Why do People Hate Deion Sanders?

Deion Sanders

Deion “Prime Time” Sanders recently took a job as the head coach of the Colorado Buffalo’s football team and a lot of people aren’t so happy about it. I’ve read quite a few articles claiming he cannot build a winning program, that he only wants to make money for himself, that anyone who hires him is a fool.

After those articles I’ve read the comments which, outside of Colorado fans, are almost universally negative toward Deion Sanders. It piques my curiosity that so many people feel the way they do. I have my thoughts on the subject. Let’s talk about it.

Deion Sanders is Prime Time

There is no doubt that Deion Sanders lives up to his nickname of Prime Time. He’s brash, he’s confident, he’s the sort of fellow who proudly tells you he’s going to beat you and then often does so. He’s arguably the greatest defensive back in NFL history and was one of the finest athletes in the world.

This sort of cockiness often brings out the haters and I think this is one of the reasons people are rooting against him.

Deion Sanders is Black

Much as some people would like to deny it, racism is still around. There are hardcore racists and more subtle racists. The fact of my first point combined with the second brings out the racism. Not only is he black but he’s cocky, uppity even. The same sort of brashness out of a white guy is perceived as toughness, no-nonsense manliness.

The Bottom Line of the Deion Sanders Hate

The bottom line is the bottom line. Deion Sanders is a relatively young, brash, black man who is coaching football. An enormously outsized percentage of the best high-school football players in the country, called five-star recruits, are minorities. Young, black athletes are choosing to go play for Deion Sanders. This is a threat to the institutions that currently dominate the sport.

I’m certainly not saying all the top recruits are flocking to Colorado to play but it makes a difference. If a dozen five-star recruits go to play in Colorado instead of Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Auburn, LSU, and the other dominant college teams; those teams are slightly less good.

This is not just about bragging rights for those powerhouse schools, it’s about money. A lot of money. Those schools generate billions of dollars in revenue by having good football and basketball teams. The coaches make millions in salaries and more in the redistribution of the clothing contract money, private flights, loans for houses, and other perks.

The alumni of the schools do business in million-dollar luxury boxes where they entertain important clients. The wealth is enormous and its influential tendrils permeate every aspect of college towns and beyond.

If Deion Sanders succeeds then he won’t be the last young, black man to take over a program and siphon talent away from the power schools. That’s a real threat and people are genuinely worried. They have a vested interest in making sure he fails at Colorado.

Conclusion

Deion Sanders isn’t the most likeable human being in the world to begin with and the situation here is what people often call the perfect storm. The reality is he represents a threat to the establishment and, if you know anything about history, the establishment doesn’t go down without a fight.

Stay tuned.

Tom Liberman

Women’s Ballon d’Or given to Aitana Bonmati by Novak Djokovic

There’s a bit of a to-do regarding the awarding of the Ballon d’Or Femenin to Aitana Bonmati. Why, you ask? Because the award was presented by Novak Djokovic. What’s the problem, you ask?

It’s an interesting situation and reading comments on the story I’m reminded of the reverse standards many people have these days. It’s not really a matter of right or wrong, it’s a matter of who is complaining. If the person I agree with is aggrieved, they are right and vice-versa. Let’s get into it.

2023 Ballon d’Or

The ceremony involves passing out awards to the best and brightest in futbol, or soccer as we know it here in the United States. There are eight awards presented during the ceremony. The Ballon d’Or and the Ballon d’Or Femenin for the player of the year both men and women.

Additional awards are the Kopa for the best-performing player under 21, the Yashin for the best-performing goal-keeper, Gerd-Muller for best striker, the Socrates for most humanitarian player, and the Men’s and Women’s Club of the year trophies.

Interesting Sidenotes

I find it relatively interesting that the Kopa, Yashin, and Gerd-Muller awards do not have female equivalents. I wrote an article about gender neutral awards back in 2017 and it’s a subject of interest although I’m not going to spend much time on it today. I do think they should either include a female award or consider female candidates for the existing awards. No women were nominated for the Kopa and Yashin and the Gerd-Muller does not even consider them eligible.

The Main Issue with this Year’s Ballon d’Or

The issue people have with this year’s ceremony is the choice of Novak Djokovic, a non-futbol player and a man, to give out the Feminin Ballon d’Or.

Those on one side of the issue consider this a deliberate affront while those on the other side don’t see a problem with it. I’m in between, as usual. I doubt the award’s committee even considered the question very much and didn’t make the decision as a deliberate insult.

That being said, it is insulting. In what other award’s ceremony is the person handing out the most important trophy someone who has nothing to do with the industry in question? Certainly David Beckham, who gave out the Ballon d’Or to Lionel Messi this year is a celebrity on the order of Djokovic but he’s a futbol player.

Unprepared Djokovic

Adding insult to injury is the fact that after reading Bonmati’s name as the winner, Djokovic simply walked to the side and allowed her to accept the award without handing it to her. That’s on Djokovic, not the committee. He’s a disciplined and dedicated athlete who takes his profession seriously. If he’s going to be giving out an award, he should know enough to hand it to the recipient. It’s common courtesy.

Conclusion

I don’t think this is an enormous issue nor do I think the feminists of the world need to organize protests and call for boycotts. I do think the committee of the Ballon d’Or needs to rethink their policies and an apology is not out of line. Next year I’d like to see a change.

Tom Liberman

The Newsom versus DeSantis Debate Idiocy

Newsom versus DeSantis

Newsom versus DeSantis. The very words come with the taste of vomit to my mouth. Is this what we’ve arrived at in this country? The governor of California and the Governor of Florida debating despite the fact they are not running against each other.

What can I even say at this point to anyone who doesn’t recognize the utter stupidity of this debate. The vapid, valueless, soundbite, stupidity of this event. By Grabthar’s Hammer I hate it and the environment that makes it possible.

Why Newsom Versus DeSantis?

It’s all about being seen defending the ideology of idiocy. They both want their name in the public view as much as possible. Why? Because the idiocracy that the United States is swiftly becoming. The voters vote for this sort of stupidity.

Peruse the news aggregator of your choice and count the insane headlines. The dumber and more controversial the headline, the more clicks it gets. Some outlets, 1945 for example, post the most idiotic headlines representing all extremes of every side. They just don’t care.

The same goes for the people commenting on the moronic stories. The dumber and more inflammatory the idiotic comment, the more responses it gets. Winning!

Out-of-Control Ideology

The Newsom versus DeSantis debate is just a symptom of out-of-control ideology. It’s so bad the loudest proponents on both sides don’t care in the slightest if what they say is factual, accurate, defamatory, might inspire violence, or is just pure insanity. Give me those likes, baby!

Everyone Knows Newsom versus DeSantis is Stupid

I know it. You know it. DeSantis and Newsom know it. The cat knows it. They aren’t running against each other. They are from states on opposite sides of the country. They are doing it purely to have their face and moronic ideology broadcast to the True Believers. I’m on your side, I care about you.

They don’t. They hate you. They only love themselves, the sickos. And you people voting for them enable it all.

Conclusion

Barf.

Tom Liberman

A Great Plot Wasted on The Borgias

A Great Plot Wasted

I managed to make it to the third episode of season one of The Borgias and I nearly wept because it was a great plot wasted. When people come to me asking for advice on how to write a novel, they invariable present an interesting plot.

Coming up with a good plot isn’t particularly difficult, it’s executing that idea into an interesting and compelling narrative which presents the bigger problem. Still, a good plot, or even a great plot, is of value.

The third episode of the first season of The Borgias presented an amazing plot device filled with promise. Then I watched a great plot wasted.

The Plot

Djem, the brother of the Sultan Bayezid II of the Ottoman Empire, arrives in Rome to be placed under the care of the pope. In reality, the Sultan wants Djem dead and will pay handsomely for the murder. Djem befriends the pope’s two sons and daughter. In the end, the pope’s younger son murders Djem.

Why it’s a Great Plot

It’s a great plot for a number of reasons. Djem is a handsome and vigorous young man who gets along well with the Pope’s three children.

He is a younger brother figure to Cesare Borgia who regards him as someone to mold. An older brother figure to Juan Borgia who admires the spirit and vigor of Djem. A potential romantic interest to Lucrezia Borgia who finds him charming, intelligent, and interesting.

In addition to the potential exploration of these three relationship dynamics are the religious ramifications of Djem, a Muslim, staying with the pope, a Catholic.

The Ottoman Empire conquered the Byzantine Empire which is generally considered the eastern Roman Empire. This historical fact is another potentially interesting point of development to explore as the pope is largely associated with the Roman Empire.

The eventual murder of Djem by Juan is quite interesting in that we might explore the difficulty in reconciling duty to family with loyalty to friends.

In short, it’s a plot filled with potential for drama, romance, and it’s always useful to throw in a little comedy as well.

A Great Plot Wasted

What did we get? A great plot wasted. Absolutely tossed out with the garbage and left to rot in the alley. The problem largely stems from jamming the entire plot into a single episode. We meet Djem, get to know Djem, and kill Djem in about forty minutes. It’s not enough time. We need to understand his relationship with the three children. His religion. His precarious situation back home.

To my way of thinking, this plot is so filled with potential it might have played out over an entire season. Certainly at least three or four episodes at a minimum.

We didn’t even see the Sultan’s ambassador speak with Pope Alexander VI. Right there, that’s a great start. The ambassador arrives at the Vatican with pomp and ceremony. He visits Alexander VI and asks they take in Djem. There is huge potential of a great conversation where the ambassador makes it clear they want Djem dead without actually saying it. The offering of the bribe. What a fantastic scene that might have been.

Instead, we get Alexander VI telling Cesare in a casual conversation, oh, by the way, the Sultan wants Djem dead. Wow, that was great.

Next, we get a group of short scenes with Djem doing a variety of things with the three children. Eating lunch, playing croquet, sword-fighting. It’s all designed to show us how Djem is liked by the family but there’s no lingering conversations. We don’t really get to see the friendships and potential romantic relationships grow over time. We need more of the scenes but slowly, over the course of multiple episodes, until we consider Djem a friend and an important character.

The only really interesting scene is when Djem confesses he wants to become a Christian because everyone is so nice compared to the casual murder and torture he is used to seeing back home. It’s a good scene but we need more like it. We need Djem to talk about his brother more, to understand his situation, to empathize with him, to care. As it stands, we just don’t.

The Murder

Finally, we get to the murder which should be heart-wrenching. We should see Juan struggling with his admiration and friendship with Djem and his obligation to his family. We see no such struggle. Juan seems eager for the entire thing until it goes wrong and he must murder Djem personally.

What conflict this might have been. The struggle Juan faces, some introspection, conversations with his brother about what to do, his father pressuring him against Juan’s personal desires. Oh, I weep. Well, I don’t weep, but it does make me angry at a great plot wasted. Wasted.

Going Forward

Now, I haven’t seen past the third episode but it’s clear the profound trauma suffered by Juan particularly but also Cesare and Lucrezia might well be the fodder for many plots and scenes going forward. I suspect the show will simply move on with barely a nod but maybe I’m wrong.

Conclusion

Why? Why did this happen? I don’t even think you have to be an amazingly talented writer, director, or producer to see the potential of this plot. And yet, somehow, no one did. Rush, rush, rush. I’ve talked about rushing before so I won’t bore you with more of the same.

What a terrible shame.

Tom Liberman

Justified City Primeval is just a Punchy One-Liner

Punchy one-liner

I can review Justified City Primeval with a single word, ghastly. Just ghastly. I have a number of friends who rave about Justified although I haven’t seen it. I can only assume it has nothing in common with the action mess I just witnessed.

Normally I’d move along without bothering to write a review but the episode I just saw gives me an opportunity to discuss the trend of a punchy one-liner following an action sequence.

What is a Punchy One-Liner

I can’t say for absolute certain when the trend of punchy one-liners following an action sequence began. My personally memory is Roger Moore in James Bond. Sure, Sean Connery threw them out now and again but it was James Bond with Moore as the actor who really cemented the practice.

After an action sequence the protagonist must utter a witty or cutting one-line summation of what just happened. Fans liked it. Heck, I liked it. What happens when people like something? We get more of it. A lot more of it. More of it than this fellow can stomach.

Scenes Designed for the Punchy One-Liner

It’s one thing to have a punchy one-liner at the end of an action sequence but it’s entirely another to have scenes written for the sole-purpose of delivering that punchy one-liner.

One of the most egregious examples I can think is the Battle of Helms Deep in the Two Towers. The entire battle sequence seems to be merely a setup for a line about tossing a dwarf.

It’s gotten to the point where half the action scenes in a movie don’t forward the story in any way, they exist solely for the punchy one-liner the protagonist utters at the end. The audience laughs.

Scene Bloat

I’ve written about scene over story in the past so I won’t get too in depth here. The result of the desire to get in these quips is scene bloat. We get a variety of scenes that don’t serve the plot, don’t tell us about the characters, don’t do anything at all.

It’s not always the action sequences any more. Pretty much at the end of any scene it’s mandatory for a character to say something cutting, witty, or pithy about what just happened. The result is we get more and more scenes that don’t serve the story.

It’s important to understand there are runtime restraints. Every time a scene that doesn’t serve the story is inserted, that’s one less scene which might inform the audience, engage us, make us care. Instead, we are served a fleeting laugh at best.

An Entire Episode of Scenes with Almost no Story

Justified City Primeval is largely a series of scenes manufactured to deliver such lines. The kidnappers on the highway. The gas station robbery. The courtroom scenes. The attempt at comedy from the buffoons who want to kill the judge. The judge’s murder sequence, a shocking display of utter stupidity from beginning to end.

Conclusion

I’m not against a punchy one-liner if it makes sense and comes at the end of sequence that serves the story. What I see nowadays is not that. I have a funny one-liner. Let’s write a scene, who cares if it fits the story? Maybe it’s the writers. Maybe it’s the producers demanding it. I’m not sure but I know I’m not going to watch the second episode of Justified City Primeval.

Tom Liberman

Building Tension from The Knick to The Borgias

Building Tension

I recently started watching The Knick and The Borgias and I find the different way the two shows handle building tension to be quite interesting.

Both The Knick and The Borgias have stellar casts, high production values, and came out at roughly the same time. The Borgias ran for three seasons between 2011 and 2013 while The Knick had a two-season run between 2014 and 2015. The Knick received somewhat better reviews and audience approval and I think one of the reasons is building tension.

Now, to be fair, I’ve only seen two episodes of each show at this point so my opinion is definitely open to change. Let’s get started.

What is Building Tension?

At its simplest, building tension is the concept of unresolved conflict. Opposing forces work against each other without a resolution. The longer the conflict continues without a resolution, the greater the tension created. Such tension generally raises audience interest. We wonder who or what will prevail. What will be the resolution?

Naturally, it’s entirely possible to let tension build too long without a resolution, leading the audience to give up on a show where nothing is ever resolved.

Building Tension in The Borgias

I’ll not build any tension. The Borgias really doesn’t do much in the way of building tension. At least in the first two episodes. A problem arises and it’s almost immediately resolved. There is no tension building as we race from one crisis to the next. It’s handled better than in The Ark but not by a lot.

A good example is the first episode as Cardinal Borgia tries to bribe his way to the Papacy. The previous office holder dies, Borgia states his plan. He entreats his sons to make various bribes, and in the third ballot he is elected.

Here there is at least an attempt at creating a little tension by having events unfold over several scenes. Still, the entire thing took maybe twenty minutes of screen time from beginning to end. I personally see this plot taking up an entire season, if not the first two or three episodes.

A better example is the poisoning attempt on Pope Borgia. The assassination plot is not hinted at in any way. There is no tension at all. We find out about it and it’s resolved within five minutes. You’re going to poison my father; I’ll pay you more to poison the cardinal. Ok. Cardinal poisoned.

Another example is Borgia’s affair with Guilia. She confesses in a bawdy fashion, Borgia shows her the secret tunnel, she shows him her secret tunnel. Boom, bang, wham, or words to that effect. There was no building tension at all.

Basically, a problem is revealed and then solved almost immediately. I don’t have time to reflect, to wonder, to determine sides. It’s over almost before I realized it started.

Building Tension on The Knick

Less has happened in two episodes of The Knick than in twenty minutes of the Borgias. The main tension in the first two episodes of The Knick is whether or not Dr. Edwards will be accepted at the hospital. He is a black man and that is unacceptable to chief surgeon Dr. Thackery. He gives Edwards menial and useless tasks.

In the first episode there is a medical crisis and if this show was paced like the Borgias, Edwards would step forward and save the day. In this case, it is Thackery who shows off his prodigious skill impressing Edwards who wishes to learn from the master.

In the second episode there is another opportunity for Edwards to save the day as he recommends a procedure he practiced in Paris. Thackery shoots him down and the patient dies. There is a second patient with the same problem so Thackery dispatches assistants to find the journal in which the procedure is described. That’s where things are left after the second episode. Tension, consider yourself built.

By not resolving the problem immediately I’m left wondering what will happen. Will Thackery continue his stubborn ways or will he allow Edwards to assist, perhaps even perform, the surgery? Will the patient live or die? I don’t know but I’m engaged and in doubt as to the resolution.

By taking things slow The Knick builds tension.

This is also reflected in several other moments of conflict; the electrifying of the building, financial mismanagement, the need for more cadavers, the nun’s little side business. Problems are not revealed in their totality immediately. They build.

Conclusion

This difference in building tension is consciously decided. In The Borgias someone decided that fast-paced resolutions were better. The audience wants one crisis after the next and to have it neatly wrapped up in a speedy fashion.

Meanwhile, in The Knick, the opposite approach is taken. Let’s bring the crisis on slowly, foreshadow, hint, build.

Taking things slow isn’t always the best idea and things do have to move along, but the racing speed of The Borgias is not entertaining to me while I’m totally engrossed in The Knick.

Tom Liberman

White House Plumbers a Tour de Force

White House Plumbers

Blown away. White House Plumbers is a stunning take on the events surrounding the Watergate Scandal of the Nixon administration.

Hilarious. That’s the word that comes to mind and it’s obviously a strange description of a show depicting the events here. I haven’t laughed out loud this much at a television show in I can’t remember how long.

Let’s get into why I loved this mini-series.

White House Plumber Mediocre Reviews

The show isn’t receiving rave reviews and that doesn’t particularly surprise me. It takes on a topic of political importance that has a great deal of meaning to a lot of people, even those not around at the time of its unfolding.

The satirical, darkly humorous take presented here is bound to offend people on all sides of the political aisle. Democrats will loathe the humorous take because they consider this a serious topic. Republicans will not like the portrayal of most of the parties as moronically stupid.

Acting in White House Plumbers

If there is anyone left in the world who doesn’t believe Woody Harrelson is a tremendous actor, I hope his stunning performance here disavows them of that misconception. Meanwhile, Justin Theroux stands toe-to-toe with Harrelson’s E. Howard Hunt in a jaw-dropping portrayal of G. Gordon Liddy.

I mean to say, Holy Fucking Shit! What performances. I believed. I double-believed. The two work with one another and their co-actors like perfectly ticking metronomes.

Hunt’s children were outstanding. The wild daughter, the dissolute son, the good daughter, and even the young boy. Lena Headey as his wife was my only, slightly, sour note. I thought she over-played it a tad but that’s understandable when trying to avoid being totally overshadowed by the over-the-top Liddy and Hunt.

Judy Greer as Liddy’s wife absolutely nailed it. She’s better known as a comedic actor but she is amazing here.

All the bit players, Toby Huss as James W. McCord, Sr. Domhnall Gleeson as the weaselly John Dean. The list goes on and on. Everyone playing the Cubans. I don’t want to leave anyone off but I must. All good. All believable in situations that are impossible to believe.

The Tone in White House Plumbers

A hilarious satirical look at the Watergate Scandal? It’s almost impossible to conceive of this take. If you pitched it to me, I’d have told you to go back to the drawing board. How does it work? I’m not totally sure, but it works.

Out of the box, subverting expectations, madness. I love it.

The Utter Stupidity of it All

The show doesn’t pull any punches on the idiocy of the entire plan. Hunt is a damaged man, traumatized by the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and driven by delusions surrounding it. Liddy is simply an insane idealogue, his righteousness so predetermined he need not examine anything with a critical eye. He is right, was right, will be right. That drives everything else.

Together they bring down the president of the United States with their moronic behavior.

The final scene between Liddy and Hunt is a stunning display. A standoff worthy of Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef.

I was particularly impressed with Liddy’s rationalizing the utter stupidity of it all when he justifies his actions by spinning it to be his plan all along. To sow distrust in the American public of political institutions. This is a mad man whose behavior is particularly enlightening at this time in American history.

Conclusion

A lot of people won’t like this show, let alone love it. They’ll be offended. They’ll be upset. Count me not among them. I loved almost every second of it. The acting, the writing, the sets, the music, everything.

Well done to everyone. Well done, indeed.

Tom Liberman

Lucky Hank and Scene over Story

Lucky Hank

I just wrapped up the first season of Lucky Hank and I’m quite sad to say I didn’t much care for the show. It features Bob Odenkirk who recently wrapped up the critically acclaimed and audience beloved Better Call Saul.

In Lucky Hank, Odenkirk plays William Henry Devereaux, Jr., the head of the English department at Railton College. He is deeply traumatized by a failed relationship with his absentee father and somewhat world-weary in general.

Odenkirk Benefit of the Doubt

Sentiment for Bob Odenkirk as an actor is on a high note because of his outstanding performance in Better Call Saul. I suspect many of the good reviews about Lucky Hank are related to this rather than a honest reflection of the show itself.

Critics and audience reviews are relatively mixed with some people loving the show completely while others agree with my assessment, it’s not very good.

Why is Lucky Hank Bad?

I think the underlying issue with Lucky Hank is a reliance on entertaining the audience with individual scenes and quips from the characters. I’ve spoken about this sort of thing before in regards to The Gilded Age and Succession.

Essentially, someone thinks up a good one liner for Hank or one of his cohorts, and then designs an entire scene to setup that line. It’s often something witty or cruel with the intention of getting a laugh from the audience.

The problem is that these scenes come and go without tying into a broader storyline. The audience may or may not laugh, I didn’t, but the scenes create plot points then completely abandoned. It creates issues with the timeline as well. I don’t know from one episode to the next how much time has passed because they are desperate to get in a scene, even though it doesn’t really fit.

One example is Hank’s mysterious pains which cause him terrible agony. This is used at the doctor’s office and a couple of other places in early episodes and then never mentioned again. This leaves me wondering, hey what happened with his pains?

Another example is Lily’s restaurant scene where a couple next to them is caught in an affair and the man must move to her table. She uses this moment to tell the man everything she’s been feeling about Hank. It’s such a contrived way of doing it. It felt unreal, stupid. Another similar thing happens with the real-estate agent. Everything is forced and doesn’t feel organic to the character or the scene.

A bigger example is Hank’s traumatic meltdown at the faculty dinner party he and his wife host. This is a painful, awful, scene. By the next episode it seems to be completely forgotten. No one really mentions it again, it was as if a writer decided to give Odenkirk a big dramatic scene and then forgot about it.

Horrible People

There really isn’t anyone likeable in Lucky Hank and that’s a problem. I don’t mind a few unlikable characters but it’s difficult to find anyone here worthy of any investment of my feelings.

The bartender/adjunct professor Meg seems like a good egg until she completely betrays Hank’s daughter by sleeping with her husband. Not to mention she wanted to sleep with Hank and betray his wife as well.

Friendly professor Tony seems like a good guy at first glance but let’s take a look at his main episode, which followed Hank’s meltdown.

They are at a conference and the idea is to portray Hank as a self-absorbed jerk and Tony as a decent fellow. The reality is that Tony just witnessed Hank having an enormous crisis and doesn’t even mention it. All he’s concerned about is his own lecture. He’s not a caring friend. He’s horrible.

Bad Stereotyping

Stereotyping on this show isn’t quite as awful a problem as on The Ark but it’s particularly bad here in regards to Hank’s son-in-law Russel and the poetry professor Gracie.

It appears the show writers were concerned about being labeled as a Woke show and thus decided to make Gracie the butt of every joke. She’s the anti-woke version of a feminist. She’s awful in every regard. Meanwhile, perhaps wary of being labeled anti-woke, Russel is the hapless, moronic male character often depicted in Woke shows.

The reality is that both of these characters are everything that Woke isn’t supposed to be. We shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. People are unique and have their strengths and flaws. They are real people with problems but also good qualities. Gracie and Russel are written flat, boring, and frankly offensive. Neither one comes across as remotely real or relatable. They are there for people to make fun of them.

Conclusion

I just didn’t believe any of the characters. None of them come across as fully-formed. The dialog, the scenes, the story, it’s all just jammed into place trying to get a laugh here or there but not tell a complete story.

I didn’t like it. Maybe you did.

Tom Liberman

Why Does the Government Advertise Wood Milk?

Wood Milk

There’s a bit of a contretemps involving a satirical commercial starring Aubrey Plaza for something called Wood Milk and I’d like to discuss it.

Essentially, the commercial attempts to discredit plant-based milk products by promoting the fictional milk made from wood. A complaint was filed over the commercial and a quick perusal of comments indicates most people don’t fully understand the complaint at all.

The Dairy Promotion Program

Basically, the advertisement is a product of the Dairy Promotion Program and essentially funded by the United States Government. Way back in 1983, dairy farmers in the United States noticed a decline in the amount of milk being consumed. What did they do? Like any good modern-day crony-capitalist, they went running to the government for help.

The government collects money from dairy farmers and runs advertisements for them. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s largely the gist of it.

Dairy Management Inc

Remember Got Milk? See any generic advertisements for cheese? Seen the Aubrey Plaza advertisement for Wood Milk? That’s all the government, or as they like to say, quasi-government agencies. Dairy Management Inc. runs all of these campaigns using money collected from dairy operations. They run advertisements primarily to elementary and high school students. Got a problem with indoctrination anyone?

The money is collected from dairy organizations, so it’s fine, right? Wrong. The money is collected from dairy organizations who pass that cost along to you and then the DMI strongarms fast-food companies into having more milk and cheese-based items and advertises to promote them, mainly to children.

The Problem with Wood Milk

The problem with the Wood Milk advertisement is that it negatively attacks plant-based milk products. It doesn’t just promote milk. That’s government playing favorites in a blatant fashion. I’ll be honest, my problems with the DMI and the DPP extend far beyond Wood Milk. They are organizations that should not exist.

Government in Advertising

Does the government advertise whiskey? Beer? Soda? It does not and it should not. If any dairy company wants to create an advertisement, that’s well and good, that’s capitalism. If a bunch of dairy companies want to pool their money and run advertisements promoting their product, I don’t have a problem with that either.

It’s the government involvement that sticks in the craw of this Libertarian. Particularly when that advertisement takes aim at a rival product.

I’d be just as upset if the government advertised solar energy over oil and I suspect a lot of people who support the DMI and DPP would as well.

Conclusion

Yes, milk consumption is going down in the United States and has been for decades. It’s not the fault of plant-based milk products, it’s the free market. People like bottled water more than milk. If a product isn’t desired by the public anymore, then the government shouldn’t be involved in propping up the industry for the sake of jobs.

Tom Liberman

Tribal Regalia in Oklahoma

Tribal Regalia

I just read an interesting story about Native Americans being allowed to wear traditional garb during school graduations. The Oklahoma legislature handily overrode Governor Kevin Stitt’s veto on the matter.

The reason I think it’s an interesting topic is the facts of the legislation and veto are largely misrepresented in the article and in public discourse. The legislature is largely being hailed for allowing the wearing of tribal regalia while Governor Stitt is being attacked for wanting to forbid such displays at graduation. This is largely false.

Neither Allowed or Forbidden

It’s important to understand the Oklahoma legislature didn’t simply allow students to wear tribal regalia, they made it illegal for schools to prevent them from doing so. Likewise, it’s useful to understand Governor Stitt isn’t forbidding students from wearing tribal regalia, his veto simply allows local schools to decide for themselves if such adornments to the traditional cap and gown are forbidden.

Libertarian View

It is my opinion Governor Stitt has the right of it. It’s not in the purview of the state of Oklahoma to dictate graduation garb. It’s not a problem for state government and by intruding on this local decision they extend an authoritarian control to the state which it should not have.

As I often say, if you agree with the state unilaterally giving something then you tacitly condone the state taking the same thing away. If the state of Oklahoma can tell a school district they must allow people to wear native regalia at graduation you are granting the state the authority to command students cannot wear such native regalia. This is the problem with government overreach in general.

The Slippery Slope

There is also the slippery slope argument if the state commands Native Americans cannot be stopped from wearing tribal regalia, other organizations will demand the same right. Can a Christian student carry a giant cross as they receive their diploma? Can a Satanist student wear a huge pentagram? Can a devotee of the Flying Spaghetti Monster wear a colander on her or his head? Can a student from France wear the French flag and sing La Marseillaise as they walk?

I’m not a believer in the slippery slope argument. If students of particular organizations want the right to wear such regalia, then each school district should decide on their own if it is allowed. This is the entire point of Governor Stitt in regards to tribal regalia. It must be up to the local school district or college to make that decision, not the state.

Conclusion

States’ Rights should not trump local rights although the judicial system in the United States seems to have taken another view on that subject. We have swung too much toward States’ Rights in this country. States now seem to have an almost totalitarian right to dictate to communities about anything they want, including whether or not a community is allowed to ban declawing cats. The state should not have the right to dictate to local communities any more than the Federal Government has the right to dictate to the states.

Tom Liberman

Raiders of the Lost Ark or Indiana Jones?

Indiana Jones

The latest entry in the Raider of the Lost Ark movie series; I mean the latest entry in the Indiana Jones movie series just released and I want to talk about it. Not the movie, the title of the movie. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny follows the pattern of every movie in the series since the original.

The question I’d like to examine today is if the movies suffer from focusing on Indiana Jones as opposed to the story in which he finds himself embroiled. Why is every movie except the first prefaced with the name Indiana Jones?

A Treasured Memory

Raiders of the Lost Ark is considered a classic by most reviewers. It is a valued memory for me and I suspect quite a few others of my age who were around in 1981 when it first released. I was seventeen and, in my little circle of friends, Raiders was everything. The boulder, we’d say to one another. The boulder.

Focus of the Story

While I do think there are plenty of people who enjoyed the subsequent movies, the general consensus is they never quite captured the magic of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I think the main reason for this is the sequels focused on Indiana Jones. We learned more about more about the protagonist and the story suffered.

I can say quite unequivocally that I found Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to be rather lazy. Trying too hard to repeat the action sequences and largely failing. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was a nostalgic movie that focused largely on the relationship of Indiana Jones with his father and again, the main story suffered badly.

Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull found a more receptive critical audience but I found it more of an attempt to brand Shia LaBeouf as a new hero to the franchise. Lots of actions but not much more. No interesting story to propel the characters, to make me care.

The new movie is receiving rather tepid reviews so far but I can’t speak to it as I have not seen it.

Why Raiders is Better than Indiana Jones

Raiders of the Lost Ark is by far the best of the series and I think the reason is rather simple. Indiana Jones is marketable. The character is interesting and sells tickets. Focus on Indiana Jones, not the story. The audience wants to learn more about him and doesn’t care as much about an interesting story.

One of the things I suggest to people who come to me for writing advice is coming up with a story is easy. There are a million plot ideas. The stories behind all the Indiana Jones movies are just fine. It’s the implementations, driven by the name recognition of the title character, that fail.

I think the people who made the sequels to Raiders of the Lost Ark, like those who approach me about how to write a book, had a good idea. I’ve got a great idea for a novel; they say with eager eyes. Now what? That’s fantastic, that’s a great starting point. You can’t write the novel or the screenplay without the idea. Now, implement it. Five act play. Hero’s journey. Character arc. Voice. Theme. Inciting incident. Conflict. Have at it.

Conclusion

I somehow think if it was just The Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade, The Crystal Skull, The Dial of Destiny they might have been better movies. I’m probably wrong. Marketing is marketing. Making movies that make money is more important than making good movies. It probably wouldn’t have made any difference.

Still, I feel cheated out of some better movies.

Tom Liberman

California Pork Supreme Court Ruling is good for Small Farmers

California Pork

The Supreme Court recently ruled California pork rules for items sold within the state are constitutional. The ruling itself came from an unusual 5-4 split decision but that’s not really what I want to discuss today.

The ruling is roiling politicians from pork producing states like Iowa and the leaders of factory farm proponents. Scott Hays of the National Pork Producers Council and Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa all lambaste the ruling as working against small farmers. They are lying. Those three and others like them are not the friend of small farmers. Let’s get into it.

The Rise of the CAFO

Small farmers are being decimated by Concentrated Animal Feed Organizations. I wrote about them recently in a ruling that went in their favor in Missouri. The rule upheld by the Supreme Court for California hurts not the small farmer but the CAFOs.

Small farmers are under tremendous pressure from CAFOs. We’re losing small farmers at a tremendous rate to these enormous operations. Bankruptcy, suicide, and the selling of the family farm to bankers. That’s the reality of being a small farmer today.

Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst aren’t on your Side

Small farmers are largely not affected by the California rule or, at the worst, can fairly easily comply. That’s why a number of organizations that support small farmers filed briefs in favor of the California rule. The organizations that are badly hurt are CAFOs. They cannot easily change their operations to treat animals in a more humane fashion.

When Grassley, Ernst, and Clark begin their wailing and weeping they show their true colors. They are all for the destruction of the traditional family farm. They hate the family farm. They want the big CAFO and the big campaign contribution. This is largely the state of the Republican Party. People in rural communities are voting for politicians that actively work to destroy the family farm all the while lying and telling the farmers the exact opposite. It’s vile.

Your Vote Matters

If the rural community continue to support politicians like Grassley and Ernst then it gets exactly what it wants and exactly what it deserves.

Conclusion

I’m not telling you for whom to vote but I am saying there are alternatives. It’s easy to get into a mindset where one party is the cause of all your ills and you vote the opposite. Remember, there are third- and fourth-party choices who offer a different vision.

Tom Liberman

The Ark a Story of Beautiful people in Crisis

The Ark

The Ark on the SyFy channel. Wow, is it bad. Stunningly bad. Dialog? Bad. Acting? Bad. Science? Nonsensical. Sets? Boring. Music? Blah. Bad and worse. It’s terrible.

That being said, there’s no reason you shouldn’t like it. It’s very simple entertainment. Good looking people face and defeat one crisis after the next. It doesn’t demand much from the audience and a lot of people simply enjoy the scenery.

But, I’m here to do a review and that’s what I’m going to do.

Eastern Europe Production

A number of commenters point out The Ark was created principally in Serbia and many of the people associated with the show are thus from Eastern Europe rather than Hollywood or London. This is all true but it doesn’t excuse the bad acting and writing.

You cannot tell me there aren’t better actors in theater houses all over Belgrade? That you can’t find writers who understand basic science in Eastern Europe? That great writers don’t ply their trade in Serbia? It’s not an excuse.

Beautiful People

The actors are one good looking bunch but it’s clear to me they were chosen for the roles based on appearance, not acting ability. That’s a real shame because I’m certain fine actors from Serbia and the surrounding regions auditioned for the roles. I largely didn’t even learn character names.

Bad Science

I can’t even begin to go over how bad is the science on this show. I wrote a couple of blogs after each of the first two episodes, and you can look there for some of the glaring mistakes. If you spotted any one of the dozens of scientific inaccuracies, please feel free to note them down in a comment.

The point here is I find it impossible to enjoy a show when I see scientific errors a fifth-grade student wouldn’t make. It completely takes me out of immersion. I can’t like the show when one scientific blunder follows the next.

Crisis after Crisis

The biggest problem with this show is the formulaic crisis scenes. It starts with the opening scene and doesn’t stop until the finale. They all follow the same pattern. Everything is fine. A crisis emerges suddenly without warning. Crisis music plays. Commercial break. The crisis is solved with some crazy idea from one of the characters. It’s not the crisis du jour it’s crisis du commercial break.

Who solves the problem? Let’s go over it.

Maybe it’s overly tan girl whose main acting trait is opening her eyes wider to indicate crisis. It might be captain curly hair whose acting skill is saying her lines louder. Otherwise, its beefcake boy whose main acting method is to thicken his accent. Usually, it’s super-annoying girl who happened to study that exact thing back when she was in third grade because her mother had one of those thingy bobs. Maybe its stammering lad coming up with a brilliant plan.

The cause of the crisis is usually something stupid like doctor dope fiend didn’t properly read the instructions on the manual.

I will never do that!

The number of times a character absolutely refuses to do something but is convinced two seconds later to do exactly that is incalculable. It happens with almost every single conversation. I won’t! You should! Ok! That’s fifty percent of the dialog in this show.

Fighting Skills

Oh my flying spaghetti monster but this is annoying. Someone can’t fight until suddenly they can. Whine and complain boy is useless until he needs to beat up three heavily armed guards and escape. Mind you, he couldn’t beat up pouty-lipped, bi-polar girl who looks like she might weigh ninety pounds. When she hits someone, I’m afraid her boney little arms will break.

The Sets

My eyes roll every time I see some stupid antique chair on Ark 15. It’s obviously exactly the same set as Ark 1. I pity the crew that had to nail up tacky paintings and then take them back down. The Ark has far too much open space. The engine room from the outside is massive. Inside it’s tiny. No attention to detail. Bland and boring.

The Good

This show is so bad I could probably continue railing for another thousand words but I do want to take a moment to give credit where it’s due. Pavle Jerinic is the only character I believe in his role. He’s Felix, chief of security and he’s good.

The sound editing is great. Despite the fact English isn’t the first language of a lot of these characters I understand them clearly. The music doesn’t drown them out. They don’t mumble and speak with such heavy accents I can’t figure out what they’re saying. You’ll say this is damning with faint praise but I’ve seen shows with a much bigger budget and productions values do far worse. The Nevers, I’m talking to you.

The Evil Plan

The ultimate villain has a stupid plan. They’ve got 500 people between two ships which is the entirety of the human race. She doesn’t want to share an entire planet with half of them? It’s madness. Fly up, get the necessary ingredient, sing kumbaya. Done.

Conclusion

I’m really sad this show is so awful. I love science fiction and the premise here is good, as I discuss in my other reviews. With good actors and competent writers this might have been an entertaining show. As it stands, it’s just plain bad.

Tom Liberman

Cormoran Strike the Mumbling Detective

Cormoran Strike

I just finished watching Series Five of Strike which features the J. K. Rowling detective Cormoran Strike and now it’s time for a review. Mostly mediocre. I could probably stop there and be done with it but I will elaborate.

The show features Tom Burke as detective Cormoran Strike and Holliday Grainger as his entirely unlikable sidekick Robin Ellacott. Not that she’s written to be unlikable, she just is. The show is based on the novels by Rowling and a sixth was published in 2022 so one imagines we’ll have another series along shortly.

All the Mumbling

I’m not going to blame Burke for his mumbling portrayal of Cormoran Strike because I’m guessing that’s the way the director told him to play it. Apparently, someone besides me complained because in the fifth series he is actually understandable a good 75 percent of the time, a marked improvement.

It really takes away from my ability to enjoy the series when I can’t understand the lead character most of the time. I’m sure the English accent probably has something to do with it but it was mainly his unwillingness to open his mouth when speaking that caused the issues.

Convoluted Mysteries

I’ve spoken before that too often a writer makes the mystery entirely impossible to solve through a series of baffling events. This is done so that the audience doesn’t figure out the solution too easily. I think it’s a mistake to make things too convoluted. You lose the audience.

The second, third, and fourth series in particular became so confusing with so many different things going on that I largely lost the thread and my interest. The fifth series was much better and presented a far more straight-forward mystery.

Speaking of the fifth series, I thought it was largely the best of the entire show except for one glaring misstep. The serial killer Cormoran interviews during the case might as well have been named Hannibal Lector with a Fan Fiction label placed on the scenes. Not that I’ve got anything against fan fiction.

The blatant derivative nature of the character really turned me off to what was otherwise the best series of the show.

Too Much Personal Life and not Enough Mystery

Another thing I’ve complained about before in mysteries is the loss of focus on the crime and solution and too much attention to the detectives and their personal lives. Strike suffers from this throughout all five seasons.

There’s nothing wrong with getting to know the detective team outside their professional lives but the scenes so doing should further the story. In the case of Strike, the details about Cormoran and Robin didn’t do anything for the mystery. Robin’s failed marriage in particular just annoyed me, but more about annoying Robin next.

Robin is not a Likeable Character

You don’t have to be a good person to be a likeable character. See Tony Soprano. Robin is just unpleasant. She’s a snotty, holier-than-thou, know-it-all, insufferable master of disguise. Cormoran has moments of being unpleasant but overall, he’s likeable and it’s his portrayal that makes the show watchable. Robin, not so much.

I did not find her panic attacks endearing, just annoying. Annoying. I don’t mind hating a character. That’s usually the sign of an interesting character. But an annoying character is just unpleasant to watch and there is a lot of Robin.

The Other Stuff

The acting is largely good to excellent. The sets are very nice. The music is subtle and doesn’t dominate scenes as too often happens. I believed the characters and the locations.

Conclusion

Not good. Not bad. Mediocre detective work. My main issues are the confusing story, the annoying Robin, and the mumbling Cormoran.

Tom Liberman

The Deuce Lost its Story

The Deuce

I just wrapped up season three of The Deuce and I’m ready to write my review. The executive producer of The Deuce is David Simon from The Wire fame and the show aired on HBO between 2017 and 2019. It’s a raw show that tackles the emerging sex and pornography industry in New York during the 1970s and 1980s.

When it worked, it worked quite well although it’s not a show for the easily offended. When it failed, it fell terribly flat. This being the case, it’s not particularly easy to write a simple review. Is it good? Is it bad? It’s both.

The Story is the Thing

The first season of The Deuce is the best and I think this is because it committed to telling a story. Multiple stories. There is an ensemble cast including James Franco in dual roles as Vincent and Frankie Martino, Maggie Gyllenhaal as Candy/Eileen, and a host of others.

The story of that first season revolved around Vincent as a business owner and Candy as a prostitute. They are surrounded by a colorful cast of pimps, police officers, and prostitutes. It’s basically telling three stories through a variety of characters. That of police corruption, organized criminal presence in business ownership, and prostitution.

What makes the first season good is the intersection of these three stories with the lives of all the characters. It’s raw, very raw. I found the sexual content over the top but, considering the nature of the story, I understand why they went in that direction.

We get to know corrupt police officers and those officers fighting the good fight with integrity. We meet mobsters who care and those who do not. We learn about the lives of pimps and whores and prostitutes who choose to work without a pimp.

It all comes together nicely. The first season, if you can get past all the lurid content, is fantastic.

The Lost Story

Starting in the second season The Deuce loses track of the underlying story that brought it all together and starts to focus on the characters. There’s nothing wrong with deep character development and watching as them change over time. The drug culture, VCRs making pornography available privately in the home, organized crime, the city of New York’s attempt to clean up the region, and the deadly AIDS epidemic.

The problem is the plethora of characters means we mainly just get one vignette after the next. First, we’re with Vincent for a one-minute scene and then Eileen for another. We jump from scene to scene between the many characters rapidly and meanwhile the underlying story gets lost in the minutia. It’s just too much and the story grinds to a halt while we learn more and more about the lives of each of the characters.

There just isn’t enough time to tell all the stories. There are plenty of good moments and the acting is outstanding. The sets are amazing. The passion is evident. There’s just not a good story to hold it together anymore.

The Tragic Lives

The third season focuses even more intensely on individual characters but some of the most intriguing old characters are gone. Larry Brown and his burgeoning acting career. Darlene’s transition into the life of a nurse. Gone.

New characters arrive and their stories take up a large amount of screen time but don’t really advance anything. It’s all character studies and no story. Nothing affects anything else. When Lori kills herself there isn’t time to show how others deal with the tragedy. It’s never mentioned again by anyone. Well, that’s that, let’s move on to someone else.

Abby’s wealthy family ties? Not enough time. The newspaper stories? Nope, too much else going on. Eileen’s son?

I’m not opposed to all the unhappy endings. I don’t think everything needs to be tied up in a neat little bow to make the audience happy. There’s nothing wrong with leaving things ambiguous. I do think the story needs to end with something though, anything satisfactory, whether good or bad. Here it all just fades away.

Conclusion

The first season is absolutely outstanding. I really enjoyed it and perhaps that’s why I found myself so disappointed in the second and third season. The Deuce just lost track of telling a story and instead focused on the lives of the characters too much.

You may disagree.

Tom Liberman

Ding Liren is World Chess Champion get over it

Ding Liren

Ding Liren of China defeated Ian Nepomniachtchi in the 2023 World Chess Championship to become the World Chess Champion, to the displeasure of a vocal many. The reason for the unhappiness is that Ding is merely the third ranked chess player in the world behind Magnus Carlsen. Nepomniachtchi is the second ranked player.

Ding Liren and Nepomniachtchi finished up the most exciting chess championship in recent years with Ding Liren winning the fourth tie-break game. This after their fourteen round match ended with them tied at three victories each.

Carlsen decided not to defend the title he held for the last ten years and this is the crux of the issues against Ding, although anti-Chinese sentiment plays a role as well. What do I think about all this? Let me tell you.

Carlsen Refuses to Defend

Magnus Carlsen is one of those rare champions who truly dominates an individual sport. He is a Roger Federer or Tiger Woods like player. He won the World Chess Championship back in 2013 and defended it four times. He earned the title as the top-ranked player in the world in 2010 at the age of nineteen.

After ten years of holding the title, Carlsen decided not to defend it for a fifth time. He is widely considered the best chess player of all time.

The Championship Format

The world chess champion is decided in a peculiar way and I think that is the cause of much of the angst about Ding Liren. Unlike many team sports, there is not a championship tournament every year. Unlike many individual sports, the champion is not determined by a point rating system at the end of the season.

In chess, the champion remains champion for two years and then defends the title against a challenger who wins a tournament called Candidates. Magnus decided not to defend so it was decided the first and second place finishers in the Candidates tournament would play for the championship.

Nepomniachtchi won Candidates with Ding Liren finishing second. In a normal year this would result in a match between Nepomniachtchi and Carlsen, a rematch from the event two years ago when Carlsen thoroughly dismantled the challenger winning three games and losing none.

There are many people who, quite vocally, proclaim Ding Liren is not a valid champion. That the real champion is still Magnus Carlsen.

Ding Liren is the Champion

Poppycock! Ding Liren is the World Chess Champion for the simple reason he won the title. The Boston Bruins recently completed the best regular season in the history of the NHL. They lost in the first round of the playoffs. No one is going to claim the Bruins are the real Stanley Cup Champions.

If Magnus chose to defend, it’s likely he would have won but we will never know. What doesn’t happen, doesn’t happen. Any speculation on what might have happened is just that, speculation. There is no way to know. What we do know is they played under the rules and Ding Liren won.

Conclusion

Is Magnus Carlsen the best chess player in the world? Yes. He’s the number one ranked player and he will remain so until some future date. Is he the World Chess Champion? Nope, not anymore. He chose not to defend. It’s really that simple.

Ding Liren is the champion and to the victor go the spoils.

Tom Liberman

Perry Mason Season Two Review

Perry Mason

I just finished watching the second season of Perry Mason and I’m ready to write my review. If you recall, I loved the first season and lavished it with high praise. Does the second season live up to the first? I’m afraid not. It’s still entertaining television, certainly.

I don’t like to harp too much on what went wrong this season because it’s still good and well-worth watching. That being said, it wasn’t of the same quality as the first season.

Wrong Focus on Personal Relationships

I found the focus on the personal lives of Mason, Della Street, Hamilton Burger, and Paul Drake took away from the investigative nature of the show. I thought they did a good job of balancing personal lives and the crime investigation in the first season but fell far short here.

Both the Street and Mason relationships didn’t add anything or further the mystery. Particularly with Della, the focus seemed to be on the salacious rather than anything to do with the crime. Much better, in my opinion, was the focus on the personal lives of side characters in season one. We learned a great deal about them and this furthered the story and explained the nature and circumstance of the crime.

My preference is for a deeper examination of the lives of the McCutcheon and Gallardo families. I particularly felt the absence of any sort of look into the widow Elizabeth McCutcheon and her children left the show incomplete. The murder of Brooks is the focus along with learning why Rafeal and Mateo committed the horrific crime. Yet, we learn only a little of their past and lives with so much screen time dedicated to Mason and Street. We should have found out more about Phipps and his wife earlier as well.

The stories of Emily Dodson and Sister Alice in the first season immersed me completely and the failure to do so in the second season is the biggest problem with this season, at least in my opinion. The impact of the crime just isn’t there because the focus is on the wrong people.

The Reason for the Murder is Unconvincing

I found the entire oil embargo, fruit swap, Japan connection to be unconvincing. It just didn’t seem like a good reason to have Brooks murdered. How did the murder get arranged? Who talked to the Gallardo brothers?

The entire thing just seemed contrived and unbelievable. I didn’t buy it and this really took me out of immersion of the show. The fact we spent so much time on the personal lives of Perry and Della, as mentioned earlier, means we really didn’t leave time to flesh this part of the story into anything believable.

The Best Parts of Perry Mason

The amazing sets. I can’t give enough praise to the set designers in this series. Fantastic work. The music also stood out as helping scenes rather than dominating them.

Conclusion

I’m not recommending giving the second season of Perry Mason a pass, it’s still quality entertainment. I hope the writers will get back to what made season one so great. Don’t focus on Mason and Street. Focus on the crime. Why the crime happened. The lives of the criminals and those around them. That’s the story.

Tom Liberman

Sanditon Season 3 Review Meh

Sanditon

Sanditon wrapped up its three years run the other night and Charlotte finally got her man. I’m fairly certain most people will be happy with the largely treacly finale but I can’t say I found it overly enamoring.

I doubt I’m the main audience for Sanditon and therefore the fact I didn’t really enjoy the sweet and happy ending will probably not come as a big surprise. That being said, my main problem with the third season of Sanditon was the lack of continuity. Let’s get into it.

What Happened

What happened? Too much happened to be honest. There were two many characters and too many stories; meaning no one really got enough screen time.

Let’s cover all the romances and pseudo-romances. Charlotte and Ralph. Charlotte and Alexander. Alexander and Lydia. Lydia and someone we never meet. Arthur and Harry. Harry and Miss Lambe. Miss Lambe and Otis. Edward and Augusta. Lady Denham and Mr. Pryce. Lady Susan and Samuel. Dr. Fuchs and Beatrice. Oh my god. Stop! Please! Cupid, leave the set! Enough!

Mary Parker almost died but then miraculously recovered. Miss Lambe’s mother appeared, disappeared, and reappeared. The town was saved from the evil money-grubbers and the children have roofs over their homes.

Continuity Issues

I spoke about this in my previous reviews of Sanditon and it reappears constantly throughout this season. People move from place to place as if they have access to the Enterprise and transporters. Charlotte is having a conversation in Sanditon one moment, at Mr. Colbourne’s estate the next, and back on the beach a moment later. It happens for all the characters, all the time.

The worst offense was Mr. Pryce and Tom Parker. At one point they cancelled all their plans. Then came five scenes where they discussed with other people the continuation of those plans. Finally, at the end, they came together by accident and settled their differences. The settling needed to come before five other scenes.

In my opinion, the problem is largely with editing the scenes. Someone stitched them together completely out of order. People jump from place to place so rapidly I feared whiplash.

Happy Endings

For those yearning a happy ending, you largely got it. Only Edward, played outstandingly by Jack Fox, was left alone. His story didn’t make a ton of sense of me anyway. If he loved Augusta, why not take up Alexander’s offer to court and marry her properly? Anyway, not a big deal.

Miss Lambe ended up with Otis, whose gambling problems certainly won’t recur. Charlotte ended up with Alexander, the white-hot heat of their passionate screen chemistry forcing me to put on a sweater as I watched. Lady Susan and Samuel ended up together which was fairly nice. And finally, the romance I actually cared about, the one that garnered my interest, intrigued me, made me believe: Dr. Fuchs and Beatrice got together! Hoopa. I’m not even kidding. That’s the one relationship in this show with which I found myself invested.

Conclusion

It’s not bad by any means. I just got bored. Not my cup of tea as they say across the pond.

Tom Liberman

A Plus Sized Passenger on the Airline

Plus Sized Passenger

There’s an article making the rounds about a plus sized passenger who is unhappy she has to pay for two seats in order to fit into the airline seat. As you might suspect, comments are running pretty heavily against Jae’lynn Chaney. Most people think if she wants a free seat, she should simply lose some weight.

While I don’t disagree with the general sentiment, I do think there’s a larger issue at play here than simply Chaney’s weight.

Airline Seats

As most of you readers probably know, I’m a robust 5’ 7 1/2” tall and 160 lbs. of twisted steel and sex appeal. In other words, I’m short and thin. Airline seats are comfortable enough for me but not by a lot. I don’t have much room to either side and if anyone even moderately larger sits next to me it starts to be a squeeze.

I have tall friends and they aren’t happy with the seat size in airplanes. People are getting bigger and seats are getting smaller. That’s reality. If you’re a plus sized passenger or even just a tall person, it’s not comfortable to sit in them.

We all know the reason seats are shrinking. It’s to get more seats on the plane. More seats. More tickets to sell. At this point, I’d say the average person doesn’t find airplane seats comfortable.

Define a Plus Sized Passenger

This is where things get tricky. How do we define a plus sized passenger? If the average person in the United States cannot comfortably fit in the seat, is that the problem of the passenger or the airline?

If the airlines continue to shrink seats so almost no one can fit comfortably, should we all have to pay for two tickets?

Competition

Certainly, as a Libertarian, I think the airline can make the seats whatever size they want and charge people accordingly. It’d be nice if the government hadn’t subsidized air and car travel to the tune of trillions of dollars and we had competitive rail.

Sadly, that’s not reality. If we want to get from one place in the country to another in a reasonable amount of time, airplanes are pretty much our only choice. If you’re a plus sized passenger, you’re going to be uncomfortable or pay twice the rate.

Conclusion

It’s my opinion air travel has never been nor will ever be a profitable enterprise without government subsidies. We don’t have viable alternatives because the government squeezed passenger rail almost out of existence.

We’re stuck with ever decreasing seat sizes and uncomfortable travel. One day you’ll be the one who no longer fits in the seat.

Buy Marijuana in Missouri

Buy marijuana in Missouri

Everyone once in a while I need a reminder as to why I’m a Libertarian and my recent attempt to buy marijuana in Missouri gave me such. You see, I wasn’t trying to buy marijuana in Missouri for myself, that’s what the whiskey is for, I was trying to buy marijuana in Missouri for an 84-year-old woman with degenerative arthritis in her hip which causes chronic pain. Hint, it’s my mom.

Turned away. Why? Because I was buying for someone else. I can purchase recreational marijuana for myself. No problem. Credit card please. It’s for my mother who is in chronic pain, can’t walk, and can’t really get into the store without causing herself agony. Out you go, Tom. No demon gummies for you.

The Purpose of a Law

What is the purpose of this law? All I need do is go in and tell the clerk I’m buying it for myself. It’s not an impediment. This is the sort of thing that gets my Libertarian blood in a huff. A huff, I tell you. I rolled my eyes and left. I suppose I could have stayed and purchased the marijuana for myself but I figured I didn’t want to get the clerk in trouble. I’ll go back later.

Who Wrote this?

Someone wrote this law. A group of legislators voted to pass it. The governor signed it. I understand some people don’t like the fact marijuana is legal in the Missouri. That’s fine, at least that’s a defendable position, one I disagree with categorically, but at least an opinion.

Even if you oppose the sale of legal marijuana in Missouri you can’t possibly defend this nonsense. It’s totally useless. It does nothing. It stops nothing.

What could you do?

The simple solution is to limit the amount of marijuana I can buy. If I’m buying for ten people then this precludes me from purchasing so much. It’s still pretty stupid even then as the ten people can just come in themselves and buy it on their own, they don’t need me.

The Problem with the Law

My mother does need me to purchase because she isn’t particularly mobile. The only effect of this law is presumably to prevent me from buying marijuana for my mother, although, it obviously does not do that. Useless law.

Conclusion

Stupid laws are stupid. Legislators that pass stupid laws are stupid. Vote Libertarian.

Tom Liberman