Friday, August 1, 2014

Inconvenient ‘Sharknado’ Films Tell Important Truth

Sharknado 2: The Second One - 2014

 Writing in the American Spectator, Daniel Flynn argues (tongue in cheek) that the SyFY Network’s Sharknado films tell us an important truth about the inevitable (though never actually arriving) catastrophic consequences of human-caused climate change and the science-fiction consensus that proves them true. This is a truth that must be confronted, for the very preservation of the world stands in the balance. Science fiction has proven the sharknado phenomenon to be a real danger that we must avoid at all costs. Denial is no longer an option: The inconvenient truth is that the consensus of credentialed science fictionists unambiguously declares that …continue reading

The Empty Hearts: Power Pop for Summer Fun

The Empty Hearts

 Are you looking for some late-summer, top-down, hard-driving power pop? If so, do yourself a favor and check out the Empty Hearts. Wally Palmar (The Romantics), Elliot Easton (The Cars), Clem Burke (Blondie), and Andy Babiuk (The Chesterfield Kings) have the cure for your late-summer doldrums. The eponymous disc kicks off with a rousing, raucous chorus of guitars and an opening hook-filled “Na Na” chant guaranteed to stick like glue to the brain. “90 Miles An Hour (Down A Dead End Street” is a fine choice for an opening song. Wally Palmar weaves the melody with so much confidence it’s …continue reading

Blacking Up on the Road to Auschwitz

Photo of Chris Henry, Andrew Trimble, Paddy Jackson, Michael Allen, and Paddy McAllister, posted to Jackson's Twitter profile

 British writer Sean Gabb analyzes the logic behind another political correctness protest in the UK; his thinking applies equally well to such controversies in the United States. On Friday, the 25th July, I was called by a female researcher at BBC Radio Ulster for a comment on a story in Northern Ireland. Several members of the Rugby Team there has been photographed at a fancy dress party, with their faces blacked up and wearing chains round their necks. All hell had broken loose on publications of the photographs, and grovelling apologies from all concerned hadn’t been enough to settle things. The …continue reading

Magic in the Moonlight


  Magic in the Moonlight, Woody Allen’s latest flick, reprises some of his perennial themes. In the 1920s a famous English magician, Stanley (Colin Firth), whose stage name is Wei Ling Soo, is invited to the south of France to visit with a wealthy family in order to debunk an American medium, Sophie (Emma Stone). The family is convinced she is authentic. One of them, Brice (Hamish Linklater), is in love with her and has proposed marriage. The family is ready to finance for her an institute for the study of the occult. Stanley is invited by a boyhood friend and fellow …continue reading

Columnist: Panhandlers Are Stingy


 Writing in the Indianapolis Star, attorney and political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz tells of an interesting experiment with the city’s panhandlers, a large number of whom are well-known to be nothing but the lowest level of confidence tricksters, whose activities are made possible only by the intransigence of Democrats on the local City-County Council: Panhandlers in Downtown Indianapolis are some of the most stingy people I have ever met. I’ll give you a second to catch your breath. Yes, I accused Downtown panhandlers of being stingy. Allow me to explain. As someone who works and frequently plays in the Mile Square, I …continue reading

Dungy Defended, Media Blasted

Tony Dungy

 Addressing the media “fertilizer storm” over former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy’s comments on his player-drafting philosophy, Larry Thornberry writes, in the American Spectator, “The national sports press demonstrates again that it is mostly a pack of mindless, left-ideology-besotted jackals with no more principles, restraint, or sense of proportion than their news-side brethren (and sistren). Perhaps less.”  

‘True Blood’ Producers Failed in Bid to Embarrass Palin

Sarah Palin

 The producers of the HBO TV series True Blood, who have made their show into a long-term, persistent attack on conservatives, Southerners, and Christians, attempted to lure former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin into appearing in an episode in which the term used to describe a conservative Republican woman was “Republi-cunt.” Breitbart News reports: “The brilliant minds of ‘True Blood’ were brazen enough to ask me to do a cameo on their show, apparently so they could insult a conservative woman in person instead of just all conservative women in general,” Palin told Breitbart News. …continue reading

A Conversation

 “Jonas just texted me. His plane is due in at 1 a.m. He asks us to join him for dinner at eight tomorrow evening. He has made reservations at Casanova’s Chinese restaurant,” he said. “How does he sound?” said she. “Not as exuberant as usual.” “Sad?” “No. I expect he’s just tired.” “I suppose so. I’m dying to hear his stories about his trip. He’s such a good storyteller.” “So he is. It might be a little different this time, though. He’s never been to Turkey before.” “I don’t quite see why. Most of his trips have been to countries …continue reading

The Real (but Limited) Appeal of James Garner’s Antiheroes


 Next Monday, Turner Classic Movies presents a special tribute to the late James Garner, who died yesterday at age 86. Garner was best known for his TV roles, but he also made quite a few movies, the most notable of which (in my view) is The Great Escape. Unfortunately, TCM won’t be showing that one or Support Your Local Gunfighter, nor the film of Maverick, in which he played an antagonist to Mel Gibson’s lead character. Nor did Murphy’s Romance and Space Cowboys make the cut. Instead, here’s the lineup for the tribute day: 6:00 AM Toward the Unknown 8:00 AM Shoot-out at Medicine Bend 9:30 AM …continue reading

Citizen Hollywood: How the Collaboration Between LA and DC Revolutionized American Politics by Timothy Stanley


    The problem with a book like this is that it can easily overestimate the importance of its subject, and Timothy Stanley does not always avoid succumbing to this misapprehension. The topic is not, of course, without its importance for politics and culture have always been intertwined.  Movies and television have certainly affected the culture as media with a national reach and provide, in some ways, a greater intensity of imagery than was possible before. Yet it seems to me Mr. Stanley probably overstates the effects of Hollywood on the nexus of money and politics and I do not think, as he asserts, that  Hollywood …continue reading

A Summer’s Tale (Conte d’ete) by Eric Rohmer


    This 1996 film has at last been given a theatrical release in the United States.  It is the third in the series Tales of the Four Seasons by the late, great film director Eric Rohmer.  (I have written about Rohmer previously at .)  The film actually hearkens back to Rohmer’s first of his three film series, The Moral Tales, in which, in each of its six films, a man, committed to one woman meets another and has to choose. In A Summer’s Tale, Gaspard (Melville Poupaud), a recently graduated math student, goes on a vacation before beginning work at an engineering …continue reading

It’s No Mystery Why Culture Talk Has Become So Belligerent

Alyssa Rosenberg

 In an essay that more properly belongs in the newspaper’s “Duh!” section (which doesn’t exist but should) Washington Post pop culture blogger Alyssa Rosenberg states her dismay that the very same sort of perpetual prickliness and accusations of bad faith that infect the nation’s politics have come to infect discussions of popular culture. Really? Ya think? Here’s the crux of her rather lengthy cri de couer: As we have become more comfortable discussing the politics of culture, our discussions of art have become a lot more like our discussions of politics. We treat people whose interpretations differ from our own as …continue reading

What Hath God to Do With Economics? Nothing, Says New York Times

 Dave Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, turned the political world upside down some weeks back when he beat the sitting House majority leader Eric Cantor in a Virginia primary for the US House of Representatives. I believe that had never happened before, and political pros and journalists were all blindsided, especially because the narrative inside-the-Beltway types are invested in, Democrats or Republicans, is that the Tea Party is dead as a political force. Unfortunately for “the establishment” some people just won’t give up on the idea of our government and laws actually adhering to the Constitution. How radical! …continue reading

Review: ‘The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade by Philip Jenkins’


  Later this year, the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the First World War will arrive and, already, the flood of books about that terrible conflict  has begun.  The author of The Great and Holy War, Philip Jenkins, is a historian of religion, notably of Christianity in the global south, Mr. Jenkins makes a strong case for the pervasive and often sincere religiosity that affected both sides  and for the war’s immense short term and long term consequences for various religions. He spreads his net very widely, discussing not only Europe and Christianity, but Judaism, Islam, and esoteric religions that we …continue reading

Updated: Oldman Denounces Hollywood Political Correctness, Hypocrisy

Gary Oldman

 The acclaimed actor and self-described libertarian Gary Oldman comes out with guns blazing against political correctness and Hollywood hypocrisy in a soon-to-be-published interview with Playboy magazine. In the interview, he notes that Hollywood leftists such as Bill Maher and Jon Stewart can publicly use any words they like and imply people are homosexuals (without adding “not that there’s anything wrong with that”), but a private outburst by an actor such as Mel Gibson or Alec Baldwin results in widespread denunciation and loss of employment. (Gibson has been blatantly blacklisted by the Hollywood studios ever since his antisemitic outburst directed at two …continue reading