Bohemian Masterpiece

If you like joy, you should go see the film Bohemian Rhapsody in the movie theater. Likewise, if you like masterful acting. Or music. Or Queen. Or if you remember what you were doing when you witnessed Live Aid. Or, if you’d just like to see a really great movie.

Bohemian Rhapsody, the film, will satisfy all of these checkboxes, and more. It is, certainly, the best film I have seen this year and the best I expect to see. It is my favorite cinema experience since the brilliant Dunkirk.

I ain’t the only one. While the thing currently has a score of 64 on Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 94 audience score there. Critics are enjoying dissecting this movie, but audiences are simply * enjoying * this movie.

Yeah, but they got stuff wrong, critics are saying. Freddie didn’t have the studly mustache look until 198x, they says. They didn’t have to coax Geldhoff into them doing Live Aid, he had to coax them, and it wasn’t because of that, it was because of this, they says. And how about that stuff where Princess Leia floats through space like Mary Poppins, they says.

Blah, blah, blah, blah.

Rami Malek is reason enough to see this thing. It’s like he invites Freddy Mercury to live in him for a while. If he isn’t holding at least one tall bald trophy sometime next year for this, I’ll be more surprised than I was on Nov. 8, 2016.

The best of this movie is its ending, which is essentially a strut-by-strut re-enactment of the band’s Live Aid performance. This is some of the best faux rock performance footage since Purple Rain. Val Kilmer was a good Jim Morrison, but this kid from Mr. Robot is a great Freddy Mercury, accurate down to the hair on his forearms.

Holy crap I may just have to start watching Mr. Robot.

Among pop-music-group-bipopics, this is the best I have ever seen. Does it contain ever dull pop-music-group-biopic trope? Oh, yes. But it does ever single one better than any other. I say they might as well stop making pop-music-group-biopics now. (Sorry, Michael Hutchence.)

It doesn’t hurt that the source material is Freddy Mercury, one of the most powerful presences ever in rock-n-roll, and Queen generally, one of the most bodacious bands in rock-n-roll. I remember the first time I heard “We Will Rock You.”

Do you?

If you do, it was probably one of those moments, like the first time a girl blows in your ear, or your first gyro, but like, louder and with harmony. I mean, all it is is a powerful stomping percussion with a choir and a fantastic guitar solo. This was a less-is-more first I think that was later extrapolated buy guys like Prince (see “Kiss”).

For me, Queen was one of those musical revelations that kneaded my brain at a formative age. One of the first. One of many to follow.

And many reviews have somehow taken exception with how the film handles Freddy’s (homo)sexuality. How would they like the movie to portray this? Freddy was out and FABULOUS? He wasn’t. He couldn’t be. He lived under the same oppressive nonsense that made millions of others just as isolated as he was, an isolation that ended up drowning him to death via AIDS, a public health epidemic treated by our powers that be at the time as a modern-day leprosy rather than as a health crisis that required recognition and action.

Or did you forget all that?

Anyways. Of all things, this film is a fine, suitable tribute to one of the most powerful performers in rock. It is a joy, a sustainable, uncontainable joy.

Do you like joy?

Must Free TV

One “holy grail” of my existence has always been to achieve excellent reception of free, over-the-air television that includes at least the four major television networks if not a few more.

I’ve tried to get there for years and have never quite gotten there. There was always some pixelation, especially on the most vital of the television networks, ABC, which is the home of the greatest television program of all time, Shonda Rhimes’ masterpiece known as Grey’s Anatomy.

If I can’t watch Grey’s on Thursday night, it ain’t TV, and I ain’t havin’ it. Sadly, if there has been a station that gives me trouble, it’s ABC.

My solution of late has been the streaming service YouTube TV. These streaming service have come a long way in the past five years; I remember trying to stream Food Network on Sling TV when they first started and suffering paralyzing latency. Today, these services are more reliable as the companies have apparently invested in server farms to catch up with bandwidth requirements. Services I generally recommend, depending entirely on your need for content: Sling TV. YouTube TV. And Philo TV.

But still. That isn’t the grail.

See, in June 2009, the United States changed from over-the-air television in analog form to digital. In this age where every square inch of everything is considered a commodity for sale, I’m astonished the federal government any longer makes an effort to maintain airwave broadcasting.

The Federal Communications Commission was founded, after all, on the sparse premise that the airwaves could not be owned and therefore required federal regulation as a vital part of the commons. Thus, from the original mission statement of the FCC: “make available so far as possible, to all the people of the United States, without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex, rapid, efficient, Nationwide, and world-wide wire and radio communication services with adequate facilities at reasonable charges.”

So I reckon the way I figure it, a person ought to try to use the public airwaves if one can. So I have always tried to use OTA TV if possible. So I’ve spent years at the window fidgeting with an HD antenna.

Then, this week, I came across this website. And I figured out that most of the broadcast towers relevant to my needs are either due south or southwest from my apartment.

My windows face almost due north.

Huh.

Yeah, but putting the antenna on the other side of the apartment couldn’t possibly work because there’s a whole half a building in the way. Couldn’t possibly work. Couldn’t possibly!

This is my antenna, facing southwest.

I have never had a clearer OTA picture, ever.

P.S. If you’re on Facebook and interested in cord-cutting strategies, you must join the group called Cord Cutting Tech Support. Search it and sign up. It was being in this group and reading the posts and helping other folks there too that led me to these conclusions and helped me resolve this egregious error. Yer welcome.

A Star Is Boring

A relative unknown female vocalist whose physical image is not exactly “typical” but whose sheer talent has lately garnered her more attention. She then appears on NBC’s Saturday Night Live and boosts her profile considerably. Soon, she earns several Grammy nominations. She takes home “Best New Artist.”

If you have recently seen Bradley Cooper’s reboot of the cinema classic A Star Is Born, you probably think I have just summarized the film, leaving some bits out, of course.

Also, I have just summarized Adele’s actual career.

I think that’s one place where this film struck me as feeling awkward. Adele’s actual story would have been more interesting. Because “Ally” in Star sadly shorts her own talent and chooses a song for her SNL debut that marvels at how a person’s jeans make they ass look. As I recall, and, I’m sorry, the comparison for me anyway is inevitable, Adele’s performances of “Chasing Pavements” and “Cold Shoulder” were a revelation in their very quality. Real music on SNL for a change. That was interesting, and I felt that seeing Ally fight for her artistic relevance would have been interesting, too. Not this one. This one’s only objection to selling out was that she didn’t want to dye her hair blonde.

(SPOILER: She settles on light auburn.)

[WEIRD: Was this choice a hat-tip to Adele?]

I think though the trouble I had with this film is the same problem I have with Gaga. I like her. I’m probably a bit in love with her, because, who isn’t? And I’ve seen and heard performances by her that have blown me away, such as, for example, when she went toe to toe with James Hetfield at the 59th Grammys, and again, for example, in her first performance in Star, which sadly indicates they should have been remaking Cabaret instead. Seriously, I’d go see this film again just to watch her do that one more time, then I’d leave. It’s that astonishing a performance.

That’s how good she can be. But the essential problem is that I like her as a performer and as a personality generally.

I just really hate her music.

That’s a problem in a musical.

I have trouble believing the same artist(s) who performed “Shallow” later debuts on national television with “Why Did You Do That?” (Lyrics: “Why do you look so good in those jeans? | Why’d you come around me with an ass like that? | You’re making all my thoughts obscene | This is not, not like me) Call me naive, but I cannot reconcile those two artists nor those performances, nor those with the typical Gaga piano-belters later in the film, generally performances I find so self-absorbed they have certainly been composed of half water and half paper towel.

(That’s a Dennis Miller joke.)

[I recognize that that the callipygian tribute was probably a “statement” of some kind regarding the current state of the music “industry.” I just don’t agree that it worked.]

I have never seen previous iterations of this for-some-reason Hollywood perennial, so I cannot compare it to them. I can compare it to one of the best movie musicals I have ever seen: Once. The film itself is worth seeing, but its greatest strength as a musical is that the music never fails.

I didn’t think the music in Star A) was good or B) made sense.

I am probably a rare one, though, because the theater was packed, and the young lady sitting next to me was bawling her eyes out.

Kavanaugh 2

So when you spend most of your adult life listening to ska music, you eventually encounter a song called “Longshot Kick De Bucket.” And you will inevitably get the lyrics wrong and have no idea what the song is about.

The song is about a horse, and, if you’re curious about that story, you can read it over at skabook.

“Longshot” has been playing a lot in my personal brain jukebox lately due to my own tendency to get the lyrics wrong. Rather than hearing “Caymanas park,” my hearing of it is more akin to “Kavanaugh spa.” And that’s been that way like forever, long before this Kavanaugh dude wanted to be a U.S. Justice.

Speaking of Kavanaugh: In 2003, during his confirmation to the federal appeals court, Sen. Dick Durbin called him the “Forrest Gump of Republican politics … whether it’s Elian Gonzalez or the Starr Report, you are there.”

Remember the Starr Report? Are you a fan? Well, one of the authors you revere is Brett Kavanaugh.

Here’s a bit of an explanation from Stephen Bates, another co-author of the famous Starr Report:

The Starr Report was the product of an office. It didn’t represent the individual views of any one staffer. Nor did it have a single drafter. Andy Leipold principally drafted the introduction; Craig Lerner and I were the principal authors of the factual overview; and Brett drafted the outline of acts that potentially constituted grounds for impeachment. I don’t want to overstate this division of labor. Everyone in the office worked to some degree on all parts of the referral, as we called it. But broadly speaking, it’s fair to summarize the division by saying that the presentation of law in the impeachment counts of the document is mainly Brett’s prose; the presentation of facts in the narrative is not. When disagreements arose, final decisions ultimately were Ken’s. And once he had made a decision, on the referral or anything else, we all set aside any disagreements and implemented that decision.

So. United States Justice candidate Brett Kavanaugh A) Was wholly responsible for blowing up the myth that Bill and Hillary Clinton murdered Vince Foster, and B) helped author The Starr Report, which spelled out in explicit detail President Clinton’s physical relationship with a lady, a report that was released to the entire American public and that probably still be purchased at your local Barnes & Noble to this day.

Why do you reckon Brett Kavanaugh has such a paranoid hard-on for the Clintons?

Kavanaugh

“The reputation you develop for intellectual and ethical integrity will be your greatest asset or your worst enemy. You will be judged by your judgment. … Treat every pleading, every brief, every contract, every letter, every daily task as if your career will be judged on it… There is no victory, no advantage, no fee, no favor, which is worth even a blemish on your reputation for intellect and integrity. … Dents to the reputation in the legal profession are irreparable.” (Vince Foster, commencement address at University of Arkansas law, May 8, 1993)

In July 1993, Vincent Walker Foster Jr., a lifelong friend of a fella named Bill Clinton, transition team worker for that particular executive, and deputy White House Counsel, died.

Foster had been depressed and was prescribed the antidepressant trazodone over the phone by his Arkansas doctor. The next day, Foster was found dead at Fort Marcy Park in Virginia.

His autopsy determined that he was shot in the mouth.

No other wounds were found on his body.

Foster’s death was officially investigated five times, once by the United States Park Police and the FBI; once by Independent Counsel Robert B. Fiske; twice by Congress; and once by Independent Counsel Ken Starr.

By October 1997, Starr’s office concluded what all the other investigations did: Vince Foster took his own life.

For several years before that conclusion, though, the driving force behind Starr’s office’s interest in Foster’s death was a 30-year-old lawyer named Brett Kavanaugh.

Yep, the fella who fought for his life today in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee to become a United States Justice was at one time one of the prime movers and shakers of the fukakta idea that Bill and Hillary Clinton murdered their longtime friend and close adviser.

That’s the guy who today called Christine Blasey Ford’s charges “a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election.”

Kavanaugh was one of the original conspiracy engineers. He lit on fire the libelous notion that the President of the United States murdered his friend. And one foolish conspiracy theory carries others across the threshold. The President is a secret Muslim and wasn’t even born here. Death panels. FEMA camps. Benghazi. What about her emails. Lock her up.

And now, even at the precipice of working under the same roof where folks like Warren Burger and Thurgood Marshall toiled, he still can’t stop relying on the wickedest motors of humans.

I think Kavanaugh will be confirmed.

I don’t know if I think he shouldn’t be due to Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony.

But I do think he shouldn’t be confirmed because this is a guy who 50 years ago would have been running the mimeograph machine to hand out this week’s study of the Protocols at the meeting. Kavanaugh has proven himself to be an enormous part of the problem that is breaking this country. And he did nothing today to mitigate that concern.

Sunday 9-23-2018

At Least He Did The Research
“[Josh] Russell’s interest in rooting out online disinformation began during the 2016 presidential election. He wasn’t exactly a Donald Trump supporter, but he knew he didn’t like Hillary Clinton. He also was part of the gamer community, which he described as ‘very far-right.’

“After his wife got into an argument on Facebook with a person who made what Russell called some ‘wild claims’ about Clinton, he decided to explore his dislike for the Democratic presidential candidate. He slowly realized much of what he believed about her was wrong.” (Indiana dad hunts Russian trolls online, USA Toady, today)


Maybe There Is A God
The 12th and final season of the inane television program The Big Bang Theory premieres at 8 p.m. Monday.


Murphy Brown’s Back
“If Hillary Clinton was elected, there’d be no artistic reason for this show to be on the air. But because of the election and because the position the press is now findng itself in, there were so many reasons for this show to come back. This isn’t a money grab. This isn’t a ‘let’s go out for one more swing at the fences.’ This was: We need to do this show.” (Steve Peterman, an executive producer who worked on the original Murphy Brown, regarding the show’s upcoming reboot, as quoted in today’s New York Times.)


Dr. Who?
“If I don’t get it, can I still play a monster?”
(Jodie Whittaker’s remembered response when Dr. Who showrunner Chris Chibnall assured her he wanted her to audition for the title role. Source, today’s New York Times.)


Huh.