Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Tuesday TV Touchbase: Fargo, Saturday Night Live, Aerial America and Jeopardy

 


Fargo continues to weave a tangled web where various characters are connecting in unexpected ways.

I almost need a flow chart to keep up with all of this.

The Fadda family is in disarray. After the death of Donatello Fadda, son Justo is contending with a power grab from brother Gaetano. 

Oraetta Mayflower who helped kill Donatello Fadda per Justo's request lives across the street from the bi-racial Smutny family which offends her racist sensiblities so she bakes them an apple pie with syrup of ipecac. 

Meanwhile, the Smutneys are in debt to Loy Cannon whose crime gang is in a heated rivalry with the Faddas.

Meanwhile, Dibrell Smutny's sister, bank robber Zelmare Roulette, and her lover, Swanee Capps, have escaped from prison. Stopping by the Smutny household, Swanee takes the pie and consumes it on their way to a robbery, specifically Loy Cannon's compound where the two larcenous lesbians steal a shit ton of money but not before Oraetta's poisoned apple pie hits Swanee's gastrointestinal tract and she barfs all over the money. 

In a cheap hotel hideaway, Swanee writhes and moans in distress; a vertiable spectre of death passes through the room but for the moment passes by Swanee. Zelmare is running a literal money laundering operation as she soaks the dollar bills in a bath tub, attempting to clean off the vomit. 

Zelmare gives meets with Dibrell's husband, Thurman, to give him a batch of money so he can pay off Loy Cannon. 

Loy Cannon is pleasantly surprised to have Thurman Smutney pay off his debt until he detects a still lingering odor of vomit and he's pissed off: Thurman paid off Loy with Loy's own money?!?!

And that brings us up to Sunday.

Loy Cannon confronts Thurman & Dibrell Smutney and declares their funeral home business belongs to him now.

Cannon also corners Zelmare Roulette and Swanee Capps in their hotel hideaway. Instead of killing them for robbing his operation, Loy Cannon is going to put them to work for him as his "invisible soldiers". 

Cannon needs all the fighters he can get on his side because Justo Fadda is bringing the heat. Dirty cops under Fadda control stage a raid on Cannon's operations. Justo thinks this is enough to make Cannon stand down and to convince his brother Gaetano that Justo is in charge of the Fadda crime family.

Gaetano isn't buying what Justo is selling and stages another hit on Cannon's team. This time the hit is successful and it leaves Loy's wise mentor and right hand man Doctor Senator lying dead in the street. 

Chris Rock really delivers the intensity as Loy Cannon surveys the pressure on his vast enterprise being brought to bear from some many different directions. Cannon has every reason to go total batshit crazy on every one but instead he holds it all down even as his rage is conveyed in the burning glare in his eyes and the sharp biting cold of his words. 

How much will Loy Cannon's self control be challenged in the wake of Doc Senator's execution by Gaetano Fadda? 

We're only halfway through this season. Death has so many of this sprawling cast in his crosshairs and there is no telling just how badly this is all going to turn out for everyone involved.


Saturday Night Live returned to Studio 8H 3 weeks ago but I feel the show has not quite found it's rhythm yet. This past Saturday's episode hosted by Issa Rae was probably the strongest of this season but the bar wasn't particularly that high.  

My favorite sketch of the week and perhaps for this season so far was "Bonjour! Hi!", a bizarre morning news show on Canadian television.


Issa Rae's breathless "Drake Watch" reports are weird in that she never actually sees "Drake" but hey, she'll keep looking. 

Where the show is still not quite clicking is in the cold open. With election day bearing down us, the cold opens are dedicated to politics with sketches centered around the debates and town halls. Because real life is so bizarre, these sketches rely heavily on re-enactments; it's hard for writers to make these proceedings even more weird than what we've already witnessed on the news. 

Alec Baldwin is clearly regretting ever saying "yes" to Lorne Michaels when he agreed to play Donald Trump back in 2016. Quite frankly, Darrell Hammond remains my favorite take on Donald Trump and since Darrell's still around as SNL's announcer, I'm not sure why he didn't get to keep the gig.

Jim Carrey's take on Joe Biden at least tries to look beyond obvious mimicry. In this past Saturday's opener, Carrey as Biden also channeled Fred Rogers and Bob Ross. Occasionally, the manic energy of Jim's Fire Marshall Bill or Ace Ventura bleeds through, giving us a different take on Joe Biden.  

I think SNL will benefit when the political world is one day no longer is no longer a bag of dog shit on fire in the middle of a dumpster fire surrounded by a tire fire. It will be great if Saturday Night Live is no longer forced to respond to each week's Trumpian insanity to answer the question, "Gee, how will SNL address this week's shit?"  

Aerial America is a show I discovered on the Smithsonian Channel which has it's own berth over on CBS All Access. My wife Andrea and I have taken to watching Aerial America at the end of an evening's TV viewing as a way to decompress before bedtime. 

Aerial America is a show where a helicopter mounted camera films various states from the air, overlooking cities and towns and impressive vistas of shorelines and mountain ranges. It is all quite wonderful to look at. It's also quite relaxing to listen to as the warm soothing voice of narrator Jim Conrad provides an overview of what we're seeing and it's history. 

Here is a clip from Aerial America's flight over North Carolina where Jim Conrad describes Asheville's Biltmore Estate. 



Side note: my family actually visited Biltmore about 2 years ago. Click here for my post about that.   

The nice thing about Aerial America is that it gives Andrea and I a chance to see parts of the United States we may not get to visit in person. We recently watched episodes on Hawaii and Maine. 

I would really like to visit Maine in person one day.  

Jeopardy has been a bit weird this season. One episode recently ended with only 1 person in contention for Final Jeopardy. Going into the weekend, we had a 2 day champion with only $8,000 to her name.

I wonder if the level of play has been impacted by a restricted pool of contestants. As part of the restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, Jeopardy has mostly stuck to contestants from California. So the producers are not looking at the best options from the entire country but from just one state.  

By the way, the big deal about Ken Jennings presenting some categories is not really that big of a deal. So far, he's done it twice.  

Well, that is that for this weeks Tuesday TV Touchbase.  Next week, I will write about the Comedy Store, Showtime's documentary series about the legendary Los Angeles comedy club. 

Until next time, stay safe, remember to be good to one another and keep it down, would ya, I'm trying to watch some TV here.



 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Too Stupid To Live! The Sequel

 Back on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, I did a post called Too Stupid To Live!

The point of the post was to mark the three year anniversary for when "enough people looked at a fat buffoon of a con man with zero human empathy and limited intellect and decided yeah, he would make a great President of the United States."

The theme of that post, "too stupid to live" was derived from one of my all time favorite episodes of Cheers when Rebecca Howe finds out the man she is in love with has been using her as a pawn in some big dollar corporate crime and Rebecca plaintively realizes...


"I AM TOO STUPID TO LIVE!!!!!" 

Some fine comedic acting from Kirstie Alley in that moment.

But maybe it isn't all acting? 

She posted this on Twitter this weekend and I responded by having Past Kristie remind Current Kristie of something important. 


"I AM TOO STUPID TO LIVE!!!!!" 

Others on Twitter tried to make a cogent case for Kristie's position vis a vie Donald Trump did not make sense. 

  • Craig Rozniecki@CraigRozniecki
  • Replying to @kirstiealley and @realDonaldTrump
  • Would you seek surgery from a person because they were not a doctor? ...and then seek this person again 4 years later after the first surgery failed? Trump was handed a strong economy and crashed it. It's literal insanity to think he won't do it again.

  • Leona Lioness@LeonaLioness6
  • Replying to @kirstiealley and @realDonaldTrump
  • He gets nothing done. He sucks as a president & a businessman. He's running the country into the ground like he did with his businesses.

Others were less patient.

  • lantenengo@lantenengo
  • Replying to @kirstiealley and @realDonaldTrump
  • If you're waiting for dum donny to fix the problems he created, you're a special kind of stupid.

  • Marina Sirtis@Marina_Sirtis
  • Replying to @kirstiealley and @realDonaldTrump
  • You are now dead to me.
Kirstie played Saavik in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. She just got slammed by a fellow Trek actor.  

  • Linda Childers@lindarchilders
  • Replying to @kirstiealley and @realDonaldTrump
  • You’re right, he’s not a politician, he’s also not a president. He’s a former D-list reality show host and a con. Woman facepalming.

Kirstie Alley's already questionable alliance with Scientology should've primed us for this latest questionable support for Donald Trump. 

  • Devin Nunes’ cow Cow face@DevinCow
  • Replying to @kirstiealley and @realDonaldTrump
  • So you belong to two cults. Gotcha.


  • Justin Satzman@jsatz23
  • Replying to @kirstiealley and @realDonaldTrump
  • Imagine if joining scientology wasn’t even your biggest mistake. 

Look, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But if your opinion, Kirstie, is that Donald Trump deserves a 2nd term because he gets things done, well, maybe it's best if you explain it to you.


 
"I AM TOO STUPID TO LIVE!!!!!"


By the way, Kirstie, we don't need you to bring more stupid to Trump world. Stupid flows to overabundance from the Li'l Donnie himself.

Get a load of this latest shit from Donald Trump. 


What the fuck? Really?  

Ok, Donald, you are "they"? Blowing up Mt. Rushmore? Really? 

You know for a guy who is allegedly president of the United States, doesn't he have enough real shit on his plate to contend with without making up shit? 

If any any yahoos are out there eating this up and believing this bullshit, well...


And say it along with Kirstie: 


"I AM TOO STUPID TO LIVE!!!!!"
___________________________

Ken Levine, long time writer for Cheers, weighs in on Kirstie Alley's tweet on his blog. Click here for that



I VOTED!

I VOTED! 

I went online and applied to receive a ballot via mail here in North Carolina. The process was secure but easy.



Four days later I received my ballot in the mail. 

I walked straight from the mail box to my kitchen table here at the Fortress of Ineptitude. I sat down at the table and immediately filled out the ballot. 

I pondered my choice for President. 

"Hmmm! Donald Trump? I'm not in favor of his bat shit crazy act but I wouldn't mind another one of those sweet upper class tax cuts!" 

No, I did not actually ponder that. Too much is at stake to get this fucking incompetent moron out of the White House.

But get a load of the Libertarian ticket. 


Man, wouldn't it be cool to have a Veep named "Spike!" 

After my wife signed off on the ballot as a witness, I affixed a stamp for appropriate postage to the envelope and immediately and personally put my ballot in the mail.  

It was an easy process.

I hope and yes I even pray that my one vote is joined by millions more like it and we can finally drive the anti-human pestilence known as Donald Trump from the White House.

I know the job is not done. I will be tracking my ballot to make sure it is accepted by the board of elections. 

But the process has begun. I have completed and returned my ballot. 

I VOTED! 

Now I can but hope it counts for something.  

But I'm up against a lot of stupid people.

More on that in a 2nd post coming up later today.  


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Cinema Sunday: Sci Fi Double Bill - Queen of Outer Space and Wild, Wild Planet

 

Today's Cinema Sunday looks at not one but two films in a sci-fi double bill of cheese that I happened to catch one afternoon on TCM. We'll start with Queen of Outer Space, a sci fi camp classic from 1958.   




In the future world of 1985, space captain Patterson and his space crew  take a space rocket into outer space to a space station. However a space beam strikes the space station and blasts it into space rubble. The space beam comes after the space ship next with the space crew barely escaping annihilation (in space) before crash landing on Venus. The space crew is then captured by a coterie of Venus women armed with ray guns and scoop neck mini dresses in a variety of pastel colors. And the most darling kitten heel booties. 

Venus is under the brutal dictatorship of the cruel Queen Yllana, a masked woman with a lot of raging paranoia who accuses  space captain Patterson and his space crew of being the the start of Earth's space war with Venus.

Yllana wants pace captain Patterson and his space crew killed but a beautiful courtier named Talleah and her friends are saying not so fast. They are super bugged by Yllana's brutal leadership and quite frankly they are super desperate for cock because damn, this space crew of men are not that great to look at but Talleah and her buddies are all over these lumpy average space men.  

Queen of Outer Space turns into Phantom of the Opera when Patterson, alone with the queen in her bedchamber, removes her mask and...

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Yllana's face is horribly disfigured due to radiation burns caused by men during a war between Venus and another planet!  The exposure of Yllana's mutilated face sends off the deep end fer sher!!! She's aiming her space beam at Earth to blow it to space hell and back!  

There's a lot of running around as space captain Patterson and his space crew attempt to escape with help from a very horny Talleah and her very horny friends. 

The Venus women chasing the space crew and the horny women run around like... well, they run like girls. I mean, between super short skirts and heels, the Venus woman have to run that way women have to run when wearing super short skirts and heels.  It looks very silly. 

Despite having more practical footwear, space captain Patterson and his space crew are re-captured and are forced to watch as a totally unhinged Queen Yllana unleashes her space beam on Earth. 

Except... 

Well, it doesn't work. For some reason. There is no information that Talleah or Patterson has sabotaged the doo-hickey in some way. It just simply malfunctions at the right time to save Earth.  

The space beam machinery goes totally haywire in a haze of smoke and shower of sparks. Queen Yllana runs into the damn thing, pulling levers, pushing buttons and screaming that she will not be defeated as the space beam thingy goes KA-BOOM! and blows up real good, doing Queen Yllana's complexion absolutely no good.  

So Earth is saved thanks to space captain Patterson and his space crew doing absolutely nothing. 

Earth can't send another ship to bring back space captain Patterson and his space crew from Venus for another year. So space captain Patterson and his space crew get to spend a year getting their brains fucked out by a planet full of hetero normative horny Venus women.  

The part of Talleah is played by Zsa Zsa Gabor. Talleah is the only Venusian woman who speaks with an Hungarian accent.  In her 1991 autobiography, Gabor recalls a memorable line of her dialogue in the film  

"I play Talleah, a scientist who is against all of Queen Yllana's cruelties and wants to see her banished. The highpoint comes when I declare, 'I hate that queen'—a line that even to this day causes a great deal of mirth among many of my gay friends." 

Queen of Outer Space is a silly, silly movie. But was it intended to be? Did producer Ben Schwalb and director Edward Bernds mean to make a sci-fi movie parody? Or is it just a bad sci-fi movie? 

Intentional or not, Charles Stinson of the Los Angeles Times sees the film as "an elaborate parody of science fiction and, as such, it is quite good, indeed. Naturally, the one and only Zsa Zsa Gabor is the principal attraction. She comes through superbly, demonstrating a nice touch for light, dotty comedy, as, with hair gone moon-platinum, she floats about gauzily, tongue in cheek, flirting outrageously, satirizing herself and sighing deeply over the fact 'zat de qveen vil destroy ze planet Earss unless ve stop her, Capt. Patterson'." 

Queen of Outer Space is really dumb fun.

Next up is a film I had never heard of before called Wild, Wild Planet. 



Wild, Wild Planet is a 1966 Italian film originally titled I Criminali della Galassia or 'Criminals of the Galaxy'. 

So what is this damn movie about? OK, I'll take a crack at it.

Dr. Nurmi is a mad scientist engaged in secret bio-engineering experiments of evil. In addition to his work in mad sciencing, Dr. Murmi's hobby is kidnapping important world leaders for use in his experiments of evil.   

Among Dr. Murmi's collection of kidnapped people is one Lt. Connie, a security specialist at space station Gamma One.

Mike Halstead, commander of space station Gamma One, is pissed. Lt. Connie's his girl, dammit! And he knows Dr. Murmi is up to experiments of evil even if this superiors can't quite see that. 

The film ends with a lot of punching and a flood of fruit punch Kool-Aid for some reason. 

Wild, Wild Planet has some cool stuff like the zippy little future cars that scurry across Italy's roadways. The space ship models are not much above 1950's movie effects. The weirdest shots are the wide shots of the future city where the cars are clearly just toy cars moving around a track; there is no effort via lighting or forced perspective or any other camera tricks to make these shots remotely look real. 

There is a sequence with astronauts on a space walk and the cord suspending the actors can clearly be seen. 

And the print on TCM has a scene with a bad scratch in print negative in the lower right of the screen. 

There are a couple of scenes set at a future theater which features performers in unitards and cloaks dressed as giant butterflies. 

Wild, Wild Planet is a confusing mishmash lacking in sufficient wildness to justify including the word "wild" in the title once, let alone twice.  


Saturday, October 17, 2020

Songs For Saturday: The Smithereens

 


Hi there! This week's Songs For Saturday will feature the music of the indie rock band the Smithereens. This past Monday (October 12th) was the birthdate of Pat DiNizio, lead singer, songwriter, and founding member of the band. 

We're going to start with what may be my favorite track from the Smithereens, "Blood and Roses". 


The Smithereens got their name from old Warner Bros. cartoons where Yosemite Sam would say , "Ya better say your prayers, ya flea-bitten varmint … I’m-a-gonna blow ya to smithereenies!". 

Next up is "A Girl Like You".  Fun fact: The song was going to be used in the film Say Anything.... Producers thoughts that the song gave away too much of the story.  Pat DiNizio said he wrote the lyrics with a separate meaning from the plot of the movie. 


If "Blood and Roses" is my favorite track from the Smithereens,  "Only a Memory" is a very close second. 



Sadly, Pat DiNizio is no longer with us. He died in Summit, New Jersey, on December 12, 2017, at the age of 62. But he left behind a formidable legacy with one of the best indie rock bands of the last 50 years, the Smithereens.

Thanks for stopping by. 

Until next time, remember to be good to one another and to always keep the music alive.  

Friday, October 16, 2020

Using Your Religion

During the Senate hearings on Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court, Republican senators decry the scourge of  anti-Catholic bigotry has been weaponized and aimed like a cannon at Judge Barrett by Democrats and the media. 

Here's the thing, evangelical Christians have long decried that they have no voice in government policy. But now they have someone who will explicitly give them a voice on the Supreme Court bench, questions about religion are off the table? 

Democrats have tried to not take the bait and mostly focused on questions of law and judicial precedent. But that hasn't stopped Republicans accusing Democrats of being anti-Catholic and anti-religion. 

There are a few things to unpack here. 

One, what most evangelical Christians want to inscribe in law or in judicial rulings are dictates from their religion. Issues of abortion and same sex marriage spring from objections by evangelical Christians as determined by their faith. 

The reasons why evangelical Christians want to deny women access to legal and safe abortions are not derived from the law or from science but by their interpretation of their faith. 

Two, this faith and its interpretation is not shared by all Americans. Americans are NOT exclusively evangelical Christians even though evangelical Christians like to act like that is the basic definition of being an American. Americans are of a broad spectrum of belief systems that have varied and unique views on subjects that many evangelical Christians hold as sacred and irrefutable dogma.  

Three, any American who seeks to be in a position of leadership, by election or appointment, over other Americans has to consider the impact of their leadership on everyone and not just evangelical Christians.  If any American seeking a position of leadership holds views that run contrary over the views of most other Americans, we kind of need to know that. If those views are born of judicial study or a matter of faith does not matter. 

Amy Coney Barrett being appointed to the Supreme Court, given both her background as an evangelical Christian and her judicial alignment with conservatives will be a boon to evangelical Christians. 

But given that the majority of Americans are not evangelical Christians and that a majority support the rights of a woman to legally have access to an abortion as allowed by Roe V. Wade, the appointment of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court may be viewed as a challenge to the interests of the majority of Americans.  

Here's the thing: Amy Coney Barrett can believe whatever she wants. If her faith tells her all abortions are bad and gay people shouldn't be married, well, I would disagree with her views but she is allowed to have them. 

Quite frankly, any politician can damn well believe what they want. As long as they remember that the people they represent may not share that faith. 

If Barrett is on a fast track to become our next Supreme Court justice because her faith tells her all abortions are bad and gay people shouldn't be married, that's when her faith becomes a problem. 

Democrats are not making Amy Coney Barrett's Catholic faith a problem. It is Republicans who are making Amy Coney Barrett's Catholic faith a problem because it is the beliefs of her faith that have put her in that chair, all to satisfy the specific agenda of evangelical Christians back home. 

With only three years on the Appellate Court bench, it's not any vast experience as a judge that has put Barrett on the expressway to the Supreme Court. It's not her time, experience and wisdom of arguing cases as a litigator since most of Barrett's pre-judicial experience has been in academia and not in a courtroom. 

Senate Republicans are greasing the wheels to slide Amy Coney Barrett into the Supreme Court in record time is her religious faith to appease the evangelical Christians that keep Republicans in power. 

During her Senate hearings, Amy Coney Barrett acknowledges the importance of Catholicism in her life but pledged not to apply her religious beliefs to matters before the high court. 

Maybe Judge Barrett believes that sincerely to be true. But is a disingenuous statement when the reason she is there in the first place is those religious beliefs. 

We can only hope that Barrett will be true to her word because all Americans, not just those of her particular religious group, will be counting on her to keep her word.







In the Town Hall



I was planning on blowing past this but my wife Andrea insisted on watching the Joe Biden town hall last night.

The plan originally was for Joe Biden and Donald Trump were to have their second debate in a town hall format. After Trump's positive COVID-19 test and subsequent hospitalization, the debate commission chose to make the debate a virtual one with the candidates in separate locations. Trump said no and the debate was called off.

In lieu of said debate, ABC offered Joe Biden a prime time slow to hold a town hall. Biden agreed. 

Then Donald Trump went all Veruca Salt and demanded his own town hall too! NBC complied and gave Trump the exact same time slot as Biden. 

The upshot was another bid by Trump at exacerbating divisions. Instead of Americans coming together at one time to assess both candidates at the same time, Trump was forcing a choice of which candidate America would watch in real time.

Narcissist that he is, Li'l Donnie figures he'll get better TV ratings than "Sleepy Joe" and can brag about it later as proof of his popularity. 

Here in the Fortress of Ineptitude, there was no real choice. We watched Joe Biden who had specific policy answers to specific policy questions. 

Biden did something that Trump never does which is concede to an error; specifically, the 1994 crime bill that then Senator Biden helped to get passed that wound up incarcerating a disproportionate number of African Americans. 

 Yes, Joe continues to tap dance around the whole court packing question but he made an effort as to why he thinks it's not appropriate to answer that question while the Senate is currently reviewing a new Supreme Court nominee. He concedes that the American people deserve an answer to his position on court packing and will have one before election day.  This is still a shaky political position Biden is in and he will need to address it sooner rather than later. 

Still, Joe Biden connected with each person who posed a question and endeavored to provide as detailed a response as possible. 

The most remarkable thing about Joe Biden's town hall was at the end when... it didn't end. As reporters assessed the events of the last hour or so both with Biden and with Trump in his competing event, the camera showed Joe Biden still present in the hall, still chatting with the voters. 

By contrast, Donald Trump skedaddled out as soon as the town hall event was over.  

While I avoided the Trump event, morbid curiosity compelled me to find out what happened there. 

It seems Trump was, well, Trump, being his usual angry, combative, aggressive self. Seriously, we need to get rid of Donald Trump not just for being a danger to democracy but also for being boring. The dude needs new material. Look, you've seen one Donald Trump bombastic meltdown, you have seen them all. 

Moderator Samantha Guthrie was not having his shit but that stop Li'l Donnie from still shovelling it out. He denied knowledge of Quanon, the loony tunes conspiracy movement but lashed out at Antifa and liberal Democrats burning down cities led by Democrat mayors.  

With a death toll of 217,000 Americans, Trump still thinks he's done an amazing job handling the coronavirus pandemic. 

I don't know if Li'l Donnie's fragile ego can handle this but he had a significant challenge to his role as star of his town hall.  

Right behind Donald Trump, almost always in the shot was an  audience member wearing a red face mask who constantly nodded in assent to everything Trump said.

The internet dubbed her "Nodding Lady".

I personally would've opted for "MAGA Bobble Head". 

Journalist Katie Couric tweeted, "The woman to @realDonaldTrump's right keeps nodding her head, which I find very distracting."

Watching only a few moments of clips from Trump's town hall, I found this woman very distracting indeed.  

The Miami Herald identified "Nodding Lady" as Mayra Joli, an immigration lawyer, five-time beauty queen and Trump supporter. 

The two town halls were a study in contrasts. Trump was combative, divisive and self centered. Biden was relaxed with a message of unity and empathy. 

If there is any hope and goodness left in this world, I hope anyone who hasn't a made a decision yet can see the choice for the best of these two men to lead the United States is Joe Biden. 




Tuesday TV Touchbase: Fargo, Saturday Night Live, Aerial America and Jeopardy

  Fargo continues to weave a tangled web where various characters are connecting in unexpected ways. I almost need a flow chart to keep up ...