This felt like quite an epiphany when I thought of it several days ago — scale falling from my eyes and all that — but then I immediately realized it was perfectly obvious, and not in the least profound, so I didn’t post it.
But I did put it on Twitter yesterday, and received a little reinforcement there and on Facebook, so I’ll go ahead and share it:
I finally realized why Trump has been winning, and why I didn’t foresee it: There are a lot of Americans who, unlike me, LIKE reality TV…
I kept wondering why the problems with Trump — the fact that he must not ever be considered for even a split second to hold the highest office in the land — are not painfully obvious to everyone. What’s the cognitive barrier?
That question, and my puzzlement, had a certain flavor, and suddenly I recognized it. It’s the same confusion I have when I wonder why on Earth anyone can tolerate Reality TV.
I hated it from the first moment or two (and that’s all I could bear) I saw of MTV’s “The Real World.” All that false drama concocted and acted out with all seriousness by excruciatingly uninteresting, self-involved people. It seemed deliberately devised to make us all want to hurl.
And yet people watched it. And I still don’t get that, either…
I experienced a shock yesterday. I stepped on my bathroom scale, and it read 187.0.
Yeah, I was fully dressed, including a sport coat, wallet, keys, iPhone and very heavy shoes. But still. Almost 190 pounds? I’ve never come close to that before, and I’ve been weighed at doctor’s offices while similarly burdened many times.
That weight will seem like nothing to you if you’re built for it — saying if you’re a tall, big-boned guy like Doug.
But I’m not. Look at me. I’m a skinny guy. I’ve always been a skinny guy.
This is unfair. I did not earn these additional pounds, most of which are gathered around my middle, making it very difficult for me to perform such everyday tasks as, say, wearing pants.
I put on about 10 of them when I took two courses of prednisone trying to get rid of poison ivy earlier in the spring. Then, for the first time in years (and I suspect there’s a connection here), I started having trouble with my asthma. I’ve had to switch medications, and haven’t fully stabilized yet — which means I haven’t been working out.
If the added weight IS contributing to my breathing trouble, that’s a vicious cycle. I really need the exercise to drop the pounds; changing diet alone won’t do it.
Shute, the undefeated state champ at 168.
But I’ve been doing better with my breathing the last couple of days, and so it may be time to begin the push toward a normal weight. Full paleo, of course, and at least 40 minutes a day on the elliptical — that should do it.
The goal, as always with me, will be to get under 168 so I can wrestle Shute, should the opportunity arise. “Vision Quest” speaks to me, as a former (undistinguished) high school wrestler.
If you see someone sprinting across the Gervais Street bridge in a rubber suit with Red Ryder’s “Lunatic Fringe” playing in the background, that will be me. (Actually, I think it was John Waite’s “Change” in that scene — see 1:22 on the clip — but people remember the other song better, so…)
Radiohead actually played “Creep” during their concert in Paris this evening
The band dusts off their chart-topping single for first performance in nearly a decade
All this makes tonight’s setlist in Paris a really big deal, because Radiohead actuallyperformed “Creep”.
“This is for the funny guy shouting ‘Creep’ in the back,” Yorke said prior to the performance. “Only to shock you.” That’s an understatement.
In addition to “Creep”, Radiohead performed “True Love Waits” for the first time since the release of A Moon Shaped Pool, and delivered the tour debuts of “No Surprises” and “Pyramid Song”….
Nice of them, isn’t it, to actually play what the fans who’ve made them rich actually want to hear?
Radiohead has produced quite a few listenable songs — “No Surprises,” “Fake Plastic Trees,” “High and Dry,” and so forth — but the one song that made them so effing special that we stopped to listen to the other songs they produced was “Creep.” It was the one that reached out and grabbed us, and pulled us in.
And so we’re willing to listen when Spotify offers us such recent recordings as “Burn the Witch” and “Daydreaming,” even though they’re more like Muzak than they are like the songs we love.
Fortunately, after “Burn the Witch,” Spotify offers “Creep,” which wakes our senses back up…
Fortunately, after “Burn the Witch,” Spotify offers “Creep.”
I mean; aside from the fact that one is fictional.
Anyway, someone brought the above to my attention this morning.
OK, yeah, there’s a superficial resemblance… and as my interlocutor (my son-in-law) said, “The high sparrow takes his vow of poverty seriously, displaying a humility that makes me wonder if the actor actually IS portraying Pope Francis…”
But here’s the difference: The High Sparrow is WAY more interested in directly exercising worldly power.
The High Sparrow is more like a medieval pope in that respect. And in Westeros, that’s an innovation; things are moving in that direction — in our world, they tend the other way.
When the Pope holds a head of state (or anyone else) prisoner, or forces another to atone for his or her sins by walking naked through a city, get back to me…
OK, the “Hillary Clinton as Cersei Lannister” isn’t bad, although I don’t picture Cersei making the same clothing choices. But these comparisons are terrible:
Donald Trump: Robert Baratheon
There was a succession plan in place for how you picked kings. Then, Robert decided to ignore all of those rules and take the kingdom by force. Sort of like Trump just did with the Republican Party. Also, they are two men who have big appetites for everything in life — and don’t feel the need to apologize for it….
Bernie Sanders: Ellaria Sand
She’s down there in Dorne. People — including Oberyn’s brother, Doran (RIP) — don’t take her seriously. But she is a true believer and has more of a following than anyone initially thought. And you sort of suspect that she’s going to have a biggish role to play in the main plot by the end — but you can’t figure out how yet.
Ted Cruz: Tyrion Lannister
Neither one comes out of central casting. Perennially underrated. But without question, the guy who honestly diagnoses his own strengths and weaknesses best, and who not only sees the whole playing field better than anyone else but also puts in place a plan that is three steps ahead. Also: Someone most people don’t like in his world — and who doesn’t care….
All right, I can almost see Trump as Robert Baratheon — both are ill-suited to governing and take little interest in matters of policy. But Robert was a semi-sympathetic character, scoundrel that he was, and he had the wisdom to appoint Ned Stark as Hand. Trump would never do that. In fact, Trump would go on at length about how he doesn’t need a Hand, because his own hands are perfectly adequate no matter what you’ve heard, in fact they’re terrific…
Bernie as Ellaria Sand? How absurd. Bernie as a really hot woman who is pure, murderous evil, who seems to have no human feeling at all? No, if anything, Bernie is old Grand Maester Pycelle, the crotchety guy at court who makes out like he’s more decrepit than he is.
But the worst is Ted Cruz — the least likable member of the U.S. Senate as Tyrion, possibly the most sympathetic character in Westeros? I’d see Lindsey Graham as Tyrion — neither is of imposing stature, they’re both given to wisecracks about the other characters, and they both think everybody should drink more. (Cillizza cast Lindsey as Ser Davos, which is OK, but I think Tyrion is more on the money.)
There are characters on the show who would be a closer match for Cruz, but for reasons I find inadequate, Cillizza decided to leave out Ramsay Bolton and Joffrey Baratheon. He didn’t want to be that mean to any of the candidates — even if they deserved it…
An Atlanta TV station shared photos from witnesses at a May 12, 2016, accident scene in Peachtree City, Ga., that show two stars from the hit show “The Walking Dead” helping out.
The report from CBS46 quoted witness Mikail Turan, who said Norman Reedus and Steven Yeun looked like they had stopped their motorcycles near the scene in the town southwest of Atlanta to “kind of calm everybody.” Turan said he took photos for a few moments and left when the police arrived….
Yeah, that makes sense, because if I were shaken up after an accident (no one was hurt, reports say), the one thing that would calm me down and restore a sense of normalcy would be seeing Daryl Dixon ride up on his motorcycle. Oh, great! First I wreck my car, now the Zombie Apocalypse!
Just kidding, Daryl! In truth, when said apocalypse arrives, I want Daryl and his crossbow to have my back. He’s the best there is in a zombie fight in any fictional universe, bar none (and apparently the only one to figure out that gunshots draw more walkers). And Glenn Rhee in charge of scrounging supplies, of course.
Apparently, I’m not the only one to draw an analogy between Donald Trump suddenly seizing control of the Republican Party and the Harkonnens crushing the Atreides and taking Arrakis.
My son-in-law brings my attention to the above — which I appreciate even though I think David Lynch’s “Dune” is the Worst Movie Ever Made. Or at least, the Worst Movie Ever Made That Should Have Been Awesome. Which was why, on my previous post on the subject, I used a picture of Germans taking Paris rather than something from the movie…
The Don: Man of Reasonableness who never utters threats.
Don’t you hate it when people use pop-culture analogies and get them wrong? Check out this one, from an editorial in The Wall Street Journal today:
But the Republican Party is not one of his golf courses for which he can determine who has what tee times. A political party is an alliance of people who share enough principles to unite to win elections and run the government. They can’t be ordered around by Don Corleone-style threats. They have to be persuaded and mobilized. Are Mr. Trump and his campaign going to require loyalty oaths of every Republican officeholder who wants to attend the convention?…
No, no, no! It most assuredly was not the Don’s style to make threats! He was way too cool, too smart, too self-contained — and therefore dangerous — for that.
Sonny made threats. Neither the Don, nor Michael, ever would. Some screenshots from the book, in case your memory is flawed:
See what I mean? Case closed. Be more careful in the future, WSJ.
Yeah, there was that time he was rumored to have threatened the bandleader on his godson’s behalf. But even if that was true and not just a story people told about him, it’s the exception that proves the rule.,,,
All of y’all probably saw this already, but I would have missed it if Kathryn Fenner had not brought it to my attention via Facebook over the weekend.
Of course, Facebook being Facebook, I had to go hunting elsewhere to find an embed code. (I couldn’t even find it at the White House, which is where Kathryn had gotten it — apparently, they only posted it on FB — unless I’m just looking in all the wrong places on the website.)
It was great to see her back in the saddle. And seeing her as press secretary instead of chief of staff takes us to those wonderful days when Leo was still alive. Sigh…
I was a bit disappointed in her when she ducked the one question she got from the actual reporters assembled: “Who is President Bartlet supporting in the Democratic primary?”
But she ducked it with typical C.J. aplomb…
Allison Janney fields an actual question from an actual reporter in the actual West Wing.
One day in the present, Adolph Hitler wakes up, disoriented, in a park located on the site of the Führerbunker. He meets up with a desperate man who has just lost his job at a TV network, who uses the Führer to turn his fortunes around. Subsequently, Hitler becomes a huge draw on a popular show called, “Whoa, dude!”
The idea is that no one knows this is actually Adolph Hitler. People think he’s a brilliantly ironic comedian or method actor (since he never drops out of character). They love him. And many come to love him for the wrong reasons.
What makes this interesting is that it punctures our smug assumptions that we moderns are so much better than those awful people who live in the past. Two of the most chilling moments:
Hitler is delighted by many aspects of modern life. He particularly is drawn to the Web, especially because anyone can make use of it, without editors or other conventional controls being in the way. When he learns that no one ultimately controls Wikipedia, he is delighted. He sees the opportunity that provides.
HUGE SPOILER ALERT: Repeatedly, the Führer runs into everyday people on the street who are filled with indignation over the way nonEuropean immigrants are flooding into their country. Hitler encourages them in this, and declares, in the very last line of the film, “I can work with this.”
Because, you see, while everyone else thinks their using Hitler — to drive TV ratings and such — he is single-mindedly bent on rising to power again.
Oh, and don’t think this is just a German problem, given how well politicians with similar messages are faring in this country in this election year…
I was never a big fan, although I liked some of his songs from the ’80s. But it occurs to me that some of y’all may wish to say something upon his passing.
There was a guy on the radio today, an editor at some pop-music site (no, it wasn’t Ben Fong-Torres, so it wasn’t anyone I know about), talking about his vast repertoire, and I thought, I can only think of five songs, if that.
Perhaps you are a great admirer of Tim Robbins, the actor/activist. I am not. To me, the pinnacle of his career was when he played the insufferable, insipid Ian/Ray in “High Fidelity.” Fairly or not, I saw him as playing himself in that role, and it’s an impression I’m unlikely to shake.
See the clip above. To me, that’s Tim Robbins. Go get him, Rob!
Now we have Tim Robbins commenting on South Carolina politics, in a manner worthy of Ian (or is it Ray?):
This is a not-uncommon argument among supporters of Sanders. Yes, Hillary Clinton is winning. But she’s winning largely because she ran up big margins in Southern states. That, the argument goes, bodes poorly for the general, since those Southern states usually vote Republican.
This is a bad argument that borders on insulting.
First of all, South Carolina has a lot more people than Guam. Among the other bits of data one can point out about the 2016 Democratic primary is that Clinton has received far more votes than Sanders — 2.5 million more. Among those is a margin of about 175,000 more votes in the state of South Carolina, a margin that by itself is larger than the population of Guam.
Which means that Clinton came away from South Carolina with a net delegate haul of plus-25 — she earned 25 more delegates than did Sanders. In the Democrats’ proportional system, that’s a big margin. It’s a margin that Sanders has only managed once, in the Washington caucuses late last month. So in that sense, South Carolina matters a lot more than Guam….
But the person most worked up about what Robbins said may be South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison. Here are some of his Tweets on the subject. He started off nice enough, but by the end he was about ready to rip the air-conditioner out of the wall like Dick in the clip above:
.@TimRobbins1 happy to discuss @scdp w/ you. SC is home to hard working folks battling poverty. Your words just told them they don't matter!
But her name will always be associated with one of the silliest high-concept TV sitcoms ever, “The Patty Duke Show,” in which he played “identical cousins.” I think the idea must have come up when somebody was smoking something exotic while watching “The Parent Trap.”
That was one of many shows of questionable value that I consumed so voraciously when I came back from two-and-a-half years in Ecuador without television. I didn’t care how awful it was, I thoroughly enjoyed it all.
She will always be the identical cousins in my mind, just as Anne Bancroft will always be Mrs. Robinson. Coo-coo-ca-choo.
Coolest bit of trivia about Ms. Duke? She was once married to John Astin, the original Gomez Addams (Sean Astin, Samwise Gamgee, is her son, but not the biological son of John — it’s complicated). Now there was an awesome show. But at age 11, my tastes were sufficiently unformed that I preferred the Munsters…
Have you tried to watch it? If so, you have my sympathy.
And my hopes had been high. This was a joint effort by Martin Scorcese and Mick Jagger, about the music business in the early ’70s. Martin Scorcese, in case you haven’t noticed, is the director with the greatest sense of rock ‘n’ roll in the history of Hollywood. Think about it: from “Mean Streets” to “The Departed” who used rock better? Let’s be more specific: From the moment Harvey Keitel’s head falls back onto the pillow and kicks off “Be My Baby” to that magnificent Roy Buchanan instrumental cover of the Patsy Cline classic “Sweet Dreams” as the camera pans from the last bloody body to the golden dome of the Massachusetts state capitol… wow.
He has been particularly good at finding perfect ways to use the Rolling Stones — it’s like the songs were recorded specifically for those scenes in those films. So, having Jagger along should make it even better, right?
Nope. It was just awful.
As I said this morning to Robert Rikard when he said he’d had the same unpleasant experience trying to watch the show, the show’s pilot was just a bunch of really unpleasant people being really unpleasant — kind of like a Trump rally, with cocaine.
Even Ray Romano was utterly without any redeeming qualities. Who knew he could be so unlikable? So much for Everybody Loves Raymond. I know actors like to break type, but here’s a tip, Ray — find a new character that audiences can stand to watch…
And the pilot was the episode guaranteed to be good, directed by Scorcese himself!
It is possible to make an engaging movie about the music business in 1973. I point you to “Almost Famous.” Yeah, that was schmaltzy and sweet, but it very successfully captured at least some aspects of why we loved the music. I expected this to be a much, much harder-edged version of that.
Instead, it made me think, “How could I possibly have ever spent a moment of my life listening to anything produced by these people?”
You want to hang out with these guys? Neither do I…
Robert Ariail has proposed it in a cartoon, as a joke.
But as an alternative to, say, Donald Trump, would you accept the devious scoundrel Frank Underwood as president?
Robert also posed the question with regard to Hillary Clinton, and go ahead and address that if you choose.
But I’m more interested with the conundrum on the GOP side, where the dynamic is entirely different. Whatever you think of her, Hillary is pretty middle-of-the-road among Democrats — members of that party won’t have an identity crisis if she is their nominee. “Anybody but Hillary” isn’t really a thing on that side.
It’s over on the Republican side that we see serious people considering deals with the devil.
So why not Underwood? Think about it: Does he advocate any horrible policies? Not so I can recall (although y’all might remind me of some dealbreakers.) Basically, he’s a thoroughly rotten, ruthless individual when it comes to seizing and keeping power. But as long as the policies were relatively benign, would that not make him preferable to someone who is both personally and in policy terms unthinkable?
Saying that runs against my own inclinations. Over the years I’ve increasingly come to care less about people’s specific policy proposals and more about their character. That’s because no one can predict what will really arise once the person’s in office — the candidate’s promises may become impractical, or ill-advised, based on unforeseen circumstances. I look for someone who I trust to make good decisions in the face of the unanticipated.
And it occurs to me that maybe, maybe we could expect ol’ F.U. — who is a pretty smart guy, aside from all his character defects — to act wisely and responsibly, if only because he does love power so much, and therefore would not want to screw up and lose political support.
Whereas we know that Donald Trump doesn’t know wise policy from a hole in the ground. Even if he were trying to do the right thing just to look good, he wouldn’t know how.
This takes me to the film we watched last night on DVD, “Love and Mercy,” starring Paul Dano and John Cusack as Brian Wilson at different stages of his life — in the ’60s, when his mental illness first interfered with his career with the Beach Boys, and in the ’80s, when he began the process of recovery.
I definitely recommend it.
A few points I came away with:
It had never occurred to me before that Cusack and Dano were so much alike. But when Cusack first appeared after several scenes with Dano, I immediately knew he was supposed to be Wilson, only older. I can’t put my finger exactly on what the commonality was — I said to my wife “I never realized before how much they look alike.” But that’s not it. They don’t really look alike. It was something else. Maybe the voice — the lost-child voice Cusack affected for the role. In any case, deftly done.
If you are, like me, fairly ambivalent about the Beach Boys — enjoy their music, but not a huge fan — this film will help you enjoy their work more deeply, especially the “Pet Sounds”-era music. Watching Dano struggle to translate what he was hearing in his head into something others could hear as well, and gradually recognizing the sounds he was picking out on a piano or through some other means, will connect you to his vision on a whole new level. The best pop-music biopics do that, and this one does it better than most. That’s because the music is so central to the character’s central conflicts.
The sounds only he could hear…
This was probably the best depiction I’ve ever seen of the fabled connection between creative genius and madness. At one point in the film, Wilson says he started hearing “voices” in 1963. In late ’64, he experienced a terrifying panic attack on an airliner while traveling home from a gig, and persuades the band to tour without him while he stays home and works in the studio. That eventually led to “Pet Sounds,” which was all about getting the sounds in his head out onto tape. Well, that’s not all it was about — he thought the band needed to grow to keep from being left behind by the Beatles. The problem was that he was the only one who thought this — the others, especially Mike Love, wanted to stick to the surf and sand and cars and girls formula. But because he was the only one pushing in a new creative direction, the sound became much more about what only he could hear, as his bandmates and studio musicians looked on in bewilderment and tried to follow along, when they weren’t resisting with all their might.
For a time, this tension led to some great work — before Wilson pulled away from everyone and everything, fell further into drug abuse, lost his wife and family, spent three years in bed and ballooned to 300 pounds — all of which happens off-screen, between the Dano and Cusack periods. That brought therapist Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti) into Wilson’s life, which led to Landy taking over his life, overmedicating him and ruling him in a fashion reminiscent of Wilson’s abusive father. Which is where Cusack takes up the story.
To a great extent, the film is about how Melinda Ledbetter, who become’s Wilson’s second wife, manages to involve his family in freeing him from Landy.
Best — and possibly most painful — scene: Dano is tentatively, his voice cracking, playing a demo version of what would become “God Only Knows,” just sitting alone at a piano. At least, you think he’s alone until the camera shows his father seated on a sofa in pajamas and bathrobe. Wilson is seeking his father’s approval for his new direction. The father’s brutal, knife-twisting rejection of the song tells you almost everything you need to know about Brian Wilson’s problems. Later, you learn that his Dad slapped him upside the head so often as a kid that he is 96 percent deaf in his right ear.
Here’s the first part of that scene. If it doesn’t make you appreciate the song more than ever, don’t bother watching the film:
The song “It’s My Turn” comes off Roberts’ upcoming ‘Race for the White House’ EP, a nonpartisan set of songs about four presidential candidates: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson, and Clinton. The New Yorker recently premiered the first track, “Feel the Bern”:
“All those meter and key changes symbolize constant evolution, and Hillary has certainly evolved from her early days in Arkansas,” Roberts says about the new song. “The song has a cool stability to it, reflecting her ability to change with time while maintaining her own quiet intensity and relentless purpose.”
Roberts will be on NPR Weekend Edition tomorrow talking about the project, and will debut the songs live at an upcoming residency at New York City’s Birdland, March 8-12. Let me know if you want to hear the other two songs about Trump and Carson.
* One of the most important jazz musicians of his generation, Roberts was recently profiled on 60 Minutes:
How Mr. Roberts came up with Carson as the fourth, I don’t know — maybe he started the project when the surgeon was viable. Personally, I’d consider either Rubio or Cruz as more interesting characters to interpret musically.
But that’s not my point. My point is that I’ve given the Sanders and Clinton compositions a listen — and I don’t dig them. I don’t mean I don’t like them — I’m neutral on that point — but “dig” in the sense of “get” or “grok” or “understand.”
In other words, I don’t see what the music has to do with either subject.
Yes, that sounds a tad hyperbolic. Maybe it’s so awesome to me because I’m an abnormally huge fan of “Office Space.”
But… it’s just so spot on! It works so well! And it’s such frame-by-frame match with the original! The rapper is so authentic-sounding! Very nicely done.
I’ll admit that I was a bit slow on the uptake. For about two second, I wondered, Why are they smashing a CPU? (You’ll recall that, in the movie, it was a printer.)
And then I’m like, Oh! The email server!
Which made me appreciate it all the more…
Below is the original. Excuse the language. Yeah, the milder (but still N-word-laced) “Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangster” was memorably used in a different scene. But it’s so closely associated with the movie that it works, beautifully, in the ad.
Remember, real gangsta-ass Clintons don’t flex nuts, ’cause real gangsta-ass Clintons know they got ’em…