A MIXED MARRIAGE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I love my husband but we have a mixed marriage. I’m a total Rom-Com/ Sit-Com/ Doctor/Lawyer Show kind of girl. Tom is a Super Hero / Sci-Fi / Tolkien kind of guy.

When we were first together, I’d religiously watch all his shows and movies with him. And he’d watch all of mine. After 19 years together and 15 years married, that isn’t going to happen anymore. Our relationship has reached a new level, where it can survive intact, even if we go off separately to watch our favorite guilty pleasures.

Tom won’t watch endless cooking competitions or HGTV house makeover shows anymore. I still love him. I won’t watch every superhero movie or TV show (there are a lot). He still loves me.

There are some areas of crossover. I genuinely like some of the early superhero movies, like the original Superman and Spiderman. I loved Wonderwoman and Black Panther. I’m a real fan of time travel shows too.

Tom truly loves “When Harry Met Sally”, my favorite movie, and others of its genre. So he gets a couple of free passes for that. He also likes some of my favorite TV shows, like “Grey’s Anatomy”, “The Good Wife”, “NCIS”, “This is Us”, etc.

We both were addicted to the on-demand series like “Grace and Frankie”, “Outlander,” and “The Crown”.

So there is common ground. But there’s one other thing we’re not going to be doing together any time soon.

Video games. I cannot share any of Tom’s enthusiasm for video games. Even though I don’t participate, I’m still subjected to the incessant noise of gun battles blaring through the house at all hours. Some of these games go for realism in the form of adding the sounds of dying and wounded humans, animals, and mythical creatures. I find it very disconcerting.

I’ve reached my saturation point with the new virtual reality play station games, complete with magic goggles and wands. I appreciate the amazingly advanced technology. But the glasses make me dizzy and disoriented. I like to be able to see my own hands and feet. I like to be sure where I am in my house, not stumbling around in some weird fantasy-scape.

I just can’t cross that Rubicon with Tom into the virtual reality hologram world of tomorrow.

I’m not the only one freaked out by the new technology. As soon as Tom put on the headset with the glowing lights, one of our dogs went berserk. She would not stop barking at him as long as he had his gear on. I had to take her out of the room.

If howling did anything for me, I’d be right there with her.

At least this newest toy comes with headphones so I don’t have to listen along at top volume. Meanwhile, Tom looks hilarious in his sci-fi get up! That’s worth a few laughs.

Maybe watching him play games in an imaginary universe and listening to the dog go nuts could be a new form of entertainment for me too!

ROSEANNE (FINALLY, AT LONG LAST) GETS HER JUST DESSERTS – Ellin Curley

Everyone knows that Roseanne Barr’s new TV sitcom has been canceled because of racist/conspiracy theory tweets she made.

I am thrilled! It may be mean-spirited of me to wish bad things on people that I consider vile, misogynistic, racist and anti-fact. But this is particularly well deserved.

Roseanne Barr, the actress, is a Trump supporter and advocate of the worst conspiracy theories and racism that are promulgated by the right-wing media. One of her goals for her show was to reveal a more nuanced, more favorable and relatable image for the middle-class Trump supporter. Instead, she proved the worst that we liberals believe about the typical Trump/right-wing supporters.

I am very happy that Hollywood gave up a popular, lucrative show for moral/political reasons. Their values and the values that most Americans share turned out to be more important than profit. At least in this one, egregious case. Money did not talk. Profit was not the God to be worshipped. The ABC network put morality and decency above their bottom line.

Roseanne’s behavior obviously embarrassed ABC. She put them in the spotlight and subjected them to an avalanche of negative press and pressure from viewers and sponsors. But they could have resisted to save their number one show on TV. This shows ‘character’ if you can attribute human characteristics to a corporation. It also shows that decent people have clout when it comes to extreme racism and fact bashing. Maybe not every time, but I feel hopeful.

I watched Roseanne’s first episode and actually liked it. But I refused to watch it as my own personal, political statement. I didn’t want Trumpettes to get a reputation whitewash. I wouldn’t support that. Now I don’t have to cringe when I hear how Trump supporters are being portrayed as nice and decent, but struggling people.

You blew it, Roseanne! The truth is out! You are as bad as we liberals think you are!

THE RUSSIANS IN LIBERTY – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry and I have been watching “Reilly – Ace of Spies” starring Sam Neill. It’s a really good, long mini-series. Very detailed, complex, and absorbing. Since it’s more or less historical, I know how it’s going to end … which is one of the few things I don’t like about watching history. You know it’s going to end badly. You have to decide if you want to watch that final episode or maybe take a shower.

On this evening’s episode, Sidney Reilly quit the British Secret Service and committed himself to ending the Bolshevik reign in Russia at any cost. Which was when I realized I’d met a whole bunch of these people a long time ago in a world I’d nearly forgotten.

This is a strange story, so bear with me.

Russian Communism was not one or two easily understood “things.” It was an idea that became a revolution that fractured into multiple parts. Americans have typically seen it all as one thing: Communism. Khrushchev. Stalin. Soviet Union. For most Americans, that’s how we’ve been taught to think about it.

It was a lot more complicated than that.

A lot of people fought the Czar to end their reign and bring Communism to Russians. Many of those fighters were very unhappy (and many of them also wound up dead) because the Communist government they got was nothing like what they fought for. They fought for justice and equality, but what they got was tyranny and fascism. The ironic part of the story is that the fight to get rid the world of the German fascists basically cost them the country.

Getting rid of the Germans was pretty much the one thing on which everyone in Russia agreed. Get rid of the Germans. We’ll sort out the rest later.

It turned out Lenin wasn’t such a nice guy and by the end of the war, he was in power … and then, he was dead and chaos reigned. The British didn’t provide the anti-Bolsheviks the weapons or troops they had promised. The planned coup to take over the Russian government failed as did the attempted assassination of Lenin. By the time the Germans surrendered, Lenin and his wing-man, Stalin, owned Russia.

Sidney Reilly, the star of the series we’re watching, left the British Secret Service and dedicated the remaining years of his life to trying to destroy the Russian Bolshevik government. Many of his people — including Sidney — moved to New York where the FBI  stuck to them like super glue. The FBI was not then or now a group who understood the complexities of Russian history.

Eventually, many of these Russians moved to small towns in upstate New York. Monroe. Liberty. Woodstock. Monticello. Roxbury. Places that once were home to huge Jewish resorts like Grossinger’s and where so many stand-up comics got their start. Today these towns are doing pretty well, but there were dark days during which they were nearly ghost towns.

Except for the Russians.

Liberty, New York – the old days

I was 17 in the summer of 1964. My goal in life was to leave home and never come back. My mother still thought she might somehow lure me into staying a while longer … like until I was 18. Or got married. Or had a job. Thus when summer rolled around, she decided we needed a family vacation in the Catskills. Liberty, in Sullivan County, was our destination.

To say that this was not what I wanted doesn’t come close to it. I hated my father and disliked my sister. My brother had married and left home, so my only ally was gone. Family vacation? Seriously? I could look forward to a couple of weeks of being harangued by my father and probably threatened with near death beatings.

I never entirely understood my mother’s reasoning. Why would I want to go to the mountains with the family?

Regardless, that’s what we did. I don’t remember the name of the “resort.” It was old and rundown. The reason mom picked it was because they had a concert pianist. I was a music major with piano as my instrument. Mom apparently thought the music might grab my interest. In response, I brought enough dope with me to stay high the full two weeks.

But the mural was in full, blazing color

That first evening, we went to dinner. Big dining room  intended for a much larger crowd. Two walls were painted. Murals. On the wall facing me (I’m not making this up) was the head of Trotsky. From chin to forehead he was maybe 12 feet high? No body, just a head. I was really stoned and that huge head just hung there on the wall.

But wait. There was more.

On the right wall was something that looked like a chariot but was probably a troika which is usually pulled by three horses. In this case, it was being pulled by three workers. You knew they were workers because the hammer and sickle was prominently displayed across their laboring bodies. In the chariot — or whatever it was — there was a Corporate Rich Guy (dollar signs painted all over him) beating the workers. With a giant whip.

Holy shit.

That was some dinner. I don’t know what they served, but I ate it all.

That night, I could hear my parents whispering. “Albert, you better get cash. We can’t sign anything. The FBI is probably here. Watching.” Come to think of it, the FBI probably was there. Did they also eat the gefilte fish?

It turned out everyone in the resort except me, my sister, and parents, were in their 70s or older. All of them had been in the White army trying to take down the Bolsheviks — or something like that. Here’s a good jumping off point for the history. It’s Wikipedia, so it shouldn’t be your primary source.

The road to Liberty

These were Sidney’s people. They carried around books of pictures of pictures of them young, in the army. Guns. Boots. Snow. Tanks. If I had been more astute, a bit more into Russian history — and less stoned — I could have asked so many questions. I’m sure they would have told me everything.

As it was, they tried to tell me everything, but I was 17. We all know that 17-year-old girls don’t listen to old people, even when they have books full of pictures of themselves when they were kids, fighting Bolsheviks and tanks. In Russia. In the snow.

Until we started watching this series, I had no idea who these folks were. I knew they were Russian because they said so. They had pictures and they giggled when they talked about it. I remember Greenwich Village. They remembered fighting with the army in Russia.

Ah, memories.

At 17, I didn’t know the difference between one Bolshevik and another and probably, at that stage in life, didn’t care.

Tonight, watching that show, it came together. Those people were the last of the crowd of anti-Bolsheviks who’d come up from New York city to live in those quaint towns in the Catskills — to get away from the FBI and HUAC.

Pity I didn’t get the story. What a story it would have been!

Dad paid cash. He never signed anything. I think he used a fake name, too. I stayed stoned and ate gefilte fish, which I usually hate. How could I say no to fish with Trotsky staring at me while the guy with the whip beat the workers?

PERFECT!

We’ve been watching the reruns — from the beginning — of Blue Bloods. The family lives in a huge house that no cops I’ve ever known could afford. The house is meticulously kept.

In other cop shows, the apartment owner works all the time. He or she never has time to sleep, much less clean. They are single. Yet, their homes are spick-and-span.

And about the house in which the Reagan police family lives. How did they afford it? And who takes care of it?

Who cleans? I’m pretty sure it’s none of the stars.

Jennifer Lopez – Shades of Blue

You never even see an occasional temporary helper. How do they do that?

Then there are all the television lady cops. They are thin and obviously none of them have ever eaten a doughnut. Their makeup is perfect. Their hair is perfect. They wear 4-inch heels and yet they still pursue the bad guys!

Major Crimes

I’ve met a lot of lady cops. Some of them were attractive, but none of them were thin like those TV lady cops. Or perfectly made up. Or, for that matter, made up, at all. No one wears heels of any height.

Cagney and Lacey

Also, these lady cops wear uniforms which fit as if they were made to order. Oh, wait … they were made to order.

What was I thinking?

EXISTENTIAL THREATS AND POBs – BY TOM CURLEY

I’m sorry, but I haven’t gotten all my renewed Star Trek fever out of my system. I’m having too much fun.

So here’s another thing I’ve noticed that was popular in the original series, but not so much in the later ones.  The “POB”. Or “PESKY OMNIPOTENT BEING.”

POBs were usually alien races that were once normal biological beings. Like us. Except of course for the mandatory differences in their foreheads, ears or noses.

memory.alpha.wikia.com
memory.alpha.wikia.com

But after millions of years of evolution they no longer needed their biological forms and became pure energy. For some reason never explained, this seems to give them omnipotent powers.

memory-alpha.wiki.com
memory-alpha.wiki.com

There are two basic groups of POBs. POKs. Pesky Omnipotent Kids. And POAs. Pesky Omnipotent Assholes. The first category made sense. Omnipotent children would build their own planets, capture the Enterprise, annoy the crap out of the whole crew, break the ship and kill a few Red Shirts.

en.wikipedia.org
en.wikipedia.org

At the last minute, the parents would show up, fix the ship, bring the Red Shirts back to life, apologize profusely and disappear in a cheap special effect. The crew would all be like WTF? And life would go on to the next episode.

granades.com
granades.com

Later shows, especially Star Trek The Next Generation featured the POA. The most popular one was “Q”.

redqueenencoder.com
redqueenencoder.com

He was part of something called “The Q Continuum.” Whatever the hell that was. For some reason, he was obsessed with screwing around with The Enterprise and Jean Luc Picard.  In some ways it sort of made sense. I mean think of it. You’re omnipotent. You’re omnipresent. You know everything. You’ve done everything. You know everything you are going to do. After a while. Say a few billion years, you’d probably get pretty bored.

“What am I going to do today? Oh who am I kidding? I already know what I’m going to do and I’ve already done it.  A TRILLION TIMES!” Looking at it in that light, I might find it fun to screw up Jean Luc Picard’s weekend too.

tonic.org.uk
tonic.org.uk

Of course if Star Trek The Next Generation was on the air today it might be just a little bit different.


POA (Star ship Enterprise): . You are now under the command and the judgement of the all-knowing, all-powerful “T” from the “TRUMP CONTINUUM”.

hinterlandgazette.com
hinterlandgazette.com

PICARD: Oh crap.

imgflip.com
imgflip.com

ENSIGN CRUSHER: Captain is this a POB? We studied them at the academy. I can’t believe I’m actually in the presence of a Pesky Omnipotent Being!

pinterest.com
pinterest.com

PICARD: No you’re not. He’s just a Trumpulan. We’ve dealt with this jerk before. His real name is Donnie. He likes to sneak up on Federation ships, beam aboard and try to convince them he’s a POB.

thedailybanter.com
thedailybanter.com

DONNIE: No I don’t.  My name is not Donnie!  I hate that name! It’s “T ! And I have no ship. I need no ship. I am all-powerful!

PICARD: Oh for God’s sake Donnie. Your ship is parked right outside. We can see it right there on the view screen.

ex-astris-sciencia.org
ex-astris-sciencia.org

DONNIE: That’s not my ship.

PICARD: Yes it is. Look, it says TRUMP in huge  letters right there on the hull.

ex-astris-scientia.org
ex-astris-scientia.org

DONNIE: No it doesn’t. You’re listening to the lying media again!

PICARD: No, we’re not. We’re looking right at the damn thing!

WORF:  Sir, I’ve locked all weapons on the ship. I can destroy it on your order.

en.wikipedia.com
en.wikipedia.com

PICARD: Don’t tempt me. Look Donnie, I  don’t have time for this. We have to start an episode. Worf, beam him back to his ship and get us out of here. Warp factor two.

DONNIE (as he fades out in a cheap special effect):  You can’t do this! Only I can save you! I’m being treated very unfairly! SAD! Buy my daughters clothes! What a world, what a world.

PICARD:  I never thought I’d say this. But, I miss Q.

geekintoshape.com
geekintoshape.com

 You know, we could really use a POB right about now.

WHY CAN’T THE TRUTH BE FUNNY? – BY ELLIN CURLEY

There’s a common theme that runs through most sitcom episodes. And it hasn’t changed since sitcoms were first available on the radio. Lying. Humor is far too often based on people lying to one another – usually family members or close friends. The rest of the sitcom plot revolves around the liar trying to keep his lie a secret and the “lie-ees” getting close to discovering the lie.

At the end, the liar is exposed or the liar comes clean and realizes that he or she shouldn’t have lied in the first place. This is the synopsis of most “I Love Lucy” shows, as well as those of “Modern Family” today.

So why can’t anyone remember the lesson that lying doesn’t pay, from one episode to the next? Why can’t the sitcom producers and writers find something else in life and human relationships to laugh about?

I’m concerned about the prevalence of lying on sitcoms because children watch sitcoms. There’s no sex or violence so they’re assumed to be kid-friendly. But I think that it’s toxic to expose children to lying as the preferred way to deal with the people around you. It puzzled me growing up why grown-ups told me how bad it was to lie but then they all did it, every single week on TV.

Telling the truth on sitcoms must be like Kryptonite to TV writers. This gives kids a warped idea about relationships. It tells them lying is the common, accepted way to communicate. It says “Beware of the truth – it will get you in trouble every time!” Worse — the truth isn’t funny.

It reminds children that that the world is a scary and unpredictable place. You can’t trust grown-ups. Chances are they’re not telling you the truth about anything – from the inconsequential small stuff to the important big things. Children need to believe the grown-ups around them can protect and buffer the world for them.

Sometimes it’s not true, but children need to believe it. Like they need to believe in some version of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy at some stage of life. I don’t think it’s healthy for children to absorb mistrust from the comedies they watch. I think this is what happens when sitcom people automatically lie rather than deal with the truth. It is also annoying to watch as it is the same plot repeated through every year of television.

Lying is ubiquitous on TV comedies and therefore I believe, insidious. Today’s kids are already so much more sophisticated, and at younger ages than they were in my generation. So let’s not teach them too early that lying should always be your first choice. Let’s not convince them that truth is to be avoided at all costs. Let them get through childhood before they become dishonest and jaded.

TALKING ABOUT TV – CONVERSANT ARE WE

CONVERSANT ABOUT TELEVISION?


We are not too sophisticated to watch TV. Despite Karl Marx who said “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people,” somehow this got translated into “Television is the opiate of the masses.”

Personally, I think that would be cell phones. Heavily opiated.

We watch television. Sometimes, we watch a lot of television, depending on what’s on to view. Right now, we’re watching a movie. It’s “The Candidate,” one of the better, sharper, more intelligent political movies.

Made in 1972 starring Robert Redford, it’s an education about how getting elected has a price tag, even if you aren’t a pawn of the NRA or the Koch brothers. Despite the years, it is still surprisingly relevant.

Last night, speaking of relevant, we watched “7 Days in May.” Kirk Douglas. Burt Lancaster. About how the U.S. government stood in imminent danger of being taken over by a military junta — run by Burt. Brilliantly scripted by Rod Serling.

If you haven’t seen it, do. Not the recent new version of it which wasn’t half as good. See the 1964 original. The Serling script is so on target. This movie used to give me chills. Now, it makes my stomach knot with fear. When we were young, we were afraid military guys would try taking over the government.

Who imagined — even in our wildest dreams — we’d be living in 2018 with a traitorous president and an administration where the only sane people in government are the military!

Of the unlikely things we might be expected to watch, the unlikeliest was “My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” which is on Netflix. I had heard reviews of it from a variety of unexpected sources all of whom said something along the lines of “I didn’t think I would like this, but actually, it’s pretty good.” But no one told me what it was they liked so when we finally turned it on, we watched the first show and looked at each other.

“Well,” I said, “That was different.”

“Not bad,” Garry contributed.

“I’ve never seen anything like it on television.”

We thought about that for a while and neither of us could remember any television show remotely like it. It is a rather weird combination of sitcom crossed with an MGM musical. Dancing. Singing — and some pretty good music. Everyone in the cast has real voice. But. The story is terribly 2018 and sometimes, the Valley Girl accents get on our nerves. Also, she really is a crazy ex-girlfriend. Accent on the “crazy” and less on the “girlfriend.”

If you are looking for something absolutely nothing like anything else, try this one. You may hate it, but it IS a musical. The amount of production for each show is huge. These must be expensive shows to produce. Some of the music is remarkable, though the words are bizarre.

Otherwise, we are watching late night comedy and occasionally, when we  think we are strong enough to handle it, we watch the news. On a good day, we may get through 15 minutes. As long as they aren’t doing interviews with whatsherface Huckabee or you-know-who da-prez. Then I feel I need an immediate shower to wash off the sleaze.