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The X-Files Returns with New Episodes, Here Are the Top Five to Watch on Netflix to Prepare

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

The buzz is out there over the six-episode return of the hit TV series The X-Files. In honor of the forthcoming tenth season of the show, it’s time for me to revisit my favorite five episodes of the series.  The reboot will be captained by series creator Chris Carter so any worries the show might get hijacked by a disloyal opportunist should be assuaged.  (ProTip: Chris Carter also created Millennium, staring Lance Henricksen. Go watch that.)

I have limited these episodes to the “freak of the week” episodes– those episodes that aren’t part of the grand arc of the show.  They are stand alone episodes for the most part and are easy to watch if you want to get into the series.

Here they are in nor particular order:

1. “Soft Light” episode twenty-three, season two

Most notable: Tony Shalhoub is the star of this episode and what’s better than Monk in an episode of The X-Files? Almost nothing.

The plot is great, Shalhoub plays physicist Chester Ray Banton. Due to an unfortunate accident his lab, Banton’s shadow acts as a black hole and vaporizes any one who it touches.  The episode ends with Banton locked up in a government facility where scientists are running tests on him.

2. “Home” episode two, season five

Most notable: The creepiest, most disturbing X-Files episode ever. Possibly the most disturbing thing that has ever been on TV.

We follow Mulder and Scully to Home, Pennsylvania where they are investigating the corpse of deformed baby found in a sandlot. We meet the three Peacock brothers (irony!) who are deformed siblings that never leave their house and breed with their quadruple amputee mother who lives under the bed.  Seriously.

3. “Duane Barry” episode five, season two

Most notable: The discovery of microscopic implants with bar codes in Duane Barry’s body.  Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy forced a two-part episode where Scully is abducted by aliens or not if you don’t believe.

Escaped mental patient and alien abductee Duane Barry takes hostages, his psychiatrist among them, and Mulder is brought in as a hostage negotiator. Barry is tricked into being shot and Mulder finds that Barry was telling the truth about his alien implants. The actor who plays Duane Barry, Steve Railsback, is terrific. Duane Barry talks about himself in the third person.

4. “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” episode four, season three

Most notable: Clyde Bruckman tells Scully how she is going to die. This episode won several Emmy Awards.

Clyde Bruckman is a psychic that can see the details surrounding the deaths of people and because of his talent, he becomes a suspect in a murder as he knows information surrounding the murder only the killer would know.  Although Scully is skeptical of his psychic abilities, the two become close and he tells Scully how she will die. I won’t spoil the ending, but I teared up.

5. “Millennium” fourth episode, seventh season

Most notable: Crossover with Millennium series, a sort of closure to the show since Millennium was cancelled. (Really, go watch Millennium)

Mulder and Scully are called into examine one of four FBI agent’s graves that have been exhumed. All four FBI agents had committed suicide and their graves were surrounded by goat’s blood after exhumation. If there’s weird occultism mixed with biblical prophecy, it obviously involves the FBI spin-off Millennium Group.   Assistant Director suggests Mulder and Scully talk to Frank Black (Henriksen) who was part of the now-defunct Millennium Group. Black is, where else, but in a mental hospital.

Those are five of my favorite The X-Files episodes, tell me what episodes are your favorites or why you disagree with me in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

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VIDEO: Lena Dunham Shows the Late Night Audience How Ignorant Girls Really Are

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Want to see Girls in a PG-13 nutshell? Check out last night’s sketch from Late Night With Seth Meyers in which Lena Dunham portrays her on-screen alter-ego Hannah Horvath working a pitch meeting in the writer’s room of the late night talk/sketch show. She essentially mocks the standard tropes of Girls, horrifying her fellow writers with her weird concepts of sexual humor and turning everything into a form of feminist victimization. Think Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm only not funny. Which is probably why the best line came from a fellow female writer who requested, ”Please do not group my pitch with yours.”

The award for most obnoxious line goes to: ”Aren’t you predominately Jewish male comedy writers supposed to be stuffing your gross faces with bagels constantly?”

While the award for most ignorant observation goes to: ”Seth lets a woman or person of color host a late night talk show for the first time ever, because that’s never happened and that’s f’d up!” Tell it to Joan Rivers or Arsenio Hall. Although this line proved the most instructive of how small Dunham’s bubble truly is.

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VIDEO: Would You Get ‘Married at First Sight’?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

A&E’s “docuseries” Married at First Sight had its second season premiere last night. The theory: arranged marriage cultures have a radically lower divorce rate than non-arranged marriage cultures. Therefore, a group of four experts (a psychologist, a sexologist, a sociologist and a spiritual advisor) conduct thorough testing to match up couples who will literally meet each other at the altar.

With a 66% success rate in its first season, the matchmaking panel appears to have a lower divorce rate than America at large. In the era of Tinder-generated fruitless casual sex, is trusting your romantic future to a pre-arranged scenario a logical alternative to a series of dead-end one night stands?

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VIDEO: What Lena Dunham Doesn’t Want to Know About Sex

Monday, March 16th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

In last night’s episode of HBO’s Girls, Hannah’s father came out of the closet.

Blah, blah, blah, right? At least until the end of the episode when Hannah confronts her father and says, gay or straight, she doesn’t want to know about his sex life.

Wait a minute? Is there something slightly traditionalist about Ms. Dunham after all?

No kid in her right mind wants to consider that her parents have sex. Yet for Ms. Dunham, who grew up around a considerable amount of father-generated sexual art, scripting a character who makes such a pedestrian proclamation is actually out of the ordinary.

Where is the line drawn in the progressive mind when it comes to loved ones and their sexual exploits? Could it be that the Queen of Sharing doesn’t want to share so much after all? Or is it more like others aren’t allowed to share as much as she does?

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The Future of Religion: Why Judeo-Christian Values Are More Important Than Science

Thursday, March 5th, 2015 - by Aaron C. Smith

See the opening of today’s series here: ”What Is the Future of Religion?” by Frank J. Fleming

Science is a good thing. It’s given us things like vaccines, cars and incubators.

I live in Southern California and was born a premie, with Apgar tests so low that the doctors advised my parents to institutionalize me. That means all of these innovations are near and dear to my heart. I have a more than healthy respect for science.

The thing is, though, science isn’t enough to keep a society going, at least not one we’d want to live in. What’s gotten humanity to this point is religion, specifically, the Judeo-Christian religion and its moral precepts that allow the freedom of Western civilization.

Three aspects of Judeo-Christian philosophy have helped define the free world: equality under the law, a firm grasp that we cannot build heaven on earth, and an objective for morality.

The dual, complementing nature of Judaism and Christianity, cannot be understated, especially as the Bible discusses equality. Many might think that the followers of Christ departed from their Jewish brethren but Christ himself reminds us in Matthew 5:17 that he “ha[d] not come to abolish [the Torah laws] but to fulfill them.” Thus he carried forward the truths given to Moses.

The first of these truths was the Jewish revelation of a single deity who created all of mankind and laid down laws establishing our fundamental equality.

When Gandhi engaged in some pseudo-deep drivel about an eye for an eye leaving everyone blind, he ignored the fact that this law was actually a command that punishment be proportional to the crime. Gandhi also suggested that Jews accept Nazi abuse, so it’s little wonder that he got other things wrong too.

Indeed, for all of the secularist focus on the wrath of the Old Testament God, the Torah serves more as a reminder to His children of their fundamental equality. After all, Leviticus 19:15 warns that “[y]e shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.”

So the rich don’t get any special favors and, in a blow to the Occupy folks, neither do the poor.

Holy crap, that’s equality. And God laid it down.

Christ walked the earth and fulfilled that law of equality. That law led William Wilberforce to inspire the greatest power of his age – Imperial Britain – to war against slavery. That same law led the descendants of slaves, with the Rev. Martin Luther King, to claim their seat at the table.

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The Judeo-Christian ethic teaches us the importance of respecting the individual and his liberties.

Judeo Christianity also teaches us to accept the world we live in.

Stalin’s Soviet Union. Mao’s China. Pol Pot’s killing fields.

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These were all the secular attempts at utopia. Again, the blood of millions soaked the earth in these failed experiments.

Along with equality, the Judeo-Christian philosophy teaches us a simple truth: As fallen humans, we cannot build a utopia in this world. Perfection is beyond us and attempting to rush it along is a fatal conceit.

This holds true even in the personal life.

There is nothing more human than wanting to create the perfect life for you and your family. Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife is a perfect example of this. She strives to be the perfect mother, wife and lawyer. And on the surface, she looks successful, rich. She is the captain of her own ship.

Alicia is also an avowed atheist who finds her success to be of little comfort when her one-time lover, Will, is killed in a courtroom shooting. Thus mother must turn to daughter, whom the show portrays fairly respectfully as coming to faith, in order to try to find comfort.

Alicia was smart but she was not wise and hers was a utopia of tears.

One thing that assists in avoiding the siren song of utopianism is maintaining a constant moral lodestone, as laid out in the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount.

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PJ Lifestyle contributor Walter Hudson wrote how “Atheists Can Be Moral Too.” However, in arguing that the natural world provides guideposts for human behavior, he disproves his own argument. After all, the natural world is the strong preying upon the weak. This is the morality of the dictatorship.

Indeed, Nazism and Communism saw themselves as the pinnacle of social evolution. Their inferiors, whether Jews or kulaks, were subhuman and thus fair game.

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This is the morality of a world without a true north. The compass spins out of control and we follow a path to chaos. The great irony is that by no matter what glorious end those without transcendent morality attempt to serve, they can never find it.

Who was to tell these technologically advanced barbarians they were wrong, if there was no definition of wrong that transcended society? After all, Hitler won an election. The Communists inspired fellow travelers throughout the world.

It is telling that the troika of Ronald Regan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II who defeated Communism in the 1980s came from strong traditions of faith.

Indeed, they showed that the three gifts of Judeo-Christian philosophy served as legs for a stool we call wisdom.

That wisdom is the reason religion serves a more fundamental role for society than science.

The Nazis and Soviets were capable of immense scientific accomplishments. They then put those accomplishments towards slaughter of unspeakable scale.

The Tuskegee experiments surely developed scientific data, but only through a monstrous experimentation on unknowing innocents.

Even now, we play with artificial intelligence which luminaries such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk warn could destroy humanity. Fertility experts toy with the creation of children with the genetic material of three people, a technology that could redefine families in a way that not even advocates of same sex marriage could dream.

Science, without the moral foundations of religion to constrain it, could mean the end of society as we know it or even the extinction of our specials

It was science that told my parents I should be put in an institution.

It was wisdom that kept me from such a fate. Although since I turned out to be a divorce lawyer, some people might think the doctor was right.

******

Please join the discussion on Twitter. The essay above is the tenth in volume 2 of the cultural discussions between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island exploring the history of counter-cultures, the future of conservatism and the role of new, emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. Want to contribute? Check out the articles below, reach out, and lets brainstorm: @DaveSwindle

Volume II

  1. Frank J. Fleming on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Government? Why It Won’t Look Like Star Trek 
  2. Aaron C. Smith on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Superheroes? Why They Need To Start Killing Super-Villains
  3. Mark Ellis on February 26, 2016: What Is the Future of Gen-X Manhood? Adam Carolla Vs Chuck Palahniuk?
  4. David S. Bernstein on February 26, 2015: What is the Future of Fiction? You’ll Be Shocked Who’s Fighting the New Conservative Counter-Culture
  5. Aaron C. Smith on March 2, 2015: The House Loses: Why Season 3 of House of Cards Utterly Disappoints
  6. Michael Walsh on March 2: What the Left Doesn’t Get About Robert A. Heinlein
  7. Frank J. Fleming on March 3: 8 Frank Rules For How Not to Tweet
  8. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 4: 7 Reasons Why Backstrom Is Perfect Counter-Culture Conservative TV
  9. Frank J. Fleming on March 5: What Is the Future of Religion?

See the first volume of articles from 2014 and January and February 2015 below:

2014 – Starting the Discussion…

January 2015 – Volume I

February 2015

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image illustraions via herehere, here, here and here

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7 Reasons Why Backstrom Is Perfect Counter-Culture Conservative TV

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Don’t let the appearance of Rainn Wilson fool you. Everett Backstrom is no Dwight Schrute, nor is Backstrom yet another take on the Sherlock trend. This smart, funny detective series walks into dark territory to examine the human desire to look toward the light. It goes against formula and against the grain manipulating authority and questioning politically correct cultural norms in pursuit of truth, justice and, even more intriguingly, redemption from evil. Here are 7 reasons why Backstrom is trendsetting, essential counter-culture conservative television that demands a place on the air.

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The House Loses: Why Season 3 of House of Cards Utterly Disappoints

Monday, March 2nd, 2015 - by Aaron C. Smith

I turned 36 this week, with thoughts that Netflix and Kevin Spacey conspired to give me a present: House of Cards, Season 3, went live on Friday.

I just happened to give myself that day off from work. I assure you, it was just pure coincidence. It also had nothing to do with the fact that my fiancé never got into the show, so it was best to binge as much as possible before torturing her.

Unfortunately, it seems that with Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his equally manipulative wife Claire (Robin Wright) at the pinnacle of success, they don’t know what to do. Indeed, that feeling permeates the entire third season, as if its directors and producers were lost even as their show has become a major success.

Again, the season started with promise when we finally got to see Underwood. How can you go wrong when the Machiavellian main character starts off urinating on his father’s grave?

After communing with his dearly departed dad, the show lets us know that Underwood has terrible approval ratings and is fighting both houses in Congress after proposing the elimination of entitlements to pay for America Works (AmWorks), a massive jobs program. Amusingly, no one points out that it’s just a new entitlement program.

Indeed, that reality exposes a great cognitive dissonance on the part of President Underwood when he famously tells the American people that they “are entitled to nothing!” It was rousing rhetoric. It’s the sort of thing we would love to hear from Republican leaders. Hearing it from a fictional Democrat was even more interesting.

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But this domestic policy debate offered a great backdrop to see how the ruthless president would fight some of his old adversaries. Mix that in with the addition of a global adversary, Putin clone Victor Petrov (Lars Mikkelsen), and you have the makings for some great conflicts.

However, the execution was weak. Indeed, one can say that weakness is the theme of this season and it makes absolutely no sense.

Here you have Francis Underwood, a man who schemed his way into the White House by manipulating the sitting president to appoint him as Vice-President and then forcing that Chief Executive to step down by engineering a battle between the President, an American billionaire and a Chinese princeling. However, in Season 3, he is the constant beggar, coming hat in hand to men he handily manipulated in Congress and getting dismissed.

Perhaps, in dealing with Russian President Petrov, a different power dynamic could be understood. After all, it’s not like Underwood can murder a Russian strong man like a drunken congressman or meddlesome reporter. But again, here is the opportunity for the sort of Great Powers gamesmanship this role was designed for.

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Net Neutrality: 3 Reasons It’s Time for the Ron Swanson Internet Warriors to Fight Back

Friday, February 27th, 2015 - by Nathan Lichtman

“I enjoy government functions like I enjoy getting kicked in the nuggets by a steel toed boot.” So sayeth the mustachioed libertarian prophet of Parks and Recreation.

It cannot be a coincidence that net neutrality passed the FCC and that Ron Swanson’s character was aired for the last time, within a week. I mean, the universe plays some funny jokes on us from time to time… but this is too much!

Ron Swanson instilled a healthy distrust of government in everyone who watched NBC’s sitcom. He liked doing nothing to advance the government bureaucracy (that he worked for), because he recognized that government, more often than not, gets in the way.

But the very week the final episode of this wildly successful show was on the tube, already people across the nation are assuming that “net neutrality” is a thing to be celebrated. The Daily Dot even ran a story with the subtitle “Victory.”

So let me explain why I’m bashing the “net neutrality” thing that just passed the FCC in a landmark vote:

First, the FCC is the same group that will let you call someone a “bitch” or an “asshole” on the air, but God forbid you say the word “s**t.”

Aside from the stupidity of what constitutes a George Carlin “bad word,” let’s just register the fact that the FCC already regulates speech. Unless you have a HAM radio license (like I do), the only time you’ve ever heard of the FCC before is when they’ve fined a television network or radio station for saying a “bad word.” So my first objection is that, inevitably, the FCC will decide what the bad things to say on the internet are, and regulate them. Censorship—it’s what they do.

Secondly, I want people to embrace their Ron Swanson-ness (a term which he would probably dislike).

The articles I’ve read that are pro-”neutrality” claim that the greedy internet companies need regulation. That otherwise they will place heavy rates on the consumer, or charge companies for faster service. So shady. But, what is the largest and greediest company in the world? That’s right, Ron Swanson Jr., it’s the U.S. government. They have a monopoly on everything they do, and they inherently do things with the goal of taking more power and tax money for themselves — especially for an unelected body like the FCC. So why would we trust the government to oversee corporations?

And finally, the idea behind this new regulation is to make the internet into a public utility.

Public utilities are the worst. At least in internet and cable, I have had competition when choosing my plans. I could get my television from DirecTV or Time Warner, and I could get my internet from several entities as well. I made my choice because of the speeds to price ratio. And I chose to pay a little more to get higher internet speeds. I do not have the same choice with water and power. In my community, it’s a public utility — the same public utility that fines me if I take a “too-long” shower, that charges me extra to use a dryer at 9pm, that posts billboards all around telling people to not wash their cars or water their lawns. So what’s next? Well, “We have a drought of internet speeds because too many people are watching Netflix, so we are going to have to ask you to only use the streaming services you’ve paid for between the hours of 6am to 8am”?

Under the label “neutral,” the FCC board has created anything but. Please, everyone, embrace you inner Swanson-ality (a term he’d like even less) and stop posting this #NetNeutrality thing like it’s good. It will spell the end of freedom of speech as we know it, and I’m not hyperbolizing.

Sorry, Leslie Knope.

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How Bad Ideology Destroys Good TV: Why Glee Crashed and Burned

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 - by Spencer Klavan

So I was watching Glee the other day (yes I watch Glee, okay?!), and man has that show jumped the shark. It’s frustrating, because Glee went down in flames the way a lot of good shows do: it got too busy constructing a leftist fantasyland to tell a decent story. It’s another victim of what I like to call “liberal backslide.”

Bear with me here for a second. I realize Glee was never an elegant allegory of fiscal conservatism. And no one could claim that it ever had an ironclad grip on reality. The show takes place in an underfunded Ohio public school whose auditorium looks like it was sponsored by a generous grant from the Shah of Persia. The band students instantaneously arrange and perform professional-quality backup accompaniment whenever someone so much as walks down the hallway humming a tune. This is obviously not a show about the real world.

But it used to be a show about real people. Glee got its start as a sharp send-up of teenage life in the Midwest, a bubblegum caricature of self-indulgent angst and high school politics. So it spoofed all those kids you hung out with in public school: the pristinely polished cheerleader. The wan, sensitive artist. The befuddled jock. The neat trick was that those well-worn stock characters all had a slightly edgier secret to make things a little less cut-and-dry. The cheerleader cheated on her boyfriend and got pregnant. The artist was straining hard against the closet door. The jock belted out “Can’t Fight This Feeling” in the locker room showers when he thought no one was looking. The whole picture was just a shade more complex and “real” than you expected, one degree more nuanced than a show like Saved by the Bell.

That meant the characters were allowed to have their own beliefs and opinions — more or less the ones they might have had in real life. Mercedes, the choir’s queen of soul, was also the head of the Christian club, the “God Squad.” Quinn, the cheerleader, was in the Squad too. Pretty standard for an Ohio high school: think Youth for Christ. When Quinn got pregnant, she was devastated and terrified, but determined not to abort. Also not impossible to imagine. Kurt, the artsy kid, came out to his dad, a rough-spoken mechanic who wrestled manfully with his prejudices for love of his son. Look, I’m not saying it was Shakespeare, but this was imaginative, thoughtful writing — a glitzed-up version of some distantly plausible reality. Everyone got made fun of, and for the most part everyone got a fair shake.

Fast-forward to the current season, in which the entire architecture of the show has essentially been abandoned in favor of a ceaseless stream of inchoate progressive propaganda. In one recent episode, the glee club alumni march triumphantly back onto their old stomping grounds to save their beloved show choir. To beef up the choir’s membership, all the glee clubbers from conservative backgrounds reach out to their high school’s “Tea Party Patriot Club.” Our virtuous heroes come bearing muffins, and their message is a touching one. Quinn helpfully begins with an inspiring story of personal growth: “before I joined glee club” (i.e., “when I was a conservative,”) “I only hung out with people that were exactly like me.” But it’s all better now, Quinn explains, because getting pregnant out of wedlock fixed all her problems! “Point is, nerds,” says bad boy Noah Puckerman, “you need to take the three-cornered hats out of your loser butts and join [the glee club].”

But for some incomprehensible reason, those ignorant tea partiers (or “teabaggers,” as they’re called in the show, to their faces) aren’t won over by this thoughtful outreach campaign. Their leader, a pencil-necked bigot in a starched shirt, has some kind of crazy hillbilly idea that the Obama administration has been an economic disaster. And for no discernible reason, he isn’t keen on joining a choir whose members just strode heedlessly into the middle of his meeting to openly mock and insult him and his friends. Mercedes nobly scolds the entire club for being a bunch of “ignorant, backwards, lily-white, gay-hating Obama bashing clubbers,” and all the stars march out in a huff, taking their muffins with them. Yay glee club! Diversity! Inclusion!

Glee always skewed left, but it used to have a real sense of humor about itself. Sadistic cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester was the perfect anti-PC mouthpiece, cutting deftly through the show’s self-satisfied über-sensitivity right when it got too saccharine. But season six has been a relentless, tight-lipped progressive tirade against conservatism without so much as a glimmer of mirth from the other side. Needless to say, since progressivism is predicated upon a string of complete fantasies, the show is now utterly disjointed and incomprehensible.

It’s also utterly unfunny. Indiscriminate satire is hilarious. A series-long harangue is not. Take, for example, the storyline in which an all-male a cappella group is blasted for being “sexist and discriminatory.” The debate rages for an entire episode, with barely a mention of the (entirely legitimate) musical reasons for forming a men’s choir. The issue is treated with the kind of ferocious humorlessness that only progressives can deliver with a straight face.

Liberal backslide: it’s happened before. I wrote about it when it happened to the once-brilliant Parks & Recreation. It happened to 30 Rock, too. It’s always the same process: smart, tight, observational humor, slowly abandoned in favor of preachy nonsense. American TV comedies feature some of the best writing around, when the writers just get out of their own way. More often than not, though, they can’t keep their mouths shut, and their untenable worldviews cloud their comedic vision. It shows, too — there’s a reason Glee’s ratings are lower than ever. There’s a reason it’s going off the air. The only thing less funny than politics is stupid politics.

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Jews, Whiteness & the Idiocy of Racial Identity

Sunday, February 15th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Finally, they’re Jew-ing up Downton Abbey. Rose, the troublesome teen who nearly ran away with a black American jazz singer last season, is now falling for Ephraim Atticus Aldridge whose family escaped Russian pogroms. What makes this love affair more acceptable to the Granthams, whose own matriarch comes from Jewish blood? Well, the money and the title help, but the reality is that Atticus is white. Tom the socialist chauffeur worked his way into the heart of the family sans money and title, but could a darker-skinned outcast have done the same? Not in an England where appearances were everything and eugenic theory was at an all-time high. Russian royalty ex-pats won’t accept Atticus as anything but a “Jew” and the jury is still out when it comes to the Crawley clan. Perhaps because, even in today’s England, just because Ashkenazim (European Jews) know how to play the game doesn’t mean they always win.

When I joined the Hillel as a grad student in Texas I was excited to finally not hear the one comment that had plagued me throughout many of my Jewish encounters growing up: “You don’t look Jewish.” Each time I heard the seemingly benign statement from some gorgeous, dark-haired, dark-eyed, olive-skinned individual with obvious Ashkenazi roots and a tinge of a New York accent I thought, “Weren’t you in history class when we talked about the Holocaust and the dangers of so-called racial identity?” Our problem with race extends beyond America’s borders. While Israel is the proof that being Jewish has absolutely nothing to do with how you look, Israelis still struggle with “whiteness” and race. The idol of race is a dangerous fence that has to be hacked down if we’re ever to survive as a people.

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Why I’m So Addicted to This New Gangster Show

Friday, February 13th, 2015 - by Andrew Klavan

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Barack Obama’s history of the Crusades, Brian Williams’ war stories and the CBS Evening News are all well and good, but if you want REALLY gripping fiction, try the new Fox TV series Empire. I won’t tell you it’s Shakespeare — and I hate the phrase “guilty pleasure” (it’s not like I’ve got someone chained up in the basement!) — but let’s just call it an addictive entertainment.

How addictive? Consider this. I don’t really do binge watching. No time. I set this show on my DVR and it collected six episodes before I even had a chance to look at it. Since I didn’t seem to be interested, I decided to watch ten minutes of the pilot to get the feel of it and delete the rest. I ended up watching three episodes in a row — it was past midnight when I was done. Another day or two and there were none left. Watching this thing is like eating potato chips salted with crack cocaine.

It’s the story of Lucious Lyon — played by Terrence Howard — who parlayed a hip-hop recording career into a music empire. Lucious discovers he has ALS with only three years to live so he sets his three sons against each other to see who can take over the business. There’s Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), the wannabe gangstah one; Andre (Trai Byers), the buttoned-down bi-polar one; and Jamal (Jussie Smollett), the high-minded gay one. Complicating the game is Lucious’s ex-wife, the boys’ mother, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), who has just been sprung from prison and wants her cut of the business too.

So yeah, it’s Dallas with music and just about as much fun as it’s possible to have watching TV. The acting’s great (Howard has one of the best speaking voices in the business), the girls are beautiful (newcomers Grace Gealey and Serayah could cause a man to spontaneously combust), and the music is softened just enough to make it enjoyable even to an old Bach and Bing fan like myself — which, hey, I appreciate!

You can pick on the show for silliness at times. There are one too many scenes where Cookie sashays uninvited into a meal or meeting to disrupt things with her over-the-top street smarts. But there’s never a dull moment and, frankly, watching this kind of talent go all out to amuse the folks at home is a pleasure in and of itself. If you have a chance to catch this, I’d love to know what you think. Myself, I can’t stop, won’t stop, watching.

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Cross-posted from Klavan on the Culture

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Kick NBC While It’s Down: Use The Williams Scandal to Set the Terms of the 2016 Debates

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 - by Aaron C. Smith

He’s a liar. He admitted it.

The real story: His bosses don’t care.

Sources report that the president of ABC News and news legend Tom Brokaw were talking about Brian of Arabia’s desert adventures for years.

Watching this Sunday’s Meet the Press, you could be forgiven for not knowing there was an issue. They spent more time on the ages of presidents than the Williams’ scandal.

You could maybe understand the fact that the powers that be didn’t want to pull the rug from under their anchor and make a public stink about his excellent adventure being a bogus journey. What is impossible to understand is why they kept letting him run around telling the story.

It’s not like he was just sitting in a bar, telling stories of faded glory over suds and some peanuts.

He recently recounted the story of Brian Hawk Down on Letterman. Admittedly, it was a humble brag, honoring someone else as an opportunity to tout his own bravery. But seriously, there was no one in the hierarchy who could say, “Hey Brian, this is a terrible idea”?

Either no one thought that having their ten million dollar man put out a report guaranteed to make him a target was a bad idea or no one had the control over him to stop it.

I’m not sure which scenario is worse. Either one of them speaks to a media culture that doesn’t even make a pretense of valuing truth.

Indeed, the guilt of NBC and its hierarchy can be seen in how they’ve handled the incident.

Williams gave his mealy-mouthed apology about “misremembering” and relieved himself of duty. This is a double secret suspension that would make Dean Wormer proud. It’s not an admission of doing any wrong and he’ll be back in his anchor chair in a few days.

Not going to work for a few days and coming back with no repercussions?

We mortals have a term for this:

Vacation.

Indeed, Williams’ letter continues in his self-promoting tradition. He’s not stepping aside from embarrassment for being a lying liar. No, he wants to avoid being a distraction.

My God, look at his selflessness. In a few retellings, we will be hearing about how Brian Williams threw himself on a grenade to save his fellow squad mates.

Wait, NBC will say. They’re not sitting on their hands, letting Williams get some sun while the story blows over.

After all, they are investigating!

At this point, the investigation can only make things worse for Williams. It will likely focus on claims that he saw dead bodies floating down the street in the French Quarter during Hurricane Katrina.

Except that the high ground in New Orleans, there wasn’t much flooding in the French Quarter.

Oh yeah, he was also shot at again in New Orleans.

It seems that like cans in Steve Martin’s The Jerk, some people just really don’t like Brian Williams.

Keeping Brian Williams around sends a simple and unambiguous message: The public face of their news organization telling lies is a pardonable sin. Indeed, it may be no sin at all.

This is a time for Republicans to strike.

Not at the low hanging fruit. Indiana Williams and the Helicopter of Doom will become its own punchline. Schadenfreude’s great but with some actual guts and animal cunning, this can be spun into strategic victory in terms of the 2016 race.

Debates weren’t great for Republicans in the 2012 election cycle.

George Stephanopoulos midwifed the War on Women meme in the primaries.

Candy Crowley ran interference for President Obama in his second debate with President Obama.

This means that Republicans have to be pretty darn careful about debates, unless they want them to become battle space preparation for the enemy.

Now, if Republicans simply point out the blatant unfairness of the current system, they’ll just be called whiners.

Brian Williams gives them leverage with NBC.

The Republican National Committee should make reasonable demands of the network in terms of format and moderator, for both the primary and general election debates.

If NBC plays ball, fine.

If not, go for the jugular. Point out that NBC News is hopelessly compromised because of how it handled Brian Williams over the years. If they can’t effectively police themselves, they can’t be expected to referee debates.

Freeze them out.

Then, and I know this is a hard thing for establishment Republican leaders to conceptualize, they stay strong.

We live in a media saturated age. With radio, the internet and cable news, telling NBC and its moronic cousin MSNBC to pound sand won’t limit the ability for conservatives to get their message out. More importantly, it will make it easier for them to communicate without fear of that message being warped by their hosts.

Williams and NBC are wounded animals.

Capitalize on it.

Then pivot. With NBC’s scalp, they can use that standard in setting the terms for debates on other networks.

It’s the same principle with how public sector unions got insane compensation packages in California. The first domino falling sets the standard for the rest.

Now the only question that remains is whether the RNC will have the guts to set the whole thing falling.

******

This essay is part of an ongoing dialogue between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island regarding the future of conservatism and the role of emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. See the previous installments in the series and join the discussion:

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What Does It Really Mean to Be ‘Like A Girl’?

Thursday, February 5th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Self-dubbed “meninists” have gone on defense after a Superbowl commercial inspired women to proclaim to the world the power of being #LikeAGirl. Ironically, the sexism inherent in their response pales in comparison to the gender bias expressed in defense of the commercial. Once again, gender feminists out themselves as a group bent on erasing gender, specifically female gender, from American culture. The problem is that they are so bloody brainwashed in indoctrination that they don’t even realize they’re doing it.

In an attempt to defend the pride a woman should take in acting #LikeAGirl, gender feminists only manage to uphold the notion that women are weak and oppressed and need public approval in order to be “empowered.” Moreover, in order to gain that much sought-after public approval, women must take on androgynous appearances, hobbies or careers that require them to leave their femininity at home under lock and key.

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Objection! Why TV’s The Good Wife Isn’t Good Law

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 - by Aaron C. Smith

kindergarten568

It’s a cute saying but my trigonometry teacher didn’t buy it. According to her, life was a constant learning experience. I certainly learned how to explain to my mom how I brought home the only “C” of my high school career – and why that grade should be counted as a victory.

I was thinking about this because someone recommended The Good Wife to me, specifically asking for my take on how the show portrays the practice of law. In all honesty, I’d been avoiding the show for that reason.

By trade I’m a divorce lawyer and watching legal shows tends to be a form of torture for me because one thought always goes through my head:

Can’t they hire a technical advisor?

Quite honestly, the lawyering in those shows boggles my mind. I give Boston Legal a pass, only because of William Shatner and James Spader. Those flamingos made no pretense of taking themselves seriously and made it an amazingly fun show to watch.

So I went into The Good Wife expecting something akin to being waterboarded but without Dianne Feinstein’s press office to assist me.

And…

I liked it, after suspending disbelief.

That got me thinking:

Other people don’t suspend disbelief. They think in some form, this is how the world actually works.

Sleeping with opposing counsel. Laughing about conflicts of interest.

Those are Very Bad Things. Lose your Bar card, get sued for ungodly sums of money and still have to pay back your six figure student loans while remembering who had the no fat whipped Frappuccino kind of Bad Things.

We live in a complex world, where our modern, urban lifestyle has made people into creatures of specialization. Where people once had to be jacks-of-all trades, we’ve become the masters of one. So while individuals can look at the narrow slice of the world they have a really good handle on, the rest of it can be confusing.

And yours truly gets to spend time explaining to friends and clients why exactly you don’t get to go to trial the same afternoon you hire your lawyer.

But TV rotting our brains actually has real world implications that go beyond annoying those of us that know better.

Take juries.

At one point, they didn’t know what to do with DNA. As one juror from the OJ Simpson case said, the DNA evidence was not important because “we all have blood.”

Now, however, we’ve gone 180-degrees. Juries demand a case that has lots of glitz and science.

They call it the “CSI effect.” In this worldview, a case just isn’t complete without forensics.

Another area impacted is how young people view the world. Gays are approximately 1% of the population. However, in some studies, people think the number is 20%.

A fifth of the population gay?

Maybe one could expect that in San Francisco. But why would individuals think that in the general population?

One just needs to look at television’s treatment of homosexuals. Once, they were the objects of comic mockery, if they showed up at all. Then, slowly, there was positive treatment with the Token Gay Guy, followed by Will and Grace and Modern Family, in which the tokens became main characters. Now, Fox’s heavily-promoted show Empire has as one of its main storylines how a main character is rejected by his father for his homosexuality.

The entertainment we immerse ourselves in shapes our culture. Liberals have known this for decades and have used it for their advantage.

Even more dangerously, police shows and action movies create an expectation in the public that our law enforcement have magic abilities with their guns. Thus, the question when a police officer kills: “Why didn’t the cop just shoot the gun out of his hand?” or “Why didn’t he shoot him in the leg?” Other people nod their heads sagely as if a really important point has been made.

After all, that’s how they do it on television.

No one points out that a leg wound, with its femoral artery, can cause a man to bleed out in seconds. No one points out that shooting a gun out of a man’s hand, especially in a fluid, high intensity situation, would require a miracle.

But still, the question gets asked.

And then there’s this:

cher

I mean, her heart’s in the right place. It’s not like Cher was calling for the terrorists to be tagged and released into the wild. She wanted to hurt the terrorists.

So you can’t condemn the sentiment.

But Cher acknowledges a basic fact: she knows nothing about fighting terrorism. Yet she still thought this plan made enough sense to tweet.

She probably saw it on TV.

*****

image illustration via here.

This essay is part of an ongoing dialogue between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island regarding the future of conservatism and the role of emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. See the previous installments in the series and join the discussion:

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People Who Love Magic Shouldn’t Miss This Cool TV Show’s Second Season

Monday, January 26th, 2015 - by Andrew Klavan

I’m a sucker for magic and especially for sleight-of-hand magic and it just so happens I’m friends with one of the greatest sleight-of-hand practitioners on the planet (no idle boast: they actually test these things and he keeps coming in at or near the top): Gregory Wilson. One of my very fond memories is of a dinner he and I once had during which he absolutely amazed me with nothing but a deck of cards. As we parted ways, he ended by correctly guessing the contents of my pockets (two tarantulas, a rocket launcher and thirty-seven cents). The guy really is brilliant and if you ever have a chance to catch his act, grab it.

Greg is part of a very cool SyFy show fronted by Penn and Teller (themselves no slouches in the magic department). It’s called Wizard Wars. It’s sort of American Idol for magicians. Its second season begins January 29th. If you love this stuff anywhere near as much as I do, set the DVR. Here’s the first season trailer:

Here’s more from the website.

And here’s more from Greg’s website.

******

Cross-posted from Klavan on the Culture

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Adam Carolla: The Quintessential Counterculture Conservative?

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Mark Ellis

****

If, in 2002, your television viewing habits were dominated by Fox News, The Osbournes, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, you may have missed out on the highlight of Adam Carolla’s early television career. He left Comedy Central’s The Man Show in 2003.

Similarly, if you scrupulously avoid any relationship advice from Dr. Drew Pinsky as if it were a visit to the Ebola Bridal Shoppe, you missed another post-millennial Carolla enterprise. Carolla left Loveline in 2005.

There’s been a slew of Carolla projects in the interim, but if you’re like millions of baby boomers whose mental image of the word “podcast” conjures primarily a plaster replica of the seed pods from 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, you may have lost all track of Carolla, and rediscovered him as a guest on the O‘Reilly Factor.

While you’ve been passively forgetting, patently ignoring, or ardently following Adam Carolla, he’s been working full time, outside of what passes for the usual show business gestalt. Like Charlton Heston, Jon Voight, Kelsey Grammar, and Wayne Newton before him, Carolla has made his conservative/libertarian values known. Only this time, unlike with those illustrious examples, the conservative is outside of so-called mainstream culture.

If there is such a thing as a conservative counterculture, I think you have to put Carolla on the ground floor. Bear in mind though—Carolla says he’s not really all that conservative; it’s just that the culture has driven him rightward.

Whether delivering irresistible cuties bouncing on trampolines, dispensing relationship advice Doctor Laura would scarcely have approved of, or the tearing off an improperly installed roof, the comedian, author, radio personality and #1 national podcaster always brought the fun.

Carolla hilariously worked his take on Eros into the Loveline script. The Man Show was like a frat house micro-burst around feminism’s ankles.

Lately, if you work in construction, you don’t want Carolla’s Catch a Contractor crew rolling up on your job site. Carolla’s home improvement sting operation on Spike TV has just been renewed for a third season.

When one contractor cornered says to Carolla, “You’re a standup comedian, right?” Carolla responds, saying, “No joke I ever told is as funny as the work you performed here.”

Carolla’s atheism is something that places him outside preconceptions about how conservatives’ reckon humankind’s place in the universe. Unfairly or not, we associate the right more with established belief systems, traditional religion, and the left more with secularism—within a larger context of the atheistic state.

Carolla’s, or anyone’s, atheism, strikes a discordant note with a statistical majority of the conservative base demographic. Thou shalt not judge is the guiding principal, but for true believers, atheism alone will put Carolla in a counterculture.

Also to be accepted is his pro-choice (while being assailed as a misogynist), pro-same-sex marriage (while being decried as a homophobe), and pro-marijuana legalization positions in the bargain.

At the entertainment website My Damn Channel, Carolla responds to criticisms about remarks he made on race that some characterize as racially insensitive.

What about this conservative counterculture? Alice Cooper has got to be some kind of emeritus standard bearer. Greg Gutfeld, Vince Vaughn, and Kid Rock?

Writer P.J. O‘Rourke has a hand in this. If you aren’t worried about coming across as pompous, a case can be made for making Dennis Miller the honorary godfather.

And who doesn’t love Wayne Newton?

Will the term “counterculture conservative” someday be remembered like “Tea Party?” the lexicon of a movement assimilated, like the Tea Party itself?

In the culture war, that might be progress.

Or will the conservative counterculture remain its own thing, and perhaps someday be sent-up in a counter-culturally conservative version of The Monkees?

Whatever happens, performers like Adam Carolla will provide the reality check, but one possibility cannot be ignored: Carolla may reject the whole idea, and someday spew forth with a rant and drill it a new one.

******

See more of PJ Lifestyle’s coverage celebrating Adam Carolla over the past few years, led by Kathy Shaidle:

This essay is part of an ongoing dialogue between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island regarding the future of conservatism and the role of emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. See the previous installments in the series and join the discussion:

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5 Must-See TV Shows for Skipping the State of the Union

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano

Consider the president’s track record. He’s told us that Libya was a triumph, al Qaeda was dead, the war in Iraq was over, the war in Afghanistan was won, relations with Russia have been reset and China is our friend. Given those credentials, it’s fair to conclude that Mr. Obama has about as much to tell us about foreign affairs as the Syfy channel has to say about science.

So where can you find some truly educational television tonight? Here’s some alternative programming that can teach us some important lessons about how to keep America safe.

5. Marco Polo

The Netflix series tells the story of famed adventurer at the court of Kublai Khan. Bloodthirsty, ruthless, cunning barbarian at heart? Yes. Presidential material? No. On the other hand, the great Khan was a strategist who understood the wisdom of China’s greatest military philosopher,

If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer. … If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

Compared to a White House that even seems to struggle at parsing friend and foe, this entertainment is refreshing fare.

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Thank God for Marvel’s Agent Carter Feminism

Saturday, January 10th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Don’t let the stereotypical G.I. lunks distract you with their butt-smacking, “don’t you need to file something” portrayal of 1940s masculinity. Marvel’s Agent Carter is far from your oh-so-played-out second wave feminist portrayal of manhood – and womanhood, for that matter. Which is why it’s the best show going on television for feminism today.

For every lunk there’s a hero, Carter’s colleague Agent Sousa being one of them. One brilliant expository exchange sets the tone, demonstrating exactly how appealing real men find Carter’s fearless independence:

Carter: “I’m grateful. I’m also more than capable of handling whatever these adolescents throw at me.”

Sousa: “Yes, ma’am. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

Carter: “Well that’s another thing we have in common.”

Carter is a fully empowered female. Sousa knows it, respects it, and likes it. And Carter likes him for it. This kind of His Girl Friday exchange gets equity feminism the screen time our culture so desperately needs. Unlike her Avengers’ counterpart the Black Widow, Agent Carter isn’t squished into slicked up body suits and forced to perform gymnastic feats in order to intrigue her male audience. And unlike gender feminists, Carter draws authority from her sex and uses it to save the day.

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The 10 Best British TV Shows You Should Watch No Matter Your Nationality

Friday, January 9th, 2015 - by Karina Fabian

America may seem to have the monopoly on entertainment, but British TV has produced some spectacular successes that have entertained viewers worldwide and even snuck into American culture. Improvements in special effects have resulted in even better shows, but the Brits have always had the lead in wit, and the overall quality of acting has improved, too. Here are ten from the past and present that represent some of the best Great Britain has offered.

1. Dr Who

Premiering in 1963, this science fiction adventure stars The Doctor, the last survivor of an alien race who travels in time and space, getting into trouble and saving worlds with the help of his human companions. Brilliant, funny, courageous yet sometimes lacking in manners or (it seems at first) common sense, the Doctor is such a fascinating character that he will draw you into his adventures.  But why watch it? TARDIS, Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels… Dr. Who has a way of making alien monsters scary without being terrifying, and the adventures are always exciting and fun.

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5 Reasons Why Lost Is the Most Underrated TV Show of All Time

Saturday, December 27th, 2014 - by Jon Bishop

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Lost is the most underrated show of all time.

Yes, I know this flies in the face of its critical reception. Most people would say: “Uh, hold on. Just about everyone loved the show. They debated it, wrote essays about it, said it was one of the programs that began a television renaissance.”

But I’m not talking about the critics. If you bring up Lost in conversation, you’ll hear this: “Oh, isn’t that the show with the polar bears? I stopped watching that after, like, the first season.” And when you try to tell people otherwise — that the writing was superb, that it had more in common with literature than with television — they’d, pun not intended, tune you out.

Culture counts, and so how the average viewer thinks about the show will matter more than what, say, Matthew Gilbert of the Boston Globe does.

So, listen up, people who thought the show with the island somewhere in the South Pacific was too much:  You missed out.

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The Complete He-Man & She-Ra Christmas Special!

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon

Here is a list of the previous cartoons featured this year:

Disney in Spring

All 75 of the Silly Symphonies, the Gold Standard of the Era:

  1. Walt Disney’s First Silly Symphony: ‘The Skeleton Dance’
  2. PETA Would Hate This 1929 Disney Cartoon…
  3. Nature Animated to Life
  4. A Disney Cartoon Set In Hell!
  5. Getting Drunk With Disney’s Merry Dwarfs
  6. Summer: The Sixth Silly Symphony, A Sequel to Spring
  7. Corn on the Cob as Musical Instrument
  8. A Cannibal-Version of Carmen With Clicking Human Skulls… Made By Walt Disney
  9. Frolicking Fish Almost 60 Years Before The Little Mermaid
  10. Mickey Mouse As a Polar Bear
  11. Toy Story‘s Great Grandfather?
  12. A Bug Flying Too Close to the Fire In the Darkness
  13. Innocence Incarnate: These Smooching Monkeys Will Make You Smile
  14. Goodbye Winter! Disney’s Playful Pan Emerges to Call In Spring (two cartoons)
  15. Birds of a Feather Flock Together
  16. A Cartoon First Released April 17, 1931: Disney’s Mother Goose Melodies
  17. Dora the Explorer’s Politically Incorrect Cameo in a 1931 Disney Cartoon
  18. Apparently Beavers Invented the Wheelbarrow Before Man
  19. A Sweet & Spooky Silly Symphony for Cat Lovers
  20. Egyptian Melodies Vs. Father Noah’s Ark
  21. Geppetto’s Original Workshop And Cogsworth’s Great-grandparents?
  22. When A Cavalry of Horseflies Goes To War Against the Spider
  23. Drinking Tea Before the Fox Hunt
  24. How Much Can an Ugly Duckling Grow Up Over a Decade?
  25. The Marx Brothers As Cartoon Birds
  26. A Primordial Winnie the Pooh
  27. A Dog Jail Break at the Pound!
  28. The First Technicolor Cartoon: Disney’s Still-Amazing ‘Flowers and Trees’
  29. It’s Amazing What Kinds of Cartoons Were Considered Family Friendly in 1932…
  30. Bugs In Love Battle a Blackbird in Black and White
  31. ‘Babes In the Woods’ Vs. The Witch In The Candy Cottage
  32. What Secrets Do You See Inside Santa’s Workshop?
  33. The Snake Hypnotizes His Prey
  34. The Disney Version of Noah’s Ark
  35. An Oscar-Winning Cartoon That Defined the Depression Era
  36. Who’s Ready to Open Pandora’s Box?
  37. Enter Sandman? Where We Go When We Sleep
  38. If You Don’t Pay the Piper He’ll Just Take Your Children Instead…
  39. When Walt Disney Imagined Santa Claus In Alliance With The Robot Toys
  40. The ‘Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil’ Monkeys In Cartoon Form
  41. ‘Oh, the World Owes Us a Livin’…’
  42. Among the Easter Bunny’s Secrets: Scotch-Colored Paint!
  43. Practical Pig Saved Little Red Riding Hood From the Big Bad Wolf
  44. Donald Duck’s First Appearance
  45. The Lesson of the Flying Mouse: Sometimes A Blessing Is Actually A Curse…
  46. Chill Out Today With These ‘Peculiar Penguins’
  47. Compare and Contrast: The Goddess of Spring With Snow White
  48. Slow and Steady Wins the Race?
  49. What Would You Do If Everything You Touched Turned to Gold?
  50. A Cartoon To Teach Kids About the Danger of Celebrating Crime
  51. Dreaming of an Innocent Unity With Nature
  52. A Fantasy Land Where Everything Is Made of Candy…
  53. How Did Disney’s Mae West Bird Caricature Compare With Real Life?
  54. VIDEO: If Romeo and Juliet Were A Saxophone and Cello
  55. Another 1930s Disney Cartoon with Creepy Racial Stereotypes…
  56. What Does It Take to Be the Cock o’ The Walk?
  57. What Is the Fate of Broken Toys?
  58. Elmer Elephant: Is This the Most Adorable Cartoon in the Whole Series?
  59. How Kids Can Learn To Defeat Bullies
  60.  ‘I Like a Man That Takes His Time…’
  61. The 3 Blind Mouseketeers Vs A Room of Traps
  62. A Country Mouse Discovers the Joys of Drinking in the Big City…
  63. This Very Cute Video of ‘Mother Pluto’ Parenting Chicks Will Make You Smile
  64. 3 Troublemaker Kittens Make a Mess in the Garden
  65. The Dark Secrets Hidden in the Woodland Cafe…
  66. What Is Animism?
  67. One of The Classic Breakthroughs In Animation History
  68. When Moths Fly Too Close to The Flame…
  69. 3 Babies Fishing For Stars In Dreamland
  70. Walt Disney Introduces The Farmyard Symphony on the DisneyLand TV Show
  71. Long Before Spongebob: The Underwater Circus of the Merbabies
  72. Katharine Hepburn As Little Bo Peep in Blackface
  73. Practical Pig Delivers a ‘Harsh Interrogation’ To the Big Bad Wolf
  74. This Ugly Duckling Abandoned By His Family Will Melt Your Heart

Mickey Mouse:

  1. ‘Plane Crazy’: Mickey Mouse at the End of the Silent Era

Donald Duck’s first appearances:

  1. “The Wise Little Hen”: Donald Duck’s First Appearance
  2. “Orphan’s Benefit”: Which Character Do You Prefer: Donald Duck Vs Popeye?
  3. “The Dognapper:” Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck Vs The Dognapper
  4. Donald Duck’s 4th Appearance Is One of the 1930s’ Greatest Cartoons
  5. Donald Duck’s 5th Appearance: ”Mickey’s Service Station”
  6. A World War II Donald Duck Cartoon for Veterans Day
  7. How to Fish With Chewing Tobacco and a Club
  8. Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse Take the Orphans for a Picnic
  9. Donald’s Final Appearance in His Original Duckish Design

Pluto:

  1. Pluto Wants Some Turkey Too

Fleischer Studios in Summer

12 Early Betty Boop Cartoons

  1. Betty Boop’s First Appearance
  2. Before Betty Boop Was Beautiful…
  3. Betty Boop as Snow White In A Cartoon For Jazz Lovers
  4. Your Initiation Into Betty Boop’s Secret Society
  5. ‘No, He Couldn’t Take My Boop-Oop-a-Doop Away!’ (2 cartoons featured)
  6. Why You Shouldn’t Try Robbing Betty Boop
  7. The Betty Boop Approach to Dealing With ‘Silly Scandals’
  8. Moving Day for Betty Boop!
  9. A Plus-Size Betty Boop As Kitty From Kansas City
  10. Playing Chess with Betty Boop & Taking a Mean Shot at Mickey Mouse
  11. Betty Boop’s Crazy Inventions
  12. Cab Calloway as ‘The Old Man Of the Mountain’ Chases after Betty Boop

Popeye

  1. Popeye The Sailor’s First Animated Appearance
  2. Which Character Do You Prefer: Donald Duck Vs Popeye?

22 Color Classics, a competitor to the Silly Symphonies:

  1. A Redheaded Betty Boop As Cinderella Debuted a New Series
  2. ‘Joy Like This Cannot Be Bought!’ A Cartoon Variation of Hansel and Gretel
  3. An Elephant Never Forgets
  4. Back When Cartoons Taught the Miraculous Power of Prayer…
  5. ‘Momma Don’t Allow No Music Playin In Here’
  6. Animal Newlyweds Take Their Honeymoon In Outer Space!
  7. Seduced By the Black Swan
  8. An Old Couple Reminisces On Falling In Love…
  9. Somewhere in Dreamland Tonight
  10. When a Chick Tries to Be a Duck
  11. Newlywed Flies Pick The Wrong Hotel For Their Honeymoon
  12. Greedy Humpty Dumpty Enslaves Nursery Rhyme Creatures To Build His Gold Wall to the Sun
  13. Two Lovebirds Take a Hawaiian Honeymoon
  14. Dreaming of a Big Train
  15. An Eccentric Inventor Saves The Orphans’ Christmas
  16. The Wedding of Jack and Jill Rabbit
  17. The Rooster and His Harem…
  18. Animal Symphony Chaos: ‘The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Astray…’
  19. VIDEO: A Family of Peeping Penguins Finds a New Home
  20. A Little Fish Has to Learn His Lesson The Hard Way
  21. Cute: Little Lamby Eats His Grass With Sugar
  22. The Vegetable Children Don’t Want to Play With the Little Onion Kid

The Films of Ub Iwerks, co-creator of Mickey Mouse, during his years apart from Disney, studied in the Fall:

Flip the Frog

  1. Flip the Frog: The First Sound Color Cartoon
  2. Flip the Frog Hallucinating in the Opium Den
  3. Flip the Frog Befriends the Ghost Family With Their Skeleton Dog
  4. Flip The Frog Vs The Mouse
  5. The Village Barber
  6. ‘Techno-Cracked’: When Flip the Frog Built a Robot
  7. Why Were so Many 1930s Cartoons Set in a Sultan’s Harem?

Willie Whopper

  1. An Angel Flashing the Middle Finger In a 1930s Cartoon?
  2. Willie Whopper’s Mexican Gun Fight
  3. Willie Whopper Steals Neptune’s Crown

Comicolor Cartoons

  1. A Very Angry Sun Vs. Old Man Winter
  2. A Nutty Knight Escapes from the Insane Asylum
  3. Sinbad the Sailor and His Parrot Enjoy Cigars
  4. The Tailor Vs The Giant and Everyone Vs The Mouse
  5. Baby Bear Has to Learn From Jack Frost the Hard Way…
  6. Simple Simon in the Lion’s Den
  7. The First Cartoon Version of Aladdin
  8. Welcome to Balloon Land! Beware of the Pincushion Man!
  9. Humpty Dumpty Jr. Rescues His Sweetheart from a Bad Egg

Columbia Pictures’ Color Rhapsodies series

  1. Little Nell With a Heart As Big as Texas
  2. The Frog Pond: The Primary Theme of 1930s Cartoons? How to Beat Bullies
  3. Skeleton Frolics: An Undead Orchestra Rehearses

Terrytoons By Paul Terry

  1. How Farmer Al Falfa Survived the Drought
  2. A June Bride: Farmer Al Falfa’s Kitty Elopes With an Alley Cat
  3. The Dancing Mice Make War on Farmer Al Falfa and His Cat
  4. ‘Scotch Highball’: a 1930 Terrytoon of Animals Racing

 Warner Bros in Winter

  1. Porky Pig’s First Appearance
  2. “Plane Dippy”
  3. What Are the Origins of Daffy Duck?

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5 Ways to Avoid Christma-fying Your Hanukkah

Monday, December 15th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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It’s fairly obvious that we Jews just don’t get Christmas. Don’t believe me? Check out BuzzFeed’s attempt to get Jews to decorate Christmas trees. (“Who’s Noel?” “Is that like, ‘grassy knoll’?”) Yet, every year we Jewish Americans wrestle as a people over whether or not to incorporate Christmas traditions into our own Hanukkah celebrations. It’s tacky. It’s trite. And it’s really, really lame. Here are five Hanukkah/Christmas hybrids that all Jews need to avoid this holiday season.

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17 Reasons Why I Enjoyed Summer TV More than the ‘New Fall Season’ on Broadcast, Part III

Saturday, December 13th, 2014 - by David Forsmark

5. Life is Beautiful: Dr. Who

Before they brought Holmes and Watson into the 20th century in the excellent personages of Benedict Cumberbach and Martin Freeman, the Sherlock team first produced this marvelous update of the ultimate geek cult classic, Dr. Who.

For the uninitiated, The Doctor is a time-traveling alien, last of his species which was known as Time Lords, who generally is incarnated with some sort of accent from the British Isles, and travels through time and space in a blue time capsule that looks like a blue British police call box circa 1963 (when the series debuted on the BBC.)

The Doctor is of an undetermined age, and regenerates every so often with a new body and slightly different personality. This season, he is played by Peter Capaldi and is, to his initial consternation, an older and grouchier, Scotsman. In the most recent seasons he has been played to great effect by Christopher Eccleson, David Tennant and Matt Smith.

The Doctor travels with an appealing and adventurous sidekick, generally a young and pretty British woman.

Like The Doctor himself, this show has heart to spare, generally with the characters saving some civilization from extinction. While Dr. Who is consistently life-affirming, the show recently aired one of the most blatantly pro-life episodes in the history of television.

Forget wondering if a baby might ruin one’s career, in this case, the dilemma was whether to kill the last of an alien species in utero, even if letting it hatch meant risking the future of Earth itself.

Utterly whimsical and completely addictive, Dr. Who has a sense of wonder and humanity that is unique in modern television.

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VIDEO: How the Genius TSA Thwarts Al-Qaeda Attacks

Friday, December 12th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Viral Videos

hat tip: Ben Shapiro

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