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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Entries in dick cheney (158)


In Which We Have Never Done Anything Like This Before

Sunset Decade


Wicked City
creator Steven Baigelman

The year is 1982. Kent Grainger (Ed Westwick) has tied up a nurse named Betty (Erika Christensen) in his bed with rope and twine. He tells her to not make any sound at all, not even to breathe. She complies, and he is able to generate an erection. Afterwards, he produces a knife to cut her free. "I've never done anything like this before," she says, and yet she was a woman living in Los Angeles, with children, in the 1980s.

We tend to apply the moral standards of our own time to the past. By the standards of the 2000 era period, Westwick was a good actor. Now his facial hair appears scruffy and insolent, and I no longer wish to hear his terrible American accent in roles meant for my countrymen. Everything about ABC's Wicked City actually reminds us more of 2000 — the costumes, the gee-golly attitude, the weirdly vanilla makeup choices.

Her haircut is reminiscent of those women who were imprisoned in that guy's basement.  Christensen at first is just a concerned mother getting her first experience in the S&M game, but soon she is prepping Westwick's kills for him, since he is a serial murderer and this is the first time she has ever received any sustained positive attention from a man. The women of Wicked City rely entirely on men to provide an external compass and to reaffirm the sense of purpose lacking from their lives. This is just the way things were in the 1980s. There was no such thing as Margaret Thatcher.

I remember when I couldn't tell Erika Christensen and Julia Stiles apart. This is no longer a problem, since Julia Stiles has been excommunicated to Hulu

Tracking this deadly duo is Jeremy Sisto as detective Jack Roth. Sisto continues receiving gainful employment long after the American public has resoundingly explained it no longer wishes to see him attempt something he is not very good at whatsoever: acting. He has never altered his facial hair for any role; he is always just this scruffy pseudo-handsome guy who sounds like a somewhat more mature Kermit the Frog.

Your husband does not care for your robe.

Sisto plays a philandering police detective who cheats on his ginger wife even though the other woman is a stripper and he has a young daughter. In 2000 this would be shocking and disgusting, and despite the fact that this is supposed to be the 1980s, when such behavior was de rigeur, it is still abhorrent. I can't watch fake shows about the 1980s where everyone is dressed like a hooker and there is a man whose name is Bucket, even if they did not have the massive plot holes featured in Wicked City on a weekly basis.

The Gossip Girl probably should have been Chuck Bass.

Sam Raimi was actually there for the 1980s, and he made a trilogy of semi-amusing movies starring Bruce Campbell. Evil Dead was always a lot more suited for a television series, since the entire concept of loved ones and friends becoming possessed demons has a shelf-life of about 20 minutes. Starz' Ash v. Evil Dead has already been renewed for a second season, and rightly so, because Ryan Murphy's definition of camp was starting to more closely resemble murder porn.

Ted Danson is the only man brave enough not to dye his hair.

Campbell, 57, looks very good for his age, but he acts like is walking off the set of Army of Darkness, Raimi's most amusing version of the Evil Dead story. Performances were a lot broader then — it wasn't really necessary to show any kind of emotional range when the characters were paper thin contrivances intended to be taken over by demons.

A romance between a Latino man and a Jewish woman is all I have ever asked for.

Here Campbell's sidekick (Ray Santiago) and his sidekick's love interest (Jill Marie Jones) have to continually bounce off his steely one-liners. They seem to be having great fun, and Ash v. Evil Dead succeeds on that, on the enthusiasm it has for its wacky subject matter. It is amusing to see the ancient Ash Williams have to deal with all the problems of modernity, and even appreciate the new time in which he lives as substantially better as the decade from which he came.

Special effects were greatly improved.

The whole format became a bit tiresome over the course of an entire film, but Ash v. Evil Dead works because there is nothing else like it today: the entire concept of its humor died in the waning moments of 1990.

There is something that is actually worth returning to in the 1980s: a distinct lack of cynicism worth revisiting. Wicked City totally misunderstands that concept as innocence. It was not innocence, that we felt in the decade that followed a failed revolution based on transmitting diseases through our penises. We preferred to feel nothing except the pain.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.


In Which We Halt The Newfound Employment Of Dianne Wiest

Shattered Illusions


Life in Pieces
creator Justin Adler

As part of an initiative to show non-gaming programming, streaming service Twitch.tv has been running a marathon of Bob Ross' PBS show The Joy of Painting. Bob's only significant problem in life was his hair. He had it permed into an uncomfortable afro to save money on haircuts. It smelled like a zinc lozenge and was a somewhat painful style to adopt. This is what we properly mean when we use the loaded phrase "white people's problems" or WPP.

Colin Hanks has his eyes closed for about a good fifty percent of this show.

Ross built a multimillion dollar empire around his mediocre landscapes. Then he died from lymphoma at the age of 52. Jen (Zoe Lister-Jones) has a baby when the CBS comedy Life in Pieces begins, and the remainder of the episode is spent with her emphasizing what a mess her vagina is in after childbirth. 

Well, you know what? There's nothing wrong with how a woman's vagina looks after childbirth, and maybe some white people stigmatizing it and pushing womyn to have more dangerous surgeries to avoid vaginal birth is about as good for the public health as the anti-vaccine movement.

No one, not even the rain, has such a short haircut.

The only positive thing to come out of Life in Pieces is gainful employment for Dianne Wiest, who recently revealed that she had not saved a whole lot of money during her career. She is horrid as the mother of two boys, Greg (Colin Hanks) and Matt (Thomas Sadowski) and a daughter Heather (Breaking Bad's Betsy Brandt). These are the kinds of names people give their children when they haven't read a book since high school. 

But Jordan, I was so looking forward to another sketch in which you satirized how much African-American enjoy, I don't know, hats

As disgusting and racist as Modern Family was at times (I speak of it in the past tense in order to pretend it no longer exists), Life in Pieces is substantially worse. There is only one person of color in the entire cast, and he plays the stalker-y ex-husband of Matt's girlfriend Colleen. To add insult to substantial injury, he is portrayed by Jordan Peele, suggesting that the reason we are not getting a new season of Key & Peele is because Jordan had to spread his wings in the role of a psychotic single black male. 

White people are uncomfortable with physical touch. 

Then there is the greatest indignity of all: playing the father of these magical white power cherubs is James Brolin. Acting was never Mr. Brolin's forte; satisfying Barbra Streisand sexually is, and is a job he does with perfect rigor and aplomb. By no means should he ever have been employed as a working actor. In the pilot of Life in Pieces, he stages his own funeral so he can find out what people would say about him. As bad as that sounds, there was one storyline this creepy show did that consisted entirely of a character having diarrhea.  

Let's all play the sport that can exclude the maximum number of people based on their economic status. 

Then again, at least that is a issue with which individuals of all races and colors can identify. Other storylines take the men of Life in Pieces out to the golf course, murdering innocent skunks and shopping for an expensive college for their children. The idea of being upset because your son is going to a university is something Bob Ross could never understand. 

Ice cream out of a drinking cup? What is this? 

It is not okay to pretend that being white and ignorant is some kind of blessing from the universe to focus on jokes about bowel movements or handicaps. I thought we were past all that. Watching Amy Schumer's stand-up special at the Apollo, she barely mentioned where she was once, although she did make sure to hammer home that she doesn't "follow the news" and that she did not know what happened in Ferguson. White people were supposed to be improving, not becoming stupider. 

I mean, All in the Family was a long time ago. Shows were able to explore timely issues of race and class and still be popular. Life in Pieces feels like it was created in a massive white bubble where the only thing that ever gets in is occasionally Jordan Peele. It is a revolting, regressive show, and all of the hateful curses I direct towards Johnny Galecki on a regular basis will now be focused on this disgusting mess.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"Birth of Lola" - Laurie Anderson (mp3)

"Tell All the Animals" - Laurie Anderson (mp3)


In Which We Have Gotten Away With So Much

Gilmore Girls 2: Lorelai Harder


How To Get Away With Murder
creators Peter Nowalk & Shonda Rimes

On the first season of How To Get Away With Murder Viola Davis did a great scene every few episodes where she tore off her wig and makeup. This moment arrived when she really had no more interest in portraying the criminal defense attorney Annalise Keating anymore, and she had to break things down to their bare essentials. This is a weird, uncharacteristic event, since How To Get Away With Murder is all about how the outward parts of ourselves are essentially our real selves when there is nothing left underneath.

Just getting some pool time, pretending her show is semi-realistic.

In the first season of How To Get Away With Murder, the preternaturally gifted Davis was blessed with a storyline out of the newspapers: she had a creepy psychologist husband who spent his time fucking about with one of his students, a very attractive Caucasian-American named Lila. She herself was cheating as well: one of her students, a mysterious Wes (Alfred Enoch and his brutally bad American accent), walks in on her getting head from a detective named Nate (Billy Brown).

Her last male partner before she mysteriously went lesbian.

The law parts of How To Get Away With Murder vacillate between ridiculous and stupid. Keating teaches a course in criminal law that does not go beyond the rudiments any fourth grader can pick up in a given episode of Law & Order, and spends most of her time doing extremely unethical things to win freedom for consistently innocent defendants. Now in season two, Shonda Rimes and co-creator Peter Nowalk have given up on versimilitude altogether.

Towering over her like an ancient Jean Grey, I just wonder if this was really the moment Viola Davis should have cast all penis to the wind.

Now that Keating is single and free of her husband, she has returned to her real hair. It's not that she looked better in the wig, but she looked a lot more like the character and not Viola Davis. Her love relationship is with a woman, Eve (Famke Janssen). The number of gay relationships and sex scenes outnumbers the heterosexual ones, to what end I'm not sure. But sexuality is very fluid, and the ensemble cast that surrounds Viola Davis has to keep fucking in order to keep things interesting for the subplots she has no time with which to concern herself. Davis badly needed a credible actress to play off of besides the dull young things she orders around like sheeple:

Enter Bonnie Winterbottom, Esq. (Liza Weil), the real star of Getting Away With Murder. Some of us (all of us) hoped for a sequel/spin-off to Gilmore Girls, where we would see what actually became of Paris Geller after her time at Yale dating some schlumpy worshipper. Now we know: she has become the associate attorney at Annalise Keating's Philadelphia firm, and she is spectacular.

Rory was probably servicing Lamar Odom for most of December.

Liza Weil is an astonishing creature. In How To Get Away With Murder's first season, she kind of took a backseat to the unfolding murder mystery that surrounded the sudden death of Annalise's husband Sam Keating. She mostly showed up to tell her interns that they were beneath her, which they were.

Lorelai! Lorelai! Lorelai! Lorelai!

In the show's unlikely second season, she has pretty much become the de facto main character. Her relationship with the immature law student Asher (Orange Is The New Black's Matt McGorry) is how I always thought Paris would settle down: a beautiful, sensitive young thing who knew that she was the boss, but that she couldn't always be the boss. I love every moment of your new life, Paris.

They only do missionary unless Paris wants to roleplay Lorelai-Luke esque roleplay

I realize Shonda Rimes' deepest motivations is to turn every series she pops out of her Dartmouth-educated head into a ludicrous soap opera, but I don't know if How To Get Away With Murder really required an AIDS-based storyline in addition to all the murder that is going around. The times the show is really entertaining is not when Viola Davis screams at Paris, "You're a monster!"

That sort of schlock is amusing in the moment, but we long to take Paris' new life seriously. Where does she go on vacation? What will her white kids look like? What kind of lotion does she use on her face? What coat has she selected to honor as her winter jacket? Is she as annoyed by Hailee Steinfeld and the new Stephen Colbert as I am?

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"Jellyfish" - Laura Stevenson (mp3)

"Diet of Worms" - Laura Stevenson (mp3)