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Entries in dick cheney (73)

Monday
Nov182013

In Which We Give Everything We Have To Our Robotic Partner

don't believe his lies

Urbane Man

by DICK CHENEY

"Sometimes newer technology isn't better," whines a robot of color shortly before a bunch of cops leap into battle without bulletproof vests. The irony is not only lost on his human partner, detective John Kennex (Karl Urban), there is in fact no irony at all in Fox's new hour long drama Almost Human. It is an impressive achievement considering any depiction of the future, no matter how unimaginative, usually manages a sense of humor about itself. Making a show that pretends to be about tech when it really concerns an absurd fear of it is a dirty trick.

Actually, newer technology is always better. I would say that there is no such thing as a bad robot, but that would only be evidence that this shitbag of a television program exists purely as a lame pun on the name of J.J. Abrams' production company. In the near-future world of Almost Human, the only thing really different is that the architecture is a lot worse, and glass a lot more plentiful. A police station composed entirely of glass might be the dumbest thing I have ever encountered.

guys in the future our tablets will be, get this, HORIZONTALIt is difficult to think of anybody as bad at anything as J.J. Abrams is at everything. Ideally he will be making terrible Star Wars films for decades on end so we don't have to actually see him try to be creative. (Super 8 was the most pathetically patronizing piece of art produced since Saving Private Ryan.) Abrams' "ideas" are only new or interesting to people whose last novel was To Kill A Mockingbird in 8th grade. Which reminds me, that book is racist, but not nearly as racist as Almost Human.

never taking the hashtag off the screen is an oblique commentary about the dangers of technology I suppose, it sucks

The android (Michael Ealy) is actually not really a robot at all. He is surrounded by "newer" versions of himself that, he explains in a glossing over that would make our president proud, cannot draw inferences. Since he is capable of such complex determinations, he may not be human, but he is certainly sentient, and killing him would be murder in any decent society.

Such moral conundrums are the least of your concerns once you realize the android is the only actor with any talent on the entire show.

she left him after she saw his performance in "doom" on cinemax one night
There appears to be no racism of any kind in 2048, except of course discrimination against androids. Gifted with one technology but no others the people of Almost Human appear kinda, somewhat futuristic. Yet all their other methods are not only not advanced, but completely retrograde. There was a Windows commercial during Almost Human that showed off more computing power than in the entire police station on this show.

At one point someone actually says of a police officer exposed to a deadly pathogen, "It's like he has a hundred different diseases at once!" Do you dimwits have any fucking idea how stupid that is?

so in the first episode the villains have a trick that can turn off all the robots. Think about this. OK, stop before your brain breaks.Perhaps, you are stupidly protesting, Almost Human is fun in a silly kind of way. Unfortunately, as I said, there are no jokes in it. Besides that, Karl Urban's detective, meant to be a grizzled compendium of synthetic replacements and anger management issues, enunciates all his lines in a throaty growl that is too difficult to decipher quickly enough to masturbate to its bass. Nor am I convinced that this will be the show to finally break the staid television convention of never showing a robot's penis.

um hey lili ask the tiny little napoleon you sold your soul to if he would give it back after this is canceled

Urban's police captain is portrayed by Lili Taylor. She is three feet shorter than her underling and has to tilt her neck like a door hinge to meet his eyes. The poor woman's dignity seems to ooze into a puddle at her feet. I hope she fed and clothed her memwah-writing husband Nick Flynn with the money J.J. paid her, because otherwise there is little justification for this mashup.

the future: just like now but with considerably worse architecture

Is Almost Human racist? Certainly. Imagining that racial differences would vanish completely in thirty years time is not science fiction, it is fantasy. Convincing yourself these ancient divisions would be replaced by a suspicion of androids is even less likely. Comparing racism to fear of technology on any level is an insult to both concepts.

As bad as Almost Human is, at least it does not attempt to make you care about the protagonist by showing his tender father-daughter relationship with a little girl. J.J. Abrams is simply unimaginative; Harper Lee is an asshole.

"how did you lose your eye, sir?" "I poked it out while watching Revolution obvs"

Getting cheap sympathy for some privileged white dude by having him care about a child is the most loathsome trick in narrative. Well, killing Bambi's mother was pretty bad, but Harper Lee was worse.

I really hope he didn't burn down that cute yogurt shop

One of the only positive things about J.J. Abrams is that you can instantly realize how awful his work is. You don't have to wait until my blog post fifty years after the fact, as with To Kill A Mockingbird. My wife Lynne and I were actually brainstorming a list of things that are terrible only in retrospect. I will share the part of the list that does not concern itself with late 1970s pornographic films:

American Beauty
King Lear (we get it, you were worried about your daughters or something)
Cheers
Brooke Shields
Salvador Dali's paintings
The Secret of NIMH (spoiler, the mice were dead all along)
M. Butterfly
Xbox One/Johnny Carson
Heart of Darkness (this man could not write like, at all, and the whole story makes no sense, I mean, okay, you were mad you had to kill some people, grow up)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Lynne and I can't decide what to call the honor of appearing on this list. We are split between the Margaret Mead Prize For Being Misguided or the Sam Mendes' Marriage Lifetime Achievement award.

ya part of ah famlee now govnah
Time to eat crow: even I have to admit that the writing on The Walking Dead has improved noticeably. By eliminating the program's tedious characters and keeping the ones still capable of meaningful change or development, The Walking Dead feels tighter and less same-y. Last night's episode began to detail what happened to the governor since he massacred his own people, and despite my dead-on balls accurate critique of its manipulative aspects, I watched in rapt attention.

Crucial to the show's improvement has been a kind of warped eroticism. Watching a divorced mother of one blow on a laceration the governor obtained on his forehead was quite stimulating. Later, in the back of a food truck, the relationship was consummated entirely in silence as the Lord intended. You have no idea how relieved I am to be able to watch sex on television without hearing Lizzy Caplan's voice resonating through the entire scene.

the brilliance of this moment can never be dissipated in retrospect

A lot of shows would be worlds better if you killed off major characters, especially if they are portrayed by Karl Urban. Maybe I would be able to watch Mad Men again if Ted Chaough was found in an unmarked grave, for example. It's unfortunate that there is really no way to kill off Sean Hayes from his own show, although maybe his daughter will stick a knife in his neck for lying to her.

The Walking Dead has pressed the same masculine sympathy button a number of times. The men in this world are all mottled, unshaved and derelict; the woman alone have an earthly effervescence that was returned to them after the fall. I don't believe this is supposed to be because they are any better or worse at surviving their lives. The reason for this disjunction lies not in how men are intrinsically, but in how they viewed themselves before the fall. Becoming powerless is not quite as difficult if you never had much of the drug to begin with. Think of how many gay slurs Alec Baldwin would use if he wasn't rich as the day is long.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He last wrote in these pages about Super Fun Night and Mom. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.

"I Couldn't Say It To Your Face" - Ben Sollee (mp3)

"The Last Pale Light In The West" - Ben Nichols (mp3)

 

Tuesday
Nov122013

In Which We Retreat From Several Spurious Accusations

Only A Very Pale White Man

by DICK CHENEY

Guys, Dracula was just a guy. Think about this, I mean, or don't. Dracula was a man just like you were a woman, is what Maureen Dowd says in the mirror on Wednesday mornings. (Every other morning of the week she works out.) NBC's Dracula takes this concept to an illogical extreme.

Affecting a neutral sort of American accent in London society, Dracula (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) was just such a man, and he was not as evil as you had perhaps imagined? I will never I repeat never shit on a hagiography, but we are talking about the King of Death here. Or at least I think that is correct; the decade I read Anne Rice I was mostly on hallucinogenic drugs.

um Dracula people are watching
Rhys Meyers seems a bit cowed or disappointed by the role, drawing his voice into a low hush uttered quickly and concordantly. He has a black manservant named Renfield (Nonso Anozie) who knows of his affliction, and the two have reached some kind of understanding along the lines you might see in a lion and an oversized gazelle.

Resurrected by Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula is apparently a revenge-seeking individual along the lines of a scorned widow. He doesn't enjoy anything, not even murder. He thinks he's a hero: he does not know he is Dracula. What a disappointment.

this is your wifi password sir, here you go

It really doesn't make sense for the Dublin-born Rhys Meyers to do an American accent. I guess they felt the show would otherwise be too British for American television. I have to admit it might be. I mean, I watch Downton Abbey mostly to see what's coming to that murderer Bates, but my wife no longer comprehends a single word Lady Mary says, and she says my replacement Sybil jokes have run their course. You can't properly mock what's already a joke.

Watching Dracula was kind of time-consuming, although I am a categorical supporter of plus-size individuals on television. For example, on Usenet I defended Kirstie Alley long after it was remotely rational to do so. With this in mind, ABC's Super Fun Night reminds me of a lightly pleasant dream.

this is a realistic looking workplace
Rebel Wilson plays a young woman my daughter's age who works at a law firm. It turns out this was the plot twist copied shamelessly from I believe Dallas that the lawyers just crack jokes all day and spend their evenings consorting with her ugly duckling type men. I have never seen a woman so obviously appealing to men portrayed as unlikeable since Tina Fey.

Incidentally, the supposedly tongue-in-cheek way that Mindy Kaling talks self-deprecatingly about her body made my wife cry. I wish I knew how she felt.

stop wearing my pajamas Rebel

In reality, there is no such thing as self-deprecation, only self-hatred. Ms. Wilson's appeal echoes beyond that through an inner vivacity the world has not yet been able to rip from her. Her charm and comedy consists of a certain misplaced faith in a mix of the wrong and right things.

Taste is arbitrary, and repeating that maxim to myself is the only way I can read Talking Points Memo. You have to know the enemy, or better, know yourself. Wilson's character Kimmie Boubier has no clue of either, so Super Fun Night feels as dazzlingly unfinished as she does.

"Honey, were you feeling typecast in roles where you portray a former Playboy bunny? Because that happened to me."
Lynne prefers smaller quarry. Anna Faris stars in Mom with Allison Janney, who plays her mother. Faris' waitress character has a daughter and son of her own. No word on whether she signed up for health care, outside of the grotesque rants presented after each episode by the show's ancient creator Chuck Lorre.

Faris' lips form a strange and wacky inculcation. Janney looks fantastic for her age, the lowest compliment you can give a woman, and doesn't convincingly channel a mothering instinct. It's obvious she cares for her daughter, but in such a counterproductive way that I do not find it so comedic.

Chuck Lorre allowed a person of color on one of his television shows, fantastic
Both women are recovering alcoholics. For two women who frequently describe their wild pasts, the two are remarkably prude in sexual matters, to be disgusted by such simple notions as they are willing to discuss openly. It's a vagina, not a dark, undiscoverable place that can't be named aloud.

Faris' daughter Violet (Sadie Calvano) becomes pregnant herself and chooses not to abort the child. Very little is said about her decision, and she quickly separates her acquaintance with the baby's father and his religious family.

French Stewart deserved better, actually no he didn't nevermind

Faris begins intercourse with her married boss (Nate Corddy), a development so unlikely the two never touch onscreen except once. She breaks up with him partly for his rigidity and partly out of boredom. She tells a city engineer (Justin Long) that the stop sign he designed is very interesting, but she does not wholly believe it, and gives up on him too. Something about Faris makes all of this a bit more human than I have just described.

That show where Karl Urban is pals with a black robot looks like utter shit.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in an undisclosed location and the former vice president of the United States of America. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. He last wrote in these pages about the end of Breaking Bad.

"our robots must have more wrinkles! begin!"

"Before We Run" - Yo La Tengo (mp3)

"I Saw The Light" - Yo La Tengo (mp3)

The latest album from Yo La Tengo is entitled Fade.

Monday
Sep302013

In Which Why Does It Feel Like My Feet Can't Leave The Ground

Onwards and Upwards

by DICK CHENEY

Breaking Bad
creator Vince Gilligan

It was about halfway into the series finale of Breaking Bad when I started thinking about a conversation I once had with Gordon Libby. He was like, "I'm really tired of everyone on television being a criminal I can't empathize with." I just looked at him and sipped a mai tai. These fucking people.

You know the type of individual who goes around saying, "I don't know why everyone is so into Breaking Bad, why are they always saying I should watch it; I am content with Vuillard's The Stevedores and the complex moral cinema of Eric Rohmer..." I forgive this sort of person everything, because it is the American way to use your own ingenuity to make yourself look better, feel better, seem better.

is this the AARP? You...wield too much political power, sir.Throughout this last episode, all of the people Walt met told him, "You look like hell." The irony was that he never looked better; as a criminal mastermind the stress lines looked like they were about to split his face. Standing in front of his wife as God intended, he looked super beautiful and charismatic.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think they knew Walt very well, at least not how I knew him.

There's only one day left in Subway's $5 dollar footlong promotion, Skyler. I must be going.
The most emotional scene from last night's Breaking Bad finale was Walt's conversation with his wife, because he lied to her. He said he cooked meth because it made him feel alive. This was complete and utter bullshit, a master class in telling her what she wanted to hear. In the final analysis, Walt was able to forgive these people who did nothing but profit from his own acumen.

I don't know what Walt did that was supposed to be so bad. I guess people think cooking a drug for others to enjoy is wrong. I don't where they learned this. Everyone he killed, he had a damn good reason to do so, especially Mike. That fuck Mike.

no one knew how to hibernate quite like this woman

Simple things you could learn in any basic chemistry course. We don't have any of that ingenuity, it's all fabricated in factories across an ocean. That's where things are made, at great cost but with great benefits for those who risk it. Every day Flynn went to school, Lewis drove him. I never found out why it's dangerous to drive a car with only one foot, there wasn't some shit-for-a-head AMC half shaven twitter handle to explain it to me then after the show was over.

as unhappy as every other unpaid intern

For years Walt and Jesse never had sex, or had sex so infrequently they never mentioned to it anyone. Watching Walt stroll around Gretchen and Elliott's palatial estate, it reminds you what a monk he really is. As the poet said, "I have sacrificed everything, including sex and woman, or lost them, to this attempt to acquire complete concentration."

Watching the scarred Jesse Pinkman sail into the sunset, I couldn't help but think of all that was given him. He had no purpose in life; now he feels happier than any man who ever lived.

shocked there wasn't a last visit to marie, at least send a gift basket, maybe some prunes and a reminder she's a shoplifter
Entitlement festers and grows. Gretchen and Elliott only lock a part of their house. Fear is divided routinely by windowpanes, support beams. Cutting something up reduces its power, of course. The simple shattered presence of a man they know is enough to frighten them. Can you imagine these people storming the beaches of Normandy? (As a side note, I found the character of Elliott to be bracingly anti-Semitic and I have written a letter to Vince Gilligan strongly expressing my disapproval of this meme.)

gretchen, you lie to charlie rose and this is what happens, ask his interns
And it's easy to survive a gunshot wound, especially if you're pretty sure one might be coming. A spin-off would just ruin this.

We could have forgiven almost any choice that Walter White made, because we knew it was up to him and not ourselves. This is a teaching moment, because children are not taught a theory of forgiveness, they are taught a theory of punishment. Forgiveness faded from the whorl roughly the same time that AOL merged with Time Warner. It re-emerged for me the first time I killed a dictator I could only see on a video screen. Monsters deserve death, but only some crimes make a person one, not all. (Like Walt, the last person I forgave was myself.)

dividing lines GET IT
I have to admit I did instruct people to watch Breaking Bad, and when I did so, I managed a certain unctuous tone in my voice. The tone of voice I used to tell them to view this experience was identical to Todd's admonition to his progenitor - "You shouldn't have come back here, Mr. White" - in every way but one: my admonition was sincere.

I do not expect people to always do what I ask, but they do need to know that I ask it for a good reason. It is because I love them and I want them to be happy.

This tone of voice was also meant to convey that by following through with my request, they would attain something divine for themselves, provided they fast forwarded past all the office scenes where Skyler flirted with Ted. (Those were gross.) When I watched Breaking Bad, I thought of those individuals I told, and whether they were thinking what I was as I watched, or thinking of me at all. Sometimes, but only sometimes, I miss her.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in an undisclosed location and the former vice president of the United States of America. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. He last wrote in these pages about the fourth season of Downton Abbey

"UFO" - One Eskimo (mp3)

"Alvar" - Goldfrapp (mp3)

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