Category: TV

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #075: Fake History, Real Heroes

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #075: Fake History, Real Heroes

Last Saturday saw the fourth annual Women’s Rights Day with demonstrations all over the nation, many in very inclement weather. This year’s march was fueled in part by the calendar: 2020 is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, expanding the ability to vote to those without that icky Y chromosome.

I have slightly mixed feeling about that. Every egalitarian victory should be celebrated, but, damn, why should we get all enthused over 144 years of denying half of our population the right to participate in our vaunted democracy? Whereas I can hold a grudge until it screams, we should be educating citizens current and future to all the limitations we have placed on women, including those many that have not been sliced from our massive national discrimination pie.

However, the National Archives celebrates that victory by layering it with a purposely misleading patina of truthiness. They maliciously chose to alter it, and in complete contradiction to their mission, they celebrated women’s suffrage under a veil of lies. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #075: Fake History, Real Heroes”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #057: “The Mandolorian” Broke Me of My Star Wars Malaise

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #057: “The Mandolorian” Broke Me of My Star Wars Malaise

A long time ago in a galaxy far away… a nerd convinced a studio to give him money to make a visual effects masterpiece with significant merchandizing appeal. He mashed together the tropes of the science fiction and fantasy serials he loved growing up, and put together a wonderful homage to the hero’s journey. It made a lot of money, and soon thereafter, Star Wars became an empire. But you already knew that.

As I’ve detailed before: my personal Star Wars fandom was mild to possibly salsa verde at any given point. As an only child of parents not into pop culture, I didn’t actually sit down to enjoy the original trilogy in earnest until the late 90’s special edition releases. And while I’d been inundated to all the significant moments through delightful pastiches abroad, as well as avidly played through any number of Star Wars licensed video games (Tie Fighter, Rebel Assault, and Dark Forces)… in the battle between the light and dark side, I was quite the mercenary. That’s to say that I was a fan only when it suited me to be. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #057: “The Mandolorian” Broke Me of My Star Wars Malaise”

Brainiac On Banjo #068: Award-Winning Awards

Brainiac On Banjo #068: Award-Winning Awards

I can’t say I’m a fan of teevee awards shows. Overlooking their propensity for vapidity and fecklessness while acknowledging their complete commitment to style over substance, I agree with those who say that it is truly stupid to pit masterpieces against each other strictly because they were released within the same period of time.

Case in point: the nominees for Best Picture of 1939 – I’m talking the Academy Awards here – were Gone With The Wind, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The Wizard of Oz, Of Mice and Men, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Wuthering Heights, Ninotchka, Dark Victory and Love Affair. One’s own personal predilections aside, it’s hard to parse out a qualitative analysis of these films in order to determine a clear “best.” At least eight of these movies are among the very best Hollywood has had to offer, and the other two are no slouches.

(For the record, I would have voted for Stagecoach – and then shot myself for passing over Ninotchka and Of Mice and Men.)

However, I do enjoy a fun live teevee show. I enjoy watching the Oscars with my daughter because she keeps me in stitches with her faux-catty commentary. I love watching the Golden Globes because it’s more relaxed, it is largely bereft of stupid song-and-dance routines, it is comparatively un-overproduced… but, mostly, because Ricky Gervais may be the most honest and one of the most fearless comedians to ever walk the red carpet on the way to work. If I’m watching an awards show and the only person I’m cheering on is the host, I’m still having a good time. Gervais did not disappoint. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #068: Award-Winning Awards”

With Further Ado #075: Wake Up!

With Further Ado #075: Wake Up!

How’d it all go last night? Did you dance and party your brains out at the greatest event of the year? I hope there was a passionate midnight kiss involved.   Or are you one of those folks who leaves “Amateur Night” to others and got cozy on your couch watching episodes of The Twilight Zone?  I’m not judgey – both plans sound  pretty great to me.

Either way, you probably need a little coffee to get going today, and that’s the focus of this week’s column.

Death Wish Coffee Co. is a small business from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., one of my favorite places in the world. Founder Mike Brown has been on a mission to create the world’s strongest coffee and to fuel coffee drinkers not only each morning, but wherever they go. You might think that the coffee market is oversaturated, or dominated by big companies. It might seem like there’s no room for new ideas, but this is innovative company has been rocking it.  When they won Intuit’s “Small Business Big Game” competition in 2015, they were awarded a 30 second spot on the SuperBowl.

Brown and his team make a solid product with pride and strong ethics, and obviously have fun along the way.  In my classes, I teach college students how magical things happen at the intersection of entrepreneurism and creativity. And that’s the case here.

By Odin, ‘tis Glorious!

One of the things Death Wish Coffee did was create a comic book. It’s called Odinforce and now it’s become a series. Deathwish is just about to publish the third issue!  Continue reading “With Further Ado #075: Wake Up!”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #071: Roman Polanski’s Bad Luck

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #071: Roman Polanski’s Bad Luck

It’s not like I’ve been trying, but this is as close I’ve ever come to feeling sorry for Roman Polanski.

Oh, sure, he had a tough life. He spent part of his youth in a Nazi concentration camp. His wife had been brutally murdered. That sucks, but it does not justify his drugging and fucking a 13-year-old girl in 1977. To be fair, he did not try to establish a causal link between that and his drugging and fucking a 13-year-old girl, but that doesn’t justify his later behavior in the least.

Polanski was charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, furnishing a controlled substance to a minor, and committing a lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14. He made a plea bargain with the state of California where they would accept a guilty plea to engaging in one count of unlawful sexual conduct and to that one count alone. Under that agreement and the probation report, he expected to get off without being sent to prison. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #071: Roman Polanski’s Bad Luck”

With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season

With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season

Forget Rudolph, the Grinch and Frosty. I’m not here to talk about it It’s A Wonderful Life  or Hallmark Channel movies (even though my daughter-in-law loves them). Today I want to focus on Christmas Commercials.

It’s been a good yuletide season for ads. Although I’ve yet to see the famous Santa-on-a-Norelco-shaver spot (one of my all-time favorites), there’s been some engaging TV spots. Oh sure, they are all  promoting crass commercialism when we’re all really supposed to be thinking about peace, brotherhood and one very important baby born in a barn, but let’s focus on creativity, entrepreneurism and providing more than a few jobs. 

The Peloton TV spot got all the buzz for all the wrong reasons. This year they stepped in it with an ad that suggesting a rich guy demands his perfectly beautiful wife to continuously workout to maintain her perfectly physique. The stock stumbled for a bit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Peloton has fantastic end of year sales.

Or was it all a sneaky plot? At the end of the day, Peloton is a brand that found a way to successfully sell a piece of fitness equipment  at a super-expensive price – despite the fact that this particular piece of fitness equipment exists in abundance on Planet Earth.   Continue reading “With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season”

Brainiac On Banjo #065: Got A Light?

Brainiac On Banjo #065: Got A Light?

Time once again to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear – well, my thrilling days of yesteryear. You know I like to share.

A half-century ago there was a place where all the hippies met. Well, there were lots of such places: the just-referenced South Street in Philadelphia, St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan, the Haight in San Francisco, and the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago, among many others. Gentrification runs deep, and into the hippies’ lives it crept like a summbych. We’ll catch up to present-day “reality” by the end of this piece.

The heart of Lincoln Park hippiedom was the intersection of Fullerton, Halsted and Lincoln streets. Festive little places like head shop Head Imports, our community restaurant the Feed Store, the Army-Navy store which sold the finest hippie clothes at affordable prices – as well as gas masks, which came in handy from time to time. The underground paper where I planted my roots, the Chicago Seed, moved to the neighborhood after being Nazi-bait across the street from the Moody Bible Institute, the place where Bettie Page went to school. The neighborhood grew into a formidable Weed of Destruction and I remain a very proud Seedling. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #065: Got A Light?”

Brainiac On Banjo #064: What? The Penguin is Jewish?

Brainiac On Banjo #064: What? The Penguin is Jewish?

‘Tis the season, so if Adam Sandler is making a new list and, you know, checking it twice, he can add the name Oswald Cobblepot.

Well, it does explain that hat.

I’ve carped a bit about how The Joker is the most overexposed character on Earth, apart from Donald Trump. We can argue that Harley Quinn is in competition for that title, but, as a rule, I try not to get in the middle of a fight between a person and his or her ex. Besides, this Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey movie has hit trailer status, so inundation comes with the job. When the DC Universe steamer launched its new animated and X-rated (no, it’s for language, you pervert!) Harley Quinn series, which starts with the enthralled shrink dumping her dangerously insane boyfriend, they managed to ring the overexposure bell with her mallet. But… it works. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #064: What? The Penguin is Jewish?”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #053: Oh Schitt!

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #053: Oh Schitt!

I had consumed nearly every show I was told I’d love on Netflix as I’d contemplated transitioning to Amazon Prime — Orange is the New Black, GLOW, Living With Yourself, Big Mouth, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, The Kominsky Method, Bojack Horseman, F is for Family, Maniac, and Master of None to name a few. And in the case of all of the above (with about 8 or 9 more I decided not to list)… I did in fact love them. Some more than others, but all appropriately dynamic and enjoyable.

With everything seemingly checked off my bucket list for the time being, I was about to sign off, and one last series peaked its head around the corner. I’d been recommended to look into it several times, but something about it seemed bland. Every still shot of the show was set in some rural-ish small town, with an obvious fish-out-of-water placement of Eugene Levy or Catherine O’Hara looking befuddled. I’d told myself it wasn’t worth my time. I hovered over the preview and watched. All the tropes were there: a wealthy family no longer wealthy, Eugene Levy being… Eugene Levy, Chris Elliott being… Chris Elliott, small town vs. big city. Whatever. But, an inadvertent click popped the preview into a pilot, and I took my seat. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #053: Oh Schitt!”

Brainiac On Banjo #063: Again With The Event Bitching?

Brainiac On Banjo #063: Again With The Event Bitching?

Bitch, bitch, bitch. Sigh. It’s a living…

For about three decades, I’ve been bitching about how our friends at DC and Marvel have abandoned the storytelling racket and are drowning themselves in the pool of “Event publishing.” During that time, line average comic book circulations have plummeted by about two-thirds.

(Explaining The Stupid Math Trick: “Line averages” are compiled by adding up the circulations of each individual issue printed by each publisher during the year and then dividing the total by the number of different issues involved. Variant covers and extra printings confuse the issue, but, screw it, they’re cheesy hustles that only complicate the processes. I refuse to acknowledge a second printing unless the publisher tells us what the first printing was. If Marvel Comics printed only 750 copies of Amazing Fantastic Fury #7 and then celebrated that success with a second printing, the whole thing is as meaningless as a fart in a blizzard in the dead of winter.)

So why am I carping about this now? And, not to mention, again? As is their wont, Marvel and DC each issued their February 2020 catalogs. On the cover of Marvel Previews – Wolverine #1!!! Another stunning concept from the House of Idea! Oh, and it’s got at least 12 different variant covers – not counting those that might be done for individual retailers – and this includes a virgin variant (wait… what? Alex Ross is a virgin???), hidden gem variants, a party variant, a die cut variant, and an adamantium variant – which, by way of disclaimer, is not even made of adamantium.

To honor their own Event, Marvel is reprinting three previous Wolverine #1’s as well. Will all this hubbub restore Wolvie to his former sales glory? Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #063: Again With The Event Bitching?”