for the Middle East Children's Alliance. Church led a choir on the promenade, singing "Let Gaza live", with the event also including kite flying, sand art and floral tributes.

Speaking at the event, Church said: "It's been a beautiful event, I feel very passionate about whatever I can to raise my voice to call for a ceasefire and to call to end the occupation of Palestine. What we're seeing happen in Palestine, what we're seeing happen to civilians, to children to babies, to birthing mothers, it's unbearable, it's unbearable to witness and I just (feel) like I have to do whatever I can as one small human to be with these other wonderful humans whose hearts are breaking over what is happened and what they are seeing, and what's being allowed to happen.

"Our government is complicit, America's government is complicit, and other world governments who are complicit in this and are still sending money and weapons to Israel. As a mother it's just too much, it needs to stop, it needs to end. I'll keep coming out until it does. Not just a ceasefire but an end to the occupation. Palestine has been under an apartheid system and a military occupation in Gaza since the 60s, and a really violent military occupation.

VATICAN NEWS reports that Cardinal Gianbattista Pizzaballa has termed the Gaza situation "objectively intolerable" and "Everyone -- religious, political, and social communities -- must do everything possible to put an end this situation."  AP notes U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has called it a "moral outage."  Former UK Prime Minister David Miliband, International Rescue Committee president,  terms it "a failure of humanity" -- see video below.

And AOC started the weekend calling it "an unfolding genocide."  Lauren Aratani (GUARDIAN) reports:

Progressive US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the Israeli military campaign in Gaza an “unfolding genocide” in a scathing speech that demanded the Joe Biden White House suspend aid to Israel’s armed forces.

“As we speak, in this moment, 1.1 million innocents in Gaza are at famine’s door,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a speech on the House floor on Friday.

Citing 30,000 Palestinian deaths in Gaza and noting 70% were women and children, she continued: “A famine … is being intentionally precipitated through the blocking of food and global humanitarian assistance by leaders in the Israeli government. This is a mass starvation of people, engineered and orchestrated.

“This was all accomplished – much of this was accomplished – with US resources and weapons. If you want to know what an unfolding genocide looks like, open your eyes.”

Friday marked the first time the congresswoman has publicly called the ongoing violence in Gaza ― where more than 30,000 people have been killed by Israeli forces ― a genocide. Of those deaths, more than 25,000 have been women and children, killed in an offensive launched in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel."  She continued speaking out as the weekend ended.  Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

  U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday reiterated her description of the Israeli military's actions in Gaza as a "forced famine" and pushed back on the Netanyahu government's claim that it is targeting militants who carried out the October 7 attack.

"There is no targeting of Hamas in precipitating a mass famine of a million people, half of whom are children," Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told CNN's Jake Tapper just two days after she delivered a floor speech characterizing conditions on the ground in Gaza as "an unfolding genocide."

The New York Democrat said Sunday that she believes the Israeli government's conduct in Gaza—from obstructing aid shipments to bombing densely populated areas—"have crossed the threshold of intent," a necessary condition of genocide.

"It is horrific," she said, noting that the even U.S. State Department has admitted the Israeli government is intentionally stonewalling aid deliveries, fueling starvation across the territory.

Asked to respond to the Israeli government's claim that the war would end within a day if Hamas released all the remaining hostages and dropped its arms, Ocasio-Cortez said, "The actions of Hamas should not be tied to whether a three-year-old can eat."

"The actions of Hamas do not justify forcing thousands, hundreds of thousands of people to eat grass as their bodies consume themselves," she continued. "The Israeli government has a right to go after Hamas, but we are talking about a population of millions of innocent Palestinians. We are talking about collective punishment." 

AOC appeared Sunday on CNN.  What gets covered and what doesn't get covered matters.  Jessica Cobertt (COMMON DREAMS) reports on footage most outlets have not shown:

  Adding to the mountain of evidence that Israel is engaged in a genocidal war on the Gaza Strip, Al Jazeera on Thursday aired footage of what the news outlet reported was an Israeli drone targeting four Palestinians in Khan Younis last month.

Those killed by the unmanned aerial vehicle in the rubble of the southern Gaza city appear to be unarmed teenagers or young men. According to a translation of the coverage, they were not identified in the reporting.

While Al Jazeera deemed footage "too graphic" to be included on its daily live blog covering the war, a clip of it quickly spread on social media, where critics of the Israel Defense Forces operation expressed outrage.

"OUTRAGEOUS even after months of outrages," declared Palestinian American political analyst Yousef Munayyer. "This video shows an Israeli military drone literally stalking four unarmed civilians posing no threat and eliminating them one after the other!!!"

Tariq Kenney-Shawa, Al-Shabaka's U.S. policy fellow, said: "This is among the worst footage I've seen. Not only were these boys clearly unarmed and present no threat whatsoever, but they were struck multiple times even after stumbling/crawling away. There is no way they could have been considered combatants. This is unreal." 

Also on the media, Robin Andersen (FAIR) looks at the way the media covered The Flour Massacre:

Over 100 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more wounded on February 29, when Israeli snipers opened fire on people approaching a convoy of trucks carrying desperately needed supplies of flour. The attack was quickly dubbed the flour massacre.

Corporate media reporting was contentious and confused, mired in accusations and conflicting details that filled the news hole, even as media downplayed the grave conditions in Gaza created by Israel’s engineered famine. With headlines layered in verbal opacity, the massacre prompted yet another egregious moment in media’s facilitation of Israel’s continuing genocide in Gaza.

Linguistic gymnastics

NYT: As Hungry Gazans Crowd a Convoy, a Crush of Bodies, Israeli Gunshots and a Deadly Toll

This New York Times headline (2/29/24) was described as “a haiku to avoid saying Israel massacres Palestinians that they’re deliberately starving in Gaza.”

On the day of the massacre, the New York Times (2/29/24) published this contrivance:

“As Hungry Gazans Crowd a Convoy, a Crush of Bodies, Israeli Gunshots and a Deadly Toll”

It was met with ridicule as it slid across online platforms. Assal Rad (Twitter, 3/1/24), author and research director at the Iranian American Council, called the piece of work “a haiku to avoid saying Israel massacres Palestinians that they’re deliberately starving in Gaza.”

Another Times headline (2/29/24) read, “Deaths of Gazans Hungry for Food Prompt Fresh Calls for Ceasefire.” Nima Shirazi, co-host of the podcast Citations Needed  (Twitter, 3/1/24), noted that “the New York Times just can’t bring itself to write clear headlines when Israeli war crimes are involved.” Shirazi offered this revision: “Israel Slaughters Starving People as It Continues Committing Genocide.”

Professor Jason Hickel (Twitter, 2/29/24), along with Mint Press‘s Alan MacLeod (2/29/24), flagged the use of the neologism “food aid–related deaths” when it turned up in a Guardian headline (2/29/24): “Biden Says Gaza Food Aid–Related Deaths Complicate Ceasefire Talks.” MacLeod noted, “Virtually the entire Western media pretend they don’t know who just carried out a massacre of 100+ starving civilians.”

Linguistic gymnastics—a longstanding plague pervading Western media coverage of Palestine (FAIR.org, 8/22/23)—were so popular in news headlines and reporting that Caitlin Johnstone (Consortium News, 3/1/24) compiled a list of them, adding  “chaotic incident” (CNN, 2/29/24) and “chaotic aid delivery turns deadly” (Washington Post, 2/29/24) to those already mentioned.

Sana Saeed, media critic for Al Jazeera, decoded the latter kind of construction for AJ+ (3/29/24), arguing that such passive language has been used “consistently to sanitize the violence that a powerful state is unleashing against civilian populations.”

As the genocide enters its sixth month, media analysts, investigative reporters and social media users have become adept at recognizing pro-Israeli contortions and patterns of language that justify Israel’s war on Gaza. This has become an essential aspect in exposing Israel’s genocide.

Gaza remains under assault. Day 171 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse." ALJAZEERA notes, "The number of people killed in Israel’s war on Gaza has increased to 32,333, according to the Health Ministry in the enclave.  At least 74,694 people have also been wounded by Israeli attacks in Gaza since October 7." Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:

And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War." 

Al-Shifa Hospital has been under attack by Israeli forces for a week now.  Sunday, the assault increased a as two more hospitals came under attack. Lauren Izso, Abeer Salman and Tim Lister (CNN) report:


Israeli forces have surrounded two more hospitals in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said, describing intense shelling and heavy gunfire.

Months into the conflict, fighting is still raging across Gaza, despite international pressure on Israel and ongoing efforts for a ceasefire and hostage deal.

The PRCS said Sunday that Al-Amal Hospital and Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza were both encircled.

“All our teams are in extreme danger at the moment and are unable to move at all. They are also unable to bury the body of our colleague Amir Abu Aisha inside the hospital courtyard.”     

THE NEW ARAB notes, "The UN humanitarian office OCHA said 'health workers have been among those reported arrested and detained'."  Australia's ABC adds, "The reported hospital battles came as the head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) said that Israel had informed the UN that it will no longer approve UNRWA food convoys to the north of Gaza."   

 We'll wind down with this from Nesrine Malik (GUARDIAN):

 Now imagine an act of aggression that had no such universal, full-throated condemnation, no pledges of large aid packages and no support or schemes for refugees. In fact, imagine one where the aid and military support is being provided, but it is to the party that is killing civilians and invading their territory. How much harder is it then, to maintain that sense of urgency and outrage? To keep it in the headlines? To keep the pressure up on politicians? To keep it even alive in your heart? It has been almost six months since Israel launched its assault in Gaza. But even as the images of dead children buried in rubble give way to those of dead children emaciated from hunger, there is an unmistakable sense of fade.

Some of that fade is by design. Why would a matter that raises awkward questions for politicians be kept in the spotlight by those same politicians who have either supported Israel’s actions or dragged their feet in condemning them. The result is not just avoidance, but dilution. The scale of the crisis in Gaza is not brought to us from the lecterns of the US president or his spokespeople, the sort of representatives who (still, jarringly) speak about Russian war crimes and how they must not be tolerated or normalised. On the first anniversary of the Ukraine invasion, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, addressed the United Nations security council and said: “Day after day of Russia’s atrocities, it’s easy to become numb to the horror, to lose our ability to feel shock and outrage. But we can never let the crimes Russia is committing become our new normal. Bucha is not normal. Mariupol is not normal. Irpin is not normal. Bombing schools and hospitals and apartment buildings to rubble is not normal.”

Gaza is not normal, but you won’t hear Blinken pleading that you not become desensitised to it. Instead it will come from human rights organisations, experts, reporters and aid workers who warn that what amounts to “utter annihilation” is not only exceptional, it is beyond description. But their collective efforts, admirable and credible as they are, catch in a bottleneck when they reach the powers that can do anything about them.

So the fact that the assault on Gaza has resulted in the “biggest cohort of paediatric amputees in history”, or that if things remain as they are, Gaza will fall to “the most intense famine since the second world war”, will not be acted upon by supporters and underwriters – both practical and moral – of Israel’s offensive, beyond what are increasingly farcical requests that the Israeli government behave more reasonably. The volume at which such historic horrors are amplified is always artificially set to one that is much quieter than it should be – which at this point, is nothing short of at maximum.

That silencing also smothers and makes harder the work of those members of the general public who have, for months now, through protest and campaigning, tried to keep that volume as high as it can be; to simply state that this is not normal. But not only is their message being ignored, it is being actively suppressed through attempts to ban protest altogether, or imply relentlessly that it is about something else – anything else, rather than anger and worry about the fate of those in Gaza. An almost eerie outcome is that as hundreds of thousands pound the streets around the world on a weekly basis and tell their representatives how they feel, their voices are muted, or others speak for them; they become ventriloquist dummies for politicians who present them as parodies of threat and menace

Then there is just the fatigue. Fatigue from anger, from being given the run around by politicians, from exposure to events that no human can witness for an extended period of time without some sort of numbing, self-defence impulse kicking in. A double whammy burnout that comes from exposure to scenes and statements, casually posted by Israeli officials or sourced from their own cameras, of unarmed civilians being killed by drone missiles – but also the silence about them from official parties, even as the footage tears through WhatsApp messages and social media timelines. The problem when unheard-of things happen, is that once they do, they are then heard of.

The following sites updated:

TV: X-MEN '97

As PARAMOUNT+'s FRAISER demonstrates repeatedly, reboots aren't easy.

Having an easier time is DISNEY+'s X-MEN 97.  Call it a reboot or a continuation, but the animated series picks up where X-MEN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (1992 to 1997) left off. Or pretends to.  Professor X is presumed dead, Scott and Jean (or a clone?) are married and expecting a child and all the voice actors are pretty much back.




Except Catherine Disher.  She voiced Jean in the original.  For whatever reason, she's not coming back.  Why?  No one knows but much is made of the fact that Alyson Court did not return as Jubilee so that the Asian-American character can be voiced by an Asian-American actress (Holly Chou). 

The reality is that every single one of the voice actors should have been recast. 

It would have been great, for example, to have American accents for American characters.  Instead, the reboot is done on the cheap the same way the original series was and it's voiced largely by Canadian actors so you get "evolution" pronounced eve-o-lew-shun instead of ehv-o-lew-shun.  During the 1992 to 1997 run, that might not have mattered much.  Children are generally more accepting of flaws and into the story.  But X-Men are now much, much bigger than they were then.

As the 70s were winding down and the 80s beginning, the X-Men were Marvel's biggest attention getters when it came to the physical comic books.  In the fall of 1989, a 30-minute pilot X-MEN: PRYDE OF THE X_MEN began their run as Saturday cartoons.  After X-MEN: THE ANIMATED SERIES ended production in 1997, it was followed (in 2000) by X-MEN: EVOLUTION (which ran for four seasons), WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN followed (for one season) in 2009, and then one season of an anime series entitled X-MEN (2011).  There were also three video games.  However, the biggest impact that X-Men have had since conquering Saturday cartoons was the film series that began in 2000 and has resulted in 13 films so far (the fourteenth, DEADPOOL & WOLVERINE, is set to be released this summer).  Point being, we've had many actors play Storm, Jean, Rogue, Scott and Wolverine.  

The reboot also carries over some visuals.  For example, especially in the first episode, they tried to re-create the color scheme and a similar drawing scene in many.  By the second episode, especially with events taking place at the United Nations, that effort was largely  dropped.  It should be dropped.  30 years after an animated series first started, you don't bring it back with new episodes and ignore the technological advancements that have taken place.

Not only that, but it's also true that to ignore these advances is antithetical to what The X-Men stand for and have always stood for which is advancement and progress.

If you've missed it, the usual cry babies are having a fit and insisting MARVEL, DISNEY and their Aunt Fannie have yet again injected  'woke!' to a little John Wayne village where the steers and queers were kept out of sight, the only people of color were the Native Americans that John would mow down and the women folk were absent or knew their place -- you know, that fantasy world created by oppressors and embraced off screen by physical weaklings who identified with the oppressors because that was easier than admitting that they were drones themselves, the enslaved, the proletariat -- call it whatever you want, the reality is that they were those with no real power or agency who were identifying with their own oppressors.


You have to wonder how that mind-set ever got hooked up with a MARVEL character to begin with.  Stan Lee's characters were never the Nietzschean Superman, they were instead the targeted, the scape goated.  


The ones who were different.


And that's especially true with regards to The X-Men.  A mutant gene created an advance, a progression, which is why The X-Men should never strive for retro -- it goes against their very origin.  


That origin also includes that they are "hunted and despised."

These elements are in the spine of the story and predate the latest cartoon series.


Somehow, butt-hurt conservative cry babies miss that reality.  They miss out on a lot.

People sometimes see things that just aren't there. For example, billionaire Nelson Peltz is convinced DISNEY is churning out all these all-female cast films and all-African-American cast films. As Elaine points out, that's just not reality. Apparently, Peltz is still outraged over the 1967 all-Black cast of HELLO DOLLY (headed by Pearl Bailey) that was a big success touring the country as well as on Broadway.  The self-deluded need to stop pretending they're truth tellers. 





MADAME WEB -- The Autopsy (Stan, Ava and C.I.)

When a studio has a lot to answer for, what do they do?  Rush to blame everyone else.  Which is why SONY has been on a whisper-campaign to the press about Dakota Johnson and how she supposedly tanked MADAME WEB.  


The reality is that were it not for Dakota -- and her Valentine's Day fan base -- MADAME WEB would have truly bombed.  As it is, the film managed to sell more tickets ($97.6 million) than it cost to shoot the film ($80 million).  (Ticket income is split with the theaters on a sliding scale -- we are not saying the studio is getting $97.3 million from the ticket sales.)

As we dissect the corpse, blood and spoilers will be spilled -- you have been warned.

Dakota Johnson stars in the film and she has three co-stars Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced and  Celeste O'Connor.  The three co-stars play teenagers.  Dakota plays an adult.  There are no quibbles with the acting.  

But let's start with the writing.  Why can't SONY write adult female characters?

In 2016, SONY launched a GHOSTBUSTERS which was embarrassing.  Men had led the cast of two GHOSTBUSTERS in the 80s.  And Bill Murray got to get hot and heavy with Sigorney Weaver and Dan Ackroyd got a blow job from a ghost.  Nearly four decades later, it was professional virgin time for the four female leads who were in their 30s and 40s. Chaste little, stunted girls posing as women -- that's what SONY offered. 

Dakota Johnson's character is in her thirties.  There's no boyfriend, there's no girlfriend, there's no spouse.  No reference to one ever existing.  No hook ups at all.  How is this realistic?  It's Dakota Johnson.

It's not realistic at all.  

And when it's a man -- or even just a teenage boy -- the superhero films clobber you over the head with love interests and attractions (Peter Parker's girlfriend, SHAZAM's 16-year-old Captain Marvel's perverse attraction to Wonder Woman).  


Let's move to three teenage girls.


They are going to become Spider-Women.  The film's villain (Tahar Rahim) can see into the future and he sees that they will destroy him in the future so -- shades of the 'moral' dilemma of do-you-kill-Baby-Hitler -- he decides to kill them while they're still children. 

They go through the whole movie as teenage girls with no super powers.  At the end, they still aren't Spider-Women.

Exactly what is there for an audience to applaud?

Dakota Johnson's character?

Madame Web in the comic books is blind and paraplegic. Her power is visions.  It's a passive power.  Remember how they had to have Phoebe train to fight on CHARMED -- because visions alone were too damn passive for an action heroine.  

Dakota's character starts out with the ability to see and walk.  Her character is a paramedic as the film starts.  She begins to develop her 'powers.'  Passive visions.  At the film's climax, to save the three young girls, she harnesses a power she was told she had but has yet to use -- the ability to splinter into other selves.  She does this with three additional bodies -- one to save each of the girls.  

And the villain attacks her.  

After she's out of the hospital, we see her paralyzed and blind -- about to eat Chinese.


Hey, we love Dim sum as much as the next person but it's no reason to stand up and cheer as the final scene in a movie.


This isn't a feature film, it's a pilot for a TV show.  In fact, it's BIRDS OF PREY without Huntress and Black Canary.   And here's the thing there, SONY, fans were outraged when Barbara Gordon (the original Batgirl) was raped by Joker.  But they were also outraged that Batgirl was left paralyzed from the assault.  Many comic fans have noted that this never happens to a male superhero.  

Dakota's playing Oracle (Barbara Gordon's post-Batgirl superhero).  And, like Oracle guides Huntress and Black Canary, the future indicated at the end of MADAME WEB is that Madame Web will now guide the Spider-Women.  

This was never going to be a blockbuster.

It's not a movie.  It's a pilot for a TV show, it's the first 30 or so minutes of a real film but, despite a running time of 116 minutes, it's not a movie -- certainly not a superhero movie where audiences expect a lot of action, a lot of fighting and a lot onscreen that they can cheer.





Book Talk (Mike, 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  Mike about his "THE FIVE-INGREDIENT COOKBOOK FOR MEN." Mike's mom is Trina and her website is TRINA'S KITCHEN.  So tell us about the book.

Mike: Sure. Benjamin Kelly is the author,  THE FIVE-INGREDIENT COOKBOOK FOR MEN is the title.  I read it on KINDLE UNLIMITED.  The goal of the book is to teach cooking to men who are new to cooking.  And it's a failure.

You detail that in your review.  You note, among other things, that ingredients are not basics that the average novice male cook is going to know.

Mike: Right.  An example?  A recipe calls for two tablespoons of sambal oelek.  There is no explanation of what that is.  It's an Indonesian sauce/paste.  But reading the recipe, it's something most American men are not going to have ever heard of and without even knowing it's a sauce, they're not going to know how to find it at the grocery store.  Over and over, things like that pop up that are just going to give a guy uncomfortable with or wary of cooking an excuse to put the book down.

So the book's failure?

Mike: I'd say so.  He does something good early on in the intro.  He noted that telling a male who doesn't cook to use a medium onion is self-defeating.  Instead, say an onion the size of a baseball or an onion the size of a softball for a large onion.  And you think he's going to carry that through.  He does.  Only with onions.  He never seems to come across another way to illustrate something for males not familiar with cooking.  

And the recipes?

Mike: Out of all the recipes in the book, only the one for hamburger soup and that would interest men because it was a way to use leftover hamburger patties.  The rest of it?  Porridge?  Who the hell wants porridge?



Previous book discussions:


"Book Talk (Stan, Rebecca, Ava and C.I.)"

"Book Talk (Mike, Ava and C.I.)"

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




Cranky Carville

The Elderly Gollum inhabiting the body of 79-year-old James Carville felt the need to scream more than just "You kids get off my lawn!"  Making nice with Maureen Dowd -- because he apparently believes it is 1992 yet again -- Carville railed against "preachy females."  To make sure no one thought he was referring to his nearly a decade younger wife, Carville added "in the Democratic Party."  

These women, he insists, are destroying the party.  

Strange because most people see his own triangulation with Clinton and Gore in 1992 as the actual moment of destruction for the party of FDR.  

Cranky Carville insisted that these ''preachy females" were ordering people around, "Don't drink beer.  Don't watch football.  Don't eat hamburgers.  This is  not good for you.  The message is too feminine: Everything you're doing is destroying the planet.  You've got to eat your peas."

Other than establishing that he is overdue for a mental health screening, Carville might have possibly made clear how much he hated his mother Lucille.  He did not make clear how any of his psychotic statements had anything to do with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  

AOC watched the Superbowl so she's not saying, "Don't watch football."  Nor has she ever instructed Carville on what not to eat (hamburgers) or what to eat (peas).  Like most of us, she might encourage him to drink more beer so that he and his sloshed, wet brain can bow out of life a little quicker (just don't great-grandpa Carville drive).  

"Everything you're doing is destroying the planet."

That's Carville for you.  We're living with the effects of climate change and if we don't address this issue, it's only going to get worse but, to Cranky Carville, it's all just "too feminine."

Maybe the man whose sole contribution to our political discourse was coining the term "bimbo eruption" to cover for the sexist way Bill Clinton interacted with women isn't the voice we need to hear from -- now or ever.

Mainly what you're hearing is James Carville's slow realization that, when he dies, no one is going to miss him.


2024 passings





"bad news (settlers shot a child in the back and adan canto has died)" -- Rebecca covers the passing of THE CLEANING LADY and DESIGNATED SURVIVOR star.


 "David Soul and Glynis Johns have passed" -- two passings -- one you knew from STARSKY & HUTCH, the other you knew from MARY POPPINS.

"Mary Weiss, The Leader of the Genre?" -- Elaine notes the passing of the leader of The Shangri-Las. 

"The death of Norman Jewison and the death of Taraji P. Henson's career" -- Stan notes the passing of film director Norman Jewison.


 "Melanie: Queen of the Music festivals ," "Thank you to Melanie (Jess)," "Jon Stewart to return to the desk," "Melanie, REACHER, young voters," "When are they going to arrest Kari Lake?," "We lose Melanie and Dexter King but are still stuck with Jonathan Turley?," "my top five melanie albums," "Ugly Chaya Chachi Ratchik," "Where's Florida's "Don't Say Southern Baptist" law?," and "Melanie, Mary Weiss, Green Day" -- remembering singer-songwriter Melanie.

"Norman Jewison and Melanie" -- Ruth notes Melanie and Norman Jewison's passing. 

"Chita Rivera" -- a trailblazer's life is noted by Elaine.  

"Carl Weathers" -- Stan covers the actor and the athlete's passing.


"Richard Lewis" --  Ruth notes the passing of a stand up comic and actor.


 "Eric Carmen" -- Kat notes the passing of a singer-songwriter.





Hate Merchants




This is a list of people who attack the LGBTQ+ community.  They're hate merchants and should be avoided at all costs.

1) Marjorie Taylor Green

2) Ron DeSantis

3) Lauren Boebert

4) Anthony Monteiro

5) J.K. Rowling

6) Kristi Noem

7) Kim Reynolds

8) Marco Rubio

9) Rand Paul

10) Tucker Carlson

11) Greg Abbott

12) Ron Johnson

13) Todd Aiken

14) Doug Lamborn

15) Dan Burton

16) Candace Cameron

17) Kirk Cameron

18) Jonathan Turley

19) Tulsi Gabbard

20) John Stauber 

21) Kid Rock

22) Matt Taibbi 

23) Riley Gaines

24) Anya Parampil

25) Matt Walsh

26) Abigail Shrier

27) (Butt Ugly) Moms For Liberty (aka Moms For Bigotry)

28) Tiffany Justice

29) Tina Descovich

 30) Bridget Ziegler

 31) Megyn Kelly

32) Ana Kasparian

  33) Ben Burgis

 34) Jesse Singal

 35) RFK Junior

36) 'Dr' Naomi Wolf

37) Bari Weiss

38) Jesse Singal

39) Katie Herzog

40) Jamie Reed


42) Dax Shepherd

43) Victoria Jackson

44) Dave Chappelle

45) Alice Cooper

46) Da Baby

47) Kim Burrell

48) Donnie McClurkin

49) Azealia Banks

50) Matthew Yglesias

51)  Andrew Sullivan

52) Helen Lewis

53) Meghan Daum

54) Caitlyn Jenner

55) Mike Johnson

56) Ryan Walters (Oklahoma's Superintendent of Public Instruction)

57) Chaya Raichik

58)  Seyi Omooba

59) Pastor Tommy McMurtry 

60) Ugandan MP Sarah Achieng Opendi 

61) Marjorie Taylor Greene 

620 Governor Bill Lee




Illustration is Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY "Bigot Becky Barks."





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" -- Marcia reviews a puff piece bio.


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


4) "Container Gardening (book review), Idiot of the Week, and Kylie Minogue performed at the Brit Awards" -- Mike covers a book on container gardening. 

5) "Type II Diabetes (books)" -- Stan reviews four books on diabetes.

6) "faye dunaway" -- Rebecca reviews a biography of Faye Dunaway.  


7)  "THE FIVE-INGREDIENT COOKBOOK FOR MEN" -- Mike reviews a cookbook. 




Tweet of the week (political)


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