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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

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Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

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Entries in dick cheney (98)

Monday
Mar022015

In Which The Facial Hair Of Will Forte Dominates The Mise-En-Scène

Control Freak

by DICK CHENEY

The Last Man On Earth
creator Will Forte

There is no lonelier man than Phil Miller (Will Forte). Since Forte, creator of the new Fox show The Loneliest Man On Earth could not think of anything new a man would consider worth doing if he was alone somewhere, he gets a bunch of soccer balls and baseballs like Tom Hanks in Castaway and talks to them. There are several long scenes in which the former temp worker that Forte portrays talks to the balls, giving them names and imbuing personalities on them. He also shits in a pool.

Reacting to this fictional depiction of a man doing what it is he feels is right, The White House yesterday strongly condemned Forte's actions. "He's trying to create a wedge between Israel and the United States," said U.S. national security advisor Susan Rice.

Running water is so bougie

There is in fact a lonelier man in America. He will address Congress at the behest of John Boehner, and our President is so mad. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's timing is perfect, since he seems like an iconic rebel crusading on behalf of his country just before he defeats Isaac Herzog to win a fourth term as prime minister. Obama's timing could not be worse, since House of Cards just came out and Frank Underwood/Obama comparisons are unavoidable.

Tucson would not be my first choice even within Arizona

Phil lives in Tucson, in the nicest house he can find. He has ransacked the finest museums America has to offer, and brought a bunch of European art into his surroundings. He has only searched the continental 48 states for other people; never venturing into Mexico or Brazil was perhaps not the smartest choice considering these countries have the finest women in the world. Instead he meets Carol Pilbasian (Kristen Schaal), an office manager at a hot sauce company.

Kristen Schaal is a beautiful woman, and I resent this negative depiction of her sheyna punim.

At first Phil finds Carol objectionable on every level. She fulfills none of his basic requirements of feminine beauty, and he is made furious by her many demands: stopping his SUV at stop signs, not living in an environment of total disgusting filth, and using correct grammar. Having to rely deeply on a person who on some fundamental level is completely different from you is the foundation of diplomacy.

It is a king who takes offense; a president is supposed to rise above such notions for the good of his country. Phil is more the first type of ruler, and his kingdom is fairly revolting. Much of The Last Man On Earth consists of Forte coming up with gross things for Phil to do, like poop in a swimming pool or murder fish with bowling balls. Watching Phil do whatever he wants is fun for the first of the eight montages included in the show's first two episodes, but it gets old quick.

And they say print is dead.

Speaking of getting old quick, Warren Buffett has already proclaimed that Hillary Clinton is going to be the next president. Since he has a lot of money, he is almost certain to be correct about this. House of Cards based its humorous depiction of Raymond Tusk on Buffett's no-nonsense Nebraska lifestyle, but even Raymond Tusk did not have the balls to come out and announce who the next president is going to be.

Of all the things to take from the Oval Office, Phil grabs the rug. The Last Man on Earth codifies a lot of American ideas about the larger universe. Phil doesn't bother exploring the entire world to see if everyone is left alive; he doesn't even bother taking an quick run up to Toronto, where there is most likely more than one desperate woman. America is it.

hopefully he will shave at some point during this season

No one seems to internalize nationalistic ideas about their countries more than their leaders. Obama's mad just because someone is giving a speech without his permission. Paranoia reigns supreme.

Phil is worried when Carol decides to move her mobile enterprise into the home next to his in the ritzy Tucson development he calls home. Her invasive maneuver eventually leads to the obvious conclusion these two need to repopulate the earth. Their population science might need some work, though. If they are truly alone on the planet, there is no chance of producing a successful working civilization again. Unless their children are geniuses, this will just lead to a bunch of half-Jews ransacking supermarkets for canned food. So basically, the world as it is today.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"The Truth" - Mya (mp3)

"Patience" - Mya (mp3)

 

Monday
Feb232015

In Which We Hire Saul Goodman At Our Own Convenience

Guilty Conscience

by DICK CHENEY

Better Call Saul
creators Vince Gilligan & Peter Gould

I would do anything to never to hear my wife utter the words fan service again. Did you see the trailer for Ant-Man? This tongue-in-cheek shit has got to end. Instead of, you know, working on something new, the people behind Breaking Bad have an assembled an hour long drama around the concept that anything even peripherally associated with Jesse Pinkman is fantastic and interesting. And you know what: they might have a point.

You know, I'm starting to think there might be some problems with the criminal justice system.

Seven years ago Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) has his own quirky cast of characters surrounding his single room law practice in the rear of a downtrodden nail salon. Returning from Breaking Bad is Jonathan Banks, who looks about twenty years older than he did on the previous show despite this chronologically predating everything on Breaking Bad. Tuco (Raymond Cruz) also makes a substantial appearance in the new show, but most everything else is completely new.

This is an incredibly ineffective way of getting a paper towel roll.

Whereas Breaking Bad was about doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, Better Call Saul is about doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Watching Odenkirk struggle with his conscience quickly gets old. We're supposed to think that he was slowly corrupted into Saul Goodman over time, little by little. Since we already know the end result - an amoral bag of garbage - we can't help but be disappointed by the pace of the process. No one thinks to themselves, "Jeez, Mussolini was such a nice little kid!"

If this is the last cul-de-sac I ever see, it will be too soon.

The problem with the basic concept is that we only have reason to encounter minor characters. Hank Schrader is not suddenly going to show up on Better Call Saul, and even if he did he would probably look like Mason Verger and all we would think about is his ignominious end in Breaking Bad. Fan service (ugh) only actually works when we have a positive nostalgic feeling about what is being revisited. There is no such need to be reminded of how we left Walt's family or friends.

Despite the fact that I have loathed Jonathan Banks for three decades and his appearance on Community should have given him a life sentence in jail, I have to admit that the character of Mike is a great one. When Saul meets him in Better Call Saul he is merely a parking lot attendant at a courthouse, which is unlikely but amusing as a one off joke.

"The Kettlemans" will be the next spin off. Jesse Pinkman will settle down with the divorced Mrs. Kettleman in Ronkonkoma.
The real fun will begin when Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) enters the picture. Although we explored his homosexual South American heritage in a flashback that still brings tears to my eyes to this day, I really hope we get the full origin story of Gustavo Fring. A lot seems like it was left out, and Gus was a very effective businessman who just happened to trifle with the wrong high school science teacher. Greatness can come from low places, I believe Scott Walker once killed a guy? Need to check my facts, but I'm pretty sure.

if you just photoshop out his hair, you have the sixth season of Breaking Bad

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a wee bit tired of the emotional shots of the New Mexico landscape. There may be nothing left to really explore in this bleak environment. Breaking Bad did a great job of making very few locations seem like an open, impossible world, but the same budgetary constraints seem to apply here.

There is little in the way of big time action or set pieces promised - after all, Better Call Saul features a relatively small story about a lawyer. The reason that networks produced legal dramas and films in the first place is because they were so inexpensive - Better Call Saul does a wonderful job of tricking their way around these limitations and making the show into a crime drama like its predecessor. Still, at times Better Call Saul feels like so much less.

Maybe throw some concealer and a wig on? Just a suggestion.

Once you make something successful, people want more of it. I understand this, just as I understand the basic impulse to elect another child of George H. W. Bush, or put someone else named Clinton in the Oval Office. We are afraid of change, especially Jonathan Banks, who has been doing the same gravelly voiced character since the 1960s.  

Better Call Saul ends up as a compelling show with a fantastic cast, so my complaints about repetition fall on deaf ears. We will shout, "Oh Walt!" probably at some point when Bryan Cranston does his first guest shot after pissing away all his Lyndon Johnson/Godzilla money on snickerdoodles. I only wonder if we could have gotten something even better.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. Visit our mobile site here.

"Sisters" - Gods (mp3)

"Misled" - Gods (mp3)

 

Tuesday
Jan272015

In Which We Start Our Own Record Company With Money From Drugs

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Can't Touch This

by DICK CHENEY

Empire
creator Lee Daniels & Danny Strong

The moustache of Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) resembles a meaty little caterpillar. He loves his sons. He loves music. He loves a nice mug of cocoa at night. He loves rap music, R & B music. He loves his gay son, his impatient son. He loves his ex-wife Cookie (the completely perfect Taraji P. Henson) and offers her a salary of three million dollars per year after she is freed from her 17-year stay in prison. She demands five.

Other people might have a tough adjustment period after such a lengthy time in jail, but this is no problem at all for Cookie. Every scene she is in fills me with a vigor I have not felt since the early 1950s. Throughout her time in the big house, Cookie focused on the positive side of her incarceration - when it was over, her ex-husband would be giving her three million dollars a year.

A leopard had to die for Cookie to live.

It is unclear whether or not Howard harassed Cookie like he did all his wives IRL, but I would expect he did not, since she only hurls the mildest of insults at his Cayman-Islands-born current squeeze. Back in their early days in Philadelphia, Cookie and Lucius used to sell drugs. Empire depicts these scenes in a grainy flashback where the principals involved are all wearing hats to make them look substantially younger. Empire was already off the rails by its first episode when Howard put a bullet in his bodyguard for daring to refer to him as a thug.

It is unclear why all the super-talented people involved in Empire would want to make such a ridiculous soap. My heroes Lee Daniels, Ilene Chaiken and Timbaland are all heavily involved in Empire, and yet there is not only not a hero of any kind in this ludicrous setting, some of the heroes are murderers.

A party is always 10x better when it takes place on a boat. History proves this.

The actual subject matter of the show is the frighteningly trivial music industry. "This magazine cover makes it seem like they poached him!" Howard squeals about an artist they let go because of irreconcilable differences. It is impressive he is able to focus on business given that a doctor has given him only three years to live, the most unlikely diagnosis in the history of television.

The best thing about Empire is the new musical talent the show introduces, and the numbers they perform. They probably should have made Empire even more of a musical - two or three songs an hour isn't enough with the talent available to Timbaland. The Terrence Howard music videos are perfect in every way from a satirical point of view:

Serayah McNeill and Jussie Smollett as Howard's gay son are both utterly amazing singers and performers, and the rest of the cast is filled with serious talent and ability. It's a shame that Gabourey Sidibe is wasted on the thankless role of Howard's secretary, but at least she is portrayed as capable and intelligent. If you see a bad actor on this show, you can be relatively sure they will be killed off by the end of the episode.

Well, except for Howard's son Hakeem (Bryshere Gray), who is the spoiled one. He never learned how to act, he never visited his mother in jail and he constantly initiates scenes where three or four people in sequence scream "Don't touch me!" All is forgiven though, as his interest in older women means the show will feature deep morning-after conversations between a 20 year old and Macy Gray. I cannot even tell you how long I have been waiting for this.

Terrence Howard's Master Acting Class: "You see, my little white friends, acting is actually just looking bored."

In one scene, Hakeem pulls out his penis in a restaurant. The white patrons are so disgusted that they stand up and leave the premises. As he lectures them about their hypocrisy, he launches into a lengthy, detailed critique of the Obama administration. There are other forms of protest besides walking down the street. Complaining on the internet, for example.

Get it? Do you get it?

One of the best things about Empire is how even in its ridiculousness it displays the full spectrum of how black people are different from one another. Some of the black actors on Empire have Latin American or European backgrounds, others feature different ancestry; many are personal friends of Timbaland, and in a few select cases, Justin Timberlake.

Empire shows how reductive broad labels are in the obvious face of meaningful differences in class, gender and geography. Being African-American is not determinative, it cannot mean only one thing. A single token person can never represent an entire ethnic group, unless that person is Rosie Perez.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

The suspicion that you may actually be drinking Lucius Lyon's urine never leaves you.

“Warriors” – Dawn Richard (mp3 “Projection” – Dawn Richard (mp3)