Category Archives: Entertainment

Liz Wahl Wants to Get Rid of Bloggers

As usual, a significant story this week was all but ignored by the mainstream media. Liz Wahl, a former reporter for Russia Today, who gained a great deal of positive mainstream media exposure after dramatically resigning on-air last year, testified before Congress on the “danger” of bloggers. She actually compared bloggers to terrorists. This isn’t the first time that the establishment has inferred this.

Wahl arrogantly dismissed bloggers like me, and countless others, with the time-honored labels of “extremists” or “fringe.” She railed against the internet because “it provides a place for these people..where they can congregate and feed off each other’s biases.” This is the firm mindset of an establishment “journalist.” Only “experts” can assess the news, give opinions and propose action. It’s madness for the common riff-raff, the unwashed masses, to even imagine they can understand the multitude of intricate problems in the world today. There are no simple solutions. We all (meaning the working class and poor) must sacrifice. Pick your favorite cliche.

People like Liz Wahl are the reason why it is so crucial to keep the internet free from FCC-style control by the establishment. It’s why we must all strongly oppose the misnamed “net neutrality” act. The government can’t stand the fact that average people finally, at long last, have a free, unfettered way of communicating with each other, and transmitting news and information to millions, without the filter of mainstream journalists.

Wahl’s stunt of resigning on-air from RT was a wonderful career move. She appeared on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, and was praised by the likes of Barbara Walters. More importantly, she was a guest on The Colbert Report, which instantly made her “cool” in the eyes of those who think that Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are daring renegades and “cutting edge.”

The fact that Congress is holding hearings to discuss the “danger” of the internet, while ignoring real pressing matters of concern to all Americans; for instance, the explosion of police brutality all over America and the importation of even more immigrants-most of them illegal-while American citizens struggle to find work and have to deal with shrinking wages and benefits, should tell you all you need to know about your elected representatives. The ones that voters supposedly just returned to office at a Politburo-like rate of 96%. The ones who shirk their responsibilities time and time again, while permitting the executive branch to run roughshod over them, and the judicial branch to become legislators.

Ms. Wahl, for your information, the “bloggers” are our greatest hope at this point. We certainly can’t depend upon “journalists” like you to report the truth. “Reporters” like you not only defend tyranny, you appear to relish it. You, and the establishment you serve, are terrified of the power of the press. The bloggers and other independent voices on the internet are exposing the lies of the state, and the putrid performance of the mainstream media in passing along those lies without asking any questions, or without the slightest trace of skepticism. No, your skepticism is reserved for the “bloggers” and the whistleblowers, not for the wrongdoers and systemic corruption in business and government at all levels.

As Alex Jones likes to say, there is a war on for your mind. Fewer and fewer Americans are falling for the hackneyed practice of favored celebrities making fun of those who question vaccines and what’s in them, or “truthers,” “birthers” or any garden variety “tin foil hat wacko conspiracy theorist.” There’s a man behind the curtain. The emperor is not wearing any clothes.

My Love-Hate Relationship With Hollywood

I watch a lot of movies. Especially old, classic ones. In fact, I usually watch at least one old movie every night. I don’t know what I’d do without Turner Classic Movies. And although I can rarely afford the ticket prices for new films, I also watch many more recent Hollywood offerings, courtesy of Showtime, Starz and other movie channels.

As might be expected, I have strong opinions about various films, actors, screenwriters and directors. If my novel The Simulators is ever published, readers will be treated to many of my rants on the film industry. Some genres particularly interest me; pre-code talkies, filmed before the censorship kicked in post-1934, and film noir of the late ’40s through the ’50s are a few of my more recent obsessions. I also still love any old horror movie and the wonderful sci-fi films of the 1950s.

When watching films released during the past ten years or so especially, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated by the sound levels for dialogue. It’s as if the filmmakers don’t want the audience to hear what the characters are saying, as everything is whispered and mumbled now, even narration and voice overs. At the same time, every other sound effect is recorded at such decibels that they blast the audience’s eardrums. Is there anything more important to a movie than dialogue? Can one imagine the dialogue in a novel being printed out in murky, barely legible fashion? That is what most modern films do now- make it extremely difficult to hear what the characters are saying. And I appear to be the only one noticing.

In addition to whispered dialogue, many films have recently begun featuring incredibly poor lighting, so that night scenes in particular are barely visible. It’s as if they’re filming by candlelight. Who decides that this is an innovation? How is it an improvement, or some kind of progress, to force audiences to strain to hear and see what’s transpiring on screen? The Dark Knight Rises was noticeably guilty of this, as even the scenes filmed outdoors in broad daylight were poorly lit. In any movie from the birth of sound to the early 1960s or so, characters spoke their lines clearly-I believe they used to refer to it as “projecting”- and even night scenes were filmed so that the audience could easily see the action onscreen. Sure, Marlon Brando and James Dean used to mumble their lines, but can anyone picture Clark Gable, or Joan Crawford, or William Powell, or Jean Arthur, or Cary Grant, or James Stewart, speaking inaudibly?

Predictably, I tend to think of some screen legends- like Katherine Hepburn, Lawrence Olivier, Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro- as being incredibly overrated and unworthy of the Oscar nominations and wins they’re received. How did Jean Arthur- perhaps the greatest actress of all time- never win an Oscar? The only time she was nominated, she lost to the minimal talent Jennifer Jones. Another superb talent, Barbara Stanwyck, was nominated four times, but never won an Academy Award. The incomparable William Powell had three Oscar nominations, but no wins. By contrast, Meryl Streep’s overacting has garnered her an astonishing 18 nominations and 3 Oscars. Hepburn- whom Clare Boothe Luce sagely observed “ran the gamut of emotions from A to B,” had 12 nominations and won four times. Another overrated ham, Bette Davis, was nominated 10 times, with two victories. The underwhelming Paul Newman was nominated nine times.

Jean Arthur and Barbara Stanwyck weren’t the only ones shortchanged by the Academy. Peter Lorre was never even nominated for an Academy Award. One of the best light comedians, Myrna Loy, also failed to receive a single Oscar nomination. Marilyn Monroe was never nominated. The marvelous Donald Sutherland has never been nominated by his peers. In more recent years, neither have Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels or wonderful character actor Steve Buscemi. How have Jamie Foxx and Matthew McConnahey won Oscars, while Johnny Depp hasn’t? If it can be believed, John Barrymore was never considered worthy of a single Oscar nomination. Despite being named the second greatest movie star of all time by the American Film Institute, Cary Grant was only nominated twice and never won an Oscar. Alfred Hitchcock died without winning at Oscar.

These are the things I obsess about. Why is there so much male nudity now, as compared to female nudity? Why do characters still get locked inside of rooms, when no such locks exist any more? Why do all bombs in films still have those digital timers? Why do Hollywood car wrecks result in impossible explosions? Why is every modern comedy saturated with potty humor? Are adults really entertained by “humor” that would have been considered immature by most ten year olds fifty years ago? My questions are endless, and usually annoying to those watching films along with me.

I indulged much of my keen fascination with Hollywood in The Simulators. I’m intrigued by the early history, the failure of so many to make the transition to talkies, the myriad of murders and suicides. It’s an unusual industry, filled with unusual people. I’ll keep watching, and keep commenting.