Oscar Wilde’s 1882 journey to America continues to fascinate, and why not?
Everyone loves a fish out of water story, so the true saga of a Victorian dandy roughing it on the wild American frontier, hanging out with (and winning over) rugged coal miners and cowboys is pretty irresistible.
(That Wilde’s garish velvet get-ups clothed a beefy 6’3″ Irishman perfectly capable of beating up bullies no doubt surprised and delighted his new admirers.)
Now a new book revisits Wilde’s visit to the New World, but with a twist.
David M. Friedman’s Wilde in America presents his subject as the proto-Kardashian:
If that seems unfair to the acclaimed playwright, essayist, poet, children’s author (and gay movement mascot), Friedman reminds readers that when Oscar Wilde stepped off the ship onto America’s shores, he was, in fact, none of those things.
Peeping Tom airs on TCM this Saturday (October 4), as one of this month’s “Cult Films.”
I imagine this will provide many viewers with their first opportunity to view this infamous 1960 Michael Powell movie.
Interestingly, TCM is broadcasting Peeping Tom at 3 pm ET. This British picture’s contemporaneous, and condemnatory, critics might never have believed that, over half a century later, this movie would be beamed, unedited, into homes on a weekend afternoon.
At the Daily Express, Len Mosley wrote, “Neither the hopeless leper colonies of East Pakistan, the back streets of Bombay nor the gutters of Calcutta — has left me with such a feeling of nausea and depression.”
The most famous pan was penned by Derek Hill at the Tribune, who declared:
The only really satisfactory way to dispose of Peeping Tom would be to shovel it up and flush it swiftly down the nearest sewer.
However, viewers hoping for (or dreading) an exercise in raw cinematic gore based on those old reviews will be surprised.
I’ve written before about that phenomenon — does it have a name? — whereby a particular song takes on an added layer of poignancy after a performer dies.
For me, those songs include Boston’s “More than a Feeling” (after vocalist Brad Delp committed suicide in 2007) and any number of Joe Strummer’s solo tunes, particularly his version of “Redemption Song.”
I hope you know what I mean.
(And will add your own lists of such songs in the comments.)
While I’ve never been a big Fleetwood Mac fan, if I ever do hear their tune “Sara” again, I suspect it will have a similar effect on me:
Stevie Nicks is no stranger to rumors. She finally confirmed longstanding conjecture that she wrote one of her best-known songs partly about the child she conceived with Eagles frontman Don Henley, then aborted.
Henley said more than 20 years ago that the Fleetwood Mac song “Sara,” which hit number 7 on the Billboard charts in 1979, was about the baby they never saw. (…)
In a special interview with Billboard magazine on Friday, Nicks said their baby inspired many of the song’s lyrics.
“Had I married Don and had that baby, and had she been a girl, I would have named her Sara,” she said.
I put off writing this for as long as I could.
I told myself I still had the same headache I had yesterday.
And hey, there’s an Auction Hunter marathon on, and…
Then the irony hit me:
This had been my idea, to write a response to Hand to Mouth, author Linda Tirado’s viral internet “Why I’m poor” post-turned-book.
And that one of the reasons I’m not poor anymore is because I work even when I don’t feel like it, and it feels like a summer day even though it’s the end of September, and…
So here goes:
Last week, I told you about Tar Sands Messiah, a forthcoming satirical documentary about a real-life Canadian oil sands resident who plans to travel to Hollywood (possibly by dog sled) and “raise awareness” about the stupidity and hypocrisy of environmentalists and their celebrity mouthpieces.
Director Tim Moen is crowdfunding the movie, and he’s already closing in on the 30% mark in less than one week.
That’s why a member of the Tar Sands Messiah team called me yesterday to pass along a message, and say thank you:
You see, PJ Media readers account for the second highest number of clicks and donations; only the mighty climate-change skeptic site WattsUpWithThat beat us to the number one spot.
Based on the trailer alone, this movie is going to be pretty sweet.
To learn more, and maybe even donate, visit the Tar Sands Messiah Indigogo site.
Since it first aired in 1961, one particular episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents has lingered in the minds of millions of Americans:
The episode “Bang! You’re Dead,” which originally aired in 1961 and can be viewed in full online, tracks an afternoon of agonizing roulette. A young boy replaces the toy gun in his holster with the real revolver he finds in his uncle’s suitcase, which he partially loads with live rounds. For a pulse-pounding afternoon, the boy waltzes around town, slipping through each townsperson’s grip as he plays cowboy. “Stick ’em up!” he orders. Friends and neighbors all bashfully obey, teasing out the boy’s joke—and the audience’s horror.
Hitchock directed this episode himself, and it shows.
Not only because it’s a primer in the use of story-boarding and editing to induce tension in viewers, but because, as an Englishman, Hitchcock no doubt looked down on America’s gun culture as crude, juvenile and deeply dangerous.
Another educated guess:
“Bang!” is Hitchcock’s self-imposed penance for widely criticized scenes in two of his films.
Others condemned the climactic scene in the original The Man Who Knew Too Much, in which a phalanx of unarmed English “bobbies” is unsentimentally shot down in one pitiless sweep.
(Note: Hitchcock’s contempt for the police would make a rapper blush; I’ve always wondered if his justification for that disdain was just a self-serving, apocryphal alibi.)
(And this isn’t the place to do much more than note in passing that the villains in both films were anarchists — the “Muslim terrorists” of Hitchcock’s childhood, but largely anachronistic by the 1930s.)
In any event, it speaks volumes about the power of “Bang! You’re Dead” that that particular 50+ year old, 30-minute long TV episode was chosen as the key component of a potentially game-changing medical experiment.
No wonder people are talking about one particular article at something called EliteDaily.com, a site that bills itself as “The Voice of Generation Y.”
(As long as you’re good looking, that is.)
(Poking a little deeper into the site, I’m forced to presume that EliteDaily has a “no ugly chicks” hiring policy.)
(Although I guess the site’s name should’ve been a clue. Dummy me!)
The article’s title — “50 Things About Millennials That Make Corporate America Sh*t Its Pants” — promises a heaping serving of perennially provocative “generation gap” polemics, in easily digestible list form.
Forget click bait:
This is click chum.
Does the article deliver on the promise of its title?
Most don’t these days, do they?
“50 Things…” is crisp and coherent, but (not surprisingly) the “Port Huron Statement” it ain’t.
Canadian filmmaker and Fort McMurray resident Tim Moen has come up with one of the best documentary ideas I’ve heard of in some time:
In the spirit of Michael Moore’s Roger & Me — but without the multiple lies – Moen plans to turn the tables on the showbiz leftists who love coming to his hometown to lecture the locals about the “evils” of the oil sands industry:
Moen’s pitch-perfect trailer for his movie Tar Sands Messiah offers a tantalizing taste of the entire film, one he’s hoping to get crowd-funded to the tune of $63,000.
Over the past decade, I’ve filmed around the world in places such as Africa and Japan and worked locally with environmentalists and celebrities such as Neil Young.
I’ve been deeply troubled by the biased narrative that many of my clients have when they come here to film. Because of that, I have defended my community and the oil sands industry in the media…
This film will be part light-hearted satire and part inspirational documentary.
It will document my mission, as an environmentalist from the heart of the oil sands, to turn Los Angeles from its evil polluting ways and bring them the clean technologies of my people.
I have a sinking feeling that Tar Sands Messiah won’t be picked for the Sundance Festival once it gets made…
If you want to learn more, and see how you can help fund this hilarious-sounding movie, check out Tim’s Tar Sands Messiah Indigogo site.
Watch the trailer on the next page.
There’s more fallout from the Ray Rice domestic violence incident and the turmoil it has caused for the NFL – CBS and Rihanna are splitting up.
The network said Tuesday it was permanently editing a song featuring Rihanna’s voice out of its Thursday night NFL telecasts – after the singer issued a profane Tweet about it.
CBS issued a statement saying that it was “moving in a different direction” with different theme music.
The song was one of a handful of elements CBS cut out of its inaugural Thursday night football telecast. At the time, CBS Sports president Sean McManus said Rihanna’s own history as a victim of domestic violence was one part of the decision but not the overriding one.
Had the NFL kept the song in rotation, they’d have been torn apart on Twitter and elsewhere for “bad optics.”
(There’s a “broken occipital bone” joke in there somewhere…)
The league is currently in full hair-shirting mode, pantomiming “outrage” and “concern.”
But of course, some will now scream that the NFL is “punishing the victim” by “silencing a battered woman’s voice” or something. (See below.)
So the Jews did it after all.
OK, scratch out that pluralizing “s.”
Not that it will make any difference to diehard antisemitic conspiracy nuts – “the men who taste Jews in their sandwiches.”
Those types must have squirmed with glee when the Daily Mail reported that Jack the Ripper’s identity had finally been revealed thanks to DNA testing.
The mentally deranged Kosminski was 25 years old, an immigrant (likely from Russia’s Pale of Settlement), a sometime-hairdresser – and a Jew.
The adjective “iconic” is criminally overused, particularly by enthusiastic but historically illiterate youngsters.
However, for many old fogeys, the photograph above actually deserves that designation.
Just check out that badass Rasta, striding fearlessly, even casually, toward a line of (probably) white London cops.
He’s alone, but this is his neighborhood, not theirs, so why should he cower, despite the menace hovering in the air?
Surely something has exploded, gone horribly, fatally wrong — or is just about to — beyond the frozen boundaries of this picture, which seems to be holding its breath, like an enjambed line of poetry.
Although this photo was taken in 1976, it seems weirdly timeless, yet timely, especially in the wake of Ferguson.
And it is, except not for the reason one might expect.
There were too many “good” things to squeeze into this post, while the “bad” and the “ugly” run together:
Way more homeless people than we saw in 2011, perhaps because they’d been cleared out during the 9/11 anniversary.
Speaking of which: the tourist behavior at the WTC memorial is every bit as depressing and infuriating as you’ve heard. We couldn’t wait to get out of there.
(Hint: When Vice Magazine thinks you’re out of line…)
LaGuardia still looks like a 1970s bus terminal.
Times Square is my idea of hell.
But back to the “good” stuff:
Inevitably, Robin Williams’ suicide saw the “raising awareness about mental health issues” camp fighting it out online with the “he was a selfish git” crowd.
When the latter reject the “disease model” of addiction and mental illness — people like Theodore Dalrymple — they do so prompted by a laudable instinct:
They think depressed people or addicts use the “disease” model to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.
This is a bit like the New Atheists’ concept of “God,” as “an old man in the sky.” They proudly and loudly reject that concept, seemingly unaware (despite their alleged sophistication and superior education) that so do most actual believers.
Likewise, few addicts who accept the disease model (and not all do) use it as a “get out of jail free” card.
It’s called “How It Works” not “How It Lounges on the Couch Eating Cheetos and Watching Judge Judy.”
“Some of us thought we could find an easier, softer way, but we could not…”
Making amends, taking inventory, doing service and even prayer and meditation are exercises in responsibility and action.
Robin Williams apparently did all those things and stayed clean and sober for 20 years.
Then he “went out” in 2006 and was never the same.
Or, as Catholics like to say when they can’t explain something: “It’s a mystery…”
(If you say it in a somber enough voice, and include the “…”, it sounds satisfyingly deep.)
In my previous post, I noted that I grew up getting my ideas about marriage from The Flintstones.
Hint: This was not a good thing.
However, cartoons have evolved almost beyond recognition since I sat cross-legged in front of the TV every lunchtime, more or less surgically attached to “The Uncle Bobby Show.”
That makes animation an outlier, since pretty much every other entertainment genre – especially movies and music – has been in arrested development since the late 1980s.
Of course, both classical and computer animation have advanced artistically, thanks to advances in technology.
But story quality has become more sophisticated, too.
Characters – and, dare I say it, messages – are often more realistic yet more idealistic at the same time.
Some post-modern cartoon characters are even pretty good role models.
(At least, better than Wilma and Betty scheming to get their husbands to buy them mink coats, or Fred and Barney trying to keep track of the fibs they’ve told their wives.)
I always said I would never get married.
Conveniently, no one ever proposed to me, either.
Then when I hit middle age, a bunch of my female friends and acquaintances tied the knot.
One (I’m sorry but… extremely unlikely) wedding in particular shoved my ego over an emotional cliff.
“SHE’s married and I’m not!” I heard myself wail in Arnie’s general direction.
He and I had been together for years and purchased a condo (and a beloved cat) together. Arnie didn’t see much point in getting married, but went along anyhow. After all, it meant a week-long trip to Las Vegas.
I definitely got the better part of this deal.
Arnie is smart, funny, hard working, honest to a fault, and only watches sports on TV every four years.
Whereas I can’t cook, still don’t quiet understand the concept of “dusting,” am a temperamental artiste, and look like the love child of Frodo and Hillary Clinton.
So why (besides inertia, and fear of a heated cat custody battle) is Arnie still around?
(At least, until he reads this.)
When my PJ Media editor suggested that I write about having lupus, I almost said no.
I was diagnosed with SLE in 1991 and have been in remission since around 1995. My book about living with this chronic illness came out two years later. Like most writers, by the time a book comes out, I’m so sick – pun intended – of its topic that I dread having to revisit it.
Having been in remission for almost 20 years, I can honestly make the rather unusual claim that not even the perspective of hindsight has changed my ideas or feelings about what being a pain-wracked invalid was like. Not even a little bit.
I feel like I’m supposed to say the opposite: that looking back, I could have “handled” my disease differently, or learned other, “better” lessons from it, and so forth.
But then, from the very beginning, I didn’t fit the mold of the “disease of the week” TV movie heroine, or some “poster child” for lupus.
Here are some things I learned (or, perhaps more accurately, some pre-conceived ideas I had reinforced) when I was at my very sickest.
Warning: What follows is NOT inspirational. At all.
I just got back from the mammogram I don’t believe in.
In the spring, my doctor handed me an envelope decorated with a cluster of bright balloons and the words “Happy Birthday!”
Alas, this deceptively cheerful package concealed the usual tips on diet and exercise, plus requisition forms for all the annual medical tests I’d be getting from now on.
The mammogram is bad enough. I got my first one before having my doubts about the procedure confirmed, and now I’m stuck in the “Ontario Breast Screening Program” because “free” “health” “care.”
But now I also have to get blood work for cholesterol (how 1970s!), glucose and a bunch of other things, plus an ECG.
The worst part: I need to send little swabs of poo* through the mail. (Although it could be worse: it could be my job to open those envelopes. And a special shout-out to my Facebook friend for sharing her “float a Chinet dessert plate in the toilet” trick.)
It’s all part of the splendor and pageantry of turning 50.
(* As you can see from the video below, which my tax dollars helped pay for, “poo” is the actual scientific term!)
So I finished reading Cowboys and Indies and I still don’t understand how the recording industry works.
Some guy gets 50 percent of another guy’s 20 percent. At least three famous, powerful music biz “suits” were literally tone deaf. And don’t even get me started on all the different varieties of “rights.”
It was like reading a Swahili textbook on algebra.
What I did learn was that there’s no mystery as to why some talented performers wallow in obscurity while their inferiors succeed. Don’t believe people who tell you they’ve cracked the “hit record formula.”
The real reason? “Independent promoters,” a.k.a, payola, plays a big part.
So that’s depressing.
What follows are my picks for ten songs that should have been bigger than they were:
I knew things were bad when, a few years ago, I actually found myself missing the Seventies.
Many, many American movies made during the Seventies share one overarching theme:
America is falling apart!
Tim Dirks’ must-read, 6-part overview of the films of this era begins with this highly-concentrated, perfectly observed paragraph:
Motion picture art seemed to flourish at the same time that the defeat in the Vietnam War, the Kent State Massacre, the Watergate scandal, President Nixon’s fall, the Munich Olympics shoot-out, increasing drug use, and a growing energy crisis showed tremendous disillusion, a questioning politicized spirit among the public and a lack of faith in institutions — a comment upon the lunacy of war and the dark side of the American Dream.
Our own Ed Driscoll has done yeoman’s work chronicling that decade’s “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls” leftwing auteur boom: the death of the studio system, and the rise of hot young directors – Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, Scorsese — whose visions still inform American film, and the culture at large.
Most recently, Kyle Smith proffered his “10 Best Films of the 1970s.”
My list is different than Smith’s because the “best” films of that era (and I agree with many of his selections) don’t necessarily capture the mood of the times as well as lesser movies.
What follows is a guide for millennials who are forever hearing about “the Seventies,” are living with that decade’s toxic cultural fallout, and who wonder what life during this tumultuous time (although, aren’t they all…?) was really like.
That’s why I’ve neglected to mention anachronistic or overly escapist fare: all the bloated feel-good musicals; anything by Disney, Mel Brooks or Cubby Broccoli; all but one of Woody Allen’s “early funny ones”; sweeping pseudo-period Oscar bait like Barry Lyndon, The Way We Were, New York, New York, The Sting and Funny Lady; and time-less blockbusters like Star Wars, Halloween and Rocky.
(Incidentally: most movies about the Vietnam War were made in the 1980s.)
However, I have included movies about the Seventies that were made later, if they accurately evoke the time period. Note: There are a LOT of these.
Ideally, curious readers should get hold of the ten movies I’ve chosen as exemplars of my ten different themes, then temporarily get rid of their computers and phones (because it’s 1972, and “Ma Bell” still hasn’t shown up to activate your line). Next put on some thick polyester clothing, and eat nothing but Cheesies and Orange Crush for the duration. (The Seventies were VERY orange.)
Close all your curtains to help mimic the sinister, suffocating atmosphere we marinated in.
And press “play.”
Everywhere he goes, fans tell broadcaster, filmmaker, self-made millionaire and libertarian-moralist Adam Carolla that he should run for president.
Now Carolla’s done the next best (and much smarter) thing: His new book, President Me: The America That’s In My Head, serves up Carolla’s contrarian, politically incorrect prescriptions for fixing our broken society.
Like his previous bestsellers (and his hugely successful podcast), President Me is pure, unfiltered Carolla. He somehow combines the candid common sense of an old-fashioned Everyman with a freak savant’s audacious ingenuity.
True, Carolla’s raw, frat-boy prose will turn some readers off. That’s a shame, because there are a lot of truly original (and non-partisan) ideas in President Me, mixed in with the crude jokes and curse words.
(By the way: If you’re a longtime “Carolla-tard” and figure you can skip this book because you’ve heard all the material already, you’re wrong. I’m a daily listener and there’s a lot of stuff in here that Carolla has kept “chambered” — as he’d phrase it – especially for President Me.)
Each chapter is devoted to a different federal department. Here are candidate Carolla’s promised reforms for ten of them:
Maybe Whoopi Goldberg should stick to parsing the nuances of the word “rape.”
The View-er is now under fire for shrugging off Justin Bieber’s use of the “n-word” in a recently surfaced old video.:
You know, Canadian words — I’m going to say the word so get ready to beat me. N—-r doesn’t mean anything in Canada.
Goldberg knows this because she “did a movie last year, in Canada.”
That’s know-nothing celebrity smugness on the level of (bad) satire.
She played a nun once, too; I look forward to Whoopi’s exegesis on Humane Vitae.
I’m a 50-year-old Canadian. I have never uttered the N-word. I don’t think my mouth can form the letters.
When I was a kid, once in a while some boy would call Niagara Falls “N***** Falls.” He’d be rewarded with groans. It was considered a “low class” thing to say even in my “low class” environs.
The word has always been a slur in Canada, and a particularly virulent one at that.
After all, that’s the context in which Bieber was using it. He wasn’t referring to one of his “posse” in cringe-worthy “wigger” fashion. He was joking about cutting black people up with a chainsaw.
That makes Goldberg’s defense that much more idiotic.
She’s right Canada doesn’t share America’s history of slavery, but only because God made the place too cold for cotton — something I thank God for every day, as I’m forced to listen to you guys whine and fret about race relations 24/7.
Don’t get me wrong: Canada has its own smaller-scale “original sins.”
For the most part, however, they have been exaggerated and exploited by professional victims who are jealous of the mileage American “civil rights” hustlers have gotten out of playing the race card.
(These professional victims are the same people who love to boast about how much better we are than Americans — even though Canadians are the ones who, for example, invented school shootings…)
Alas, Goldberg’s comments will be used to bolster the already-toxic anti-Americanism that is the connective tissue of the moral preen-ers on the Canadian left, some of whom are congratulating themselves on their own wonderfulness in the comments at the National Post.
That our nation’s “moral superiority” is mostly an accident of climate and geography never occurs to them.
It’s not all black & white “noir” and Criterion Collection classics over at TCM.
The channel also airs weird, obscure (or not) “underground” films and B-movies that are often (mis)categorized as “cult” flicks.
Tonight (and into this morning) TCM is showing movies all about space, “the final frontier.”
Along with predictable choices like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien, they’re playing that fondly remembered 1950s “sci-fi” quickie, Queen of Outer Space.
Contrary to the film’s own publicity materials, Zsa Zsa Gabor is not the titular “queen.” Instead, that much-married Hungarian beauty queen/Paris Hilton relation leads the resistance fighters who want to overthrow Venus’s ruler. (Whose mask looks like an aborted kindergarten project.)
Not surprisingly, life on this all-woman planet gets complicated following the arrival of three very male American astronauts: Oscar-Levant-Looking-Guy, Paul Rudd’s dad, and Eisenhower-era Matthew McConaughey. (It may be “the future,” but they’re still using Brylcreme, and lots of it.)
Queen of Outer Space could have been a cute Shavian satire on male/female relationships. Instead, it’s simply a colorful, confused but ultimately painless time-waster.
Blogger Kate McMillan likes to say that “if women ran the world, we’d still be living in caves, but with really, really fancy curtains.” Alas, according to Queen of Outer Space, the women who run another planet can’t even manage that. Astonishingly cheap sets that would have looked passable in black & white are rendered nakedly, comically putrid beneath the relentless gaze of CinemaScope Color.
(And sure enough, the women’s super-duper nuclear death ray is decorated with yellow polka-dots.)
Along with the awful set design, genre fans treasure the “giant spider” that’s the size of a kiddie pool (and slightly less menacing) and, especially, the racy costumes worn by what looks to be Sylvia Plath and her fellow Mademoiselle interns.
Then there’s Zsa Zsa, throwing awkward “sexy” shapes and breathlessly warning the astronauts that the Queen possesses “weaponsh made by her schientishtshs that can deshtroy da Earthsht.”
So set your PVR and, when you’re ready to watch, wear your drinking pants.
Or purchase Queen of Outer Space on DVD and enjoy the charming audio commentary by the “Queen” herself, B-movie regular Laurie Mitchell.
So come to find out that — I hope you’re sitting down — almost everything they taught you in school about Phineas Gage (that olden days railroad worker whose personality “changed completely” after a spike flew through his brain) was agenda-driven baloney, even borderline-libelous.
Just more of that “settled science” we keep hearing so much about.
(In other news: polar bears…)
Maybe when they rewrite the textbooks, they’ll swap out Phineas Gage for Mr. B.
You see, Mr. B was “a 58 year old Dutch man who had suffered from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety since the age of 13,” and who didn’t respond to any of the usual treatments.
As a last resort, doctors hooked electrodes to Mr. B’s brain.
His symptoms noticeably improved.
So (at least in my opinion) did his taste in music.
Six months after surgery, Mr. B’s stopped listening to his old favorites, the Rolling Stones, and became a Johnny Cash fan.
A superfan, actually…
Editor’s Note: This is a collection of some of my favorite Kathy Shaidle articles. These are both some of her most popular and hardest hitting, challenging conventional wisdom and smashing pop culture idols. Please make a point to make Kathy’s Five Feet of Fury blog one of your regular reads and also check out her new e-book Confessions of a Failed Slut. I devoured it in one sitting and will write more on it soon. Over the years Kathy has become one of the people I most look to for insights into understanding all sorts of subjects from outsider culture to humor to the evolutions in New Media to the mysteries of relationships and religion. These pieces are some of the best examples of why. For more, also check out “PJ Lifestyle’s Top 50 List Articles of 2013” which features a number of additional Shaidle gems, some of which will no doubt make it into volume 2, coming soon…
- Dave Swindle
1. February 1, 2012:
2. April 16, 2012:
3. September 20, 2012:
4. May 8, 2012:
5. April 12, 2012
6. April 30, 2012
7. April 16, 2013:
8. February 8, 2014:
9. July 12, 2013:
10. August 7, 2012: