Thursday, December 31, 2015

Bill Cosby's dubious definition of sexual consent.

From the Associated Press article:
In his deposition, Cosby said he gave [Andrea] Constand three half-pills of Benadryl for stress without telling her what they were.  He said he groped Constand, taking her silence as a green light.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Underachieving Films/TV of 2015.

In no specific order:
1. RICKI AND THE FLASH--the creative combination of director Jonathan Demme and writer Diablo Cody didn't find a satisfying middle ground, though some decent moments and performances exist.
2. TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2--didn't hate it like many people in the critics' corner, but it proved that Nic Pizzolato as sole auteur was less effective than Pizzolato sharing the creative heavy-lifting with director Cary Fukunaga.
3. RYAN MURPHY HORROR STORIES--SCREAM QUEENS and AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL suffered from the exquisite corpse method of writing where tight, cohesive, coherent storytelling was tossed overboard for immediate effects: wicked, sometimes funny dialogue in the former plus supercharged brutality and as much softcore content as FX censors would allow (and they allowed quite a lot) in the latter.
4. TRUMBO--Jay Roach's streamlined telling of blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo surviving the 1950s until rescue via Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger.  A sad case of both runaway to Louisiana production and a tight budget dictating the telling of a story, omitting Trumbo's exile in Mexico because it's likely too hard to fake Mexican settings in New Orleans and/or Baton Rouge.
5. FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD 2015: Apparently Carey Mulligan balks at playing even partially "unsympathetic" characters as originally written (see also her Daisy Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann's THE GREAT GATSBY).  Bathsheba, as played by Julie Christie in the 1967 original, was a complex person, with admirable and not-so-likable traits.  Much of this was ironed out of the remake in order to adhere to presumed 2015 notions  (Mulligan's, the creative team's, Fox Searchlight's) of representational appropriateness, alas--down to dropping the more ambiguous ending of the earlier film.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

My Christmas playlist.

1. Step Into Christmas: Elton John
2. Pretty Paper: Willie Nelson
3. There's No Place Like Home (For The Holidays): Perry Como
4. Someday It's Christmas: Stevie Wonder
5. Mele Kalikimaka: Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters
6. Christmas Time Is Here Again: The Beatles
7. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home): Darlene Love
8. Happy Xmas (War Is Over): John Lennon and Yoko Ono
9. The Little Drummer Boy: The Harry Simeon Chorale
10. Mistletoe And Holly: Frank Sinatra
11. Silent Night: Dean Martin
12. White Christmas: Bing Crosby

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A list of books which, together, give a more complete picture of SoCal poetry.

In no specific order, these books can be found for sale online or in certain bookstores.

3. LUMMOX (issues 1-3)
9. Small press volumes including Red Hen Press, Punk Hostage, Lummox Press, Sacred Beverage and Sybaritic Press.
10. RATTLE--various issues

David Ulin, Suzanne Lummis, WIDE AWAKE and me.

Reposting this from Facebook, where, but for a handful of exceptions, it was not commented on:

Read David Ulin's remarks about WIDE AWAKE in his 10-Best [books] article in LA TIMES. Became enormously depressed, but nothing I can do about Ulin reducing the collective value of a large (and quite diverse at times) group of poets to one person's choices. And this isn't intended as a slight towards Suzanne and the work she did compiling it (I [bought] a copy)--just Ulin's insistence that the only poets worth remembering in perpetuity are the ones intersecting with [Suzanne] to varying degrees.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Memorable songs of 2015.

In no specific order:
1. Exes And Ohs--Elle King
2. Bad Blood--Ryan Adams
3. Hello--Adele
4. A Little Smile--Joe Jackson
5. Black Sun--Death Cab For Cutie
6. April 5th--Elvis Costello, Rosanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson
7. Coming Home--Leon Bridges
8. Random Number Generator--Wilco
9. Flesh And Bone--Buddy Guy, Van Morrison
10. Feeling Ok--Best Coast

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Author Mark Bowden explains Donald Trump for you.

As I’ve watched his improbable political rise, it is clear that he hasn’t changed. The very things that made him so unappealing apparently now translate into wide popular support. Apart from the comical ego, the errors, and the self-serving bluster, what you get from Trump are commonplace ideas pronounced as received wisdom. Begin registering all Muslims in America? Round up the families of suspected terrorists? Ban all Muslims from entering the country? Carpet-bomb ISIS-held territories in Iraq (killing the 98-plus percent of civilians who are, in effect, being held hostage there by the terror group and turning a war against a tiny fraction of the world’s Muslims into a global religious crusade)? Using nuclear weapons? The ideas that pop into his head are the same ones that occur to any teenager angry about terror attacks. They appeal to anyone who can’t be bothered to think them through—can’t be bothered to ask not just the moral questions but the all-important practical one: Will doing this makes things better or worse? When you believe in your own genius, you don’t question your own flashes of inspiration.

The above comes from a VANITY FAIR article by author Mark Bowden (BLACK HAWK DOWN) about Bowden interviewing Donald Trump for PLAYBOY in 1996.

Link here:

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Donald Trump Rorschach Test.

The campaign began with language advocating a "wall" to bar entry of illegal/undocumented Mexican immigrants.  Today, it got uglier: a raspy Donald Trump desiring to bar another race/religious group (containing many law-abiding, non-extremist Islamic citizens of this and other nations) from entry into the United States.

Here's the Rorschach Test question:
Do you consider Donald Trump's remarks:
A. Fascism
B. Hate speech
C. Bigotry
D. Reminiscent of Nazi Germany
E. Communicating in conservative "talk radio host" language
F. A passive-aggressive wish to be driven out of the 2016 Presidential race
that he may have--at first--entered just as a way of expanding the Trump Brand
G. Upping the "outrageous remarks" ante when he believes his poll numbers are slipping
H. A "tough" rebuttal to President Obama's measured Sunday night televised speech
I. An ominous forecast of a media focus-pulling third-party candidacy To Be Announced

Monday, November 30, 2015

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: the film of the decade?

The 1989 Tim Burton BATMAN was tagged with the blurb THE FILM OF THE DECADE.

And certainly, there was a must-see factor due to its trailer showcasing the stunt casting of Jack Nicholson (in his only superhero outing to date) as The Joker.

But there wasn't the enormous burden of artistic/financial expectations as there are for Zack Snyder's BATMAN V SUPERMAN.

Warner Brothers and DC have managed to devalue the DC Comics brand on-screen for more than twenty years--starting with the decision to dropkick Burton after the blend of genuine subversiveness (the Penguin and Catwoman scenes) and going-through-motions that was BATMAN RETURNS; the studio chose to hand off to the more pliant Joel Schumacher (it should be noted that parents weren't complaining about disturbing content the way they did during the original release of BATMAN RETURNS) for two films that tried to fuse 90s camp (nipples on the Batsuit) with the more obvious burlesque humor of the 60s Adam West/Burt Ward ABC series.

There's no need to discuss at length Bryan Singer's heartfelt but too leisurely attempt to provide a coda to the Richard Donner/Christopher Reeve era of SUPERMAN. 

But it's still a mystery to me why WB/DC decided to double down on Zack "punch through three layers of concrete" Snyder (who admittedly made a mostly effective film of WATCHMEN) after he too gave the world an uneven SUPERMAN reboot with a way-overdone climax.  And Snyder/WB/DC tripled down on retaining Henry Cavill as Superman (during the making of B V S, the Guy Ritchie MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. co-starring Cavill underperformed due in part to young audience unfamiliarity with the old TV series that birthed it).

Some people I follow on Twitter are beginning to salivate over BATMAN V SUPERMAN--perhaps in hopes the "adult comic book" ethos and fresh-for-the-time feel of the Burton BATMAN duo will again be realized (within the limits of the PG-13 rating as it's now enforced).

Maybe the miracle will happen.  But I'm not so sure we'll see a franchise rejuvenation like, say, the good-but-not-great CREED or the so-far-wonderful trailers/clips for JJ Abrams' STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The most reductive AOL clickbait I've seen lately.

Here it is:

Gwen Stefani flashes undies in red carpet dress

Talk about a revenge look! 'The Voice' judge showed her ex husband exactly what he's missing in a sheer gown that was definitely a head-turner.

And it's so wrong on at least two levels.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Jesse Eisenberg works out his film-critic aversion issues in THE NEW YORKER.

Actor/author/playwright Jesse Eisenberg just had his intended-as-humorous piece about a film reviewer as hapless-wannabe-loser in THE NEW YORKER:

Here's a link to a past encounter between Eisenberg and a Univision reviewer Romina Puga on a film junket for the first NOW YOU SEE ME:

From the same junket with MTV Canada's Rich Wilkinson:
And here's Eisenberg displaying discomfort with Comic-Con (using the word "genocide" which he later walked back) while doing press for THE END OF THE TOUR (plus a dig at the press):

It's understandable that actors can be irritated when junketeers either insist on doing personality schtick or want to throw out "gonna getcha angry" inquiries.  Or if they feel print reviewers are inadequate and/or know next to nothing about films/film history/the particular film of the actor being reviewed--or, as implied in Eisenberg's NEW YORKER piece, desire to be secretly unethical.

But few of them get the privilege of having smirky ripostes published in prestigious magazines.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

From the Poetry.LA YouTube Ben Trigg transcript.

As transcribed by YouTube without any changes.

,,,have you seen any
major change from the beginning when you started we in the market today in the in
the budget production of the boys are in contact with the one thing I think the
Tappan disaster evening went on and gained a reputation 
bring in a
a new level of featured readers and I feel like part of what has led to the
the level of our readers in the improvements i've seen over the course
of years is the examples we pride so you know when you can bring in some really
amazing people that people are hearing what works and even unconsciously try to
emulate that I think it just sort of elevates everything and i felt like we
have there's a almost unspoken expectation at the ugly mug like people
figure out if they're gonna read there they need to either run you know improve
as they can you know we don't have some sort of awake if you want this could go
but but we want everybody doesn't matter how good you are or if you're ok if
you're amazing we want everyone to get better and and they're sort of like
understanding of no work
grow on growth exactly grow or eventually people move on to something else...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Ben Trigg explains today's poetry scene for you.

Recently, veteran Orange County poetry host Ben Trigg did an interview with Mariano Zaro for the Poetry.LA site.  From 3:16 to 4:50 in the video, Trigg discusses the evolution in the Two Idiots Peddling Poetry reading (co-hosted with Steve Ramirez) from relative populism (i.e.showcasing a variety of levels of talent) to a more elevated status in terms of poetry and the reading's reputation (applying to both features and open readers).

Here's a link to the entire video:

Can Facebook be used without feelings of envy and sadness?

Just saw this article:

And here's a key passage:
"Instead of focusing on what we actually need, we have an unfortunate tendency to focus on what other people have," the authors of the [Happiness Research Institute] study wrote.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Some comments from others about the savage attacks in Paris.

Excerpted from an AP article by Robert Burns: "Paris attacks may lead to US military anti-IS escalation:
One new wrinkle since Friday's attacks in Paris is the prospect of France asking its NATO allies to come to its aid, invoking the 28 members' treaty obligation to consider an armed attack on one member as an attack against them all. That has happened only once in NATO's 66-year history: in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks against the U.S.
James Stavridis, the retired Navy admiral who served as NATO's top commander in Europe from 2009 to 2013, said NATO should play a military role now.
"NATO's actions need to be deliberate, meaningful and at a significant scale," Stavridis said by email, adding that consultations among the allies should begin shortly.
Stavridis, who is dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said NATO special forces could be called on in Iraq and Syria as aircraft spotters and as trainers of anti-IS fighters. They also could gather intelligence and conduct raids, he said. The alliance should welcome nonmember participants, including Russia, he said.
"Soft power and playing the long game matter in the Middle East, but there is a time for the ruthless application of hard power," Stavridis said. "This is that time, and NATO should respond militarily against the Islamic State with vigor.
Excerpts from Charles P. Pierce's ESQUIRE online article "There Is Only One Way To Defeat Isis:

These are a few things that will not solve the terrible and tangled web of causation and violence in which the attacks of Friday night were spawned. A 242-ship Navy will not stop one motivated murderous fanatic from emptying the clip of an AK-47 into the windows of a crowded restaurant. The F-35 fighter plane will not stop a group of motivated murderous fanatics from detonating bombs at a soccer match. A missile-defense shield in Poland will not stop a platoon of motivated murderous fanatics from opening up in a jammed concert hall, or taking hostages, or taking themselves out with suicide belts when the police break down the doors. American soldiers dying in the sands of Syria or Iraq will not stop the events like what happened in Paris from happening again because American soldiers dying in the sands of Syria or Iraq will be dying there in combat against only the most obvious physical manifestation of a deeper complex of ancient causes and ancient effects made worse by the reach of the modern technology of bloodshed and murder. Nobody's death is ever sacrifice enough for that.
Francois Hollande, the French president who was at the soccer game that was attacked, has promised that France will wage "pitiless war" against the forces that conceived and executed the attacks. Most wars are pitiless, but not all of them are fought with the combination of toughness and intelligence that this one will require. This was a lesson that the United States did not learn in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001. There are things that nations can do in response that are not done out of xenophobic rage and a visceral demand for revenge. There are things that nations can do in response that do not involve scapegoating the powerless and detaining the innocent.  There is no real point in focusing a response on the people whose religion makes us nervous. States should retaliate against states.
It is long past time for the oligarchies of the Gulf states to stop paying protection to the men in the suicide belts. Their societies are stunted and parasitic. The main job of the elites there is to find enough foreign workers to ensla…er…indenture to do all the real work. The example of Qatar and the interesting business plan through which that country is building the facilities for the 2022 World Cup is instructive here. Roughly the same labor-management relationship exists for the people who clean the hotel rooms and who serve the drinks. In Qatar, for people who come from elsewhere to work, passports have been known to disappear into thin air. These are the societies that profit from terrible and tangled web of causation and violence that played out on the streets of Paris. These are the people who buy their safety with the blood of innocents far away.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Some wisdom about supporting creations of creative people from Heaven 17's Martyn Ware.

...there is nothing at all embarrassing, Ware argues, about being artistic – and Britain should wake up and realise that.
“I find the world tries to make you feel guilty,” he said this weekend. “But anything artistic is undervalued in this country at the moment. The zeitgeist seems to dictate that artists should be grateful for any attention they get. Well, I just don’t buy that at all. It is really appalling and we are actually damaging our future prospects when people don’t support artistic endeavour.”

The above quote can be found in a profile of 80s synthpop star Martyn Ware--and how he believes that avant-garde art can be accessible to everyone.

Link here:

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Guessing the mindset leading to Donald Trump as SNL host.

Lorne Michaels, at this moment, probably thinks: What's the big deal?  I had Sarah Palin on the show.
Where were all these protesters when Trump appeared on my TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON?

Comcast/NBC/Universal definitely think: Yes, so he said some things about people illegally immigrating to the USA from Mexico.  And you could find those remarks to be racist.  But we were okay with Jorge Ramos from Univision pushing back,  Now, that's done and we've returned to embracing the ratings that Donald Trump brings.  Trump just uses the language of talk radio--like most other GOP candidates.

And, finally, CNN's Don Lemon shows a clip where Trump, in full Trump mode, tells a crowd about going to meet with Lorne and SNL staff to go over sketch ideas.

The only thing left for  people opposed to Donald Trunp hosting SNL: don't watch.

The lower the ratings, the more attention will be paid by the network and Lorne Michaels' Broadway Video.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


four decades ago
if a student didn't care
about class
about homework
wanting to do nothing but
lay his or head down on the desk
or sit in passive resistance--
the teacher would say
it's not my problem anymore
and let the student not care
while his/her classmates
turned in assignments,
learned lessons
and looked at the blackboard
until the mechanical bell
said "get up"
four decades later
a student who doesn't care
gets the Very Important Truant treatment
of teacher reproval,
then visit from principal or administrator
and, after that,
the school cop
who dumps him/her from the desk
throws him/her like a discus
while another student uses cameraphone
and is arrested
for making a permanent record of discipline
executed with extreme prejudice

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Heard the first single ("Looking Up") from the forthcoming T-Bone Burnett-produced Elton John album--and it's so-so at best.

Rather than dwell on a past decade-and-a-half that produced only three memorable albums (SONGS FROM THE WEST COAST, the Leon Russell collaboration THE UNION and the remix/pastiche album created by Pinau GOOD MORNING TO THE NIGHT), I'll display a playlist of deep cuts/singles that didn't hit (and are worth seeking out):

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sad but telling comment on some of our electorate.

Excerpted from a comment by Randy Matthews on HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE related to a Biden-drops-out, Hillary-ascendant post:
Trump could seriously be a candidate for President. Just as I can't believe that Schwarzenegger was Governor. This really does feel like "Back to the Future II" day. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Random thoughts on ALL THINGS MUST PASS and Tower Records.

Saw Colin Hanks' documentary ALL THINGS MUST PASS yesterday--it's the story of the Tower Records chain (starting as a Sacramento CA record store) as mostly told by founder Russ Solomon and his loyal employees.  As a story of a business that grew too large and crashed due to institutional arrogance (and bloodless bankers who decided to liquidate rather than save), the documentary is likely to get massive airplay on CNBC in years to come (after a few bleeps to eliminate R-rated expletives).

After moving to Southern California in 1988, I became a frequent Tower Records shopper (Westwood, Pasadena, Northridge, Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks, Glendale, Torrance and the flagship Sunset Boulevard store) for the conglomerate's remaining 18 years of life.  It was an era where huge quantities of recorded music, videos-for-sale-and-rent and music/film books/magazines could be found all over the city (including competing chains Music Plus, Wherehouse and Sam Goody).  Even if a customer wanted somethig esoteric, it could be found by either going to various stores or having a special order placed.

ALL THINGS MUST PASS, perhaps to please Russ Solomon, makes no mention of competing chains.

The film does enlighten with an explanation of Tower Records' enthusiastic embrace of the compact disc format--and willingness to collude with the Music Industry to overcharge CDs for Massive Profits.

There's also an interesting statistic that pops up about the quantity of sales (in the hundreds of millions) of audiocassettes (cheaper than CDs) in the 90s.

To keep Massive Profits alive, the cassette format was killed in 2002; the vinyl album was faded out a few years earlier.

David Geffen and another exec whose name I don't remember are the film's representatives of the Music Industry.  Geffen comes off as the Voice of Reason--while the other exec spouts the bromides (Napster is Stealing; it was a Good Idea to finish off the recorded single to make the kids buy albums) that fueled the rise of iTunes and led to today's Music Industry trying to kill the CD format (and, once again, going back to higher prices per disc), while vinyl records are again being embraced by chain stores like Barnes & Noble and Urban Outfitters (though more as a limited-run Hipster Accessory).

And, as the film ends, Tower Records remains alive as an active chain only in Japan (plus the Tower brand exists online selling music/books)--where Russ Solomon is greeted as Conquering Hero and viewers can walk out of the multiplex secure in the knowledge that It Was Not All In Vain.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Regarding Bill Cosby and THE COSBY SHOW.

Now that Keshia Knight Pulliam and Malcolm-Jamal Warner have taken the floor (perhaps due to requests to "come through" for Bill Cosby when he's taking deposition questions with regards to a woman he allegedly assaulted), it's time to ponder whether or not televised repeats of THE COSBY SHOW will drift towards oblivion, with further decline in its revenue stream.

I'm guessing THE COSBY SHOW will continue to be viewed somewhere in the world every day--though it may now be regarded more as a curio of its era (the 80s was big on TV which, lessons to young people aside, espoused IT'S GREAT TO BE RICH!)--credited with reviving the then-almost-dead sitcom genre.

Perhaps the most important legacy of COSBY is the popularity of diverse family sitcoms on Disney/ABC: blackish, FRESH OFF THE BOAT and DR. KEN.

But, with regards to Ms. Pulliam and Mr. Warner, the diminishment of THE COSBY SHOW is due to the alleged behavior of Bill Cosby himself (keep in mind Cosby's settlement with Andrea Constand), plus the smear-the-complainants repugnance orchestrated by Cosby and his attorneys.

In any event, Bill Cosby has now done a lot (though inadvertently) to embolden the victimized (in this and other cases involving Show Business figures--named or not) to speak out on issues of sexual harassment, rape and coercion by way of unintentional drug intake.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Twitter conversation between male and female film journalists.

  1. This happened a little while ago (names and Twitter handles omitted):

  2. Female journalist:
    3 hours ago
    Marvel just announces Ant Man sequel in 2018 and 3 other films in 2020. How much do you want to bet that none of those star women.
  3. Male journalist:
    3 hours ago
    Um, THE WASP is a woman. You need to RELAX sometimes...!
  4. Female journalist: 1 hour ago
    thanks so much for that advice. Really helpful.
  5. Male journalist:
    1 hour ago
    No, what's helpful is your knee-jerk "SEXISM!" reaction to every announcement when you have no idea what you're talking about.
  6. Female journalist:
  7. You are more than welcome to unfollow me if my stupidity upsets you so much. Have a great day.

Male journalist:
I don't think you're stupid at all... and admire what you do. But why not get behind companies that are actually doing it RIGHT?

Female journalist:
It's not enough by far. It's crumbs. I want a meal.

Male journalist:
You'll get one in 2019 with Captain Marvel. Wonder Woman in 2017. Not excited about The Girl on the Train? Joy? Moana? Ghostbusters?
  1. 2 minutes agoare more than welcome to unfollow me if my stupidity upsets you so much. Have a great day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


one morning during
my first week in California,
I woke up in my single bed
and felt like I was riding on
a Tilt-A-Whirl
reminiscent of long-ago days
at the Funland Amusement Park
in Wichita Falls Texas
that was my introduction
to the unpredictability
of the Golden State:
El Nino
more earthquakes
causing real damage
and no comparison to
rolling up and down
in a circle
on a Midway ride
easily turned off
after three minutes
of safe chaos