Tuesday, October 25, 2016

From The Onion...

Yep, been there.
Reality Of Fatherhood Never Truly Dawned On Man Until He Held Newborn Son’s Hospital Bill 
MISSOULA, MT—Describing how he suddenly found himself overwhelmed by a flood of intense emotions, local man Mike Bentzen told reporters Monday the reality of fatherhood didn’t truly set in for him until the moment he held his newborn son’s hospital bill. “Wow, this is going to totally change my life,” said Bentzen as tears welled up in his eyes, adding that he was left completely speechless by the little bundle of papers and that it would probably take some time before the magnitude of what had just happened fully sank in. “I’ve had friends tell me about their experience, but you just can’t understand what it feels like until you’re looking down at it in your own hands. It’s hard to even put into words. Whatever my world was like before, I just know things are going to be very different from this day forward.” Bentzen reportedly started softly weeping as he sat down with his son’s medical invoice in his lap and began imagining how he would deal with this for the next 18 years.

Taibbi on Trump: Fury and Failure

As you know if you've been reading me for awhile, Matt Taibbi's long-form essays at Rolling Stone are always something I look forward to. And his latest piece looking at the impact of Donald Trump not only on this election but our entire electoral process is a terrific piece of writing, especially as we enter the final stretch of this freakin' thing. Here's just one highlight:
It is true that if you talk to enough Trump supporters, you will eventually find an ex-Democrat or two who'll cop to being disillusioned by the party's turn away from the middle class. "My parents were FDR Democrats," says Tim Kallas of Oak Creek, Wisconsin. "I was born and raised to believe that Democrats were for the workingman." A self-described "child of the MTV generation" who has plenty of liberal friends and rocks a long silver ponytail, Kallas says he became disenchanted with the Democrats sometime during Bill Clinton's second term. He was troubled by the Wiki speeches, and says he never signed up for the globalist program. "If you look at what's going on in Europe with the Brexit vote, it's the same conclusion that voters in England came to," he says. "Why are the problems in Greece, or whatever, my problem?"  
This sounds sensible enough, but it stops computing when you get to the part where the solution to the vast and complex dilemmas facing humanity is Donald Trump, a man who stays up at night tweeting about whether or not Robert Pattinson should take back Kristen Stewart. (He shouldn't, says Trump: "She cheated on him like a dog and will do it again – just watch. He can do much better!") This is a man who can't remember what he did 10 seconds ago, much less decide the fate of the nation-state.
Much more from Taibbi here, and all of it is worth reading.

Behold, My Twitter Glory!

Speaking of Wired, the site also compiled a list of what they deemed the best tweets during the third presidential debate last Wednesday, and wouldn't you know, one of my witticisms made the cut! Does this mean I've arrived? Probably not, but hey, click over anyway!


In an interview with Wired earlier this month, President Obama, leader of the free world and noted geek, waxed on the enduring appeal of the Star Trek franchise, and specifically the original series, on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary. Said he:
“What made the show, I think, lasting, was it wasn’t actually about technology. It was about values and human relationships, which is why it didn’t matter that the special effects were kind of cheesy and bad. Because it was really talking about a notion of a common humanity, and a confidence in our ability to solve problems.”
Pretty hard to argue with that! Read more here.

Pumpkins Power!

The debate and monologue were both great as well, but this is the sketch I couldn't stop laughing at on this week's Saturday Night Live, hosted by Tom Hanks. Clearly I'm not alone.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: The Trump TV Movie

We're just about two weeks out from the close of an election season that, in addition to seeming absolutely interminable, also feels like something out of a twisted, nightmarish reality show. So, so close to the end, folks. Hang in there. Anyway, I was poking around in the Nostalgia Theater closet to see if I could unearth something suitable to the moment, and boy howdy, look at the garish, gold-encrusted turd that that shook out.

The backstory: back in 2005, as Donald Trump's TV show The Apprentice was at its ratings peak on NBC, rival net ABC decided that they too wanted some of that sweet, sweet Donald Trump action (*shudder*). Without access to the Donald himself, they rolled the dice on a splashy sweeps month TV movie entitled Trump Unauthorized, purporting to tell the soapy, sex-and-booze fueled story of the magnate's rise to fame. Here's a promo:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

My Final Debate Live-Tweets For 2016

Honestly, about an hour before the final debate began last night, I just really, really didn't want to watch. I'm done, man. I just November 9th to be here so we can put this whole thing behind us. But, y'know, in for a penny, in for a pound. Having already clacked out commentary on the two presidentials and sole vice-presidential, I figured it was my civic duty to get my Twitter on for the final debate so I could close out the trilogy. With that said, I think Hillary Clinton pretty much cemented her chances last night. Read on to see my responses as the show progressed:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: The Accountant & Ewan McGregor on American Pastoral

For the latest MovieFilm show, the boys discuss the Ben Affleck starrer The Accountant, as well as some quick takes on HBO's Westworld, and Brian's belated reaction to The Magnificent Seven. In addition, get our thoughts on Fox mainstay The Simpsons hitting 600 episodes, and the new trailers for Powers Ranges and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Also, listen to Zaki's interview with star Ewan McGregor as he discusses his directorial debut, American Pastoral, as well as what it's like to be Obi-Wan Kenobi to a generation of kids who've grown up since the Star Wars prequels were released. Listen to it all via the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Monday, October 17, 2016

In Praise of the Universal Monsters

With the creepy-crawly tendrils of Halloween fast approaching, and our thoughts focused on the best fright features to feast upon, it seemed a good time to cast a gaze backward at one of Hollywood’s most durable and beloved horror brands: the classic Universal Monsters, celebrating their eighty-fifth anniversary this year.

Now, given how familiar and, dare we say, cute and cuddly the images of Universal’s Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, and friends have become to the generations of viewers who’ve known and loved them since their first theatrical runs—who’ve bought the action figures and worn the costumes and cuddled with the stuffed dolls—it’s easy to forget that the initial intent behind these denizens of the darkness was actually to scare the pants off unsuspecting audiences.

Of course that was long ago, during a simpler time when the bar for cinematic scares was significantly lower than it is now. But in an age when the horror genre has come to be almost exclusively defined by how many bucketloads of gore and viscera can be doled out, there’s something appealingly nostalgic about the gothic fright flicks that Universal made its stock in trade for the better part of two decades—thereby birthing not only Hollywood’s original horror franchise, but also moviedom’s very first shared universe.

Continue reading at Fandor...

Diffused Congruence: Shadi Hamid

For our latest episode we're honored to welcome back special guest Shadi Hamid, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute and author of the new book Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World. Shadi brings his considerable wisdom and insight on global geopolitics to a discussion that spans both the domestic and international political situation, and we're confident you'll enjoy diving into the deep end with us. As always, you can check out the show at the embed below or at this link. As always, send any questions or comments to diffusedcongruence@gmail.com, or at our Facebook page.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

"I'm Gonna Miss Him So Much"

I put this Hillary Clinton campaign ad, featuring President Obama stumping for the current Dem nominee, on the TV yesterday, and when I glanced over at my wife after it ended, I was surprised to see that she had tears streaming down her face. She just couldn't stop crying. When I asked her why she was so emotional, she struggled to gain her bearings, but finally said, "I'm gonna miss him so much. We'll never get another president like him again."

At that moment, it really struck me the wild disconnect between the constituency that gave the man two victories by very wide margins, and which have given him record approval ratings even as he enters his lame duck period, and the manic nonsense from the Trump crowd, who consider him the worst thing to happen to this country since polio. We've been dealing with this practically since his first inauguration, but even now I just don't get it. That said, as political ads go, this is pretty damn effective. Check it out:

SNL Prompts Trump Tantrum

Demonstrating once again that reservoir of detachment and cool reserve that's served him so well during his presidential run, a riled-up Donald Trump once again broke free of his handlers and took to his Twitter account late last night to lambast another new source of ire in his ongoing victimization campaign.

This time the target was Saturday Night Live, which did its usual number on last Sunday's debate. Despite the fact that they didn't really do anything different than before, with Alec Baldwin's Trump and Kate McKinnon's Hillary Clinton duking it out for the best laugh lines, it was a bridge too far for the Donald:

Nostalgia Theater: Gemini Man Disappears From the Airwaves

Last week I discussed NBC's short-lived The Invisible Man TV series starring David McCallum that aired for one season in 1975. What's interesting about that show's brief lifespan isn't so much that it went away, but that it was revived the following year by the same network.

However, when it came back, it had cheaper effects and a dumbed-down premise to win over the Joe Sixpack crowd. It didn't work. The show was Gemini Man, starring Ben Murphy of Alias Smith and Jones fame. Debuting as a TV movie in spring of '75, it went to series the following September, and looked like this:

Friday, October 14, 2016

From The Onion...

Trump Complains Entire Personality Rigged Against Him 
WEST PALM BEACH, FL—Responding to his flagging poll numbers and a string of newspaper editorials and cable news pundits questioning his fitness to lead, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reportedly complained to a rally crowd Thursday that for the entirety of this race, his personality has been rigged against him. “From day one, my internal thought processes and overall temperament have completely stacked the deck against my candidacy—it’s so obvious, folks, you can’t deny it,” said Trump, claiming that all facets of his character, from his egocentric worldview to his brash, vitriolic responses to even the smallest and most inconsequential provocations, have been colluding to ruin his chances of ever reaching the Oval Office. “Open your eyes, people! Just look at how I routinely project the fear and hatred inside of me onto others, or my total lack of impulse control, conscientiousness, and tact. My personality is doing everything—and I mean everything—to make sure I never have a chance.” Trump then reportedly vowed that no matter how many of his own character traits aligned against him, he would never let his personality stop him from becoming president, drawing raucous cheers from the crowd.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

INTERVIEW: Ewan McGregor on the Star Wars Prequels and Being Obi-Wan Kenobi

Earlier this week I had opportunity to chat with Ewan McGregor about his directorial debut, the Phillip Roth adaptation American Pastoral. I'll share the entirety of that conversation next week closer to the film's release, but for now I thought you might enjoy looking at a bit that came near the tail-end of our chat as we ended up segueing into his long time ago tenure in a galaxy far, far away as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels. Read on to for his thoughts on those divisive films one generation after their release, as well as the possibility of reprising his iconic role as the Jedi Master in Disney's new spin-off films.

Monday, October 10, 2016

I Live-Tweeted the Second Debate

As is kind of becoming my "thing" during these throwdowns, I was on Twitter yesterday while the second match-up between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was playing out. Read on to see what I had to say about the horror-show that ensued:

Sunday, October 09, 2016

They Knew.

Friday's release of Donald Trump's deeply unsettling comments about women on a hot mic while filming a puff piece for Access Hollywood eleven years ago have proved a bridge too far for many in the establishment GOP, who took the opportunity to cut bait as quickly as they could. But given what Trump has said and done from literally day one of his campaign, why this? Why now? Is it any shock that he turned out to be exactly the person he's presented himself as. Here's Jeffrey Young at HuffPost:
Your condemnations are and have always been empty. Your sudden rush to abandon Trump ― after what’s merely the most recently uncovered manifestation of his hatred for women ― is motivated by the same venal cowardice that led you to support him in the first place.  
You knew Hillary Clinton isn’t the monstrous caricature you spent decades depicting. You knew she is ― like each and every one of you ― an ordinary politician, in all the ways that word has positive and negative connotations. You knew she would govern in a perfectly normal way.  
You knew this, but you told voters she was more dangerous than Trump. More evil. A greater threat to the republic. And this, after so many of you spent the presidential primary campaign warning the U.S. that Trump is exactly who he appears to be. But you fell in line. You knew, and you endorsed him anyway.
Yep. Read the rest here.

Nostalgia Theater: TV's The Invisible Man -- Now You See It, Now You Don't

The underlying concept from author H.G. Wells' classic novel The Invisible Man has proven a resilient one when it comes to multimedia adaptations, but other than the classic Universal film version from 1933 starring Claude Rains and directed by James Whale (which spawned a mini franchise for awhile there during the Universal Monsters era), it's difficult for me to think of any other version that's had staying power in the cultural consciousness. Case in point, the short-lived The Invisible Man TV show that aired on NBC for thirteen episodes beginning in fall of 1975. Here's the intro, with weirdly leisurely theme music:

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

My Veep Debate Live-Tweets

Last night's throwdown between presidential backbenchers Mike Pence and Tim Kaine was as electric as we'd expected -- that is to say, not very much. Then again, maybe we've just gotten conditioned to expect chair-throwing after the antics of the first presidential debate last week. While I think Pence won it on poise and by threading that needle of "not sounding crazy while saying crazy things," Kaine set out with the mission of highlighting and re-litigating Donald Trump's controversies, and he accomplished that with the seeming acquiescence of Trump's VP, who largely stepped out of the way rather than attempt to defend the guy at the top of the ticket.

Can't say I blame him, given that he's probably doing a little bit of political calculus of his own. Regardless, what follows are my thoughts as they unfolded in real time while watching. Enjoy:

The MovieFilm Podcast: Taking Stock of Fall TV!

It's a light week at the movies, but that doesn't mean Zaki and Brian don't have plenty of topics to cover on the latest show! To start things off, we look at some select highlights and lowlights of the fall TV season, including the reboots of Lethal Weapon and MacGyver, as well as the new Fox animated offering Son of Zorn, and more. From there, it's on to headlines, including Ben Affleck's comments on the negative reaction to Batman v. Superman, and news that Jon Favreau is helming a brand new version of Disney's The Lion King. And we wrap things up with brief discussion on the trailers for the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie and writer/director Jordan Peele's new horror offering Get Out. In addition, we have the usual Listener Letters, Star Wars news, and all the usual banter you've come to expect! Listen to it all via the embed below or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Straight Line From Palin to Trump

President Obama spoke with Jonathan Chait in a kind of extended preview of his memoirs, and something that stuck out to me in that conversation is his verbalizing something that I've been saying for awhile now as I've watched Donald Trump suck up the oxygen on the right, and that is that you saw the roots of his rise the moment that John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his veep candidate in '08 (I've often likened McCain to Oppenheimer for his role in all this). Here's a choice selection:
I see a straight line from the announcement of Sarah Palin as the vice-presidential nominee to what we see today in Donald Trump, the emergence of the Freedom Caucus, the tea party, and the shift in the center of gravity for the Republican Party. Whether that changes, I think, will depend in part on the outcome of this election, but it’s also going to depend on the degree of self-reflection inside the Republican Party. There have been at least a couple of other times that I’ve said confidently that the fever is going to have to break, but it just seems to get worse.
What he may have overlooked here is that occasionally the fever doesn't break and the fever dies, in which case we're dealing with sort of the zombified remains of the Republican electorate right now. There's much more from the president at the link, and it sure makes me curious about how the level of candor we can expect when that memoir does eventually hit the stands.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Baldwin Channels Trump

Almost the minute the debate ended last Monday, I was waiting with anticipation to see what Saturday Night Live would make of it, and they didn't disappoint with the cold open from last night's season premiere. Kate McKinnon is back this year as Hillary Clinton, but the sketch was really a showpiece for the new Donald Trump impersonator, veteran SNL host Alec Baldwin, whose orange makeup and overly mannered gesticulating made for a pretty perfect match with the GOP's current standard bearer. Watch the vid below:

Nostalgia Theater: The Westworld Franchise

Tonight marks much-anticipated premiere of HBO's big budget series adaptation of the 1973 feature Westworld . And while I've yet to see it, the star power of Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris in front of the camera, and Jonah Nolan and J.J. Abrams behind, sure makes me think this could be a standout of the fall season. Of course, many of the folks excited about the new Westworld may not even realize that it's a remake of a respected film that was itself the recipient of its own TV spin-off.

For some quick backstory, the Westworld movie arrived at a time when science-fiction at the movies had just turned the corner into darker, more sophisticated fare. The film was written and directed by Michael Crichton, and told of a western-themed amusement park owned by the Delos Corporation, where a robotic gunslinger (Yul Brynner) goes on a rampage and targets two vacationing businessmen who are suddenly running for their lives. Here's the trailer for that:

Friday, September 30, 2016

A Closer Look

And speaking of the blinkered reality many Trump supporters currently find themselves trapped in, here's an amusing segment from Seth Myers' show:

Recommended Reading

In defiance of all evidence to the contrary, many Republicans are stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the reality that they've hitched their ride to a candidate whose manifest unfitness for higher office is demonstrated with stark regularity seemingly every day of the campaign. What can we attribute this to? Jonathan Chait has some thoughts.

Zaki's Review: The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Sometimes it feels like the only thing MGM has on offer is James Bond movies and remakes of revered movies from its voluminous back catalogue. From Rollerball to Red Dawn to RoboCop, the celluloid highway of the past few decades is littered with decaying carcasses of roadkill remakes from the once-mighty Lion that landed with the proverbial thud (including the entirely unneeded, entirely DOA Ben-Hur redux just last month). As such, it's easy to look at their latest trip to the reboot well, director Antoine Fuqua's The Magnificent Seven, as yet another cash grab from a desperate studio.

And while it may indeed be that, Fuqua's new vision of the 1960 John Sturgess oater benefits from strong production values and an imminently watchable cast (not to mention comparison with the numerous misbegotten remakes noted above). Worth noting too that the original Seven (itself a very skillful remake of Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai), while an entirely engaging western arriving at the tail end of that genre's cultural dominance, was hardly revolutionary. Instead, Sturgess was able to effectively leverage the mass appeal of a charismatic band of gunfighters fighting the good fight.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Brannon Braga on Star Trek: Enterprise

Star Trek Month concludes at the Nostalgia Theater show! This week, I celebrate fifteen years since the launch of Star Trek: Enterprise, the unfairly-ignored fifth Trek TV series, by chatting with series co-creator and executive producer Brannon Braga. This series tends to get kicked around or ignored by the diehards, but it's a personal favorite of mine nonetheless, and I've made it something of a personal mission to spread awareness of how darn good it ended up being, and hopefully this podcast will do some of the legwork there. I had a blast chatting with Brannon about his initial hopes for the show, where he thinks things went right, where they went wrong. It's a candid and engaging conversation that I think you'll enjoy listening to just as much as I enjoyed participating in it. Check out the episode via the embed below, or subscribe at iTunesStitcher RadioTuneIn Radio, or Google Play (and remember to leave a review!). As always, send all questions or comments our way via MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, and don't forget to hit "like" on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I Live-Tweeted the Debate

Last night's debate was certainly a doozy, and while I hadn't intended to do so, I found myself tweeting various comments as the event progressed, so here's my Twitter stream of consciousness about the big throwdown:

Click past the jump for the rest.

Monday, September 26, 2016


There's a lot of stuff floating in the ether right now about how a vote for Clinton or Trump is essentially the same thing due to the damaged perceptions both carry with voters. I've said in the past that this is like saying a cut on your hand is the same as cutting off your hand. It's not. And John Oliver makes that case far more eloquently than I with this rundown of Hillary Clinton's scandals versus those of Donald Trump:

Recommended Reading

With tonight's debate one of the last remaining chances to really fundamentally alter the trajectory of what's turning out to a far tighter race than it should be, The New York Times' editorial board makes a pretty sterling case for why Donald Trump absolutely must not win the presidency. Say they:
It is time for others who are still undecided, and perhaps hoping for some dramatic change in our politics and governance, to take a hard look and see Mr. Trump for who he is. They have an obligation to scrutinize his supposed virtues as a refreshing counterpolitician. Otherwise, they could face the consequences of handing the White House to a man far more consumed with himself than with the nation’s well-being.
Read more here.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

From The Onion...

Man, if this doesn't sum up my morning...
Relaxing Tea Better F***ing Work 
SMYRNA, DE—Saying he needed to be transported to a tranquil, untroubled state of calmness pronto, local man Pete McCartin, 29, told reporters Thursday that a fresh-brewed mug of purportedly relaxation-promoting tea had better fucking work. “This shit better soothe the fuck out of me and quick,” said McCartin, adding that the box of Hungarian chamomile blossom and lemon myrtle tea was making some pretty lofty promises with its soft light-blue hues and lotus flowers plastered all over the place, so it sure as shit needed to step the fuck up and put his mind at ease. “I need to start feeling utterly blissful and placid as hell. I want all my cares melted away fucking yesterday. If I’m not fully at peace by the time I finish sipping this cup, I’m going to be so goddamn pissed.” At press time, a scowling McCartin was steeping a second teabag in his mug in an effort to get the feelings of serenity and quietude to hurry the fuck up.

Still Spartacus

In the 1950s, when actor Kirk Douglas as at his absolute peak of power as a Hollywood star, he leveraged that influence to help writer Dalton Trumbo overcome the blacklist finally get work again by recruiting him to pen the sword-and-sandals picture Spartacus

Douglas will be 100 in a few months, but his drive to stand up for the right thing hasn't been dulled by time even a little bit, as evidenced by a new column wherein he uses his own long experience to point out the seriousness of potentially electing a damaging force like Donald Trump to lead this country. Says Douglas:
In my lifetime, American women won the right to vote, and one is finally the candidate of a major political party. An Irish-American Catholic became president. Perhaps, most incredibly, an African-American is our president today.  
The longer I’ve lived, the less I’ve been surprised by the inevitability of change, and how I’ve rejoiced that so many of the changes I’ve seen have been good.  
Yet, I’ve also lived through the horrors of a Great Depression and two World Wars, the second of which was started by a man who promised that he would restore his country it to its former greatness.
Even now, this many years later, he is Spartacus. Read the rest here.

Nostalgia Theater: At Long Last, MacGyver

Looking back at '80s fave MacGyver here in Nostalgia Theater is one of those things I've kept in my back pocket on the off chance that they ever ended up reviving the property for TV or turning it into a movie, so I'd have something to tie it in with. Well, that patience finally paid off with this past Friday's premiere of the MacGyver reboot starring Lucas Till (which I've yet to see, so no comment on that from me, though the early word isn't great), it looks like the time has finally arrived to shine the spotlight on the mulleted man of action from the '80s who could turn chewing gum, a paperclip, and pocket lint into a license to thrill.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: Sully, Snowden, and The Magnificent Seven

With fall movie season upon us, Brian and Zaki are back to offer quick takes on a whole host of new releases, including Clint Eastwood's Sully, Oliver Stone's Snowden, and the new Antoine Fuqua- Denzel Washington pairing, The Magnificent Seven. In addition, get our thoughts on the trailers for the upcoming films Live By Night and Passengers, and listen in as we discuss the passing of director Curtis Hanson and other headlines out of Hollywood, plus check out Zaki's interview with the filmmakers behind the clever new mockumentary Operation Avalanche. It's fun, it's freewheeling, it's about ninety minutes, and you can catch it all via the embed below or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Closer Look

While I think newly-minted Emmy winner John Oliver is the true heir to Jon Stewart's Daily Show legacy (a legacy that, sadly, current host Trevor Noah hasn't done as much with as I'd have liked), Seth Myers of NBC's Late Night comes closest to Jon in the current crowd of nightly talkers. He's been nailing the longform political humor for awhile now, but this "A Closer Look" segment from Monday night's show trashing Donald Trump's treasure trove of birther lies might well be one of his strongest ever. Watch:

Out Now with Aaron & Abe Podcast: Snowden & Blair Witch

Click on the embed below to play my guest shot on the latest episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe, as I join host Aaron Neuwirth and guest Peter Paras for a fun and far-ranging conversation covering new releases Snowden and Blair Witch, plus lots of other tangents and digressions. I had a blast recording with them, as always, and I'm sure you'll enjoy listening as well:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Recommended Reading

Even though the first one is scheduled for Monday evening, Bill Moyers says there's no point in having a debate based on the current model of debate moderation.

Left Shew Politics Podcast, Vol. 1 / Ep. 2

Click below to check out my appearance on the second episode of the all-new Left Shew Politics Podcast, hosted by my bud Rick Shew. And if you're digging the show, click over to iTunes and show some love by hitting subscribe and/or leaving a review!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Diffused Congruence: Cavalcade of Annoyance

We’ve hit the big 4-0! Zaki and Parvez return after a summer hiatus to ruminate on the ISNA Convention, Eid-ul-Adha and animal sacrifices, and the Presidential Election. Expect all of the “unpacking”, analysis, and fun banter you’ve come to enjoy from the show! It’s a rare occurrence for the show that the two of us just get a chance to catch up and share some reflections. We hope you enjoy these episodes as much we do recording them! Listen via the embed below, and as always, send any questions or comments to diffusedcongruence@gmail.com, or at our Facebook page.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: How'd You Do Your Dole Today?

For some reason I woke up this morning with the "How'd You Do Your Dole Today?" jingle from the Dole Food Company during the early '90s rattling around in my head. I have no explanation. Luckily, thanks to the age of Internet wonders in which we live, I was able to find the specific spot online after a hard-target YouTube search of about thirty seconds. Lyrics for this one are by Jeff Nicosia, who also did the world the great service of posting it to the web. The spot aired in pretty regular rotation in '92 during weekday morning and afternoon kidvid hours, which would account for my being exposed to it, and also for why it's taken up permanent residence in the deep recesses of my amygdala. Anyone else remember this?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Zaki's Review: Sully

The 2009 "Miracle on the Hudson" that saw pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger land his US Airways commuter plane on the Hudson river with no fatalities after both of his engines failed is one of those stories where, as soon as it happened, you braced yourself for the inevitable movie version. Worst case scenario was that it would end up on Lifetime or one of the networks for some kind of schlocky movie-of-the-week. By contrast, director Clint Eastwood's Sully, starring Tom Hanks in the title role of the hero pilot, is probably the best case version of how we should see this story on film.

Unlike Robert Zemeckis' gin-soaked, drug-addled Flight from a few years ago, which tackled a similar story but amped up the flaws of its lead character, Sully takes a nonlinear approach to the events up to and after the famed crash (or rather, "water landing," as the characters take pains to point out). This in turn allows for one of the more complex and layered performances from its star, depicting the pilot not only dealing with the sudden onrush of fame and adulation by New Yorkers in desperate need of a hero, but also his own lingering self-doubts as to whether he made the right call following the engines' failure.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Star Trek 50th Anniversary Commentary Track!

Star Trek month continues here at Nostalgia Theater! This week I'm joined by Star Trek comic writer and novelist Glenn Greenberg for a fun and far ranging commentary track conversation as we watch the second pilot of the original Star Trek series, "Where No Man Has Gone Before," which ended up selling the series to NBC. In addition to offering our observations and analyses of what's onscreen, we also cover a lot of our own personal Trek history and examine what it is about the franchise that's made us fans for so long.

You can either pop in your blu-ray or queue the episode up via streaming to watch along with us, or just listen as we chat. Either way, you'll find a lot of fun and interesting info, so settle in, hit "play," and get ready to boldly go! Listen the show via the embed below, or subscribe at iTunesStitcher RadioTuneIn Radio, or Google Play (and remember to leave a review!). As always, send all questions or comments our way via MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, and don't forget to hit "like" on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Path to Victory

Ed Kilgore has looked at recent polling data, and makes a comforting observation at New York Magazine:
Those who have laughed off Donald Trump’s chances while believing his election would represent a turn for the worse in their own lives should be nervous right now.
Read more here.

Welcome Back, Keith

It's been more than four years since Keith Olbermann engaged in the kind of political commentary that was so powerful during its mid-'00s heyday that it upturned the entire editorial direction of his then-home network MSNBC. After departing MSNBC for a brief, ignominious detour at the now-defunct CurrentTV, Mr. "Special Comment" has doled out political talk 140 characters at a time on Twitter.

That changed yesterday with the debut of his new web series via GQ, the first episode of which decries the Donald Trump candidacy in ways that make his condemnations of the Bush administration feel restrained in comparison. If history is our guide, this series too won't be long for this world, but for now check out the first installment below, and here's the text version of the piece with links to all the claims inside.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Deplorable Discourse

This past Friday Hillary Clinton made reference during a fundraiser to the "basket of deplorables" that constitutes much of Donald Trump's base, specifically saying that it's important not to lump in voters with genuine concerns and genuine worries with the racists, bigots, misogynists who the candidate has both courted and done little to distance himself from.

(As it happens, my garage band in high school was also called Basket of Deplorables.)

Anyway, people naturally pounced on the "deplorables" part of the comment, with many calling this Clinton's equivalent of Mitt Romney's infamous "47%" comment four years ago. I don't see it as comparable. To be clear, I think the way she spoke was clumsy and not helpful. However, the underlying assessment wasn't wrong. Were I one of her writers, I probably would have phrased it as something like this:

Zaki's Retro Review: Labyrinth

It’s easy to forget now, given how much of a beloved cult artifact it has since become, but director Jim Henson’s genre-bending fairytale Labyrinth was a sizable disappointment upon its theatrical release thirty years ago. Despite advanced puppet effects, a story shaped with an assist from Star Wars guru George Lucas, and global superstar David Bowie headlining the cast, Labyrinth not only failed to recoup its then-lavish $25-million budget; its failure proved so painful for Henson that the man behind the Muppets would never again step behind the camera before his untimely passing in 1990.

And yet. Thanks largely to Bowie’s visually striking Goblin King Jareth, an appealing performance by future Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly, and the charming use of puppets and practical effects to visualize its fantasy landscape, Labyrinth has not only endured, but become exactly the kind of shared multi-generational experience that one would expect from both Henson and Lucas. And with the film returning to theaters for a brief run marking its thirtieth anniversary, there’s never been a better time to retrace some steps along its road to becoming a cult classic.

Continue reading at Fandor...

Nostalgia Theater: Losing The Devlin Connection

As you know if you've followed Nostalgia Theater long enough, I have a particular affinity for the "gimmick" detective shows that populated the TV landscape during the 1980s. Obviously some were more successful than others, but that didn't stop the nets from keeping on shaking the trees to see what might fall out. One example of an also-ran in this genre is the short-lived skein The Devlin Connection, which was notable for being the return to series TV for actor Rock Hudson after six seasons on McMillan & Wife in the '70s.

Airing on NBC from October to December of '82, The Devlin Connection was created by John Wilder (who also developed the excellent Centennial miniseries a few years prior), and really it had one of those premises that only makes sense in a TV writer's mind. Hudson was Brian Devlin, a former military officer who's become director of the Los Angeles Performing Arts Center. When he's reunited with son Nick Corsello (Pointman's Jack Scalia), a racquetball pro, the two decide to solve mysteries together. Sure, makes sense to me. Here's the intro:

Friday, September 09, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: Summer Movies in Review, From The Jungle Book to Ben-Hur!

Continuing an annual post-Labor Day tradition at the MovieFilm show, me and Brian reunite after a brief hiatus to look back at the summer's crop of releases big and small. From April's The Jungle Book to last month's Ben-Hur, and almost everything in between, we reexamine the hits, the misses, the should've-been-bigger, and the understandably-flopped from the summer season just ended. But that's not all: Before the main events, we also pause to pay tribute to the late, great Gene Wilder, acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise, and offer our quick takes on some of our recent viewings. You can hear it all via the embed below or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

INTERVIEW: Adam Nimoy on For the Love of Spock

This month marks fifty years since the original Star Trek television series premiered on NBC, inaugurating not only one of the greatest TV series of all time, but one of the most expansive and successful multimedia franchises. To help celebrate this auspicious occasion, director Adam Nimoy, son of the legendary Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock himself, has created an engrossing and emotional new documentary, For the Love of Spock, which pays tribute by examining the world’s relationship with the character—and the filmmaker’s relationship with his dad. Opening today in limited theatrical release and streaming as of Friday, the film features archival footage and rare photographs, plus commentaries and remembrances from William Shatner, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, J.J. Abrams, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, and many more. I had the opportunity to speak with Adam Nimoy about the film and its production, and what follows are some highlights of that chat.

Continue reading at Fandor...

Five Decades in the Final Frontier

It was fifty years ago today that an odd curio entitled "The Man Trap", the debut installment of a brand-new science-fiction series, aired on NBC to little acclaim and even fewer viewers. I wasn't due to arrive on this plane of existence for another decade-and-change, so I can only begin to imagine how the thing was received at the time. No doubt the mix of futuristic spacemen and forbidding monsters seemed to be pointing the way towards something in the mold of recent sci-fi pic Forbidden Planet, while borrowing liberally from the monster-of-the-week formula employed by TV's The Outer Limits which itself had aired (and ended) not too long before.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Left Shew Politics Podcast, Vol. 1 / Ep. 1

I was honored to be asked by my friend Rick Shew of the Batman-on-Film Podcast to join him for the debut episode of his new show looking at politics from a left-ward perspective. I had a blast and I'm looking forward to joining him for a future episode! Click below to give a listen to the show: