(Sorry, I’ve been putting this off for a while)
Ok, I’ve added a mastadon account: @email@example.com
I realize that I’ve been substituting real posts for Linkdumps. Maybe I should vary things a bit and post separately occasionally. Something to think about.
WEIRD: AL YANKOVIC STORY (on Roku Channel) is a delightfully & predictably strange biopic parody that purports to show the early career of Weird Al and the (totally fictitious) fall from greatness. I’m sure Weird Al’s story is interesting enough to merit a documentary or even a biopic, but the because Yankovic is squeaky clean in real life and cowrote the story himself, the fictional story consists of every single cliche of musical biopics. Probably by the end it is too much, more funny in concept than execution, but I enjoyed the cameos and especially the actress who played Madonna (who was lots of fun). Also revisiting the early songs was always going to be delightful. Not a great film, but lots of silly lines and funny moments (and cameos).
ODE TO BELVEDERE: Here’s a fun car interview (11 minutes) with two of my favorite people: Jay Leno and musician Weird Al. .
WHY HIDALGO’S OPPONENTS ARE BEATING HER: Right-wing multi-millionaires and billionaires opposed to the County’s efforts to prevent flooding and pollution, some contributing as much as $350,000 to $400,000 each, began showering Judge Hidalgo’s opponent with millions of dollars of contributions to pay for deceitful attack ads against Judge Hidalgo. They knew that she could not match the millions flowing in, because Judge Hidalgo pledged in 2018 not to accept any contributions from the County’s vendors. In other words, she lived up to her campaign promise to do what all campaigns should do, but none other do, end “Pay-for-Play” politics. “
Great geo-strategic thinking videos by William Spaniel.
James Fallows on alternatives to Twitter.
PRACTICAL JOKE: This is the first time I’d ever heard of this British practical joke. Because we are educated adults, we know that spaghetti REALLY comes from the intestines of cows….
FAKE CHEVRON COMMERCIAL: Talladega Nights & Don’t Look Up Director Adam McKay makes a petroleum commercial to make a point. You should be skeptical whenever a company relies on stock footage to advertise its product.
Speaking of Andy McKay, an astrophysicist named Michael Siegel evaluates the scientific accuracy of the film Don’t Look Up. (Great channel btw!). He wrote an article about the Rule of Cool — how we accept scientific incongruities in entertainment if it seems “cool.”
MOVIE PLANS: Great to hear that my favorite TV sitcom Community will have a movie — but possibly without Danny Glover and Yvette Nicole Brown. I’ll admit it — I’m a sucker for TV reunion shows — I even liked — no LOVED! — the reunion shows for Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island (even if I didn’t particularly care for the actual shows). For those keeping score at home, my fave episodes are (from Season 2) Cooperative Calligraphy, “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design”; also “Wedding Videography” (season 6)
BACKSTORY TO ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (WITH GAGS). I’m a huge fan of AD (even the much maligned Season 5). This 22 minute documentary covers all the bases, and includes a lot of random gags… Speaking of which, This Podcast is Making Me Thirsty (a podcast about Seinfeld).
RISH SITCOM ENDS WITH A BANG: After waiting 3 years for the final season of Derry Girls to make it to Netflix, I am happy to report that Season 3 of this 90s Northern Ireland sitcom was every bit as terrific as I remembered it. Lots of outrageous Catholic humor (Nuns driving Deloreans!), crazy characters and more jokes per minute than almost any other show I’d watched. Also, a great fun soundtrack that will make anyone nostalgic for the 1990s (And not just the Corrs or the Cranberries!)
Everything in Ukraine and Russia is making me angry, depressed & frustrated. It’s a tragedy occurring in slow-motion. Here’s perceptive commentary by Russia expert Fiona Hill. Highlights: She believes that Musk is being used by Putin to water down Western resolve. By dealing with billionaires and oligarchs, Putin is “short-circuiting the diplomatic process. He wants to lay out his terms and see how many people are going to pick them up. All of this is an effort to get Americans to take themselves out of the war and hand over Ukraine and Ukrainian territory to Russia.”
Nathan Robinson on why the worst reporting tends to be free and the best/most accurate reporting is behind a paywall. A meaningful question to ask is how much should it cost to subscribe to a good daily or a good magazine? Wash Post costs 40-50$ with discounts; NYTimes costs $100. Houston Chronicle costs $1 for 6 months, then $28/month after that.
Some of the specialized magazines and sites can get expensive: Intercept, Slate, American Prospect, New Yorker, New Republic, Atlantic, NYROB, Mother Jones, the Nation and Guardian. I love all these sources, but I really can’t afford all of them — maybe 1-2 per year. I hate to have my news source depend so much on income.
For me — who follows the publishing industry and often has to do a lot of research into book reviews, I enjoy having the ability to dig into the archives to find old book reviews. My current media subscriptions: NYT, Washington Post, New Republic, NYROB, Prevention. I’ll probably drop one or two of them next year and maybe add Atlantic, which is becoming indispensable. I also am thinking of adding Slate and Mother Jones. I love the people there.
As someone whose income fluctuates a lot, here are my favorite free news sources: CNN lite, the PBS AP feed, Texas Tribune and Propublica. Also, I find that subscribing to substacks can be a way to get columns for free (although NYT has put a kibosh on newsletter subscriptions for nonpayers).
For international news, I actually follow Radio Free Liberty/Radio Free Europe RFE/RFL which is US taxpayer-funded, but hires a lot of local journalists and translates. Also, the Atlantic Council has lots of great special interest newsletters, especially about Ukraine and Europe.
I’m going to make some predictions for Election Day (without having any special insight here).
- horrifyingly, Republicans will do a clean sweep of Texas. That includes Harris County Judge for that crazy conservative blowhard. I hold out hope that KP George will win as Fort Bend County judge, but not optimistic. I expect that southern Texas will tilt even more conservative than before.
- Senate-wise, I think that Warnock, Fetterman and Ryan will prevail. I’m hoping that Mark Kelley will win in AZ, but who knows? Might depend on if Kari Lake wins the governor’s race.
- Where will the surprises be? Maybe it’s that the indictments will start landing this week. Who knows..
- I expect that Dems will have 2 more Senators, but they will lose 5 House seats. (Hey, there’s a reason why Congress is turning Republicans — gerrymandering!
Update: Well, GOP won 7 in the House, but the Dems gained 1 (and maybe 2) seats, so I wasn’t too far off-base.
I ADMIT IT: I really enjoy checking the tracking information of packages for the latest updates. I currently have a package coming from Fresno California, which has been traveling through Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Coppell (TX?!), Dallas and most recently Northern Houston. This package seems to have visited more parts of USA than I ever will! (Hopefully when it arrives it will bring souvenirs and amusing travel anecdotes).
I preordered my iPad in 2010 and would be receiving it on the first day. I remember checking the tracking info — and was blown away that it was in China, then Hong Kong, then Alaska. It arrived only about 2 or 3 days after the tracking information started. I remember thinking, the world became a lot smaller after that point.
TRIVIA QUESTION: Which US President lived in Europe for 6 months during a single 12 month period while serving as president? (HINT: He stayed mostly in France). BONUS QUESTION: This president was accompanied by another official who stayed there almost as long — and who later became US president himself. Do you know who this person was?
Amazingly according to Wikipedia although Hoover — who accompanied Wilson traveled a lot too and later did a lot of traveling overseas immediately after his own election — never took an international trip during his own presidency — presumably to stay focused on the Great Depression.