Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia

Nora Ephron is, as usual, sure footed. No point in reviewing this movie, just go see it. If you liked, Like Water for Chocolate or Babette’s Feast, and if you care about food, any food but especially French food, you are likely to appreciate this film. It is a small masterpiece. It is, however, worth looking at a couple of reviews. Ann Hornaday’s review in the Washington Post just sucks. I might have delved a bit deeper into the vocabulary bag to describe her review but my visceral reaction is: God, this review sucks. Where do newspapers get these people and where does some third rate hack working in a dying industry get off carping about a very bright and innovative writer who made her very own success by creating a blog when that activity was in its infancy? Hornaday is overly impressed with Streep (and herself) and apparently is unwilling to give credit to Amy Adams who carries this film. Why is Hornaday allowed to review movies?

A. O. Scott’s piece in the N.Y. Times is closer to the mark. Since I am in no way beholden to the film industry–no junkets, no freebies, no wining and dining–I will say at the outset that I am not a Meryl Streep fan. I think she has done her best work imitating more or less real people—The Devil Wears Prada, comes to mind and now Julie and Julia. Do others remember Meryl Streeps’s costars Hornaday asks. Perhaps not, but the more pertinent question is: Do folks remember Streep’s films? With the recent loss of Paul Newman, one of the gas shows on NPR was playing “name your favorite Paul Newman film.” I rattled off a half dozen without effort, most not on the list of usual suspects. Among them was Absence of Malice which co-starred Sally Field. I immediately rattled off a half dozen of her films and so on. I cannot do that for Meryl Streep without really thinking hard. I can dredge up the two academy award roles but not much else comes to mind.

I never had any reason to observe the model for her character in the Devil Wears Prada but we all had access to Julia Child, the real thing, right there on our television screen. I was at one point in a position to determine whether an entire state would see the French Chef. I though the host quirky and endowed with the worst voice I had ever heard, although there was admittedly something entirely endearing in her famous tag, “Bon appetit!” The show was successful in other markets, but Oklahoma sure as hell wasn’t Boston. We looked at half a dozen other cooking shows but it was Julia we kept. Streep nails Julia. She creates a young Julia, makes her independent, endearing and altogether likeable. Nobody dislikes Julia.

But it is Amy Adams who carries this film. She is plucky, angst infused and stuck in a bureaucratic nightmare, the aftermath of 911. She saves herself, as Julia had saved herself earlier by finding something to do. For Julia it was cooking and her famous book, for Julie it was blogging. She became the writer she wanted to be, without being strained through the publishing world sieve. I cannot envision a film about Julia Child’s My Life in France (substitute My life In Kenya) without the counterpoint of Julie’s blog.

This is a fine film. Film reviews, of course, are best used to line bird cages.
Don Singleton

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A Bridge Too Fat

A Bridge Too Fat

The right wing reactionaries and their propaganda machine have just gone right round the bend. My assumption is that they are afraid to criticize Regina Benjamin because she is black or because she is a woman, or because she is eminently qualified to be Surgeon General so here is what these pin head have dug up. She is not qualified to be Surgeon General because she is Too Fat. Aside from the fact that you couldn’t make this stuff up, one might note that, as Senator Al Franken so aptly put it, Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot! Haley Barbour who is now being touted as the next great white hope for the Republican Party is a great white whale, and the last time I checked the only skinny Republicans are looking for love in all the wrong places, either hanging out in the men’s room in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport or walking the Appalachian Trail en route to Argentina.

Given the choice between portly brilliant and skinny stupid, I will take portly brilliant every time. George Bush you will recall was skinny. Yes, some idiots are skinny. And some portly people are brilliant. Benjamin Franklin comes to mind. The point is that we are interested in Dr. Benjamin’s record, her accomplishments, her human decency, and her smarts, not her dress size.

My advice to Dr. Benjamin is if you got it flaunt it! She should smile sweetly for the camera and say: “As I am a political moderate, this crowd of bloviating. right-wing, reactionary, racist peckerwoods can kiss my size 18 assets—not on the left wing, not on the right wing, but right in the middle.”

Don Singleton

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The Death of Dr. George Tiller

 

 

From Democracy Now:  Supporters of reproductive rights are mourning the killing of … Dr. George Tiller. The sixty-seven-year-old Tiller was shot Sunday as he attended services at his Wichita, Kansas church. The gunman fled the scene, but a suspect was later caught in a Kansas City suburb. The suspect, fifty-one-year-old Scott Roeder, has a history of involvement in anti-abortion activism and was once arrested and jailed on explosives charges. He has ties to the right-wing separatist group known as the Freemen.

 

 

If I were Michael Savage or Rush Limbaugh, I would just assert that the hate speech spewed hourly, daily…forever by the Hate Mongers at Hate Radio and Hate Television killed Dr. George Tiller.  Bill O’Reilly was forever calling Dr. George Tiller a murderer and no doubt  Scott Roeder found deep in the recesses of his twisted mind some justification for stalking Dr. Tiller on Sunday and gunning him down inside his church.  No doubt he felt empowered by the likes of Bill O’Reilly. 

 

But looked at coldly in the bright light of day one can easily draw the conclusion that Hate Radio and Hate Television kills.  It is these mouthpieces of the reactionary right that beat the drums of war while yelling and screaming and pounding the table for law and order, that scream invectives at any one who has the brains to believe that disparate religions and disparate governments can rise above the law of the jungle and find accommodation.  It is these foul, intellectual pornographers that scream for every tax dollar to be dumped down the Pentagon rabbit hole, who turn foreign aid into aid for gun runners and weapons manufacturers, and who provide all the reason any one, any where, any time would need to hate America. 

 

Foreign policy is a boomerang.  You get back, exactly what you send out. “They” don’t hate us for our freedoms.  “They” hate us because we steal their oil and kill their families.

 

 No matter that law and order zealots like Rush Limbaugh and Don Imus have long since   fried their brains with drugs so that they are past processing anything that approaches the truth.  No matter that Michael Savage is such a blatant reactionary, racist, inflammatory ideologue that he has been banned in Britain.  No Matter that Laura Ingraham and Tammy Bruce, Neal Bortz , Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and the rest of this evil crowd are paid big bucks to spew the crap they spew.  No matter. 

 

But now they have more to answer for.  Insanity begets insanity and Scott Roeder’s murder of Dr. Tiller is the logical outcome of this kind of hate speech.  Bully for Great Britain!

 

Communities where these hate radio stations operate need to make it clear to the Federal Communications Commission that this kind of so called programming is not in the public interest and that it will not be tolerated.  When there were decent Commissioners at the FCC this kind of hate spewing caused the loss of licenses.  We need to get back to Federal oversight of the public property that is the American airwaves.  City Councils and County Councils need to condemn these stations for the cancers that they are and move to excise them.  And if these elected representatives don’t have the courage to speak up,  then the voters should replace them.

 

As for the Hate radio and Hate Television crowd, they need to–to a mouthpiece, without exception–consider the evil that they do and repent.

Don Singleton

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Savage Banned in Britain, Powell Bashes Limbaugh

 

Here is a quote pulled from the internet:  Colin Powell is perhaps the only prominent Republican who has consistently stood up to Limbaugh and urged other Republicans to turn away from his divisive rhetoric. Powell recently said this: “I think what Rush does as an entertainer diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without.”

 

The hate mongers of Hate Radio and Hate Television Incorporated are at it as always.  But there are a few rays of hope peeking over the horizon.  Great Britain has placed Michael Savage on a list of undesirables.  His hate speech is seen as destructive, divisive and dangerous.  He is not allowed to enter Great Britain.  Now, the hit dog howls constantly on his radio show about the unfairness of it all.  No matter that he attacks members of the Democratic Party with a viciousness that passes understanding.  Oh Poor Baby!! He is unfairly listed as a hate monger.  Well bully for Britain.  Does he have a right in this country under the first amendment to spew his hatred?  Yes.  Does he have the right to spew that garbage on the public airwaves without recourse to reply?  Absolutely not!  We should all lobby to bring back the Fairness Doctrine.  Give those who are attacked by this warped, bizarre, bloviator the opportunity to respond.  Propaganda is only effective if unanswered.

And speaking of the Fairness Doctrine, we have a new appointment to the Supreme Court, a Supreme Court packed with right wing reactionaries.  One of the members of the Supreme Court, Scolia, is one of the two judges who simply declared that the Fairness Doctrine which was settled law was not the law, and they got away with it.  The other judge was Robert Bork of the Saturday Night Massacre fame. Bork was at the bottom of the barrel where Richard Nixon was reaching to try to find someone to fire the special prosecutor.  Bork’s superiors resigned rather than commit a criminal act and Bork was left to do the deed. Ronald Reagan tried to appoint Bork to the Supreme Court but his appointment was denied.

 

Well the right wingers are saying”   Obama has appointed a Judicial Activist.  If you haven’t figured it out by now “Judicial Activist” is the right wing’s code for this is not a right wing proto fascist appointment and we should oppose her all guns blazing.  If you really want to see Judicial Activism, note the Fairness Doctrine decision by two judges who simply declared that settled law was not the law and the coronation of George Bush to the presidency by the reactionary members of the Supreme Court.  Scolia and Bork are the worst kind of ideologues and unfortunately Scolia now sits on the Supreme Court of the land.  Too bad we can’t just transfer him to some other parish.

The destruction of the Fairness Doctrine created Hate Radio and Hate television and unfortunately, Salisbury, Maryland, has two of these hate radio stations which carry the garbage.  Thankfully one is a day timer and disappears except in the small metropolitan area after sundown.  The other is an FM station with limited reach and so, thankfully, most folks outside Salisbury won’t associate the city with the proto fascism these stations spew.  You would think advertisers would understand that by placing ads on these hate filled and hateful stations they alienate all but a handful of mouth breathers and tin hat conspiracy types.  If I were buying media for advertising purposes, I wouldn’t go near either of these sad, simple minded outlets.

Ban them in America.  No! Just bring back the Fairness Doctrine so the propaganda they spew doesn’t go unanswered.

Don Singleton

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Star Trek

Don’t Know the Star Trek stories?

This one’s a ho-hummer.

 Know the Star Trek stories?

 This one’s a real bummer.

 It’s mostly Kirk hanging by his fingers

 Banging round the galaxy running into dangers

 It has the star Trek characters but only kinda sorta

 The story re assembled in a disconcerting order.

 Don Singleton

 May 14, 2009

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Local Blogger Wins Defamation Suit

The victory belongs to the First Amendment, not Albero.

 

Needless to say, I am not a big fan of Joe Albero’s blog.  However the lawsuit filed against Albero by former Mayor of Salisbury, Barrie Tilghman, was nonsense from the start.  Why it ever went to trial, I haven’t a clue.  The legal standard for proving defamation against public figures set by the Supreme Court in N.Y. Times Co. v. Sullivan and succeeding cases is very high.   The term of art is “Malice” and contains two vital points.  The plaintiff has to prove that the defendant printed material knowing that it was a lie or that the defendant acted with reckless disregard of the truth.  In other words, the plaintiff has to prove what was going on in the defendant’s brain or that the defendant’s behavior was so outrageous and reckless that the plaintiff has the right to recover.

 

It is not impossible for a public figure to recover damages but it is nearly so. 

 

Mr. Albero printed numerous attacks on his blog against the former Mayor, many of them tasteless and personal.  However he also printed material that was not being covered by the local print organ of the Corporate Media, the Daily Times.  The Mayor sued claiming defamation. 

 

The court found for the defendant.  It is the public’s right to know that is ensconced in the First Amendment, not Albero’s desire to aggravate a personal and political opponent, and certainly not the Mayor’s wish to suppress comment on her performance in office. If there was one nugget of useful information in this spit fight that otherwise would not have not been known, the public wins.  Otherwise it was just that, a spit fight, which provided the occasional moment of high glee.

 

Don Singleton

April 29/2009  

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Cezanne and Beyond: Ahhh Balm for the Soul

I spent two or three hours this week end with one of my favorite people, Paul Cezanne. When I first began to study Art (at least in any organized way as a student at UNC) one of the artists that struck me as being a little weirder, a little further out was Paul Cezanne. At first blush his painting seemed like crude impressionist paintings. I looked at his Card Players and several of his paintings of Mt. St. Victoire and thought this guy can’t paint a lick. And then I discovered, quite by accident, one of his still lives with apples and oranges and pears, arranged with the usual complement of drapery, table, wall paper backdrop and thought that looks like a normal painting but that plate of apples can’t just hang in the air like that. The line of the table disappears under the drapery to emerge somewhere else and to prove it I laid a straight edge along the table and Voila!, I was into the puzzle that is Paul Cezanne. After the invention of the photograph made painting reality more or less redundant, there was an explosion of experimentation. Cezanne was a giant among those painters loosely categorized as Post Impressionists. His paintings have been closely studied by students of art and the major artists who followed him. His influence is encapsulated in the following quote variously attributed to Matisse and Picasso: “Cezanne is the father of us all.”

As a graduate student in a television production course at UCLA we were charged to produce a thirty minute television show. Mine was called An Apple, An Orange and a Pear. The subject was Paul Cezanne’s influence on artists who followed. Most of the other shows were attempts at commercial sitcoms. Needless to say, neither my classmates nor my instructor seemed to “get it.” They praised the slickness of the production but thought the content left something to be desired—they just didn’t see how you could make a sitcom out of art. Under my breath, I muttered, the assignment was to produce a television program. It was one of the “Aha moments” that sent me packing from Hollywood.

There is no question of Cezanne’s enormous influence, and the exhibition contains works by Picasso, Matisse, Beckman and Leger, among others, that are homages, or direct lifts from his paintings or both. His paintings are, not to put too fine a point on it, eye candy wrapped in a puzzle, enfolded in a conundrum. That is to say they are not easy. You have to work at them, and I have discovered that I can rediscover almost all of his paintings with each new viewing. I visited a fairly substantial Cezanne exhibition a couple of years ago in New York which contained several of the paintings in this show. Seeing them was like greeting an old friend and catching up. What’s new? Well a lot if you observe carefully.

I have seen similar exhibitions where one painter’s influence is explored on those who followed (an exhibition in Paris several years ago of Picasso and Ingres comes to mind) but this one is particularly satisfying. First there is the power of Cezanne’s work and then, of course, there is the power of those who found his explorations and riffs irresistible.

This exhibition runs through May 31 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art which is close enough to drive although it makes for a really long day. Fair warning! It is pricey but then most museums are these days. Tickets for two, plus parking in the Museum garage, ran sixty bucks or so—the parking was ten. But if you really like painting, especially the period when perspective painting got knocked into a cocked hat, then this one is not to miss.

Go here for details:
http://www.philamuseum.org/exhibitions/312.html

Don Singleton

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