Twin Peaks (s3 Half-Way Point)

 DATELINE:  NO Spoilers Possibletwin peaks

There is no such thing as a spoiler in Twin Peaks. We are not even sure we are still in Twin Peaks after the face of Laura Palmer emerges from the mist in the opening credits.

We have now come to the half-way point of no-return for Season 3 on the bizarre David Lynch TV series, and we can explain everything that happened and you will have no idea what we are talking about.

The episode started with Kyle McLachlan’s Doppleganger Agent D.B. Cooper in a jail break with an accomplice who promptly shoots and kills him. Then, he is beset upon by demonic spirits that apparently bring him back to life.

At this point there is a flashback to a flashpoint in the plot. We find ourselves in Desert Sands, New Mexico, as the first atomic bomb is detonated. If you think of this as a hole in the plot, you may have fallen into the trap.

We are then thrust into a five-minute Stanley Kubrick-style hallucinogenic trip inside a radioactive cloud. When we emerged, we found ourselves in a 1950s black and white horror movie with zombies murdering people.

Oh, yes, somewhere in there we found ourselves in the waiting room of an imperious theater where Lurch the Butler of the Addams Family sends a golden plasma bubble with the face of Laura Palmer back to Earth.

Back on Earth, an alien lizard with wings hatches from an egg near the site of the nuclear explosion in 1956 and enters the mouth of sleeping adolescent girl. Now we feel the Illuminati are lurking somewhere in the storyline.

Is that clear? Are you spoiled yet? Have you any idea if David Lynch has lost his lunch?

Yes, we will watch again next week, not that it matters.

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Return to O.J. Unnecessary

DATELINE:  Guilty Even If Found Not Guilty

Rick Investigator Rick Levasseur

Before there was Aaron Hernandez shooting up the serial killer sports figure, there was O.J. Simpson who slaughtered his way into fame after doing light comedy in movies and heavy sports in youth.

Now O.J. is back with several examinations of his alleged crimes. One is enough for us. The 6-part miniseries documentary/crime expose is called Is O.J. Innocent? The Missing Evidence.  Yes, some people think the jury was right.

During the course of an overwrought investigation, it became clear no one wanted to re-open this case. We were astounded that Nicole Simpson’s sister and Ron Goldman’s father stood for additional tormenting interviews. Were they paid for their time?

It was rumored way back at the time of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and waiter Ron Goldman that the real killer was O.J.’s son. Yes, the story was a kind of Mildred Pierce in which the parent is willing to take the blame for the crimes of their child.

As hard as it is to picture O.J. Simpson as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest mode, he seems tailor-made to save his troubled son, or more likely to throw him away. On the other hand, theorist William Dean was hell-bent on finding the “true” culprit whom he labeled Jason Simpson, O.J.’s son.

With glossy production values, the miniseries documentary features Martin Sheen as narrator. Chief honcho William Dean selects two matinee idol types, right out of central casting as forensic psychologist (Kris Mohandie) and former police sergeant (Rick Levasseur) as his leg men. They couldn’t be cuter if you cast real actors.

Bill Dean has been enterprising for years: he took possession of Jason Simpson’s diaries and hunting knife out of a storage locker. It sparked his manhunt attitude like something out of Hugo’s Les Miserables.  He is a dogged Javert.

Showing up to provide insights include Dr. Henry Lee and Detective Tom Lange from the original case. They give both sides of inept police work. No one from the prosecutor’s office would bother with this investigation.

The two boy-toy crime busters try to reach reclusive Jason Simpson, and he is stalked by private detectives hired for the series, showing only a rather sad, downtrodden, and unhappy man, but is he a murderer?

Ultimately Jason Simpson’s time-card from his job at the time of the murder would prove to be the investigation’s high-point. Yet, we ended up nearly as disgusted by the rehash as all the surviving original people.

Was any of this necessary?

 

Ancient Aliens Meets Curse of Oak Island

DATELINE: Cross-Pollination of History

We are always delighted when reality shows cross paths.

Take for instance Ancient Aliens and Curse of Oak Island. We were surprised to find the basic opening of Oak Island hijacked for the Ancient Alien episode about King Tut.

Apparently the curse of King Tut and the curse of Oak Island may be tied together by space aliens. This makes a grand opportunity to take the opening credits for Oak Island and weave them into the show on ancient alien theories.

This gives the Lagina Brothers of Oak Island a chance to do a guest starring role on another History channel show. Voilà, you have free publicity to transcend both series.

Mainly it appears that each curse, from Tut to Oak Island, has claimed seven lives. That’s the opening the Lagina reality show, which says a seventh person must die. Young King Tut has already gotten his seven.

According to Ancient Alien theorists, buried treasures have been cursed by aliens with technological incantations that send voice-activated electrocution bolts to interlopers. Whew. Who knew?

Ancient Astronaut theorists believe the Ark of the Covenant is hidden at Oak island. This ties into the stone tablets discovered in Tut’s tomb somehow.  How? Well, King Tut’s uncle, Thutmose was actually Moses, and he took the Ark out of Egypt. This theory came first from Sigmund Freud!!

The Ark contained an alien device of immense power. When it was discovered by the Knights Templar, they brought it to Oak Island.

Are you still there?

This explains the mystery stone discovered in the shaft of Oak Island as having properties of Ancient Egyptian curse tablets. This means the Ark with its extraterrestrial powers is buried on Oak Island.

We expect further pollination of shows when the tomb of Laura Palmer is discovered at Twin Peaks, proving she is a goddess of ancient Egypt.

Oh, you disbeliever. Curses, foiled again.

Twin Peaks Returns from the Dead

 DATELINE:  Will the Real Harry Truman Ever Show Up?

twin peaks

In the immortal words of James Cagney, “what have we got he-yah?”

Yes, Twin Peaks has returned after 25 years. For a story that hinged on a murder of a lead character who is dead from the first moment, we find the new show starting with long-dead Laura Palmer in flashback telling Agent D.B. Cooper that she will see him again in 25 years.

That marvelous opening music is back.

Well, he-yah we are.

It doesn’t take long for the Lunacy to set in.  Director David Lynch clearly is ready for his old series to begin afresh. Dead actors are as apparent has dead characters. All you can do is hold on for as long as possible, until vertigo sets in or a bad case of dyspepsia forces you to give up.

Lynch has made very few films over the past 10 years but now in one season, he’s going to do the equivalent of nine feature films. However, he clearly is enjoying himself.

You will see A glass box under observation by three cameras controlled by a mysterious billionaire not named Trump. You will find two dead bodies mismatched in a bed. You will find the magnificent Douglas firs of Twin Peaks echoing like the towers of New York City with wind between them. Lynch can do things like that.

The series Twin Peaks has now reached cult status in mythical terms. It was always a cult show from its opening moments 25 years ago. Now it is off the charts. For 18 hours.

If you’ve never seen the show, you will be as confused as anyone who has seen all of the early episodes from the original two-year run 25 years ago by the end of the first hour.

The best we can do is monitor the situation and present you with updates. You can’t spoil anything that’s based on rot setting in. Fear not.

Antidote to Perry Mason and Precursor of Law & Order

DATELINE:  The Defenders

son & father defenders

The precursor to Law & Order, and arguably the best legal show ever on television, The Defenders has finally come to DVD with its first complete season. Back in 1961, you had a choice of two shows going head to head: Perry Mason with Raymond Burr—and the more socially conscious, New York-filmed show with E.G. Marshall and Robert Reed as his son.

Back in those days Reed played Ken Preston, and was considered an up-and-coming dramatic star. You may wonder why he chose to move into sit-com after seeing him here. E.G. Marshall was an unusual lead character, a highly paid lawyer who often gave bad advice or even made a bad decision. Unlike Mason, Marshall’s Preston even lost cases often.

The show remains remarkable, topical, and intelligent, ready for discovery by a generation that likely never heard of it. However, they will know the guest stars. It reads like a litany of New York stage actors and movie stars in their early days.

In the first few episodes, the show tackled mercy killing, traumatic stress disorder, multiple personalities and legal insanity, and drug addiction. It shocked audiences of the early 1960s.

It also gave many actors a chance at a serious television drama in the wake of the Golden Age of anthology shows. You will see Gene Hackman and Jack Klugman in one drama, another with 1930s character actor Frank McHugh and Western star Clu Gulager. Also on tap is Frank Gorshin playing a nightclub imitator of movie stars with multiple personalities—one who has committed murder.  And, almost in premonition of his future as the father of the Brady Bunch, Robert Reed plays opposite 9-year old Richard Thomas in his pre-Waltons days.

A prison show featured an unbilled Godfrey Cambridge and a costar Ossie Davis with Gomer Pyle’s Frank Sutton as a psychotic rioting prisoner.

The first season is now available, but future seasons were considered even higher quality by viewers. This is a treat that should not be missed by Law & Order fans—and those who appreciate solid drama. And, E.G. Marshall was always marvelous.

DNA in Unlikely Places, like Burial Shroud of Jesus

DATELINE:   Scoffers, Begone!

Jesus dna      Shroud of Turin image

Leave it to the History Channel to come up with a quest with two millennial kids who look like they have been given a banana split at the local ice cream parlor. Nonetheless, The Jesus Strand: A Search for DNA is fascinating.

In all fairness, the researchers are George Busby who is a geneticist from Oxford, and his partner is Pastor Joe Basile, with credentials in Bible Studies. They are young and exuberant.

Together they decide with the upgrade in DNA research to see if there is a strand that identifies Jesus of Nazareth and his bloodline. So, before you can hop and skip over 2000 years, they are finding the DNA results from the Shroud of Turin, and the Sudarium of Oviedo in Spain, both purported to be two cloths mentioned in the New Testament.

The jet-setting research is intriguing, and our boyish scientists only betray their preconceived notions when they reject testing bones from a Jewish ossuary that could be confirmation, or denial of a connection.

Some archeological research is new as well, like the bones found ten years ago that are 2000 years old, testing from the 1st century and called the bones of John the Baptist.

They even look at nails, less likely to maintain DNA and a dead end.

Their startling results show how much can still be learned. The blood, on the two cloths, is from the same man who died in crucifixion. With rare AB bloodtype, most prevalent in Middle Eastern people, the man thought to be Jesus shows a connection to the Druze religious sect that has kept its purity for a thousand years.

Someone in his family intermarried with Druze people, likely his mother’s side. The descendants come down from the unnamed sisters of Jesus in the gospels.

Non-believers may scoff, but still find the result not inconsistent with identifying the man of the shroud. Believers may be more inclined to reject the findings that go against their dogma.

All in all, it is a whirlwind of discovery that makes for what passes for revelations in our cynical age.

The Aliens Are Coming!

 DATELINE:  New Paul Revere Warning!

Ancient Aliens begins Season 12 with a couple of episodes that further the evolving notion that the ancient astronauts of lore were NOT benevolent. There has been a change in tone, and the early episodes now seem to be less happy that something is out there.

A new opening season comes up with the idea that Reagan’s Star Wars is a concept to protect the Earth. A base on the Moon, done perhaps with some helpful aliens, has been established to keep an eye to the sky for the bad guys’ return.

Indeed, there is a growing belief that the venerable series is now a pathway for the government to plant the idea that we ought to be ready for life on other planets. The 2017 episodes won’t say so, but hints that failed North Korean nuclear tests are the result of alien intervention.

The second episode of the new season turns out to be a classic of investigation and revelation: taking on a mysterious sphere located in Florida in 1974 (then mysteriously confiscated by the government). It featured atomic weight inside that made it extremely dangerous if drilled open.

Where did it come from? Perhaps it is explained by the discovery, revealed in depth, that King Tut’s knife has finally been analyzed—discovered to be forged out of alloys unknown in Ancient Egypt, perhaps from a meterorite.

And also in 2017, there is an uncovering of the Iron Wedge, located in Romania 40 years ago, and hidden. It was another alloy chunk of metal found with mammoth bones, dating back 40,000 years. What gives?

We are troubled when Erich Van Daniken and his wild haired protégé are shown an object, handled by the curator with gloves, and they pick it up with bare hands. It tells us all you want to know about self-importance and suspect science.

Ancient Aliens has plenty of theories, compelling us into the rest of the season of shows.

Golden State Origins

DATELINE:  Miners Balls

Miners ball

When you say, The Gold Rush, everyone thinks of Chaplin’s silent comedy, but in 2005 PBS put out one of its patented documentaries entitled The Gold Rush.

As with the American Experience TV series, you may have top-notch quality with the caster oil of political correctness. So, it is here. However, they avoid discussing the all-male miners’ balls and possible transgenderism.

What starts out as an exciting adventure in American history quickly devolves into genocide, misuse of women, exclusion of minorities, and lynch mobs.

Well, in 1849 in a matter of months, California became an American territory, discovered gold ready for anyone to find along river banks, and was 90% men under age 30. You don’t have to have lived in a college dorm to know what this means.

Only, think of it on a grand scale. Debauchery unlimited, booze, and gambling among the hard work and hard luck days.

It is an experiment in America for sure: the 49ers were the first truly multi-cultural group with a shocking attitude that America was the place for get-rich-quick schemes and a democratic competition.

You could see it would end nearly as abruptly as it started, but for a few years before it went sour with anti-immigrant laws and unruly lynch mobs, you had a great American adventure.

The documentary does all the production just right: use of dramatic readings, use of original photos, news clips, interspersed with re-enactors in accurate costume and setting.

Some matters are deeply troubling, like the genocide of Native American Californians and the expulsion of South American prospectors.

De-Classifiying Déclassé Oswald

DATELINE: History Channel’s Latest Fake News

Not faked

Bob Baer, the purported former CIA agent who led Hunting Hitler for two seasons, has seemingly moved on to another project: finding out just how much culpability to give Lee Harvey Oswald for murdering President John Kennedy in the new History Channel miniseries call JFK Declassified: Tracking Oswald.

Are we to presume then that the hunt for the Hitler story is over? If so, we were left hanging by Baer and History Channel.

Now it appears we are being handed an extremely limited search for the truth about Oswald. In the first two episodes we learn he was unstable and untrustworthy: now there’s a revelation.

In the meantime, Baer has dumped his eclectic and interesting team in the original series, including Tim Kennedy, to surround himself with a couple of ‘yes’ men. What this really means is that you are now deeply involved in the Bob Baer is everything show.

His stooges now merely seem there to be sounding boards with no reactions to what Baer contends. He is fond of claiming he is objective and a former CIA agent—and from the onset he wants you to know that Oswald acted alone, sort of.

Claims of newly released information really don’t pan out because most of what Baer reveals in the first two episodes was already known, except to “most people.”

The one-man band is now a traveling circus performer, going to Mexico City and Moscow in each episode to uncover people still alive, 55 years later, who met Oswald once or twice.

Whether this pans out into something earth shattering only future episodes will reveal, though Baer insists he will provide Oswald’s motive for his assassination of Kennedy.

We planned to check our skepticism at the door, but former Agent Baer keeps pushing it back in our faces. We will re-visit this series at the end of its run in a few weeks to see whether it passes the fake news test.

 

(For those interested, William Russo wrote a book in 2003 entitled Booth & Oswald that examined the formative education of each assassin. Available on Amazon in paperback and ebook formats.)

Bette & Joan: The Bitter End

DATELINE: Final Round

 coda  Great Eternal Stars

If you are waiting for the moment after Crawford died when Bette Davis spoke her insightful comment, “They don’t change just because they’re dead,” you won’t find it in Ryan Murphy’s miniseries.

We do hear Davis tell a reporter that her mother taught her to speak only good about the dead.  Bette then gives her quote for the obituary: “Joan Crawford is dead. Good.” And, she hangs up on the press.

The end for Joan features a soundtrack recording of The Doors’ song of that name while Joan filmed Trog, in ill health and with deplorable low-budget conditions. It’s either a depiction of poetic justice or cruel fate.

The attempt to wash her tainted Crawford image clean comes with a scene of Joan hallucinating a conversation with Hedda Hopper, Jack Warner, and Bette, the week before she died. How could anyone know about this or what Joan thought in her dying days?

Both women were about to suffer the cruelest cuts of all by their daughters’ memoirs that tried to sully their accomplishments in a world of art and pretense.

Victor Buono, their one-time costar, tries to encourage Bette to reach out to Crawford—but who knows if she made a phone call in the middle of the night to her nemesis?

Joan and Bette lived in a world where publicity machines were gospel. At the end, publicity machines became scandal dispensaries.

The series can only end as life ends: growing old with ill health marking the last days of great stars.

In old age Joan and Bette tried to maintain their dignity, live with clear regrets, and ended up going pathetically into the dark night of movie history.

The early series humor and boisterous, but ribald, energy of the women faded with each episode of the miniseries, leaving fans with the greatest regrets about how it inevitably turns out.

Round Seven: Feud, Crawford Down for Count

DATELINE:  Series on Bette & Joan Continues…

Real Feud

A re-teaming of Crawford and Davis in a second movie was never going to work, despite filming on location in Louisiana and hypocritical attempts at camaraderie by the stars.

Joan Crawford soon went on strike by feigning illness.

Feud, the series with Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon, spends the penultimate episode on the crisis during Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte. The two stars seemed to realize their careers were never enough to compensate for their shortcomings in personal life. Yet, they continued to self-destruct personally.

Interestingly, the miniseries puts more focus on the failed mother-daughter relationship between Bette and BD. We never see Christina Crawford interact with her mother, despite the famous Mommie Dearest legend.

The episodes rely heavily on the bad karma and worse characters that emerged from the slice and dice books done by the two daughters of the stars in subsequent years. Bette and Joan were done irreparable harm by the tell-all, revenge books by their progeny.

We told Miss Davis in 1986 that the BD Hyman book would never have a lasting impact to assuage the aging and distraught star. We don’t think she believed us, but responded politely to the reassurance. How wrong we were 31 years ago.

As for the episode in the sweep of Hollywood vindictiveness, we never hear why Bette nixed Vivien Leigh for the replacement for Joan—likely because Leigh won the coveted Scarlett O’Hara role that Bette wanted. It is also stated that Loretta Young and Barbara Stanwyk turned down the key part in Charlotte because they were friends of Joan.

The emergence of Olivia De Havilland as the new co-star likely was the result of her ties to Bette, though even Livy suggested they call her sister Joan Fontaine to take over from the other Joan.

Juicy gossip has become the printed legend of whatever happened to the two star subjects of Feud. The knock-out punch should arrive in the final episode.

 

 

Round 6: Hush, Hush, Sweet Bette & Joan

domestic life with Joan Jackie Hoffman as Mamasita

DATELINE:   Feud Revs Its Engine

With Oscar behind them, and no decent roles ahead, Joan and Bette must come to terms with the marketing of their careers in another episode of the miniseries Feud.

Hitting its stride from the opening, this episode features a trailer for Strait-Jacket with Joan as an axe murderess. Jessica Lange plays in the preview for one god-awful movie.

What’s worse, Joan Crawford agreed to do the cheesy marketing campaign for William Castle’s Grade-D movie. In an homage to true bad taste, director John Waters makes a delightful cameo as Castle.

Jack Warner (Stanley Tucci) returns to the series for a swan song: he labels the genre “hagsploitation” and calls in Robert Aldrich (Alfred Molina) to produce and direct another. Warner nixes Ann Sheridan as Bette’s costar: the public wants Joan and Bette to resume their hate affair.

Bob Alrich is ready to lash back at Warner for his final revenge against the movie mogul, even as his personal life is falling apart.

Hedda Hopper (Judy Davis) on her last legs comes in to blackmail Joan for a porno film she made in the 1920s. It seems Crawford’s world is collapsing in on her—and she must relent and make another film with Bette for the money.

Small slights mount as Joan tries to gather her strength to do another movie with her archrival Davis. In the process she nearly alienates her loyal assistant, the hatchet-faced Mamasita (scene-stealer Jackie Hoffman).

With Bette taking creative control on the new motion picture, Joan may be facing a doomsday scenario.

 

The Passover Plotter: Jacobovic Decodes Jesus

DATELINE:  Easter Egg Hunts

simcha  Simcha

Each Easter the usual movie diet includes heavy helpings of Ben Hur or King of Kings. So, this season we are going in for something a tad alternative.

Decoding the Ancients is a six-part series hosted by that Biblical gadfly Simcha Jacobovic. Though he comes across as an errant academic scholar, he is billed as an investigative journalist. The series may be called by other titles, but Amazon Prime is offering it for free.

Jacobovic is truly is a man with unusual perspectives on the Old and New Testament.

The first episode deals with Caiaphas, the high priest who sent Jesus to the Romans for crucifixion. Jacobovic’s theory is that Caiaphas took a bad rap from the gospels who needed a house villain—and the notion is underscored by finding the ossuary of the high priest in 1990.

Small twisted nails found with his bones could have been artifacts from Jesus, but have disappeared. Jacobovic sees them as keepsakes of the most important and only death Caiaphas oversaw as high priest. He must track them down, which is fascinating.

Subsequent episodes follow graffiti at Pompeii that reveals that Christian slaves were there—and already spreading their faith less than a decade after the fall of Jerusalem. Fear of God from the volcanic horror of Vesuvius caused panic among Romans who began to embrace the word of Jesus as payback for the sacking of the Jewish state.

In other episodes, Jacobovic seems to ignore the Essenes and Emperor Constantine’s mother who found the True Cross and nails, allegedly. They might fit his theories, but one is left that angles were not examined.

Another episode suggests that Jesus went to the land of Gad…in Spain, not Galilee. It’s intriguing stuff.

The shows are short and jam-packed with detail and clever investigative reporting. You might find your faith challenged, but more likely the shows will serve you well as gospel’s truth. It’s a definite change of pace from the usual Easter TV specials.

Giant Anaconda Versus Giant Croc

DATELINE: Captains Ahab? Quint? Hook?

 Ahab Meets Quint.jpg  It’s not a gator.

Holy Mackerel!  They still make movies like this!?? Yes, they sure do—for SyFy.

It’s like a time machine trip back to 1957.  Move over, Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

You know the stars—vaguely: Someone from an Alien movie, or was it a Predator movie in the 1980s?  Someone who used to be a child star on TV in the 1970s who isn’t Neil Patrick Harris.  Isn’t that Freddy Kreuger giving us a Captain Quint performance? Or is he Captain Hook?

Babes in bikinis? Hot cars? Dumb cops? Hayseed nitwit boys? Yep, they’re all present and accounted for in Lake Placid Versus Anaconda.

Someone decided to team up two franchise monsters. We haven’t seen such fireworks since King Kong took on the T-Rex in 1933 or since Gallagher chopped up watermelons to spray on the audience. And this doesn’t need to be colorized; it’s in living, blood-curdling Technicolor

Arty movies? Think pieces? Atmospheric noir? Forget it. It’s time for a really bad movie. Check your brain with the remote control and sit back for a looney ride. Was this direct to video? Someone likely paid to see it on the big screen, but stuff like this hasn’t been at a drive-in since 1964.

We aren’t sure if this is meant to be homage to Merriam C. Cooper or Jack Warner. It’s definitely out of the American International Pictures playbook. We sat in dumb-founded amazement.

Oh, don’t get us wrong. This movie is utterly deplorable, with grandiose plot holes with terrible and unfunny jokes. Maybe the series on Joan and Bette prepared us for this eventuality. This one’s a giant crock all right.

Round Four: Bette & Joan in Post Production

DATELINE: Hold the Oscar

 lange as Crawford Crawfish

For those who forgot, we are reminded that Bette Davis gave the Academy Award its nickname, “Oscar,” because he resembled an old flame. As you might expect, Joan Crawford did not appreciate this usurping of Hollywood legend.

The two stars await bad news in the fourth episode. Word of mouth is that Baby Jane, or mistakenly called Baby Doll, is a stinkeroo. And, their work has not brought in more roles. In fact, everyone has lost faith in their project.

But, a sneak preview is a shocker, even more than the movie. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane is a hit. That sends Bette and Joan into different strata of psychology. Bette revels in the rejuvenation, and Joan realizes she is second banana for the critics.

Director Bob Aldrich (Alfred Molina) also comes to realize one-time success will not change his career. Jack Warner (Stanley Tucci) wastes no time in belittling him as much as star Frank Sinatra who proves a boorish star in his rat pack picture directed by Aldrich.

The series continues to use sharp-edged Hollywood trivia to provide laughs and hoots about the era and the foibles of the stars. It was the age of television as a publicity machine—and Bette goes all out on TV guest roles (as in Perry Mason, or on talk shows like Jack Paar), while Joan wallows in drink, fires her agents, makes drunken calls to Bette.

All this precedes the dreaded announcement for nominations for Oscar; everyone thinks Bette Davis is a shoo-in, and Crawfish is a dead fish.

The crux is that we the viewers enjoy this stuff more than those “old broads,” as Crawford takes offense to Davis’s characterization.