Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Short Takes

Attacks in Jakarta leave 4 dead.

Iran’s swift release of sailors indicates change in ties with U.S.

South Korea fires warning shots over North Korea’s nuclear program.

Ted Cruz did not report a low-interest loan from Goldman Sachs.

Al Jazeera America cable channel to shut down by April.

MH370 hunt turns up 19th century shipwreck.

Happy birthday, LWM.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Little Night Music

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Originally aired on CBS on December 9, 1965 (and “brought to you by the people in your town who bottle Coca-Cola”), it has been shown every year since.  It switched from CBS to ABC in 2001, and tonight they’ll do it again with a special about the special at 8:00 pm ET (check local listings).  It is the only Christmas special I will watch on purpose.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Monday, October 5, 2015

“Coulda Been Sooner”

Hillary Clinton was on the season opener of Saturday Night Live:

Clinton played a bartender named Val who keeps the glasses full for Kate McKinnon’s depressed Clinton character. “Oh Val, I’m just so darn bummed. All anybody wants to talk about is Donald Trump,” said McKinnon’s fake Clinton.

“Donald Trump? Isn’t he the one that’s like, ‘Uh, you’re all losers?’” real-Clinton responded in a deeper voice mocking the loud Republican counterpart.

[…]

The segment did exactly what those close to Clinton have been encouraging her to do to appear more personable: use her self-deprecating sense of humor she’s famous for to help boost sagging poll numbers. The two even mocked some of Clinton’s slow-to-act positions such as her opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline and support of gay marriage. “I could have supported it sooner,” fake Clinton said. “Well, you supported it pretty soon,” real Clinton said. “Yeah… coulda been sooner” said fake Clinton.

The most hilarious moment came when old SNL cast member Darrell Hammond appeared to do his Bill Clinton impression, took one look at the two HRC’s and screamed “Oh my God! They’re multiplying!” before running out of the fake Brooklyn bar.

Video here.

Politicians have been trying to find ways to connect with voters in non-traditional ways for decades, and it usually works if they pull it off.  Even stuffy Richard Nixon managed to appear hip for an instant when he did a five-second “Sock it to me?” on Laugh-In in 1968.

Ms. Clinton has a reputation for not trusting the media — Gee, I wonder why — so getting her to go on SNL is considered a breakthrough for getting her to appear more approachable and less scripted.

I’m pretty sure she’ll catch some grief from the Very Serious People who will say it’s beneath her to go on such a show, and from those who will note that she’s not a polished actor — at least in sketch comedy.  My only thought is that she’s right when she says she “coulda been sooner,” at least in terms of letting the world see that unlike some folks out there in the political arena, she doesn’t mind a bit of self-mockery.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015

Short Takes

Report: ISIS used mustard gas against the Kurds.

The death toll in the explosion in Tianjin, China, is over 50.

Speaking of China, the currency devaluation is seen as another round in a financial skirmish.

Sesame Street is moving to HBO.

El Niño could make California windy and wet.

The Tigers had the night off.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Short Takes

The Supreme Court stays Texas abortion law.

The Supreme Court lets controversial lethal injection method stand.

Greece’s debt crisis freaked out the stock markets.

Some southern states are going along with marriage equality.

Someone else I don’t care about is no longer on TV.

The Tigers had the night off.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Friday, April 10, 2015

Because Freedom

I’m not a huge Dan Savage fan, but if a network wants to use his childhood as inspiration for a sitcom, so what?

The Media Research Center and Family Research Council said their members have sent more than 21,000 postcards and made more than 4,000 telephone calls asking ABC to abandon the series, tentatively titled “The Real O’Neals.” ABC is not commenting on the effort, while Savage said it is misdirected.

The show, which features actress Martha Plimpton as the family matriarch, is one of 12 comedy pilots the network is considering. Generally, about half of those pilots — at most — will get the green light.

Savage, author of the “Savage Love” advice column, said the series evolved out of a meeting he had with ABC executives where aspects of his childhood that he has written about were discussed.

[…]

Savage’s very involvement angers the conservative groups. In a letter sent to Ben Sherwood, president of the Disney/ABC Television Group, MRC president L. Brent Bozell and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins cited Savage’s “radical hate speech” and “venomous anti-Christian bigotry.”

“They’re choosing him for his signature, which is religious bigotry and personal offensiveness, not because he’s gay,” Bozell said. “There are a thousand and one gay people they could have chosen.”

Savage wrote in 2000 about volunteering for Republican Gary Bauer’s presidential campaign and, suffering from the flu, licking doorknobs in the campaign office in an attempt to infect others. He also tried to give a definition involving a gay sex act to Republican Rick Santorum’s name on Google.

“A campaign for or against the show isn’t relevant at this point as the pilot isn’t even finished yet,” Savage said. “Again, the campaign … is misdirected, as the show isn’t by me — I’m not one of the writers — and it isn’t about me.”

The conservatives’ real complaint about Mr. Savage is that whenever they debate him on TV, he beats the daylights out of them with snark and scorn; he stands up to their bullying and wins.  Hey, no fair!  So this is their attempt to get back at him for all the arguments they lost.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

He Got Their Attention

The news that Jon Stewart will be leaving The Daily Show later this year is sad; I’m sorry to see him go.  But he’s also making the choice to leave it while he’s still got the energy and wit to make it a graceful exit.

What I think makes his work different from a lot of other comedians and observers of our world is that he was able to get the attention of the people he was laughing at.  It got to the point that if someone was skewered by The Daily Show, they actually responded or, in some cases, even amended their ways.  That’s a whole other level beyond getting a mention in a David Letterman monologue.

The closest parallel I can think of in terms of theatre is the role of the Fool in Shakespeare’s plays such as King Lear: the one character who had no trouble speaking truth to power and doing it in such a way as to really drive home the point with humor and surgeon-like deftness.  We need these kinds of clowns — and I use that word in the best way — to bring down the powerful and remind them that they are just as flawed and powerless as everyone else.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Revolution Will Be On Netflix

Via Riptide:

Cubans will soon get to watch shows about corrupt, conniving politicians and the inadequacies of America’s prison system.

Yes, Netflix has officially launched in Cuba, bringing shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black to the island. The move also means that Netflix now offers its services in every single country in the Americas.

“We are delighted to finally be able to offer Netflix to the people of Cuba, connecting them with stories they will love from all over the world,” said Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings in a statement. “Cuba has great filmmakers and a robust arts culture and one day we hope to be able to bring their work to our global audience of over 57 million members.”

Granted, at the moment very few Cubans will actually be able to access the service. As of 2012, only about 25.6 percent of the population has access to the internet, and many have to rely on access through hotels, internet cafes, embassies and at work. It’s estimated that only 5 percent of the population has unrestricted, private access to the internet, and even then speeds are slow.

We’ve gone from reruns of Kate & Allie on TV Marti to House of Cards.  Forget about opening embassies and lifting the travel ban; this more than anything else signals the big thaw between Cuba and the U.S.