Saturday, May 31, 2014

Denzel Washington:The Equalizer

Yeah. I'm probably going to see The Equalizer when it comes out this fall. It's directed by the same guy who did Training Day. It has the same feel as Man on Fire. The character in The Equalizer is a little bit past his use by date but that was kind of the point in the original TV series. People who dismissed an older man as not very dangerous often discovered they had made an unforgivably critical mistake. I wonder if Washington will have any love interest to work with as I would presume that Moretz won't be playing that role. Either way it's interesting how often storytellers use the tropes of "One Last Job" or "The retired gunfighter who has to pick up his guns" or "I can't leave my job because I am my job". These tropes work.

Book Reviews: I, Sniper, Breakfast of Champions

I, Sniper
by Stephen Hunter
You know the drill. Bob Lee Swagger, an aging Vietnam Vet, top sniper, and downright genius in all things involving guns, detective work, violence, mechanics, or weapons is off somewhere minding his own business when some immoral person someplace does something bad. Only Bob Lee can put things right. And by God he means to do just that. I've mentioned before that I like the series although the author is quite different from me politically. If the story is good I usually don't care about politics. I could never have read anything by Robert E. Howard or H.P. Lovecraft if I required all of my reading material to be created by like minded people. There are no writers with whom I agree on everything. However there are limits to my tolerance. This book is not Hunter's best. I, Sniper is the first Bob Lee Swagger novel I've read where it felt to me as if the author was deliberately and too obviously marketing his story towards one side of the political spectrum. Hunter shamelessly panders here. The hero only watches Fox News. Hunter takes shots every other page at the supposed effete nancy boy anti-gun New York Times/East Coast Media journalists and intelligentsia. Hunter has stated that some of this bile is released frustration at being what he thought of as a token conservative at his previous Washington Post gig as well as anger that the NYT did not review his older books. Hunter chides others about their unexamined assumptions but seems blissfully unaware of his own. Previously, Hunter used this series (via Swagger) to give concise if gruff explanations of gun and military culture to those who were unfamiliar with them. I, Sniper often radiates a sneering exclusionary tone towards people who aren't fervent military or law enforcement wannabes supporters or knowledgeable of various firearms esoterica. We don't have Hans and Franz mocking "girlie men" but the book comes close. Literary incarnations of Jane Fonda, Abbie Hoffman, Bill Ayers and Bernadotte Dohm are murdered. A famous gadfly journalist (O.Z Harris) is posthumously revealed as a Soviet agent.

There's also some whining about the fact that while Bob Lee Swagger and friends were bleeding and dying in Vietnam, the people mentioned above weren't.  Hunter even uses "European" as an insult and marker of difference when the hero investigates a crime victim's home and notices that it doesn't look "American" because among other things there's no flag. Right. Because that makes perfect sense. As a reader who doesn't share Hunter's smoldering antipathy towards anyone to the left of Chris Kyle, I found myself wishing Hunter would just go write an essay someplace and tone down the "I'm a real American and you're not" political rants in what until now had been a decent series.

Friday, May 30, 2014

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki Resigns

This was hardly unexpected. When your boss refuses to give you words of support and your peers are distancing themselves from you it's time to do the right thing and fall on your sword like a good little soldier. I really think that the problems with the VA are both about the people at the top and the entire bureaucratic VA culture. I don't know if the next person to be approved as secretary will make any difference but as one lady manager told me quite some time ago "Your time for excuses and explanations ended when you took the job". If something happens on your watch you are responsible. Period. Nobody wants to hear about what the last Administration did or do not do, especially six years after you took over responsibility and actually ran on making changes. Once again, though this continues a pattern of the President and his direct reports seemingly being out of the loop when major bad mojo is going down. I really do think that this is at least in part a byproduct of the fact that before his election the President had never managed large organizations, either in business or in government bureaucracy. It is also in my opinion a byproduct of the fact that in a bipartisan sense, people love giving lip service to supporting the troops but are often nowhere to be found when the troops need help. Anyway, Shinseki gave us his ritual pound of flesh. It wasn't all his fault but apparently he didn't improve things either. I have no pleasure in seeing him resign nor am I saddened. Let's see if actual changes are made to how the VA delivers health care. I think that a voucher system allowing vets to get private coverage might be the way to go. There's no reason that anyone who laid it on the line for this country, whether you agreed with the policy or not, should have to deal with a p**s poor health care system. Heck, none of us should have to deal with such a system.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

RIP: Legendary Author Maya Angelou

From CNN:

(CNN) -- Maya Angelou, a renowned poet, novelist and actress whose work defied description under a simple label, has died, her publicist, Helen Brann, said Thursday.

She died at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C., Brann said.

A professor, singer and dancer, among other things, Angelou's work spans different professions. She spent her early years studying dance and drama in San Francisco, California.

After dropping out at age 14, she become the city's first African-American female cable car conductor.
Angelou later returned to high school to finish her diploma and gave birth to her son a few weeks after graduation. While the 17-year-old single mother waited tables to support her son, she acquired a passion for music and dance. She toured Europe in the mid-1950s with "Porgy and Bess," an opera production. In 1957, she recorded her first album, "Calypso Lady."

In 1958, Angelou become a part of the Harlem Writers Guild in New York and also played a queen in "The Blacks," an off-Broadway production by French dramatist Jean Genet.

Affectionately referred to as Dr. Angelou, the professor never went to college. She has more than 30 honorary degrees and taught American studies for years at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

"I created myself," she has said. "I have taught myself so much."

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Elliot Rodger: UCSB Isla Vista Murderer

The predictable reactions about the recent murders in Isla Vista were that people immediately used the tragedy to argue for previously accepted conclusions. So if you already felt that whiteness, white masculinity or even masculinity itself are all highly problematic or needed to be interrogated and altered you felt that your premise was vindicated by these murders, never mind that Rodger was half white. He clearly identified with white privilege and saw himself as better than other non-whites. If you thought that interracial marriages and immigration are bad ideas then you looked at the British born half-Asian Rodger and argued those characteristics were somehow salient to his actions. If you were convinced that the path to better living is found via psychiatry and aggressive state law enforcement intervention then you were outraged that therapists or police didn't do something earlier, as surely you would have done were you in their position. If you think that pick up artists or game theorists are synonymous with misogyny, hatred and terrorism then you probably wanted to know why the NSA, FBI or other agency weren't keeping tabs on Rodger's online presence and targeting him with drone strikes. If his last name hinted at Muslim heritage maybe agencies would have been watching him. If you think that youthful "bullying" will often bear dark poisonous fruits in later years then you were outraged that teachers or other authority figures didn't pick up on and correct Rodger's persecution feelings earlier. There were even some people who thought that the delicate featured Rodger was dealing with gay panic. And of course if you think that the NRA is the source of all evil then you were upset that Rodger was able to legally purchase guns in the first place.
And so on.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Movie Reviews: About Last Night, Rage, Devil's Due

About Last Night
directed by Steve Pink
This is a remake of a 1986 film of the same name that had a predominantly white cast. This film has a predominantly black cast. Each film was based on a David Mamet play. There was a recent interesting discussion at The Atlantic about the need to make more non-white and/or non-male people the center of story lines instead of just being at best the sassy best friend. Judging by some of the comments by self-identified whites you would have thought that the writer was suggesting harvesting women's ovaries to sell for cheap in Eastern Europe. It was sort of depressing but also quite predictable how many people not only accepted but defended the idea that they wanted no black characters in their books or movies, not a one. They thought that cinematic and literary monochromatic depictions were not only normal and realistic but preferred. Similarly although this remake was directed and written by white people, the writer talks of the ugly, skeptical, and horribly racist reactions she received from some white people in so-called liberal Hollywood when it became known that her film would have a predominantly black cast. "I heard some very interesting reactions to the casting, specifically from white people who work in the movie industry. While I was doing the rewrite, I got dozens of really mean jokes, most of which I don’t feel comfortable putting into writing here because they were sometimes racist and always hurtful. The most clever one (still lame) was: "How’s your David Blamet script going?" It was like my script was suddenly not as good or less than or just plain not cool because of the casting. Whatever. Those people suck."

Friday, May 23, 2014

Dean Baquet Replaces Jill Abramson At New York Times

You may have heard that the New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. recently fired Executive Editor Jill Abramson and replaced her with Managing Editor Dean Baquet. Baquet becomes the first Black person to serve as Executive Editor. Abramson's dismissal was met with wails and shrieks from many prominent women in the media who were immediately either convinced or worried that Abramson's termination was based in sexism. I waited to write on this because (1) I wanted to see if any other information about this termination arose (it did), (2) I was very busy at my own job and lacked the time to write and (3) I wasn't convinced that it was something about which I had enough interest to write. But I got a little amused and even annoyed by some of the hysterical hyperventilating happening around this incident. So now that the crisis has hopefully dissipated in my own workplace and my job is safe, I have a little time to share some thoughts about what I now think of as a much hyped non-event.

When your former co-workers give a standing ovation to the person who replaced you it could indicate that you weren't super well liked. I've had both men and women bosses. If you're younger than 60 and have worked any serious amount of time in corporate America you probably have also had bosses of both genders. I wouldn't dare speak for you but I've had women bosses that I admired, respected, and emulated and those that I despised and hated with the white hot intensity of one thousand supernova. And the same is true of male bosses to whom I've reported. Some were decent. Some were middling. Some were superstars. Some were incompetent. Some were downright malevolent and/or bigoted.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Are You An "Unpatriotic Racist?" - Pat Sajak Might Think So

I love how social media has really shed a light on humans and shown us who we really are. It's good and bad. I personally believe that we know way too much about one another. For the regular folks like myself and my colleagues here at The Urban Politico, the exposure has a different effect versus a celebrity. If I get on Twitter and call people racists, the outcome is probably going to be very different versus our favorite singer getting on Twitter and calling people racists. We've seen sooooooo many cases where social media has taken out a celebrity. Once you post something you can't take it back. I still don't understand why folks don't understand that.  Especially an old timer like Pat Sajak.

Monday, May 19, 2014

HBO Game of Thrones Recap: Mockingbird

This was another transitional episode, moving things into place. However keeping with the book it's modeled after it had its share of important and/or stunning moments. If last week saw some ugly Lannister family business publicly revealed in court this week showed some painful Tully family dynamics. As usual the show has created its own narrative, departing from the books in ways great and small although it still mostly ends up in the same place. I am getting increasingly nervous about this not only because I don't always know what will happen next, which is a good thing, but also because I'm not convinced that the changes made are always quality ones. Anyway we're reintroduced to the recast Mountain, seen practicing his butchery on prisoners. That is one HUGE man. He has muscles on his muscles. Cersei greets him fondly as he is to be the Court's Champion in the trial by combat which Tyrion has demanded.  Cersei is rarely in a better mood than when she is planning something nasty for Tyrion. She's happy.
Jaime is huddled with Tyrion in his jail cell. Jaime is upbraiding his little brother for messing up the plan but Tyrion says he couldn't stand to listen to Shae lie and reveal all that private sex talk. Love hurts. Tyrion also says no matter what it felt good to mess up Tywin's plans. Jaime is not good enough to fight anyone yet, let alone The Mountain. Tyrion asks his brother to find Bronn. There's a blink and you missed it scene at the Wall where Janos Slynt and Alliser Thorne are saddened by Jon Snow's return and even more upset to see how popular he's becoming with the brotherhood. They're like, dang, we keep trying to get this muyerfuyer killed and he keeps surviving. What's up with that? Feeling petulant Thorne pulls rank on Snow and ignores or shoots down all of his advice about the impending wildling attack. He also gives him night's watch...outside of course. Thorne is the quintessential simple minded bureaucrat found in many large organizations who insists on sticking to the rulebook no matter what new events take place. Such people can't think outside of a very narrow set of strictures and get upset when other people try to help them to do so. They lash out. Also keep in mind that Janos Slynt helped to kill Ned Stark.

What is Progress?

"You don't stick a knife in a man's back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you're making progress..."

What is progress?  Progress is a good thing, right?  I mean, Webster's says that progress is "the process of improving or developing something over a period of time.  Sounds positive.  It reminds me of an old joke, "if 'con' is the opposite of 'pro', then what is the opposite of progress?'  HA!  Can't beat the classics.

While I know it's supposed to be positive thing, I can't help but think that the word "progress" really means "here, take these scraps and shut the f*** up already!"  Take race relations for example, sure, slavery is over, Jim Crow is dead, they even let me sit in the front of the bus -- just because I want to!   we don't need affirmative action anymore, oh, and of course, we have a black president.  Cliven Bundy, Donald Sterling, Phil Robertson and others, those are outliers!  We live in a perfect Utopian society today.

We've CLEARLY made progress in the racial arena; can we say the same for those in the same sex arena? I mean, same sex marriage is legal in 17 states.  That's progress, right?  It's better than NOT being legal.  Don't get it twisted, there's still much to overcome, but, generally speaking, you can see change.  You can see the progress.

Yes -- Yes, this is progress.  It's progress because the change in status is authentic, not superficial.  It
signifies a legitimate change in attitude and perceptions.  Not like -- oh, I don't know -- the NFL, for example.  If you keep up with the NFL, or just current events in general, then you've heard about Michael Sam.  Even if you haven't heard the name, you know the story.  Sam was the star line backer for the University of Missouri's football team, the Tigers.  The Tigers play in the Southeastern Conference, the "SEC."  On May 8, Sam was the first openly gay player selected in the NFL draft.  You will hear many folks proclaim that the very fact he was drafted at all as progress.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Book Reviews: The Friends of Eddie Coyle, American Desperado, Paris: A City Revealed

The Friends of Eddie Coyle
by George Higgins
Decades ago I saw bits and pieces of the movie based on this book on Detroit's ABC Channel 7 4:30 movie. I was only a kid and didn't remember much about it other than Robert Mitchum, who played the title role, was one suave dude. Over the intervening years I have read or listened to multiple people rave about how this book is a crime classic that kicked off a more realistic and less operatic or moralistic wave of modern crime stories. It was supposedly Tarantino before Tarantino. Tarantino did use the name of a story character for a movie title. So I finally decided to read this book. It's a good story though it's more Death of a Salesman transferred to the criminal world than a mob shoot em up. The cops and criminals are marking time and punching a clock instead of having any sort of dedication or zeal to catching felons or making criminal scores. They just do their job and go home. The reader may be positively impressed by the book's dialogue which dominates the text. The criminals and cops like to talk. But they aren't speaking theatrically of how "Our true enemy has yet to reveal himself" or " What I never knew until this day was that it was Barzini all along". No. Higgins is not that kind of writer. His characters are meat and potatoes guys and gals. They whine about how they can't get any sleep because they've been on the road too long, complain of their boyfriend's crude public comments on their body/sexual skills or pitch a fit about not having the proper sandwich condiments. So yes I think this book and the movie it inspired probably influenced many later writers. The story read like a play. Like many books that are mostly dialogue it can initially be a little difficult to follow what's happening as the people talking to each other already know the unspoken assumptions concerning the subject matter under discussion.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Stereotypes and Commercials: Haagen-Dazs and Pepsi

Stereotypes are always tricky things. There are actual national differences, ethnic differences, gender differences and maybe even racial differences. But there's a thin line between having a honest good natured laugh at what everyone (or almost everyone) agrees is a difference and between (maliciously??) poking fun at something that not everyone agrees is a difference or is even funny at all. I don't watch a lot of television so even though this Haagen-Dazs gelato commercial has apparently been out there for a while I just recently saw it. After watching it I had two thoughts. My first thought was that the ad was a little stereotypical. My second thought was I wondered what the actress' name was. There were some people of Italian descent who had a serious problem with the commercial while others I know were not bothered in the slightest because it was clear to them that the commercial was spoofing stereotypes about Italians and not Italian-Americans. Of course if you must be stereotyped, being thought of as passionate, hot tempered, sexy and intense is not necessarily the worst stereotype to bear. Or is it?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

More Taxes for Michigan Roads?

One of the reasons for encouraging people to use less gasoline and more green technology was not only to help reduce pollution but also to reduce wear and tear on the roads. Ultimately for pollution's sake it might be better for us all to be driving hybrids or electric vehicles. Or for the roads' sake more of us should be bicycling or taking mass transit. But in the mean time the auto companies should be compelled to increase CAFE standards while consumers should be encouraged to car pool, bicycle, walk to work, use mass transit and do other things which will result in less use of gasoline. One person who's almost comically gung-ho about this is NYT Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Thomas Friedman, who has a 70% chance of working his support for a carbon tax into any column he writes, no matter the subject matter. Mid-East Peace? Carbon tax will solve it. Islamic Terrorism? Carbon tax will hit the spot. Russia making ominous noises? A carbon tax will settle their hash. China polluting the entire planet? Obviously we need a carbon tax. Donald Sterling situation? A carbon tax would have prevented it. And so on. Vehicles are more fuel efficient than they used to be. Gasoline costs more than it used to. And people don't buy as many cars or drive as much as they used to. So you would think that the state would be happy about this right? We're cutting back on emissions and getting more out of less: the very definition of efficiency. That's good, right?

Well not so fast partner.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Donald Sterling on Magic Johnson (Video)

Life has me tied up a bit. However, I heard a few quotes from this interview last evening and thought it was necessary to share. 

FYI - Magic Johnson was diagnosed with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)  the virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). I just wanted to put that out there since Donald Sterling falsely diagnosed Magic Johnson with a disease that he doesn't have. 

I'll be back later this week to address Donald's comments on Magic. 


Monday, May 12, 2014

HBO Game of Thrones Recap: The Laws of Gods and Men

Have you ever been hurt very badly emotionally? I mean really stretched to your breaking point and even broken? I've found that the only people who can do that are almost by definition people with whom you have intimate vital relationships. That is to say siblings, parents and long standing providers of your nookie. Generally speaking nobody else can get close enough to stick the knife into you. Nobody else knows exactly where to strike to do the most damage. Both Yara Greyjoy and Tyrion Lannister discover that the hard way. More on that in a minute. Stannis Baratheon and Davos Seaworth, being short on money and resources decide to take a long shot, actually their only shot and travel to Braavos to request a loan from the legendary Iron Bank. Stannis thinks this should be a slam dunk as he is the rightful king of Westeros. But as another man once told Daenerys in a similar situation there is a bit of a problem in trying to borrow or demand resources from people on the basis that you're ruler of all Westeros when in truth you don't actually rule Westeros. The bankers, especially the lead banker Tycho, force Stannis to admit that he only has a handful of ships and men, lost his last battle and lacks resources to fight a war or pay the bank back. They deny the loan and would prefer Stannis and Davos depart immediately. Business is business. Nothing personal you know.

In a scene which perfectly reflects the relationship between Davos and Stannis, Stannis silently asks Davos for help. Stannis is far too proud to actually verbalize the request. Davos makes an impassioned argument that the war is not over until Stannis dies. Davos tells the Iron Bank that by backing Stannis the bank will have a better chance of getting its money back since the elderly Tywin Lannister can't be long for this world. Davos emphasizes Stannis' rectitude by revealing his own amputated fingers. This speech evidently works. Davos' old buddy Salladhor Saan is relaxing in the hot tub with two women when Davos stops by to pay him and to tell him that they're putting the band back together. The war is back on!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Why Republicans Stay Losing

"Benghazi!"  "Oooh, say it again!"  "Benghazi!"  "Oooh, say it again!" "Benghazi!" "Oooh..."

You ever tune in to watch your favorite weekly TV show only to find that it's a re-run?  Or worse yet, you're coasting along with your significant other only to somehow wind up repeating the same argument that you've had for years?  Magnify that moment of realization by about a thousand and that just might put you in the ballpark of where the American people (myself included) are at when we hear that the Republicans want to rehash Benghazi-gate:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Movie Reviews: The Sacrament, The Wolverine, 13 Sins

The Sacrament
directed by T.I. West
The Sacrament was directed by one of the actors who was in You're Next and stars three of that movie's leads. I don't remember the first time I really felt the presence of real evil in the world. But certainly one of the earliest moments had to have been the Jonestown Massacre. I was just a child when it happened but all these years later I still remember the pics of the massed corpses, most of them black, huddled together, even the kids, in the ugly and final equality of death. There are plenty of conspiracy theories about Jim Jones, alleged CIA links he had, and whether Jonestown was an MK-ULTRA experiment. Some claim that only a few people killed themselves and that most Jonestown residents were actually killed by mercenaries or even more outrageously US special forces. I don't know about any of that. It doesn't really matter. What does matter is that over 900 people, including many children and young adults went to a foreign country because a swindler and megalomaniac convinced them to do so. They gave up their meager savings, social security checks, passports and family ties because he told them to do so. And they drank the Kool-Aid, were injected with poison, or were shot dead.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Detroit Teacher Fired For Using Broom To Break Up Fighting Students

"She ain't wait. That's who she deserve."

I didn't go to Detroit Public Schools until high school. It was private school/parochial school until then. And the high school I attended was something akin to a charter school. You had to pass an entrance exam. This cut down on the knuckleheads and riff raff. The violence was minimal, almost non-existent. Kids will be kids but I can't even remember fights in school. Sure you had a few smart wannabe hoodlums but once you got to know them they were nice people. I'm told my old school has changed since then. But I still don't think it's anything like Pershing. Pershing has always been a school for dummies and real hoodlums. So that there was a fight in a Pershing classroom didn't surprise me. A fight at Pershing is like shooting at a gun range. It's what you expect. The small female teacher tried to break up the fight by smacking one of the assailants with a broom. This didn't work. The brawl continued until other male students decided to end the fracas. But the teacher, who was not supposed to leave the room and didn't have any way to call for help, was fired for hitting one of the combatants. Her case allegedly could also be referred for child abuse investigation.

Yes, that makes sense. NOT. Her termination surprised me. I respect the heck out of teachers. But I could never be a teacher. They have too many stupid rules. They deal with too many stupid people. And if a classroom fight occurs, God forbid they try to stop it lest they lose their jobs. Years ago a relative told me there was very little learning going on in some Detroit schools. And he was right. A football star who body slams a security guard gets a plea deal and goes back to school in apparent violation of state law while a teacher trying to restore order to a classroom is fired. Gee, that must do wonders for employee morale, huh? Words don't really do justice to this scene so check out the video below. And folks wonder why people are leaving DPS...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: The Jason Patric Situation

We've discussed some of the issues around child custody and parental rights before. If you are a man and you impregnate a woman, whether you are married to her or not, there is the strong possibility that the state will force you to, if not act as an actual on site father to your child, to at least pay some of your income to the mother for child support. The amount you pay can depend on a number of factors including how good your lawyers are, what the child has become accustomed to, how rich you are, how much of your income or wealth is legal and easily estimated and identified by child support auditors, how easy you are to locate, which judge you get, how aggressively the mother of your child wishes to pursue child support and how aggressively you wish to pursue joint or sole custody. And if you're married and your wife is playing house with other men, well generally you're also responsible for financially supporting any resulting children even if you don't find out about it until years after the fact. Deal with it. We hear a lot about how too many men refuse to support their kids, to "man up" and marry the mothers of their children or prefer to run around impregnating various women who apparently had the bad luck to slip and fall on the man's you know what. Some people even argue that the rise in single motherhood and/or out of wedlock births is mostly men's fault.

Well maybe. But if there's one thing I know for sure it's that it takes two to tango. The recent story below the fold about the actor Jason Patric and his struggle with one time girlfriend/friend with benefits/paramour/booty call Danielle Schreiber to be included in their son's life was fascinating to me. It reminded me of some of our previous discussions as well as the unacknowledged dangers inherent in alternate family units and new reproductive technologies.

Monday, May 5, 2014

HBO Game of Thrones Recap: First of His Name

One of the increasingly interesting and baffling things about both this series and to a lesser extent the books upon which it is based is how great shocking moments can come in both very big obvious build ups and in little asides which the casual reader or viewer may not even notice unless they go back and re-watch, re-read or think about it for a second. This episode was one such event. It tied up what was a completely different storyline from the book and had other things happen in different ways. The creators have obviously found their sea legs so to speak. Sometimes this is good and sometimes this isn't. More on that quiet shocking moment in a second.
In King's Landing Tommen is coronated. We also see a more pensive and calculating Cersei. It could all be an act but it seems that she's made a certain peace with Joffrey being gone, even as she says a mother always has a special spot for her firstborn. She admits that Joffrey shocked her. Cersei seems to reach an understanding with Margaery, claiming that Tommen will need a good wife to advise him. Margaery, as is the Tyrell way, claims not to even have given thought to marrying Tommen. Cersei sees through that, obviously, but is not interested in having a fight with Margaery at that point in time, even smiling as Margaery calls her sister. If you remember Cersei had previously threatened to have Margaery killed if she presumed such familiarity again.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Game of Thrones and Rape Criticism

There are some people, both media critics and other bloggers who have an axe or two to grind over the Jaime/Cersei rape scene in particular and how  A Game of Thrones handles rape or violence against women in general. Some of them claim that the show and/or the books upon which the show is based takes a titillating (pun not intended) or dismissive view towards female sexuality and/or rape.
“The ‘no means yes’ thing is there in the books,” said Sady Doyle, an essayist who often writes about “Game of Thrones.” “The sexualized punishments are there. It’s in the text and it’s vital to the text. It’s something that comes up, over and over again.” But, she added, “At a certain point, you get the feeling that you can’t walk through a chapter without expecting something horrible — almost always to a female character — just to prove that this is indeed a very scary and dark piece of literature.”

“To have sexual violence treated so cavalierly, it’s very difficult to see that,” said Mariah Huehner, a writer and editor of comic books who has contributed repeatedly to the online debate. “It’s too upsetting to see, and I just don’t know that I can keep going with that.”

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Movie Reviews: You're Next, Danger Word

You're Next
directed by Adam Winguard
Much like Cabin in the Woods, You're Next is a horror movie which shows that you can still have intelligent premises and writing in horror films without sacrificing scare or gore. 

This film does have gore and plenty of it, let's be clear about that, but it's very rarely what I would call gratuitous. This movie also features legendary scream queen actress Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator) which is probably why I was willing to give it a look see. 
Time has been very kind to Crampton though her role here is of course nothing like her spot in the 80s classic Re-Animator. She's now the graceful older woman instead of the bouncy co-ed menaced by the dirty old professor. Speaking of Re-Animator, much like that film, You're Next is that uncommon find of a movie that was cheaply made but doesn't really look all that cheaply made. That's quite a talent. I think this will also be a cult film some day in the very near future.

Sometimes those things can plague relatively low budget movies but they're absent here. This is an inexpensive well-crafted film that did not immediately, automatically and unnecessarily insult the viewer's intelligence. Some filmmakers with larger budgets and bigger names would do well to check out this movie. Like many good horror movies this film features a wealthy family gathering at a large estate. I know there are some readers who would probably stop right there but bear with me just a little longer won't you.