Marion on March 14, 2017

homeland 6 e8 astrid shooting featureyWe can all agree that Dar Adal has to go, right? And it’s going to be very satisfying when it happens. But who’s going to be the one to take him out? For speculation on these and other great issues of the day, such as how did Peter Quinn learn to hold his breath underwater while not freezing to death, check out my Homeland recaps at The Agony Booth — which is full of great stuff by me and lots of other people.

Bonus points if you know how The Agony Booth got its name. Comments and discussion are welcome on those pages!

 

 

 

Tags: , , , ,

What we learned from Drumpf’s reaction to “friendly” Hasidic reporter who asked for comment re anti-Semitic incidents: SCROTUS cannot read a room. He was hoping for a softball question. The question asked should have been an easy one, but he perceived a threat. Being an out-of-his-depth grifter in fight mode, he lashed out like a wild animal. Given the improvisational nature of his performances, this seems the most likely explanation

However, a darker possibility is that he knew what he was doing, understood the question, but chose to fight with the reporter, as an offering of red-meat for his base. By going after the easy target most Jewish looking of Jews, he proved to white supremacists he could be trusted not to cave in to “elites” while reminding others that of course he’s no anti-Semite and loves his Jewish daughter. His base believes these attacks are non-existent “fake” media creations OR the work of Jews themselves. Therefore, addressing the reality of a rise in anti-Semitism opens a can of worms. Asking the DOJ or FBI to investigate claims of victimhood by any group other than white Christians would sound too much like a return to the “identity politics” his base rejects – unless the protected identity is “white.”

A third possibility is the idea of “programmed Trump.” With Bannon and others feeding him information, if the attacks came up in any sort of discussion prior to the press conference, he might already have been told they were a false flag scam, designed to throw him off course or imply he or his followers are anti-Semites. Therefore, his reaction to the question was authentic,T but his perception was shaped by his handlers.

Which scenario is worse? Incompetence and bad judgment, planned malevolence and racism, or a despotic narcissist whose grandiosity and paranoia are being fed by masters of manipulation?

(There are no donation buttons here, but if you like what you see, you can support this blog by going over to the Amazon and checking out my books — available in print and on Kindle.)

Tags: , ,

kellyanne and chuck

The Once Free Press: Excuse me sir, uh madam, I’m here to ask about the statement the Press Secretary made about the crowd size at the inauguration….

KellyAnne Conway: Ah yes! The one and half million people who showed up for our Great Leader, the largest crowd ever. It was …

The Once Free Press: 250,000 according to the Parks Department Estimate.

KellyAnne: No, it wasn’t. It was one and half-million.

The Once Free Press: Look, I brought a photograph of the mall. You can see the empty white space …

trump inaug crowd

KellyAnne:  Empty white space? I don’t see it.

The Once Free Press (astonished, points to something in the photo) What is this then? An army of the Ku Klux Klanners photographed from on high? A circus of albino elephants symbolizing the Republican party?

Kelly Anne: It’s a trick of the light.

The Once Free Press (incredulous): A trick of the light?

KellyAnne (examining the photo): See, over here. You can make out the people. It was the snow made them seem invisible, that’s all.

The Once Free Press: The snow? There wasn’t any snow.

KellyAnne: Please don’t start on global warming again! That’s been repealed and replaced on all official pages by ‘over-regulation of the vital energy industry.’

The Once Free Press: I’m not talking about global warming. The question was why on earth would Sean Spicer tell an obvious falsehood about the crowd size at his very first press conference?

KellyAnne: It wasn’t a lie.

The Once Free Press: Look, Ms Conway, I know a lie when I see one. That wasn’t a million and half people. That was…..

KellyAnne (waxing poetic): The Trump Inauguration – beautiful transition of power. Lovely ceremony!

The Once Free Press: The loveliness of the ceremony don’t enter into it! The crowd was not present. Take a look at the bleachers. There’s enough empty space to shelter all the refugees from Aleppo …

KellyAnne: Aleppo? Which happened on Obama’s watch …

Once Free Press: Fair enough, but what about the people who aren’t there?

KellyAnne: Parts of the mall were covered over so no one could stand there.

The Once Free Press: But people are standing on the covering. There just aren’t a lot of them, or on the grass either.

KellyAnne: (looking at the photo again) They were just taking a bathroom break when the photo was taken.

The Once Free Press: A what? Are you suggesting that a million and a quarter people just happened to be taking a piss simultaneously?

KellyAnne: They’re regular folks. They drink a lot of beer, our supporters do.

The Once Free Press: On a Friday morning?

KellyAnne: They were celebrating!

The Once Free Press (exasperated): They weren’t celebrating. I’m telling you they were non-existent, imaginary, a fairy tale. It was unreality television. A proven falsehood, a big fib, a fraud, a fake, a fabrication, a visit to Fantasy Island, a …

KellyAnne (grabbing the photo and marking it up): You’re mistaken. See there’s no white space. Look at all those figures. It’s filled up to the brim! From the White House all the way to the Washington Monument …

The Once Free Press: That was you. You just took a pen and filled it all in.

KellyAnne: No I didn’t.

The Once Free Press: Yes, you did. We’ve got the whole thing on tape.

KellyAnne: I don’t think so.

The Once Free Press: Could you please answer my question?

KellyAnne: I already did.

The Once Free Press: No you didn’t.

KellyAnne: Did too!

The Once Free Press: Once more – Ms Conway why would Sean Spicer attack the media for false reporting about the size of the crowd while he lied about the size of the crowd?

KellyAnne: He wasn’t lying.

The Once Free Press: What would you call it then?

KellyAnne: It was an alternative fact.

The Once Free Press: An alternative fact is a lie.

KellyAnne: Well, that’s a matter of opinion isn’t it? Who can really tell with numbers? You know what numbers I care about? The number of women in poverty at the end of Barack Obama’s presidency …

The Once Free Press: But that has nothing to do with my question. I’m asking you why would …

KellyAnne: You’re a very disagreeable person. Did anyone ever tell you that?

The Once Free Press: That’s not even, look, if from day one, you are going to lie about every little thing then what is the point of any of this? How can we even cover the White House?

KellyAnne: Don’t be so overly dramatic! If you’re going to be so negative, I’m really going to have to rethink our relationship.

President Trump: Kelly Anne, let me take over from here.

KellyAnne: Yes, Mr. President.

President Trump (to The Once Free Press): You’re fired.

The Once Free Press: Mr. President. I don’t work for you. You can’t fire me.

President Trump: When you’re President you can do anything.

The Once Free Press: But what about the Constitution? The first amendment!

KellyAnne: From now on we’ll be using an alternative version!

(Marion Stein writes television recaps and reviews for The Agony Booth, and books you can find over at Amazon. There’s no donate button on this blog, but you can thank her by buying a cheap ebook, and then raving about it to your friends.)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Marion on January 19, 2017

Tromeo playbillhis idiot apologizes for there being gap of over a year since her last opera review. Why the long pause?

The problem started when we saw Lulu, which just about killed opera for us. We enjoyed William Kentridge’s production of The Nose, so we thought, “Why not go to see another off-beat well-reviewed production of a modern opera?” Besides I’m a fan of Pandora’s Box. (I even managed a reference or two to Louise Brooks in my novel Blood Diva, the erotic-satiric-vampire extravaganza based on the life of Marie Duplessis the inspiration for La Traviata.)

I expected some campy-fun from Kentridge, with nods towards Brooks’ iconic performance, but his Lulu was one of the most somber earnest productions imaginable, and the music was god-awful. I’m a philistine and probably just didn’t understand it, but it was so unpleasant the better-half left at intermission. I stayed for you dear readers, or reader, as the case may be, but then I couldn’t bear to relive it even as a post.

Prior to that in the 2015-2016 season, we’d seen Il Trovotore, which I posted about. After that we only made it to the Met two other times. Once to see Swedish soprano Nina Stemme as Turandot, in the Zefferelli production. We’d seen the production before, but we wanted to see Stemme and we figured the Met would probably replace Zefferelli’s sets with something terrible. We saw Le Percheurs de Perles  but that almost doesn’t count because we were in Edgewater, NJ at the live in HD. Why did we go to New Jersey given that we are able-bodied and live about three miles from Lincoln Center? Long story, but maybe worth a post someday. We also saw Otello, with a notable cast including Željko Lu?i? as Iago, and Hibla Gerzmava as Desdemona.

We finally made it to the Met again on Tuesday to see Gonaud’s Romeo et Juliette. The lovers were sung by tenor Vittorio Grigolo and soprano Diana Damrau. We’d seen them together a couple of seasons ago in Manon where I’d written that they “sizzled”. I didn’t get that lusty vibe this time strangely enough although they sold the idea of themselves as teenagers in love and lust at first sight. I’d describe their chemistry as easy. They sang together as though they’d always sung together. They seemed to be having fun. Opera is sometimes a competitive sport, but Tuesday night it sounded as though the leads, the orchestra, and everyone else were all on the same team.

This passes my test of operas you could go to your first time at the opera. You’ve probably heard bits of the music used in various soundtracks. It’s by turns melodic, emotional, and as grand as grand opera should be, but it’s also a pleasure to listen to and it’s easy to follow the story, since we all know it. Plus it’s fun to watch. The fight scenes were especially well choreographed, and it doesn’t hurt that Grigolo is pretty enough to be a movie star-leading man. The Met chorus did their usual stellar job as well.

Romeo y Juliette  has performances through March, but it looks like there’s only a couple more with Damrau.  They’ll both be in the “live in HD” on Saturday, so if you can’t get to the Met, you can always go to  your local cinema.

We were sitting, by the way, in the back of the balcony. We’d gotten the tickets only a few days before, and would’ve splurged for the front of that section if anything had been available.  I love the way you can see the musicians and the conductor from the balcony. The sound is clearer then anyway else in the house. (For the skinny on scoring last minute cheap tickets, see this old post.) At intermission, I noticed the usual ridiculously long line for the ladies room. I tried to tell a couple of the more able-bodied women on the line about the secret women’s bathroom at the top of the family circle on the right-hand side, but nobody believed me. They probably thought I was some kind of grifter trying to cut the line. But honestly, there really is a secret women’s room up there. It’s the best kept secret in town, so don’t tell anyone!

Tags: , ,

Marion on January 17, 2017

homeland i'm the problemSherlock S4 E3 5 minutesWhether you’ve been waiting to find out the fate of Peter Quinn, or looking forward to the Sherlock finale, you’re probably feeling disappointed by now. But cheer up, and check out my snarky recaps at The Agony Booth!