You Were Never Going to be Happy


I won't properly review The Rise of Skywalker here, nor will I spoil anything for you. I will say this--American cinema is in bad, bad shape.

My overall, general reaction to this film is that it typifies the need to please everyone, especially foreign film markets, without having any core beliefs present in the actual film or story. This is a summer movie, released at Christmas, that should be taken as a fun ride through a world that is already familiar. If you take a step back and look at the Lucas films (the original three), the prequels, and the JJ Abrams series (Rian Johnson's lone contribution is meaningless here) as something to watch when nothing is on, they're fine.

Really, you could turn Brendan Fraser's Mummy movies into the "new" Star Wars and not miss a beat as long as you don't bring JJ Abrams in to ruin everything.  Neither are cinema. They're intended to be entertainment, and there's nothing wrong with that and there's no need to be snobbish about it. The fact is, they work on many levels. But they are not "elite" storytelling, nor are they as important as they are made out to be. In fact, they're just simple, enjoyable films that provide a lot of visual excitement. They are not films where adults speak to one another. They are films where adults escape from reality and shoot things that you don't mind seeing killed.

Here's my overall problem with that. Every attempt to make that excitement happen comes with a suspension of disbelief that gets old after a while. There's only so much you can take. And these films overload you with things that seem to be about marketing toys than they are about story telling.

Overhyped kiddie movies that are designed to appeal to teenagers in China? Yeah, I would agree with that. We make far too much of that crap right now. It's choking out actual creativity, little by little. Star Wars was supposed to revolutionize things. It did so visually, but did not improve story telling at all.

There's a really good story embedded here, and some day, someone will reboot that story and focus on it in a way that will really enhance it for an audience that, I hope, will be ready to experience it. There are hours and hours of performances from great actors that stumbles on dialogue that was added as an afterthought. Is there a single Star Wars screenplay that doesn't read like absolute shit? Honestly, with all of the writers in the world, you couldn't find someone to make the script work? Ever? And, yes, I remember the work Lawrence Kasdan did on the original films. Even he couldn't fully shine the turd.

You have talented actors in every scene, and some of the moments really shine. As a whole, there's not much for them to do except adapt to things that bounce around on a sound stage. There's very little acting between people, but, when there are real conversations, they are brief and forgotten on the next amusement ride through the green screen world that appears, as if by magic, and right on cue.

Star Wars was always more enjoyable as a book, for me, than it was as a film. I can remember reading the original movie tie-in books, as well as Splinter of the Mind's Eye and the series of canonical books that were released in the 1990s. This was always escapism for me, and I like that sort of thing. In the hands of skilled writers, the story is far more enjoyable than in the hands of film makers who are pressured on all sides to make something everyone will like that is full of things everyone will buy that won't offend everyone who lives in a part of the world that hates originality and rebellion.

Having said all of this, Rogue One is still the only decent Star Wars movie. I will welcome your agreement.

The Little Red Barn


This is the menu board at the Little Red Barn in San Antonio, Texas.

Subject to change, of course.

A Can Full of Pancakes


No, no, come to work. Here's a can of pancakes. What the hell else could you possibly want?

Field of Orange Flowers



This was taken somewhere east of Wimberley, Texas.

Karen McDougal Was Not Lying



Why do reporters seem to think that Trump's affair with Karen McDougal should still be treated as something that "allegedly" happened?
Karen McDougal, the woman who claims that she had an affair with Donald Trump after they met in 2006, filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News on Thursday over a Tucker Carlson Tonight segment in which he inferred that she engaged in extortion. 
It was McDougal, a former Playboy model, who sold her story to the National Enquirer just before the 2016 election, but did not publish it, in a practice known as “catch and kill.” Federal prosecutors later said that American Media CEO David Pecker coordinated with Trump’s then-attorney, Michael Cohen, to pay McDougal and later be reimbursed. 
In December of last year, Carlson said that the “facts are undisputed” that McDougal and another woman who claimed to have had an affair with Trump, Stormy Daniels, “approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money.”
The White House is denying a new report that President Trump had an extramarital affair before he launched his political career. A story in the New Yorker says former Playboy model Karen McDougal had the affair with Donald Trump for about nine months. 
McDougal says it started when she met Mr. Trump in 2006 at the Playboy mansion following a taping of his reality show "The Apprentice," putting the alleged affair less than two years into Mr. Trump's marriage to wife Melania. The article is also raising questions about whether another publication tried to bury McDougal's story, reports CBS News' Jacqueline Alemany.

"Karen McDougal, in this written document, stresses that her relationship with Donald Trump was entirely consensual, but her story reveals commonalities with story after story that has now emerged about Donald Trump's either consensual relationships with women or alleged non-consensual advances," said Ronan Farrow, the reporter who broke the story for the New Yorker.

McDougal sold the rights to her story to the publisher of the National Enquirer, barring her from discussing the details of her alleged relationship with Mr. Trump. The story never ran.

McDougal refused to take money for sex with Trump:

Donald Trump once tried to offer Karen McDougal money after they had been intimate, the former Playboy model told Anderson Cooper Thursday in an exclusive interview on CNN. 
"After we had been intimate, he tried to pay me, and I actually didn't know how to take that," she said of their first alleged sexual encounter. 
When Cooper asked if Trump tried to hand her money, McDougal said, "He did." 
"I don't even know how to describe the look on my face," she said. "It must have been so sad." 
McDougal appeared on CNN to tell her story of an alleged affair she had with now-President Donald Trump over a decade ago and its emotional fallout, as well as to air her grievances with the company she's suing over the story.
Trump loves a bargain, so it's no wonder he kept going back to her for more. And, as if we're not already weirded out by this, McDougal is probably the only human being on Earth who ever loved Trump:
McDougal said their relationship was consensual and loving, and that they saw each other regularly through the duration of the alleged affair. 
"I can tell you we saw each other a minimum five times a month, up to bigger numbers per month," she said.
McDougal said they were together "many dozens of times," and responded in the affirmative when asked if they were intimate -- saying later that Trump had not used protection.
She added that she did not know Trump might have been with other women at the time besides his wife. 
"I didn't know he was intimate with other ladies," she said. "I thought I was the only one."

Well, we know that Trump has had sex with his current wife at least once, and probably not since then, so that's something. Plus, it's interesting that McDougal believes that suing Tucker Carlson is actually going to work. You don't sue a clown for trying to be funny in public, and you're damned sure going to go broke waiting for him to do the right thing.

Look at what we've become. What a debacle.

Hackneyed




John McNaughton’s amateurish, hackneyed depictions of Trump always subtract about 120 lbs and add a gravitas and competence we have never seen in real life. I saw this on the front of LGM, and I just about lost it.

The very idea that Trump could actually fish is hilarious enough. But to put out there the concept that Trump might be able to teach someone how to do something as useful as fishing is as ridiculous as it gets. He doesn’t know a Goddamned thing about anything, other than stealing shit and figuring out which fat fuck within fifty feet can be blamed for his persistent problems.

President Three Hundred Pounds of Soft, Manhattan Flab couldn’t sort out a rod and reel these days if it came with a free billion dollars and no questions asked. Do you think he understands strategy, patience, and knowing when to hesitate in order to properly set a hook?

Hells no, baby.

Harvey Weinstein is a Scumbag




I still don’t understand why Harvey Weinstein isn’t in jail right now. He is a clear and present threat to public safety. How can a man credibly accused of assaulting more than 80 women still be walking around like some pathetic loser, desperate for sympathy?

Since initial bombshell reports by The New York Times and The New Yorker in October 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual abuse ranging from harassment to rape. He is charged with predatory sexual assault, a criminal sexual act, first-degree rape and third-degree rape. Weinstein's impending criminal trial, which is set to begin January 6, has depleted him, members of the former film executive's small inner circle told CNN. The 67-year-old is physically weaker from recent back surgeries, but they don't describe an otherwise changed man.

CNN has learned from those closest to Weinstein that he isn't sorry about his alleged misconduct. He's combative, maintains he is innocent of any crime and is planning for a career comeback post-trial. His attorneys have maintained that any sexual contact between Weinstein and his accusers was consensual.

Two of Weinstein's remaining friends spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity in order to protect their privacy due to the high-profile nature of his case. Weinstein's criminal defense attorneys, Donna Rotunno and Damon Cheronis, also gave interviews.

"Anyone who looks at him or talks to him knows this has taken an emotional and physical toll. Is his health failing? Not in a life or death situation, but I think he's just breaking down," one of his friends told CNN.

Of course, the women who have suffered for years are easily forgotten. I think that the writer of this story should burn their sources. Who is running interference for Weinstein? Who is working the press in order to buy him some freedom? What a disgrace.

Fuck this guy.

Invisalign




I don’t buy furniture from thrift stores, but I recognized an IKEA bedroom piece that I thought might be worth picking up. The piece had hung together, and it was at least ten years old (I doubt you can still get one today because it was constructed of actual boards as opposed to particle board material).

But the Invisalign insert that was stuck to the inside of the top drawer was a deal breaker for me.

I can put up with a lot, but this is a bridge too far (is there a pun here?).

While I am pleased someone made a donation, and that they parted with an otherwise serviceable piece of IKEA furniture, it should come down to a matter of human decency to properly dispose of something like this. A responsible person does not leave their disposable dental inserts all over the goddamned place.

Stop Flying Vintage Planes




Given the tragedy of happened today in Connecticut, I believe it is time to retire these aircraft and stop flying them:
Seven people are dead after a World War II-era B-17 bomber crashed into an airport de-icing facility while trying to land at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, officials said.
The seven were on the plane, James Rovella, commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, said at a news conference Wednesday evening.
Six people on the plane survived. Rovella said he couldn't give names of the victims because not every family has been notified.
It is very likely that they are flying with reconstructed parts, refurbished engines, and with numerous safety features not available on the original aircraft. Many vintage planes are probably safer or as safe as any other plane that is in regular use at this point.
However, you can’t replace the entire aircraft, and you can provide all the maintenance you want, but that doesn’t make flying what is essentially an antique any safer. I feel roughly the same way about vintage cars, vintage boats, and any other vehicle. I have always believed that it is foolish and irresponsible to keep using DUKWs as tourist vehicles (full disclosure, I saw one tip over in 1978, if you can believe that).
Honestly, is it really worth the risk to keep something this old in operation when putting it in a museum would be much safer?

It is Safe to Ignore Bill Maher From Now On




I am so glad that I don’t have to pay attention to this smug asshole anymore:

In the days after she became the most-Googled candidate at the first of two Democratic primary debates this week, Marianne Williamson faced sharp scrutiny on her past statements about vaccines and mental health during combative interviews with MSNBC’s Ari Melber and CNN’s Anderson Cooper

On Friday night, she found herself in the warm embrace of HBO’s Bill Maher.

Williamson didn’t seem to know quite what to expect when she sat down with the Real Time host midway through his first show back on the air in several weeks. He called her “too interesting to run for president” before suggesting that her spiritual philosophy “sounds like Scientology.” Taken aback, she asked, “How can you even say that?”

“It just sounds like it, I’m not saying it is,” Maher responded quickly, walking back the perceived criticism. Despite his nearly militant anti-religious stance, he seemed oddly taken with her message about a “higher power.” 

Anyone who kisses his ass from now on deserves to be mocked.

Half-hip Pony Truss




A historic bridge in North Dakota, built in 1906, collapsed Monday after a tractor-trailer hauling beans and exceeding the weight limit drove over it, the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
The bridge, which is on the National Registrar of Historic Places, spans the Goose River and is rated for 14 tons of gross weight, which is marked on the structure, according to the sherrif's office. The weight of the big rig was just over 43 tons, or 86,750 pounds, the sheriff's office said.
Officials estimate it will cost between $800,000 and $1 million to replace the bridge.
The driver of the 2005 Peterbilt truck was identified as Michael Dodds, and he was not injured. An overload citation of $11,400 was issued, the sheriff's office said in a statement.
The bridge type? Well, it was a half-hip pony truss, of course! Of course! And Pratt made it, I guess.
I had no idea that was even a thing. Is it infrastructure week? Because we certainly need an infrastructure week, and soon.

Gwyneth Paltrow is Definitely Not on Drugs




Sebastian Stan is one of those actors who should be very well known to other actors, but Gwyneth Paltrow keeps forgetting who he is for some odd reason:






It could very well be that Paltrow has no idea what she’s working on at any given time, being either confused or disorganized. In the last century, we would surmise that she was on drugs or that she was just flaky and ridiculous (kinda the same thing).

No one assumes someone is on drugs anymore, so that’s the point of all of this. We have gotten to a point when a reasonably intelligent person who can’t remember working with Sebastian Stan is not automatically accused of being heavily into drugs or completely wasted all of the time. I call that progress.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Puzzle




Shout! Factory and the folks who run Mystery Science Theater 3000 have teamed up to produce a new puzzle, and it looks like a fun addition to anyone’s collection.

I hope no one gets the wrong impression of Patton Oswalt or Felicia Day, however. They are playing characters! They’re not actually that maniacal in real life, or so I have been led to believe.

What Fresh Hell is This?




This is a very specific blog post, and it’s not directed at you.

It’s directed at the person who wrote this article and the editor, or editors, who allowed it to be published.

Who in the holy hell cares what Anthony Scaramucci has to say about anything? Who cares what he thinks about politics? About American foreign policy? About any goddamned thing imaginable?

What in the hell is wrong with you people? Scaramucci is not a credible source of information, opinion or expertise. He is a rolling sack of meat jammed into a suit. He’s less than informed about actual things happening in this world—he’s a discredited, unemployable jackass with no redeemable qualities.

You dutifully wrote down what he had to say, and you came up with this?

Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci believes it would be "very smart" for Iran to de-escalate tensions with the United States, amid fears of another military confrontation in the Middle East.

President Donald Trump announced fresh sanctions on the Islamic Republic on Monday, following the downing of an unmanned American drone last week.

The U.S. president also warned an Iranian attack on Americans would be met with "great and overwhelming force" and "obliteration."

Oh, man. If the Mooch says it would be “very smart” for the Republic of Iran to do something, well, we’d all better get in line behind his wise and learned advice and follow it, huh? This is million dollar stuff here.

Jesus fucking Christ, you people. You’ve elevated a barely sentient pissant to the level of what, exactly? Why don’t you get Omarosa’s opinion on textile trade with South Asia? Why don’t you get Corey Lewandowski’s opinion on relations with the opposition running against the government of Malaysia? How about asking Tom Price what we should do about our treaty rights in relation to all things concerning the Laplanders?

These are the stupidest times of our lives, bar none.

White People Problems




I think that what the Wall Street Journal is really trying to say is, “why aren’t there any conservatives who are funny and talented and can make us love some other aspect of our heritage?”

This is categorized as a “white people problem” and I’ll leave it at that.

Batman Got On My Nerves




Anyone who argues that Batman (1989) was anything other than a steaming turd is trying to rewrite history. It was actually a pretty shitty movie, and it was largely acknowledged to be trashy and campy on purpose:

Hollywood's obsession with Batman began thirty years ago on June 23, 1989 when Tim Burton, Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson showed doubters that The Dark Knight was worthy of the big screen. Batmanearned a massive $411.5 million globally, but faced a tough battle to the big screen that involved rejection from nearly every studio in Hollywood and its leading lady being re-cast at the last minute.

Batman has an origin story that begins in the most unassuming of places — with a twenty-something comic book geek attending college at Indiana University in Bloomington. In 1972, Michael Uslan landed on the radar of Sol Harrison, the vice president of DC Comics in New York, because the junior in college was teaching the world’s first-ever college accredited course on comic books.

“Sol said that what I was doing at Indiana was very innovative and good for the whole comic book industry," Uslan tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Sol and DC’s then President Carmine Infantino, flew me to New York and they offered me a job.” Uslan worked in New York in summers, and he was put on retainer while he was at Indiana.

At the time, DC Comics had been acquired by Warners Communications, a division of Warner Publishing. “The Warner Publishing brass, generally speaking, were not a bunch of happy campers that they owned a comic book company,” Uslan says. “They only saw value in Superman.”

In the following years, Uslan graduated from law school and cut his teeth in the film industry at United Artists. His time there prepared Uslan to make his dream of producing a dark and serious Batman movie a reality. His first stop: getting the film rights.

“The day came when I went back to Sol Harrison and said, 'Sol, I want to buy the rights to Batman,’” Uslan recalls.  “Sol was genuinely apoplectic. He was very fond of me, which I greatly appreciated. He said 'Michael, Michael for God’s sake don't do this. I don't want to see you lose all your money. Don’t you understand that after Batman went off the air on TV the brand became as dead as a dodo? Nobody’s interested in Batman anymore’ I countered with, ‘But Sol, nobody’s ever done a dark, serious Batman feature film. This is almost going to be like almost a new form of entertainment!’”

There was nothing dark or serious about Batman because, for all intents and purposes, Tim Burton was and still is a terrible filmmaker. I mean, go back and watch this, and then watch the one with poor Danny DeVito as a human penguin, and then get back to me about how these films should have been taken seriously. You could have put Adam West in these films and no one would have said a word.

Michael Keaton is a great actor, but he was largely wasted in these films. They were not “serious” in any sense of the word. They were expensive, exploitative, and copied elements from other films, such as Die Hard. If anything, send Bruce Willis fifty bucks. And, come on. If Jack Nicholson’s obituary mentions his role as the Joker, then you know something’s wrong.

Give me a break.

Wimberley Glassworks




This is easily one of my favorite places, and Wimberley Glassworks is an amazing place to find one of a kind works of art. Their specialties range from sculptures to light installations.
Everything you see here is more or less a one of a kind item, and they do so many other things.





Tim Conway 1933-2019




I don’t know if there is anyone who was more omnipresent than Tim Conway when I was growing up. He was always on television, always funny, always working. His ability to do live improvisational comedy (well, live to tape, anyway) was greatly underappreciated when he was on television.

Lori Loughlin




America’s beloved TV sweetheart is not going to go down without a fight:

 Actress Lori Loughlin has lost acting gigs and been the subject of public wrath after being charged in the college admissions scandal.

But beyond the court of public opinion, how strong is the legal case against Loughlin and her fashion designer husband?

That is the question her legal team is now trying to answer.

Loughlin and her husband have refused to plead out to federal charges, and it appears they aren’t in any hurry to do so as their legal team hunts for errors in the prosecution’s case.

“Her attorneys have made it clear that they are not going to be rushing into any deal with the prosecution,” said Louis Shapiro, an experienced federal litigator. “They want to perform a thorough analysis of the evidence and then help their client make an informed decision about what is in her best interest to do.”

The couple feel they were genuinely duped by William “Rick” Singer, the admitted mastermind of the scheme, into paying $500,000 to help get their daughters into the University of Southern California, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, had no sense they were engaging in any kind of crime, hence their not guilty pleas and continued reluctance to plead out, said the source, who spoke to the Los Angeles Times on the condition of anonymity.

The real threat here is not to Loughlin’s acting career but the future of her daughters on social media. All of that has collapsed. What looked to be an extremely lucrative future as an influencer has ended up being a nightmare run through the back alleys of fraud and money laundering. The actions of the parents have tainted the future of their children. Instead of owning up to a mistake, they’re going to weasel their way out of this by exploiting technicalities.

I can guarantee you—the case against Loughlin probably has some holes in it. But what’s missing here is at least a tacit admission that rich kids get into colleges and college admissions officials don’t seem to dig very hard when it comes to figuring out who should or shouldn’t get it.

America is not a meritocracy. America is rapidly becoming a kleptocracy separated by the same kinds of class barriers found in old European nations. We have always known that there were universities like Yale and Harvard that would crank out mediocre human beings that would be gifted with outlandish expectations and achievement goals upon graduation. This has given us our current political situation—a stumbling, incompetent trio of generations that failed to stop Trumpism, fascism, and nationalism.

You can hardly fault a TV actress for trying to set her indifferent kids up for a lifetime of skating by on their rather thin accomplishments. Perhaps Americans would have seen some benefit from experiencing the leveling grace of the guillotine. Who knows?

In the Field




Flowers in a field, somewhere southwest of Austin, Texas.

Meghan McCain Isn’t Worth the Aggravation




I get what Seth Meyers is trying to do here, but Meghan McCain is a howling mess:

Meghan McCain, the daughter of the late Senator John McCain, struggled through an awkward interview with NBC host Seth Meyers on Tuesday, with much of the conversation focused on McCain’s past comments about Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

McCain drew criticism after appearing on the This Week program with George Stephanopoulos just one day after the April 27 Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting in San Diego. She brought up Omar’s criticism of the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. when discussing the synagogue attack.

"When we’re having conversations about anti-Semitism, we should be looking at the most extreme on both sides," McCain said on This Week. "I would bring up Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and some of her comments that got so much attention, and in my opinion Nancy Pelosi wasn't harsh enough on her for trafficking in anti-Semitic language, talking about ‘All about the Benjamins’ and how Jewish people had ‘hypnotized’ the world.”

On Tuesday, Meyers put it to McCain that linking criticism of the pro-Israel lobby in America to anti-Semitic violence was irresponsible, Mediaite reported. “I do think it’s fairly dangerous, and you brought it up after Congresswoman Omar had also had some death threats against her,” he said.

McCain’s public persona really does suggest that she could be the Princess of Arizona, and nothing has been more apt as far as describing why she needs to join her husband at The Federalist and write unhinged rants all day long about Democrats who live their lives like everyone else.

The Senator’s daughter illustrates perfectly why there are laws against nepotism and why using a dead man’s reputation to stake out the high ground when it comes to moral superiority is a bad business strategy. I don’t see where she has any experience, ability, or talent, but she does explode right on cue while on television.

It was a fantastic trick that John McCain pulled on the American media complex. Universally dismissed as a Senator, he ingratiated himself with media personalities who were gullible and could be manipulated and they, in turn, created a nonsensical place for him as America’s Maverick Truth Teller. Nothing could be further from the truth. McCain whored himself out to every conservative special interest that would pay him. He was a reliable cog in the GOP’s Senate machine, casting one admirable vote out of thousands.

I think it’s safe to say that we ignore Meghan.

Probably Not a Good Idea to Be Seen With Trump




If you were hoping for a pause of the insanity of having a sitting president who is compromised by the Russians and can’t stop obstructing justice, then this is not your weekend.

Who in their right mind would be seen in public with Trump after the release of the Mueller Report? Well, now you have your answer—Rush Limbaugh, of course, and I suppose Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs are wondering what they did wrong.

To mount a full-throated defense of the indefensible is to divorce yourself from facts and reality with regards to Trump. Your garden variety publicist would be of two minds here—one, you could avoid the most toxic figure in America and maintain a low profile. Two, you could be seen as supportive and friendly, but risk being tarnished by association.

Whoever advised golfer Lexi Thompson to appear in a photograph with this president and one of the most venal conservatives in American history should be fired:

It’s a fact that Trump and Limbaugh have larger breasts than this young, athletic woman. I’m not sure what kind of a hot take that is, but it is factually correct.






The cult of Trump is all in, baby, all in. They don’t care what “voters” think because they know their Russian friends can bail them out of tight races. They don’t care what the serfs have to say about a damned thing. They have one constituency, and it’s a pitifully small group of oligarchs in Russia and the United States who are going to spend the next twenty-one months on this Earth stealing everything that they can get their hands on.

I had a bunch of tubby jokes, but fat shaming these men is impossible.






They don’t know what shame is anymore. They blunder through life, fucking everything up, and they can’t be bothered with how it looks. Someone else will repair the ruins. They know a Democrat will be elected in 2020, and that president will spend 8 years fixing everything they’ve broken. And then we’ll do it all over again because Americans never seem to learn the truth about Republicans, do they?

Paint By Numbers




I did paint-by-numbers work when I was younger. It’s a wonderful way to train yourself without getting bogged down in the details that would otherwise thwart you from doing something with art.

Dan Robbins, the inventor of the paint-by-numbers kits, has died aged 93. 

His kits inspired generations of budding artists to pick up a paintbrush and create multi-coloured wonders. Here, BBC News website readers share their artwork and stories about how the method helped them.

I would have guessed that these things were much, much older and dated from the Victorian era. But, no. Robbins invented them in the 1950s.

Here’s why I mention this:

Painting-by-numbers literally saved my life when I had a breakdown last year. 

I could barely function and my anxiety was through the roof. I was crying all the time and everything felt like an overload. 

Painting-by-numbers helped me to heal and gave me a break from the pain I was in. The act of painting each shape with a colour and being able to shut my brain off except for painting within the lines made such a difference to my recovery time, and I credit it with getting me to where I am today. 

I chose the image because I like animals and the colours were attractive to me. There is also a slight sadness in the deer's eyes which spoke to me. 

I believe this image took me about three weeks to complete, doing about one or two hours a day. 

It was my first adult paint-by-numbers kit. I used to do them as a child. I do a little bit of drawing and I like the idea of being able to paint but don't feel confident enough to start a picture myself from scratch. I like the fact that all the hard work is already done with a paint-by-numbers kit, and at the end you know the image will be beautiful.

Please click over to the BBC and read the rest. You’ll see things like this:



[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="976.0"] Nancy Pope Nancy Pope [/caption]


Wonderful.

Thanks again, Mr. Robbins.



R.E.M.




Now, this is a wonderful subject for a book:

Begin the Begin is the first biography of R.E.M. wholly researched and written since they disbanded in 2011. It offers by far the most detailed account of the group's formative years--their early lives, their first encounters with one another, their legendary debut show, early tours in the back of a van, initial recordings, their shrewdly paced rise to fame. The people and places of the American South are crucial to the R.E.M. story in ways much more complex and interesting than have previously been presented, claims Robert Dean Lurie; he explores the myriad ways in which the band's adopted hometown of Athens, Georgia--and the South in general--shaped its members and the character of their art. The South is much more than the background here; it plays a major role: the creative ferment that erupted in Athens and gripped many of its young inhabitants in the late 1970s and early '80s drew on regional traditions of outsider art and general cultural out-thereness, and gave rise to a free-spirited music scene that produced the B-52's and Pylon, as well as laying the ground for R.E.M.'s subsequent breakout success. Lurie has tracked down and interviewed numerous figures in the band's history who were underrepresented in, or absent from, earlier biographies--they contribute previously undocumented stories and cast a fresh light on the familiar narrative.

There are so many myths around R.E.M. They were just like every other band, but they broke through and reached a level of commercial success that probably made them feel excited and horrified at the same time.

The value of this book is likely going to be judged on several levels. Will it honestly address the efforts that the band made to keep their secrets from getting out? Will it deal with everything that happened to Jefferson Holt? What was the price of fame? Did Peter Buck spend 1985 wearing a bathrobe?

The Cheap, Tawdry Trump Era




This is the emblem of the Trump Era, writ large and laid out on a fine table in the White House.

Cheap, disposable piles of garbage food, set out in the midst of American History.

Imagine, if you will, the White House during the Kennedy years, presented in this fashion. Oh, I’m sure they had hamburgers in the White House, but not like this (but, really, did they? I have no idea). This is such an abomination.

I would imagine there have been many formal meals served here, and some informal ones. I can imagine what this room was decorated like during the Coolidge years or during the presidency of William McKinley. Would it have been adorned with such slop? Probably not.

Think of all the history that this particular room has seen over many, many decades. This is where Eisenhower, both Roosevelts, Lincoln himself (you see him on the wall, and you can imagine the laughter), and a whole host of founding fathers, lived their lives and conducted themselves. You can see the ghosts in the corners, just staring at the debacle of the Trump era. Even Andrew Jackson would have been appalled by how flinty and demeaning this food would look to visitors. He threw open the doors and let the common people stomp through the whole house, of course, but would he have served something so demeaning? Ah, no.

Nothing is more Trump than a priceless wooden table covered in pyramids of cold fast food containers, rotting at room temperature. Nothing is symbolizes the Age of Trump better than a squishy, tartar sauce drowned fish patty in a stale bun.

Trump is the president who thought that the best he could do was serve his fellow Americans a shit sandwich. What a fiasco.

Would You Please Stop Treating This Woman Like a Prop?




I will never figure out how Prince William ended up with absolutely the most interesting woman in all of Great Britain. Think of who he might have ended up with. When the old royals are finally gone, and we’re left with these two, they’ll be hilarious and drunk all the time, but in a good way.

Wakanda Forever




It’s been more than a year since the beautiful, wonderful, and talented Sara Benincasa put up her own money in order to bribe journalists to ask Trump if he thought Wakanda was a “shithole country.” Or maybe it was just to ask him what he thought of Wakanda. Or maybe it was all about figuring out if he knew what Wakanda really was.

Who cares? Trump’s a stupid ass and Wakanda forever, baby:

Want to know what would happen if a reporter seriously asked President Donald Trump how that bilateral trade agreement with Wakanda is panning out?

You’re not the only one. On Saturday, a widely shared tweet from Sara Benincasa, a screenwriter and author, called for a journalist to “very seriously” ask Trump “his opinion on our nation’s relations with Wakanda”—the fictional country from Marvel’s Black Panther comics.

It’s no stretch of the imagination to believe that Trump would deliver an answer. This is, after all, the same man who made up a whole-ass African country (“Nambia”—whose health system is “increasingly self-sufficient,” apparently). 

Benincasa offered $300 of her own money and, after many users chimed in with their support, said that she would start a “crowdfunding or Venmo situation” that would allow others to contribute to the purse. The stipulations: The question needs to be asked by a member of the media, and the question and answer must be recorded live on video.

Of all of the worthless comic book movies, there are but a handful that are worth something besides Wonder Woman. I thought Black Panther would get more recognition for the complexity of the story line and the resonance it has had in the consciousness of the country. Yeah, there really is a battle between good and evil going on, and evil wins far too often for my taste.

Meg Ryan


The New York Times magazine has an incredible and detailed piece about Meg Ryan, and where she is at today.

From the late ’80s through the ’90s, Meg Ryan shone about as brightly as any star in Hollywood. You know about her beloved string of romantic comedies — often written by Nora Ephron, often co-starring Tom Hanks. Less well remembered are her dramatic turns in the same era’s “When a Man Loves a Woman,” “City of Angels” and “Courage Under Fire,” all of which were commercial successes. But the harsh reaction to her 2003 erotic thriller, “In the Cut,” a critical and box-office flop that was widely seen as a failed attempt to complicate her winsome image, as well as her growing frustration with fame, compelled her to step into a less public, far happier life. “I wasn’t as curious about acting as I was about other things that life can give you,” says Ryan, 57. She quietly made her directorial debut in 2015 with the World War II-era drama “Ithaca,” and last November, she became engaged to the musician John Mellencamp. “I wanted,” she says, “to live more.”

Actors often talk about how their roles let them explore feelings that they might not otherwise explore. In the time since you began acting less, have you had to adjust how you process emotions? I felt in a crazy way that, as an actor, I was burning through life experiences. Somehow I was a helicopter pilot or a journalist or an alcoholic. I was living these express-lane lives. I’m not answering your question.

Did you feel as if you hit a wall by burning through all those experiences? Or the blunter way of asking the question is: Where’d you go? My son, Jack, graduated from high school on a Friday or Saturday. I moved back to New York from Los Angeles on the following Monday. I was burned out. I didn’t feel like I knew enough anymore about myself or the world to reflect it as an actor. I felt isolated.

In Hollywood or in fame? In fame and in work. Ever get in a car — maybe it’s a superexpensive car — and the inside’s lovely, you can’t complain about it, but you can’t hear anything outside, because there’s so much metal? There’s so much between you and everything else. You’re at a disadvantage as a young, famous person because you don’t know who’s telling you the truth. I’m not complaining — there are so many advantages to being famous — but there are fundamental disadvantages for a part of your brain, your self, your soul. My experiences were too limited.

An amazing talent. What more can you say about her? How many people ever get to a point in their lives where they are ready to tell you everything is bullshit and you need to grab a hold of something real?

Albert Finney 1936-2019




The great Albert Finney has died, and it had to happen on a Friday when the bad news just keeps rolling in. His achievements are too numerous to mention and his range and capability as an actor are just beyond comprehension. Here was a man who, for all of his life, took what he was given and made it his own.

His criminally ignored and under-appreciated turn as Leo O’Bannon in Miller’s Crossing (the greatest of all the gangster movies, of course) brought him no awards and no special recognition. It was yet another Coen brothers movies that gets talked about again and again but I don’t think people appreciate how Finney had to play the role. He is understated and calm and, while that usually looks like indifference on the screen, his every look and emotion in that film add up to absolute magic. There are no bad scenes. The pace of the film is astonishing and perfect. The whole thing falls apart if Finney plays him like all the other gangster bosses that came before. It doesn’t work if he hams it up or lashes out like a psychopath. Everything hinges on how he purrs through the dialogue, a man caught between hanging on to what he’s built and a woman who doesn’t love him.

For the great actor, it was just another role in a vast career. He did it, and it mattered, and he just went on to the next thing and kept working. He should have won three Oscars, but they snubbed him, just like they snubbed the late Alan Rickman.

Finney did so much to advance the art of acting. He is already missed.

How is This a Good Idea For a Movie?




I get that if you are a fan of the comic book series Morbius you are going to explode with rage at the banality of my lame take on this, but how is this even remotely a good idea?

Matt Smith is in final talks to join Jared Leto in “Morbius,” a film based on the Spider-Man villain of the same name.

“Safe House” director Daniel Espinosa will helm the movie. Exact details of who Smith would play are unknown at this time, other than it being a major role in the film.

Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, who co-created the Netflix series “Lost in Space,” penned the script. Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach are producing “Morbius” with Lucas Foster. Palak Patel will oversee the pic for Sony.

Writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane created Morbius in 1971 for “The Amazing Spider-Man #101.” The character was a scientist who tried to cure himself of a blood disease, with tragic results. He became afflicted with vampiric traits such as fangs and a thirst for blood — and wound up battling Spider-Man.

So, it’s like the movie Venom, which didn’t do that well, and it has Jared Leto, who tried to be the Joker and feel sort of flat with that, and we’re making another superhero film starring men again? A film about an obscure villain character that looks weird?

This is after determining that when women get better roles in these films they tend to be more successful? Like what just happened in Aquaman? And, in the case of Wonder Woman, when the lead of the story is a female, the movie tends to have artistic merit as well?

The female characters were central to the success of Black Panther as well. And I think the chief criticism of Ant Man and The Wasp was that there wasn’t enough Evangeline Lilly, correct?

Okay, whatever.

Pamela Adlon




Do you know why so many people have turned their backs on Louis CK? Look no further than Pamela Adlon:

Soon after the Times report about C.K. was published in 2017, Adlon released a statement in support of the accusers, saying she felt “deep sorrow” for them and calling C.K.’s behavior “abhorrent.” Just a few days later it was reported that Adlon had dropped her manager Dave Becky — who also served as an executive producer on Better Things — due to the Times report’s revelation that Becky had played a part in keeping the accusations against C.K. under wraps for years. Becky represents a long list of comedy clients, including Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari, and Kevin Hart, but none of his other clients have publicly supported Adlon in her decision to drop him.

Aside from Amy Poehler, Ansari and Hart have had their troubles in recent years, but certainly not to the extent of Louis CK. If Pamela Adlon wants nothing to do with him, or his manager, then what does that tell you about the whole rotten affair?