Take a deep inhale.

My old Russian teacher called the other day. I hadn’t heard from her in quite a while, so it was nice to catch up. I told her that Alan and I were thinking about traveling to Russia with some friends, maybe next year or the year after. They want to see St. Petersburg, I want to see Lenin laid out in his tomb. So I said I should start watching some Russian movies, get used to hearing the language again. She recommended a show on Netflix called “The Sniffer.” I watched an episode yesterday. It is hilarious.

The premise: A Russian investigator of some sort possesses a superhuman sense of smell. This is established in the first scenes, where he boards a plane. As he settles into his seat, another boarding passenger walks down the aisle, arm in a cast, and he determines that the cast contains plastique and a blasting cap; the passenger is a suicide bomber. So he calls the stewardess and calmly asks for the pilot, who appears reluctantly, hears the story, and asks just how this chill gent knows all this.

The same way I know you had sex with this lovely lady in the cockpit. Thirty minutes ago. Twice, he says. And that’s how we meet the Sniffer — and that’s his character’s name, he doesn’t have a regular one — who solves crimes by smelling them.

It’s plainly influenced by the CSI franchise. When the Sniffer inhales, special effects swirl around him, sometimes taking human form. He is able to take a few deep breaths and sketch out how the crime was committed — by a woman in her 40s, left-handed, who showered this morning, stopped menstruating four days ago, etc. It’s ridiculous, and yet, it’s in Russian, and I can pick up a few words. Two episodes in, and I am totally invested in the Sniffer.

You might ask yourself the obvious question: When you have the sense of smell of a million bloodhounds, how the hell do you keep from gagging around, say, a public toilet? (One reason hounds are hard to train is, their noses are like satellite dishes of smells, and it’s, shall we say, distracting. They have a hard time concentrating on your commands.) The answer? The Sniffer wears a plastic nose piece that presumably blocks the worst of it.

Like I said: Ridiculous. Shot in Ukraine, though, which brings us to the events of today, of which I can only say this: I can’t. I can’t even. I can’t even EVEN.

I feel confident that as I start this sentence, something will happen before the end of it that will upend anything I might write. So I will leave you with this:

I somehow wrangled a media pass to Kanye West’s “Sunday Service” concert, which is popping up in Detroit tomorrow, and which I am attending. Ooh, exciting. I’ll give you a report on Monday. For now, let’s grab our popcorn and watch everything unfold.

Happy Friday, happy weekend, God save the United States of America.

Posted at 9:03 pm in Current events, Television | 39 Comments
 

Hot days, a little A/C and teevee.

God, it’s been a week, and it will continue to be a week for another day or two. So in the meantime, a TV recommendation, at least for those of you with premium cable – “Years and Years,” now playing on HBO, via the BBC.

It’s a near-future sci-fi series about the journey of a northern England family, the Lyons – four adult children, one grandmother, a dead mother and an absent father. In the opening episode, one of the adult children, Rosie, is having her second out-of-wedlock child, with which everyone is totally cool. This is a modern family. One son is gay, one’s in an interracial marriage, a daughter is a globe-trotting do-gooder and the second daughter is the one having the baby, little Lincoln Lyons. As the first episode ends, the gay brother holds the baby in his arms and wonders what life will be like for him.

Answer: Not good.

We’re only on episode three, and the action has moved forward about seven years. (It starts in 2019.) And so far, we’ve seen a nuclear strike on one of those man-made Chinese islands, a global financial crisis, the rise of a Trump-like (but far, far smarter) British politician and a movement toward “trans humanism,” wherein young people seek to upload their consciousness to “the cloud” and “recycle” their bodies. All of this is interspersed with the stuff of ordinary human life — birthday parties, Christmases, commuting to work, etc.

I remember, during the financial crisis, reading the daily stories of financial mayhem, closing my laptop and looking out at the street. Why weren’t people rioting, fighting over bags of rice? Because even in extremely stressful times, children need to be fed, showers taken, birthdays celebrated. “Years and Years” strikes that balance of the mundane details of human life and the grand movements of human history.

It runs on Monday nights. I think I need to save it for the weekend, because it scares the ever-loving shit out of me.

Emma Thompson plays the politician. Very well.

Trust me, it’s worth your time.

What else is happening today? Epstein, etc. I can’t keep up. Been very busy.

I’ll be back before week’s end.

Posted at 9:38 pm in Television | 30 Comments
 

At least no trains and tunnels.

I envy those of you who have vivid dreams, funny dreams, the kind with truly David Lynch-ian symbolism and imagery. I hardly ever remember my dreams, and when I do, they involve one of two things, and sometimes both: Houses and water.

In dream symbolism, these are primary colors, no-brainers, the sort of thing Sigmund Freud would delegate to the interns. Houses are oneself, water is…well, it’s usually emotions, but it’s also anything you might find in poetry. I never wake up groggy and think, “What did that mean?” I know as soon as I wake up.

When I was pregnant, I had a recurrent dream of a koi pond. I could see the brightly colored fish moving around just under the surface, with one occasionally breaking the surface long enough for me to catch a glimpse, then diving down again. It was so obvious. I was very disappointed in my unimaginative subconscious.

Here’s my typical house dream: I am living in one, and one day I open an interior door and find…a previously unknown room. Which is actually part of a whole warren of undiscovered rooms, in a variety of states of repair, but usually good, but maybe with outdated decor. In the end, I realize that my house is far bigger than I knew.

Then I wake up.

I am large, I contain multitudes — of rooms.

How was your weekend? I put a couple of 2018 things behind me, and now truly feel ready for the new year. I was going to have a schvitz, but opted to clean a bathroom instead. One makes me feel as good as the other, and the schvitz will be there next weekend, whereas my bathroom needed cleaning now.

The auto show begins tomorrow — it’s already begun, actually — and that means the Charity Preview is Friday, and that means I have to spend a few days thinking about whether it’s OK that my jewelry is silver and my clutch, sorta gold. Weigh in, if you like.

Bloggage: This is a terrible story that will make you hate the pharmaceutical industry even more than you do already:

In the meantime, a portion of the more than 7 million diabetic Americans who take insulin are stuck with debilitating costs. Though most don’t pay the full list price for insulin because of insurance coverage and other rebates, some do, especially those who are uninsured, underinsured or facing a coverage gap through Medicare. “The most vulnerable patients are subsidizing the system,” William Cefalu, the chief scientific, medical and mission officer of the American Diabetes Association, told a Senate committee in May.

At the same hearing, a father from Maine told senators that a 90-day prescription for just one of his son’s insulins would cost him $1,489.46. That’s with his high-deductible insurance. He testified that he has taken to buying the same three-month supply from a Canadian pharmacy for about $300 plus $50 in shipping. (It’s technically illegal to import medication from other countries, but the Food and Drug Administration generally doesn’t prosecute individuals if it’s a short-term supply for personal use.) He is not alone in his dilemma: The website GoFundMe has thousands of posts with people pleading for help to pay for insulin.

This stupid country. A friend just got back to the U.S. after an extended stay in France. He’d needed an ultrasound while he was there, and had to pay out of pocket. “But it’s so much money!” the clinician fretted. Never mind that, he said; he’d pay. The bill was $60. For an $800 procedure in the U.S.

Couch-based entertainment update: Now watching “Killing Eve” (excellent), just finished “Leave No Trace,” which is merely heartbreaking.

Hello 2019, hello auto show. Hello, week. Hope yours is good.

Posted at 9:33 pm in Movies, Same ol' same ol', Television | 91 Comments
 

Trump country, on both sides of the bars.

One of the lesser-remarked-upon gifts of the holidays came from Kate, who, because she’s a college student, gets Showtime for practically nothing, bundled with her already low-cost Spotify account. She loaded the app on our TV box when she was home, and as a result we were able to watch “Escape at Dannemora” over these past few nights.

I liked it. A lot.

It’s a seven-part series about the 2015 escape, by inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat, from Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York. You probably remember; they got out with the help of a female civilian employee, and stayed out for more than three weeks, surviving on food stolen from a series of Adirondack hunting cabins, using the dense forest cover to escape detection from an intense manhunt. But they didn’t get away clean, because how often does that happen? Matt was shot to death, and Sweat was also shot, but taken alive. The civilian employee, Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell, who it turned out was having sex with both of them in the course of supervising them in the prison tailor shop, ended up behind bars for her role in all of this.

I read a few reviews of this when it was released about a month ago. The primary complaint was that it was too long, suffering from “Netflix bloat,” i.e., the tendency for projects like this to be padded out to make a season out of what could be a two-parter. I didn’t find this to be true, mainly for the way it observed the entirety of the Clinton Correctional universe, particularly the corrupt culture among the prison staff, which made it easy to smuggle contraband hacksaw blades and other tools into the facility, blurring the line between the criminals and those charged with keeping them behind bars. You really feel how shitty and depressing life is on both sides of the cell door; Dannemora is referred to as “Little Siberia” for its deep winters, and working at the prison is probably the best gig in town for the working class. But it sucked, because how could it not?

My favorite episode was the penultimate one, a flashback compilation that introduces the three main characters via their histories, the two prisoners committing the crimes that landed them in Clinton, and Tilly’s shady romantic affairs with her ex-husband and the one who takes his place. We see her working at a shoe factory maybe 20 years before the escape, already dumpy and frowzy, trading sex to get ahead in the world, in a place where sex is about the only pleasure to be had outside of food and Bud Lite. It’s not surprising to see her working later in the prison, because the shoe factory probably closed, its jobs sent out of the country. (A little Googling shows that was indeed the fate of the Tru-Stitch facility.) After a while, what’s the difference between living in a cell and living in a house nearby? In many ways, not all that much.

Some critics have pointed out that the “escape” doesn’t happen until the final episode, but honestly, I didn’t mind. And if there were a noticeable number of long, contemplative shots of the Adirondack forest rolling off to the horizon in waves, well, all it did was remind me what it must have looked like to a man who hadn’t seen freedom in many years.

All three leads were outstanding. Paul Dano captured Sweat’s keen intelligence and patience. Patricia Arquette must have gained 60 pounds to play Tilly, and is nearly unrecognizable. And Benicio del Toro as Matt did a great job of embodying a man who, it turns out, not only belonged in prison, he did everything possible to get himself back there — until he was shot to death. And Ben Stiller directs with a confidence that surprised me. But I guess an actor knows how to work with actors.

Anyway, the nights are still long and cold, and will be so for a few more months. It’s worth your time.

So.

Big news today, obviously. I just read this in the Axios PM newsletter:

Between the lines: The two sides of the House chamber looked drastically different today, Axios’ Caitlin Owens notes.

All but 13 House Republicans this Congress are men, and the vast majority are white.

While the GOP side of the chamber was filled with dark suits and red or purple ties, the Democratic side was filled with colorful attire and people of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds.

I think that says it all, and I’ve gone on for a while. Time to walk Wendy and think about dinner. Have a good weekend, all.

Posted at 6:00 pm in Current events, Television | 41 Comments
 

Literate men.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter might be familiar with my cover photo, which I never tire of examining — Pete D’Souza’s over-the-shoulder shot of President Obama and his then-speechwriter, Jon Favreau, working on his health-care speech, delivered to Congress in 2009. You can see it here.

I love it because it shows just what sort of writer Obama is — careful, meticulous, not afraid to draft and redraft. Favreau may have done the first one, but he wasn’t going to get away without making sure every word was right, “this has always been our history” revised to “this has always been the history of our progress.” I know Favreau and Obama had a close relationship, the old two-halves-of-one-brain thing, but writing is personal and the president put his personal stamp on his. (This is another reason I guffaw at the idea Obama had a ghost for his two books. Get outta here with that crap.)

Anyway, here’s today’s commander-in-chief and his editing style:

Nice cufflinks, too. I bet they cost a lot, and are of very high quality. The best quality. The best. An incredible pair of cufflinks.

And yes, “collusion” is misspelled. Thanks to MMJeff for finding that one.

I needed a laugh today, after yesterday. I have tried to keep up with all the outrage takes, but I’ve run out of steam. Shock supply: E. It’s all about swatting these distractions away and marching relentlessly toward the next election. Also, I am closing in on the end of “The Americans,” which arrived on Amazon Prime’s video stream in June. I banged through the five available seasons like a junkie, and bought the final one on iTunes. I know how it’s going to end, basically; spoilers are held at bay for maybe 18 hours after a prestige-TV event, and then everybody talks about it. No biggie — I’m still enjoying every hour.

I’m also pleasantly surprised at how much Russian is spoken therein; none of this just-have-them-do-a-Boris-and-Natasha-accent business. Long scenes with subtitles are a lot to ask of an American TV audience. It’s weird how, even though I haven’t studied it in a while, immersion cracks a door open in my brain, and more comes back to me. The characters address one another formally, as Russians in a professional setting would do — first name and patronymic. No courtesy titles in Russian. Schoolchildren address their teachers as Natalia Ivanovna or Sergei Ivanovich. But when two of the characters are rolling around in bed, it’s the diminutives and informal address.

Fun fact: Russians can make diminutives — nicknames, pet names — from almost any word, and especially names, just like us. Mikhail is Misha, Pavel’s friend call him Pasha, you get the idea. Most names have multiple diminutives, just as our Michael might be Mike, Mikey, Mickey, etc. The -ka ending in a diminutive carries an implication of naughtiness, the way your mother called you by first, middle and last name when she was mad at you. When Mikhail is in trouble, his mom might call him Mishka. When Pasha, a troubled teen on “The Americans,” comes home with a black eye, brushes off his mom’s alarm and stomps up to his room, his mother yells up the stairs at him, “Pashenka!” Authentic.

And now you know how the Russian word for water, voda, became vodka.

So, bloggage:

Looks like ol’ Coach Jim Jordan may find himself giving discovery depositions one of these days.

I’m following the discussion in the previous post’s comments, about billionaires setting public policy, in this case Bill Gates and his ideas about education. A few days ago, short-attention-span billionaire Elon Musk took a break from saving the world to tweet that he would slice off another bit of his limited time on earth to do something about the water in Flint. I don’t even have the energy to can’t-even over that one.

So now let’s turn to my next TV commitment, “Fauda” on Netflix, and hold “The Americans” at bay for another day.

Wednesday ahead. Enjoy.

Posted at 9:20 pm in Current events, Television | 63 Comments
 

A ‘Christmas Story’ story.

So, in the recent enthusiasm for what’s inevitably called “the high-wire act of live television,” Fox did a live musical version of “A Christmas Story” the other night. Hank hated it, and I will take his word for it. I, too, have grown weary of “A Christmas Story,” mainly because I’m tired of all its, what’s the term? Brand extensions. So to speak.

That would include, a few years back, stories about the guy who bought the house that played Ralph’s house, in Cleveland, and turned it into a museum. I wrote a column on an entrepreneur in Fort Wayne – surely there are dozens more – who started building and selling leg lamps. (“Of course they come in a big box with FRAGILE stamps all over it,” she enthused.) The where-are-they-now/you-won’t-believe-how-the-actors-look-today junk slideshows turn up in social media for weeks every year. And then there are the wags upon wags who trot out the familiar lines at office mixers, in elevator small talk, and everywhere else from Halloween through New Year’s: You’ll shoot your eye out, kid being only the most familiar.

It hurts. I used to love this movie. It was so sweet and charming. Then NBC sucked up rights to “It’s a Wonderful Life” and turned its annual screening into a national celebration of commercial television. So the thing you used to find in your holiday insomnia, playing on some UHF channel at 2 a.m. when you were likely to be feeling dark and hopeless, like George Bailey was in most of Act II, is now a primetime spectacle clogged with ads and celebrity interstitial moments and GET IN THE SPIRIT, AMERICA admonishments. “A Christmas Story” became a kind of counterprogramming on cable, with the 24-hour repeat broadcast on TBS finally wearing through whatever veneer of goodwill toward men I still have by Dec. 24.

Or, in so many words, “A Christmas Story” is now the TV version of Aretha’s “Respect” – if I never see/hear either again, I’d be perfectly happy.

(Meanwhile, another Frank Capra film from the same era, “Meet John Doe,” with a strong Christmas plot line, is ignored year after year. Go figure.)

And all of this is happening after the death of Jean Shepherd, the humorist whose story “A Christmas Story” is. I think a few years I wrote about the Clinic, which was a tradition at the Columbus Dispatch, where I used to work. The Clinic was our annual all-staff, year-in-review gathering (even though it was held in March), at the publisher’s family’s garishly decorated country retreat, the Wigwam. We’d have a few speakers, and then break for cocktails and dinner, followed by more drinking among the cigar-store Indians and various souvenirs of the family’s considerable influence in Ohio – a framed thank-you letter from Spiro Agnew, who had once been lodged there when a snowstorm cancelled his flight, was a highlight of the many glory walls in the place. The evening was raucous and absolutely drenched in alcohol. Very Mad Men, very Front Page in many ways; it has since been significantly revamped, and is dry, I believe.

My first year, all the young people on staff except me ate marijuana-laced brownies on their way to the Wigwam and I guess they kicked in sometime during the speakers’ portion of the event. As I recall, the keynoter was the president of the Associated Press, and just about as scintillating a public speaker as you’d expect from that outfit. Anyway, he repeatedly pronounced the 50th state Huh-WHY-yuh, with each repetition setting off muffled giggles in the rows around me, which should have been a clue what was going on, but honestly, I had no idea. I only learned of this much later. I suspect the management eventually did, too, because in a subsequent year, one of the brownie-eaters – the film critic – was made chairman of the following year’s Clinic. The naming of next year’s chairman was the climax of the evening, indicating a mix of favor and let’s-test-your-mettle assessment by upper management. He or she had to plan the whole shitshow, with wide latitude, and when the critic’s Clinic rolled around the keynote speaker was Jean Shepherd.

The two had met when the critic had gone to Cleveland to report a story about the making of “A Christmas Story.” I’d never heard of Shepherd, but suffice to say, he could pronounce Hawaii and knew how to hold a room. (He was, in addition to a writer, a successful actor and superb radio personality.) He didn’t talk about journalism at all, but just told wonderful shaggy-dog stories about his childhood. He skillfully wound it all up with the Ovaltine anecdote, and that’s what I remember when I see it in the movie: Shepherd acting out the Little Orphan Annie decoder ring action up there at the podium, building to the punchline, with the historically inaccurate murals of Indians all around. The story, as he told it, had nothing to do with Christmas.

Anyway, I wish he’d lived to see all this. At the very least, he could have used the money.

So, as we skip to the bloggage, let me see a show of hands of those who are watching “The Crown,” or just have an interest in the British upper classes…only a few? Pity. Well, you’ll still want to check out Nicole Cliffe’s Twitter thread about British boarding schools through the years. Or you will after you watch “Paterfamilias,” a positively wrenching episode of “The Crown” dealing with Prince Philip’s insistence that his firstborn son attend the brutal Scottish academy he did. The place was a veritable penal colony, and is said to have been the seed of the father-son estrangement that followed. Anyway, Cliffe’s thread is both funny and fascinating:

I recall, as a child, lapping up stories of English children away at various schools/penal colonies/great houses isolated in hostile countrysides. I loved “The Wolves of Willoughby Chase” best of all.

If you have approximately a week to fall down a YouTube rabbit hole, I suggest Freshout, the series about life in and out of, but mostly in, prison. Fascinating material covering everything from sex to gangs to recipes for a County Taco.

And if you have an interest in Everest, you should enjoy this lavishly presented NYT piece about the removal of corpses from the highest reaches of the mountain. It’s no easy task. And it’s a good story.

As for the rest of the day’s events, well.

Posted at 5:54 pm in Movies, Television | 121 Comments
 

One woman and her big metal hat.

The polls have just closed in Alabama, but in my head, I’m repatriated to my ancestral home of England, at least for an hour here and there, as I find solace in a cold snap in bleak midwinter. How? By sucking up the second season of “The Crown” on Netflix.

The first season was very fine, but it was hard to separate how much I loved the story from how much I loved the details – the sets and the costumes and the big paste-jewel necklaces and tiaras and oh my, the coronation episode! In that way, it was “Downton Abbey” before it turned into a stupid crap soap opera. But season 2 is something else. Now that the characters have settled in, the richness of the big themes are emerging. Which is to say, how this institution of monarchy is simultaneously the best and worst sort of prison to be locked into, for all involved, how tradition murders freedom, how duty and autonomy wrestle one another for supremacy. And how this imperfect family manages to lead and follow a complicated country through the middle of the 20th century, when everything changed around it and yet, it endures. Through everything.

I’m a little overwhelmed, having just notched the sixth episode (of 10; I’m trying to make it last the week), which is all about Elizabeth’s uncle, the Duke of Windsor, the king who abdicated, and his ties to the Nazis in World War II. I’ve never understood the fascination with the Duke and his wife, Wallis Simpson, who were profoundly silly people, at least when they weren’t being downright evil, which is to say, consorting with Hitler and his pals. It was a marvelous episode, contrasting the Duke’s towering self-regard and self-pity with Elizabeth’s dogged sense of duty and simple Christian faith. (Billy Graham also shows up in this hour, of all people.) The big reveals, the depth of the duke’s wartime treachery, don’t come until the last quarter of the episode, and it all falls into place: Of course he schmoozed with the Nazis; they were going to return him to the throne after they won the war, with Queen Wallis at his side, at long last. He’d win his petty battle with his family, and all it would take was a few more months of his new friends bombing his own countrymen to prepare the soil. The final scenes show him playing bridge with Wallis and another couple, probably Trump relatives. And that was pretty much how his stupid life played out. Fitting.

(Princess Elizabeth did her own service during the war. She was a truck mechanic.)

Last season I marveled at how much drama a typical episode was able to drum up, when you considered what was at stake. In the coronation episode, the central conflict was over whether Elizabeth’s husband, then the Duke of Edinburgh, would kneel before her as part of the ceremony. (Spoiler alert: He did.) But isn’t that what our own lives are like on a day to day basis? Today’s episode: “Commute.” Logline: Nancy has to drive to the west side in snow squalls; will she be able to get there in 55 minutes or less? Tune in tonight! It turns out you can be a queen and still have to deal with a troublesome sister who is bound and determined to marry Mr. Wrong. You can wear a crown but have an irascible co-worker to handle. Yours likely isn’t Winston Churchill, but you get the point.

Oh, and Princess Margaret is killer this season. Gorgeous and tragic and doomed and very fond of strapless dresses.

The plan for this show is to cover Elizabeth’s entire monarchy, with each season covering roughly a decade. The actors will change after this year for an older cast. I can’t wait to see what they do with Margaret’s nervous-exhaustion phase. Every time she lights another cigarette – and she lights approximately 400 every episode she’s in – I want to tell her to think of her future wrinkles.

So enjoy it, if you haven’t checked it out already. Totally worth it.

I’m calling this race for Moore. Anyone else?

Posted at 8:56 pm in Television | 54 Comments
 

Catching up.

Another lazy Monday night for yours truly, as I caught up with what Alan refers to as “my programs,” i.e. the premium-cable Sunday-night stuff. We canceled Showtime after the last “Ray Donovan” season was such a disappointment, so we’re talking HBO here. Good news: “The Leftovers” is swinging for the mu’fuh’in’ fences, and it is awesome. Bad news: My bedtime is 10 p.m. Hence: The Monday catch-up, for “Veep” and “Silicon Valley.”

I love “Veep,” too, although I don’t recommend it if you’re sensitive about profanity; it really is a cuss-fest, but the cussin’ is glorious. Those of you who saw Armando Iannucci’s criminally under appreciated “In the Loop” know what I’m talking about. If, like me, you believe the best English-speaking accent for swearing is Scottish, then you probably watch this often.

A little bit of bloggage, then, and best wishes for Deborah as she briefly goes under the knife today. They’re a little old, but only Sherri and a few others will notice:

How Donald Trump’s ascent led to Bill O’Reilly’s downfall.

David Remnick on Trump’s first 100 days. A fine, towering j’accuse.

Back tomorrow.

Posted at 8:25 am in Current events, Television | 33 Comments
 

Black reflections.

Finally, an actual weekend, full of weekend-y things — exercise, reading, shopping, day-drinking. Also: “Black Mirror,” of which I knew nothing before reading something good about the new season (the third) in the NYT recently. Although the show isn’t episodic, I figured it’s best to start with Season 1, Episode 1, which was…

The U.K. prime minister gets a pre-dawn call that summons him to his office, where a grim-faced cadre of aides plays a video for him. Princess Susannah, a mashup of Diana and Kate Middleton, has been kidnapped. The ransom demand: That the P.M. have sex with a pig on live television at 4 p.m. that afternoon.

Now that’s what you call a shirt-grabber, I’d say. This episode is five years old, and came to the U.S. three years ago, and this is the first I’m hearing of it.

Well, it’s impossible to keep up.

The hip-pocket description of the show would be this: A creepier, more disturbing “Twilight Zone,” with the underlying theme of technology, and how we interact with it. So far — we’re in the second season — it’s fantastic. Hour-long episodes. British. And everyone who’s known about it, and hasn’t sent a telegram to me insisting that I watch the whole thing in a mad stretch, is dead to me.

So I guess you know what we did Saturday night. There was a vegetarian meal involved, too.

Now it’s Sunday, and time for the week-ahead prep. In addition to the (vague) meal ideas and (hopeful) workout plans, there’s the Halloween-season (also vague) plans to get the holiday season edging toward front-of-mind. In other words: Shopping, or at least some ideas for it. Ergh. Another year, at least approaching the final turn.

In the meantime? Bloggage:

Yes, late-term abortions are done for the health of the mother. Here’s one story. Foul-mouthed, but effective.

The Republicans are eating their own, particularly in Michigan:

“[I]t won’t be just Trump that drives me from this party. I’m disgusted with the male leaders of the Republican party,” Texas right-wing activist Brittany Pounders wrote on Oct. 18. “They may not be sexual predators; they may not be sexist or misogynist—but they are clearly okay with others in our party who are.” On Oct. 21, Nancy French, a conservative who has co-authored books with Sarah Palin and Bristol Palin, wrote in the Washington Post about her own childhood history of sexual assault; her essay implied that the GOP itself has become a sort of sleazy predator in the age of Trump. “My party—which should’ve been a place of a certain set of values—now shelters an abuser,” she writes. “I’m thinking of this when the GOP presses against me and asks me to close my eyes just one more time.”

Time for “Westworld.” Enjoy the week ahead.

Posted at 9:05 pm in Television | 65 Comments
 

Send in the cupbearer.

Kate’s been working her way through “Game of Thrones” in the millennial fashion — watching nothing else for days at a time — and I keep walking into the room just as big things are about to happen onscreen. The Red Wedding, Joffrey’s wedding – you Throne-heads know what I’m talking about. I like the show, but I think the immersion is seeping into my bloodstream; I just asked Alan to bring me a flagon of wine.

He brought me half a flagon. I considered beheading him, but he said there was more in the pantry.

Thanks for carrying the conversation yesterday. As to the burning question of Deborah’s library, here’s my method: Sort by mass-market paperback / trade paperback / hardcover, shove them wherever, and just know, more or less, where stuff is. Or sort by color. Oversize volumes on low shelves, trashy novels up high, classy stuff at eye level.

With all I had to do today, I thought I might stop over at MLive, the statewide online news network that carries Bridge content. I was actually wondering if the chatty, informational op-ed by a high-school guidance counselor, on the advisability of gap years for graduating high-school students, was attracting a sewer full of racist comments. (It was pegged to Malia Obama’s decision, of course.) I couldn’t find it, but I found the story I wrote yesterday, which was briefly on the Top 5 most-commented list. It’s about the movement to make menstrual supplies more affordable and/or free in certain situations, and I figured it would be trailing a long string of… never mind. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to find readers, male readers, saying they supported the idea of free tampons in schools, because they had daughters themselves.

Sometimes the human race can really surprise me. Pleasantly.

And then something like this happens, and I realize we will never change:

An Arkansas judge accused of swapping sex for reduced sentences resigned Monday after a state commission said it discovered thousands of photographs from his computer that depicted nude male defendants.

…Boeckmann’s resignation came after the commission said in a May 5 letter to his lawyer that it was in the process of recovering as many as 4,500 photos.

“They all depict young men, many naked who are in various poses inside the judge’s home and outside in his yard,” the letter states, adding that many of the men had received checks from the judge and had appeared before him as defendants.

Arkansas is sort of another country, isn’t it?

So, want to own a piece of internet history? How would you like to buy the birthplace of this very blog, for the low-low price of practically nothing? Well, you can, because my old house in Indiana is on the market. In the years since we left, someone has taken up the carpet and refinished the floors, and I suspect a bit of staging was done, too, because those pillar candles are always a dead giveaway, don’t you think? The floor Alan put in the kitchen remains, and thank goddess they didn’t paint the kitchen cabinets. Those are some serious wide-angle lenses in some pix, but ah well — that’s real estate for you.

Finally, this may be the only Trump news I have the stomach for at the moment: Speculation on who he might choose as a running mate. Seeing as how he already has a transition team in mind, I don’t see how this is wrong to do, do you? Note how he uses the phrase “take over the White House.” Ha.

OK, outta here. Happy Wednesday.

Posted at 12:11 am in Current events, Popculch, Television | 56 Comments