The Perils of Being Royal




I have noticed that the British tabloid press has decided that it will be profitable (and fun!) to destroy Meghan Markle for the crime of being an interesting American woman who happens to be married to Prince Harry.

The press are being aided and abetted in this noble endeavor by those inside of the Royal family’s immense staff who wish to make trouble for the newlyweds. While the world burns down all around us, they have decided that this will be the seasonal fun of the English people. They will make humans miserable in order to have their old pecking order back the way it was when Harry was a single man.

Not sure if this is going to work out the way people expect it will. First, they could end up driving the couple out of the country. They could live anywhere, but I’m guessing they will move to California and have a non-traditional life, which is probably what they want to have happen in the first place. I mean, you could live in Malibu, or fucking London, and deal with wonderful weather and mildly amusing people or the hell of the British tabloid press and the shit sandwich that is the way of life they see right now. Grandma isn’t dying any time soon and who wants to live under the batty King Charles when it happens?

Second, they could end up accomplishing nothing because, at the end of the day, Princes William and Harry have a plan in place, and that plan will be to quietly turn the Royal family into something similar to what they have in Scandinavia when their Grandmother and Father are dead. They have no stomach for what was done to their mother which, to me, looks very similar to what’s being done to Meghan. Scores need to be settled, and these two young men have always looked ready to bury some knives in the backs of the people who carried out so many awful schemes against Princess Diana.

Third, this is all bullshit being done to sell “clicks” or papers in a country that is being torn into pieces by Russian trolls, right wing zealots, and actual fucking racist trash. You’d think the press would be more obsessed with what Brexit will do rather than an American princess, but how the hell does that sell anything to anyone?

I have always thought that William and Harry have a pact, and that they will unleash a hellish purge of the people who were behind the demonization of their mother. If those same people are trying to destroy the marriage of the youngest prince, God help them when the funerals are over.

Gaslight




Oh, does this represent what’s happening in America right now? What’s been happening for the last several years? I just thought it was appropriate.

Wolves Hunt Fish




This is remarkable:

In another stunning revelation of wolf behavior from Voyageurs National Park, researchers Thursday announced they have confirmed park wolves hunting for and eating fish out of streams as a regular part of their diet.

The researchers released the first-ever video of wolves eating freshwater fish, and said GPS data shows one pack spent about half their time during several weeks in April and May "hunting" in creeks for spawning suckers and northern pike.

The revelation comes just one week after the News Tribune first reported the same researchers confirming wolves spent weeks on end in blueberry patches, eating blueberries at peak summer ripeness. The same researchers also are the first to document wolves' consuming large numbers of beaver, when the animals are available in summer months, and that wolves will leave deer and moose alone if they can get beaver as meals.

There's some speculation that the wolves focus on beavers — and maybe now on fish — has helped keep the park's moose population stable at the same time moose numbers have crashed across most of their Minnesota range.

The Voyageurs Wolf Project, a collaboration between the University of Minnesota and Voyageurs National Park, has followed GPS-collared wolves from over seven different packs since 2015. The fish revelations were recently published in the journal Mammalian Biology.

Using GPS collars, the team collects location data from wolves every 20 minutes. That data reveals not just wolf behavior but also pack territory boundaries.

Researcher Tom Gable first noticed the wolf-fish interaction in April, 2017, when he hiked to a creek where GPS data showed one of the collared wolves was spending a lot of time. "As I approached the area, I briefly saw a wolf trying to catch a fish before it ran into the woods," Gable said. He then found fish remains and wolf tracks scattered along the creek.

The image above is a trail camera capturing a wolf in the process of stalking and removing a fish from a creek. This is the first time we have acquired scientific proof that wolves take fish out of the water. Up to this point, no other proof existed.

Given all of the work that has been done to study and conserve habitat for wolves, it is without question a major scientific discovery that, in the context of our current disinterest in preserving our planet, renders it tragic in a way. We are watching the slow-motion destruction of the planet and we are entertained by foolishness and the utterly crass. A handful of people remained dedicated to figuring out how the world works and we owe them a huge debt.

Hugh Jackman, Oscar Host




Hugh Jackman was born to host the Oscars. But because Hollywood is terminally stupid, no one realizes that he should be named the permanent host of the ceremony and basically given the whole damned thing outright.

You’re welcome.

Priyanka Chopra




People should be allowed to get married and not have to put up with any of this crap:

Indians on social media are rallying behind Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra after an American website article called her a "scam artist".

The article in The Cut, which has now been taken down, sparked outrage for suggesting that she had trapped US singer Nick Jonas into marrying her to further her career.

Indians, many of whom were earlier disparaging about the wedding, have now jumped to defend her.

Many said the article was racist.

In a way, the piece has marked a turning point in the entire saga of the couple in India - from feeling very much "over it" when it came to wedding updates, there is now a rush to defend Chopra.

Mr. Jonas is marrying up in the world, and let’s leave it at that. There is endemic racism everywhere, and we saw that in relation to what happened with Meagan Markle and with pretty much every other high profile female celebrity who is not white, so why does this have to be restated, over and over again? Leave people the hell alone.

The Awful Things We Write on Twitter




Kevin Hart should be given a chance to apologize for what he wrote on Twitter and then delete those offending “jokes.”

What we have going on here is an effort to hold people accountable for things that happened nearly ten years ago on a platform that was never supposed to be an authoritative archive of insensitive stupid shit.

Hart’s comments (some of which are depicted above) come with date stamps that clearly show that he was playing around in the early days of Twitter with offensive material designed to increase the number of people following him and gain some laughs from people who should have clearly known better. Why there wasn’t anyone around helping Hart clean up his act is beyond comprehension.

But, here’s the thing—you shouldn’t use this terrible material against him in the present day, not unless you give him a chance to atone and clean it up. I watched what happened with James Gunn and I realized what the scam was here. This is how conservative trolls take people down and it’s wrong.

Condemnation for Hart is fine. But give him a chance to make it right.

UPDATE:

He had his chance. Fuck him.

And that’s the end of that. ‘Bye, bitch:

No More Heroes Anymore




The allegations against Neil Degrasse Tyson are disturbing enough to warrant an investigation. This article seems to lay the groundwork for assessing the credibility of the women who have accused him:

“Hi there. I just wanted to reach out [to] say that I BELIEVE YOU about Neil deGrasse Tyson,” Watson wrote on Aug. 23.

On Thursday, Watson’s allegations were made public on a blog called Patheos, which had previously published Amet’s claims, twice. The new story also described a third woman, Katelyn Allers, an astronomy and physics professor at Bucknell University, who said Tyson had grabbed her and reached down the front of her dress to look at her tattoo at a scientific meeting in 2009.

With three women now making allegations on the record, the Patheos article spread far and wide, prompting Fox Broadcasting Company, which produces the show, and National Geographic, which airs it, to announce an official investigation. A spokesperson for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where Tyson has led the Hayden Planetarium for over 20 years, said that it has never received a complaint about him, but was also looking into the allegations. On Saturday, Tyson released a 1,600-word statement on Facebook, confirming many of the details of Watson’s and Allers’ allegations, and apologizing for what he deemed clumsy displays of affection that had been misunderstood.

It’s a powerful article, and this issues deserves the attention it is getting. No one should be excused for their behavior, and celebrity status does not mean you can just wave away accusations like this. So far, Tyson has appeared to be forthcoming and welcoming of scrutiny. What happens next is something that should be carefully appraised and handled like any other case.

I can’t help but feel like there are no heroes anymore, just a lot of flawed people who behaved badly years ago.

Abigail Spanberger is Having None of This




Do not mess with Abigail Spanberger:

The campaign of Democratic challenger Abigail Spanberger announced on Thursday that it had discovered and removed an operative for James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas who had posed as a volunteer and infiltrated its staff.

The operative, who went by the name Monica Nelson, appears to have been Marisa Jorge, a New York-based official who has been previously exposed after embedding with other political campaigns. Justin Jones, Spanberger’s communications director, said that Nelson had been on the campaign as a volunteer for several weeks. She had shown up at the offices with the appearance of being pregnant and said she was bored at home and wanted to help out.

The campaign, which has an estimated 5,500 volunteers, brought her on board.

Jones said that others began to suspect that Nelson was working undercover when she kept peppering junior level staff members with mundane questions about where Spanberger stood on certain policy topics. Those questions appeared designed in a way to get an answer that contradicted Spanberger’s public positions. Nelson has also emailed staffers asking to get some time along with Spanberger, saying, in part, that the candidate, a former CIA agent, was a “role model” because she was “a mother of 3 all while running for political office.”

When they determined that Nelson was actually Jorge—by, among other things, asking her about her nonexistent social media presence—staffers asked her to leave. She did, Jones said. But instead of getting into a car, she walked about a half mile down a busy road and ran swiftly across traffic in order to evade campaign workers who had been walking with her to see where she would go. 

“Dirty tricks like these are the worst part of politics, and this is exactly what Abigail is running to change,” said Dana Bye, Spanberger’s campaign manager. “While others may scrape the bottom of the barrel out of desperation, Abigail and our campaign will remain focused on talking to our neighbors on their doorsteps about the issues that matter to our community—that’s the campaign voters deserve and it’s the campaign that we believe will carry us to victory.”

Spanberger, as you recall, has been down this road before. The dirty tricks that Dave Brat’s supporters have used against her are intolerable. She was the victim of gross negligence on the part of the US Postal Service, which, if you’re using logic, shouldn’t be doing anything political or nefarious to begin with. They released her personal information, without proper redaction, and called it an oopsy mistakey wakey. But, seriously—if you’re working for the Postal Service, why would you try to keep any Republican in office, given what they’ve done to destroy the budgets of all Federal agencies?

Why would anyone tolerate this bullshit? Oh, that’s right. Someone is clinging to power.

Well, Spanberger isn’t having it, and one can only hope that charges can be filed against James O’Keefe and his pathetic supporters.

Megyn Kelly is Racist Trash




Megyn Kelly should be fired for her comments because she is a disaster that continues to happen:

NBC News anchor Megyn Kelly issued an apology Tuesday for her comments earlier in the day questioning why it is considered racist for white people to wear blackface on Halloween.

In an email sent to colleagues released by NBC News, Kelly said she had taken the time to listen to other points of view on the topic.

"I realize now that such behavior is indeed wrong, and I am sorry," Kelly wrote. "The history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep."

In the roundtable segment during the 9:00 Hour on "Megyn Kelly TODAY," which dealt with inappropriate or offensive Halloween costumes, Kelly asked her panelists “what is racist” about white people wearing blackface during Halloween. Kelly went on to say that wearing blackface was considered OK when she was a kid “as long you were dressing up as a character.”

She also defended reality TV star Luann de Lesseps, who darkened her skin for her Diana Ross costume in 2017.

It’s not like we didn’t already know she was racist to begin with:

Jon Stewart blasted Fox News' Megyn Kelly on "The Daily Show" Thursday night, after she had commented Wednesdaythat it was a "verifiable fact" that Santa Claus is white. 

The traditional "War on Christmas" is getting weirder this year, Stewart said. 

Getting to the heart of his criticism, Stewart explained that the historical character on whom Santa is based, St. Nicholas, was born in a part of the world that is now Turkey. Scientists say, based on research commissioned by the Vatican, that he actually has a darker skin pigmentation than his commercial image. 

"My guess is that there'd be no Christmas if he looked like that dude, because he's probably still on the no-fly list," Stewart said. 

Stewart also took on Kelly's assertion that Jesus was white. 

"You do know that Jesus wasn't born in Bethlehem, Penn., right?" he quipped.

To be fair, Jon Stewart has only warned us about all of the people on Fox News, the entire Republican Party, and Fuckface Von Clownstick. It’s not like people didn’t know who she was, what she believed, and that she was willing to lie about it so she could get away with it and keep her job, right?

NBC, what in the ever-loving hell? You have a golden opportunity right now to shed yourself of this Megyn Kelly problem of yours. Get on with it already.

This is the Smartest Move Yet


No one is more deserving of a second chance than James Gunn, who shouldn’t even have been fired from his job because alt-right trolls shouldn’t be getting anyone fired, dammit.

Warner Bros. have reportedly hired former Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn following his departure from the franchise.


Gunn is a proven commodity. He took the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise into the nether reaches and actually made films worth watching. They aren’t exactly my thing, but the heart and soul of these movies resides in the right place, and a weirdo like Gunn being given a second chance is a good thing. Yes, he said horrible things. He has paid the price for that and he deserves a shot.
From a business perspective, hiring him to make a Suicide Squad movie is a brilliant way to check the unstoppable growth of Marvel Inc.

This is How You Use Your Celebrity For Good




Amy Schumer gets what this is about.

Where are all of the other celebrities who care about a woman’s right to choose? About holding Trump accountable? About putting people ahead of corporations?

Confirming Kavanaugh means the rights of the American people will be under siege starting on day one. Why doesn’t anyone get this?

No, No We Don't Answer That




There is no contrition on the part of Bill Cosby. He imagines himself Jesus, and he has a view of himself that believes he is being persecuted so he can maintain the air of superiority that a PhD used to provide:

Bill Cosby was sentenced to several years in prison on Tuesday for sexually assaulting a woman over a decade ago. 

Judge Steven O’Neill gave Cosby, 81, a sentence of between three and 10 years in prison for attacking Andrea Constand in 2004. Constand is one of more than 60 women who have accused the previously beloved comedian of preying on them over the past five decades.

The real tragedy is that this didn’t happen fifty years ago when it really would have taken a bite out of the quality of his life and prevented many more victims from having to experience what it was like to be drugged and raped.

It all started four years ago:






Camille Cosby smiles, uncomfortably shifting in her chair. Staring off camera, switching positions, silent. In the latest contribution to the Bill Cosby saga, we see husband and wife side by side as he addresses the very act of questioning about his numerous rape allegations in an AP interview (above). Mrs. Cosby continues to smile and looks away from the reporter several times, both she and her husband presuming that the cameras have stopped rolling. I will not read into her silence. I will not pull meaning about this woman and her thoughts and decisions other than to say that in the watching, the silence is palpable, wince-inducing and profoundly painful.

That exchange highlights the most meaningful currency in this 30+ year long drama that is just now seeing its climax unfold on the public stage: silence. At every turn, it is the silence that serves as a proxy for power in the story of Bill Cosby, his alleged sexual deviance and the current downward spiral of public opinion. Silence here, as in most cases, represents the power wielded and power taken by those who are seen as, well, powerful.

Everything went to hell after that interview. More women came forward. You could feel the momentum shift. Cosby and his legal team have done everything in their power to destroy every victim, delay the judgement of the courts, and keep him out of prison.

So long, motherfucker.


Amazing Tree




This is an amazing tree, found somewhere in California, but whoever lives around it probably has a ho-hum attitude about it. This is a spectacular climbing tree, but don’t fall on that fence in the background.

A Prescription For Opium




This hangs on the wall inside of Watsons in Orange, California.

Is This Your House?




Over the summer, I got to see quite a bit of Southern California and I took a lot of blurry pictures while sitting in the passenger seat. This is one of them, and, if this is your house, my hat is off to you.

Get On a Bike




This is a fascinating look at how the Dutch redesigned their cities to accommodate cycling. This casual style you see depicted above looks hilarious at first, but, consider this—these people are off their asses, doing something and they don’t care what you think.

They banished cars and they went with what works—special lanes, ride share opportunities, and they’re well ahead of us in terms of not destroying the planet. When I lived in Europe, I saw this on a large scale in Munich, Germany. There were so many bikes, it just didn’t make sense to think about cars. If you could live your life and only have to drive your car once or twice a week, wouldn’t you do it? Could you convert your thinking to make walking and cycling your primary means of getting around? And don’t forget public transportation. In Europe, you can use all manner of buses and trains. Could you change your mindset about getting from here to there?

I live in Texas now. Unless we’re talking the downtown area of Dallas or San Antonio, I don’t see how this works without ending up in traction because here, cars will just run you over. It’s a sad fact of life. With the advent of the pay-as-you-go scooter business, I suppose it would be possible to see people changing how they do things, but still. It’s really hard to see dramatic change happen without an investment in making it possible to drive less in cars and to get around more on foot or on a bike.

I am very much the kind of person who can’t envision riding a bike with a helmet. I don’t know what it is—a lack of common sense, my own ridiculous ideas, or just plain stupidity. It could be all of those things. The idea of riding a bike with a helmet has never made any sense to me. I would rather just do what these folks are doing and ride around.

Oh, and none of these people are fat, are they? Take that, Americans.

We Need Another Show Like The Sopranos




The Deuce has a lot of things going for it, and this is as close as you’re going to get to actual adult programming these days:

“Who would have thought the most boring part of this whole thing would have been the fucking?”

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s prostitute turned adult filmmaker gets the line of the episode in Sunday night’s season two premiere of The Deuce, the ‘70s-set look at the sex workers and vagrants populating Times Square from The Wire’s David Simon and George Pelecanos

The quip doubles as a keen mission statement for a subtle, culturally mandated redirection in the series’ new season. To continue to merely titillate, scandalize, or expose the seediness of the sex industry, no matter what truths or humanities are revealed along the way, would be mundane to the point of problematic. 

This is a season that centers around female sex workers finding their agency, learning that they have a right to be protected, discovering their worth, and taking control of their rights and bodies. 

It’s a slight shift. Season one of the series was always headed in this direction, but season two accelerates down that path with showy purpose. And, despite his continued presence and entertaining dual performance as brothers Vincent and Frankie, you can’t help but suspect that the person—or at least the story—The Deuce is speeding away from is James Franco.

When The Sopranos appeared, it was actual adult entertainment for thinking people. It wasn’t just the sex and violence; it was the thinking that went into how the sex and the violence were used to tell the story. The same thing can be said of Breaking Bad and whatever else you like, but there is a real absence of television for thinking adults.

Anywhere you find David Simon, prepare to use your brain. My brain tells me James Franco probably isn’t going to make it to a third season, if it happens at all.

The Fall of Gondolin




Christopher Tolkien has published what appears to be the final book written by his father, J.R.R. Tolkien. No one expected to see The Fall of Gondolin, so it is quite a surprise:

While this story may be the last Tolkien book to be published, it is actually an early tale and foundational to the author’s entire concept of Middle-earth. It was first written in 1917 while Tolkien was recuperating in a hospital from trench fever after the Battle of the Somme. “It’s a quest story with a reluctant hero who turns into a genuine hero—it’s a template for everything Tolkien wrote afterwards,” John Garth, author of a book about Tolkien’s experience in World War I tells Alison Flood at The Guardian. “It has a dark lord, our first encounter with orcs and balrogs—it’s really Tolkien limbering up for what he would be doing later.”

Christian Holub at Entertainment Weekly explains that the new book tells the tale of Tuor, a man living in an age where the world is dominated by the dark lord Melko—known in other Tolkien books as Morgoth. Only one place, the hidden Elvish city of Gondolin has resisted his reign, and Tuor is sent to find the place. He does, but so do the dark forces of Melko. In the grandest Tolkien battle scene outside of The Lord of the Rings, the author describes a mechanized army, similar to the newly introduced mechanized warfare he’d witnessed during the Great War, falling on the city.

I am not a fan of the Hobbit movies; Tolkien gave us battles, but not of the size and scope that were depicted. I do not believe Peter Jackson was ever the right filmmaker for The Lord of the Rings, either; his movies are beautifully framed junk and everything is a near-miss and, hey, what if we spin the camera around this way and that way? Everyone seemed stiff at times, but you really have to credit what Elijah Wood and Sean Astin did to make it all seem like an actual epic quest. It wasn't all bad, of course.

The best description for Jackson's approach would be to call it expensive fan fiction. Beyond that, everything I actually liked about the books disappeared. If they can make a movie about Han Solo, why the hell can't they make a movie about Elrond?

The Fall of Gondolin explores the history of Middle Earth, and gives you a sense of Tolkien's decision to build the languages, the different inhabitants, their entire, well-imagined back stories, and their place in the story. It's not enough to talk about the tribes of Elves or Men or Dwarves--their foundational epics and their sense of who they were had to be built, painstakingly, one generation at a time.

Aside from George R. R. Martin, who does this anymore? Plenty of writers make the attempt, but Tolkien, being an academic, had the knowledge to create the framework that his son has spent decades trying to organize and preserve for proper release. His achievement as a curator is no less of an accomplishment than his father's as the creator.

If someone else decides to make films of these stories, I'm fine with that. I really don't need to see any more of Jackson's vision. To me, it was always about the history and the relationships, and not so much the sword play and the massed formations of troops. Having seen the horrors of war, I don't think Tolkien wanted it to be fetishized in the manner in which it was, I really don't. There was always a purpose to the violence, and that's where all of the effort went.

Grilled Lemon Half




This was the first time I have ever been served a grilled lemon with fish and chips.

Tom Arnold is Full of Shit




In case you were wondering, no, Tom Arnold does not have any "tapes" where Trump says the N-word:

in December 2016, Arnold said: “I have the outtakes to The Apprentice where he says every bad thing ever, every offensive, racist thing ever. I have that.”

I can’t wait to see those tapes. We all want to see them. Footage of Donald Trump using the N-word would be seismic. It would be Pussygate times 10. It would permanently damage, and maybe even end, his presidency.

I know! So where are the tapes? It’s complicated.

He doesn’t have them, does he? The bad news is no, he doesn’t. According to a new Rolling Stone interview, Tom Arnold says that the N-word tape was just an online link, and the video has since expired.

If anyone produces a file or proof that Trump regularly says the N-word, he will claim that it has been doctored and that it if fake news. His supporters won't care, because they secretly want him to say it so that they can say it and not have to lose their jobs, too.

For Tom Arnold to try to make money off of this is proof that we live in an awful country made worse by the fact that the garbage residing in the White House is probably the worst human being of the 21st Century.

The Double Standard




Chris Hardwick has his gig back, and James Gunn is still out as director of Guardians of the Galaxy 3.

That's where we are right now. Someone can be credibly accused of sexual assault, and get back in front of a camera. A guy gets caught by some Gamergate losers making jokes a decade ago--and doesn't actually hurt someone physically--and he's unable to sit in a director's chair.

Fuck you, Hollywood. You're full of bullshit.

Look on My Works, ye Mighty, and Despair




Every monument to Trump is a symbol of folly and degradation:

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

 

At some point, there will be no buildings, no resorts, nothing that will dare feature his name. There aren't enough Rent-a-Cops in the world to guard these wretched places.

Flowers in the Backyard




This is a series of three photos taken of flowers, and there's not much to say, other than, I have no recollection as far as taking these.








Slumming With Another Star Wars Movie




Given all of the nonsense and negativity that surrounds starring in a Star Wars movie, this is kind of a surprise:

Keri Russell is headed to a galaxy far, far away.

Sources tell Variety that the “Felicity” alum is in early talks to join J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: Episode IX,” which Abrams is writing and directing. Russell and Abrams last collaborated on 2006’s “Mission: Impossible III.”

The role calls for action-heavy fight scenes. Russell has shown her ability to perform tough stunts in projects like FX’s “The Americans,” “Mission: Impossible,” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

Abrams and Lucasfilm execs met with several actresses for the role in the past two months and settled on Russell right before the Fourth of July holiday. Abrams will likely cast two more actors by the time the film begins production at the end of the month. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver are all expected to return.

I hope they give Russell something interesting to do, and I hope it's more along the lines of what they had Laura Dern do the last time they put a female character in their little money-making thing.

Lily Allen




I wish someone would prove me wrong, but Lily Allen never really made it in the United States. But, here she is, perfectly explaining why it is impossible to believe anything online anymore because Russia is engaged in a massive attack on Western democracy and Western culture:

Do you think what’s written about you in certain newspapers fuels the Twitter trolls?
“Yeah, I do. Although to what extent, I’m not quite sure. Out of the trolls, I’m not sure what’s automated and Russian, and what’s real. They’re not called Russian bots. They’re called, you know, PaulJames1979 with a Middlesbrough FC emblem.  But I do know that if I get into a tête-à-tête – or tweet-à-tweet – with Piers Morgan, then suddenly I’ll get loads of automated stuff. So there are definitely right-wing triggers that if you converse and interact with, you get a sort of army coming at you. And you know that they’re automated because they have the same key words and they’re talking about exactly the same thing. In all the tweets, there will be four of five key words surrounded by other aggressive words.”

So, if a British pop singer who definitely deserves a global audience can figure this shit out, why can't anyone in America?

 

 

Freddie Mercury




If Rami Malek can pull this off, he deserves an Oscar. He deserves ALL the awards.

I never thought that they could make a movie about Freddie Mercury because how the hell do you portray someone so iconic? How would you make a movie about David Bowie or Prince? Who on Earth could play those guys and not pale in comparison to what we had in real life? I don't think anyone has ever done Elvis justice, either.

The trailer is great, but this seems self-serving and bitchy:

Writer and producer Bryan Fuller is accusing 20th Century Fox of “hetero-washing” the story of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in a new trailer and marketing materials for the biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

“Anyone else mildly annoyed … that the #BohemianRhapsody trailer features gay/bi superstar Freddie Mercury flirting with and twirling with a woman but no indication of his love of men?” Fuller tweeted on Tuesday after the clip hit the web.

The footage shows actress Lucy Boynton staring longingly at star Rami Malek as Mercury, also leaping into his arms. Boynton plays Mary Austin, who some credit as Mercury’s muse but is not well known in pop culture. The trailer also features a young man coming on to Malek’s Mercury in a recording studio, but it’s blink-and-miss.

You can't judge a movie based on watching the trailer, but why should that stop anyone, right? Who knows what the film really deals with? And, honestly, this could be one of the greatest performances ever if Malek can convince people he's Freddie. Enjoy it! Don't bitch at it.

What the Hell is Going On?




SPOILERS AHEAD (OBVIOUSLY...)


 

The culture has passed me by:

Avengers: Infinity War” can check off yet another record: The second-highest second weekend of all time.

Disney and Marvel’s latest collaboration earned $112.5 million from 4,474 locations in its second frame. The 56% decline was just enough to top the record previously held by fellow Marvel title “Black Panther,” which made $111.6 million in its second weekend. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” holds the prize for biggest second weekend, with a mighty $149 million in 2015. Only five films have ever hit the $100 million-mark in their second weekends.

In just North America, the superhero mashup has made $450.8 million. Among “Infinity War’s” numerous accomplishments is being the fastest film to gross $1 billion, in just 11 days. And the film has yet to open in China.

I enjoy living in the future. I don't advocate a return to the bad old days. I have a smart phone and I love it when people put out new music. But I couldn't be further out of the cultural zeitgeist if I was walking around dressed like it was the 1890s and talking through the severed end of a flugelhorn. 

What do I have here at the end of watching all 18 of these terrible, terrible Marvel movies? Nothing. I have no idea what has happened. I mean, I don't want to pull the sleeve right off your best jacket, but what the hell was all that about? Some people and some magic stones have fought each other and now the universe is in balance? There is no balance in nature. It's just wild and free and shit goes one way, then another. Is Jesus supposed to show up now? I think that was a joke in Infinity War, which I saw a day ago and can't remember anything about.

Why aren't the Jesus freaks angrier about this movie? It's supposed to be the end-all, be-all of everything and all it needed was for Southpark's version of Jesus to show up, put his hand on the shoulder of Thanos, and say, "who hurt you, my son?" That would have ended the whole movie. No need for any more Avengers because Jesus can shoot a lightning bolt through your eyes if you try to make special weapons or steal magic stones.

I'll tell you how the movie will end next year. Something, joke, something, everybody's trapped in the soul stone! fight, joke, joke, fight, and then another fight and then the little girl makes the bad guy put everything back the way it was and someone hides those magic stones and we get to do it all over again in the reboot.

The whole movie runs through the relationship between the young version of Gamora and the big bad evil daddy figure. Conquering figure adopts helpless child, wah wah, okay, what did we learn? Did we learn more about emotional manipulation and allow a figure who has killed untold trillions of children in the universe to have a soft spot for a little kiddy? Genocide never had a better premise in a film. Let's just breeze past the horror--he's got a heart of gold hidden in there, but he's been hurt and Jesus never came around to save him.

Culturally, this is all just junk. It's light, it's fluffy, people eat it up, and then it dissipates. It amuses and distracts, but it doesn't really do anything beyond that. The only thing it really accomplishes is that, for far too many underpaid Americans, a massive amount of discretionary spending has been ripped out of the middle of the economy, causing people to put off buying tangible things while edging out all of the other crap they don't need. Video game makers have tried to cash in by making Avengers games, but it's just not the same. They need a new franchise, obviously, and it's something about killing. 

Is there any point to any of the Marvel crap? It's just another version of Star Wars for people who still spend a lot of money on other stuff. Someone somewhere is busy thinking up another version of all of this, but edgier, man. Everything has to be the same but just a little darker and meaner and cooler. Dude.

Think of the art that didn't get made because all of this talent, money and energy was tied up making 18 Marvel films. There are actors and actresses here who have real talents. I'm not out of line for suggesting that there are far too few female characters and way too many men who are playing characters that are younger than they are in real life. Mark Ruffalo can actually make real movies for adults. Is this a wise use of his time? And do we need slightly less stupid Andy Dwyer from Parks and Recreation to be the guy who screws up everything? Talk about playing to a cliche. I'll bet when Paul Bettany was doing Richard III, all he could think about was putting a jewel on his forehead and floating about in a robot body while living in Scotland with his girlfriend. Really? You don't think they would have preferred Brighton? Come on. No one lives in Scotland on purpose.

You could have told it all in 3 films that cost a lot less, but no one thinks small like that anymore. It has to be massive! On a scale never before seen! Why sell them three pictures when we can pad this out and make billions off of six different trilogies! Cram it into every nook and cranny! Put it on every product known to man. Well, that's what they did, and that's what they've plopped down in front of everyone. But there are more movies on the way! Here they come! 

Do you know what still has more relevance in the culture? The Beatles, high as kites and out of it, singing Love is All You Need to a world that didn't believe it for a minute. Oh well, this is what you get when you grow old.

Michelle McNamara

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="970.0"] Patton Oswalt, Michelle McNamara Patton Oswalt, Michelle McNamara [/caption]


The late Michelle McNamara was a true crime writer who died in 2016 before solving one of the subjects that obsessed her. McNamara was the sort of person who threw herself into a subject and didn't let up. She was also the wife of comedian Patton Oswalt, and today she would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when they caught "The Golden State Killer" decades after eluding the police:

A suspect has been arrested in connection to a decades-old cold case involving more than 10 people who were murdered, known as the Golden State Killer case.

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested early Wednesday morning on two counts of murder, according to the Sacramento Bee and Fox40 Sacramento. A spokesperson for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

The Golden State Killer was linked by DNA and method to 12 murders, 45 sexual assaults and more than 120 burglaries from Sacramento to Orange County between 1976 and 1986.

This was one of the last things McNamara worked on before her passing:

The Golden State Killer case was also the subject of a true-crime book titled “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” by Michelle McNamara, Patton Oswalt’s late wife. McNamara worked with investigators on the case but died before the book was published. It was finished by co-writer Billy Jensen, researcher Paul Haynes and Oswalt.

In regards to news that an arrest had been made, Oswalt tweeted, “If they’ve really caught the #GoldenStateKiller I hope I get to visit him. Not to gloat or gawk — to ask him the questions that @TrueCrimeDiarywanted answered in her ‘Letter To An Old Man’ at the end of #IllBeGoneInTheDark.”

We can only hope that they got the right man, due in no small part to McNamara's work.

Frank Underwood




Whatever happened to this?

Jonathan Yeo has painted the "fictional" portrait of Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood character for the Smithsonian, and this was in 2016. It hung in the National Portrait Gallery, and, for all intents and purposes, it's probably not even worth $50 in terms of real value. For people who love macabre, scandalous items, it's literally priceless.

 

Sex Tape Lawyer




It is because I am a naive boy who was raised on the Minnesota prairie that I did not know that one could aspire to the job of "sex tape lawyer."

I knew there were lawyers, of course, and I knew that if you went to college and then law school, you could practice law anywhere in the country. Anywhere in the world, maybe, although being a lawyer amongst people who don't care about the law is a worthless endeavor.

Did you grow up wanting to be a sex tape lawyer? Was there a void in your life? A need for titillation? I don't want to judge, but becoming a lawyer who specializes in the litigation of who owns what when it comes to a sex tape is like throwing away good talent and hard work. What did you do to get to the top of that industry? Where did you advertise? Who did you have to con in order to make it big?

Come on, spill it.  You have to have people with specific legal needs, the money to transact between each other, and a surfeit of sex tapes that will allow you to be the litigator you always wanted to be, a lawyer who handles the legal ramifications of sex tapes.

Pretty good gig, I suppose. You could make millions. That's all that matters today.

Now, go away.

Who are these horrible shits? These terrible people with no morals and a mastery of the ins and outs of the laws surrounding people who film themselves having sex with others who don't necessarily know (wink, wink) they are being filmed for prurient reasons?

Who injected these foul, misbegotten garbage can people into our politics and our discourse? We are not supposed to have to explain to ourselves how this goes on. I'm not some moral prude. I don't care if Bill Clinton got a blowjob. I would expect that he would have been a bit more careful about it, but okay. 

But this? These people around Trump?

Why, they're the equivalent of a massive ball of fat, lard and shit coagulated in the pipes below London Town. They're holding back the flow of the rest of the sewage we don't want to live in, the flow that takes it to the treatment plant and cleans it up as it should be sanitized and handled. 

Your taxes pay for that service. But the people around Trump are wasting our time, frittering away our money, and letting their personal immorality get in the way of solving real problems. God, just fuck these people for being so unpalatable and rancid in the way that they do things. What a waste, seeing these sex tape lawyers go at it like starving hyenas.

Andie MacDowell Has Always Been Underappreciated




Here is another rare example of an older woman making art in Hollywood:

Throughout a 34-year career marked by films as varied as sex, lies and videotapeGroundhog Day and Four Weddings and a Funeral, Andie MacDowell has proven that she can do it all. 






Nonetheless, she’s never done anything quite as superb as her work in Love After Love, in which she stars as a woman coming to grips with the death of her husband, and the tumultuous individual and familial upheaval created by that loss. As Suzanne, MacDowell exudes a bracing mix of vulnerability, tenderness and longing, as well as a healthy dose of misery and bitterness that comes to the fore during her many scenes opposite Chris O’Dowd (as Suzanne’s misstep-making son Nicholas). It’s a tale of grief, dysfunction and survival that heralds its first-time writer/director Russell Harbaugh as one of American cinema’s finest new artists, and reconfirms MacDowell’s standing as a Hollywood star of formidable charisma and complexity.

MacDowell has always been treated differently by the film community. Her southern accent has been held against her since day one. Her ability to act has never been in doubt, but she has suffered because of her fashion model good looks (as if that's even possible, and it is).

I'm glad she's working but I wish there was more for her to do. I wish there was more for people who are older and don't care for super hero movies to see and experience because this would be a great time for telling stories about living in an age when our politics aren't working and our lives and work are changing minute by minute. MacDowell would be great in anything relatable because she has always made that her strength. If she isn't being denigrated for her looks, then someone probably has an issue with her age.

It's not fair for her, or for any actress in her generation, to have to struggle to make art when her abilities are simply not in question. What is problematic here is that the people who control what gets made in Hollywood have never come to terms with the fact that older people like stories they can relate to.

Carl's Jr is a Stupid Company




Apparently, there's no fun allowed anywhere, and whoever is running things at Carl's Jr. is an idiot:

Fast food restaurant chain Carl's Jr. is getting in on the hype for Steven Spielberg's latest movie, Ready Player One.

On Sunday, Carl's Jr. tweeted that it would be changing the name of its charbroiled sliders to "SpielBurgers," in honor of the director and his upcoming film. "Spielberg hasn’t signed off yet, but we assume he’s cool with it," the company wrote.

A Carl's Jr. representative on Tuesday told The Hollywood Reporter, "SpielBurgers are not a menu item at Carl’s Jr. locations. This was a social stunt from the brand to try and get the attention of Spielberg and his team to celebrate the launch of Ready Player One."

You don't go public with something like this unless you have a marketing deal in place. Did they think they were going to shame Steven Spielberg into doing something like this?

Morons.

Yes, You Can Ignore Roseanne Barr From Now On




I'm so glad that I don't have to pay attention to anything Roseanne Barr says after her recent foray into American political discourse. I don't get the sense that she actually believes what she is saying. I think she's smart enough to know that there's a market for her show's revival and that, if she can tap into the audience that Tim Allen's show had, then that's what she is going to do.

The audience for Last Man Standing is perfect for what she's selling now. I don't get it--I really don't. Roseanne was supposed to be about working class people who knew that the coastal elites didn't care about the so-called heartland of this country. She made a brilliant show out of the ordinary and she made art out of something as common as can be. What she's doing now is a masterclass in trolling people and carving out a niche market in a wasteland of fractured attention spans.

Why not be honest and say, look, there's a conservative audience for a sitcom and this audience is being under-served? Go for it. Everyone is entitled to make a living. But don't try to bullshit people by pretending to be all Make American Great Again. No thinking person actually supports Trumpism. There are those who believe in it, and they know nothing about this country. Then there are people who are complicit and won't admit it. Fuck them.

And, no, the person who put this on TV back in 1994 wouldn't have anything to do with the Trump regime today. There's a cognitive dissonance here that speaks to how ugly Roseanne's thinking is today.

Pay the Lady What She is Worth




If AMC doesn't pay Lauren Cohan what she is worth, then to hell with that network:

Lauren Cohan is mulling walking away from The Walking Dead.

The actress, who has starred as Maggie since season two of the AMC zombie drama, has booked a lead role in ABC drama pilot Whiskey Cavalier.

Cohan has emerged as one of the most in-demand actresses this pilot season. Sources tell THR that she has been actively looking for her next role as she battles AMC over her season nine salary. With Walking Dead already renewed for a ninth season, Cohan does not have a deal in place to return to the show. Sources say the actress and her agents are not happy with the offers that have been on the table from AMC. Although Cohan is not seeking salary parity with male leads Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus, her camp and AMC have been engaged in a months-long negotiation that remains far apart. Insiders suggest that she is actively looking for her next job and not trying to use the pilot casting process to force AMC's hand as the actress's camp remains frustrated by AMC's lowball offers. Other sources note AMC has made "aggressive offers" to re-sign Cohan for season nine.

AMC seems like the chintziest of networks. They are incapable of taking care of talent. I can't believe they are not paying female leads on the show the same as what they are paying males because it is, for all intents and purposes, one of the best ensemble dramas around. And I say this even after the audience collapsed two years ago.

Why are we even having this discussion? Of course you should pay women the same as men, especially when they demonstrate that they are more than equal to the task of storytelling. In the case of the Walking Dead, which is more of an ensemble show, I think that is definitely the case. 

I understand that there can be exceptions, but there can also be times when women should be paid more. It's hard to argue that Anna Gunn should have been paid the same as Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad, but it's not outside the realm of possibility that she should have been brought to a level very close to him in terms of compensation. He was the overall lead of the show and she had less screen time. I always thought Stana Katic should have been paid more than Nathan Fillion and given top billing for Castle. She was clearly the better of the two characters and had more depth.

Where Did He Get the Helicopter?




Christian Desgroux put on the uniform of an Army Lieutenant General and landed a helicopter on the grounds of a company in North Carolina in order to impress a woman:

A Raleigh man was indicted by a federal grand jury today for pretending to be a United States Army Lieutenant General and transporting someone in a helicopter, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to the release, Christian Gerald Desgroux, 57, pretended to be a lieutenant general in the Army while transporting a person to a classified briefing. Desgroux also pretended that he had the authority to land the helicopter at SAS headquarters in Cary.

Good grief. Journalism 101:

Where. Did. He. Get. a. Helicopter?

What kind of helicopter was it? Was it stolen? Who allowed this man to take a helicopter if it wasn't stolen? Does he possess a helicopter pilot's license or training? Who owns the helicopter that he used?

If anyone can just take a helicopter and fly it around, then I think we have a bigger problem than some poor lovelorn man's flirtation with Stolen Valor.

A Year Off




We all need a year off now and then:

In the midst of promoting her latest film, Jennifer Lawrence says she’s taking a break from acting to work on political engagement with the young folks. 

The Red Sparrow star tells Entertainment Tonight she’s going on Hollywood hiatus for a year, during which time she’ll be “working with this organization as a part of Represent.Us ... trying to get young people engaged politically on a local level.” Lawrence explains her newfound gig isn’t about promoting “partisan [politics]. “It’s just anti-corruption and stuff trying to pass state by state laws that can help prevent corruption, fix our democracy,” the Mother! lead says.

 

Wakanda




If you plan on seeing the movie Black Panther this weekend, try to remember that one of the central arguments made by the Trump regime is that people from Africa shouldn't come to this country because they might bring their "shithole" countries with them.

How is it that no one has asked Trump if he thinks Wakanda is a real country? I still haven't figured that out yet.

Chris Cillizza is a Disgrace




Did Chris Cillizza write that headline? Why did he even bother to write this post? He used eight letter 'y's' in his post. Or someone did it for him under his byline. Who comes up with this stuff?

Here, he admits he is a hack:

It's easy to make fun of Trump for not telling the truth about something so easily checkable as the ratings for his State of the union speech. It's basically why Twitter was invented. And I am as guilty as anyone of being glib about his little white lies.

Never admit you are ridiculous. Never ask people a question they already know the answer to.

Here's another one tip.

Avoid complete and utter fucking hacks like Cillizza. What a disgrace to the very idea of putting ideas on the Internet for people to read.

Stormy Daniels is Not a Stupid Person




We have been conditioned to think that the blonde in question is an idiot. That does not seem to be the case:

Stormy Daniels [Stephanie Clifford] can't get her story straight. Or maybe she can but chooses not to.

The pornographic film director and actress issued a signed statement Tuesday in which she once again denied having an affair with Donald Trump in 2006. Then, in a bizarre twist, she cast doubt on the authenticity of the statement hours later in an interview with late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel.

Kimmel noted that Daniels's signature on the statement appeared different from her previous signatures.

“Did you sign this letter that was released today?” Kimmel asked.

“I don't know. Did I?” Daniels replied. “That does not look like my signature, does it?”

Wait. What? Of course Daniels knows whether she signed the statement. After the Kimmel interview, Daniels's spokeswoman, Gina Rodriguez, told The Washington Post that she and an attorney witnessed Daniels sign the document Tuesday afternoon.

Daniels either suffers from short-term memory loss or, more likely, is deliberately sending mixed messages.

Why would she do that? Here's a theory: Daniels is trying to tell us, through winks and nudges, that she did have sex with the future president, even as she officially denies an affair.

Daniels said in her statement Tuesday that she was not “paid ‘hush money,’ as has been reported in overseas-owned tabloids.” That was a backhanded reference to a report by the Wall Street Journal that Daniels accepted $130,000 to keep quiet during the 2016 presidential race. (For the record, Journal owner Rupert Murdoch is Australian-born but is a U.S. citizen, and the paper is not tabloid-size.)

Of course, all someone has to do is step forward with a penalty check--probably a little larger than $130K--and then double it so that Miss Clifford (her real last name) can come clean about what went on, but who's going to do that?

She knows that no one will help her. No one will do that. So, why not cash in?

We are being manipulated, of course. We're being led around by a woman who understands that men are stupid because they will spend untold amounts of money to be in her presence and buy the products she sells (beyond movies, she is an entrepreneur who sells access to the content she creates and to the sex toys that she endorses). She knows that the focus is on her looks and her line of work. This is smart because she is in the process of enriching herself despite what the country is doing to itself. She's more of a Republican than Trump, for crying out loud.

But what's really troubling is that this has not crippled Trump politically. Lesser sex scandals in size and scope (he had a relationship with her for about a year, in case you have forgotten) have sunk Democrats. For someone like Trump, of course not. This is who he is. He's a serial philanderer who doesn't care what anyone thinks of him. He makes hypocrites out of every follower.

I may be in the minority, but if Clifford had come out with her story in late 2016, it wouldn't have made a difference. It might have even helped Trump with the asshole contingent that voted for him. Certainly nothing he does is hurting him with evangelicals and Nazis.

Officer, I'd Like to Report a Murder




So, Richard Marx basically killed Piers Morgan again today.

The problem is, there is virtually nothing left of Morgan because he has been obliterated, again and again, by people on Twitter. This is the guy who shouldn't even have a Twitter account anymore because he has been humiliated so many times on the platform, no one has any credible way of keeping statistics on it. He has, literally, been vaporized on a social media platform and reduced to a quivering heap of ashes and grease stains that have been driven into a cheap piece of carpeting, and walked on by millions and millions of indifferent souls. He has been turned into a barely-remembered afterthought by the collective efforts of those who have taken his ridiculous statements and turned them into withering insults that would have driven any decent person to eschew commenting in public altogether forever. He is without shame or anything resembling a public profile now, and when the sun hits him in a public place, he casts no shadow whatever because sunlight cannot fall on him because he has, for all intents and purposes, been rendered invisible to all good people.

He is Piers Morgan, and he is the consistency of a dissipated wet fart that dried out years ago.

John T. Floore Country Store




And, oh by the way, Elvis played here. What the marker doesn't say is that Bob Dylan played here, too.

I love this place, and it's a great venue. These places are disappearing! Save them before it is too late!

Megyn Kelly Should Not Start Any Feuds Over Plastic Surgery




NBC is not going to get its money's worth out of Megyn Kelly:

Megyn Kelly is firing back on Jane Fonda for criticizing the NBC Today host for asking about her plastic surgery.

In a rather blistering segment addressing the audience on Monday’s program, Kelly defended asking the legendary actress and activist in September about the work she’s had done, noting she looked amazing for her age (Fonda is 80). Fonda has criticized the question as the “wrong place and wrong time” and called Kelly “not that good of an interviewer.”

“When she first complained — publicly after the program and repeatedly — I choose to say nothing because my philosophy is that what people think of me is none of my business,” Kelly began in the clip below. “However, Fonda was at it again last week — here on NBC and then again elsewhere — so it’s time to address the ‘poor me’ routine.”

“First some context,” Kelly continued. “Fonda was on [my show] to promote a film about aging [Our Souls at Night]. For years, she has spoken openly about her joy in giving a cultural face to older women. Well, the truth is, most older women look nothing like Fonda, who is now 80. And if Fonda really wants to have an honest discussion about older women’s cultural face, then her plastic surgery is tough to ignore. Fonda herself knows this. She knows this. That’s why, to her credit, she’s discussed plastic surgery pretty much everywhere before coming on our show.”

Come on, grow up. No one should be asked or shamed about something like that. If you want to discuss it, you have your staff talk to her staff. This is how talk shows are supposed to work. No surprises, ever.

Kelly is terrible on the air, and can't function in polite society. She may have had success on Fox being able to deliver racist memes and ideas in a polite, blonde-lady sort of way, but this is just not going to work in the regular media.

Flamingoes

Ansel Elgort's Track Team Photo Revealed




It was very nice of the people who run the website for this year's Golden Globes to find Ansel Elgort's senior year track team photo:






Elgort turned in an Oscar-worthy performance in Baby Driver, which was clearly one of the most original films of the year. Hence, that's why it won't win many awards, right?

My two biggest criticisms of Baby Driver:

Once again, no one thought to create a character that would allow Lily James to actually act like a real person.

Once again, Millennials will not pay for music.