Among the true heroes of the Ukraine conflict are the staff of Kyiv Independent, whose reporting has been world-class. Here’s some first person accounts about the first day of the war. Great read.
It’s hard to imagine having to raise a baby during wartime. Tragedy has already visited too many people over this past year. I can only hope that our leaders will find the best way to bring this war to a just end and start the process of healing and recovery.
“Political apathy is the life blood of tyrants.” (random comment found on Youtube)
FUN BOOKS ABOUT US PRESIDENTS: Paul F. Boller collects short biographical sketches about US presidents and puts them into highly readable volumes. He’s collected PRESIDENTIAL DIVERSIONS, PRESIDENTIAL WIVES, PRESIDENTIAL ANECDOTES, PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS and PRESIDENTIAL INAUGERATIONS. These books will entertain history buffs, students and even nonreaders looking for recreational reading. You can buy used copies for very cheap online or at your local used book store.
STREAMING VIDEO SEARCH: For the last decade I’ve been a big fan of instawatcher search engine, a nice way of staying informed about new releases on Netflix. Very recently, they significantly upgraded the site to let you search by one or more streaming services. It’s a good way to learn about non-American (and especially Indian) movies which are highly rated. Click the link for results from a query of highly rated movies on Netflix or Prime).
MY FINAL BREAK WITH DONALD TRUMP: The only thing DJT and I have had in common has been our mutual love for (some might say addiction to) DIET COKE. But its price has steadily increased to the point where I have been exploring alternatives — including store-brand sodas. I am happy to report discovering PEPSI ZERO SUGAR — which tastes pretty fantastic! I never really liked Diet Peps, but ZERO SUGAR is a brand new product I bought by accident because it’s on sale. Apparently 2 Superbowl commercials for it are waiting in the wings. . Ok, it’s a diet drink — no lectures please! But it’s good to finally have a different alternative!
I’ve been a big fan of Hal Hartley’s films (and also the incredible actors in them: Adrienne Shelley, Martin Donovan, Aubrey Plaza, Parker Posey, etc). Now — finally! you can rent/stream older and newer HH titles on Vimeo (which has an app on Roku). My fave are: 1)Trust and 2)Surviving Desire, but the Grim Trilogy is also a lot of fun — the third Film NED RIFLE is loosely connected to the other two and stars Aubrey Plaza and Parker Posey.
ISLAMAPHOBIA IN CONGRESS. I am ashamed that my GOP congressman Troy Nehls (like 217 other Republicans) voted to remove Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs committee. I have followed Omar’s actions and public statements closely over the years; her rhetoric is almost always measured, insightful and dignified. The symbolism of this action is unmistakable. Maybe instead of pandering to our country’s racist elements, our leaders can do a better job of cultivating a diversity of voices.
2023 SITCOM RECOMMENDATIONS: NIGHT COURT reboot is terrible! Supernatural sitcom GHOSTS is a funny guilty pleasure. YOUNG SHELDON is still unbelievably good. THAT NINETIES SHOW (Netflix) is nearly as good as the original THAT SEVENTIES SHOW, but with the same parents (now grandparents) and a new slate of teens. UPSHAWS (Netflix) is great family dramedy. Poker Face (Peacock) is somewhat interesting murder mysteries, but honestly, it’s no better than a Columbo episode. Enjoy!
RUSSIA PROPAGANDA 1. Roman, an Emigre Russian dissident Youtuber mocks Putin’s patriotic celebration of the 1 year anniversary of the Ukrainian war. This 20 minute takedown is both horrifying and hilarious. Here’s a 16 minute video about how Russia punishes Russian musicians.
KING OF THE HILL REVIVAL. Sometimes a decade is enough to revive the creative juices. With animation, the characters can literally never age.
REBUTTING RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA: In a speech to the US Security Council, historian Timothy Snyder delivers a compelling and in-depth rebuttal to Russia’s propaganda about “Russophobia.” QUOTE: The term “russophobia” is being used in this setting to advance the claim that the imperial power is the victim, even as the imperial power, Russia, is carrying out a war of atrocity. This is historically typical behavior. The imperial power dehumanizes the actual victim, and claims to be the victim. When the victim (in this case Ukraine) opposes being attacked, being murdered, being colonized, the empire says that wanting to be left in peace is unreasonable, an illness. This is a “phobia.”
PRAISING IRISH MOVIES: I will not bore you with my effusive praise of the Irish movie, HEAR MY SONG (1991) or BELFAST (2021) or The Commitments (1991). Let me also praise to high heaven WAKING NED DEVINE (1998) which is about an Irish man in a small town who wins the lottery. I have not seen, but but plan to do so very soon, BROOKLYN (2015), a romantic period drama starring Saoirse Ronan. Update: Mom and I saw a terrific Irish dark comedy called “The Guard”. My film critic friend Michael Barrett called it a “Dark, hilarious fish-out-of-water/odd-buddy Irish cop thing with Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. Post-Tarantino in the best ways. Superficially, that means dialogue out of left field about music, philosophers, Russian novelists, which means it’s automatically smarter and funnier than most dialogue. It also means clarity and exuberance of style. More deeply, it means characters who really think about life, death, existence.”