Idiot’s Delight (Again)

DATELINE: Learning Curve Bends Light Waves!

Laird Cregar

The Internet seems to teach us the impossible is not improbable, Sherlock Holmes notwithstanding.

We just read that Prince’s memoirs will be published posthumously. You mean he is not a vampire?

Another article tells us that Twitter is not America. Well, we already figured that out when 33% of our followers on Twitter are from Turkey and apparently do not speak English.

A new study on the concept of BS has proven to be overblown. Rich guys tend to exaggerate their abilities. Having more money apparently still does not make up for having little confidence and less talent. We even wonder if self-designations like “rich” are suspect.

We also found a journalistic piece that states that Twitter fuels anxiety. Well, that is one explanation for the Twitter-storms of Donald Trump.

A business named “mailchimp” claims to make marketing easy. Monkey see; monkey may do, as long as you have the money to pay the monkey to dance to the organ grinder’s tune.

Some people believe that slave-owner and man who turned down Lincoln to save the Union, one Robert E. Lee, was a kindly soul and gentle man. We call them white nationalists, but General Lee is not just a motor vehicle in a hick TV series. He is down by the levee with Kate Smith, watching their statues be torn down by the new majority in America, the Minority.

After watching the History Channel TV series, Project Blue Book, the United States military has decided to junk the term UFO and call those flying saucers, “unidentified aerial phenomena,” but a rose by any other name will still be high-flying space creatures.

Low-income people are apparently more devastated by scams on the Internet than rich people. When you’ve got nothing to lose, you lose everything, according to experts.

The latest notion of pollution is microplastics, which seem to be so small that they are floating around cities and landing in lakes, though you can’t see them. It is no longer smoke that gets in your eyes.

Ten minutes on the Internet has undermined all knowledge you thought you had avoided in school.

More Spirit of 1776 on Oak Island

DATELINE:   20th Episode of Season 6

spirit of 1776JPG

Who’d have thunk Oak Island would reach 20 episodes in one season?  And, who would believe that they might hang on to hope when results seem skimpy?

Yet, here we are, with a drained swamp and about 2000 seismic charges about to blow little holes in the plot to hide Templar treasure. Instead, we are back to those pesky Masons and Founding Fathers.

As usual, we had the regular incident of nearly every week. Metal expert Gary Drayton went out to some remote location and found a coin. As one friend said, it seems like a rerun. This time, Gary did not point out that the coin had a square hole in its center. Nearly every item he has found seemed to have a square hole in it—to which he made a big deal.

And again, Alex Lagina was trotted out like a prized prince to no particular reason to look decorative at Smith’s Cove and to make the pronouncement that they had found something significant.

Beyond that, the group of treasure hunters has shrunk remarkably by this point: it’s nearly November 1st—and they are lucky there is no snow.

The huge construction crews are gone—and the diggers are the geologist, the archeologist, the historian, the library researcher, and the metal detector. Second bananas are the real worker bees in this cove.

A scientist expert in tree rings enters at the end to give a date to the various wood structures. No one seems disappointed that the construction is not pre-Columbus, or pre-Templar massacre. It is rather akin to the American Revolution.

It is, rather importantly, the 99.999 % certainty that it predates the dates of the Money Pit discovery by a mere twenty years.

We are left with one last episode of season six to pull this all together.

 

 

 

 

 

A Picture Worth a Billion Jokes!

DATELINE: DEADLINE

Hole in One Your Inevitable Singularity?

Black Holes, unite! You have only your invaded privacy to fall back upon. Yes, the secretive monster of the universe has been exposed, or perhaps over-exposed.

Scientists think they have a black hole in one, but the hole is in their proverbial heads.

Einstein was right. The ultimate emoticon is smiling at us.

Smile, you’re on Candid Camera, you self-important denizens of Earth.

Scientists have taken a gleeful approach to the first photoshop of a black hole. No, this is nothing like the Black Hole of Calcutta. This is the laughing visage of universal death.

We see no reason for joy in Mudville or NASA.

To our poetic eyes, we see the metaphor of a Grim Reaper in the throes of the biggest smiley face of history. He will devour you.

Yes, it’s true:  scientists call it spaghettification.

That’s the process in which you are brought into the Black Widow’s orbit, never to escape, and as you sink in to the Singularity, you become one long noodle strand until you break up in the smile of the Black Hole.

Apparently, the shadow of your smile is not just a pop tune. That black edge you see in the photo is actually the shadow of some tiny center of nugget that has neither height, weight, or normal dimensions.

The only die-mention is your demise.

So, while science puts on a happy face over the first picture of their bouncing baby Doom, we feel that to look into the one-eyed Cyclops of Death with his broad grin is too fateful for fun, or ready for Funny or Die.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stan & Ollie: Imitation or Acting?

DATELINE: Bittersweet Docdramas

Stan & Ollie

The resemblance to Laurel and Hardy is uncanny.

Stan & Ollie has a resurrection quality to its stars.

You might credit makeup masters, but there is also the subtle posture and gesture of the two stars as they mimic the familiar comedic personalities of the great movie team of the 1930s.

You have likely seen these two stars doing star turns in popular movies with tepid reviews: this is their best work and may end up being their least viewed movie. Laurel and Hardy belong to aficionados of film. Young people (meaning anyone under 40—or even 50—may be in the dark about the great comic duo).

John C. Reilly plays Babe Hardy, Mr. Oliver Hardy to you. And Steve Coogan plays Stan Laurel. A Brit and a Southern gentleman were an unlikely partnership but were created by studio chemists. It was a team that clicked so well it became legend.

The movie starts in 1937 at their pinnacle of success, doing Way Out West and their amazing little dance routine. It is repeated several times for good measure. Badly paid, with little artistic credit, Stan Laurel feels slighted as Chaplin and even Buster Keaton received more accolades.

By 1953, on the down-slide with age and television co-opting their earlier films, they embark on a tour of the British Isles to re-kindle their magic. Alas, the movie turns bittersweet, with far more bitter than sweet. Breaking up is never easy.

Bad blood, old age, and festering antagonisms, seem to dog the two stars. The movie replays their famous routines as if it is part of their real lives. And, they are pure show busy folks: the show must go on, and they are always on. Poor, dear souls.

Fans may find this hard look harder to take than a Hal Roach (Danny Huston) cheapskate contract. As oldsters, they had to work; no fortune followed fame.

Younger viewers may well be advised to go back to movies like Way Out West, or shorts like Their First Mistake, for seeing comedy genesis. This movie, like old age itself, is anticlimactic.

 

 

 

 

Born Again Ratzi!

DATELINE: Fake Birther!

birther

Never Trust a Birther Certificate!

Owing to the vagaries of the universe, what goes around usually ends up biting you on the big fat t-Rump.

So it is for President Trump who has now admitted that his father’s birth certificate is a big fat fake.

Well, that’s the fake news. The real news is that this birther controversy hints that Fred Trump was not an American after all.

He was born in the heartland of Der Fatherland. Yes, sir, Fred, he was a dyed-in-the-wool Teutonic member of the Austrian crypto-Nazi brigade.

It appears that Fred Trump and Adolph Hitler share some heritage. You could not put a thin piece of paper, like a birth certificate, between them. Hitler and Trump, Sr., were Austrian members of a fascist youth movement.

Three times lately, Mr. Trump, the lesser, has stated that he is proud of his crypto-Nazi Austrian father who was not born in the Bronx after all.

It seems the birth certificate showed by Fred all those years was manufactured by the same people who gave you Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

Only a few years separated Die Fuhrer and Fred. As far as we can tell, the Austrian foothills were the place that Fred Trump learned all he taught his son about how to goose-step.

We expect that Donald Trump will soon be giving his father’s favorite Fatherland salute.

Now we know that the dog whistle you don’t hear is a call to all neo-Nazi and crypto-Nazis. Trump is proud of his white supremacist background.

Who would have guessed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gronk Goes to the Movies

 DATELINE: Goodbye, NFL! Hello, Hollywood!

Gronk

New England’s loss is the world of movies’ gain.

We may be one of the few football Patriots fans who is happy that Rob Gronkowski has made the decision to leave the NFL for a new career in films.

As a star of the gridiron, breaking all kinds of records over nine seasons, Gronk has spent nearly all available time working his screen image. He has appeared in a handful of small-budget movies and many television commercials.

His face, pliable and likeable, has become a brand unto itself. He has hobnobbed with stars and calls himself “One-Take Gronk,” meaning he only makes one take to print for the final roll of film. The film illiterate Boston sports media have no idea about his movie career, or abilities in that regard.

We are happy because the next time Gronk is tackled by five monsters, he will not hurt his back or break a leg bone. Right before they tackle him, the director will yell, “Cut!” and his body double will step in to take the blows.

Gronk is a movie natural. We expect to see him in a new Mel Gibson action movie as the season of football starts. Put away the cleats. He is taking on movie weapons for his next big run.

With his huge physical presence, he will find a happy set of movie parts in the big genres of the 21st century: either sophomoric comedy, or cartoon superhero epics. He can play a lummox hero or a hard-nosed villain with aplomb. See Ted.

He has sold his Boston properties and his next home likely will be poolside in Beverly Hills: like so many young people, he will have had his youthful years in Boston, but will begin his career and important life work elsewhere.

For years Gronky has graced our blogs with his antics. He will continue to do so—but now as a film personality. He won’t be playing Hamlet, but he will be entertaining.

Oh, we expect that some enterprising producer will team up Tom Brady and Gronk again in some sports film. Didn’t Babe Ruth charmingly play himself in Pride of the Yankees?  Didn’t Muhammed Ali play himself in several films? Gronk will always be himself in every movie role.

 

Curse of Oak Island: One Big Sink Hole

DATELINE: Indefinite Suspension

fashionplateOak Island Fashionplate

Oak Island’s unsafe ground has voids and tunnels that have been compromised by diggers and flooding over at least two centuries. It seems a surprise that no one figured that a sink hole might send the entire treasure hunt and hunters down to a watery grave made by Captain Kidd.

Oak Island is one big hole in the ground, except when it comes to History Channel ratings. Then, it becomes Mt. Everest.

If the latest gaffe is unforeseen and inevitable, we might well agree with Rick Lagina that the hunt for whatever is there may be nearing completion yet again, without success.

Every generation’s technology fails until another era makes people feel that they are the champions to find the answers.

The 14th episode of season six is the “Voyage to the Bottom…” and they have not yet hit rock bottom.

Perhaps the most ridiculous moment was a nighttime visit by Rick, tethered, as he crawls into the sink hole, causing even more caving earth. They yell for him to get out: it’s not easy to move fast when you are beyond a certain age. The Chappel Vault might become Rick Lagina’s mausoleum, as he faced the prospect of becoming the seventh curse victim.

We had suggested last season that Rick throw himself down one of the shafts, and he nearly did it this time.

Other bad news was that what they thought was a piece of bone turned out to be slag (buried 170 feet where no smelting operation ever was done). Other leather parchment turned out to be tree bark. It’s pure Oak Island.

The good news for the week had to do with finding parchment or rag paper with red pigment on it: it seemed to be as early as 1300 in origin.

Also, lidar and sonar searches of the bay water around the island showed some anomalies and an anchor. Another tunnel entrance or drain system could be 100 feet off-shore. Intriguing.

Yet, we were most impressed when Alex Lagina showed up in an $800 Arc’teryx wilderness jacket. He has taste and good looks.

Danny Amendola on MVP Julian Edelman

 DATELINE: Demon & Pythiass

Danny & Julie Danny with Jules.

One of the guests to watch the Patriots win yet again another Super Bowl, number VI out of LIII, was a man who chose to leave the team to sign a contract with rival Miami before this season.

Aspiring model and wide receiver for the Dolphins, Danny Amendola, was there as a close friend to videographer and now Super MVP Julian Edelman and supporter of his former teammate.When asked one of the more personally interesting questions as he arrived in Atlanta, he said he did not like Edelman’s beard. “It’s smelly,” he told reporters on the fly.

If any man has been up close to the challenge of finding food particles in Julian’s fur-based face, it is the always adorable Danny.

No man is closer to Edelman and as familiar with his workout partner’s habits, Amendola starred in many of Edelman’s videos and antics. Amendola surely knows the intricacies of Julie’s bushy follicles.

He, like the rest of us, may be perplexed at the ugliness of his facial hair—and how he now waxes and wanes his entire body below the neck.

If Edleman likes to take fur off his buff bod, you may wonder why he leaves the au naturel look on his chinny-chin-chin. He surely has bone structure as sharp as Tom Brady, even without Botox, which leads us to note that our most blockbuster blog is the one in which we discussed the “work” Brady has done to maintain his youthful looks.

It’s important when you plan to play a game in the public eye until decrepitude and the Grim Reaper darken your door to stay youthful.

As for Danny, who had his own oddball hopes of becoming a supermodel, he can only second-guess whether he regrets his decision to leave the big stage of the Julie and Tom show, Super Bowl perennials, to play with the fishes in Miami.

 

Whose Favorite Wife?

 DATELINE: Cary Grant & Reel History

twototango Cary & Randy.

Let’s dig into the vault of RKO movies from 1940 and pull out a plum. Yep, it’s Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in My Favorite Wife, directed by Garson Kanin.

We presume this was quite the sophisticated, if not racy, comedy of its era. And, it does have a few eyebrow lifting moments!

Grant is a Harvard lawyer whose wife was presumed drowned on a voyage to a South Sea island. He is about to remarry when she shows up with more wackiness than you’d usually find in an I Love Lucy episode.

It’s all rather slow for the first half of the movie. Actually it only comes to life when Grant discovers that his wife (known as Eve) spent seven years alone on an island with her Adam. It turns out that Adam is acrobatic hunk Randolph Scott.

Rumors about the two stars were in high fettle even back in those days—and the interplay between them is priceless. If you like in-jokes, this one lets everyone in on it. A passerby finds Grant ogling Randy and mopping his brow in distress when a middle-aged woman asks him if that is Johnny Tarzan Weissmuller.

Grant notes he wishes he were.

Once again Cary is caught modeling women’s clothing by a psychiatrist with a knowing smile. It’s all a great misunderstanding, of course. It’s Enoch Arden by ways of Shakespeare and writer Leo McCarey.

As sophisticated comedy, this has more subtext than anyone ever suspected. It may not be a great Grant film, but it belongs in the canon, but the powder puff is never quite dry as screwball comedy or comedy of manners.

Stalin’s Death as Farce and Burlesque

DATELINE: So-so Soviet

 

buscemi & tambor

Krushchev & Malenkov at Stalin’s funeral.

Maybe we missed the lesson of the Cold War in which the ruthless homicidal dictator killer was surrounded by fawning idiots like extras and operetta buffoons. The Death of Stalin makes a point that defies historical truth.

Indeed, the opening minutes may strike you as a Monty Python-style farce (compounded with the appearance of Michael Palin), with a posse of dunces dancing to the whim of Stalin. They must entertain him and do his bidding, lest they end up like everyone else:  on a hit list.

Their cruel inaction over the dying Stalin as he lay on the floor in his odeur is the nastiest of political satire. Jeffrey Tambor is Malenkov, the weaking second-in-command and under heavy pressure from Krushchev (Buschemi).

The film features endless background executions in a variety of appalling ways, carried out ruthlessly, to the gallows humor of men like Nikita Krushchev, played in thin fashion by Steve Buschemi.

Most of the Communist comrades speak with British accents, jarring at first, ridiculous in deliberance.

What starts as a black comedy set in 1953 becomes more and more disturbing, despite pathetic Vasily Stalin and sister Svetlana, horrified and fearful at what might befall them with their despot father’s death.

From the early antics of a Monty Python, the film devolves into The Godfather, as these small-minded committee commies become more frightful and violent. We can almost fully believe there is more political truth than satire here. This is Swiftian justice meted out by the Lilliputians.

The evolution of Nikita Krushchev from second banana to dangerous rival to the predatory Beria, Stalin’s child molesting henchman, is truly the centerpiece of this political free-for-all. Buschemi’s performance is ultimately a marvel to behold.

Fast-moving and surprising, it is a film to put on your viewing list.

Brooklyn Bridge to Serve as Mexican Border Wall

DATELINE:  Trump’s New Solution!

untitled

In the great tradition of American business, President Donald Trump will follow in the footsteps of Mae West and Bugs Bunny and will sell shares in the Brooklyn Bridge. He believes that, if enough Republicans buy shares, they can charge Democrats a large fee to use it.

At the least, he believes the Bridge can be shut down to keep undesirables out of Manhattan. He believes most of those who use the Brooklyn Bridge are illegal immigrants.

The idea was said to be floated by Sean Hannity and Lindsay Graham at a dinner with the President who noted during dessert of Baked Alaska about furloughed government workers: “Let them eat cake.”

Trump tweeted that “Number A, this is a great idea with a chance to make a huge profit for the American people.”  Trump went out to cite the purchase of the London Bridge by American investors some years ago. They moved it to Arizona.

Trump believes this is a template for the latest effort to take the Brooklyn Bridge, stone by stone, and move it to the Mexican border. Trump believes this will kill two birds with one stone.

Sean Hannity reportedly told the President that the Brooklyn Bridge was a boondoggle, built by corrupt Democrats and that his legacy will be affirmed when he tears down the bridge and makes it bigger than the Berlin Wall.

 

 

John Wayne in a Woman’s Picture?

 DATELINE: Duke Takes on Shane’s Girlfriend

not a chance Witless Comedy.

Well, at least John Wayne is not yet in women’s lingerie in 1943. A Lady Takes a Chance is not exactly High Noon. We hate to say it, but don’t leave this film to chance. Just leave it alone.

Jean Arthur was a big star, and John Wayne wanted to be a big star. Despite his accolades and sensational performance in Stagecoach, Duke Wayne needed to cross-over to become super big. So, he even drives a car.

Someone at the studio figured that he needed to widen his audience to include adult women who admired working-class heroine Jean Arthur, the everyday spunky girl of America.

How would John Wayne do with spunky women? You have an early answer here. He treats them like horses. If we recall our Hollywood history: they shoot horses, don’t they?

Among the pallid jokes is to have Duke don an apron, or to watch Jean Arthur try to sleep uncomfortably under the prairie stars.

Yes, this was a time when you went west on a bus. Jean Arthur must ultimately choose between bookish Hans Conreid, paunchy Grady Sutton, or virile John Wayne! Some choice.

Someone failed to plug this movie. Pull the plug, please.

This early misuse of John Wayne is absolutely fascinating as a studio-system miscalculation. Or was it? Then again, we like disaster movies too. We wanted to see Phil Silvers (Sergeant Bilko) with the classic military cowboy.

The only other time we saw John Wayne in a woman’s comedy, he did a guest star role in the 1970s on Maude with the high-shootin’ Bea Arthur. It was a real showdown. Yeah, he outdrew that Golden Girl of cynical womanhood.

Jean Arthur is the queen bee/big star here, hypocritical with her multiple boyfriends in New York, but indignant that Duke Wayne has a few girlfriends from the rodeo circuit. She treated Alan Ladd just as badly in her next Western, Shane, as Brandon de Wilde’s mother.

If producers were aiming for frothy, as in beer suds, most of it stuck to Jean Arthur’s upper lip. Literally.

Neeson & Harris Don’t Run Fast!

DATELINE:  Oh, Daddy-Boy!

oh, daddy! Chip off the Blockhead?

Run All Night is a movie with Liam Neeson and Ed Harris. It’s the kind of movie that you will think is great if you never saw Citizen Kane, or ever heard of Ox-Bow Incident.

This film manipulates a certain audience of un-educated film fans who would likely tell you they don’t eat sugar and won’t ever “catch” diabetes. They live on empty starch and carbs, one way to describe this movie that stars Neeson and Harris.

If you think this movie is the best thing since sliced bread, you may also decry Hollywood morality. You may think that a border wall is what makes America great. In this film you will likely think mob killers are deep-down nice guys. This film is white bread all right, down to the empty carbs.

The plot has to do with honor and family, but this isn’t your Godfather’s crime drama. It is more like letting inmates run the asylum or control the federal prison or write a screenplay.

Fan reaction to the Neeson action movies is generally a belief that a great actor never can demean himself and elevates any tripe on which he puts his name. This is not Ed Harris doing A History of Violence.

You can like Run All Night, or Taken, as an occasional dollop of mindless entertainment, but if you eat a steady diet of mindless entertainment, you surely have lost your mind, if you ever had one.

We have sworn off comic-book superhero movies as things of childhood best put behind us, but voters still support Donald Trump and love this sort of movie stuffing.

Put action crime thrillers with antiheroic white men into the mix. Shake well and pour it into the mud pie. Yum, yum, eat’em up, and go back into your cave. Rub two sticks together whilst sitting on a powder-keg and watch it again.

 

 

 

 

 

Brazil, Where the Nuts Are!

DATELINE: Beyond the Twilight Zone

acting chops Whose Acting Chops?

If you thought nutcase movies are here today, you are about 30 years off. Brazil is a movie aficionado’s fantasy and nightmare, defying convention and logic. You just passed the signpost of Ipanema.

Terry Gilliam (of Monty Python fame) went out of his way to make the Citizen Kane of kookoo-bird movies in 1985.

This was no small achievement as the film holds up as beyond modern and relevant. Its madness may yet to be realized in the future.

Like Blade Runner, the future is the past. There is an aura of 1940s film noir interspersed with superhero comic fantasy.

Jonathan Pryce is some bureaucrat by day and by night, in his dreams, some kind of flying circus performer out to save a damsel in distress. In the meantime, he works in mindless government agencies that are after Harry Tuttle (Robert DeNiro) in an early comedic performance as a heating engineer who is a wanted man for doing duct work without a license.

Pryce’s mother Ida Lowry is played by the youth-conscious Katherine Helmond in a face-stretching performance with Jim Broadbent, as her fey plastic surgeon, striving for tighter skin.

Included in the shenanigans are such familiar faces as Bob Hoskins, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, and Ian Richardson. If they wanted to kick off the unorthodoxy of their careers, this film is definitely the forerunner.

If you want a plot, you will fall into a black hole and likely be stretched to kingdom come.

You can ride the wave of this movie from one loony tune moment to the next, not bothering to connect the dots or the scenes. It’s like being in the Trump Administration: you just sit back and experience the Cinerama of movie magic to the mambo-jumbo notes of the song “Brazil.”

Heavens, or is that Land of Goshen?

Trumpet Blowing at Midnight

DATELINE: Blowhard Comedy

Bugs Benny

For most of his career, actor and comedian Jack Benny blamed a movie called The Horn Blows at Midnight for ruining his movie stardom. In fact, he never made another movie for decades, succeeding on a newer medium called TV.

In some ways he was a re-actor, mostly playing off situations and people. Having a personality with notable quirks; vanity, greed, among his most notorious deadly sins, he was mostly asexual and devoid of anger issues.

Here he is faced with irony after irony: he drinks Paradise Coffee that ‘helps you sleep’. He is too ineffective to start the doomsday scenario.

As a milquetoast, he was the antithesis of heroic post-World War II men–those tough guy approaches bordered on psychotic (all the major stars went from their usual roles to a more sinister version in the years after the war).

That bring us to Midnight: where and when Benny is a second-rate angel in heaven given the task of blowing Gabriel’s horn (Heaven’s real star’s too busy) at midnight in New York City to end the corrupt world of a small planet called Earth.

It is whimsy gone mad. Nearly every joke is told twice. It almost becomes a Warner Brothers Bugs Bunny cartoon. Yet, the film was directed by action  helmsman Raoul Walsh. It used fantasy special effects and had a cast to die for. Yes, that is the original pantywaist Franklin Pangborn, and yes, that is Margaret Dumont from the Marx Brothers. Oh, yes, that is Robert Blake as a kid. Yes, that is every notable second-banana in second-banana roles. They are wonderful to behold.

It is not much more than a mild, simple whimsical tale with a few digs. Worse yet, the gimmick of the movie is blatantly false, which undercuts its sharpness. We won’t tell you if Benny falls asleep too often.

It was not a bad film, but no one went to see it—and Jack took it personally. Of course, it does not help when Jack tells the audience that, if he saw this stuff in a movie, they would not believe it.  They didn’t.

Benny retired from movies. His last starring vehicle is a diversion for the cynical, harsh times that followed World War II and the burgeoning Cold War. It also fits for us today in a mad, mad, mad world of Trump daily crises.