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Friday, September 20, 2019

The I-Land: No Lost Opportunity



I was going to entitle this review of The I-Land on Netflix, "Lost Opportunity".  You know, that ABC series Lost, which had an excellent beginning, an absolutely out-of-the-ballpark brilliant third and fourth season, and then took a turn very much for the worse, with one of the worst series finales ever on television?   Except ...

Well, although I-Land takes place on an island, with a group of disoriented people with various kinds of intriguing and lurid back stories, the slim seven-episode series has a completely different vector: a pretty strong beginning, an obvious middle, and a kick-in-the-gut and socially meaningful finale.  And the story is very different from Lost's.

The people on the I-Land didn't arrive there by crashed plane (as in Lost), but via simulation.  They're all prisoners on a death row in the future, and their simulated existence on the I-Land is a chance to redeem themselves.  Unsurprisingly, very few do.

But the payoff comes in what happens to the central character, who turns out not to be guilty of the murder for which she was sentenced, and is older than she seems.  And in the real world, outside the prison, we see the changes that global warming has brought the United States, and its struggles with a growing prison population.

So the real subjects of this thriller are climate change and prison change, which is a lot more than you can say about Lost, whose real subject was some metaphysical, quasi-religious nonsense.  In other words, see The I-Land, but don't expect Lost, which, at least as far as the ending, is a very good thing.

 



Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Deuce 3.2: The First Amendment!



Abby easily had the best line in tonight's episode 3.2 of The Deuce, when she explains that if you don't use the First Amendment to protect porn movies, "it's not gonna be there for the ideas".   The geniuses on the Supreme Court didn't get this in 1915, when they decreed in Mutual Film v. Ohio that film was not protected by the First Amendment, since it was a form of entertainment not an expression of ideas.   It wasn't until Burstyn v. Wilson in 1952 that this was overturned.  Good to see that Abby got the full gist of this in 1985.

Otherwise, almost no one, including Abby, is very happy in tonight's episode.  Abby loses her friend.  Lori in California objects to a stalk of corn being used in her porn scene.  Neither Vincent nor Frankie are too thrilled in their separate proceedings, though they do give us a good scene together face-to-face, nice trick photography.

But there is more good news on the fringes.   Looks like Candy may be on the way to finding true love or at least pretty good love with Corey Stoll's character Hank.  And Bobby doesn't have AIDS.  All of which says there's room for at least some happy endings on The Deuce.

Given that this its final season, whatever endings we get this year will be the final words on the series.   I'm hoping that, at very least, both twin brothers are thriving, as are Candy and Lori.  But I'm an optimist, and The Deuce has always been about unvarnished not rose-colored reality.   You know what, I still hope those characters and even a few others survive. 

See also The Deuce 3.1: 1985

And see also The Deuce Is Back - Still Without Cellphones, and that's a Good Thing ... The Deuce 2.2: Fairytales Can Come True ... The Deuce 2.3: The Price ... The Deuce 2.4: The Ad-Lib ... The Deuce 2.6: "Bad Bad Larry Brown" ... The Deuce 2.9: Armand, Southern Accents, and an Ending ... The Deuce Season 2 Finale: The Video Revolution

And see also The Deuce: NYC 1971 By Way of The Wire and "Working with Marshall McLuhan" ... Marilyn Monroe on the Deuce 1.7 ... The Deuce Season 1 Finale: Hitchcock and Truffaut 

  
It all starts in the hot summer of 1960, when Marilyn walks off the set
of The Misfits and begins to hear a haunting song in her head,
"Goodbye Norma Jean" ..

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Affair 5.4: 2053




A low-key, not terribly eventful episode 5.4 of The Affair tonight, sprinkled with some funny, seedy sad moments, until the very end of the very brief (as usual) Joanie segment, when we find out her father Cole died in 2053.

Big news for two reasons: Cole's dead.  And the time we're seeing in the Joanie segment is 2053 or later.  For some reason, I thought it was a little or more earlier.  Maybe because I don't think of Anna Paquin as in her early 40s, which was what Joanie would be pretty much be in 2053.  On the other hand, the extent of the environmental crisis is consistent with the later date.

Still up in the air is exactly what's going on in Joanie's mind.  Why does she want so little to do with her parents and even Gabriel?   There's clearly a big piece of an emotionally rending story here that we've yet to learn.

The Whitney segment was important to see, in terms of advancing her story.  In the end, she's willing to sacrifice her body for money and professional success.   Her father Noah is also hungry for success, but that's not his crucial weakness.   Her mother Helen is now newly hungry for success, but it's as yet not clear what she's willing to sacrifice to get it.

Noah's story was about the lightest we've seen in The Affair for a long time, replete with his planting of a bra in Sasha's bedroom to get Helen angry at Sasha.   The whole routine, from how he acquired the undergarment to Sasha and Helen's reaction, was a nice comedy of errors.

I don't know what more to say about this episode, except what I seem to be thinking and saying after every episode:  any chance we can get a much longer segment of Joanie?   I'm not holding my breath but I'll keep on watching.



And see also The Affair 3.1: Sneak Preview Review ... The Affair 3.2: Sneak Preview Review: Right Minds ... The Affair 3.3: Who Attached Noah? ... The Affair 3.4: The Same Endings in Montauk ... The Affair 3.5: Blocked Love ... The Affair 3.6: The Wound ... The Affair 3.7: The White Shirt ... The Affair 3.8: The "Miserable Hero" ... The Affair 3.9: A Sliver of Clarity ... The Affair 3.10: Taking Paris

And see also The Affair 2.1: Advances ... The Affair 2.2: Loving a Writer ... The Affair 2.3: The Half-Wolf ... The Affair 2.4: Helen at Distraction ... The Affair 2.5: Golden Cole ... The Affair 2.6: The End (of Noah's Novel) ... The Affair 2.7: Stunner ... The Affair 2.8: The Reading, the Review, the Prize ...The Affair 2.9: Nameless Hurricane ... The Affair 2.10: Meets In Treatment ... The Affair 2.11: Alison and Cole in Business ... The Affair Season 2 Finale: No One's Fault


 

Unbelievable: The All-Too-True Docudrama and its Resonance to Brett Kavanaugh



My wife and I finished watching Unbelievable on Netflix, just as the NY Times story broke about a second sexual misconduct incident involving now Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh in his freshman year at Yale, in addition to the one involving Deborah Ramirez, a second incident that the FBI was informed about but neglected or refused to fully investigate.

Unbelievable is about a serial rapist, who committed acts more egregious than sexual assault, but the all-too-true story is the same: the callous disregard of women and girls who are victims of sexual assault, combined with psychological bullying by authorities.  In the Unbelievable case, the result was a rapist who went on to rape numerous other woman.  In the Kavanaugh case, the result is a man accused of attempted rape and sexual assault, not adequately investigated, now sitting on the U. S. Supreme Court.

The docudrama was brilliantly acted, and had as happy an ending as could result in these circumstances: the rapist was sent to prison for more than 300 years.  The Kavanaugh hearings, in particular the Republican defense of Kavanaugh, was a shambles, and the result a travesty of justice.

On the brilliantly acted Unbelievable -  Kaitlyn Dever as Marie Adler the first victim, and Merritt Wever as Det. Karen Duvall and Toni Collette as Det. Grace Rasmussen, the detectives whose focused, unrelenting, perceptive work brought the rapist down, all deserve Emmys.  Eric Lange, who played the cuckolded husband in Escape from Dannemora, put in another memorable performance as the first detective, who had a heart but not enough strength to do the right thing for Marie.  The pacing and counterpoint of the story in two different places and times - Washington State and Colorado - and the way they unify in the end was masterful.

As for Kavanugh, he deserves not to judge but to be investigated further and judged.  But politics, especially these days, seems to often get in the way of justice, so we'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Third 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate: Winners and Losers

The third 2020 Democratic Presidential debate just concluded in Houston on ABC-TV.  It was longer the first four - nearly three hours - and was just one debate, of the ten leading candidates, rather than the two debates of ten each, one day after the other, which is the way the Democratic debates proceeded in June and July.  I thought tonight's debate was also better.

Joe Biden, in his quiet way,  had a very strong and successful night.  He was excellent on a variety of topics, including health care.  Contrary to Castro's calling out Biden for forgetting that Biden just said that Biden's health care plan required people to "opt in," Biden did say that people who couldn't afford any health care would be automatically enrolled.  (More on Castro below, who owes Biden an apology.)  Biden was also strong on both defending Obama's immigration policy and saying, also, that times have changed - I think that's a fair and accurate appraisal.  Biden was also Presidential in the public appreciation he expressed to Beto about his comforting the survivors of the El Paso shooting. And Biden's closing response about the personal tragedies in his life and how those gave him purpose rang deep and true.

Amy Klobuchar also had a good night.   She consistently was a unifying voice, and was 100% on target in her attack on Mitch McConnell.   It's important but easy enough to say Trump is a disgrace to his office.  But McConnell's freezing of the Senate on everything from gun control to immigration is also a crucial piece of why our country is in such difficult straits.  Beto O'Rourke was especially good on gun control and his insistence on taking away the most dangerous guns that are out there in so many hands.  And Kamala Harris had an effective night, with her blend of social sensitivity and prosecutorial zeal directed at Trump.

Elizabeth Warren was ok, and didn't get enough time.   Cory Booker did a little better than in his previous two debates, but loses points for saying "dagnabbit".   Pete Buttigieg were good but didn't really break any new ground.

And then it went seriously downhill.  Bernie seemed haggard and haranguing, and also said nothing new.   Yang was irrelevant.  And, I truly think Castro talked himself out of Presidential contention with his ill-informed and graceless attack on Biden.

I'll see you back here after the next debate.

See also First 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate, Part 1 of 2: Winners and Losers ...   First 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate, Part 2 of 2: Winners and Losers ... Second 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate, Part 1 of 2: Winners and Losers ... Second Democratic Presidential Debate, Part 2 of 2: Winners and Losers

The Coming of Age of "Merri Goes Round"



Don Frankel and Robbie Rist = Sundial Symphony recording Merri Goes Round

Ed Fox and I wrote "Merri Goes Round" in the early 1970s - I wrote the lyrics, Ed wrote the music, and I sometimes spelled the title with hyphens, like "Merri-Goes-Round".  Truth is, it was a throwaway, bubblegum song, something we wrote after landing a contract with Buddah Records to release "Ring Around My Rosie," by a group called Protoza, and led by David Fox (no relation to Ed), who also wrote the words and music to Rosie.  You can hear that here.

But Ed and I thought so little of Merri that we didn't even think of including it on Twice Upon a Rhyme.  We did go into a 16-track studio in New York, and recorded a demo that came out so good we realized it was marketable as a finished master record.  We got Bruce Scott, a little known singer, to do the lead.  Our regulars Pete Rosenthal on guitars, Boris Midney on sax, and most of the rest were on the record, and I was wailing in the background with my usual falsetto.  The record sounded good.  But we were still amazed when we sold it to Jimmy Wisner's Wizdom Records, where it was released as a single under the group name Trousers (yep, I came up with that). It was soon forgotten.  You can hear it here.

Many decades passed.  Sometime around 2013, Don Frankel - who, as Donny Frankel, had played all manner of keyboard, including accordion, on Twice Upon a Rhyme - sent me a CD with a recording he and Robbie Rist had made of "Looking for Sunsets (In the Early Morning)," one of the best-known songs from Twice Upon a Rhyme.  Robbie, in case his name sounds familiar, was on the original Brady Bunch, has had a great career as one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the bus driver in Sharknado (also released in 2013).  Don and Robbie called their group Sundial Symphony, and they gave Sunsets a zestful performance (you can hear that here).  They followed the next year with their power-pop rendition of the lead-off track from Twice Upon a Rhyme, "Today Is Just Like You" (that's here).

And, then, about two years ago, Don surprised me with news that he and Robbie (as Sundial Symphony) were doing a song not on Twice Upon a Rhyme - "Merri Goes Round".  The thing is, I gotta tell you, from the moment I first heard their recording of Merri, I was blown away.  I think it's much better than the original - power pop works better for the song than bubblegum.  Big Stir Records liked it, too, first releasing it as an A-side of a single (with "Looking the Sunsets" as the B-side), and then including both on their Third Wave compilation album, with lots of fine recordings by other power-pop artists.

Here's Sundial Symphony's "Merri Goes Round":




I don't know about you, but I can't stop listening to it ...

PS - And here, as a bonus, is a just-published interview I did in July, with all kinds of old and new photos, about how I came to write the lyrics to "Looking for Sunsets (In the Early Morning)".

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Deuce 3.1: 1985



The Deuce was back tonight with its final season on HBO with another step into the future, New Year's Eve 1985, that is, the last day and evening of 1984.  The big villain, at this point, is AIDS.  Bobby's afraid he has it (he likely doesn't, at least yet).  Gene seems set up to get it.   And a lot of people, including Abby on the East Coast and Lori on the West Coast, aren't feeling too well.

Well, Lori's just getting out of rehab, and she's soon on her way to going back, i.e., hooked on some other substance.  Candy and Harvey seem physically ok, but they're at odds, as always, on the porn business they helped bring into being the previous decade.  Harvey, always concerned about "the p and a," as he says (meaning, what? profits and ass?), wants Candy to be less arty, and she, of course, resists.

The New York City scenes, as always, are gritty and right.  The LA scenes look right, too, but I wasn't out there in the mid-80s so I don't know from first-hand experience. The acting is outstanding.  James Franco has aged his twin parts well.  David Krumholtz, now pretty much the same weight as his character Harvey, is also totally believable in that part,  And the same for Maggie Gyllenhaal as Candy.

I do miss Elvis Costello's opening music from Season 2, but otherwise I'm looking forward to seeing how our surviving characters fare in the brave new technological world of the mid-1980s.  No early Macs or IBM pcs in sight, as yet, but I'm guessing we'll see some of those as this season progresses.  Porn had not yet migrated to the Internet - that would be at least a decade away - but there was lots of book-keeping done on those early computer beasts, and book-keeping was always essential to mob and porn activities.

See you back here next week.

See also The Deuce Is Back - Still Without Cellphones, and that's a Good Thing ... The Deuce 2.2: Fairytales Can Come True ... The Deuce 2.3: The Price ... The Deuce 2.4: The Ad-Lib ... The Deuce 2.6: "Bad Bad Larry Brown" ... The Deuce 2.9: Armand, Southern Accents, and an Ending ... The Deuce Season 2 Finale: The Video Revolution

And see also The Deuce: NYC 1971 By Way of The Wire and "Working with Marshall McLuhan" ... Marilyn Monroe on the Deuce 1.7 ... The Deuce Season 1 Finale: Hitchcock and Truffaut 

  
It all starts in the hot summer of 1960, when Marilyn walks off the set
of The Misfits and begins to hear a haunting song in her head,
"Goodbye Norma Jean" ..


my story "The P & A" in this issue

Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Affair 5.3: The Raya App



The Joanie segment of The Affair 5.3 tonight was short, but worthwhile.  She likes it rough.  Future Long Island is also suffering more than we might have thought from climate change.  And the earlier Noah and Helen stories were outstanding.

They both revolve around Sasha.  He's a demanding actor and director.  That would upset Noah anyway, given that the movie Sasha is directing and acting in is an adaption of Noah's book, i.e., it's his life.  My favorite part of all of that - that being the Noah-Helen-Sasha stories, not the movie (though the two of course are intertwined), was the triple karaoke performance.  Sasha, Helen, and Noah each performing separately.  They all sounded great (I'm assuming, hoping, the vocals were all performed by the very actors).  But I liked Noah's the best. Drunk, barely on key, but still excellent.  Dominic West should get an award just for that.

But my favorite phrase came a little earlier, when Whitney says something about the Raya app.  It's real - it exists in our reality.  It started a few years ago.  According to Wikipedia, the "application was initially a dating app, but added features to promote professional networking for members of the entertainment industry."  Isn't that just perfect for The Affair?  It started and still is very much about relationships.  But via Noah and his novel now being made into a movie, it's just as much a story of the entertainment world.

Speaking of which, lots of sex in tonight's episode, too.  I already mentioned Joanie.  Sasha and Helen have a good time, too.  Good for Helen is bad for Noah.  I know, his default is he deserves what he gets.  But I'm still pulling for him to get some happiness before this season and his story ends, too - unlikely as that seems.  He did go to prison for Helen.

More next week.



And see also The Affair 3.1: Sneak Preview Review ... The Affair 3.2: Sneak Preview Review: Right Minds ... The Affair 3.3: Who Attached Noah? ... The Affair 3.4: The Same Endings in Montauk ... The Affair 3.5: Blocked Love ... The Affair 3.6: The Wound ... The Affair 3.7: The White Shirt ... The Affair 3.8: The "Miserable Hero" ... The Affair 3.9: A Sliver of Clarity ... The Affair 3.10: Taking Paris

And see also The Affair 2.1: Advances ... The Affair 2.2: Loving a Writer ... The Affair 2.3: The Half-Wolf ... The Affair 2.4: Helen at Distraction ... The Affair 2.5: Golden Cole ... The Affair 2.6: The End (of Noah's Novel) ... The Affair 2.7: Stunner ... The Affair 2.8: The Reading, the Review, the Prize ...The Affair 2.9: Nameless Hurricane ... The Affair 2.10: Meets In Treatment ... The Affair 2.11: Alison and Cole in Business ... The Affair Season 2 Finale: No One's Fault

Saturday, September 7, 2019

The Spy: Homeland Brought Home




Gideon Raff is best known for Homeland, soon to begin its final season on Showtime.  In its first few seasons - its best few seasons, by far - Homeland told the story of an American who was brainwashed in Iraq, to hate Americans and identify with terrorists, who returns to the U. S. as a war hero and moves to within a heartbeat of the Presidency.  It was all fiction, of course, but ....

In The Spy (on Netflix), more completely the creation of Raff than was Homeland, we get the true story of Eli Cohen, a brilliant Mossad agent who infiltrated Syria in the early 1960s and provided crucial information to Israel.  In the docu-drama, Cohen is appointed Defense Minister by the Syrian President.  I don't know if this happened in real life, but that touch provides a powerful resonance to Homeland.

Even without that parallel, The Spy, in six episodes, is every bit as good as the best of Homeland, and that's good indeed.  Deftly portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen - no relation, as far as I know - Eli Cohen struggles with the erosion of his real identity as he becomes the suave Syrian businessman Kamel Amin Thaabet.  Kamel befriends the powerful in Syria, including the military, and gains access to their bases and plans.

The thanks he gets for that back home includes an all but broken marriage.  Cohen is forbidden from telling his wife the truth of what he's doing.   Hadar Ratzon Rotem does a good job as Nadia Cohen, as does The Americans' Noah Emmerich, who plays Eli's knowledgeable boss - knowledgeable in that he knows how this will end for Eli.  Emmerich has the spy master with a conscience down pat.

In case you haven't seen this yet, or don't know Eli's story, I won't tell exactly what that ending is.  What I will say is that The Spy is a masterful piece of work, and just homage to a great Israeli covert warrior.

 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Affair 5.2: Tears and Floods



Well, as I mentioned last week, and as most of you know, science fiction is my favorite genre (as a reader and viewer, and also as a writer), so I can't help but be the most interested in the Joanie segment, playing a couple of decades into the future.

And I continue to like it, and wish there was more of it.  The flooding part is a bit obvious and overplayed, but everything else from the evaluative toilet to the train to Montauk was nice.  And just when we might be about to find out what's up with Cole - alive or dead, and if alive, where? - the episode ends.

Meanwhile, back in our present, Janelle sleeping with her ex-husband was a good surprise.  It's also consistent with, whatever he does or doesn't do, nothing ever goes quite right for Noah.   Which brings us to Helen.

She hasn't yet fallen for Sasha, but the scene at his house was classic getting to know you.  Let's say he, in effect, is a better version of Noah, because the character Sasha is more self-aware, and more aware of Helen, given that he's playing Noah in the movie adaptation of Noah's book.  Does that mean that Helen might well fall for him?

Probably not.  Maybe sleep with him.  But she's still too hung up on Vic and even the real Noah.  It may be at the end of her segment tonight that she's getting over Vic (I hope so) but she'll likely never get over Noah.

We'll find out soon enough.  But here's hoping that Joanie gets her own half hour soon.



And see also The Affair 3.1: Sneak Preview Review ... The Affair 3.2: Sneak Preview Review: Right Minds ... The Affair 3.3: Who Attached Noah? ... The Affair 3.4: The Same Endings in Montauk ... The Affair 3.5: Blocked Love ... The Affair 3.6: The Wound ... The Affair 3.7: The White Shirt ... The Affair 3.8: The "Miserable Hero" ... The Affair 3.9: A Sliver of Clarity ... The Affair 3.10: Taking Paris

And see also The Affair 2.1: Advances ... The Affair 2.2: Loving a Writer ... The Affair 2.3: The Half-Wolf ... The Affair 2.4: Helen at Distraction ... The Affair 2.5: Golden Cole ... The Affair 2.6: The End (of Noah's Novel) ... The Affair 2.7: Stunner ... The Affair 2.8: The Reading, the Review, the Prize ...The Affair 2.9: Nameless Hurricane ... The Affair 2.10: Meets In Treatment ... The Affair 2.11: Alison and Cole in Business ... The Affair Season 2 Finale: No One's Fault


 

Carnival Row: Searingly Relevant Steampunk



Maybe I'm a sucker of steam punk - I am - but Carnival Row, the science fiction, science fantasy, mystery/detective, searingly political relevant 8-episode series that debuted this weekend on Amazon Prime, is much more than that.  As those adjectives suggest.

The place, like Game of Thrones, is sort of an alternate Earth.  It's the seventh century in Carnival Row, but the big city has railroads, phonograph (called voxograph, a nice touch), telegraph, and even the beginning of electric lighting.   In our equivalent time - the 1870s - the phonograph (1877) was actually invented a year after the telephone (1876), but there's no telephone as yet in Carnival Row.  Maybe that's because the big city is much like London, and the telephone took much longer to catch on there than in New York.  But I digress.

There are three main species in this story: Men (humans), Fae (human-like with wings), and Puck (human-like with big horns and Klingon-like heads).   The Fae not only fly with their wings, they light up when they're having good sex (i.e., when they have orgasms).   Their sexual adeptness - they'll lift their partners literally off the ground or bed in the act - makes them good prostitutes.  But they only do that as a means of survival in the metropolis in which at least half or more of the people hate or distrust them.   The Puck have evoked similar benighted responses.

That's where the brutally accurate mirror that Carnival Row holds to Trumpian America comes into play.  In just about every scene, and at stake as the plot progresses, there are calls to ban the non-humans from the city, place them in ghettos and, yes, detention camps, and you get the picture.

And all of this is played out against the lead detective, Philo, investigating a series of murders with supernatural and political overtones, navigating the deep love he has for a fairy, whose profession was librarian, but is more physically dexterous than humans.   Other affairs, family secrets, identity revelations, and surprises abound.  I won't say another more, except, see this.  Orland Bloom is excellent as Philo, Cara Delevingne as the winged Vignette, and I also especially liked Tamzin Merchant as Imogen and David Gyasi as Agreus, two important secondary characters. René Echevarria, who contributed so much in producing the Star Trek franchise, hasn't lost his touch in creating memorable television.

For what it's worth, I enjoyed this first season of Carnival Row more than most of the seasons of Game of Thrones.

 



Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Ejection of Breitbart Reporter from Beto Speech Is Inconsistent with Democracy

I just saw the news that a Breitbart reporter, Joel B. Pollak, who actually is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News, was ejected, apparently for no valid reason (he wasn't being disruptive, his mere presence was deemed as such) from a Beto O'Rourke speech at Benedict College.

Before I tell you why I think that was such a bad move, let me make two things clear:

1. I intensely disagree with Breitbart's political views.  The last and only time I voted Republican was for John Linsday for NYC Mayor in 1969 (because he was an early opponent of the Vietnam War).  He won, and two years later became a Democrat.

2.  I don't think what Beto's people did is literally a violation of the First Amendment.  A political candidate not currently in office is not a member of Congress ("Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press") or of any government (prohibited from abridging speech by the extension of the First Amendment in the Fourteenth Amendment).

But, the removal of any reporter on account of his or her political views is grievously in violation of the spirit of the First Amendment, and flies in the face of what the First Amendment is designed to protect, which is the public's right to information and opinions about people in office and people running for office.  How else can a democracy work, if we're not as thoroughly informed as possible, meaning exposed to the entire gamut of political views and actions?

Trump's daily denunciation of the press he finds unwelcome as fake news echos Hitler's attack on the press in 1930s Germany as the Lügenpresse or the lying press.  Trump's characterization of the press critical of him as "enemies of the people" picks up a favorite phrase of Stalin.  Further, Trump not only speaks these epithets, but acts upon them, recently revoking CNN political correspondent Brian Karem's press pass after an exchange between Karem and Trump supporter Sebastian Gorka.  Karem has taken this to court. (The White House backed down last year after taking away CNN correspondent Jim Acosta's pass, and Acosta filed suit.  Acosta and CNN were lambasted as "fake news" by Trump even back when he was President-elect, in January 2017.) 

In tossing out Pollak, Beto's campaign is joining Trump in his contempt for the press, and by extension the American people, which I assume is the last thing that Beto wants to do.  People on Twitter, typically seeking to justify any attack on the right, have sought to explain what happened to Pollak by saying he isn't really a reporter and Breitbart not a legitimate source of news.  That, alas, is a traditional fascist tactic, used to justify suppression and even killing of human beings by arguing that the victims are not fully or really human.

Beto O'Rourke and his campaign can do better than emulating Trump and his fascist tactics.  I hope they see the light and apologize to Pollak.  It would amount to an apology to our democracy.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Affair 5.1: Death, Nobility, and Science Fiction



Here's a slightly sneak peek preview review of The Affair 5.1, which will air in just a few minutes on Showtime (my wife and I saw it on Showtime On Demand).   There will be plenty of spoilers ahead, so read on at your narrative peril...

First, there are three segments to this hour: 1st Noah, 3rd Helen, and 2nd, in between, Joanie, as you may have heard, who looks to be about 20 years into her and our future.   This makes her segment science fiction, which is fine with me - as some of you may know, I'm author of six science fiction novels, dozens of science fiction short stories, and who knows how many reviews, which you can find right here on this blog (the reviews, that is; the books and stories are on Amazon and the usual venues).  This first foray into Joanie's future touches some good bases in tech and home-life prediction, but also shows us Joanie pensive and even unhappy - about missing her father, she says, and it's not clear at this point if Cole is absent somewhere or dead.   Significantly, Joanie's segment is untitled, presumably because hers will be the only future story we'll see in this final season (but who knows).

Speaking of dead, though, that's what Vic is in Noah's story, and what he'll be at the end of Helen's piece of the story tonight.   On the one hand, this comes as no surprise.  On the other hand, it's handled very well, especially or mostly in the way it affords Helen a way to react to it.

Noah's story is typically Noah's, with the themes that have always made his stories my favorites in this series.  A movie's being made of his book.  This is a great technique of getting Noah to relive his past with Allison, which is what his book was always about.  Also, as is always the case with Noah, he's the perfect gentleman and an honorable man, trying his best to help Helen through Vic's funeral and the aftermath.  And also as always, the thanks he gets for this from Helen is a tongue-lashing (the verbal kind) in which she laments that it couldn't have been Noah rather than Vic who died.

Meanwhile, also as always, and also good as always to see, Helen is the hero of her narrative, fighting back against the absurdities of life, and her life in particular, making you want to rally to her cause. She still hasn't quite found herself, and it will be interesting if Vic's death finally helps really get over Noah.  I doubt it.

Crime has always been a signal part of The Affair, and the crime of Alison's murder by Ben looms large over this finale season.  It was therefore good to see Joanie seeking Ben in a coming attraction, even it is 20 years down the line.

See you back here next week.


And see also The Affair 3.1: Sneak Preview Review ... The Affair 3.2: Sneak Preview Review: Right Minds ... The Affair 3.3: Who Attached Noah? ... The Affair 3.4: The Same Endings in Montauk ... The Affair 3.5: Blocked Love ... The Affair 3.6: The Wound ... The Affair 3.7: The White Shirt ... The Affair 3.8: The "Miserable Hero" ... The Affair 3.9: A Sliver of Clarity ... The Affair 3.10: Taking Paris

And see also The Affair 2.1: Advances ... The Affair 2.2: Loving a Writer ... The Affair 2.3: The Half-Wolf ... The Affair 2.4: Helen at Distraction ... The Affair 2.5: Golden Cole ... The Affair 2.6: The End (of Noah's Novel) ... The Affair 2.7: Stunner ... The Affair 2.8: The Reading, the Review, the Prize ...The Affair 2.9: Nameless Hurricane ... The Affair 2.10: Meets In Treatment ... The Affair 2.11: Alison and Cole in Business ... The Affair Season 2 Finale: No One's Fault


 



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