Her next book after Ghost Soldiers is a biography of Jesse James by T. J. Stiles. Then, she’ll move back into fiction with Kate Walbert’s A Short History of Women. With any luck, she’ll get to Walbert’s book just in time for the elections.

She watched all three debates. This last one was potent: there was one certifiable meltdown. When a man says live, on camera, to an audience of millions, that his opponent is “a nasty woman,” you can forget everything he said earlier about respecting women. He could have said “a nasty person.” But he said: nasty woman. As if her gender made it even more nasty (And you, sir, are a nasty man!)

Someone tweeted that he thought it would be a good idea to re-name all public restrooms to read: BAD HOMBRES and NASTY WOMEN.

All those in favor, say “Aye!”

Anyhoo, Back to Ghost Soldiers. The raid to free the American POWs in Cabanatuan has a very surreal quality. First of all, the POWs do not seem impressed by the American Rangers who’ve just arrived to rescue them, and are reluctant to leave the camp. Quite a few of them have to be actually kicked in the rear end because the Rangers are on a very tight program.

After the camp is completely emptied, the leader of the raid does a last check of each and every barrack. He’s all alone. Satisfied that the Americans haven’t missed a single POW, he fires a flare into the sky, visible for miles, to signal the end of the mission.

But they do leave one man behind. A British POW who’d gone deaf, who was using a latrine, who didn’t come out until everyone — Rangers AND POWs had left. The operation had to have taken at least an hour, so — the man was constipated?

There is also an American Ranger who is shot by one of his own men (by accident), from point-blank range. And this Ranger can’t stop saying, to his last breath, “By my own men. By my own men.” The men around him try to comfort him by assuring him that he was shot by a Japanese, but he refuses to believe it and just keeps repeating, in absolute horror, “By my own men.” Until he dies.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Elevator Scenes: Black-ish

Self watched The Emmys this year. Surely anyone watching would have heard about Black-ish.

She just stumbled on it tonight. There are two scenes in tonight’s episode that were so on-point, and both of them take place in an elevator.

Elevator Scene # 1:

There’s Anthony Anderson (She’ll insert his character name here as soon as she googles) about to step into an elevator. The elevator doors part, and here is a moment: there’s a little white kid in there, all alone. The kid has blonde ringlets. She looks like Shirley Temple. Her eyes are swollen from crying.

Anthony Anderson looks at her. He just looks at her. And in that moment, self knew exactly what he was thinking: He cannot, simply cannot, be laying his hands on a white child he doesn’t know.

While he stands there completely immobilized, the elevator doors close on the weeping child.

Elevator Scene No. 2:

Anthony Anderson and two colleagues stand in an elevator. The lone woman with them in the elevator car is white. She’s on her cell. She says, into her phone: My Visa Number is: xxxx-xxxx-xxxx, not giving a hoot about anyone else in the elevator. Anderson and his friends exchange looks behind her back.

White woman goes on to say: I’m single. And I live alone. Oh, don’t worry. The security cams don’t work. That’s just for show.

And by this time, the three men in the elevator are exchanging serious freak-out looks? Cause all three are African American.

Self was so LMAO! ROFL! LOL!

So good.

Stay tuned.

American Horror Story: Evan Peters

When self was in London, this past summer, she walked all the way from Russell Square to the Odeon on Shaftesbury just to see X-Men: Apocalypse. And about halfway through, Quicksilver appeared. And then self remembered his scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

A week later, she was in Oxford. And her hotel was right across the street from a movie theatre. She had time to see the Bodleian but not the Ashmolean. And she even got to see X-Men: Apocalypse again. And all because of Evan Peters.

By now self knows he’s a regular on American Horror Story. But she is such a fraidy cat, she never risked watching a single episode. Until today.

What else to do on a beautiful Saturday afternoon? She decided to watch American Horror Story. She scanned, episode by episode, until she got to one called “Coven,” which she thinks was either in Season 2 or Season 3.

The opening credits were a compendium of scary sights. But self was able to endure.

TRIGGER WARNING: Some Not-So-Nice Things, i.e. Horror, Depravity, Sexual Deviation and — need self say more?

Jessica Lange appeared, all floozy and wrecked. Then Emma Roberts appeared, in trashy faux-fur and miniskirt, side-eyeing a shirtless next-door neighbor. Then Evan Peters appeared, blonde. In flannel shirt. On a bed. Next to a blonde who looked significantly older.

Then it appeared that his head had at one time been separated from his torso. Not only his head, but also his arms. Everything was still healing, but there were a lot of sutures.

Then, a younger blonde appeared, rescued Evan Peters, and returned him to his mama, an awfully decrepit-looking Mare Winningham (She had a stud on her chin. Way to go, Big Mare Mama!). Then Evan’s Mama began to kiss him on the mouth. It took some time before self realized that the writers of this show were indeed going to go there — Holy Cow! This is one crazy show! So depraved (by American TV standards, that is)! She loved it, just loved it!

Apparently, every single oddball character actress in America is in this show. Aside from the aforementioned Jessica Lange, Mare Winningham, and Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates is in it.

Characters are all kinds of deviants. Huh!

It was getting dark and self was getting major creepy vibes, so she stopped watching after just two episodes. But, kudos to the writers and producers for putting such wickedly anarchic stuff on American television. And for keeping it up for six seasons.

Stay tuned.

Jill Lepore on the State of Debate: The New Yorker, 19 September 2016

How to argue is something people are taught. You learn it by watching other people, at the breakfast table, or in school, or on TV, or, lately, online. It’s something you can get better at, with practice, or worse at, by imitating people who do it badly.

— Jill Lepore, “The State of Debate,” in The New Yorker, 19 September 2016

Self begs to differ. She actually doesn’t think people can improve their debating skills by watching other people.

She also thinks that the rules of debate are rendered bizarrely unimportant when the debate is being televised. Because, whether consciously or subconsciously, the debaters will start to “perform.” Of course they are not their true selves. Hello! It’s like Judge Lance Ito in the OJ trial — he was a judge but he was sort of being a certain kind of judge. You cannot tell self that television did not influence his behavior: it could have gone two ways: Ito could have been a little more spontaneous, perhaps to get more of an emotional rise out of the crowd. Or he could have become more “judge-y” — projected more of what television viewers might expect to see from a judge. Self thinks Ito took the second route, and the one who paid was Marcia Clark.

The ones who get better at debate are the ones who see some sort of advantage accruing to themselves as a result of being better (more argumentative) people. The people who see absolutely no point to debate will continue to do their own thing in their peaceful little corners of the world.

When a committed debater meets another committed debater, the debate ceases being about words. It becomes a power grab.

It’s such an empty enterprise, really. All bells and whistles and see-who’s-paying-attention. Especially when it’s conducted for television.

Just self’s two cents.

(Self, when did you get so cynical? Dunno. Mebbe from watching/observing from the sidelines for so long?)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Ripper Street: Love

Trigger Warning: Gore. Lots and lots of gore.

Wounds don’t just bleed, they suppurate. Blood comes out in great gouts from cheeks, throats, everywhere.

And there is also one terrific love story.

It may be the final season, but there are five seasons to binge-watch.


Stay tuned.

Actually a Very Good Question

Self has been browsing movie reviews, and binge-watching Ripper Street, and tweeting with fans about it, and beginning yet another fan fiction, which she needs like a hole in the head, but this one’s irresistible, this one’s got a Really Really Dark Peeta, a Peeta who just might be a murderer! Like Jack the Ripper! . . . Sorry! Back to the reason for this post.

From Critic After Dark’s review of The Shallows (which self saw aaaaages ago, at the start of the summer — feels like a lifetime!) starring Blake Lively, whose legs are so on point self can’t even:

Then of course death crashes the party in the form of a humpback whale carcass. Clever way to account for the Great White cruising nearby (otherwise it’s a bit of a puzzler why the shark — which habituates the waters of California, Northeast United States, South Africa and Australia — is hanging around a Mexican beach) but also raises a whole other question: why forego this tasty, properly wet-aged all-you-can-eat buffet of rich blubber and tender meat for a bony surfer who would hardly make up a satisfying snack?

In answer to which self wishes she could insert a hundred “shrug” emojis!

And self  has a question of her own for reviewer Noel Vera: How does he know the carcass is that of a humpback whale? Because it literally is half gone. So there is no possible way to determine whether it really does have a humped back. Har, har, har! Sorry, self just couldn’t resist making a lame joke.

Self will close with a list of the summer 2016 movies she most enjoyed:

  • The Shallows
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Our Kind of Traitor
  • CafĂ© Society
  • Love & Friendship
  • Ghostbusters
  • Bad Moms

Oh, summer. Self can’t believe it’s almost over.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Jamie Dornan, Who Knew?

Since self broke the ice by mentioning Jamie Dornan in her previous post, she’s decided she might as well go whole-hog and discuss the Jamie. Specifically, the Jamie Dornan in “The Fall.”

(She hasn’t seen “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Only seen huge black-and-white photos of Jamie’s back — he has very nice shoulders — on the sides of buildings in London’s South Bank, summer 2015. Which was enough to send her rocketing to the nearest bookstore to purchase a copy of The Grey. Which she ended up giving away to someone because she couldn’t get past the first 10 pages)

Self has just finished watching all the episodes of “The Fall,” Gillian Anderson’s come-back role as a detective. Gillian plays a sexy, high-heel wearing, sultry detective named Stella. Couldn’t be farther from her X-Files character.

In “The Fall,” she deliberately leaves her top dangerously unbuttoned for press interviews, wears nail polish in the killer’s favorite shade of red (Self is not kidding!) and in general behaves in very un-Scully fashion. Which would make the whole thing ludicrous were it not for the fact that — yes, we do want to see Jamie Dornan come out from hiding! We do! We do! We do!

(No spoilers here. The identity of the serial killer is revealed to the viewer from the start. It’s all a matter of when Stella & cohorts will finally be able to put two and two together and catch him before he kills again)

Jamie’s character is named (of all things), Spector. As in Spectator. Get it?

Stella sleeps with everyone — fellow detectives, bosses. Even the young Merlin detective (Self means, the young boy who plays Merlin in the TV series). From this we are expected to infer (Seriously?) that the sexual predator played by Jamie Dornan would find her attractive. But Stella’s sex life is the weakest part of the series, at least it is in self’s humble opinion.

Coming clean, “The Fall” is the first time self has ever enjoyed looking so much at Jamie Dornan’s face. It’s hidden behind a full beard but it’s the emotionally distant look that makes him so, so magnetic.

There’s one moment where he has a victim completely at his mercy, and he removes his face mask. For the first time, the woman sees his face. It’s a very pretty face but it’s such an awful moment because you realize (as does the young woman) that the showing of the face means that he’s not afraid to be ID’d. He’s going to kill her.


Self will say no more. Watch “The Fall” on Netflix. (Was this guy nominated for an Emmy for his performance? Should have been)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



Once Upon a Time in Manila

At the wedding of a good friend in Manila, ages and ages ago, self was seated at a table next to the table of the newlyweds, and found herself being introduced to members of the groom’s family. The younger sister of the groom was a lively, sparkling, intelligent and pretty girl, studying in either Harvard or MIT or any way one of the more prestigious schools in Boston, definitely not a nerd, and she was absolutely great. Self’s first thought was: “This girl would make an excellent date for one of my brothers. I’m going to set them up.”

After many, many back-and-forth messages, which took a huge chunk out of self’s limited time, the blind date was arranged. While this monumental event was being staged, self had a vague thought that the process was complicated. But she was valiant in her resolve to get her brother to go out with this wonderful girl. She would show how self-sacrificing she was! She would show what a benevolent older sister she was! She would never give up! Never!

After the date, self’s brother returned home in a terrible mood. Self means A REALLY REALLY TERRIBLE MOOD. He growled: I thought you said she was pretty.

She was! The only word self can think of to describe her is “spabilada.”

Self’s brother said: “She wore glasses. She was wearing a jumpsuit.”

The image of a jump-suited girl with glasses was truly horrible. Self thought she would die of embarrassment. Plus: All that work — for nothing! The whole situation was like Cinderella in reverse.

As Jamie Dornan’s character the serial killer in the police procedural “The Fall” would go: What? What? What?

Self can’t even.

Speaking of “The Fall” (Self knows: this is a terrible digression), Jamie Dornan makes such a good serial killer. His day job is working as a grief counselor, and it’s absolutely perfect because he can scope out the most vulnerable women, meet with them, and during the guise of counseling, get them to reveal things about themselves that he wouldn’t otherwise get to know. He also does this most outrageous thing, which self has never seen any other serial killer in movies or television do, and that is: when he is chastised for going to a woman’s home, he just mimics everything his superintendent says to him. For instance:

Superintendent: What do you think you are doing?

Serial K: What do you think you are doing?

Superintendent: Do you realize the seriousness?

Serial K: Do you realize the seriousness?

Superintendent: Why did you go to the client’s home?

Serial K: Why did you go to the client’s home?

Almost the whole way through, Serial Killer Jamie does this, and his boss can do nothing but stare. Self knows what the boss is thinking: Has this man gone absolutely bonkers?

Well, of course he has! Don’t just sit there! Do something!

But of course the boss does nothing. Because he is so confused.

Who wrote this screenplay? Self would like to shake her/his hand!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Olympics Coverage: Monday, 8 August 2016

Forget Gisele. What everyone watching the Olympics Opening Ceremony wants to know is: Who was the Tongan guy?

Did you see the US Swim team take the gold in the Relay?

Who was the Tongan guy? What was that on his body making his skin shine? Some extra-special high-gloss coconut oil?

Who was the Tongan guy? Close-ups, please!

He’s competing in Tae-kwon-do. When’s that event? Are they going to televise it? What time?

Who was the Tongan guy?

All over the morning news shows, dear blog readers.


Stay tuned.

Fandango & Rotten Tomatoes Disagree Over “Suicide Squad”

Since self is so confused by the Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes and the 4 1/2 stars on Fandango, she goes straight to

It’s massive, messy, and noisy. And it stinks.

She notices Joel Kinnaman is in the cast. She almost forgot because of all the attention Margot Robbie was getting.

Then she feels sad because she remembers Kinnaman was with Mireille Enos in the dark detective series The Killing. And she really, really liked him there.

She heard over the grapevine that Suicide Squad advocates (Who?) are so incensed by the movie’s low rating on Rotten Tomatoes that they’re calling for the shut-down of the website.


Too funny.

Wow, is it really going to get down to that?

This is going to be fun.

Which reminds her: Aubrey Plaza is a great and witty actress but she is used so poorly in Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates that self can’t even. It’s really crass, but crass in a way that made her feel sorry for Plaza. (Anna Kendrick’s in the movie, too, but there is a little more respect shown for her character. Mebbe because she’s a bigger star?)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


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