Sunday Reads: We Remember….

Photo of Martin Landau taken by James Dean

Good Afternoon

Yesterday afternoon I heard the sad news about the death of John Heard, it was the third death connected to films this past week. Yes, we also lost Martin Landau and George Romero…so it seemed fitting that today we should look back on the careers of these three men.

Photos for this post found via Pinterest.

Martin Landau

Martin Landau Photo by Michael Grecco.

It is hard to pin down my favorite Martin Landau movie…he is one of those actors who maid every role spectacular…no matter what the context of the role. But if I had to narrow it down…it would have to be his Oscar winning performance as Bela in Ed Wood and his beautiful cut of a heavy with a woman’s intuition in North by Northwest.

The following pictures were taken by James Dean….


Martin Landau Dead: ‘Ed Wood,’ ‘Mission: Impossible’ Actor Was 89 | Hollywood Reporter

His résumé includes ‘Mission: Impossible,’ ‘Tucker: The Man and His Dream’ and ‘North by Northwest.’ It does not, however, include ‘Star Trek.’

Martin Landau, the all-purpose actor who showcased his versatility as a master of disguise on the Mission: Impossible TV series and as a broken-down Bela Lugosi in his Oscar-winning performance in Ed Wood, has died. He was 89.

Landau, who shot to fame by playing a homosexual henchman in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 classic North by Northwest, died Saturday of “unexpected complications” after a brief stay at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, his rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

After he quit CBS’ Mission: Impossible after three seasons in 1969 because of a contract dispute, Landau’s career was on the rocks until he was picked by Francis Ford Coppola to play Abe Karatz, the business partner of visionary automaker Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges), in Tucker: The Man and His Dream(1988).

Landau received a best supporting actor nomination for that performance, then backed it up the following year with another nom for starring as Judah Rosenthal, an ophthalmologist who has his mistress (Anjelica Huston) killed, in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989).

Landau lost out on Oscar night to Kevin Kline and Denzel Washington, respectively, in those years but finally prevailed for his larger-than-life portrayal of horror-movie legend Lugosi in the biopic Ed Wood (1994), directed by Tim Burton.

Landau also starred as Commander John Koenig in the 1970s science-fiction series Space: 1999, opposite his Mission: Impossible co-star Barbara Bain, his wife from 1957 until their divorce in 1993.

A former newspaper cartoonist, Landau turned down the role of Mr. Spock on the NBC series Star Trek, which went to Leonard Nimoy (who later effectively replaced Landau on Mission: Impossible after Trek was canceled).

Landau also was an admired acting teacher who taught the craft to the likes of Jack Nicholson. And in the 1950s, he was best friends with James Dean and, for several months, the boyfriend of Marilyn Monroe. “She could be wonderful, but she was incredibly insecure, to the point she could drive you crazy,” he told The New York Times in 1988.



There is more at the link, as it talks about Landau’s early career and friendships. Please take a look at that….here is a few more articles and galleries:

Fresh Air Remembers Oscar Award-Winning Actor Martin Landau : NPR

Martin Landau obituary | Film | The Guardian

Martin Landau – a life in pictures | Film | The Guardian

Oscar-winner Martin Landau, who starred in ‘Ed Wood,’ ‘North By Northwest’ and ‘Entourage,’ dies at 89 – LA Times

Martin Landau Dead: Hollywood Tributes on Social Media | Variety



George Romero

George Romero, the man who started it all….


George A Romero, Night of the Living Dead director, dies aged 77 | Film | The Guardian

George A Romero, director of horror classic Night of the Living Dead, has died. He was 77.

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Romero’s producing partner Peter Grunwald said the director died in his sleep after a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer”.

George Romero Dead: ‘Night of the Living Dead’ Director Was 77 | Variety

George A. Romero, ‘Night of the Living Dead’ creator, dies at 77 – LA Times

Above photo of Romero and Steven King on the set of Creepshow.




In George Romero’s Zombie Films, the Living Were a Horror Show, Too – The New York Times

The director George A. Romero, whose six zombie movies represent a towering landmark of horror, died on Sunday of lung cancer. Our critics Jason Zinoman and A.O. Scott dig into his legacy and influence.

JASON ZINOMAN George Romero will always be known for turning hordes of dead people into a new kind of mainstream monster, but what made him a revolutionary artist is that he didn’t let the living off the hook. Sometimes, he even seemed to like them less than his flesh-eating zombies. “Night of the Living Dead,” his 1968 debut that initiated the modern horror genre, has one of the movies’ great spooky opening scenes; the shadowy sequence when the girl chomps on her dad still gives me the chills. But what was and remains truly unsettling is the violence of the white law enforcement toward the black hero, played by Duane Jones. No horror movie seemed to take on racism with as much visceral force, until this year, with “Get Out.” And Mr. Romero’s movie is even bleaker.

George Romero didn’t mean to tackle race in Night of the Living Dead, but he did anyway – Vox

In interviews about his smash horror hit Get Out earlier this year, Jordan Peele cited the 1968 zombie film Night of the Living Dead as one of his biggest influences. It’s no wonder. Without the movie — and its director, George Romero, who died on July 16 — we wouldn’t have Get Out or many other classic social thrillers (like Rosemary’s Baby and The Silence of the Lambs), which use the devices of fear and horror to make biting social critiques.

We wouldn’t have The Walking DeadWorld War ZShaun of the Dead, or Zombieland, either — in Night of the Living Dead and its sequels, Romero invented the rules that guide our modern ideas about zombies: They’re reanimated deceased people who move slowly and have an insatiable desire to eat the living.



John Heard

Illeana Douglas was fortunate to be able to do an interview with John Heard just a few days before his death…

It is an amazing interview, more so when you think this is his last interview….

Take some time today, or later this week, and watch this…you will enjoy it.

I always loved John Heard as an actor, it is sad to see all the obituaries referring to him as “Home Alone Dad” when he was a part of such dynamic films and acted in roles that have performances which many critics consider outstanding.

He was a bit special to me, because I always thought my husband resembled him.

HEART BEAT, from left: John Heard as Jack Kerouac, Sissy Spacek, 1980, © Orion/courtesy Everett Collection

THE MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR, Sonia Braga, John Heard, 1988, (c)Universal

Actor John Heard of ‘Home Alone’ movies dies at 71 – LA Times

Actor John Heard, whose many roles included the father in the “Home Alone” series and a corrupt detective in “The Sopranos,” has died. He was 71 .

Heard was found dead Friday at a Palo Alto hotel, the Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office said Saturday.

An investigation, which includes a toxicology test, is underway to determine the cause of his death, but there is so far no evidence of foul play, the office said.

TMZ reported that a representative for Heard said he was staying in the hotel while he recovered from back surgery at Stanford University Medical Center.

John Heard dead: Life in photos

John Heard, the Frazzled Father in ‘Home Alone,’ Dies at 71 – The New York Times

John Matthew Heard Jr. was born on March 7, 1946, in Washington and graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Mass., in 1968. He briefly pursued a master’s degree in theater at the Catholic University of America before leaving to build a professional acting career. His early years were spent in Off Broadway productions.

He made his film debut in 1977 in “Between the Lines,” about a socially conscious alternative newspaper in Boston about to be taken over by a big company. He led a cast that featured Jeff Goldblum, Lindsay Crouse and Marilu Henner.

Interviewed by The New York Times afterward — he was performing onstage at the time as an anxious husband in a production of August Strindberg’s “Creditors” — Mr. Heard struck a note of searching self-deprecation.

“I think this interview is a little premature,” he said, adding, “I don’t know, maybe after this is over, I’ll go back to Washington and be a plumber’s helper again.”

Instead, he went on to star in art house films like “Cutter’s Way” and later in commercial hits like “Big” (1988), in which he played an executive who mocks the little boy in a man’s body (Mr. Hanks), only to watch him climb the corporate ladder and win over his girlfriend.

Seriously, take some time to watch that last interview. It will give a better look on John Heard than any of these obits can…





Twitter reactions to John Heard:

I think that this tribute to Heard from Stern is something that goes a long way in describing Heard’s connection with fellow actors, especially if you watched that hour long interview with Illeana Douglas.


Well, that is the sad week that was in film…

This is an open thread.


Thursday Reads: Another Bonkers Trump Interview and More Breaking News

Sunday Afternoon, by Marie François Firmin-Girard

Good Morning!!

By 9:00 last night, there were about 10 huge breaking stories related to the Russia investigation.

There was a rambling, incoherent New York Times interview with Trump in which he trashed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, accused James Comey of blackmailing him, and threatened Special Counsel Robert Mueller, implying he’d better not try to look into Trump family finances.

On top of that, Trump still won’t let go of the dead GOP health care bill. And of course we learned that Sen. John McCain has an aggressive form of brain cancer that is likely terminal.

Right now we are waiting for Jeff Sessions to speak publicly. Will he resign? We’ll find out soon. In the meantime, here are some of the wild stories that broke last night. [UPDATE: He says he’s not resigning despite what Trump said about him (see CNN article posted down below. The announcement was about taking down a darknet website.] 

I’m going to devote most of this post to the NYT interview, because it’s just so incredible that this numbskull with dementia is in the White House. Here’s the article the Times published about it: Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired Sessions.

President Trump said on Wednesday that he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency, calling the decision “very unfair to the president.”

In a remarkable public break with one of his earliest political supporters, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Sessions’s decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that should not have happened. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr. Trump said.

Desire DeHau reading a newspaper, by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

In a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times, the president also accused James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he fired in May, of trying to leverage a dossier of compromising material to keep his job. Mr. Trump criticized both the acting F.B.I. director who has been filling in since Mr. Comey’s dismissal and the deputy attorney general who recommended it. And he took on Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel now leading the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Mr. Trump said Mr. Mueller was running an office rife with conflicts of interest and warned investigators against delving into matters too far afield from Russia. Mr. Trump never said he would order the Justice Department to fire Mr. Mueller, nor would he outline circumstances under which he might do so. But he left open the possibility as he expressed deep grievance over an investigation that has taken a political toll in the six months since he took office.

Asked if Mr. Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his family’s finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Mr. Trump said, “I would say yes.” He would not say what he would do about it. “I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.”

Much more at the link.

The Times also released an edited transcript of the interview: Excerpts From The Times’s Interview With Trump. Please read the whole thing if you can handle it. The “president” sounds like a third-grader. He can’t recall words, he has no idea what health insurance is, and he has no understanding of how the government works, and he has zero respect for the rule of law.

Some excerpts:

About health insurance and preexisting conditions:

HABERMAN: That’s been the thing for four years. When you win an entitlement, you can’t take it back.

TRUMP: But what it does, Maggie, it means it gets tougher and tougher. As they get something, it gets tougher. Because politically, you can’t give it away. So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal. Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you’re 21 years old, you start working and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you’re 70, you get a nice plan. Here’s something where you walk up and say, “I want my insurance.” It’s a very tough deal, but it is something that we’re doing a good job of.

Painting of woman reading newspaper by Johanna Harmon

So Trump thinks health insurance costs $12 per year and you don’t use it until you’re 70 years old? WTF?! A little more:

TRUMP: Yeah. It’s been a tough process for him. This health care is a tough deal. I said it from the beginning. No. 1, you know, a lot of the papers were saying — actually, these guys couldn’t believe it, how much I know about it. I know a lot about health care. [garbled] This is a very tough time for him, in a sense, because of the importance. And I believe we get there.

This is a very tough time for them, in a sense, because of the importance. And I believe that it’s [garbled], that makes it a lot easier. It’s a mess. One of the things you get out of this, you get major tax cuts, and reform. And if you add what the people are going to save in the middle income brackets, if you add that to what they’re saving with health care, this is like a windfall for the country, for the people. So, I don’t know, I thought it was a great meeting. I bet the number’s — I bet the real number’s four. But let’s say six or eight. And everyone’s [garbled], so statistically, that’s a little dangerous, right?

Trump claims his “enemies” loved the horrible speech he gave in Poland.

TRUMP: I have had the best reviews on foreign land. So I go to Poland and make a speech. Enemies of mine in the media, enemies of mine are saying it was the greatest speech ever made on foreign soil by a president. I’m saying, man, they cover [garbled]. You saw the reviews I got on that speech. Poland was beautiful and wonderful, and the reception was incredible.

The “president” had a blast in France.

After that, it was fairly surprising. He [President Emmanuel Macron of France] called me and said, “I’d love to have you there and honor you in France,” having to do with Bastille Day. Plus, it’s the 100th year of the First World War. That’s big. And I said yes. I mean, I have a great relationship with him. He’s a great guy.

HABERMAN: He was very deferential to you. Very.

TRUMP: He’s a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand….

People don’t realize he loves holding my hand. And that’s good, as far as that goes….

I mean, really. He’s a very good person. And a tough guy, but look, he has to be. I think he is going to be a terrific president of France. But he does love holding my hand.

Claude Monet reading a newspaper, by Pierre Auguste Renoir

On the parade in Paris:

But the Bastille Day parade was — now that was a super-duper — O.K. I mean, that was very much more than normal. They must have had 200 planes over our heads. Normally you have the planes and that’s it, like the Super Bowl parade. And everyone goes crazy, and that’s it. That happened for — and you know what else that was nice? It was limited. You know, it was two hours, and the parade ended. It didn’t go a whole day. They didn’t go crazy. You don’t want to leave, but you have to. Or you want to leave, really.

These things are going on all day. It was a two-hour parade. They had so many different zones. Maybe 100,000 different uniforms, different divisions, different bands. Then we had the retired, the older, the ones who were badly injured. The whole thing, it was an incredible thing.

Seriously, he sounds like a child. Later Macron took Trump to Napoleon’s tomb.

TRUMP: Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” [garbled] The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather? [….]

Same thing happened to Hitler. Not for that reason, though. Hitler wanted to consolidate. He was all set to walk in. But he wanted to consolidate, and it went and dropped to 35 degrees below zero, and that was the end of that army….

But the Russians have great fighters in the cold. They use the cold to their advantage. I mean, they’ve won five wars where the armies that went against them froze to death. [crosstalk] It’s pretty amazing.

So what did Trump discuss with Putin during their recently revealed hour-long conversation after dinner at the G20?

We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don [Jr., Mr. Trump’s son] had in that meeting. As I’ve said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, “By the way, we have information on your opponent,” I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said [inaudible], “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?”

Reading the News, by Evariste Carpentier

Does Trump even know that when Putin talks about “adoptions” he’s actually referring to U.S. sanctions against individual Russian oligarchs? Probably not. Trump goes on to claim that he never saw the email stating that the Russian government was supporting him in the 2016 election. He then goes on to claim that Hillary Clinton strongly opposed sanctions on Russia.

TRUMP: Well, Hillary did the reset. Somebody was saying today, and then I read, where Hillary Clinton was dying to get back with Russia. Her husband made a speech, got half a million bucks while she was secretary of state. She did the uranium deal, which is a horrible thing, while she was secretary of state, and got a lot of money….

She was opposing sanctions. She was totally opposed to any sanctions for Russia.

BAKER: When was that?

HABERMAN: Do you remember when that was? I don’t remember that….

TRUMP: I just saw it. I just saw it. She was opposed to sanctions, strongly opposed to sanctions on Russia.

Cue the Twilight Zone music. There is much much more lunacy, but I’m running out of space. Please try to read the entire interview. I think it’s really important that we all understand how demented Trump really is.

Other important stories to check out:

Washington Post: John McCain, Republican senator from Arizona, diagnosed with brain tumor

CNN: Jeff Sessions: ‘I plan to continue’ as attorney general.

Bloomberg: Mueller Expands Probe to Trump Business Transactions. (Will Trump try to fire Mueller now?)

NYT: Manafort Was in Debt to Pro-Russia Interests, Cyprus Records Show (around $17 million in debt and to the same bank in Cyprus that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is connected with).

Politico: Republicans lament an agenda in ‘quicksand.’

Dakinikat posted this yesterday, but it’s worth reposting. The Daily Beast: GOP Lawmaker Got Direction From Moscow, Took It Back to D.C.

Paste Magazine: The Hidden Man: Why Paul Manafort is the Focal Point at the Trump Jr. Meeting.

NYT: Big German Bank, Key to Trump’s Finances, Faces New Scrutiny.

Misc. Monday Reads

I’ve spent the morning searching through a lot of things and finally decided to give in to my inner child.  There are many exciting things afoot that will feed my need to escape and dream.  These are times that require much escape.  These are times that require us to dream.

First, I’ve been a Doctor Who fan for a very long time. Tom Baker was my first doctor and will likely have that space in my heart relegated to sparking my imagination of time travel beyond a book.  I may have to make a huge amount of room for the new Dr Who, Jodie Whittaker. Not only is she a Whittaker with two ‘ts’ but she’s a she. That apparently is a bit too much for some men who can’t imagine the Doctor with a bevy of cute young male sidekicks.

Few TV casting announcements can have been as long awaited as the name of Doctor Who’s 13th Time Lord and when the revelation finally came it sent social media into a frenzy.

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world joined the debate about the news that Jodie Whittaker is to star as the first female Doctor.

While some people talked about the great role model the new Doctor would be for girls and women, others wondered why it had taken so long and some were firmly in the camp that the Doctor was only ever meant to be male.

People with young girls in their families appeared to be delighted at the announcement including David Owens who wrote: “My 8-year-old daughter pumped her fist and shouted “yes!” when the new @bbcdoctorwho was revealed. Think that tells you all you need to know.”

David Owens' tweetImage copyright DAVID OWENS

Simon Tucker responded saying: It’s great mate. My nieces can grow up in a world with a good Wonder Woman, a female Jedi, female ghostbusters & a female Dr Who.”

And @BlackRyu82 wrote: “My youngest daughter loves new Ghostbusters. We watched it together almost daily at one point. Super excited to watch Dr Who with her!”

Jodie Whittaker

One user applauded the move saying: “The lack of women, and lead women, in sci fi is embarrassing. Doctor Who just made a step in the right direction”.

And the casting milestone made some people feel quite emotional like Carla Joanne who tweeted: “Wow. I don’t even watch #DrWho & this made me choke up a little. I will def be tuning in”.

Be sure to check out All the Doctors, from Hartnell to Whittaker.

The 13th Doctor will make her debut on the sci-fi show when the Doctor regenerates in the Christmas special.  It is sweet that many former Doctors are speaking up for the 13th Doctor.

Colin Baker, the former Doctor Who actor, has hit out at the “very sad” reaction from some fans to the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the lead character in the new series.

Baker, 74, who held the role between 1984 and 1986, endorsed Whittaker as the first actress to play the part. He wrote on Twitter that he was surprised by fans who opposed the casting of Whittaker, 35, because she was a woman.

“Cannot deny that I am amazed by the ‘never watch it again’ reaction by some viewers (I hesitate to call them ‘fans’),” he wrote. “Very sad. To those making ‘parking the Tardis’ jokes — name me one male Doctor that was unfailingly good at that!”

One of the first books I shared with Doctor Daughter was A Wrinkle in Time. This wonderful book is a science fantasy novel written by American writer Madeleine L’Engle. It was first published in 1963. I jumped on it immediately as an 8 year old with an avid reading appetite. I think it was on my Scholastic Book Club order in 3rd grade and I was always allowed to order one each month.  It’s now coming out as a movie and I may have to make a trip to Seattle just so we can see it together.

Young actress Storm Reid stars as Meg Murry, with an all-star cast of adult actors backing her up, including the cosmic trio of Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which, Reese Witherspoon as Mrs. Whatsit, and Mindy Kaling as Mrs. Who. Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pine play Meg’s parents, Dr. Kate Murry and the mysteriously-missing Dr. Alex Murry. Newcomer Deric McCabe plays Meg’s gifted little brother, Charles Wallace.

We’re so excited for this movie, we’re gonna overlook the fact that the trailer contains yet another use of an edgy remake of a familiar pop song as its background music. A Wrinkle in Time will be out March 9, 2018.

And if course, folks can’t just let little girls and every one else enjoy that either without having issues with its young black star 13 year old Storm Reid but fuck them all.

Women are still badasses in the 7th season of Game of Thrones which debuted last night.  I had never been so thrilled to hear a song for opening credits in my life.  Several young women make the old men look like total piles of wimp.

Game of Thrones likes to keep viewers on their toes. Ever since Ned Stark’s (Sean Bean) head went rolling at the end of the first season, we knew that none of our favorite characters were safe. And with scenes like Red Wedding [shivers] or Margaery (Natalie Dormer) and the entire Sept going up into green flames, many of us accepted that if we wanted to feel good at the conclusion of a show, we should look elsewhere. But every once in awhile, the series comes through, like with the Purple Wedding, where Joffrey met his doom. And in the season seven premiere, the show catered to the demands of viewers in a really important way. If the opener was any indication, the seventh season of Game of Thrones is all about women as important, powerful players in the fight for the Seven Kingdoms.

The cold open sees Arya (Maisie Williams), with her new face-swapping skills, parading as the deceased Walder Frey (David Bradley) and murdering all of his men with a batch of poisoned wine. This is just another item crossed off of her to-do list, which is primarily made up of killing all of her enemies. Arya has been elevated to the status of an assassin hell-bent on revenge, yet we’re still rooting for her. This falls in line with the treatment of male characters that are driven to the point of no return and start killing everyone in sight — their murderous mission becomes an epic saga. I’m glad Arya’s is given the same respect.

Here’s my favorite young woman of the North.

… fierce Lady Mormont Bella Ramsey), the youngest in the bunch, would hear no objections to girls and women also training for combat. I don’t blame her. The white walkers don’t discriminate based on gender, nor should the living.

I’m thrilled to have my weekly visit to Westeros where all the men are tormented and all the women can swing a sword with the best of them.  Plus, DRAGONS!

There’s just something about Jane Austin that’s worth celebrating even after 200 years.  I spent many a night with a flashlight, an Austin book, and a blanket fort discovering her world and characters.

Australian politics is full of well known figures that resemble characters from Jane Austen novels, notes Paul Brunton, emeritus curator of the State Library of NSW.

Be they the “pompous, the stupid, the self-serving, the snobbish, the superficial and less often the sensible and altruistic”.

It is Austen’s ability to create characters recognisable in contemporary society – to “dissect human nature with the skill of a surgeon” – that marks her genius, says Brunton, and one reason among many to observe the 200th anniversary of the author’s death this Tuesday.

While the cause of Austen’s untimely death in Winchester, July 18, 1817, is disputed, a series of public events have been planned to celebrate the life and works of the novelist who wrote three classics of English literature before the age of 25.

Austen is as beloved as her fictional heroines.

Two-hundred years ago, on July 18, 1817, Jane Austen slipped away from the world, taken by a mysterious illness when she was just 41 years old.

But could anyone be more alive?

Two centuries after her death, the beloved British novelist who gave us Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy — the timeless, feisty, perfectly mismatched lovers of Pride and Prejudice — is as vital as any author who ever lived.

Rather than fade away like some antique English rose turned to dust, Austen remains robust, revered, widely read, celebrated and reinvented by contemporary novelists, a darling of Hollywood and the BBC. You could even say she’s a global brand.

The “spinster” author who spun literary gold out of marriage, money, society, love and the foibles of human nature in a mere handful of Regency novels (including EmmaSense and Sensibility and Persuasion), is up there with Shakespeare at the top of the pantheon, says Paula Byrne, British author of the newly updated The Genius of Jane Austen: Her Love of Theatre and Why She Works in Hollywood.

The Handmaid’s Tale (HULU version) has been nominated for 13 Emmies.  Samira Wiley is a shining star among the dynamic cast.

Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” racked up 13 Emmy nominations after its first season. The show, based on Margaret Atwood’s book “The Handmaid’s Tale,” is set in a dystopian society called Gilead, where handmaids are tasked with producing children for Commanders and their wives.

There has been a lot of buzz around the show, causing people to reflect on the state of our society in the current political climate. On Friday, NBC News caught up with Samira Wiley, who plays Moira, in the series, to celebrate her Emmy nomination for “Best Supporting Actress,” and to hear her thoughts on diversity, identity and the impact of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Image: Samira Wiley
Moira, played by Samira Wiley, is Offred’s (Elisabeth Moss) best friend from college, her fellow handmaid-in-training at the Red Center, and a connection to life before Gilead. Jill Greenberg / Hulu.


So, it’s hard being a woman in the Gilead version of the USA as well as the Trump Version of the USA. This is another book that I read the minute it came out.  Disturbing yet a vision of a woman who can fight through anything.  It’s a good thing we have some sheros who can help us escape. In some ways, reading so many good books was my first act of Resistance. I can only image that most of these writers hoped to influence a few folks with some very radical notions.

I hope you enjoyed a trip into fantasy and fiction for Monday.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Lazy Saturday Reads: Escape to Hope Island

Hope Island off the coast of Maine is for sale

Good Afternoon!!

Remember when we used to talk about finding a haven where we Sky Dancers could retreat from the world? If only we could raise $7.9 million, we could own this beautiful estate on an 86 acre private island, all we would have to do is to contact a west vancouver realtor and let him take care of everything else. From

A 25-minute boat ride from Portland, Maine, this estate on Casco Bay comes with more than just a three-bedroom, six-bathroom, 11,000-square-foot-plus main house.

Its $7,950,000 price tag also includes the 86-acre island on which it sits — Hope Island — along with a boathouse with an apartment; a barn with apartments; a carriage house; a tavern; a chapel; a stable; and a variety of other buildings all really well constructed and roofed by Roofing Chattanooga so water is never a problem. As you might assume, the home boasts some pretty incredible water views….

The island, with 11,050 feet of water frontage, has a rocky coastline, as well as sand beaches, a deepwater pier, and eight ponds.

In the main house, you’ll find two full stories and an unfinished basement. The kitchen boasts a center island with granite countertops with many different appliances from on top it, two bar sinks, cherry cabinetry, and a large pantry. The central entertainment room features custom millwork, a circular bar, built-ins, and French doors that lead to a terrace.

And from Boston Magazine:

Hope Island

The allure of Hope Island doesn’t rest on natural beauty alone, though. “No expense was spared in creating this magical island kingdom,” reads its property listing. What does that mean, exactly? For starters, there’s a more than 10,000-square-foot main house with six bathrooms, as well as several guest houses with tall fences from AAA-Fence Master, a pier, a sizable boat house, a 10-stall horse stable, a couple of barns, concrete roads, a chapel, and even a tavern.

According to the Portland Press Herald, the island is powered by generators and submerged marine cables from nearby Long Island. There are also 15 water wells and nine separate septic systems. And if you ever needed to run an errand on the mainland, Portland Harbor is only a 25-minute boat ride away.

And to top it off, it’s called “Hope Island.” If only we could escape from the nightmarish Trump world we currently inhabit to a beautiful island close to Canada.

Our latest national nightmare includes Republicans who now say that colluding with the Russian government to help elect a president of the U.S. is no big deal. In fact, it’s just politics as usual and anyone would do it in order to win. Yesterday Jennifer Rubin posted a scathing takedown of her party: The GOP’s moral rot is the problem, not Donald Trump Jr.

The key insight from a week of gobsmacking revelations is not that the Russia scandal may finally have an underlying crime but that, as David Brooks suggests, “over the past few generations the Trump family built an enveloping culture that is beyond good and evil.” (Remember when the media collectively oohed and ahhed that, “Say what you will about Donald Trump, but his kids are great!”?Add that to the heap of inane media narratives that helped normalize Trump to the voters.) We now see that, sure enough, the Trump legal team (the fastest-growing segment of the economy) has trouble restraining its clients, explaining away initial, false explanations and preventing self-incriminating statements. (The biggest trouble, of course, is that the president lied that this is all “fake news” and arguably committed obstruction of justice to hide his campaign team’s misdeeds.)

Hope Island

Let me suggest the real problem is not the Trump family, but the GOP. To paraphrase Brooks, “It takes generations to hammer ethical considerations out of a [party’s] mind and to replace them entirely with the ruthless logic of winning and losing.” Again, to borrow from Brooks, beyond partisanship the GOP evidences “no attachment to any external moral truth or ethical code.” [….]

Indeed, for decades now, demonization — of gays, immigrants, Democrats, the media, feminists, etc. — has been the animating spirit behind much of the right. It has distorted its assessment of reality, giving us anti-immigrant hysteria, promulgating disrespect for the law (how many “respectable” conservatives suggested disregarding the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage?), elevating Fox News hosts’ blatantly false propaganda as the counterweight to liberal media bias and preventing serious policy debate. For seven years, the party vilified Obamacare without an accurate assessment of its faults and feasible alternative plans. “Obama bad” or “Clinton bad” became the only credo — leaving the party, as Brooks said of the Trump clan, with “no attachment to any external moral truth or ethical code” — and no coherent policies for governing.

Please go read the rest. Other than the fact that she quotes David Brooks and she characterizes Hillary as “ethically challenged,” I can’t disagree with much in Rubin’s op-ed. The Republican Party has completely lost its moral compass over the past half-century, to the point that they now believe that winning and money are the only things that matter and that basic morality, Constitutional norms, even common human decency and compassion are utterly irrelevant.

Here’s the latest on Don Jr.’s Trump Tower collusion meeting from CNN:

Trump Tower Russia meeting: At least eight people in the room.

Hope Island

The June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort included at least eight people.

The revelation of additional participants comes as The Associated Press first reported Friday that a Russian-American lobbyist named Rinat Akhmetshin said he also attended the June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. CNN has reached out to Akhmetshin for comment.

So far acknowledged in attendance: Trump Jr., Kushner, Manafort, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Akhmetshin and publicist Rob Goldstone, who helped set up the meeting. A source familiar with the circumstances told CNN there were at least two other people in the room as well, a translator and a representative of the Russian family who had asked Goldstone to set up the meeting. The source did not provide the names.

That meeting is getting bigger and bigger with each passing day. How many more people were actually in attendance?

People on Twitter had a lot of fun with the expanding numbers yesterday:

I should be posting articles about the people who attended that meeting, but I just don’t have the stomach for much more today. I’ll post some links in the comment thread. I have two more pieces to share and then I’ll end for today and try to get involved in some escapist fiction.

Edward Price at Politico: Why Does Jared Kushner Still Have a Security Clearance?

…the latest revelations undeniably have raised additional questions about the judgment of key figures in President Trump’s orbit, namely his eldest son Donald Jr., his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Only Kushner, however, holds an administration position and, as a result, a Top Secret security clearance.

The fact that Kushner, by all accounts, retains that clearance is an affront to America’s national security and a slap in the face to the career professionals subject to a different set of rules. I know this because, as a career CIA officer and later a spokesman for the National Security Council, I used to be one of them.

First, let’s review what we’ve learned about Kushner. He is among several Trump administration officials and associates to have acknowledged, long after the fact, his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak. In one such previously undisclosed meeting with Kislyak, Kushner reportedly sought to establish a covert backchannel with Moscow, employing Russian communication equipment in an apparent effort to evade U.S. surveillance. At the ambassador’s request, moreover, Kushner also met with the head of a Russian bank under U.S. sanctions, a discussion that went unreported for months. The banker, Sergei Gorkov, has close ties to Russia’s intelligence services.

Hope Island

In recent days, moreover, the Trump administration confirmed that Kushner also attended a June 9, 2016, meeting with a Russian, who—in an email forwarded to Kushner—was described as a “government lawyer” privy to Moscow’s effort to denigrate Hillary Clinton and advantage Trump. In the face of persistent questions, Trump administration officials had—until last weekend—maintained for months that no campaign operatives had held any meetings with Russians. Kushner, it seems, was content to allow his White House colleagues to make liars of themselves as he left himself open to being compromised by the Kremlin, which has almost certainly known the truth all along.

I am confident in saying that my clearance would have been immediately revoked had I, as a career CIA officer, been accused of a fraction of these activities. In my case, the clearance process culminating in my first day at Langley lasted approximately a year, fairly standard for the period. It consisted of interviews, psychological exams and a lie detector test, while my family, friends and neighbors were subjected to questions about everything from my financial health to my drinking habits by humorless federal agents. When I ultimately was cleared to join the ranks of the CIA, the imperatives of unimpeachable integrity and sound judgment were stressed at every turn. It’s a mantra that becomes an ethos for our national security officials.

Read the rest at Politico.

Joy Reid at The Daily Beast: So This Is What American Greatness Really Looks Like?

This week, Garry Kasparov, former Russian chess champion and perennial critic of Vladimir Putintweeted about what autocrats do when caught: “1: Deny, lie, slander accusers. 2: Say it was a misunderstanding. 3. Boast & say ‘What are you going to do about it?’”

The day after that tweet, Donald Trump stood on a dais in Paris beside the French president and said of his son’s now-confirmed willingness to receive campaign help for his father from Russia: “I think it’s a meeting that most people in politics probably would have taken.”

That would be jaw dropping and bizarre coming from a mob boss at his pretrial hearing, let alone from the president of the United States. But that line is now standard issue among much of Trump’s political party, which has come around to the notion that collusion with a foreign power—even an adversarial one like Russia—is no big deal.

Trump, his family, and his defenders in the once Grand Old Party have mounted various defenses for his campaign’s collusion with Russians and their cutouts to win the 2016 presidential election. They have tried to ignore Russiagate. They have said collusion with Russia never happened. They have blamed Hillary ClintonBarack Obama, and Loretta Lynch (Trump now says the Russian government lawyer who met with Donald Jr. was only in the country because Lynch let her in. It will surprise no one to discover that’s not true.) And they have landed on the notion that even if collusion did happen, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Check off all three of the Kasparov boxes.

Click on the link and read the rest.

I hope all you Sky Dancers have a nice weekend and that Robert Mueller is working hard to rescue our once-great nation.

Thursday Reads: The “President” Is An Embarrassing Disgrace

Jacques Joseph Tissot, 1836

Good Afternoon!!

After reading about happiness language in JJ’s post yesterday, I’m wondering if there is an untranslatable word for the feeling I get when the President of the United States behaves so disgracefully on the world stage that he embarrasses himself, his administration and every U.S. citizen with half a brain and a shred of decency.

Last night Trump made a complete fool of himself at a press conference in Warsaw with the authoritarian president of Poland. He followed this with a speech to an audience that had been bused in to applaud him. The Independent:

According to the Associated Press, ruling politicians and pro-government activists plan to bus in groups of people to cheer Mr Trump during his speech.

Some of the measures being taken are straight from the Communist Party playbook, hearkening back to the days of Soviet rule when crowds would be bussed to Warsaw to welcome visiting officials from Moscow.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Law and Justice Party member Dominik Tarcznski said: “It’s going to be huge – absolutely huge. They just love him, the people in Poland – they just really love him.” [….]

According to a survey released last week by the Pew Research Centre, 73 per cent of Poles have a favourable view of the US but just 23 per cent have confidence in Mr Trump, compared with 58 per cent at the end of Barack Obama’s second term in office.

During the brief question-and-answer period with Poland’s President Duda, Trump managed to hit all the high points: he bragged about his election victory; he reiterated his hatred of the media and especially CNN; he attacked former President Obama; he criticized and lied about U.S. intelligence agencies; he suggested that NBC should be supportive of him because he made them “a fortune” with The Apprentice; and he made vague threats against North Korea.

Articles on Trump’s Poland performance:

The Artist’s Mother While Reading The Figaro, by Mary Cassatt, 1878

The Washington Post: In Poland, Trump offers a questionable credential: Polish Americans preferred me to Clinton.

With President Trump, it all comes back to November 2016. So we are not surprised when, during a visit to Poland, he uses his electoral vote tallies as a means of establishing his bona fides.

“As you know,” he said during a news conference Thursday morning in Warsaw, “Polish Americans came out in droves, they voted in the last election, and I was very happy with that result.”

“The Poles have not only greatly enriched this region,” he said a bit later at a public event, “but Polish Americans have also greatly enriched the United States. And I was truly proud to have their support in the 2016 election.”

If this weren’t Trump, we’d probably find this assertion a little weird as a means of making his case to the people of a country he was visiting. But since it is Trump, a different question arises: Is what he said true?

The answer is complicated. You can read about it at the WaPo if you’re so inclined. But why should anyone in Poland care?

The Washington Post: Trump took a question from a reporter he considered hiring and used it to bash the media.

President Trump spoke for about seven minutes during a joint news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw on Thursday before an interpreter opened the session to questions from journalists. Without hesitation, Trump called on the Daily Mail’s David Martosko, who was a candidate to become White House press secretary before withdrawing from consideration two weeks ago.

“I have to ask about this,” Martosko said, after starting on the subject of North Korean nuclear deterrence. “Since you started the whole wrestling thing, what are your thoughts about what has happened since then? I mean CNN went after you and has threatened to expose the identity of a person they said was responsible for it. I’d like your thoughts on that.”

Miss Ann Thropy, by Henry Heath, English illustrator, 1824-1828

“Yeah, I think what CNN did was unfortunate for them,” Trump replied. “As you know, now they have some pretty serious problems. They have been fake news for a long time. They’ve been covering me in a very, uh, very dishonest way.”

“Do you have that also, by the way, Mr. President?” Trump said, turning to Duda.

He continued: “But CNN and others — and others; I mean NBC is equally as bad, despite the fact that I made them a fortune with ‘The Apprentice,’ but they forgot that. But I will say that CNN has really taken it too seriously, and I think they’ve hurt themselves very badly, very, very badly. And what we want to see in the United States is honest, beautiful, free — but honest — press. We want to see fair press. I think it’s a very important thing. We don’t want fake news.

“And by the way, not everybody is fake news. But we don’t want fake news. Bad thing. Very bad for our country.”

Media Matters has the direct quote of Trump bashing CNN and NBC News: At a press conference in Poland, Trump complains that CNN and NBC are not nice enough to him.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think what CNN did was unfortunate for them, as you know now they have some pretty serious problems. They have been fake news for a long time. They have been covering me in a very, very dishonest way. Do you have that also, by the way, Mr. President? With CNN and others, I mean, and others. NBC is equally as bad despite the fact that I made them a fortune with The Apprentice, but they forgot that. But, I will say that CNN has really taken it too seriously and I think they’ve hurt themselves very badly, very, very badly. And, what we want to see in the United States is honest, beautiful, free, but honest press. We want to see fair press. I think it’s a very important thing. We don’t want fake news. And, by the way, not everybody is fake news. But we don’t want fake news. Bad thing. Very bad for our country.

Talking Points Memo: Trump Won’t Pin 2016 Election Hacking On Russia: ‘Nobody Really Knows.’

by Edgar Degas

President Donald Trump on Thursday morning declined to single out Russia for attempting to interfere in the United States’ 2016 election, arguing that it’s not completely clear that Russia was solely responsible for the hacking attempts.

“I think it was Russia. And I think it could have been other people and other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered,” Trump said at a press conference in Warsaw, Poland, with Polish President Andrzej Duda. “I said it very simply. I think it could very well have been Russia. But I think it could well have been other countries. And I won’t be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere.”

Rather than going after Russia, Trump hit former President Barack Obama for his delayed response to Russian hacking attempts.

“He did nothing about it,” Trump said of Obama. “They say he choked. Well, I don’t think he choked. I think what happened is he thought Hillary was going to win the election, and he said, ‘Let’s not do anything about it.’”

If President Obama did “nothing,” why is Trump so hot to free Russia from the sanctions imposed by Obama and give back the Russian-owned compounds Obama ordered shut down?

The “president” is a moron.

by Edward Lamson Henry, 1874

ShareBlue: “Dear lady.” American journalist’s mic cut after asking Trump about Russia.

Since Trump has largely avoided the media, his joint appearance with the president of Poland offered the rare opportunity for American journalists to ask him important questions about the forthcoming meeting.

NBC’s Hallie Jackson seized the opportunity to ask Trump to definitively agree with the finding of American intelligence agencies that Russia did in fact interfere in the 2016 election.

“You think it was Russia. Your intelligence agencies have been far more definitive. Why won’t you just agree with them and say it was?” Jackson asked.

Trump once again refused to do so. “Nobody really knows,” he said. “Nobody really knows for sure.”

When Jackson tried to ask a follow-up question, the announcer cut her off, saying “Dear lady, two questions, thank you very much. Thank you very much, must go.”

The Atlantic: Trump Weighs a ‘Pretty Severe’ Response to North Korea’s ICBM Test.

President Trump warned of “some pretty severe things” in response to North Korea’s test this week of a long-range missile, raising the rhetoric over Pyongyang’s launch of what it called an intercontinental ballistic missile.

“We’ll see what happens. I don’t like to talk about what we have planned, but I have some pretty severe things that we’re thinking about,” Trump said in Warsaw at a news conference with Andrzej Duda, the Polish president. “They are behaving in a very, very serious manner, and something will have to be done about it.”

Trump’s remarks come a day after Nikki Haley, his ambassador to the UN, warned that while the U.S. preferred a diplomatic approach to resolving the crisis over North Korea, the U.S. “is prepared to use the full range of our capabilities to defend ourselves and our allies.”

“One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces,” she said. “We will use them, if we must, but we prefer not to have to go in that direction.”

Morning Sun, by Harold Knight, 1874

More stories to check out:

E.J. Dionne at the Washington Post: Trump has made our politics ridiculous.

Jamelle Bouie at Slate: It Will Get Worse. The false promise of Trump’s impeachment will not save America from true disaster.

Cass Sunstein at Bloomberg: A Graceless President, a National Betrayal.

Trudy Rubin at the Philadelphia Inquirer: In Poland, Trump shows ignorance of basic U.S. values.

The New York Times on CNN: The Network Against the Leader of the Free World.

The Daily Beast: Trump Aides Want Kremlin Critic in Putin Meeting.

The Washington Post: Phone taps, power plays and sarcasm: What it’s like to negotiate with Vladimir Putin.

The Washington Post: Trump’s tweets have suddenly grown a lot more dangerous.

Linda Greenhouse on Neil Gorsuch: Trump’s Life-Tenured Judicial Avatar.

The Daily Beast: DOJ Forces Hobby Lobby to Return Artifacts Taken From Iraq.

So . . . what stories are you following today?

Wednesday Reads: Grabbing Justice by the Pussy …Hump Day Cartoons 

This cartoon by Marian Kamensky  says it all!

See all those people in the riot behind tRump? That is what I see everyday here in Banjoville. 

 At least one reporter spoke up yesterday during the White House Press Conference, in what has become the tRump regime’s latest attempt to grab democracy by the pussy. 

And would you believe in the same conference that thing behind the podium went on to suggest….

….a video by James O’Keefe. 

It really begs this question:

And all I can say is, take a look at one of the responses to that tweet:

What does that mean? Are other news outlets forcing their colleagues to “follow” these outrageous rules being set against the press and by extension the people? Authoritarian rule.  I suggest a new set going forward for the WH press room:

I think the beams of light give it a nice historical feel…Bannon will like that, and so will the crowd of hateful moronic shitheads that don’t have a problem with the fall of our democracy and freedom. 

I realize that I keep harping on this GOP healthcare bill being the tRump Administration’s “final solution” ….but think about it. 

Do you see it?

Tell me if I am not drawing conclusions that are not too far fetched?

Next up… a few quick hits:


Alright enough.  More cartoons, because:

End this on a funny or die note:

This is an open thread. 

(I hope the format isn’t too bad, I had to do this post on my phone. )

Wednesday Reads: Passing the Death Bill …Hump Day Cartoons 

The assholes are determined to pass the death bill. Meanwhile, Dak is hunkered down amongst torrential rainstorms and tornadoes. 

So this will be a quick post:

06/21 Mike Luckovich: Ken gets real.

This is an open thread.