Category Archives: Arts and Entertainment

Muslims and atheists and the father of our country

A few years ago I read Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton. It was a thrilling read, a page turner, genuinely exciting – I credited the author with that; now I know it was because Hamilton was exciting. Because I am now reading Chernow’s biography of, ahem, George Washington.

The young George Washington

Chernow’s account confirms what we’ve always known about George – he was no Alexander Hamilton. Washington was a singularly un-exciting person, as methodical in his days as a well wound clock. I’ve only gotten to 1860 1760 but I will stay with it – in the hope that things pick up around 1776.

Boring yes, but very principled – I doubt he’d make it in today’s political and media climate. I just came across this passage which would doom him were he to reappear amongst us for another shot at the top job.

 ” . . . the exemplary nature of Washington’s religious tolerance. He shuddered at the notion of exploiting religion for partisan purposes or showing favoritism for any religious denomination. . . . When he needed to hire a carpenter and a bricklayer for Mount Vernon, he stated that ‘if they are good workmen, they may be Mohamatens, Jews or Christians . . . even atheists.

Let’s hear it for the blonds

On MSNBC right now, a pretty white female anchor with really long wavy blond hair is talking to another pretty white lady with long straight blond hair about another white lady with regular blond hair who is missing.

A white blond girl is missing! She’s pretty so we must put it on the teevee.

What I did today

While this laptop was sleeping . . . I got to spend a day visiting the  Fine Arts Museum in St. Petersburg, truly a jewel of a museum. Walked the galleries with a dear old friend whom I hadn’t seen in far too long and we shared a long lunch outdoors ‘under the oaks’. A very nice day indeed. I got to see this painting which so entranced me, I stood in front of it for ages, managed a photo, and then forgot to look at who the artist was. I shall have to return.

Hope you had a good day!

William Shatner sorta sings. Again

I thought Shatner’s career as a recording artist was one off, but now, thanks to Bill at Under the Lobsterscope, I hear he’s got a new album coming out. Details are here. For those of you who haven’t previously enjoyed the song/poetry  stylings of the great man . . .

(He’s done this in a number of venues. I think I posted one last year, but my category skills are so awful, I can’t find it.)

100 ways to leave your movie

Greg Mitchell at The Nation took the trouble to visit Rotten Tomatoes and see what critics around the planet are saying about Atlas Shrugged, the movie, Part the First which opened today.

A dud. A flop. A disaster. A bore. A waste of time. Not even fun.

Mitchell points out that: 

Somehow, Atlas Shrugged, Part I (yes! more to look forward to!), which opens Friday, has at this writing achieved the rare feat [a 0% rating) . . .  not a single critic to date, from major and minor outlet, high or lowest of low of lowbrow, likes it one bit. 

(Betcha the most famous namesake of them all, Sen. Paul, likes it a lot.)

The ‘my-country-right-or-wrong’ folk will be offended

Well, who knew? I didn’t, but I suppose anyone under 50 did. Dennis Leary  sings. Herewith a tour de force, I’m An Asshole. (move right along to 2:11 for the good stuff)

He’ll always be sitting right there

A theatre friend died Saturday. He was much too young and we loved him too much to have him leave us so soon.

Steve often appeared on stage with kids in the youth theatre productions – there were always adult parts; he was an audience favorite and was cast frequently. He was the first to make new kids feel welcome; he quickly put them at ease and showed them the ropes. They adored him.

He was a snarky and sarcastic fellow which of course was his charm. Steve often sat outside the stage door smoking (yes, smoking), wearing a baseball hat bearing a show logo – from which perch he could greet arrivals with ‘glad to see you decided to join us’.

Sunday night I was still feeling a bit sad when I took Logan and his mom to dinner. We talked a bit about Steve, but Logan was excited about the movie Billy Elliot which he’d just seen (he now wants to be a dancer). Later on at his house he performed his version of a number from that show and he dedicated it to Steve.

You deserve a laugh today

Another anthem to BBC – two in two days! This one comes from BBC Two and is giggle inducing. Plus there’s a bonus: Stephen Fry. (It would be lovely to have these channels.)

Does anyone do this stuff better than BBC?

PBS is damn good. National Geographic is pretty terrific. But this! Here’s a trailer for the BBC One program (I almost typed ‘programme’ – heh), The Human Planet. It’s 3 minutes and it’s stunning – try to watch it in full screen.  (h/t cousin Lizzie)

Beirut Roxx


“Whilst the idea of a flash mob isn’t a new thing, a Dabke / Hip-Hop flash mob in Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport (Beirut Duty Free) at a time when the region is in flux is certainly a first.

On March 5th, 2011, passengers experienced something a little different. A flash mob performed a mix of Dabke and hip-hop to entertain and delight passengers and airport staff alike.”

Dabke is the most popular Arab folk dance in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria.

Enter the apocalypse?

I just took a quick look at a few favorite sites – two of them, TWO of them feature Hieronymus Bosch paintings. Ugly, demented, demonic Hieronymus Bosch.

Does disaster put us in mind of this stuff? Here’s one:

I’m guessing Way #1 is just sit like that

Cosmo’s April cover promises 50 Ways to Seduce A Man. Someone still publishes Cosmo?

Olivia Wilde Covers 'Cosmopolitan' April 2011

Monday morning Cyndi


Over at Jezebel, Margaret Hartmann writes “On Friday, in a clever attempt to sooth angry travelers stranded at the Buenos Aires Airport, Cyndi Lauper grabbed a microphone and led a sing-along of “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.” Clearly dispatching stars to perform our favorite ’80s songs after flight cancellations should become standard practice.”

And they talk about ‘creeping socialism’

Looks like the creeping  let’s-just-kill-the-damn-liberals and other people-we-don’t-like movement is gaining more steam.  (h/t The Fifth Column)

South Dakota Moves to Legalize Killing Abortion Providers

Of course, good moral citizens have been gunning down abortion providers for some time. Now some fine congress critters in South Dakota would just like to make it nice and legal.

It is not crazy to expect this sort of thing will spread. Were anyone to propose such a thing 30 years ago, there would have been a collective gasp of shock and horror across the country. Today, it will barely cause a ripple. Cultures change and we are changing.

Eliminationism – in language and actions – has become more visible over the last few years. Much more on the subject can be found here in the first installment of an astonishing bit of work – a ten-part series by David Neiwert on eliminationist tendencies and language throughout history with emphasis on today.

Definition from the Wikipedia link above: Eliminationism is the belief that one’s political opponents are a cancer on the body politic that must be excised — either by separation from the public at large, through censorship or by outright extermination — in order to protect the purity of the nation.

Monday morning delight

 More at Buzzfeed: Impossible Celebrity Couples

Demi Moore and Paul Newman; Elvis and Angelina Jolie

I heart Puxatawany Phil!

Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies – Bill Murray at his best. And now I love the little rodent himself  because he says an early spring is coming!

Yeah Puxatawny Phil! I heart you. (Hang in Kate, it’s almost over.)

The young and the bestest

It’s 8:30pm and I’m actually watching the Golden Globes. There seems to be a trend developing – young unknowns (well, unknown to me) usurping front runners. If this keeps up, Social Network and its leading actor may leave The King’s Speech and its lead actor still sitting in their seats.

UPDATE: A sad note – Laura Linney just won a Golden Globe. The announcer said only that Linney wasn’t able to be there to accept her award. (In fact, her father died yesterday – the great American playwright Romulus Linney. )

I’m still avoiding the hard stuff, so here: It’s a Daily Show reunion!

Skip the chit-chat and go straight to 1:35 into the video. This is from something called “Night of Too Many Stars”, a fundraiser for something that was held sometime somewhere. But who cares really when there’s an opportunity to see Stephen Colbert and Steve Carrell go all song-and-dance-men.

Poor CNN

Tonight is Larry King’s last show and I think 25 years deserves respect, so I turned on CNN preparing to watch this last show in real time. I’ve seen relatively few over the years, but whenever I did, I appreciated how he stepped back and never made the show about himself.

And that is how I came to see some of the new 8pm show, Parker/Spitzer. These are two smart knowledgable people – and the show sucks. I don’t know if CNN has noticed but Parker communicates from every pore that she is bored and finds the guests just not worthy of her attention – almost Cokie Roberts level bored.

(At least it seemed so during the ten minutes I saw. On the other hand I’ve often enjoyed her columns, but the woman lacks an on-air personality.)

None of this matters of course. But what the heck, Christmas is coming no matter how hard Harry Reid tries to stop it and nobody is paying any attention. So I can say whatever I want.

We were all Fair Game

Convicted criminal Scooter Libby with his boss, Dick Cheney

Saw Fair Game yesterday, the current movie about the outing of  the CIA’s Valerie Plame by the Bush White House, done to punish her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson for speaking truth to power –  it was a classic drama in real time and a worthy movie subject.

But. It would have been a much better movie without Sean Penn and it would have been a much more honest movie had it not borrowed so freely from All The President’s Men. Penn was a problem – I thought – because his personal involvement with left-wing causes spilled over into the Wilson character.

It’s always good to be reminded of some of the more sordid moments in our history. Especially given – as we’ve since learned – how deeply Plame was involved in counter-terrorism at the time that the White House ‘outed’ her. How petty the retribution against Wilson was – had they understood any history, they would have known that the best way to minimize damage from  Wilson’s revelations would have been to ignore them. But they let their lesser natures rule and did far more damage to their cause than Wilson’s op-ed ever could have. Silly and petty people.

And the thing they were protecting wasn’t information; they were protecting their own lies.

And so we’re still in Iraq. And of course we’re still in Afghanistan where today is the 70th day of the tenth year of that war.

Bad news all around

Brian tell me that Aretha Franklin is dying. Much suckitude this week.

The Thanksgiving Classic

Sarah Palin: just the glitter, not the guts please

Chris Kelly today in Huff Post notices Sarah Palin’s Favorite Communist Movie.

. . . she says Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is one of her “favorite movies,” that it’s “about timeless truths of America handed down to us from our forefathers and foremothers,” that it’s “wonderful” and “not pro-government, certainly, but definitely pro-American,” she must know it was written by a communist, right?

His name was Sidney Buchman. In 1951 he appeared before HUAC and admitted to being a member of the Communist Party, but refused to name anyone else. In 1952, he was subpoenaed again, but refused to honor the subpoena — much like Todd Palin did when called to testify about Troopergate.

Unlike Todd Palin, Buchman was found in contempt of Congress by a vote of 314-0. He was fined $150 and sentenced to a year in Federal penitentiary (suspended). A two-time Academy Award winner, it would be a decade before his name appeared on another American movie.

Somebody needs a new headline writer

The Huff Post apparently has an entire SNL page.  I just went there for the first time. As nice as it is to have a convenient one-stop to catch the best skits I don’t stay up to see on Saturday night, the page is embarassing.

Here are the headlines at 11pm Sunday:

Kate Middleton Bullied By Queen Elizabeth II In Hilarious ‘SNL’ Sketch

Scarlett Johansson’s Hilarious ‘SNL’ Promo With Jason Sudeikis

The Women Of ‘SNL’ Perfectly Spoof ‘Real Housewives’ Reunions

Jane Lynch Makes Hilarious ‘SNL’ Promos With Fred Armisen

‘SNL’ Newcomer Vanessa Bayer Does Hilarious Miley Cyrus Impression

SNL Does Perfect Spoof of Jimmy McMillan


This is how Michael Caine speaks

as interpreted by The Trip on BBC 2. (I seem to be unable to think or write so I toss out this little amusement.)

Friday oldie – live from Vegas

The early days of big names in Vegas – Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Frank Sinatra and catch that guy on the right! Heeere’s Johnny.

Try to imagine  four top entertainers ‘working a room’ like that today. (Instead of a stadium.)

Only The Onion

This made me laugh out loud.  Reminded me of an old Bob and Ray radio routine – “and now it’s time for our special guest, The Man Who Looks Like Ralph Bellamy! Welcome Mr. Shockley!”

Maybe one more

My father was all about music – his music. He loved it and taught it to all of his children and even his grandkids knew the names of the big bands. This is the last I’ll post, and it’s gorgeous:

A whimsey for y’all*

Andrew Sullivan must have an intern trolling you tube and vimeo 24/7 to find fresh and original stuff. This one is also just delightful. Hold on for 20 or so seconds.

More from these two here.


Rings true for me

New York Magazine has a lenghty piece about Jon Stewart in the current issue. From it:

“Jon is exactly the same guy he’s always been, only with money,” says Denis Leary, a friend since 1986. “He knows that the moment he really believes he’s important, the funny goes away and he becomes Bill O’Reilly, except shorter and Jewish.”

That sounds about right.