Sunday, May 03, 2015

Santorum flunks science

If he says he’s a woman, then he’s a woman.”

Yeah, well, I'm a bird, a sex god and a reckless billionaire.

'People are tired of namby-pamby'

Well, I'm certainly tired of Kasich. Can't wait until he flames out. I'd rather have a third term of Obama.

Awards East

The Tony nominations are out.  Try to control your excitement.  Lotsa stars, lotsa snubs.  Let's look at the top categories:

Best Musical
An American In Paris
Fun Home
Something Rotten!
The Visit
An American In Paris was quite the surprise title with 12 nods.  Not doing so well was Finding Neverland, the biggest snubee with a goose egg.
Best Play
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
Hand To God
Wolf Hall Parts 1 and 2
Nothing for Fish In The Dark. It's a hit with the crowds, but the critics couldn't stand it.
Best Musical Revival
The King And I
On The Town
On The Twentieth Century
Only three?  Plenty of other choices available. For instance, where's Side Show?
Best Play Revival
The Elephant Man
This Is Our Youth
You Can't Take It With You
Good to see This Is Our Youth on the list.  No It's Only A Play?  Rewritten or not, that's a revival, right?  No Real Thing and no Delicate Balance, which were both completely snubbed.
Best Leading Actor in a Play
Steven Boyer, ‘Hand to God
Bradley Cooper, ‘The Elephant Man’
Ben Miles, ‘Wolf Hall Parts 1 and 2’
Bill Nighy, ‘Skylight’
Alex Sharp, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’
Bradley Cooper continues his hot streak.  But some surprising omissions, above all Jake Gyllenhaal--whose costar, Ruth Wilson, made it.  Also missing, some beloved names--James Earl Jones, John Lithgow, Hugh Jackman, Ewan McGregor and Nathan Lane.  Larry David never had a chance.
Best Leading Actress in a Play
Geneva Carr, ‘Hand to God’
Helen Mirren, 'The Audience'
Elisabeth Moss, 'The Heidi Chronicles'
Carey Mulligan, ‘Skylight’
Ruth Wilson,  'Constellations'
More big names, but not Glenn Close. No Maggie Gyllenhaal or Cynthia Nixon. No Blythe Danner.  No Rose Byrne.  Not sure if Elisabeth Moss was expected, but with no one winning Emmys any more for Mad Men, she could use it.  
Best Leading Actor in a Musical
Michael Cerveris, ‘Fun Home’
Robert Fairchild, ‘An American in Paris’
Brian d’Arcy James, ‘Something Rotten!’
Ken Watanabe, ‘The King and I’
Tony Yazbeck, ‘On the Town’
For a change, no huge celebrity names.  So no Kelsey Grammer.  And I guess Tony Danza never had a chance.  But also no Peter Gallagher, John Cariani or Rob McClure.
Best Leading Actress in a Musical
Kristin Chenoweth, ‘On the Twentieth Century’
Leanne Cope, ‘An American in Paris’
Beth Malone, ‘Fun Home’
Kelli O’Hara, ‘The King and I’
Chita Rivera, ‘The Visit’
Will Kelli O'Hara finally win one of these?  I'd say she's the favorite, even going up against veteran divas like Chenoweth and Rivera.  No Tyne Daly, by the way.
Best Book of a Musical
‘An American in Paris,’ Craig Lucas
‘Fun Home,’ Lisa Kron
‘Something Rotten!,’ Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell
‘The Visit,’Terrence McNally
Big names like Lucas and McNally against lesser known ones. Should be fun.
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics)
‘Fun Home,’ Music: Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics: Lisa Kron
'The Last Ship' Music and Lyrics: Sting
‘Something Rotten!,’ Music and Lyrics: Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick
‘The Visit,’ Music: John Kander, Lyrics: Fred Ebb
Some fairly new names, and some of the oldest--Kander and Ebb, as if they need more Tonys.  And a surprise visitor from the pop world, Sting--he might liven up the ceremony, even if his show flopped.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

My ex

Ex-Ally of Gov. Chris Christie Pleads Guilty in Bridge Scandal

On what basis is he an ex-ally? The story doesn't bother to say.

Regardless, now we've got a scandal of import, so we can quit focusing on Hillary.

(Who knew this clown show was still going on? Maybe I'm just getting old, but I thought there was a day when the legal system still had an ounce of legitimacy. I must be mistaken.)

And the other 48 percent are so happy they can't speak

52 percent of Democrats happy with socialism

"I am a socialist and everyone knows that. They also understand that my kind of democratic socialism has nothing to do with authoritarian communism."

Nothing at all, no sir. Doesn't sound like Bernie has read "The Road to Serfdom," either.

Oh, well. Sounds like capitalism is in for a Rough Ride.

Our tender ears

"Americans appear to be suspicious of Hillary Rodham Clinton's honesty"

"Republican criticism of her openness, wealth and trustworthiness seem to have struck a nerve in the public's perception"

"Nearly four in 10 Democrats, and more than six in 10 independents agreed that "honest" was not the best word for her."


Republican criticism?

"not the best word"?

Good lord, AP. Talk about throwing your credibility down a rathole. Good thing you threw in that Republicans are even worse, although you didn't bother to quite state how.

The King Is Dead

Ben E. King has died.  The great R&B artist sang lead for the Drifters before going solo.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Sunday Roundup

With all the attention I'm giving to Game Of Thrones, let's not ignore all the other shows on Sunday.

For instance, Mad Men's almost over, and its endgame is getting clearer (as much as it can for this kind of show).  McCann is swallowing Sterling Cooper, so, good or bad, it's the end of an era.  And how was this earth-shattering development announced in the show's cryptic log line?: "Roger asks Joan for help with a clerical error."

Meanwhile, Silicon Valley seems to have a new player, obnoxious money man Russ Hanneman, as played by Chris Diamantopoulos, last seen essaying a very similar character in Episodes.  As much as I like this show, they don't demand too much of their actors.  Zach Woods as their timid business planner is virtually reprising his character from The Office.  Martin Starr's Gilfoyle could be a cousin to Roman, his character on Party Down.  Josh Brener's Big Head is pretty similar to his Googlish Lyle in The Internship.  And T. J. Miller as the shallow loudmouth is doing your basic T. J. Miller performance.  But I guess you can't have typecasting without casting to type.

Then there's Showtime's new Happyish, a half-hour comedy about a middle-aged ad man dealing with his life.  It's gotten bad reviews, but did it deserve them? Yes and no.  Some of the critics just seemed cranky to see a relatively privileged white guy complain.  I agree this is well-trod territory, but if well done, there's room for one more.

Happyish isn't bad, exactly, but it doesn't quite distinguish itself.  It's got a nice cast, with Steve Coogan (who replaced Philip Seymour Hoffman after Hoffman shot a pilot), Bradley Whitford and Kathryn Hahn, but not great lines or an imaginative plot.  But still worth watching for further developments.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

I look at things as they might be, and ask myself, 'Mightn't they?'

Ben Carson . . . retired neurosurgeon and conservative star . . . [has ]been traveling around the country in what might be called a non-strategic way.

Yes, indeed, it might. As I was speaking only yesterday of  Dave Clarke (serendipity or recency bias? I say serendipity), Dave Clarke has a far better chance of running an even marginally competent campaign for president than Ben Carson.

I don't say that a really, really smart and disciplined guy could never be able to do it, but I come so close to saying so that it's practically the same. Some electoral experience is certainly an advantage and might even be necessary.

But even then, c'mon. What's wrong with running for senator? Or congressman? Maybe as a campaign for vice president it might make sense, but even there I'm skeptical. The last thing anyone should want is another flameout campaign--and it sure seems as if most campaigns are indeed flameouts, not just failures or at least losers, which is by definition necessarily true, but actually damaging misfires. This is especially the case when it is somebody who clearly has a lot to bring to the table and shouldn't foolishly risk their credibility.

Ely's Gone

They were originally going to record it as an instrumental, but once inside the studio, Jack Ely, frontman of The Kingsmen, decided to sing it.  And that's how history is made.

Goodbye Jack.  We didn't need to know much about you--the song was enough.

Sexy Issue

[Note:  I wrote this the day the case was argued.  Since then, I've heard others make similar claims.  So if you've heard it before, all I can say is you're about to hear it again.]

Obergefell v. Hodges was argued earlier this week before the Supreme Court.  The question is are states, under the Fourteenth Amendment, required to license same-sex marriages, and also are they required to recognize such marriages from other states.  Pundits are trying to read the tea leaves, and many believe Justice Kennedy will be the one to decide.  Perhaps the Court will punt, perhaps they'll go all the way.  I wouldn't presume to know.  I'm pretty sure same-sex marriage is the future, and I think the Justices know that, but I don't know if that knowledge will affect the case.

One thing I do know is many conservative are outraged at the thought the Court will find that there's a right for same-sex marriage.  To quote, for instance, the editors on National Review Online:

If the Supreme Court rules that all state governments must recognize same-sex unions as marriages, it will not just be saying that the view that marriage should be defined in law as the union of a man and a woman is wrong—and saying that without any clear constitutional warrant. It will be officially declaring that this view is irrational, in opposition to the country’s fundamental principles, and, quite possibly, bigoted. The Court should refrain from taking that reckless step.
When the Court ruled in 2013 that the federal government could not define marriage as the union of a man and a woman for the purposes of its own programs, Justice Kennedy’s opinion was full of references to the prerogatives of the states. If the Court now rules that states do not have the authority to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, either, it will be clear that those references were for show, and that the Constitution is the plaything of a willful Court.
They're not happy, but I wonder if such a ruling wouldn't be good for conservatives.  For years the Republicans used (or tried to use) gay marriage as a wedge issue.  Now that it's clear a solid majority support same-sex marriage, and that we're not going back, the issue can be used against the GOP.
If the Supreme Court declares same-sex marriage is a right, it will mostly take this out of the public arena.  Yes, some of the conservative base strongly enough opposes the idea that certain candidates will still make a big deal of their opposition, and might even say they support a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the decision. (Attempting to pass such an Amendment would be quixotic, but the funny thing is if people knew what was happening today, they might have passed it when Bill Clinton was President.) But most of the candidates, especially once there's a general election, can simply say that, regardless of their personal feelings, the Court has spoken and it's our duty to follow the law.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The kids are alright

There are ubiquitous polls about how the public doesn't know squat, can't find Miami on a map, don't know the Second Assistant Undersecretary of this or that office of this or that section of this or that division of this or that department of this or that branch, etc.

Or, evergreen favorites, the vice president, senate majority leader or for that matter majority party.

But just when you're about to lose hope, along comes something that tells you all is well: "Just 2% of younger Americans trust media to 'do the right thing'"

A present

You know what a good birthday present would be? Senator David Clarke, that's what.

Happy Birthday To Me, Happy Birthday To Me...

Taking it easy today, so let's hear some music from Sir Duke, who shares my birthday.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Peter Principle

No More Boring Sermons

I think His Holiness's mouth is writing checks he can't cash.

Game Afoot

"High Sparrow" was a densely packed episode of Game Of Thrones, the best yet this season.  And, as promised, the characters are starting to meet in all sorts of delightful new combinations.

We start with Arya in the House Of Black And White.  She's sweeping up, and it's a good thing too, since there's a whole lot of dirt and dust around.  Jaqen is helping a guy with a drink--though this apparently leads to his death.  Is this why people come?  Arya, who's been apprenticing to a lot of guys over the years, but never so explicitly, it impatient for her learning to begin learning to be Faceless.  But Jaqen sees Arya is all about Arya, when she has to become No One to serve their god (which seems to be death).

Back in King's Landing, Tommen and Margaery get married an no one dies!  Mags is popular with the people, as Cersei can't help but notice. And like Steve Martin in The Jerk, Tommen has found his purpose in life on his wedding night. It's all he wants to do.  Get in line.  (This season Tommen is a young man, so we're not watching kiddie porn.)  Margaery, of course, has no trouble wrapping poor Tommen around her finger.  She puts ideas in his head, such as does he really want his mother hanging around watching him?  He's not as nasty as Joffrey, but he's just as dumb.  Pretty soon he's suggesting mom back to Casterly Rock.  Hmm--she's not going to stand for that. And next Cersei goes to Margaery, and both say nice things that they don't mean.

Up North (is it Winterfell or Moat Cailin?--wasn't entirely clear this episode but I'm pretty sure it's the former) Roose and Ramsay are cleaning up the place.  Ramsay has been flaying Lords who just won't listen, but then, it's second nature to him.  Roose, just as dangerous but a lot smoother, tells him you can't run the North through terror.  As Reek serves them (I assume he's listening, but can he hear?), Roose let's his son know they need help with Tywin gone and no help coming from the Lannisters.  So the right move is marriage--to Sansa Stark.  Wow!  So the plan is finally revealed.

Sansa and Littlefinger, riding up North, stop at Moat Cailin, and he explains his plan.  This is a pretty big deal.  Ramsay is the son of the man who killed Robb.  (He's also the most sadistic prick in the the Seven Kingdoms now that Sansa's former intended, Joffrey, is dead.)  The old Sansa wouldn't stand for this, but Dark Sansa will listen to Petyr--this is how things work. It's even a chance for vengeance.  And they ride on.

Followed by Brienne and Pod.  Lot of open country--no one sees them?  They have a talk.  About time, since Brienne has been pretty jerky around Pod, who's not a bad guy.  They tell of their past, which could be tiresome, but works here.  Pod explains how he became a squire (instead of being hanged by Tywin, so not such a bad deal).  Brienne softens and decides she'll help train him, and then opens up.  When she was a girl she was having a lovely time at a party until she realized all the boys were making fun of her (so she could have been a regular lady if only...).  She was humiliated, until Renly danced with her, and from that point on she wanted to serve him.  Renly was always good with people.  And, we learn, she always knew he was gay--good to know, I guess, that's she's not that naïve.  And now she wants to avenge him by killing Stannis.

So let's look at the scorecard.  Roose and Ramsay wants to take over the North. Theon seems to be on their side, but can he remember what he used to be (and what he used to have?). Ramsay will marry Sansa, who hates the Bolton's. Littlefinger, allegedly sworn to the Lannisters, seems to be turning, though it's hard to say in what direction but his own.  Brienne wants to save Sansa from Littlefinger, but also wants to kill Stannis, who seems ready to march down to Winterfell.  So it should be quite a party.

Speaking of Stannis, he meets with the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Jon Snow.  Stannis up north seems a bit more reasonable (if still steely).  Snow turns down the offer of becoming a Stark and taking back Winterfell--he's sworn to stay at the Wall.  Snow should tell him Aemon's story, but why bother, he's not moving.  And Stannis takes is reasonably well.  Snow is also thinking like a commander--he wants Stannis on the move--it costs a lot to feed an army.  (Speaking of which, where are these thousands, along with the thousands of Wildlings.  I guess it's just a TV show, not a movie, so we don't get a cast of thousands.)  Stannis announces he's leaving soon for Winterfell.  Good, time to get his plot moving.  Jon says he plans to keep his enemies close--has he been watching The Godfather?  After Stannis leaves, Davos sticks around--the King can see something in Jon. Hmm. What does that mean.  (Do you really want Jon to compete against you?)\

Back in Braavos, one of the young female trainees at the House comes into Arya's chambers and starts attacking her when Arya claims she's no one.  Jaqen comes in and explain how can she say she's Faceless when she's got Arya Stark's clothes, sword, etc.  He's going full Miyagi on her, but a little of that goes a long way.  Arya packs her few belongings and throws them in the bay.  Except Needle, which she hides. Hey, I want her to become a faceless killer, but we don't want to lose good old Arya--she's got a lot of avenging to do, after all.  Back at the House, Arya is finally allowed to go into the room where they take the dead bodies.  They strip them and wash them, but I'm not sure what the point is.

At Winterfell (I think, and not Moat Cailin--still, that's a pretty long ride), Lady Sansa comes in and is greeted by Lord Bolton. Now that's a meeting.  Ramsay says high (and Roose's fat Frey wife says nothing), but a bunch of the ladies there look on in a weird way. And when Sansa is shown to her room, and old lady tells her "Welcome Home Lady Stark--the North remembers." Now that sends chills down your spine.  This wedding may not be going as planned.

At the Wall, Snow holds his first (?) meeting.  He could give Alliser a bad duty, like latrine pit, but he won't. Instead the guy he beat gets to be First Ranger.  Smart move.  Janso Slynt is sent to another Fort to clean it up, and he gets high and mighty, refusing the order.  Slynt has always been a weasel, but is he stupid too?  Yes, he is. Or at least a bad judge of character.  When he insults Snow, Jon has him taken outside and gets his sword.  A fine Stark tradition, and Slynt (who did fine in the capital, like fellow weasel Meryn Trant) realizes he's overplayed his hand.  On the chopping block, he starts apologizing. To late, and pathetic last words. Off with his head.  Stannis watches, and approves.  Snow is a man he appreciates, even if they seem to be parting ways.

At King's Landing, at Baelish's establishment, the High Septon is involved in one of his kinky practices when the religious fanatics, the Sparrows, come in and force him out into the streets, naked.  Is this any way to treat the highest religious representative?  He marches into the Small Council (after dressing), rightly complaining. (Pycelle, who knows a thing or two about Petyr's place, quite agrees with him.)  The Septon is your classic religious hypocrite, and I thought Cersei might be sympathetic to his pleas that she arrests the sparrows and execute the "High Sparrow" (played by Jonathan Pryce, as we've been promised).

She seeks out the High Sparrow, humbly serving others.  It might seem nice, but we know you have to watch out with religious fanatics. Yet it seems Cersei is involved in some sort of power play--she's tossed the High Septon in the dungeon.  She knows the Sparrows will stop at nothing, so does she hope she can somehow enlist them for her devious plans?  Cersei is wilful, but not always that smart.  (Wait till they find out where he kids came from.)

Meanwhile, in Qyburn's labs, he's told to send a Raven to long-gone Littlefinger.  Does Cersei have any idea of Baelish's plans.  Does he have any idea of her plans?  We'll see.  Until then, we get to enjoy a little Frankenstein action of Qyburn's part.  That should be fun.

At Winterfell, we almost get the reunion we're waiting for as Dark Sansa walks by Theon/Reek, but doesn't recognize him. I don't know how she's react, but more important, I want to know what Theon is thinking. Is he going to turn? In what way?  Ramsay and Littlefinger have a little talk before Ramsay sends his (former) bastard away.  Roose has received (and read) the message of Littlefinger.  So is Petyr truly planning to side with the Boltons, is he still with the Lannisters, is he rooting for the Tyrells?  I have no idea at this point what he's working at, but no doubt it's devious.  At least Roose understands that it's okay to take big chances, as the Red Wedding showed.

Now we see Tyrion--wasn't sure if he'd make it into this crowded episode. He needs to get out of his wheelhouse and breathe fresh, brothel air.  He doesn't take the threat of losing his head that seriously, I guess.  Varys lets him out for a walk in Volantis.  The two would seem pretty conspicuous, but the town is crowded, so maybe here they can get lost.  They stop and see a priestess for the Lord of Light.  Tyrion mentions "Stone Men" who have greyscale--we heard about this disease last week, so now I can only assume some major character will soon acquire this plague.

The priestess is proclaiming Daenerys the savior.  Really?  I didn't notice Dany being particularly religious.  Meanwhile, Stannis, with an army and a clear claim to the throne, is explicitly devoted to the Lord of Light.  Guess that stuff doesn't play as well in Essos, or at least he needs better public relations.

Varys and Tyrion go out for a good time.  Tyrion starts some banter with a whore, but can't go through with it (neither can Varys, even if he wanted to).  Did Shae ruin everything?  He goes to take a piss into the river, and is out of sight for a second.  Varys goes to follow, but before you know it, there's Jorah Mormont tying him up. Jorah would have been a much more exciting reveal if we hadn't seen his face before the credits reminding us of plot points.  Curse them!  I usually try to avoid this section of the show--I can follow the story, and even if I can't, I'll catch up.  Who needs those snippets anyway?

Jorah says "I'm taking you to the queen" and that's the show.  It's sort of comic, since he's going there anyway.  Tyrion would probably say that if he weren't gagged. (Some comments on the internet saw Jorah's line as ambiguous--which queen?  Certainly Cersei wants Tyrion badly. But come on, Jorah serves Dany, and wants back in her good graces. Besides, he's already got a royal pardon, and could have gone back to King's Landing by now if he wanted to.)

So that's it. All that happened, without even a word about Dany, or Jaime and Bronn's trip to Dorne. (And forget Bran--apparently he's out for the season. Fine with me, since the other Stark charges have so much going on it's hard to keep track.)  I've noticed this season the directors are doing two episodes in a row. Makes sense, since they've got to travel between all the sets, why not do it more efficiently?  But it almost makes me wish we had two hours shown back to back, so even week we could see what all the characters are doing.  Except then that each season would be over in a month.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Non-Jew Telling a Joke

On a whim (and after a fairly aggressive Groupon campaign), my wife and I and a friend went to "Old Jews Telling Jokes" this week- basically five actors on a bare set telling or acting out jokes interspersed with a few brief monologues about the characters.   Yes I've heard a lot of these before, but a lot I hadn't.  It grew out of a website featuring what the title says.   I really liked it and having my wife there was good so I knew what I was OK to laugh.  Kind of like a dirty meaner Soupy Sales (they mentioned him in the show- I'd forgotten all about him)

....So a guy goes into the doctor with carrots sticking out of his ears and mushrooms shoved up his nose.  The doctor says "You're not eating right.".....

I got a million of these.   Please remember your waiters and waitresses.  I'm here all week. 

Did you hear about the moil who didn't charge a fee?

Detroit New Wave

Happy birthday, Wally Palmar, co-founder and co-lead singer of The Romantics.

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