Thursday, October 31, 2013

From The Onion...

Won't be seeing Ender's Game until later this weekend, so we'll see just how true-to-life this is...
Harrison Ford Begs Agents To Just Let Him Die Now 
LOS ANGELES—Saying that “it’s time,” a visibly weary Harrison Ford pleaded with his agents Thursday to simply stop this and let him die, sources confirmed. “Please, you’ve had your fill. Just let me go quietly into the night,” the 71-year-old Ender’s Game star reportedly said, later imploring his agents not to hand him any more scripts and to just “let [him] go to sleep forever.” “I’ve spent my entire life doing this for you people. We had a good run, but it’s been a long journey and I’m very tired now. Please don’t talk about any more projects or how the director will work around my schedule. And don’t try to convince me that this is how I get my Oscar. It’s over. I just want to close my eyes and never wake up.” Reports confirm that Ford’s agents then mentioned a new script set during the Cold War in which he’d play Robert McNamara, which prompted Ford to sigh, shake his head, and say, “Okay, let me take a look.”

Recommended Reading

Alex Pareene examines the current mess surrounding the Affordable Care Act and offers a set of prescriptions for how those who'd like to see it work (as opposed to those rooting for its failure) can make that happen.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Good/Bad = Ugly

On yesterday's Daily Show, Jon Stewart zinged CNN for a particularly egregious (and seemingly mandated from on high?) strategy to boil down nuanced discussions of complex issues into the most binary, easily-digested soundbites possible. Watch this:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New X-Men Trailer Goes Back to the Future

Building off a tease in the closing moments of last summer's The Wolverine, Twentieth Century Fox is getting ready to return its entire brigade of Marvel mutants to the screen in next June's X-Men: Days of Future Past, which also brings director Bryan Singer back to the director's chair after more than a decade away. The time-tripping tale, starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy, and Michael Fassbender, uses the comics' classic "post-apocalyptic future" storyline of the same name as a means to bring the together the original trilogy's cast with their younger First Class-era selves. Our first look at the film (which also brings Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, and others back into the fold) arrived today via the teaser trailer from Fox. Given that this is just a teaser, the focus seems more on showing the characters and scope rather than the specifics of the plot. And on that score, consider me sufficiently teased.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Nostalgia Theater: Sectaurs -- Icky Bug Guys Doing Battle

In 1985, yet another toyline emerged that attempted to wrest valuable mindspace of kiddies away from the He-Man-G.I. Joe-Transformers trifecta that dominated most of the decade. This time out, the erstwhile contender was toymaker Coleco (which had made a big splash in the girls' market a few years earlier with Cabbage Patch Kids), and the product on offer was Sectaurs: Warriors of Symbion. While their action figures were packed with articulation, accessories, and features, what I remember most is how...icky the whole thing was.

With a mythology steeped in mysticism and magic, Sectaurs was a pretty transparent riff on Masters of the Universe, with the big twist being that all the characters were a bizarre insect-humanoid hybrid (the result of some experiment gone awry or some such). Whatever the whys-and-wherefores, the end result was that the heroic Sectaurs of the Shining Realm, led by the noble Prince Dargon, did heavily toyetic battle with the denizens of the Dark Domain and their evil leader General Spidrax. Yeah, the He-Man rip-off factor was pretty obvious even to five year-old me. Here's a TV spot for the line:

Friday, October 25, 2013

INTERVIEW: Writer-Director J.C. Chandor on the Brilliant All Is Lost

When J.C. Chandor was looking for a project to follow up his acclaimed 2011 film Margin Call, a true-life chronicle of 36 hours on Wall Street, he went in completely the opposite direction, finding his muse in All Is Lost, a gripping tale that relies on silence and introspection in much the same way Margin Call relied on its lightning fast dialogue to build drama. The film stars Robert Redford as a lone seafarer (who we only ever know as "Our Man") in a damaged boat, struggling to stay alive against a seemingly ceaseless elemental onslaught.

At its core, this is a tale of what it takes to survive, and while there are certainly thematic ties to Cast Away or Life of Pi, this is very much its own thing. Thanks to Chandor's masterful construction of the story, All Is Lost is equal parts gripping, tragic, and hopeful. The fragility and quiet strength that Redford, still matinee idol handsome even into his late seventies, manages to embody through an almost entirely silent performance is absolutely revelatory.

Without a doubt, this is one of the best movies I've seen all year, something I've been declaring loudly to anyone who'll listen (as you well know if you've got the last month's worth of MovieFilm Podcast shows), and something I declared once again to Chandor when I had a chance to discuss the film with him. What follows is the transcript of that chat, as he takes me from the film's conception to completion, including how he approached his star, and what it was like directing the Sundance Kid himself.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Recommended Reading

As we've been talking about the past week, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act's web-based enrollment program has hit some snags . And the Republicans in congress couldn't be happier. Er, I mean, they couldn't be angrier. Actually, I'm not exactly sure how they feel. Maybe Ezra Klein can straighten this out for us...

New Captain America Trailer Soldiers On

The Marvel Studios assembly line keeps chugging along! Thor: The Dark World opens two weeks from today, so look for my review of that one soon, and I've got lots to say about their TV skein Agents of SHIELD I'm hoping to type up soon, but in the meantime we've got our first look today at the upcoming Captain America sequel, The Winter Soldier, directed by Anthony & Joe Russo. As a huge fan of not just Cap in general but the specific comic arc this one is based on, I'm trying very hard to keep my expectations in check, but I'm loving what I see so far. When the Marvel powers-that-be (Kevin Feige, et al) promised a techno thriller in the Tom Clancy vein, they weren't messing around:

Crying Over Spilt Coffee

Back in 1992, the case of Stella Liebeck v. McDonalds gained a fair degree of notoriety in the mainstream media for what many deemed its exorbitant outcome. After trial, a jury found the fast food giant liable to the tune of nearly $3 mil after a customer dropped some of their coffee on her lap and got burned. This is actually one of those cases I've used in my Argumentation & Debate classes for awhile now as an exemplar of how arguments play out in different spheres.

To wit: The legal argument was built on Ms. Liebman being so severely burned that she required skin grafts. Plus, the jury's recommended award was reduced quite a bit by the time the judge actually got around to determining the final amount. However, both of those extenuating factors kind of got lost in the mix by the time the pundits and the comedians had their say, and the story became "Idiot spills coffee, sues for millions." In this terrific vid by the New York Times looking back at the Great Coffee Spill of 1992, we get a good sense of what actually transpired, and how it was eventually spun:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Extreme Takeover

If the shutdown drama of the past month proved anything, it's just how blindly ideological the Tea Party wing of the GOP is, to the point of willing self-immolation. Jon Stewart made this point with his usual aplomb on last night's Daily Show. I especially like his calling out of a certain former presidential nominee senator from AZ for his opening of Pandora's Box (or, as I've referred to it in the past, releasing the Kraken) vis-a-vis his veep pick. Check out part one below, and part two after the jump.

Something to Think About

From Robert Reich, via his Facebook page:
For those of us who have been arguing for years that the best way to provide comprehensive health insurance to Americans would be to graft it onto Social Security and Medicare, and pay for it through the payroll tax, Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act has been deeply ironic. Republicans were the ones who initially demanded it be based instead on private insurance, and be paid for with a combination of subsidies for low-income purchasers and a requirement that the younger and healthier sign up. A Republican President (Richard Nixon) came close to enacting such a plan. A Republican think tank provided the details. A Republican governor (Mitt Romney) did a trial run (in Massachusetts). Yet now that the essential Republican plan for comprehensive health insurance is being implemented nationally, Republicans are apoplectic. Had Democrats stuck to the original Democratic vision and built it on Social Security and Medicare, it would have been cheaper, simpler, and more widely accepted by the public. Maybe, someday, we'll get there.
Yeah. Maybe.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

From The Onion...

Meanwhile, The Onion also gets its licks in...
New, Improved Obamacare Program Released On 35 Floppy Disks

WASHINGTON—Responding to widespread criticism regarding its health care website, the federal government today unveiled its new, improved Obamacare program, which allows Americans to purchase health insurance after installing a software bundle contained on 35 floppy disks. “I have heard the complaints about the existing website, and I can assure you that with this revised system, finding the right health care option for you and your family is as easy as loading 35 floppy disks sequentially into your disk drive and following the onscreen prompts,” President Obama told reporters this morning, explaining that the nearly three dozen 3.5-inch diskettes contain all the data needed for individuals to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace, while noting that the updated Obamacare software is mouse-compatible and requires a 386 Pentium processor with at least 8 MB of system RAM to function properly. “Just fire up MS-DOS, enter ‘A:\>dir *.exe’ into the command line, and then follow the instructions to install the Obamacare batch files—it should only take four or five hours at the most. You can press F1 for help if you run into any problems. And be sure your monitor’s screen resolution is at 320 x 200 or it might not display properly.” Obama added that the federal government hopes to have a six–CD-ROM version of the program available by 2016.

Failure to Launch

Jon Stewart has some issues with the less-than-auspicious start for the much-ballyhooed health care exchanges at the center of the Affordable Care Act. Observe:

Monday, October 21, 2013

The MovieFilm Podcast: Episode 33


The gang reconvenes this week to talk up the latest TV news, including the quickie cancellation of NBC's Ironside, and the Peacock's slow descent to seventh (!!) place in the ratings. In addition, we also discuss the skyrocketing success of AMC's The Walking Dead, the latest news on Jurassic World, and the major floppage of Julian Assange bio The Fifth Estate and the long-awaited (or not so much) Sylvester Stallone-Arnold Schwarzenegger team-up flick Escape Plan at the box office. Then, after a brief conversation about Tom Hanks' new film Captain Phillips, we dive into a Movies That Matter unpacking Tom Hanks' seminal space pic Apollo 13 from 1995.

But that's not all, this episode has two -- count 'em, two! -- interviews as I chat up the spellbinding sea epic All Is Lost (one of his faves of the year) with director J.C. Chandor, and then delve into the many meanings of the Carrie remake with director Kimberly Peirce. There's much more than that as well, including a MovieFilm quiz administered by Brian. This one is super-sized, so don't miss a minute! You can listen via the embed below, or download or stream at iTunes or Stitcher. Also, be sure to visit our Facebook page and let us know how we're doing!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lou Scheimer, RIP

While Lou Scheimer's face is probably unknown to many, the singularly impressive body of work the veteran animator, who died last week at age 84, racked up during his several decades in the industry is likely unknown to very few. As co-founder of Filmation Associates in 1963, Scheimer was instrumental in bringing several beloved pop culture properties to TV for the very first time, with Superman, Batman, Aquaman, and a host of other DC Comics heroes getting the Filmation treatment, not to mention Archie, the Lone Ranger (which I discussed here), Zorro, Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and so, so, so many more.

Although the rampant budgetary restrictions were a bit too obvious at times, with Filmation skeins (such as the animated Star Trek) legendary for their use and reuse of stock animated expressions, poses, and movements, Scheimer did what he could to keep much of his studio's production stateside, giving work to a variety of

Nostalgia Theater: Street Hawk -- A Man Named Mach and his Magic Motorbike

Rex Smith rides Street Hawk
Like The Phoenix from a few weeks ago, Street Hawk is a series whose level of awareness and recognition is completely disproportionate with how long it actually ran. Premiering on ABC in January of 1984, Street Hawk lasted a mere thirteen episodes, and yet you can still find people who speak wistfully of the short-lived skein. In fact, just like The Phoenix, I've gotten several e-mails requesting a Nostalgia Theater spotlight on the show, so here we go.

Obviously aiming to capitalize on NBC's success a few seasons prior with Knight Rider, Street Hawk (also produced by Universal) pretty much lifted that show's format wholesale, teaming a lone hero with a souped-up super vehicle, resulting in a spate of TV-safe adventures. The saga sell below lays out the mission statement pretty thoroughly, but I especially love the fact that our hero (played with earnest charm by Rex Smith) has the totally unlikely/entirely appropriate name Jesse Mach. Here's the intro (plus exposition by go-to voiceover guy Ernie Anderson):

Friday, October 18, 2013

INTERVIEW: Director Kimberly Peirce on Remaking Carrie

Writer-director Kimberly Peirce burst onto the film scene in 1999 with the gut-wrenching docudrama Boys Don't Cry, which also netted star Hilary Swank the first of her two Academy Awards. For her latest directorial effort, Peirce has entered genre territory by tackling MGM's new adaptation of Carrie, the seminal Stephen King novel that was first brought to the screen in 1976 by director Brian De Palma (and which has been remade and sequelized a few times since).

For Peirce, the decision to mount a new remake such an iconic film (with ChloĆ« Grace Moretz stepping into Sissy Spacek's shoes as the troubled teen with the TK) came not from a desire to step over De Palma, but rather to pay homage to King's prose. As she explains in our lengthy chat, she put a lot of thought and effort into making her version of Carrie (which also stars Julianne Moore) stand out and stand apart. Check out the transcript below (but be aware that there may be some spoilers about the film's climax, so tread lightly):

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

From The Onion...

Not sure this even qualifies as satire.
Tea Party Congressman Listens To Constituent Who Wears Thomas Jefferson Costume Everywhere 
WINNSBORO, SC—At a town hall meeting Monday sponsored by Tea Party affiliate FreedomWorks, sources confirmed that Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) seriously listened and responded to several points raised by a constituent wearing a Thomas Jefferson costume complete with brass-buttoned waistcoat, velveteen breeches, and tricorn hat. “You make a great point, sir, and I am here to fight for people like you,” the congressman said to the man in a powdered wig who was carrying a giant Declaration of Independence poster board and who wears his Thomas Jefferson costume not just to political meetings, but every time he leaves his home. “When I get out of the D.C. bubble and come back to South Carolina and talk to voters, that’s when I remember the folks like yourself who sent me to Washington.” Following the meeting, Mulvaney spoke for 45 minutes with a local business owner and his wife, both of whom said the government shutdown was a good thing, and both of whom were dressed as Paul Revere.

Facts About the Kaaba

This week is the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage all practicing Muslims are required to undertake at least once in their lives wherein they travel to Mecca and pay homage to the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure at the center of the grand mosque. While most folks all over the world are broadly familiar with the image and iconography of the Kaaba, thought of as the first mosque in Muslim history, they probably don't know much else about it. To that end, check out this fascinating list of ten factoids about the Kaaba, most of which I didn't know either!

(Source: Muslim Matters)

New Short Celebrates Superman's 75th

This is pretty sweet. As any reader of this site should well know, this year marks seventy-five years since Superman first appeared on the cover of Action Comics #1. To mark the occasion, animation impresario Bruce Timm, the man behind just about every DC Comics animated offering all the way back to Batman: The Animated Series, teamed with Zack Snyder, director of last summer's Man of Steel (as well as its impending sequel), for a short film that attempts to sum up the character's vast history in two minutes (and change) of bravura animation.

Per Timm, "The idea was to start with [Superman creators] Siegel and Shuster and end with Henry Cavill, stopping at all the high points and iconic moments in between." I'd say they accomplished their mission quite well, with George Reeves, Chris Reeve, and Smallville all getting checked (though Lois & Clark is left hanging yet again -- as is poor Brandon Routh). I also have to give them credit for the seamless segue from John Williams' iconic Superman theme to the 2013 Hans Zimmer model. Jump over here to check out the short, which will also end up on the Man of Steel home vid release next month.

UPDATE:

And DC has now offered up an embed via YouTube, which you can watch below, after the jump:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Recommended Reading

As the clock ticks down, it's looking like some kind of a deal may yet emerge to, at the very least, stave off a default just a little while longer. And while the Republicans have been taking it pretty broadly on the chin in most of the polls apportioning blame for the shutdown, Peter Beinart argues that even a loss in public esteem translates to a win in policy terms for the GOP. He's got a point.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Recommended Reading

With the government shutdown still a go, and the debt ceiling countdown now entering its final stretch, the GOP's fabled Smartest Man in the Room (and, lest we forget, failed 2012 veep contender) Paul Ryan has now insinuated himself into the ongoing process to bring about a deal before we send the global economy over the falls. As Salon's Joan Walsh explains, that's very much not good news.

Nostalgia Theater: Beetlejuice -- The Ghost with the Most Gets (Re)-Animated

While director Tim Burton's feature film entree was 1985's Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, the first time most folks got to see Burton really cut loose and be Tim Burton was with 1988's Beetlejuice, a dark, dark comedy starring Michael Keaton as the titular ghoul, a "bio-excorcist" charged by a recently-deceased couple (Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis) with ridding their home of the unwelcome new (living) habitants of their home. The film was a considerable success for home studio Warner Bros., earning almost $75 million stateside against a $15 mil budget.

Naturally, with a return-on-investment like that, thoughts quickly turned to franchising the property, and while Burton would jump straight from Beetlejuice to 1989's Batman (bringing the film's star right along with him), that didn't stop him (and Warners) from spearheading the character's next afterlife. And so, in early September of 1989, mere months after Batman's skyrocketing success made Burton one of the most valuable brands in Hollywood, an animated adaptation of Beetlejuice debuted as part of ABC's Saturday morning lineup. Here's the intro:

Friday, October 11, 2013

INTERVIEW: Danny Trejo on Machete Kills, Life After Prison, and Working With Robert Rodriguez

Danny Trejo has a real life story that's at least as interesting as the many hard-bitten heroes and villains he's played on screens big and small since the mid-'80s. After spending much of his early life in and out of prison, he found a renewed focus in the film industry, with his distinctive, craggy visage easily landing him a variety of memorable character roles over the years. In 1993 he appeared in writer-director Robert Rodriguez's Desperado, and has gone on to team with the famed indy filmmaker eight more times over the past twenty years.

Trejo is currently back in theaters reprising his role as ex-federale Machete Cortez in Rodriguez's Machete Kills, the second film in a franchise that began as a fake trailer in 2007's Grindhouse. With his down-to-earth demeanor and winning smile, it's amply clear that he's acutely aware of how lucky he's been in life, something he tries to pass on to others whenever possible. I recently had a chance to talk to the iconic actor about how it feels to saddle up once again as Machete, the things he's learned over his long career, and what his long partnership with Robert Rodriguez means to him. Here's what he had to say:

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Recommended Reading

The shutdown is continuing apace, with no let-up looking like it's on the horizon. That said, the polling is following a pattern that most people predicted before this all went down: Republicans are shouldering most of the blame for what appears to many to be be an entirely avoidable collision between out-of-control ideology and fiscal necessity. Given that, former Republican strategist David Frum (whose brand of old-school conservatism has left him persona non grata by his party) lays out seven reasons why the GOP has managed to gum things up for themselves so spectacularly.

The MovieFilm Podcast: Episode 32

The missing-in-action Sean Coyle rejoins Brian and I for the latest MovieFilm show, and just in time too! We start things off with the audio from my exclusive chat with film legend Danny Trejo about his latest Machete movie, and then the boys and I dive into a dissection of some of the new TV offerings for this fall season, including our mixed reactions to Marvel's much-hyped Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and our confused reactions to the Blair Underwood-led remake of Ironside. After that, we give our take on the upcoming Gotham TV series prequelizing the Batman mythology, unpack the trailers for I, Frankenstein and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and indulge in a lengthy, spoiler-filled discussion of Alfonso Cuaron's eye-popping 3D opus Gravity. All that, plus the usual Listener Letters and back-and-forth banter you've come to know and love from the Mr. Boy gang. You can listen via the embed below, or download or stream at iTunes or Stitcher. As we implore you every other week, make sure to write a review to let us know how we're doing, and enjoy!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Recommended Reading

TPM's Josh Marshall lays out the current state of play vis-a-vis the government shutdown, and where he sees things going from here. I think he's right.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Nostalgia Theater: ABC's The Phoenix -- Bennu There, Done That

The Phoenix is a sci-fi series that briefly came and went on ABC in the early part of 1982. I was like two-and-a-half, so I have no firsthand memory of it, but when I was a kid, my brother would talk to me about it all the time. "Oh, you never saw The Phoenix." "Oh, you missed out on The Phoenix." After the YouTube age dawned, I decided to finally seek it out and...yeah. Here's the intro, which has to win some kind of prize for the amount of weirdly portentous, entirely extraneous exposition packed in per capita. Observe:

Friday, October 04, 2013

Jack Ryan Returns in Shadow Recruit

Is it already eleven years since Jack Ryan graced the silver screen? The CIA analyst-turned-action hero created by author Tom Clancy (who passed away unexpectedly just two days ago) was first played by Alec Baldwin in 1989's The Hunt for Red October. After that, Harrison Ford had two turns: 1992's Patriot Games, and 1994's Clear and Present Danger, and when Ford begged off of further installments, they turned to Ben Affleck to reboot the franchise with 2002's The Sum of All Fears. While that one did reasonably well, it arrived just as the heated anti-Affleck tsunami of the mid-aughts hit Hollywood, thus relegating Ryan to development hell until home studio Paramount ultimately decided to re-reboot the character with an entirely original project.

I've enjoyed all the Ryan flicks, especially Clear and Present Danger, so I've been following this one's development for awhile. Starring Star Trek's Chris Pine as Clancy's hero, the new film is entitled Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (which is really just a friggin' awful title), and if the first assemblage of footage released by the studio is anything to go by, it seems like they're banking hard on the Mission: Impossible-Jason Bourne audience to show up. Personally, for as much as I like Pine, this seems to bear very little resemblance to the character that I know of from the previous four films (and to a much, much lesser extent Clancy's books). Check out the trailer below for the Kenneth Branagh-directed pic, which is due to hit theaters this Christmas, and listen for a conversation about this with me and the boys on next week's MovieFilm Podcast.

Diffused Congruence: Episode 1

Welcome to the premiere episode of Diffused Congruence, an all new podcast celebrating the richness and diversity of the American Muslim experience. I've had this one in the works for a long, long, long while now, and I'm very excited to finally be able to bring it to you. With new episodes slated to drop the first Friday of every month, the goal of this new show is to highlight and focus on unique and interesting personalities from both within and without the Muslim community, engaging them in illuminating and invigorating conversation about a variety of subjects. For our first ep, my co-host Parvez Ahmed and I are joined by Usama Canon, founding director of the San Francisco Bay Area-based Ta'leef Collective, as he discusses his journey to Islam, the challenges facing young people in the 21st century, and what Ta'leef is all about. You can stream the episode below, or download here. Please don't hesitate to send any questions and comments to DiffusedCongruence@gmail.com, and remember to come back for our second episode soon!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Shutdown Shenanigans

With the government shutdown now underway, there's a concerted effort on the right to paint this as a "Democratic shutdown," despite all facts and common sense indicating otherwise. At least one old friend I've known forever, and who should really know better, has pretty much bought into that nonsense wholesale. Nonetheless, it's worth remembering that this all has happened because one lone nut, Senator Ted Cruz  of TX, gummed up the regular appropriations process for months in the senate, and by embarking on his quixotic bid to tie de-funding the Affordable Care Act to a continuing resolution that merely keeps the government funded at current level.

The irony piled upon irony here is that the healthcare law has already been funded through a separate appropriation, and the rollout (which began October 1, same day as the shutdown) continues irrespective of what the Tea Party hopes to accomplish (and who the heck knows what that is, because they sure don't). All this chaos could come to

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Great Obamacare Conversation

Sign-up for the state-based exchanges that are the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act begins today, and given that the entire raison d'etre for the now-unfolding government shutdown centers on the healthcare law, I asked my social media circle on Facebook to present valid, non-partisan arguments against it. Reasons to kill the law outright rather than tweaking it as we go. The conversation that followed went deep, and it went long, and I think we ended up covering a lot of ground with it. You can read it all here.

Rockin' Shutdown Eve

Welp, as predicted/promised for awhile now, as of midnight last night, congressional brinksmanship has led to a government shutdown. Jon Stewart did a pretty thorough job of eviscerating the Republican rationales that have led us to this point. Remember, this has happened because a faction of House members have a beef with the Affordable Care Act -- a law that's already in effect and is completely separate from the continuing resolution that's currently under discussion. The most relevant part of what Stewart says, in my view, is that while the "pox on both their houses" mentality certainly has merit when it comes to apportioning blame for government disfunction, this ain't one of those times.