Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Category: Humor and Weird Wilson-isms Page 1 of 20

In the spirit of her full-length book “Laughing through Life” that featured humorous stories of child-rearing and general life, Connie has written humor columns for a variety of newspapers, which Erma Bombeck’s widower described as being very much like her columns when presented with a book at an Ohio writing festival.

Facebook Can Be As Horrific As Twitter

Social media is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I clicked on a “Daily Mail” article on my Facebook page, which took me to a page where a picture of Dick Van Dyke appeared. This was a picture of the 96-year-old actor and his 50-year-old wife. The ones I have seen of Dick and his wife all dressed up for things like the Kennedy Center Honors have been quite flattering, but this photo was a candid shot of the former song-and-dance man dressed casually and apparently about to enter a car with his young wife. He was bent over, his concave chest exposed, and he had a gigantic full beard that resembled David Letterman’s. In other words, it was not a flattering picture, when compared to many others.

Someone had posted this unflattering photo and said, “Dick Van Dyke is 96. Doesn’t he look great?”

My entire remark/comment was, “Define ‘great.’” And so it begins.

I was being entirely serious about wanting to hear why the poster would find this photo so “great.”

Soon, a woman who claimed to be a nurse at the National Health Service in the United Kingdom wrote, “Be kind.”

I was legitimately confused as to how asking the simple question “Define ‘great’” was not being “kind.” The kind thing to have done would have been to select a more flattering photo of the duo—probably one where they were dressed up for an evening event and knew their photo was going to be taken. Of course, the full beard was a bad look for Dick, just as it is for David Letterman. [Some other comments below my own noted this.]

I sent the woman who had done the “Be Kind” posting this remark:
“Wow! Such snark! I would have liked the person originally making the comment to specifically say what they felt was ‘great’ about the Dick Van Dyke photo. He looks much more bent over than in the photos I have seen of him in the recent past, and the beard is not a good look. He does not look ‘great,’ nor do most people at age 96, which I think was your snarky message to me, a person you don’t even know in the midst of cancer treatments. YOU ‘be kind.’ Geez.

I added, “I’d unfriend you but you’re not my friend in the first place.”’

The “Kind” lady responded: “Don’t pull the I’m going through cancer treatment as a reason to be a cow, Sweetie. Get a grip and get on with your life.”

WendyMe: “I asked a legitimate question. YOU are the one being ‘unkind.” I think the photo was a poor one for Dick Van Dyke.”
I added, “Why don’t you go have a stiff drink instead of behaving like a name-calling low life.”

Ms. Poole reacted with 4 smiley face emojis and the words, “You need help, Love.”

I responded, “Yes, trolls like you are out there trying to pick fights with others whom they do not even know.”

Our “kind” nurse then said: “Don’t make comments if you can’t take the criticism. Brave over a message, aren’t you?”

Me: “It was a simple inquiry into why that particular photo, which is very bad of Dick Van Dyke, was termed ‘great’ by the poster.”

Our kind nurse responded: “Go away, you ridiculous woman.” (UPDATE: On a different blog, tonight, 5/20/2022), the “Be kind” woman denies being a nurse or saying that she worked for the National Health Service. I do realize that the NHS probably has office workers, as well, so take your pick, but I quoted her back to her from my own copy of the exchange, which was mostly her being horrific to me. I purposely avoided using any profanity and—aside from the remark about her foot in the blocking door—chose to ignore commenting on some truly comment-worthy photos that make my pose on the steps of the AMC in Chicago at the Film Festival look like Cannes this week.)

Me: “YOU are the ‘unkind’ one who inferred otherwise. I asked for clarification. That photo was NOT a good pic of Dick Van Dyke. If you think it was, I would hate to see your wedding photos.” (Actually, only engagement photos and only from 2021, but verry comment worthy, had I chosen to go there.)

The “kind” nurse then called me “an absolute tool,” but typed it as “toof.”
I responded, “ Toof. Define ‘toof.’ (lol)”
Kind Nurse: “TOOL. Learn to read.”
Me: “Yeah. Right. I’ve written 50 books, Sweetheart. And I taught reading. So, wrong insult.”
Kind Nurse: “And yet you are unable to read.” (*Owned and operated a Sylvan Learning Center for Reading and other improvement for  close to 20 years and taught reading at the junior high school level for 18 years before that. In other words, like Trumpists, an insult with no basis in fact whatsoever.)
Me: “You are a strange person who goes around telling complete strangers to be a ‘kind’ person because they ask for clarification. I am very able to read and to block, both of which I have done. Not sure how long it takes to kick in but hopefully sooner rather than later. My remark was very benign. Look it up. Yours was very snotty and snarky. And, yes, you are attacking a person with stress from recent cancer diagnosis, so give yourself a medal for what a huge bitch one would have to be to do that.”
Kind Nurse: “Clearly I’m living rent-free in your head as you keep trying to justify yourself. For someone who teaches reading and writes books your punctuation is shocking. Guess you have to have someone proofread for you.” (*Everyone who writes has proofreaders. I am often that proofreader for others. After stints at 5 colleges, my proofreading is not in question, but my typing in a white heat probably was.)
Me: “Glad to see you’re engaged, at least. Close in age to Dick Van Dyke, are you? That last remark was so amusing I almost laughed. You and Dick would make a handsome pair.”
Kind Nurse: “You need to get back on your medication, dear. Clearly off your trolley.” (*As a cancer survivor, I take 8 pills a night, none of them having to do with mental health,all of them having to do with staying alive and getting well.)
Me: “All I asked for was clarification about what the person meant by the term ‘great.’ That was a horrible picture of Dick Van Dyke. Your calling me a “cow” simply seems to mean “takes one to know one” judging from your photo.” (*OK…I couldn’t stop myself after seeing this person’s photos, which were underwhelming. My bad. Apologies all around, but I definitely was the restrained one.)
Kind Nurse: “There are horrible photos of you in your leopard print, but we didn’t comment on that, did we?” She added that my outfit was “monstrous.” [Outfit is brown fabric with gold overlay and not a leopard in sight. It’s one of my favorite jackets, very expensive, and never fails to elicit compliments when I wear it in person—one of them from Vanessa Redgrave.]
Me: “Leopard print? Lol. That was Cher. Well, at least I wasn’t hung up on somebody 96, as you seem to be. That is not a leopard print. Get some glasses.”
Kind Nurse: “It’s a bit blurry, which is probably best, considering.” (Definitely agree that it is blurry; that’s what happens when you count on your spouse for photos. Maybe, if you ever get one, you will also experience this.)
Me: “Don’t forget your advice; Be kind. You are SO kind, aren’t you?”
At this point, typing rapid-fire, I typoed some spelling errors, causing the kind nurse to say, “For fuck’s sake, woman, learn to spell.” (punctuation mine; nurse had none.When your Big Comeback is because a person typing at the speed of sound misses a letter, you are desperate.)
Me: “I think you meant “chuck” but then, spelling is not your forte. Ooooo. Here comes the profanity. Good for you. The last refuge of the brain damaged. You do this after telling others to ‘be kind?’”

The kind UK nurse then typed, in all caps: CAN YOU ACTUALLY READ (Question mark missing).

Me: “You set such a great example of kindness. I can read, but the vote is out on you.”

She then typed YOU in all caps, as I had typed so quickly that the “y” did not make it to the page. Again, a simple typo, which is quite obvious—unless you are blind or really reaching.)

Me: “No need for ALL CAPITALS OR profanity. Not from the “be kind” lady. Wow. I love to see your “kindness” in action. What a gal.”
The “kind nurse” then said: “So far the only person who can’t spell or read is you.” (No comma after “so far.”)
Me: “I disagree, and so do others.
Kind nurse: “Thought you had me blocked.” (Definitely.)
Me: “I have. Not sure how long it takes to work. You probably stuck your ugly foot in the block door before it closed.” (Been so long since I’ve blocked someone that I’ve forgotten the basics.)
Kind Nurse: “It’s instant if you do it right.” (I probably did not do it “right.”)
Me: “And I do mean ugly.” (I had just gotten a gander at the engagement photo of the middle-aged couple.)
Kind Nurse: (with emojis) “Says you?”
Me: “Go harass someone else, OK? Go demonstrate how “kind” you are to them. I just think it is quite ironic that a person tells ME to “be kind” and then insults me for 20 minutes. Don’t you find that a bit ironic? Or don’t you know what the word means? And all I said was that I wanted a better definition of “great” for a bad photo. Next time, consider whether YOU are “being kind.”
Kind nurse: “YOU messaged me first, you (sic) strand woman.” [Please note: the word ‘strand’ was obviously a typo, which I did not point out, as Ms. NHS had been doing repeatedly, because it is not difficult to figure out that the person, if not typing “live,” would probably have done fine with the word. Take note, Tracey.]
Me: “Yes, I messaged you because of your stupid remark and then I wrote it up on MY page, which may cause some discussion. We have voted that YOU are the “unkind” one. I was simply asking for some clarification of the term ‘great.” How is that “unkind?” I recently saw a cool photo of Dick Van Dyke in a traffic accident situation, and it was “great.” He was driving a sports car and there had been a minor accident. The photo you thought was so great was unflattering. Perhaps that photo of me is, as well, but that is NOT—repeat NOT—a leopard print. Geez. You really do need to have your glasses checked if you think that is a leopard print. You can check out the post I’m going to put up on my blog. It will, no doubt, get a big laugh from readers. (At least it’s some new material.)”
Kind Nurse: “Yeah. I have seen the self-centered woe-is me blog.” (Kindness personified! I had only a couple short articles re health; neither was “woe is me.” I’m well on my way to 100% survival and grateful for it, but the lack of sensitivity of this NHS employee–now claiming to NOT be a nurse—is astonishing. And, in my case, there is proof, while we are simply going to have to take Tracey’s word for her own statements. I hope the kidney donation thing is true, but she’s already back-tracked on the nurse/NHS and next contention will be that the NHS was just something convenient to say, as she insulted me about my lack of a “carer” (misspelling hers) last night. After 40 years of working—18 as a teacher and the rest as CEO of 2 businesses and teaching writing at 6 colleges, I have had a “career” and am now self-employed as a writer, blogger, and film critic. All of which is supported by plenty of proof.)
Me: “Actually, my last post was all about famous women I have photographed. You must be behind, as usual. Catch up.”
Kind Nurse: “You are psycho.” (Ah, the good old insults, again. I’m the least “psycho” person you know, but, like all people just minding their own business and trying to be a good person, I did not appreciate being insulted for half an hour by some wacko in England who seems to think that mistyping in the wee hours of the morning indicates an inability to write or spell. Guess again; once again, you picked the WRONG insult and aimed it at the WRONG person. At this point, Ms. NHS made some remark about me “thinking I was the only person in the world with cancer,” (also nice, like the rest of her remarks). My response:
Me: “Did I say I was ‘the only person in the world’ with cancer? You must live a sheltered life if you think that. One in every 8 women in America will get what I have, they say, and the advice to “be kind” might be followed by someone with a conscience who is a nurse (or an NHS employee). Instead, you enjoy insulting me, making fun of my outfit, calling me names, and being a truly unpleasant person. I think you are in the wrong line of work.” (*This person either lied about working for the NHS, denying her nurse status, or is now nervous about how insensitive and truly crass her remarks were. Good. I hope that the many fans of my “The Color of Evil” series in England report her to their NHS. Nobody working with sick people should be this mean-spirited and vicious without cause. I shall continue to refer to this person as “the kind nurse” as an ironic appellation that is just as good as “the kind NHS employee.” Of course, it is entirely possible that she lied, since none of the accusations leveled at me held the slightest water. Again, its like revisiting the Trump years.)

At this point, I typoed (again) causing the kind nurse to retype the word “names” ( left out the “m”). My response? “Yeah. I’m typing 250 wpm, so deal with it.” (another typo on “with” as “with”)

Me: “I did exactly 2 blog posts on my treatment, to let my readers know. Next, I will tell how “kind” Tracy Poole has been to a stranger. I believe it will start with the “cow” remark and go on to the “leopard” print incorrect observation.”

At this point, the “kind nurse” comes out with: “Maybe tell them how I donated a kidney to a stranger, as well.” (*True or not true? Just tonight, there was a denial of her own contention about the NHS, unless she is splitting hairs and does something other than nursing, which I sincerely hope is the case! If it’s true, then perhaps search your conscience and fire off an apology for your “unkind” behavior and we’ll call it even, although it is not. I need people like you in my life right now like I need another surgery.)

Me: “Did they take part of your frontal lobe, as well? Maybe the cortex? You don’t seem to “get” the “be kind” advice you dish out. If you’re going to dish that out, then follow it yourself. I think you can get along without one kidney, but you are really in need of some additional brain cells. Most of us would NOT say “be kind” to a total stranger and then do their best to be shitty to them for a good long time. By the way, the little laughing emojis aren’t working. The emoji for you is MIA. So, remember: BE KIND. And if someone wants clarification of why the worst picture in the world of old Dick is called “great,” don’t start insulting them, okay? Dick definitely ought to lose the full beard was the point. He looks terrible in that photo, while I agree that he has aged well, otherwise (until that photo was taken, anyway). You, on the other hand, are a whole different kettle of fish and you are NOT ‘kind.’ I also don’t believe that you ever donated a kidney to a stranger. You do not seem to have the right mental make-up to BE KIND.”

There was more, but that is enough to raise my blood pressure a few points. It was mostly just insults aimed at me, anyway, which gets repetitious fast.

UPDATE of 5/20/2022: So, now the NHS employee (possibly NOT a nurse, but NHS employee) is sending me messages on my seldom-used phone at what is 1 a.m. CDT (more insults). She is maintaining her “kidney donation” story is true, but denying she is an NHS nurse. I have no personal knowledge of either, so take your pick. If she donated a kidney, I hope she can get back some of that compassion for others, because she has shown me none, and I’m not going gently into that good night.

But—and here’s the thing—last night, amongst her gloating, vicious, often profane and always insulting remarks—Tracy said: I’m living rent-free in your head.”  Ha! It seems that she blocked but then UNblocked me and on and on. Just to be clear, this is NOT Facebook, Tracey. It’s my blog, in existence since 2007, and my most active fan base is probably in the U.K. (I once did a book signing in Australia, but England, where I was an exchange student in my college days, has quite a few fans of my books, so good on me.)

I already blocked “the kind nurse”, as much as I remember the procedure, so I have no idea why she is continuing to insult and bug me late at night, our U.S. time.  My phone will be off soon, so have fun with that, then.

If she really DOES work for a health organization, she might (if she were really compassionate enough to donate a kidney) think about things anyone in my shoes is going through and realize just how crappy her remarks were and continue to be.

I’m not attempting to contact her in any way, so I have no idea why she keeps blowing up my phone with HER remarks, which should, if the world were just, be an apology. Her mean comments were really low.  I hope she feels a certain degree of shame/regret. I don’t think it is likely, but that is one good reason to update.

However, as for me, I have “blocked” her but she, herself, says she UNblocked to send me more insults.

“Great,” she said grimly. I, too, have a copy of her remarks to me and–aside from the foot-in-the-block door remark (with apologies all around for a fleeting lapse in judgment)–I was pretty chill. So, Tracey, what I would say back at you (one of your “taunts” last night) is: “Gee. I seem to be living rent-free in your head.” There will be no photos of this woman. It’s late, but it’s not THAT late.

The Road Home & the Washington Correspondents’ Dinner

By the time you read this, I will probably be back in East Moline, Illinois, home base.

Poplar Bluffs, Missouri, on April 29th, 2022.

I’m writing from St. Louis, Missouri at my brother-in-law’s house. When we arrived, we went out to see the site where niece Megan and her husband (Aaron) and daughter (Winnie) will be building their new house. [They plan to move from Denver to St. Louis]. ETA: spring of 2023.

We also visited the grave of my dear sister-in-law Wendy, who died April 18, 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic from an accumulation of illnesses, including lymphoma. It would be so much better for us and for the world if Wendy were here, in person, to go out to dinner with us. Sixty-two is far too young to shuffle off this mortal coil.

Austin Tice (#freeaustintice) has been held prisoner in Syria for years and is being saluted at the White House Correspondents’ dinner. The president of the journalists’ association is mentioning other prisoners held and, also, Maksim Levin, Vira Hyryo, Bren Renaud, Oksana Baulin, Sasha Kuvshyova  Zakrezews, —all journalists killed in Ukraine. Benjamin Hall of ABC News is recovering from injuries. (I’m sure I missed a few). “How It Happened” won an award for Axis, a film documenting the end of days of the Trump administration.

Biden Remarks: “Excited to be here among the only group with a lower approval rating than I have.” “We had a horrible plague, followed by 2 years of Covid.” “It would really have been a real coup if my predecessor had attended this dinner.” “Calvin Coolidge attended the first correspondents’ dinner in 1924. I remember telling him, ‘Just get up there and be yourself.'” “The good news is that I have a real shot at replacing James Corden. Great performers going out after 8 years at the top. Sounds about right to me.” “I’ve never had to open before Trevor Noah before. He called me ‘America’s new dad.’ I’m excited to be called a new anything.” Reference to all of Fox News members all being there, vaccinated and boosted. (Tough opposition from Democrats is referenced, as he talked about how he expected confrontation, but from REPUBLICANS.) “There’s nothing that I can say about the GOP that Kevin McCarthy hasn’t already said on tape.”

Remarks from Trevor Noah: 

“That was really great. I got a promise that I will not be going to prison.” (a reference to Biden’s introduction, where he told him that he could make fun of the President of the United States and not go to prison.)

“One of the nation’s most distinguished Super Spreader events. The second someone offered you a free dinner you all turned into Joe Rogan. Dr. Fauci dropped out, but Pete Davidson thought it was okay. You could have picked any comedian but you picked an African variant. Get comfortable, but don’t get too comfortable, Jeffrey Toobin.”

“You may have noticed I’m going to be telling some jokes tonight. I’m a comedian, not Kristin Synema.

Reference to the Oscars: “What if I make a really mean joke about Kellye Anne Conway and then her husband rushes up on the stage and thanks me?” (Chris Cuomo slam). Governor Abbott is providing free buses for the Telemundo table.”

(Ron DeSantis jokes, re his presidential ambitions). “You’re smarter than him. You’re fitter than him. You can walk down ramps.”

(To Biden): “I was a little confused as to why you picked me, but then I was told that you get your highest approval ratings when you’re standing next to a bi-racial Black guy.”

“Jill Biden is still teaching because she’s still paying off her student debt.” “Unemployment at 3.3%—2% if you don’t count the Cuomo family.” [Shots at MSNBC.] Shots at Joe & Mikka (“most adorable HR violation in town.”).

Mick Mulvaney (hired by CBS) was a target of Trevor Noah. “So many other huge talents who can no longer be mentioned in Florida.”

Chuck Todd: “I’d ask for a follow-up, but I know you don’t know what that is.” (slam)

“An interview with (Australian) Jonathan Swan is like being interviewed by a koala bear.”

NPR: “I wish you guys didn’t always have to beg for money. Maybe you’re spending too much on those tote bags. Who’s designing those things? Gucci?”

Fox News: “I think they get a bad rap. It just depends on when you watch. It’s relatively normal in the afternoon, but just wait until the sun goes down.” (“Their segments on Corona virus moved their viewers–right into the ICU.”) “Tucker Carlson: who else could fill an entire show each night asking questions that Google could easily answer?”

CNN: “I blame John King. Your magic wall can predict everything, but you spend $300 million on CNN+ and the wall can’t predict its failure?” CNN Breaking News banner: “Did they just turn it on during the O.J. case and just never figured out how to get rid of it?”

“The media is in a tough position: you’re battling conspiracy theories.  (Named 3 biggies) and said, “And that’s just the people in this room.”

Conclusion: Serious message about the Fourth Estate and how it gives voice to those who, otherwise, would not have one. “Every single one of you is a bastion of democracy. If you ever begin to doubt, look no further than what is happening in Ukraine. In America you have the right to seek the truth and speak the truth, even if it makes people in power uncomfortable. Do you know how amazing that is? Do you really understand what a blessing that is? Maybe it’s happened so long that you don’t remember. Ask yourself this question: if Russian journalists who are losing their liveliood and their lives trying to tell  stories or ask  questions, would they be using that freedom in the same way that you do?”

So, the Correspondents’ Dinner on CNN was a four-hour entertainment fest that wasted 2 of the hours with replays of the Ukrainian conflict.

The “celebrities” that I saw were Kim Kardashian, and the guy who is now the lead on “Billions.” Aside from him, Don Lemon was about the most well-known, although Harry Hamlin entered with someone I think was his daughter, and his hair had been dyed blonde. Strange.

This night was no 2015 Seth Meyer performance, but Trevor Noah was topical and delivered well. The lack of any Grade “A” celebrities was noteworthy, with a very few exceptions, but it was a chance for Biden to show that he is not a thin-skinned dictator who can dish it out, but can’t take it, which DJT modeled at this same dinner in 2015.

 

Is the World Ready for A Political Fresh Prince?

(Quotes from August 10, 2016, Adam Howard, NBC News)

Will Smith

Six years ago, when “Oscars So White” preceded “Oscars So Black” as a theme, [spearheaded by Will Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett-Smith, who was annoyed that Smith was not nominated for his role in “Concussion,”] the remarks below were made to NBC’s reporter Adam Howard.

The article sub-title was this:  Is America ready for the “Fresh Prince” as President? Maybe setting one’s sights on the top office in the land is premature, but what office do you think Will Smith will be angling for?

Donald J. Trump shook up traditional notions of who can be considered a credible candidate for the White House, and his stint on “The Apprentice” is at least partially responsible for the four years of Trump. Smith himself has hinted at a career change, telling The Hollywood Reporter in 2015: “I look at the political landscape, I think that there might be a future out there for me. They might need me out there.”

It seems that Will Smith has publicly blown up his film career with his behavior on March 27th at the Oscars. This article from six years ago seems to point to a new direction that Will Smith might be contemplating, so let’s just lay it out there with these quotes from the actor himself.

As an established A-list star entering a new phase of his life and career, Smith may also feel more liberated to speak his mind. For instance,  during a “Suicide Squad” press event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Smith spoke candidly about the perception of anti-Muslim bias back in the U.S.  “The Middle East can’t allow Fox News to be the arbiter of the imagery, you know. So cinema is a huge way to be able to deliver the truth of the soul of a place to a global audience.”

Smith then went on to pointedly attack Trump’s controversial Muslim ban proposal: “As painful as it is to hear Donald Trump talk, and as embarrassing as it is as an American to hear him talk, I think it’s good,” Smith said. “We get to know who people are and now we get to cleanse it out of our country.”

These comments came just a week after Smith lamented that the Republican presidential candidate’s rhetoric towards women had found a captive audience.  “For a man to be able to publicly refer to a woman as a fat pig (Rosie O’Donnell), that makes me teary,” he said during an interview with news.com.au. “And for people to applaud, that is absolutely f***king insanity to me. My grandmother would have smacked my teeth out of my head if I had referred to a woman as a fat pig. And I cannot understand how people can clap for that. It’s absolutely collective insanity. If one of my sons — I am getting furious just thinking about it — if one of my sons said that in a public place, they couldn’t even live in my house anymore.”

“For me, deep down in my heart, I believe that America won’t and we can’t elect Trump,” he added.

But Smith’s streak of outspokenness hasn’t just been limited to the presidential race. During an appearance earlier this month (August, 2016) on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the actor spoke with a degree of cynicism about the claim that racial divisions have never been worse.

“Racism isn’t getting worse, it’s getting filmed,” he told Fallon then.

Earlier in the year, Will Smith had backed his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith ‘s call for an African American Boycott of the Oscars, after the Academy Awards failed to recognize a single actor or actress of color (including himself, a would-be contender for the drama “Concussion”) for the second year in a row.”

So, the remarks made to NBC’s reporter Adam Howard are above; draw your own conclusions.

Since North Carolina and Kansas will play for the NCAA Championship on Monday, April 4th and that predicting season is almost over, we can then begin the pools on whether or not there will be regime change in Russia AND for which office the Fresh Prince might best run.

Right now,  watching “Saturday Night Live” (which featured a clever, but questionable skit about mental acuity in cases like aphasia or dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease) the host of “SNL” has declared himself the “least famous host of ‘SNL,’” which may be true. I can’t even tell you what his name is (Jerrod Carmichael; I cheated and looked). He  just informed us that he is the star of a television comedy special in which he comes out as gay. Jerrod says that we are in an Andy Warhol Fever Dream right now. Having just watched the documentary the “Velvet Underground” with real footage from Andy Warhol’s The Factory era, I agree. When will we break out the dark glasses to be able to tolerate the chaos?

Comedian Carmichael is trying to “heal the nation” by talking about Will Smith’s Oscar brouhaha.

Jerrod’s parting remark to the “SNL” audience and directed to former President Barack Obama: “You got us all hopped up on hope and change, Barack. We need you back, because I think you’re going to have to talk about it. The nation needs to heal.”

“Spin Me Round” at SXSW 2022 Falls Flat

Spin Me Round” at SXSW, 2022 on March 12/13, with Allison Brie and Aubrey Plaza.

Mark and Jay Duplass executive produced a film at SXSW that seems to be a comedy that might have been a romance, that considers becoming a thriller (briefly) and also works in a plug for female empowerment. It Is pretty meandering and difficult to categorize. The script (Allison Brie and Director Jeff Baena) needed work and focus.

I met the Duplass Brothers at the Chicago International Film Festival many years ago (2011), when “Jeff, Who Lives At Home” was hitting the festival circuit, and, since then, have enjoyed their individual appearances in “The Morning Show” as Jennifer Aniston’s director Chip Black (Mark) or in “Tully” and Jay’s breakout role as Bill Dobson in “The Chair,” the loopy widowed professor. I also enjoyed “Jeff, Who Lives At Home.” but other Duplass outings seemed low-budget (“Creep”) and poorly crafted. But this one had some truly funny people in it, so I gambled and lost.

This effort seems not to know what it is going for. The cast tells us that it is going to be a comedy. Why do I say that? We have, as its lead, Allison Brie (of “G.L.O.W.”), Fred Armisen (“Portlandia”) and Molly Shannon, “SNL” alums; Zach Woods (“Veep”) as Dana and Aubrey Plaza (“Parks & Rec”) as Kat. All-in-all, it’s a cast that should scream comedy, but the difficult-to-determine-what-it-is screenplay, co-written by Allison Brie (who also produced) and Jeff Baena, the writer/director,  doesn’t seem to make up its mind what it’s going for, even by film’s end. It was a film that started out being about Italian pasta. I honestly felt as though those in charge just threw everything against the wall and hoped something would stick.

The tag line for the film is: “A woman wins an all-expenses trip to a company’s gorgeous “institute” outside of Florence and also the chance to meet the restaurant chain’s wealthy and charismatic owner. She finds a different adventure than the one she imagined.”

Shooting began in Italy in June of 2021; the Italian countryside is beautiful.

Her co-star in what seems to be trying to become a romance instead of a comedy is Alessandro Nivola, who we saw in “The Many Saints of Newark,” the “Sopranos” prequel.

As mentioned in the tag line, a young girl (Allison Brie), who works in an Italian chain restaurant, the Tuscan Grove in Bakersfield, California, fashioned on The Olive Garden or Biaggi’s, is sent off to Tuscany in what is touted as the Tuscan Grove Exemplary Managers’ Institute. There, she joins a group of other such selected employees from around the United States, some of them wacky (Molly Shannon as Deb) and some of them other pretty young girls or random weird males. The founder of the chain, a handsome wealthy fellow (Alessandro Nivola) stops by and the plot takes off, more-or-less (mostly less).

From the outset, we get the impression that Aubrey Plaza as Kat is mainly employed by the chain’s founder (Alessandro Nivola as Nick) to pimp for him, separating the more desirable female attendees from the group and herding them out to Nick’s yacht, where he comes on strong as a romantic suitor. The character of Kat also allows the film to include today’s obligatory lesbian vibe, despite the fact that it seems totally unsuitable to moving  this plot forward (which seems to be a heterosexual romance, at that point).

Alessandro Nivola looked too old for Allison Brie’s character, (and somewhat out-of-shape), but rich men always get a pass, so that I could deal with. (He is 10 years older than Ms. Brie, in real life.) Things seem to be heading in the direction of a romantic comedy (some of the other attendees, like Molly Shannon, are wacky, and her outfits are over-the-top) but then the plot take a darker turn, as visions of Epstein’s island activities crowd our consciousness and a murder is even suggested.

Fred Armison, portraying a wealthy artist with a villa who hosts  large orgies where wild boars (there is an actual boar handler listed in the credits) ramble through is not “funny,”  and the entire enterprise teetered on the brink of “Who killed Dana?” for a moment until—wonder of wonders—-Dana (Zach Woods of “Veep”) isn’t really dead after all.

In short, the script is a mess and the message of the script seems lost in the many mis-steps of tone.

At the very end of this Cinema-by-committee offering, the wealthy suitor (Alessandro Navolo, who has completely embarrassed himself with a crying scene that is more comic than dramatic, but never convincing) shows up in person to pitch Allison Brie’s character back in Bakersfield, California, at her franchise outlet,  bringing with him a baby turtle ( turtle wrangler on set). She tells Nick to get lost, which, given the events that have occurred prior to his Grand Finale appearance, seems like too little,  too late. So there’s our “Be gone, toxic masculinity!” moment.

I’ve been burned by some Duplass Brothers low-budget horror flicks before, but this potential comedy had people in it who can be genuinely funny.  I was suckered in by that, alone.

Don’t bother.

You won’t make much sense out of the film, either, but I’m sure that Alessandro and Allison will have better roles in better films in the future.

Looming Constitutional Crisis?

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

According to Bruce Ackermanand Gerard Magliocca of Politico, if Donald Trump does run for president in 2024, it “will provoke a genuine constitutional crisis” that will make January, 2021, seem tame.

The “disqualification clause” of the 14th Amendment expressly bars any person from holding office if he “engaged in insurrection.”  Democrats are already exploring using this clause to prevent Trump from running again. As more and more details of Trump’s complete involvement in the coup d’etat of January 6th   emerge, it is surprising that Democrats have not pushed for this much sooner.

Under our election laws, every state would have to decide whether to bar Trump from being on the ballot. Inevitably, more liberal states would disqualify Trump, while conservative states would insist Trump did not engage in an insurrection.  Trump is likely to promote a stand-in candidate in the blue states, but with three candidates in the race, none may win the necessary 270 electoral votes.

Under the 12th Amendment, the House would then pick the president. But if a majority of state delegations choose Trump, as is likely, Democrats will challenge the legality of his presidency in the House and in the courts.

Months may go by with no clear President of the United States, amidst massive, violent street demonstrations. (Think January 6th on steroids).

The Supreme Court and the military would be forced to choose sides.  The Supreme Court has, historically, “chosen sides” in some very twisted fashion, based on the underlying biases of the constituents. Consider this example, as outlined in the new book “Justice Deferred: Race and the Supreme Court.” Orville Vernon Burton & Armand Derfner)

The Dred Scott free-or-slave case caused the Chief Justice, Taney (a pro-slavery slave owner), to hold that “no Black person could ever be an American citizen” and that no Congress could ever stop slavery from spreading everywhere. (This was the first act of Congress In 50 years to be declared unconstitutional, the first since Marbury v. Madison in 1803.)

If the Supreme Court thought its pro-slavery pronouncements resolved all disputes over slavery, that notion exploded in the Civil War of 1861-1865.

“American democracy may never recover from this collapse of the rule of law.”  The precept involving the “peaceful transfer of power,” necessary for the continuation of our democracy, will be seriously impaired or destroyed by Trump’s refusal to stop spreading the Big Lie re “Stop the Steal.”

Four Short Films for the Holidays from Argo

Argo is a global curator of films under 40 minutes and a social streaming platform. Argo’s mission is to support upcoming filmmakers everywhere and connect the world through incredible stories. Every week you can find new playlists curated by the top film festivals and filmmakers.

Here are the four I viewed, with a brief description, listed in the order of my enjoyment of them:

Jackie Weaver in “Florence Has Left the Building”

#1)  “Florence Has Left the Building,” written and directed by Mirrah Foulkes with cinematography by Jeremy Rouse. Florence is a resident of the Marigold House Assisted Living Facility and she’s not a bit happy about it. In her mind, she is still a sweet young thing and she wants out.

In this 13 minute and 37 second film, two dueling Elvises come to her nursing home Eden to entertain the residents. There is gold Elvis (Eden Falk), red Elvis (Justin Rosniak) and the star of the piece, Florence, portrayed by the great Jacki Weaver, who has been twice Oscar-nominated, once for 2011’s “Animal Kingdom” and once for playing Robert DeNiro’s wife Dolores in “Silver Linings Playbook.” (Best Supporting Actor) Florence plots to make her escape with Red Elvis.

The film is totally relatable and enjoyable. I will be showing it to my college roommate when she hits my house this coming weekend. This one gets an “A.”

“Santa Is A Psychedelic Mushroom”

#2)  “Santa Is A Psychedelic Mushroom” – This film is all about magic mushrooms, or the Amanita Muscaria. It makes a connection between a shaman from Lapland and the Santa story, with flying reindeer, a fat little man in a red suit who comes down the chimney, etc.

Great story.

Wonderful animation.

Good advice about thinking more about the spiritual side of our lives.

Terrible music.

Maybe Santa this year is giving us the gift of reflection?

Grade of “B+”

Marius in “The Christmas Gift”

#3)  “The Christmas Gift” -This little gem (23 minutes long) from Amanda Muscaria features a young boy, Marius, who writes a letter to Santa in which he asks for gifts for himself (a locomotive) and for his Mom (a purse) and for his Dad (that the then-dictator Nicolae Ceausescu would die.)

This one required some reading up on the Romanian Revolution of 1989, for me. Here’s the Wikipedia short story:

“The revelation that Ceaușescu was responsible (for the deaths of citizens in the streets of Timisoara, Romania) resulted in a massive spread of rioting and civil unrest across the country. The demonstrations, which reached Bucharest, became known as the Romanian Revolution—the only violent overthrow of a communist government in the course of the Revolutions of 1989. Ceaușescu and his wife Elena fled the capital in a helicopter, but they were captured by the military after the armed forces defected. After being tried and convicted of economic sabotage and genocide, both were sentenced to death, and they were immediately executed by firing squad on 25 December, 1989.”

This small historical snippet helps explain how the mere mentioning of how the populace wanted the repressive dictator overthrown could cause one to end up dead. Ceausescu had unleashed the military upon the populace in Timisoara on December 17, 1989, and many were killed.

Imagine how upset the father is to learn that his son has exposed him to potential arrest and imprisonment.

Most of the rest of the short film involves Dad threatening Marius with physical violence, which did not appeal to me. Marius seems like a really good kid, and he didn’t deserve the screaming fit. I even wondered whether this was really his biological son, as Dad seemed like as big a tyrant as Ceausescu.

Ceausescu seems to have pretty much ruined Romania during his years in power (1955 to 1989) and the economy suffered mightily.

Most of the rest of the film hinges on how Dad might get the letter out of the post box Marius has placed it in, or how he might damage the mail within the post office box so that he doesn’t get arrested.

The very end of the film has actual newsreel footage of the Romanian Revolution, which, to be honest, I barely remember, although the name of this infamous dictator I did remember.

The acting was good and I could relate to this faux pas on the small boy’s part. I wrote a Letter to the Editor once that similarly parroted my own teacher mother’s feelings about non-certified teachers being allowed to teach in Amish schools in Iowa (she was opposed) and I got the same reaction from my parents (although my high school’s principal called me in to congratulate me on having my letter selected by the Des Moines Register for publication.) I was 16 at the time. My father—the town banker—had a lot of Amish customers and he wasn’t thrilled that I had let his wife’s views on this touchy subject of teachers with no more than an 8th grade education being allowed to teach in Amish one-room schoolhouses.

Grade of B.

#4 –“December in Toronto” – This is a trip to Toronto over 6 days. It seemed like a home movie that some friends had put together. It only runs 6 minutes and 11 seconds.

Not my cup of tea, but I love Toronto at any time of year. It always reminds me of a mini-Chicago, just as Lisbon (Portugal) reminds me of a mini-Paris.

Grade of “D.”

Dorothy Parker Quotes To Amuse

 

“Their pooled emotions wouldn’t fill a teaspoon.” (quoted in Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker)

For being asked for writing advice:

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second-greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first-greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” (originally published in a review in Esquire, 1959)

For riding the subway in New York City:

“Not just plain terrible. This was fancy terrible; this was terrible with raisins in it.” (quoted in Chimes of Change and Hours by Audrey Borenstein)

For turning down a proposal:

“By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing.
And he vows his passion is,
Infinite, undying.
Lady make note of this—
One of you is lying.” (her poem “Unfortunate Coincidence”)

For when you hate a book everyone else loves, and you know you’re right:

“But on second thinking, I dare to differ more specifically from the booksie-wooksies. . . . For years, you see, I have been crouching in corners hissing small and ladylike anathema of [author’s name here—in this case, it’s Theodore Dreiser]. I dared not yip it out loud, much less offer it up in print. But now, what with a series of events that have made me callous to anything that may later occur, I have become locally known as the What-the-Hell Girl of 1931.” (from a review of Theodore Dreiser’s Dawn in The New Yorker)

For Monday mornings:

“To my own admittedly slanted vision, industry ranks with such sour and spinster virtues as thrift, punctuality, level-headedness, and caution.” (from a review of Sinclair Lewis’s Dodsworth in The New Yorker)

“It has lately been drawn to your correspondent’s attention that, at social gatherings, she is not the human magnet she would be. Indeed, it turns out that as a source of entertainment, conviviality, and good fun, she ranks somewhere between a sprig of parsley and a single ice-skate.” (from a review of Favorite Jokes of Famous People in The New Yorker)

For every single day, reading the news:

“Civilization is coming to an end, you understand.” (The Paris Review)

“What fresh hell can this be?” (everyone’s favorite Dorothy Parker quote, though often misquoted, here reported in You Might as Well Live: the Life and Times of Dorothy Parker, by John Keats)

 

“For MadMen Only:” Crash Course in Comedy Legend Del Close

 

Patton Oswalt in “For Madmen Only”

The name Del Close is not one most of us associate with the pre-eminent comedians of the past twenty-five years, but we should.

In the documentary “For Madmen Only” from Heather Ross, narrated by Michaela Watkins we learn about this guru of comedy who helped discover and ultimately shape such talents as Bill Murray and Chris Farley.

The number of talking heads who pay homage to Del Close as their teacher is lengthy. Here is a quick look at who you will find in this documentary talking about Del Close: Robin Williams, Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Patton Oswalt,  Mike Myers, Will Farrell, Chris Farley, Steven Colbert, Jon Favreau, George Wendt, director Adam McKay, Ike Barinholtz, John Belushi, Harold Ramis, Dave Thomas, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Catharine O’Hara, Jason Sudeikis, Rachel Dratch, Howard Hesseman, Tim Meadows, Mike Nichols, Elaine May and “Better Call Saul’s” Bob Odenkirk.

The early performances onstage by famous comics is legendary.

Who was Del Close? And what, exactly, did he do to help that impressive list of comics get their start?

Amy Pohler in “For Madmen Only.”

John Belushi in “For Madmen Only.”

In 1960 Close moved to Chicago, his home base for much of the rest of his life, to perform and direct at Second City, but was fired due to substance abuse. He spent the latter half of the 1960s in San Francisco where he was the house director of improv ensemble The Committee. He toured with the Merry Pranksters, and created light shows for Grateful Dead shows. In 1972 he returned to Chicago and to Second City. He also directed and performed for Second City’s troupe in Toronto, in 1977. Prior to those Chicago years with Second City, Close had, at age 23, become a member of the Compass Players in St. Louis.

When most of the cast—including Mike Nichols and Elaine May—moved to New York City, Close followed. He developed a stand-up comedy act, appeared in the Broadway musical revue The Nervous Set, and performed briefly with an improv company in Greenwich Village.

Del Close, subject of “For Madmen Only.”

Del Close was certifiable. He ran away from home at the age of 17 and joined the circus, working as a fire-eater and being shot from a cannon. He spent time in mental hospitals and was checked out to do his show in Chicago and then checked back in to the Cook County Hospital Psych Ward. He had had a complete breakdown while supervising the Great White North in Toronto in 1976, a Second City outpost.

From a troubled childhood that saw Del’s alcoholic neglectful father commit suicide came a highly intelligent and highly creative comic genius who was devoted to promoting improvisation as an entirely separate art form, which he called “Harold.” He also supervised a magazine for D.C. Comics called “The Wasteland,” although he admits, “Most of our readership didn’t quite get it.”

This documentary written by Alan Samuel Golman and Heather Ross describes Close as “a living legend in comedy.” Bill Murray organized a deathbed party for the inveterate smoker, who refused to quit even when emphysema was killing him.

Jason Sudeikis of “Ted Lasso” on “For Madmen Only.”

The Del stories involving pot, alcohol and psychedelics never quit, starting with groups like the Merry Pranksters and continuing on until his death. Close died on March 4, 1999, at the Illinois Masonic Hospital (now the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center) in Chicago, five days before his 65th birthday. An early birthday party was held for him by Bill Murray, who summoned many of Del’s former students to his bedside, a party which is on film in the documentary.

Close bequeathed his skull to Chicago’s Goodman Theatre to be used in its productions of Hamlet, and specified that he be duly credited in the program as portraying Yorick. Charna Halpern, Close’s long-time professional partner and the executor of his will, donated a skull—purportedly Close’s—to the Goodman in a high-profile televised ceremony on July 1, 1999.

A front-page article in the Chicago Tribune in July 2006 questioned the authenticity of the skull, citing the presence of teeth (Close had no teeth at the time of his death) and autopsy marks (Close was not autopsied), among other problems.

Halpern stood by her story at the time, but admitted in a The New Yorker interview three months later that she had purchased the skull from a local medical supply company. Halpern is shown onscreen bemoaning the fact that the public learned that this was not, in truth, Del Close’s real skull.

This film is a tribute to the creative comic who lived and taught this credo:  “You have a light within you. Burn it out.”

“For Madmen Only” premiered on July 27th and is available on Apple TV and Altovid

“Happy-Go-Lucky” Is Worth A Look

My apologies to all who thought—as I did—that Weekly in the title Weekly Wilson meant that I would not go more than a week without posting.

I have excuses.

Mostly, the excuses involve my always-rocky relationship with computers.

The hinge on my laptop somehow came undone. So, no laptop to write my post on and most of the graphics I’d need are within said laptop. Computer Revolutions scavenged a new top from an old computer and ordered and installed a new hinge. They did this between Friday and Tuesday, but I still was without a computer recently.

In the meantime, I tried to go downstairs and use my desk top.

Can’t make it type even a letter to the sister for her birthday. Not sure why. Could be “updates.” Could be that I owe money for something that I don’t know about. After all, we were gone from November through May, so various “updates” had to be installed.

Now that I’m (more-or-less) back, I’d like to recommend some viewing, including “Start Up,” which features Martin Freeman and Ron Perlman in a tale from Miami about the Internet, which also features Academy-Award winning actress Mira Sorvino, whom you seldom see onscreen. (Her career a Harvey Weinstein casualty, I believe).

We started watching “The Ice Road” last night, the #1 rental on Netflix with Liam Neeson. When we got to the point where both trucks were on their sides, I asked how they were going to get them both upright again. Still don’t know, as the film quit loading/running.

Last, but not least, Sally Hawkins (the deaf mute girl in “The Shape of Water”) and “Terry” (from “Ray Donovan,” as portrayed by Eddie Marsan) appeared on my late-night television viewing in “Happy-Go-Lucky” and I heartily recommend this film if you are in the market for an upbeat film (from 2008) that has a lot to say about optimism in the face of life’s normal setbacks. (Preview above).

Some Humor on a Slow Day

McDonald’s: the Early Days.

My husband and I went through the McDonald’s driveway window and I gave the cashier a $5 bill.

Our total was $4.25, so I also handed her 25c.
She said, ‘you gave me too much money.’
I said, ‘Yes I know, but this way you can just give me a dollar back.’
She sighed and went to get the manager who asked me to repeat my request.
I did so, and he handed me back the 25c, and said ‘We’re sorry but we don’t do that kind of thing.’
The cashier then proceeded to give me back 75 cents in change.
Do not confuse the people at MacD’s.
We had to have the garage door repaired.
The repairman told us that one of our problems was that we did not have a ‘large’ enough motor on the opener.
I thought for a minute, and said that we had the largest one made at that time, a 1/2 horsepower.
He shook his head and said, ‘You need a 1/4 horsepower.’
I responded that 1/2 was larger than 1/4 and he said, ‘NOOO, it’s not. Four is larger than two.’
We haven’t used that repairman since…
I live in a semi rural area.
We recently had a new neighbor call the local city council office to request the removal of the DEER CROSSING sign on our road.
The reason: ‘Too many deers are being hit by cars out here! I don’t think this is a good place for them to be crossing anymore.’
IDIOT SIGHTING IN FOOD SERVICE.
My daughter went to a Mexican fast food and ordered a taco.
She asked the person behind the counter for ‘minimal lettuce.’
He said he was sorry, but they only had iceberg lettuce.
I was at the airport, checking in at the gate when an airport employee asked,
‘Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?’
To which I replied, ‘If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?’
He smiled knowingly and nodded, ‘That’s why we ask.’
The pedestrian light on the corner beeps when it’s safe to cross the street.
I was crossing with an ‘intellectually challenged’ co-worker of mine.
She asked if I knew what the beeper was for.
I explained that it signals blind people when the light is red.
Appalled, she responded, ‘what on earth are blind people doing driving?!’
She is a government employee…..

Firefly II

When my wife and I arrived at a car dealership to pick up our car after a

service, we were told the keys had been locked in it.
We went to the service department and found a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the driver’s side door.
As I watched from the passenger side, I instinctively tried the door handle and discovered that it was unlocked.
‘Hey,’ I announced to the technician, ‘its open!’
His reply, ‘I know. I already did that side.’
STAY ALERT!
They walk among us, they breed, and they vote…….
(Lisa Sanderson)

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