A few culture notes, because I don’t think enough neurons are firing in my head to handle anything other than arts and entertainment at the moment:
Despite everything I expected, I’m enjoying “Game of Thrones.” I generally despise anything involving broadswords and magic, and GoT has a lot of the former, less of the latter, plus boobs (this being HBO). The characters tend toward ridiculous names, but are helpfully color-coded — the Peroxide Twins, the Strawberry Blonde Clan — or are recognizable enough that I can keep them straight from scene to scene, like Mayor Carcetti on “The Wire,” whom we learned last week was a eunuch. (He’s gossips and schemes. You know how eunuchs are.)
No one is more surprised by this than I am. I’m not a fan of David Benioff, who’s co-writing this thing, and haven’t been since I saw him speak at Michigan way back when. There’s way too much exposition-through-dialogue — Lord Dyphtherion, how go affairs at your castle Wickershamshire? Is your brother still recovering from the injuries suffered in that joust with dark knight Bubonicus? What was at stake? Some significant titles and land? — but Benioff knows everything sounds better in a British accent. And once you’ve got the initial sorting by hair color and subplot, it’s no harder to follow than any soap opera. I’d like a little more magic, though. I assume it’s coming. I hope it won’t be too silly.
As different from “Game of Thrones” as chalk is from cheese, “Treme” is back for its second season, now examining Katrina-scarred New Orleans from a distance of a year and change. This is when residents knew for sure just how much the rest of the country cared about them (not much) and when the overstressed institutions of social order, mainly the police department, began to break down. I’m so bummed Ashley Morris isn’t alive to see this, but fortunately, the people at the Back of Town blog are breaking down each episode for us, and if you’re not following along there, you’re missing something. I recommend it over any professional “Treme” criticism, including this Salon piece (spoilers galore), which boiled down to: I didn’t like this scene, ergo, suckitude.
Y’all know what a David Simon fan I am; I will put my little hand in his and follow him anywhere. But generally, I’m finding this season better than the first, and not just because I know everyone now. Detroit is New Orleans in a colder climate, with a disaster that struck in slow motion, rather than in meteorological form. But they have a great deal in common, and the questions Simon is asking are the same ones anyone with open eyes asks when they live around here, about responsibility, complicity and all the rest of it.
(The scenes with the crazy chef, Enrico Brulard, I can only attribute to Simon’s bromance with Anthony Bourdain, although they’re plenty entertaining. I love food and respect the craftsmanship that goes into preparing it well, but watching Brulard fuss over dishes was a useful reminder not to worry too much about anything that will be in the municipal sewer system in 24 hours.)
Finally, “The Killing” is starting to grate. (All these shows run on Sunday night, when I’m working. Thank my lucky stars for DVRs and on-demand cable) It started out so well, and now in episode six or seven or something, all I’m looking forward to is the end, when the red herrings are shoveled off the deck and we find out who done it, and I’m already worried we’re in for some late-arriving character who will come bearing a suitcase full of deus ex machina. I’m already tired of so much, which I’m now realizing is mainly clichés served up by Enrico Brulard, with artful presentation and some garnish you don’t recognize — the Female Detective Who’s Married to Her Job, the Innocent Party With a Secret, etc. And the rain! Lord, the rain. I know it rains in Seattle, and I know it rains a lot, but presumably people come equipped for it, and occasionally bother to put their hoods up.
I’ve seldom been as thoroughly hooked by anything as I was by the first two episodes of “The Killing.” I’ve seldom been so disappointed by what came afterward.
Your thoughts? It’s sweeps month, you know.
A little bit of bloggage:
Jim Cramer, profiled in the NYT magazine, discusses his joust with Jon Stewart, which wasn’t really a joust at all. Mr. Whinypants says:
“As soon as he started, I realized Stewart was on a mission to make me look like a clown. I didn’t defend myself because I wasn’t prepared. What was I supposed to do, talk about how often I had been right? Praise myself? Get mad? I was mad, but I didn’t want to give the audience any blood. The national media said I got crushed, which I did, and made me into a buffoon.” He looked at his plate and shook his head. “You have a whole body of work and then — ” He signaled the waitress for more coffee. “Stewart was the prosecutor, and I was Exhibit A. But what was the crime? What did I do wrong? I wasn’t running Fannie or Freddie. I wasn’t in charge at Countrywide. CNBC was completely good. Better than the Department of Justice. What I did every night was call these bad actors out. I sat there with Stewart and thought: He’s never even seen my show. He doesn’t even know what I do.” He paused for a moment. “Obviously I didn’t know what he does, either.”
Tell it to someone who cares, Jim.
The last people in the world to discover Donald Trump is not what he seems, speak:
“The last thing you ever expect is that somebody you revere will mislead you,” said Alex Davis, 38, who bought a $500,000 unit in Trump International Hotel and Tower Fort Lauderdale, a waterfront property that Mr. Trump described in marketing materials as “my latest development” and compared to the Trump tower on Central Park in Manhattan.
“There was no disclaimer that he was not the developer,” Mr. Davis said. The building, where construction was halted when a major lender ran out of money in 2009, sits empty and unfinished, the outlines of a giant Trump sign, removed long ago, still faintly visible.
Mr. Davis is unable to recover any of his $100,000 deposit — half of which the developer used for construction costs.
“Revere” — what a strange word to use in that context.
A long piece on Hillary Clinton’s term as SoS that I haven’t read yet, but plan to. Over the weekend, maybe.
Which will start soon. Enjoy yours.