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Entries in dick cheney (165)

Tuesday
Jul182017

In Which We Have Written And Discarded Some Sansa Stark Love Scenes

He Did It All With A Knuckle

by DICK CHENEY

Game of Thrones
creators David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
HBO

There was a moment during Sunday's Thronesing when I was pretty sure Jon Snow was going to strike Sansa Stark down. She was talking at length, in front of a large crowd, about her plan to make child-aged heirs to fiefdoms homeless, and he let loose a "No!" deep within his caustic stomach. All the nearby lords were like, "Sansa, the fuck are you doing, girl? You have done exactly shit except watch a couple husbands die and now you think you're Disraeli?" Thrones is just fanfiction now.

They should honestly make Thrones silent at this point. Jamie Lannister can mime with his faux right hand if he can't sign. You see, the original Game of Thrones was actually about how various families operated when they pursued power  but now it is about decimating a Big Bad, in this case a frozen army that is going to be awful susceptible to three enormous dragons. I mean, what can they really do against these beasts, hole up in a refrigerator like Indiana Jones?

Sure, Game of Thrones was always like a light, easily passed stool but now it gives me various headaches with the plot holes and the reinvention of various characters. Only one thing can never be retconned or re-envisioned, and that is how much of a useless mound Bran Stark is. Maybe I'm feeling particularly hostile because no one can ever bother to write dialogue or conflict for Daenerys Targaryen and her group of ne'er-do-wells looks to average a height of 4'11". 

I think I was most angry when I saw Arya Stark destroy the Freys in one scene. How hard is it exactly to murder all of King's Landing given that? This mass poisoning was roundly unsatisfying, and the sexist way she spared the women like they were not culpable as well irked me, too. Thrones has a terrible time struggling with its innate sexism. Women are quick to anger and murder, men are all Father Brown. Even when you flip a stereotype on its head, it's still a fucking stereotype.

Speaking of Father Brown, Samwell Tarly living with his wife and child in the Citadel was such a letdown. I mean, would it have been that hard to give the maesters some secret power over their betters, for example a blood pressure test or access to unlimited antibiotics? Instead they are a shittier, primal version of doctors, having inherited only the egotism and propensity for note-taking. 

Now that every single one of Cersei's children is dead, I was semi-interested in how she would appear altered as a character. Instead we are witnessing a quick rehabilitation of her as a powerful executive, only the point of all this is not exactly clear. She at least is a good performer – we feel how lame and pathetic the regular stars of Thrones are when a particularly charismatic and attention getting actor takes over the scene: the immensely talented Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion, or the disembodied hand of Ser Jorah Mormont.

Thinking too long about this stuff gives me a headache at the worst possible time, before Lynne and I curl up to a solid hour of the Starz series Power. It seems they have taken the criticisms of Thrones' constant nude scenes to heart: now we cannot even get so much as a bodice or some ample cleavage. What a world. To fill the gaps, I have composed this brief elegia to the Sansa Stark that was. Enjoy.

When we had to pass in a narrow space, doing the hard work of reassembling Winterfell, she contrived to bump me with a round hip. She looked bemused and tricky and smug, darting her blue and challenging glances. She finished a sandwich, licked her fingers, tried to give me a wink. But she couldn't close one eye without nearly closing the other. It made her look like a blind direwolf.

When she would come to show me where something went, she would manage to press the heat of a mellow breast against my arm. She built the big awareness of Sansa. The infrequent small talk — "Did you know that Brienne always smells like a hot dog that has been left out for a couple days?" — bore little relation to what was happening between us. Wasn't I supposed to be her brother?

Finally, she managed to trip and turn and be caught just so, gasping, a silky weight, breath warm, eyes knowing, lips gone soft and an inch away, and not enough air in the frigid room.

I straightened back up and gave her a little push. "Now, Sansa, we can't do this."

"Oh Jon," she said, "ethics and everything. The little sister. You talk so many bold games about knighting those traitors, it gets confusing for a girl. I guess you think it would be a lousy thing to come here to take care of me, and then take care of me too many ways? But there are all kinds of ways. How it is you should be so stuffy you make me seem sort of cheap and obvious?"

I said nothing, only thought of Sam giving it to his girlfriend in warmer climes.

"I'm getting mad to keep from crying," Sansa said, brushing her hair back from her face. "I mean you're so stuck on this role you have to play. Seven gods, I suppose I am the little sister, but I am also an adult, Jon. I told you before I've run into some doors and had my share of black eyes. My husbands are all dead now. I had a disaster of a marriage and a very fast annulment. But you have some kind of boy scout oath... Now I feel degraded, and... damn it, get out of here!"

I laughed and caught her. She leapt about, saying in effect that the precious moment had passed, and to the Narrow Sea with it, and we couldn't retrieve the situation, it was spoiled, etc etc. I stilled her mouth and each time she talked it was with a little less conviction, and finally she stood docile, trembling, taking huge noisy inhalations, her strong pale neck bent forward while, with clumsy fingers, I unlatched the little hook on the back of the potato sack she was wearing for some reason.

"This is n-n-n-nutty," she whispered. I told her that indeed it was. I could feel Littlefinger's eyes on us from the alcove above. Time moves slowly, then, as in an underwater world. She had hitched herself to rest upon me, so distributed that she seemed to have no weight at all. She had her dark head tucked under the angle of my jaw, her hands under me and hooked back over the tops of my shoulders,  her deep breasts flattened against me, used loins resting astraddle my right thigh.

"Golly, golly, golly," she said in a sighing whisper. "Do you think that Jamie ever made Cersei this happy?" I told her I hoped that he had.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.


Tuesday
Jun202017

In Which They Ruined William Shakespeare For Us All

Beautiful Tyrant

by DICK CHENEY

Still Star-Crossed
creator Heather Mitchell
ABC

It was my genuine mistake that I thought this show was going to be about if Romeo and Juliet lived and entered into a completely unhappy marriage, with Juliet still upset about the residual effects on her concentration from imbibing the poison. When Romeo and Juliet died in Still Star-Crossed, I was in shock, because I figured this would finally be the interracial romance that would work out well for everyone involved, unlike every single time Kerry Washington falls in love with a white man.

Replacing Romeo and Juliet as the stars of Still Star-Crossed are Rosaline Capulet (Lashana Lynch) and Benvolio Montague (Wade Briggs). They are roughly the same size, and they wear very similar outfits. The plot of Still Star-Crossed is somewhat confusing – a member of each family died because everyone could not accept their love. Yet in this show the Montagues and Capulets decide to force their families to intermarry, even though the couple in question is not in love at all. Nor do they hate each other, they are just kind of neutral when it comes to all this.

Still Star-Crossed is the brainchild of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee writer Melinda Taub, who wrote the YA novel from which this is all abstracted. Sadly, even Ms. Taub appears to absolutely loathe this adaptation of her work. She never talks about the show on her twitter, just tells people nervously to buy her book. This is a sad deal, since Shakespeare can really be improved on, as you have recently seen with the Democrats who regularly have Donald Trump stabbed to death by a bunch of minorities. Considering pretty much everyone in the New York theater industry is a liberal, I expected more subtle commentary on current events, like maybe Twelfth Night with Trump as Duke Orsino.

Still Star-Crossed probably would have been a semi-decent TV movie, but it is hard going to sit down for the entire forty minutes of this show. At some predictable point in every episode, the writers get tired of the fake Shakespearan lilt to all the dialogue and one of the women is just like, "Wanna get something to eat?" The show is also fond of stealing lines from Shakespeare's other plays to spice things up. There is even this one part where someone must have wholesale copied an anti-Semitic monologue from The Merchant of Venice.

Shakespeare was never my absolute favorite or anything, and it seems like he is finally fading out of most curriculums. The reason is that he is not super great at writing for women and some of his racial attitudes were a wee bit retrograde. Or maybe The Tempest is proto-Amiri Baraka: I didn't major in semiotics, people. I had this one teacher who was just crazy about Falstaff, I have no idea why. Even Orson Welles made this guy look like a bumbling fool. I have learned to detest writers who turn tragic circumstances into comedy, and the reverse as well, but that was until I saw Still Star-Crossed. I mean, this was destined to be a comedy – Melinda Taub is a graduate of the Upright Citizens Brigade theater.

There are some jokes in Still Star-Crossed. At one point Benvolio tosses this crazy guy who killed a bunch of people off a building – the man's body is dashed on the parapets below. Rosaline is looking down on the corpse with something like regret, and Benvolio deadpans, "Did you forget he tried to rape you?" I'm sure she didn't want to be reminded of that, but as rape jokes on network television go, I guess it was fine.

In another subplot, Juliet's father (Anthony Stewart Head) keeps seeing her as a ghost. When he finally tracks the girl down, she says, "Beware." Instead of asking what he should beware, he just stands there with a goofy look on his face. What a weird show.

The costumes and environments remain weirdly inconsistent throughout Still Star-Crossed. Even though everyone involved in this story should ostensibly be of the nobility, Benvolio usually looks like he is wearing rags he picked up off the floor, and it is impossible to tell which Capulet is the servant and which is the master from their mode of dress. At one point I was pretty sure a man was romancing a princess of some sorts, since she was wearing a frock from the Jasmine collection. When he tried to kiss her, however, she told him that even though she was a servant, she was still a lady. Perhaps she meant that literally.

I really try to give Shonda Rimes the benefit of the doubt, even though it's obvious that her major influence on this project is to make the cast pleasantly multiracial, except no Asians. With that said, no one ever brings up race at all in Still Star-Crossed. At first this seems fine because who cares if we're not going for a historical look at this period, but in practicality it means that ethnic differences, even national differences, cannot be acknowledged as part of the plot. Even though from all appearances this is a show about a race war, the core conflict can never be described in those terms.

I think what is really hurting Shakespeare is that he does not have that one solid IP to hang his hat on. Hamlet is very pretty to listen to, but it is depressing and somewhat of an Oedipus Rex ripoff if I'm honest. Richard III is shit. Falstaff was a mistake. The comedies are about as humorous as T.J. Miller's stand-up. Macbeth is kind of fun for an act or so but it all gets a bit predictable, doesn't it? Julius Caesar is wretched and hackneyed. King Lear was probably his best play, but it makes no sense now and is incredibly sexist. Othello is decent, but no one has ever been like, oh my god, I am so psyched for Othello tonight. I think he probably should have written some more uplifting work.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.


Thursday
Jun012017

In Which We Find Faith In Candace Cameron

Your Local Library

by DICK CHENEY

A Bundle of Trouble: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery
dir. Kevin Fair
Hallmark Channel

Candace Cameron Bure, 41, is a somewhat puzzling choice for a female sleuth. Because of her inner religious convictions (someone, perhaps an angel, told her she and she alone came out of God's love if I'm not mistaken), she does not do any onscreen nudity. "No problem," I thought as I curled up with my wife Lynne on what I believe is referred to as a settee. "Was I really expecting her to go topless like Alison Brie on basic cable? This isn't every single Anna Kendrick movie." I began to enter full-blown panic mode roughly the same time I realized that not only does Bure not become startlingly nude in A Bundle of Trouble, she never moves the romance beyond a chaste kiss on the lips.

When the boyfriend (Yannick Bison) of Aurora Teagarden (Candace Cameron Bure) stays over for the night, A Bundle of Trouble makes one thing very clear: this is a man who sleeps in the guest room. I had to close my eyes and pretend that in the middle of the night, Aurora tiptoes down to the tiny bed her man sleeps in and envelopes her guy, who is a former federal agent named Martin, in a foul embrace.

Aurora's previous boyfriend was a writer of murder mysteries. This seemed to suit her better, but he sort of subtly implied that no sex before marriage was a Puritan impulse and left the small Georgia town where Aurora makes her home. Aurora is the founder of the Real Murders Club, where each week one of the members presents the case of a famous killer. Even though this true crime group seems like a lot of fun to me, Aurora's mother (Marilu Henner) finds her daughter's impulse rather macabre.

Aurora often is at odds with the local police chief Lynn (Miranda Frigon) who feels that she meddles into the particular details of homicide investigations where it is inappropriate for a civilian to be involved. Aurora's best friend, a reporter named Sally (Lexa Doig), is also single and appears to be harboring a deep crush on her friend, but it never comes up, reportedly because Candace vetoed this storyline.

In A Bundle of Trouble, Aurora once again finds a body at her house. This time it is the husband of Martin's dear, sweet niece. Instead of feeling upset or concerned, Aurora has an emotional reaction that could charitably be described as the quiet ripples on a placid, sociopathic lake. When she is not amateur sleuthing, Aurora works at the local library, where she has a combative and eerily flirtatious relationship with the head librarian, a reserved woman named Lillian (Ellie Harvie). At first I was rather sad that none of these unconventional relationships could be consummated becaus of the lead actress' religious fervor, but then I realized it was at least opening the door for a shitload of fan fiction.

I fell in love with Nancy Drew because of the meaningful relationships she had with men. They supported her, especially that Ned fellow. She went all the way with Ned several times, but he never intruded on her well-deserved spotlight. After all, she was the daughter of a very rich man. Hold on for one second while I confirm that's all true. Aurora Teagarden prefers to hold her suitors at arm's length, making for a very frosty five TV-movie series.

Aurora finds herself investigating a private adoption/baby sale gone wrong. The amount of money involved to secure the child appears to be around $10,000, which results in this humorous, thoughtful image of the protagonist:

Aurora has to take care of the baby through much of A Bundle of Trouble, which has an important double meaning which reflects both the hard cash and the presence of the human child. She does not really like children and often forces the people around her to change the baby's diaper. Among Lynne's friends, this is the main characteristic of a mother.

This entire adoption storyline seems to set up a way that Candace Cameron Bure can reproduce without actually having sex, since her boyfriend sleeps in the guest room. Having a child will probably take away substantially from her crime-fighting, but then again a part-time librarian typically has a lot of hours in a day. I would not recommend the Aurora Teagarden series to anyone, since there is almost never a person of color involved, even in subplots, and Candace Cameron Bure's outfits look like they were purchased at the K-Mart in Sacramento.

Hallmark has other series which have white women detectives in a similar vein. One has Courtney Thorne-Smith playing an archaeologist, another has fellow Full House-alum Lori Loughlin as an amateur sleuth. It is apparently against Hallmark Channel directives to make any show about an actual police officer, since women can only solve crimes in their spare time. I resent this. ITV recently released Prime Suspect 1973, a period drama about Helen Mirren's hot youth. She got it on with almost everyone at the station, and when her sexist bosses asked her to make the coffee, she did it, but she did not like it. At least she was able to solve crimes as part of her actual job. You know things are rough when you find yourself agreeing with Jessica Chastain.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.