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Keeping up with Jeanne Tripplehorn

I always thought Jeanne was treated so badly in Basic Instinct.  The second most memorable scene from that movie is when Michael Douglas violently throws her over the end of the sofa and sodomizes her after his notorious interrogation of Catherine Trammell, played by Sharon Stone.  I don't think this movie would make it past the PC censors today and for good reason.  It has few if any redeeming qualities.

Jeanne wasn't treated quite as badly in Waterworld, but still was forced to wear a skimpy little piece of cloth as she gets tossed between Kevin Costner and Dennis Hopper. She was given mostly throw away lines in a movie that imagined a flooded earth and Kevin as some kind of latter-day Aquaman.   It was the little girl that ultimately held the map to landfall, which these pirates coveted.  It was literally etched on her back.

I don't know how she feels about these roles.  You can't make something out of nothing, as Thandie Newton recently recalled about her role in …
... and you thought Mike Judge really went out on a limb in Idiocracy?  In this crazy, upside-down world literally anything is possible, even the prospect of Kanye West sitting in the Oval Office, only this time behind the desk.  If the Donald can do it, anyone can!

We have four long months until the general election and things had been getting kind of boring.  Our billionaire rapper wasn't content to sit on the sidelines in 2020, watching the poll numbers of his "father figure" tank.  While most just consider this a blatant promotional campaign, some political pundits appear to be genuinely worried he can pull votes away from Joe Biden, especially after Elon Musk offered an endorsement of sorts.

Kanye represents one half of a billionaire power couple that has a lot of social influence, but will it translate into votes?  Of course, no one thought the Donald would get any further than the first primary and look who ended up sitting in the White House.  It seems Kanye, li…

Symbols of Hate

It is really hard to convey to my friends in Lithuania why these Confederate statues spark so much outrage.  Aren't they a part of history, one of my friends asked?  So too were the Soviet statues but I don't see very many of them around anymore.  Still, they find this wanton vandalism a little hard to accept.

We seem to be having a watershed moment, in which not only the United States but countries all over the world are coming to terms with their painful past.  This occurred in the late 1980s in the Soviet Union when Mikhail Gorbachev unwittingly opened up a Pandora's box of emotions that led to the dissolution of this socialist behemoth.  Lithuania was literally the mouse that roared when it tore down a statue of Lenin in the center of Vilnius, after the Soviets had been forced to leave the newly independent country.

A similar event took place in New York City almost 250 years ago when the United States declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776.  The Statue …

When They See Us

I tried to watch the Netflix series the other night, but it was too painful to see these kids rounded up, interrogated and forced into confessions of the rape of a young white woman jogging through Central Park at night.  The boys had supposedly been "wilding," in which they joined a throng of other black teens from the Upper West Side and drifted through the top end of the park, roughing up a couple of bicyclists and some school teacher who ended up in the hospital with head wounds.  They were no where near the proximity of the rape victim, but that didn't stop a prosecutor determined to find suspects to fit the crime.  The police obliged by extorting confessions out of five boys, all but one under 16, who at worst were simply part of the gang of kids.  Nothing suggested they took part in any of the assaults, much less the rape that left the young white woman clinging to her life in a hospital.

The story is well known as the boys were eventually cleared of the crime, b…

Open Beach

For the past three decades Vilnius has been emerging from its post-Soviet slumber to become a contemporary European city.  In recent months, the city has garnered international attention.  First, by creating a Drive-in movie theater at the closed airport in April, where it cleverly staged its Spring film festival.  Second, by announcing that it would give restaurants and bars free space in the downtown by closing off several streets and opening up its plazas to create the largest open-air cafe in Europe.  It took a while for this to happen as the weather wasn't cooperating, but now in the heat of summer thousands of young people have turned the downtown into a lively urban center once again.

However, the mayor appears to have taken this transformation a step too far by creating an "Open Beach" in the historic Lukiškės Square, internationally famous for the toppling of the Lenin statue after the country declared its independence back in 1990.  The park had been a dead sp…

Speedway

Honestly, I think it hurts Southern rednecks more to see their beloved NASCAR taken over by political correctness than it does seeing their revered Confederate statues being torn down.  While the noose in Bubba Wallace's garage turned out to be left over from last October, the sentiment lurked in the shadows.  Many Southern fans hold Bubba personally responsible for having their Dixie flags banned from racetracks.  As a result, all the NASCAR drivers walked with Bubba as he took the pole position at Talladega last weekend.  This is one of the signature racetracks on the circuit, and not surprisingly some person still found a clever way to fly a Dixie flag about the track.

Stock car racing holds a special place in the Southern heart. There's nothing rednecks loved more than to beef up their cars and try them out on dirt racetracks all around the South.  Elvis made the sport famous in Speedway.  He was an avid racer himself.  Oddly enough no Dixie flags in the movie.  That woul…

Juneteenth

I started reading Juneteenth this week but haven't gotten very far yet.  Not that it is a hard book to read.  It just wasn't what I expected.  For some reason, I had gotten it into my head that it was about the Tulsa massacre of 1921, but the story is set in the 1950s with a huge Black minister leading members of his Arkansas congregation to Washington to confront a Senator who had turned his back on his Southern origins and was now vehemently racist in his beliefs.  The senator is gunned down during a speech, in which he suffers from hallucinations throughout.  As he lies on his hospital bed, he calls for the Black minister, much to the surprise of everyone, and we start to learn the relationship between the two men that stretched back to the 1920s.

Essentially, the novel is about what Juneteenth meant to Ellison.  He wrote copiously on the theme for many years but never could quite finish the book.  It lay in over 2000 pages upon his death in 1994, and an editor, John Calla…

I didn't vote for Raz

Fox and other conservative news outlets have gone out of their way to paint the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, better known as CHAZ, as an urban war zone that has descended into chaos, violence and extortion, led by the notorious Raz Simone, who now has his very own wiki page.  No one from their news crew has bothered to visit the district, I guess fearing what might happen to their Fox news truck if it tried to pull into the cop-free zone.  It they had they might find out it has been little more than a block party to this point with little or no harm inflicted on anyone, except maybe the ego of the Seattle police chief who was asked to vacant the east precinct office by order of the mayor to avoid any further conflict.  For now, the mayor is content to let the situation play out with the hope that local residents will eventually give up their "autonomous" status without a fight.

Anyone who knows Seattle knows that this has been the den of many of the protests that have rock…

Frankly, Ivanka, I don't give a damn

I've noticed the term "cancel culture" being thrown around a lot recently.  An upset Ivanka claimed to be a victim  when the Wichita State University President decided to cancel her commencement speech at this year's graduation ceremony.  He's now under heavy fire from the school's board, which has received a sizable amount of money from conservative donors like Charles Koch, who probably suggested her in the first place.

Tom Cotton went on for 10 grueling minutes on the Senate floor, claiming the Democrats were engaging in "cancel culture" in the wake of the George Floyd protests, whereby they were giving countenance to the vandalism of statues and the desecration of our democratic values, with Maoist and Jacobin references thrown in for good measure.  It's enough to make you barf, but he has an audience that licks this vomit up.

I suppose you could argue that the first daughter's cancellation is a product of cancel culture as the universi…

The Black Friend

One of the challenges I saw recently on facebook was to post a picture of yourself with a black friend to show solidarity for Black Lives Matter.  Sad to say, I don't currently have any black friends in Lithuania, or for that matter on facebook, to share in this challenge.  The last black friend I had was a Nigerian-American professor at the International School of Management, when it first opened up here in Vilnius.  His name was Abel and we would get together from time to time but he returned to the US and we never kept in contact.

I was thinking about him when I saw the Black Lives Matter march in Vilnius yesterday.  There were a handful of black persons in the march.  LRT interviewed a young black woman from Nigeria, who was happy to see the outpouring of support as she said she has experienced a number of microaggressions as a student in Kaunas.  These acts of solidarity do make you feel more welcome as a minority.

Not all Lithuanians were happy about it.  I saw on facebook …

Turn off the lights

As our nation descends into chaos, the indelible image will be a shuttered White House with the president hidden deep underground in a bunker.  For those hip to recent horror movies, the scenes playing out on the streets of our nation's major cities look an awful lot like The Purge, only this time cops have been allowed to join in the action.  Not all, mind you, some policemen have shown their solidarity with the protesters, but unfortunately when night falls these peaceful demonstrations have turned into riots.

No one knows for sure quite what is going on.  Conservatives are convinced it is the notorious Antifa at work, but surveillance footage has shown that many of these vandals and looters are white and arrests have further shown that some of these "bad actors" are white supremacists who came to these cities hoping to stir up trouble. 

Meanwhile, Twitter has been closing down accounts set up by known white supremacist groups posing as Antifa, hoping to create furthe…

Up, Up and Away!

My first impression of Launch America was whether SpaceX cribbed the logo from Giorgio Armani?  Even the nifty space suits looked like something the Italian fashion designer would come up with.  Everything about the sleek Falcon spacecraft looked like it had been lifted from contemporary Italian design.  Yet, for all its cutting edge look, there is nothing new under the hood. This is a typical rocket that used stages to thrust its spacecraft into orbit.  The only difference is that the fuselage is recoverable, something NASA never worried about before.

This is supposed to save big bucks yet NASA paid $2.5 billion for this launch, roughly 30 times what it has been paying Russia to ferry its astronauts to the International Space Station.  That's a yuge price to be able to say we don't need you anymore.  Yet, we see both the President and Elon Musk gloating over the "historic launch."   The only thing historic was the fact NASA contracted the launch to a private Americ…

One final thing I have to do ...

In 2012, Vertigo climbed to the top of the Sight and Sound Poll as the greatest movie of all time, thanks to the largest sampling of film critics ever taken.  That's a climb even more impressive than Scottie Ferguson in the closing scene of the movie.

Hitch employed a great number of tricks, starting with a classic misdirection.  We are led to believe he is going to follow up on the success of Rear Window, replacing Lisa with Midge in a playful apartment scene very reminiscent of what we had seen before.  Jimmy Stewart is the constant between the two films.  He is now "Scottie" Ferguson, a retired police detective recovering from a nasty fall he took when he couldn't quite make the jump between two buildings in the opening scene.  But, unlike the invalid he played before, Scottie has pretty much recovered and is ready for action.

No sooner do we get to know Midge than Hitch introduces us to Madeleine through a long lost friend of Scottie, who is now managing a shipp…