Tag: Bill Maher

Brainiac On Banjo #056: “Wait Till They Get A Load Of…”

Brainiac On Banjo #056: “Wait Till They Get A Load Of…”

I really don’t like doing three columns in a row about the same subject, unless that subject is me. But some people are working hard to keep alive the spirit of Fredrick Wertham while exercising their unimpeachable right to be a self-righteous arbiter of what other people should enjoy.

Yes, I’m talking about Martin Scorsese. I love almost all of his work and regard him as one of the finest filmmakers in history, but that doesn’t mitigate against his talking anus. Worse, I now have cause to conflate Scorsese with Bill Maher.

Now, I like Maher as well and I’m with him on a lot of important issues. He does confuse me because our nation’s leading advocate for the legalization of marijuana really shouldn’t be so damn skinny. He should use more indica and less sativa, except on show days. But I digress.

Bill’s been rattling against superhero movies for many months now, and I think he continues this crusade strictly because us fanboys keep on getting in his face. This starts a vicious circle. Why is he still ragging on comic book movies when he should be in Washington getting arrested for fighting for what’s left of our the environment, like Jane Fonda? And now Marty Scorsese is in the frame.

My gripe is not that Scorsese and Maher dislike superhero movies. That’s their prerogative, even if they don’t see such movies. I don’t go to movies that seem unappealing, although if enough people whose opinions I respect suggest I check something out, I might.

Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #056: “Wait Till They Get A Load Of…””

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #044: How Long Can You Live Without A Spine?

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #044: How Long Can You Live Without A Spine?

Back in 1956, a young senator named John F. Kennedy published a book titled Profiles In Courage. Written by Kennedy and (mostly, according to columnist Cecil Adams) Theodore Sorensen, the tome detailed the stories of eight senators who exhibited extraordinary valor by standing up for the right thing.

Profiles in Courage won a Pulitzer the following year, and when JFK became president it became mandatory reading in public schools across the Union states, as well as some within the friendly confines of the Confederacy. It’s worth reading today, but if you’ve got a short attention span you can find out about these eight old white guys on Wiki.

Please note: I said it was worth reading today. If Ted were to come back from the grave to write a sequel, he need not transverse the River Styx. Spit out Charon’s obol, pal, your follow-up would be shorter than this very piece. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #044: How Long Can You Live Without A Spine?”

Working Title #017: Watching Miracle Workers

Miracle Workers, is a limited series from TBS, airs Tuesdays at 10PM EST.

SPOILER ALERT: I reveal some of the plot and a few jokes in the show so far. Read at your own risk.

So – in the second episode, Miracle Workers kill Bill Maher by blowing up his penis.

Now that’s comedy.

The show is set in a heaven that’s a corporate entity. Steve Buscemi plays God with longish lank gray hair, puttering around in a bathrobe, drinking beer, and more interested in Lazy Susans than the planet Earth. Bill Maher annoys him (hell, he sometimes annoys me) so God orders that Maher be killed off. The method devised is to blow up his penis which pleases God.

Also, because God has been challenged to exert himself and do something about the terrible state of Earth, announces that he is going to blow it up in two weeks.

You see? Wacky.  Continue reading “Working Title #017: Watching Miracle Workers”

Brainiac On Banjo #025: Is It Over Yet? By Mike Gold

Brainiac On Banjo #025: Is It Over Yet? By Mike Gold

I see The CW picked up all its comic book-based teevee shows for their 2019 – 2020 season, and they’re shooting the pilot for their new Batwoman series. This means we’ll be watching them on broadcast channels at least until the next presidential debates.

That’s amusing. The CW’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has yet to air its 2018 – 2019 season. Then again, ABC renewed Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for 2019 – 2020 season without having broadcast this year’s output either. In business terms, those are genuine acts of faith.

Captain Marvel opens in a theater near you in one short month. Yes, this is February and this is a short month. The Brie Larson flick already has broken all advance ticket sales records. Shazam! opens one month later, followed by Hellboy one week after that. The Avengers: Endgame starts pushing popcorn three weeks after that, X-Men Dark Phoenix follows a month after that, Spider-Man Far From Home a couple weeks after, the New Mutants opens the beginning of August (assuming they ever finish the reshoots), and The Joker comes forth Bat-less the beginning of October. 2020’s schedule appears to be just as overloaded. As Lenny Kravitz sang, it ain’t over till it’s over.

Why is this still happening? Shouldn’t it be over by now?  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #025: Is It Over Yet? By Mike Gold”

Brainiac On Banjo #021: Raymond Loewy, Jony Ive, Bill Maher, and Stan Lee… by Mike Gold

Brainiac On Banjo #021: Raymond Loewy, Jony Ive, Bill Maher, and Stan Lee… by Mike Gold

Back when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, from time to time my friends and I would gather in the schoolyard and call out the makes, models and years of the cars driving by. You could do that back then, as damn near every car had its own identity, its own look and style. They were so distinctive that I think we could have ID’ed most of these cars by their silhouettes, as though we were World War II Civil Defense car spotters.

Between The Great War and The Great Vietnam Fiasco, the concept of “style” was critical to our culture. Movie theaters weren’t simply big rooms with white sparkly screens – many were cathedrals of film designed to inspire you to appreciate the entirely of the moviegoing experience. Drug stores had soda fountains that were overrun with chrome-plated art deco machinery. Designers unleashed mountains of energy defining the environment shared by four generations, led by the brilliant Raymond Loewy, who created the look of cars, refrigerators and other household appliances, furniture, corporate logos and packaging, and airplanes. In fact, he teamed-up with President John F. Kennedy in 1962 to design Air Force One.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #021: Raymond Loewy, Jony Ive, Bill Maher, and Stan Lee… by Mike Gold”

Working Title #009: Dear Mr. Maher

Working Title #009: Dear Mr. Maher

Dear Bill Maher

Well, you’ve done it again. You’ve gotten a certain percentage of the population mad at you – which I suspect is exactly what you want. You’ve gotten people talking about you and your show, Real Time, and by your lights this is a good thing. That’s what you do; by inclination and occupation you’re a provocateur  — which is fine. Gadflys are useful if annoying.

However, your targets were things on which, by your own account, you know little or nothing. You took the occasion of Stan Lee’s death to belittle comics and comic readers. On your blog you wrote: “I have nothing against comic books – I read them now and then when I was a kid and I was all out of Hardy Boys. But the assumption everyone had back then, both the adults and the kids, was that comics were for kids, and when you grew up you moved on to big-boy books without the pictures. “

You were born in 1953 so in 1963 you’d be about 10. Prime age to start reading comics. Your assessment of the medium might have been correct if you’re just talking about DC (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, et al) of that era but Marvel, under the guidance of Stan Lee, began what we now know as the Marvel superhero. In 1961 Stan debuted The Fantastic Four followed by Spider-Man in 1962. By design, these books were meant for an older reader. In 1965, both Spider-man and the Hulk were listed by Esquire as among 28 heroes on college campuses along with JFK and Bob Dylan. So the concept that comics were for the young uns only was not the assumption of every kid and adult; it was and is your assumption.

You later said, “. . .a culture that thinks that comic books and comic book movies are profound meditations on the human condition is a dumb (explicit) culture.” Really? The graphic novel Maus, by Art Spiegelman, won a Pulitizer in 1992 and a National Book Critics Circle Award. I think we can say it won because it is a profound meditation on the human condition.

You said that you weren’t saying the comics readers were stupid per se but, “The problem is, we’re using our smarts on stupid stuff. I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to suggest that Donald Trump could only get elected in a country that thinks comic books are important.“

Yes, it is a huge stretch of the imagination and you should know that. The polls have suggested that the typical Trump voter is an older white male without a college education. That’s not the typical comic book reader that I’ve met.

I’ve heard you fulminate about comics before. Your war with religion seems to color some of your perceptions. You complained that comics teaches people to wait for a hero to come down from on high and solve our problems for us instead of taking charge and doing it ourselves.

That’s not what comics are about. Superman is not from on high; Superman is within. Every time Clark Kent opens his shirt to reveal the big red S on his chest, he’s telling the reader or the viewer that they have Superman within them. They represent ideals to which we can aspire. Not of godhood but of being a hero. Of trying to be something greater than ourselves. Of doing and being our best.

Your problem is that you’re wrong and you will never admit it. In that, you’re very much like Donald Trump. You know nothing about the subject (comics) but that doesn’t stop you from putting forth your opinion about it. What, then, is that opinion worth?

Which raises a question – a problem – in my mind. If you’re this wrong on a subject about which I know a lot, how often are you equally wrong on subjects of which I know less?

It won’t matter to you, I think, but I’ve watched you for the last time.

Good-bye.

John Ostrander