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Are we seeing the end of the Left and the Right, as we know them?

Americans who can find North and South Korea on a map are more likely to prefer diplomacy to war.

Which country is our strongest ally? After dumping (on) Britain and Europe, Republicans are leaning toward Australia.

Being forgetful may mean your brain is working properly. Do I really have to remember the essay I wrote for the NYS English Regents exam?

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer's dissent warns that the US is turning into a prison state. She's not wrong. Read this.

Body shape analysis with kittens.

Obama on the Trumplackofcare bill. Ignore the grandiosity of the webpage and drop down to the speech. And the Congressional Budget Office's crunched numbers show 22 million would lose health care. Essentially, it is the cynical and uncaring RetroRepublicans trading lives for tax cuts.

And an editorial on why people are in politics, and how this week will define them. Quoting behind the cut: )

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Jun. 27th, 2017 10:17 pm
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Posted by Lainey Bobainey

Brooklyn Beckham has released a photography book. The pictures aren't great. The comments on Twitter are! I feel a smidge bad, because he's a young guy/grown kid who's doing what he loves and got paid for it. On the other hand, yeah, I don't really have a ton of sympathy for a kid who grew up with the kind of privilege a Beckham youngster has. - (Celebitchy)

Maybe it's not a good idea to bring a female reporter over and creepily compliment her "nice smile" while talking to new prime minister of Ireland. Or maybe it's not a good idea to bring a female reporter over and compliment her nice smile, period. Especially when you're the f**king President of the United States.

Now, I love Brit-Brit unabashedly, but girl, please. - (Dlisted)

Three pivotal characters may be absent for much of the first few episodes of the eighth season of The Walking Dead. (Uproxx)

The world's tiniest violin is playing "My Heart Bleeds for You", Congressman. However do you manage to buy anything other than Ramen noodles with your $174,000 salary? - (Daily Banter)

Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union make a striking pair. Gabrielle in fancy jammies cut way down to there makes quite a striking figure all on her own. DAYUM! - (GFY)

Betty Gilpin (Liberty Belle from GLOW) has a great essay on growing up with a fully developed figure that just doesn't match your inner self-image. Also? She's really funny! - (The MarySue)

She could have sent a car to pick up her friend from the airport, but Jennifer Lawrence did it HERSELF! Celebrities, they're just like us. - (LG)

Would Brad Pitt have the career he does if his role in Thelma and Louise and gone to Robert Downey Jr. instead? - (Vulture)

Friend-of-Pajiba, Rawson Marshall Thurber has a new series on YouTube Red coming up this fall called Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television. Samira Wiley will guest star as Ryan Hansen's police partner. I didn't think I needed another subscription service, but clearly I do! - (Deadline)

This is the primate version of the kid being dragged down the aisle by his arm at WalMart.

Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson was recommended to Bonnie as an intriguing entry point for talking about the queer body. The unnamed and ungendered narrator tells the story of their relationship with Louise. "Winterson wants us to deconstruct our own bodies and help us think about how we theorize our selves and the way we respond to others in matters of the body." Have you read this erotic novelette from 1994? (Cannonball Read 9)

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Posted by Jodi Smith

Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and failed Vice-Presidential candidate, is suing The New York Times over an editorial the newspaper ran after Rep. Steve Scalise was shot during a softball practice outside of D.C. on June 14th of this year. The editorial suggested that violent political rhetoric was to blame for the shooting of the House Republicans while also noting that an infamous target map circulated by a political action committee affiliated with Palin was responsible for the shooting of Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords in 2011.

This is not a new assertion. A quick Google search of "palin target map" pulls up seven articles from different publications in 2011 suggesting that the diagram -- and Palin's own use of the word "Reload" when directing people to the map -- were connected to the shooting of Giffords. In the wake of the Scalise shooting, The New York Times decided to bring up this six-year-old implication again, and Palin's not happy.

"Mrs. Palin brings this action to hold The Times accountable for falsely stating to millions of people that she, a devoted wife, mother and grandmother, who committed a substantial portion of her adult life to public service, is part of a pattern of ​'​lethal​'​ politics and responsible for inciting an attack that seriously injured numerous people and killed six, including a nine-year-old girl who, at that time, was the same age as Mrs. Palin's youngest daughter."

"It took Mrs. Palin years to overcome the detrimental impacts of the false speculation that she caused Loughner to commit murder," her suit states. The lawsuit also scolds the The New York Times for not apologizing to Palin or directly stating that she had nothing to do with Giffords being shot. For its part, The New York Times has not yet read the lawsuit, but promises to fight Palin's defamation claim.

Sources: Variety; Slate; NY Post.

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Posted by Jodi Smith

Ryan Reynolds never really left the Merc with a Mouth behind after his record-breaking turn as Wade Wilson in 2016's Deadpool. Reynolds kept the anti-hero fresh in everyone's minds while problems cropped up with the sequel in entertainment news cycles. Director Tim Miller left during pre-production due to creative differences and there was speculation that his departure would keep the sequel from working as well as the first flick. Then there was the search for co-stars to portray Cable and Domino, two fan-favorites of the comic book series.

Throughout it all, Reynolds made sure to keep everyone updated with fun, informative, and Easter Egg-filled tweets.

Now, Reynolds is back in the red suit and in front of the camera as Deadpool 2 starts shooting in Vancouver with new director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) and a script from returning writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (and an assist from Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods).

The sun sets on day 1. Feels good to be back. This dog can hunt.

A post shared by Ryan Reynolds (@vancityreynolds) on

Of course, there are more photos for those willing to search for long-distance and possibly not-really-obtained-on-the-up-and-up snaps, but I'll leave that to you. I can tell you that it appears Deadpool has decided to embrace neon colors, thrift store finds, and crashing children's birthday parties.

Deadpool 2 is set to open June 1, 2018. Reynolds is, of course, back and joined by Morena Baccarin as Deadpool's love interest Vanessa, Brianna Hilderbrand's glorious Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Stefan Kapičić's Colossus, Karan Soni as Dopinder, and T.J. Miller as Wade's best friend, Weasel. Newcomers Josh Brolin and Zazie Beets join as Cable and Domino, hinting at the possibility of a future X-Force movie, I'd wager.

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Posted by Elizabeth MacLeod

I'm going to start off by saying that while I am an avid music fan and consumer, I am not a hardcore aficionado. I'm young enough to have missed the era of the cassette tape, having grown up on the CD and being part of the first generation to become indoctrinated into the cult of the Apple iPod and iTunes. So I've always been a bit puzzled over the passionate proclamations of how the mixtape is the ONE TRUE, RIGHT, AUTHENTIC way to listen to a compilation when to me, they pretty much serve the same function as a collection of songs, chosen with a very heavy indie/alternative slant (no Top 40 here), to evoke a certain theme, feeling, state of mind etc.

To my untrained eye the only major difference is that mixtapes were much more laborious to make, due to the cassette tape medium, and one couldn't skip forward through a song, or to the next song, or back and forth between songs easily. I deeply respect the mixtape and how it was truly a labor of love to make, but I myself prefer the playlist due to the freedom of being able to skip through the song chronology at my own pace. I know I sound naïve asking this, but isn't it a good thing to be able to listen to music and make music selections more easily?

The joy of listening to and discovering a new artist, band, or song or happily wallowing in the atmosphere evoked by a compilation of songs is still the same no matter how it is collected. It saddens me to hear music snobs treating one medium as a sacred cow while complaining about and lashing out at the whippersnappers who aren't listening to music the "right" way. People, listening to music is like breastfeeding -- there is no wrong way to do it and people shouldn't be criticized for doing it the way they prefer.

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Posted by Jodi Smith

After a year-long battle with cancer, Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist has passed away.

Nyqvist began his acting career during the 1980s. He appeared in theater shows and movies in Sweden before getting his first big break there in 2000 when he appeared in the film Together. His career spanned 35 years, but it wasn't until his starring role as Mikael Blomkvist in the original Millennium Trilogy films that he found fame in America.

Nyqvist may be best known to movie audiences as Viggo Tarasov in John Wick or as the villain nuclear scientist Hendricks in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. He also appeared in Europa Report with Sharlto Copley, The Colony with Emma Watson, Frank and Lola with Imogen Poots, Michael Shannon, and Justin Long, and was in post-production on Hunter Killer with Gerard Butler.

He is survived by his wife, Catharina, and their children, Ellen and Arthur and the many actors that shared the screen with him, as well as the people he entertained with his memorable roles. Nyqvist's representative, Jenny Tversky released this statement about the actor's passing:

"It is with deep sadness that I can confirm that our beloved Michael, one of Sweden's most respected and accomplished actors, has passed away quietly surrounded by family. Michael's joy and passion were infectious to those who knew and loved him. His charm and charisma were undeniable, and his love for the arts was felt by all who had the pleasure of working with him."

Source: USA Today

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Posted by Genevieve Burgess

America's Got Talent on NBC at 8:00pm ET.

Pretty Little Liars on Freeform at 8:00pm ET. Two-hour series finale. Was A ever really dead? Has that already been settled? Did her friends ever actually attend enough classes to graduate high school? Will any teachers be prosecuted for flagrant sexual misconduct with students? I assume none of these questions will be answered tonight or ever. I just have a vague sense that they should be.

iZombie on The CW at 9:00pm ET. Third season finale.

World of Dance on NBC at 10:00pm ET. I find this an awfully grand title for a reality series about dancing, but I suppose that is Jennifer Lopez's style.

Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen on Bravo at 11:15pm ET. The guests tonight are Scott Wolf and Neve Campbell so any Party of Five fans should definitely tune in. And then wonder why you'd still consider yourself a "fan" of a show that ended 17 years ago.

On the Street…Guglielmo, Milan

Jun. 27th, 2017 08:46 pm
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Posted by The Sartorialist

62017gugmilan

 

Wishing I was back in Porto Cervo, Sardinia to help celebrate the opening of the new @larusmiani with my good friend Guglielmo!

 

Good luck with the new shop buddy and let’s make a plan to meet there next summer!

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Posted by Brian Richards

Previously on Preacher: Jesse Custer became physically and spiritually bound to Genesis, an all-powerful entity unleashed from Heaven that allows anyone who hears his voice to do exactly as he commands. Tulip is a hitwoman whose Golden Rule is that absolutely no one fucks with her, and who is also Jesse's childhood best friend and ex-girlfriend. Cassidy is a vampire who has ended up in the town of Annville, Texas (where Jesse lives and where Tulip grew up alongside Jesse) while escaping from a group of people who really don't like vampires all that much, and none of them are named Buffy. Two angels named Fiore and Deblanc were sent from Heaven to retrieve Genesis, even if it meant killing Jesse to make that happen. Tulip and Cassidy crossed paths and ended up having sex (something that they're both keeping a secret from Jesse), which was as enjoyable for me to watch as it was for Tulip to experience. Jesse, Tulip, Cassidy, and the entire town of Annville found out directly from Heaven that God has abandoned His post and gone missing, and no one knows where he is. Due to Juliet repeatedly hitting a nuclear bomb with a nearby rock the town's methane reactor going into meltdown, the entire town of Annville explodes and is completely wiped off the map, but not before Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy leave town in order to track down God and make Him answer for abandoning His post and all of the people who believe in Him.

Oh yeah, and a merciless and near-invulnerable cowboy (who is known only as The Cowboy) has been released from Hell by Fiore and Deblanc in order to hunt down Jesse and Genesis and kill them both, but not before Cowboy puts a bullet right through Deblanc's face and leaves Fiore all alone.

And that's really all you need to remember about Season 1 of Preacher. There's certainly more, but the majority of it moved slower than a turtle swimming in molasses, so if you want to find out the rest, well...Google is your friend.

THE STORY SO FAR: Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy are driving across the country at 90 MPH as their search for God begins. That attracts the attention of the local authorities for driving at 90 MPH who attempt to arrest them, as well as the Cowboy, who has tracked our heroes down and blasts every single highway-patrol officer into pieces with his revolvers. They seek out help from an old family friend of Jesse's in order to figure our where God might be hiding and when that doesn't work, they seek out Fiore, who is working in Las Vegas as a magician called The Amazing Ganesh and using his invulnerability and constant re-spawning as part of his act in order to find some purpose since Deblanc's death at the hands of The Cowboy.

WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT THESE EPISODES: The entire opening scene in which Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy indulge in their usual R-rated banter (this time about dismembered foreskins being used as women's face cream (and I'm sure there's already several videos on YouTube insisting that this is true)) right before seeing the Saint Of Killers bring all nine circles of Hell with him as he destroys anyone and anything in his path in order to get to Jesse and Genesis.

Glenn Morshower is one of those "Hey, It's That Guy" character actors who is able to make things just a little bit better with his presence alone, whether it's 24 or That One Season Of Friday Night Lights That Shall Not Be Named, so seeing him play Mike, a fellow preacher who knew Jesse and his father and who helps counsel his parishioners by channeling Samuel L. Jackson in Black Snake Moan and locking them in (covered) cages to help them curb their urges ("sex, drugs, Twitter"), was most definitely welcome.

When Jesse is asked by Cassidy about his late mother's side of the family, the L'Angelles, and why there are no pictures of them at the wedding of Jesse's parents in his family photo album, we get a prolonged glimpse of a fish tank behind Jesse and a toy trunk with a hose connected to it repeatedly opening and closing inside of the fish tank. It's a nice reference to Jesse's history with the L'Angelles and their favorite method of punishment when dealing with Jesse and his acts of bad behavior, which of course is all explained in further detail in the original Preacher comics.

The gigantic 108-point font from Captain America: Civil War making its return, and doing so to let us all know that The Cowboy is to be known as The Saint Of Killers. Not since Hugo Stiglitz in Inglourious Basterds has anyone and their name been giving an introduction this good.

Jesse and Tulip deciding to end their bad day on a good note and finally stop with the Will They/Won't They so they can fuck each other's brains out all over their hotel room.

Jesse working alongside the Greater Association of Gun Aficionados (or GAGA, for short) to stop the Saint Of Killers from approaching, and all of the pride they feel from using their guns. ("Yeah, another problem solved by guns" "What can't guns do?")

Tulip vs. Gary (a former accomplice of hers from New Orleans who insists that she needs to go see Jabba The Hutt Viktor and explain her absence) and Tulip once again reminding us all that she is not in any way to be fucked with. It also reminded me of the fight between Patricia Arquette vs. James Gandolfini in True Romance, to the point where I was just waiting for Tulip to take down Gary with a corkscrew to the foot)

Tulip wearing an actual headwrap when lying in bed to go to sleep. It's the little details that matter when you have a Black female character as one of the leads in your television series.

WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD ABOUT THESE EPISODES: Fiore finding the peace that Jesse told him to look for, in the form of death at the hands of The Saint Of Killers.

I expected Jesse to be a little more upset about the fact that everyone he knew back in Annville was suddenly dead and gone, but I guess I can chalk that up to him using that as one more reason to find God and demand some answers from Him.

Not much else I can think of at the moment, but I trust that the Comments section will provide any and all examples that may come to mind.

ODIN QUINCANNON'S WEEKLY MOMENT OF WEIRDNESS: None, because Odin got blown to smithereens along with the rest of Annville and Jackie Earle Haley is no longer a cast member.

ANY MENTIONS OF THE VAMPIRE-HUNTING VIGILANTES LOOKING FOR CASSIDY?: None whatsoever

ANY MENTIONS OF EUGENE A.K.A. ARSEFACE?: Fiore briefly mentions him to Jesse when trying to convince him to stop using Genesis, especially since The Saint of Killers pretty much uses it as a homing beacon whenever it's used. Yes, Eugene is still in Hell thanks to Jesse sending him there, and no, Fiore has no intention whatsoever of going back there, not even to get him out.

ANY MENTIONS OF HOW MUCH CASSIDY REALLY DOESN'T LIKE THE BIG LEBOWSKI?: None.

IS DARYL STILL ALIVE? BECAUSE IF HE'S NOT, THEN WE RIOT: This is Preacher being discussed, not The Walking Dead, and seeing as how Norman Reedus didn't suddenly quit the show and talk plenty of shit about his boss and co-workers without any concerns as to how his career might be affected because White male privilege is a hell of a drug, I assume that Daryl will be fine when The Walking Dead comes back in October.

TO SUM IT ALL UP: The first two episodes have done of a good job so far of giving me reasons to breathe a little easier and recognize that Preacher actually resembles the comic-book series that it's adapting. The pace is much faster, the dialogue is funnier, Jesse/Tulip/Cassidy seem more like the characters we know and love, we're no longer stuck in Annville with characters and storylines that weren't nearly as memorable or outrageous as they could've and should've been, and the plot is actually moving and giving us reasons to care about what we're watching.

Here's hoping that Preacher can maintain this momentum and quality for the rest of the season. Hell, for the rest of the series.

P.S. Ginger ale may be treated like Robitussin in many a Black household, but it really doesn't help with blood loss despite what Preacher tells you. If you're suffering from that, please go see a doctor.

The season premiere "On The Road" was dedicated to the memory of Steve Dillon, who passed away last October due to complications from a ruptured appendix at the age of 54. He not only co-created Preacher with his longtime collaborator Garth Ennis and illustrated all 66 issues, but was one of the most legendary artists in the comic-book industry.

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These two episodes of Preacher, "On The Road" and "Mumbai Sky Tower," were brought to you by "Come On Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners...

...and by "Nowhere To Run" by Arnold McCuller (with a special appearance by the late, great Lynne Thigpen)


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Posted by Dustin Rowles

Jenji Kohan is an executive producer and writer of Netflix's outstanding new series, GLOW. She also created Weeds and Orange is the New Black. I've seen every season of all three of those shows, and in spite of that, I knew very little about Kohan until her interview with Marc Maron this week because she doesn't do much press.

Turns out, Kohan is a very fascinating person, who has a fascinating career, and a fascinating family. Here's what I learned about her, largely from Marc Maron's podcast, although some of it came from snooping around on the Internet.

1. Jenji is from a showbiz family. Her father, Buz Kohan, was the "king of variety of television." He won 13 Emmys writing for the Academy Awards, the Tony Awards, and The Carol Burnett Show, among others. He also wrote the lyrics for David Bowie's side of this very famous performance with Bing Crosby.

2. Jenji's mother was a novelist of minor note. She wrote Hand-Me-Downs and Save Me a Seat. They sold well at the time.

3. She has twin brothers, Jono and David Kohan. David Kohan may actually be a familiar name: He created Will & Grace. He's also responsible for some really bad entries on NBC's Thursday Must See lineup: Boston Common, Good Morning, Miami, Twins (the Sara Gilbert show, not the Arnie/Devito movie) and Four Kings

4. Jenji Kohan is married to Christopher Noxon. He's a journalist who also wrote the book, Rejuvenile: Kickball, Cartoons, Cupcakes, and the Reinvention of the American Grown-up. He has appeared several times on The Colbert Report. Back in 2004, Noxon was one of the first reporters to out Mel Gibson as a kind of crazy right-winger.

5. Jenji Kohan's sister-in-law (her husband's sister) is Marti Noxon, the creator of Lifetime's UnReal. She also wrote on Mad Men and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, among many other shows (she met her ex-husband, Jeff Bynum, on Buffy).

6. Kohan's first television writing gig was on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which she described as a miserable writers' room.

"It was my first job and I was really excited and enthusiastic and our showrunner was an unhappy fellow going through a divorce, drinking a lot. And (he) didn't want to go home because he was renting some sh*tty apartment in the Valley," she told the audience at Sydney's Vivid Festival as part of its Game Changers program.

"So we were there all night and he didn't trust me because I was the new writer. And he was just an unhappy guy -- drinking tequila every day. At a certain point, one of the writers peed in his tequila -- then he kept getting the flu. It was just a truly dysfunctional room. And just a lot of stuff going on that shouldn't have been."

I'm not sure who the showrunner was at the time, although Andy Borowitz did create the show, but did not divorce until much much later. Kohan was on the show in 1994, so you could probably guess at who the showrunner was.

7. Kohan's second job was as a writer on Friends. She was fired after the first season. She also didn't get her name on the episode script she wrote (she thinks she should have taken it to arbitration), so she's not even listed as a writer for the series.

8. Her next gig was on Tracey Takes On... with Tracey Ullman, which she absolutely loved. She was there for three years, and it was a great gig. Ullman was a great role model to Kohan.

9. In addition to working on Mad About You, Kohan also did a year on Gilmore Girls, which Kohan admits was "complicated," because the studio forced Amy Sherman-Palladino to have a writers' room, and Sherman-Palladino didn't want one, so she'd basically just solicit ideas from the room and go back and write the episode herself. Kohan totally understood Sherman-Palladino's frustrations.

887024_the_stones.jpg

10. The first show Kohan created was The Stones for ABC. It starred Judith Light, Lindsay Sloane, and Jay Baruchel. It ran for six episodes and it was a disaster. The producers didn't feel that Kohan was seasoned enough, so they brought in her brother and his writing partner Max Mutchnick to oversee the show, and they ended up rewriting the pilot, which was infuriating to Jenji because she'd been writing TV for much longer, but her brother had had a meteoric rise with Will & Grace. "It affected my relationship with my brother for many years," Kohan said.

11. Kohan's experience on The Stones prompted her to go to cable. With Weeds, there was some friction with the network and Mary Louise-Parker in the first season, but once the show was successful, all the friction ended. It went eight seasons. She loved it. It ended in exactly the way she wanted.

12. After Showtime cancelled Weeds, Kohan quickly created Orange is the New Black because she feared if she didn't have a show on the air, she'd be considered irrelevant. She'd wanted to bring her crew from Weeds over, but she ended up starting OITNB at the same time as she was finishing Weeds, so she didn't get to bring many of her staffers over.

One of the guys she did bring over to OITNB from Weeds was Stephen Falk, who would later go on to create You're the Worst. The other was Carly Mensch, who would go on to create GLOW, executive produced by Jenji Kohan.

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Posted by Tori Preston

As I sat through the second season premiere of Preacher Sunday night, something occurred to me. Though I love the show, and even experienced a slight amount of existential dread when it seemed like it might not be renewed last year, I honestly can't tell you if it is a "good" show. Because in this so-called Golden Age of Television, I don't know what good is anymore.

What actually marked the beginning of this Golden Age is fodder for a separate debate, but whether you'd set the start at network shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer or premium cable series like HBO's Oz, I think we can all agree on where we've ended up. Today our media landscape is marked by diverse viewing platforms and a proliferation of content to support it all. "Television" doesn't have to be viewed on a television. Shows can stream instead of air. Gone are the days when tens of millions of Americans gathered around their picture box to watch the finale of M*A*S*H* or Seinfeld, and a "good" show was whatever beat out the shows airing on the other three networks.

Instead, we have hundreds of options at any given time. And because of this, programming has become more "niche" --- it tries to appeal to a targeted audience because there is no more grand mass of viewership to attract. Sure, some shows rise above the rest to become water-cooler conversation topics, but the wider success of Lost or The Walking Dead feels like a happy accident these days. Even Nielsen, that faithful workhorse of ratings, is struggling to keep up with our viewing trends. I know, because I recently was randomly selected to fill out viewing diaries and surveys (it turns out I will literally do anything if people mail me envelopes of cash). What I noticed is that, though they have begun to ask more questions regarding how we consume content, they aren't necessarily asking the right questions. Sure, maybe they don't need to know if I sat in bed watching cartoons on the Adult Swim app on my iPad last night, because those don't have ads attached. But shouldn't they care if I used my Xfinity app to stream live TV on my iPad? Or how about that TV I own that isn't hooked up to any cable box is instead hooked up to a game system with Netflix and Hulu and HBO Go?

(I will say, however, that Nielsen allowed me to mark down all of the TNT Supernatural reruns that I leave my TV set to during the day, and that brought me immense pleasure.)

So, what does all this have to do with good TV? Well, it's clear that we can't really use massive ratings as a metric anymore, and instead we need to look at how well a show appeals to its target -- or, better, how it appeals beyond its target. But the very point of a niche audience is the acknowledgement that we all have varied tastes, which is pretty much the death of objectivity. How can anything transcend our biases when everything is designed to appeal to our biases?

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Personally, I tend to look at two things: concept and execution. Does the show have an interesting concept? Does it execute the concept well? The best example of a show that I think succeeds in both concept and execution is The Wire. It is a unique story, told in a unique way. It's clear that the creator had a vision for it, and made that vision a reality. And while we may be able to point to parts or seasons that we like better than others, the show truly stands as a whole. Personally, I didn't discover The Wire when it aired. It was only after enough friends yelled at me that I finally gave it a shot -- and was hooked. I know I am not alone in this. It seems the curse of The Wire is being the best show that not enough people watched. Sitcoms like Brooklyn Nine Nine or 30 Rock have mediocre concepts but are elevated by the execution (the casting, the speed of the jokes, etc.), whereas perennial punching bag Heroes had a wonderful concept that it never lived up to in execution.

In the case of Preacher, it has a concept that is tailor made for my tastes. It's based on a weird and violent and philosophical series of comics that I read and loved. It has a drunken Irish vampire, and I'm sure the dude with the penis-head is just around the corner. Basically, it ticks all my boxes for must-watch entertainment. But it's the question of execution that keeps hanging me up. Sure, the show has a zippy pace and no aversion to blood and guts (and in the case of the second season premiere, both "blood" and "guts" were VERY LITERAL). Though the actors who portray Jesse and Tulip are hardly southern fried folk, I enjoy Dominic Cooper and Ruth Negga too much to hold it against them. Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy is spot on -- and here, I'm evaluating the show against the comic, which means I'm evaluating it as an adaptation. Preacher is not a beat-for-beat interpretation of the original story, but I do think it captures the spirit of the original pretty faithfully. Sure, Tulip is a bit more feisty and Cassidy is a bit more genuine, and they added a whole lot of backstory (which I more or less appreciated), but I think my knowledge of the source material means I'm playing the long game with the series. I don't know if I'll be able to come to a conclusion on it until I've seen where the show is going with the story. Whereas with American Gods, a show that is also based on source material I love and which also has a season to its name, I feel more confident saying that it has nailed the concept and the execution. I can point to the changes they made to to the source material and explain how they elevate the adaptation (giving Laura Moon a backstory). I can point to the perfect casting and explain how they stayed faithful to the original story. I guess in the case of Preacher, I know the show is trying to be its own thing, but I'm not entirely clear on what that "thing" is yet so can't tell if it is successful.

The revival of Twin Peaks, on the other hand, is a textbook case of execution over concept. And maybe that is just a Lynch thing in general -- we can argue about what the "concept" of any of his work is, but we all experience the execution in the same way. We are approaching the halfway point for the new season, and I can't really tell you what the hell is going on. Doppelgängers and in-between places, old friends and new faces, musical acts and traffic lights. But I can tell you that I think the show we are watching is exactly the show that David Lynch and Mark Frost wanted us to watch. When you spend three minutes watching a dude sweep a bar floor without interruption, that isn't a mistake. That is a choice. When you are faced with an ongoing mystery involving Dr. Jacobi and his golden shovels only to have it add up to a throwaway punchline about bullshit, that is a choice. With Twin Peaks, I think we have to evaluate the vision and the style over the actual substance.

And in all of these cases, I tune in each week. Sure, maybe I don't watch them when they air. Maybe I hold onto them in my queue, waiting to savor them. But they are the shows I most look forward to. Does that alone make them "good"? There are shows that I know are supposed to be amazing that I haven't bothered watching (Breaking Bad), shows that I am slightly embarrassed to admit are appointment viewing for me (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and shows that I'll put on a pedestal despite knowing they are loathsome to a good many people (Rick and Morty). Even if I hate a show, it can be perfectly tailored to someone else (example: anything on E! since The Soup ended).

rickmorty.jpg

I'd like to say that there is no such thing as good or bad TV, just TV that is either made for you or not. But apparently Netflix is making a third (THIRD!) season of Fuller House despite canceling Sense8 so fuck it -- there totally is good TV, or at least good enough TV, and if you find it you better support it because shows are hanging on a razor wire of niche audiences and if you aren't careful you'll be surrounded by terrible reboots of mediocre sitcoms from twenty-odd years ago.

twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
My grandmother Nellie had a younger brother, Jack, who was friendly and cheerful and helpful and became a baker (and all-around general cook, but that was later). He taught my mother his recipe for piecrust, and it never failed either of us: behind cut -- my comments in ( ) )

Jack was the kind of character that I wish I'd met when I was older -- I think I met him once when I was 4, which wasn't that memorable. As I said, he was a baker, and he was engaged to this girl that everyone in the family liked (which might have been difficult, since Jack was the youngest of 9 and the family tended to be protective of their littlest brother, never mind that he was in his 20s.) And on the day of the wedding ... she didn't show up. Neither did his best man. They'd eloped.

It broke his heart. He couldn't stay in the Ottawa Valley any more; it was just too uncomfortable. So he took a job as a cook on a ranch in Alberta, took the train west, and came back at Christmas when he could. He taught my mom to knit, because he knew how to knit his own socks, and held her skeins of yarn for her while she wound them into balls, telling her stories of the ranch all the time. He taught her how to make piecrust, and a cake that wouldn't fall, and a lot more. Nellie would write to him and get frustrated when he didn't reply -- someone from the ranch would stop at the post office in town once a week or so -- so after two attempts that got no answer one year she put on the address, "If not claimed within two weeks, addressee is deceased; please return to sender." He wrote back really fast after that, and made a big joke of it.

When he came back during World War I, both his parents were dead (his mother a few years earlier but his father died in about 1917-1918) and were buried out in the little cemetery by the river church, without a headstone. He went around to visit all his brothers and sisters, asking for a little money to pay a stone cutter, and got nowhere. And yeah, he could understand that farmers and small merchants had a hard time during wartime, but there was family pride at stake too. So he dug into his own pocket, and one day a gravestone, a tall, elegant granite marker, appeared over their graves. Engraved on it was, "Sacred to the memory of Daniel and Catherine McNeely," and their dates and I think (it's been a while since I saw it) a pious verse of some sort. But in another line, underneath, "Erected by their son, John McNeely." (Never mind his three older brothers, and five sisters.) Nobody in the family took it badly, and some found it really funny, but under it all people were grateful that it had been done. And they all thought it was very much a Jack thing to do.

When he died in the late 1960s, after several years in a nursing home back in the Ottawa Valley, near family, he was buried near his parents, and the marker was altered to add his name and dates.

So, please, use Uncle Jack's Piecrust Recipe, and welcome, and pass it along. I don't want it to vanish into the place where good memories go when nobody remembers them any more.
[syndicated profile] pajiba_feed

Posted by Kayleigh Donaldson

The more aggravating David Lynch's revival of Twin Peaks becomes, the better it gets. Every moment the show swerves into a seemingly random tangent or rambles on about insurance sales or dedicates several minutes to the sweeping of a floor is a glorious reminder of the freeing power of being utterly perplexed. When the goings-on in Lynch's world become even too bizarre for its residents, their refusal to react in the expected way can infuriate, but then again, it's always been that way in the mind of one of cinema's true geniuses. We haven't spent much time in the eponymous town, eight episodes in to the Showtime revival. For the most part, we haven't really been with Dale Cooper either, as the beleaguered agent fights to regain control of his body and mind following his imprisonment in the Black and White Lodges. For now, he's Dougie Jones, Nevada real estate agent, family man and gambling addict with debts to repay - the masculine ideal of suburbia, mundane yet chilling. The Dougie subplot has divided audiences, but it's also offered the show's best character so far, Dougie's wife Janey-E, played by Naomi Watts.

In a show full of characters just trying to get on with their lives as madness descends, Janey-E does it with the most aggression. Whatever suburban dream she has been promised has been torn to shreds by a philandering husband who cheats with younger women and has locked the family into $50k worth of debt. Life as Mrs Jones seems to be an utterly thankless task even before her husband was swapped out of the planet in favour of Dale by forces unknown. When we first meet Janey-E, having spent time with Dale/Dougie being dragged around a Vegas casino and making bank in the process, Watts runs the gamut of emotions as the worried wife who quickly turns furious. The audience has seen the absurd journey of Dougie for so long and laughed at the awkwardness of it all, but there's nothing funny about it to Janey-E - after all, he's been missing for several days and the countdown to pay off his debts is still ticking.

Lynch has always known how to use Naomi Watts's talents in the most intriguing and effective manner possible, which makes watching her work in this season all the more exciting, and just a touch disappointing to know that everyone else in the industry seems completely incapable of giving her good roles. In episode four alone, where her part is only a few minutes long, she does some of her best work in years, offering the emotional opposition to the seemingly aimless oddity of Dougie/Dale's cluelessness. She's relieved her husband is home, shocked that he's accompanied by the police, angry he's ditched her for days without a word, and exhausted by this cycle of spousal neglect she seems far too used to at this point.

To expect anything in Twin Peaks is a fool's errand, yet the Las Vegas world of the Jones family, with its never-ending rows of matching houses burning under the harsh desert sun, is a peculiar world where nobody reacts that oddly to Dougie's sudden catatonic state. Indeed, it seems to have only improved relations with him. At work, Dougie has gone from a coasting insurance salesman to an unwitting whistle-blower on in-company corruption, with Dale guided by omniscient lights that also lead him to the luckiest night of slot-machine playing the state has ever seen. It's the most literal interpretation of the ethos that mediocre men will forever rise to the top. If every great man has a great woman behind him, every middling man failing upwards has a woman holding him upright, occasionally literally.

Janey-E is a woman with a job to do, and she has no qualms about letting the world know she's not happy about it. With so many cryptic conversations going on, Janey-E cuts through the fog with unstoppable force. She knows this world is bizarre, and getting worse by the day, so you damn well better believe she's not going to negotiate with the loan sharks her husband is in debt to. She barely lets them get a word in edgeways while she makes her offer, emphasising how dark the world has gotten as she berates the crooks like they're petulant toddlers. Dealing with the infantilised Dougie/Dale has put her through the wringer: She's the "straight woman" to the clown who has long stopped being funny to her.

There is an increasing tragedy to Dougie/Dale's fugue state, and the obvious impatience it elicits in Janey-E. The domestic unease it creates becomes more and more chilling as the Joneses are forced to continue as if nothing has changed, as if the man Janey-E has been married to for at least a decade didn't change height, weight and hairstyle in a flash and enter a semi-catatonic state. It is hinted at that Dougie, separate from the Dale situation, has suffered from "episodes", meaning Janey-E is dishearteningly used to this exhausting process wherein she, and others including co-workers and local authorities, must shove him into the most basic activities. Nevertheless, she powers on, pushing aside the puzzlement etched on her face, and she becomes Dougie/Dale's fiercest protector. She has a role to play and she's going to do it with impeccable commitment.

Naomi Watts became one to watch in Hollywood after starring in Lynch's Mulholland Drive, where she played dual roles of sorts, not unlike Kyle Maclachlan's array of parts in this season of the show. First, she was Betty, the bouncy Pollyanna starlet-in-waiting, the small-town girl who just knows she's going to make it. The first time you watch the film, you can't help but briefly wonder, as she bounces on-screen and talks like she's reciting lines from a bad community theatre production, if Watts is actually a bad actress. It's all too neat, too cutesy, and painfully naïve for a film drenched in unease. And then we meet Watts's other character, Diane. She may be the reality to Betty's pastel fantasy, or she could be what happens to Betty after too many years of crushing bitterness in the film industry. She's frustrated, miserable, seethes with envy as the woman she idolises treats her like dirt, and has grown bored with pretending otherwise. The switch is jarring for the viewer. You wonder if something's gone wrong somewhere, or if you've woken up from a dream. That's when it hits you just how brilliant Watts' performance is. Like the film itself, she's monumental.

There's a lot of Betty and Diane in Janey-E Jones, with the go-get-them drive of Betty mired in Diane's smothering cynicism. Janey-E is the actress who got out of Hollywood before it poisoned her, but finds no satisfaction in the banality of domesticity. Dissatisfaction lies around every corner, but she persists, even if it means she has to drag her husband alongside her. With ten episodes to go, Twin Peaks could go literally anywhere, so predicting the fate of Janey-E and poor Sonny-Jim once Agent Cooper finally returns to our plane of being is a futile effort. Still, if Dale needs a cohort on his side once that happens, he would be smart to keep Janey-E Jones on hand.

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