Friday, July 31, 2020

100 Words: Here’s a movie I’d love to see but probably won’t

It’s “Greyhound,” starring Tom Hanks in a WWII flick featuring a running battle between a US destroyer and German UBoat. Hanks also wrote the script, which was inspired by actual events, adapting C.S. Forester’s “The Good Shepherd” and continuing the book’s meticulous accuracy. I was surprised to learn that Hanks also wrote and produced “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific” miniseries. Even though I dearly love Forester’s Horatio Hornblower novels and other work as well, I probably won’t see this movie because it’s streaming on Apple TV+, which I don’t get and is one too many streaming services for me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

100 Words: It’s foolish to expect anything good out of Barr

Word that the attorney general is defending use of Trump’s new gestapo is not surprising, any more than his defense of pardoning Roger Stone. Barr is a criminal just like Trump. Once Trump is out of office, he needs to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, along with Barr and his other enablers. Maybe that’s impossible. Probably it’s impossible. But it does not change the fact that they deserve it. My greatest fear is that this lawless, immoral administration will use its brown shirts to attempt a coup d'é·tat once it’s clear they have lost the election.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

100 Words: MI 5 is hard to stop watching

I’ve almost finished season 10 of MI 5, one of the most gripping and intelligent TV shows ever made. The plots seem real and are full of surprises, with each episode a cliff-hanger. In fact, every episode is so riveting it's extremely hard not to keep watching the next one without interruption. Many characters—people we really care about—are killed off, giving MI 5 a hard shell of credibility. There's no room for sentimentality, as we feel ourselves being dragged ever more deeply into Harry Pearce's tense spy world. A revival supposedly is under consideration. Sure hope it happens.

Monday, July 13, 2020

100 Words: “Line of Duty” one of the best police procedurals ever

Looking for some riveting TV? Try this 2012 series (on Prime and Britbox). Seasons 1-4 (6 in all) are addictive with unending plot twists, complex characters, and a breakneck pace. Being based on real life usually doesn’t matter--except in this case it does because nobody could write like this without real-life insider knowledge--plus an incredibly devious mind. Not surprisingly, it’s based on real anti-corruption police units in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and anonymously advised by a real cop. The script is uncompromising and very smart. Masterful performances make you care about the people as much as unraveling the plot.

Monday, July 6, 2020

100 Words: Speed Bump is the smartest comic of all

Creator Dave Coverly’s one-panel comic strip is the most brilliant ever at portraying life’s absurdity: 1) One wolf with cell phone to another: “You can save a lot of huffing and puffing if you hack into the pig’s security system.” 2) Chipmunk to birds and bees conversing in next diner booth: “Hey, we got kids here. Do you mind talking about something a little more appropriate?” 3) Two bewigged gentlemen in 18th century coffee house studying scrolls: “Sure, WE hold these truths to be self-evident, but we’re, like, really smart.” That’s how Speed Bump makes me feel, too.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

100 Words: Garfield’s creator knew what he was up to

Perhaps cat lovers enjoy Garfield because the strip mirrors their own cats’ aloofness and misbehavior. But portraying social awkwardness, gluttony, and cat-worship does not seem like cutting-edge commentary. Maybe it is, though. Garfield is a cat who craves lasagna all the time and develops a rebellious streak against societal rules. Sound like anyone familiar? In 1982, Garfield’s creator Jim Davis admitted that the strip was a conscious effort to create a good, marketable character. “Snoopy is very popular in licensing. Charlie Brown is not.” Davis, now 75, has a net worth of $800 million. I’d argue that was no accident.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

100 Words: Analyzing Garfield’s Appeal

I asked readers to analyze the enduring popularity of cartoonist Jim Davis’ Garfield. If you did, thanks. I appreciate it. I know why I read Pearls, Dilbert, Speed Bump, and Peanuts. But Garfield? “We live in a time when we feel guilty about not exercising and over-sleeping and over-eating, but Garfield’s cool with that. I think that is what people really appreciate about him,” Davis told the Washington Post. A Thai researcher who analyzed 624 “Garfield” strips found that the two most frequently occurring themes were 1) Jon’s silly ideas or actions when dealing with women and 2) Garfield’s gluttony.

Friday, July 3, 2020

100 Words: Here’s what happens when you have too much time on your hands

I analyzed “Garfield,” Jim Davis’ comic strip created in 1978. Why analyze it? See headline. Also, curiosity. For that matter, why read comics at all? Maybe because I crave narrative. And a picture truly is worth a thousand words. Comics provide easy entertainment value and sometimes insight. But Garfield? In my research, I discovered the strip, which is syndicated in over 2500 newspapers, makes an estimated $750 million to $1 billion annually on merchandise. What do you think makes Garfield so popular after all these years? Tell me and then I’ll give you the right answer. (Just getting into character.)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

100 Words: Comic commiseration for rejected writers

I love re-reading Peanuts, a comic strip that I liked as a child but got away from as I “matured.” Now I see its wisdom more clearly. A favorite is the one where Snoopy, who fancies himself an author, gets a rejection slip in his mailbox: “Dear Contributor, We are returning your stupid story. You are a terrible writer. Why do you bother us? We wouldn’t buy one of your stories if you paid us. Leave us alone. Drop dead. Get lost.” Lying on his doghouse, Snoopy thinks, “Probably a form rejection slip.” A real writer most certainly wrote that.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

100 Words: Two reasons for hope

One-The only way to return to normalcy is by providing a vaccine to protect against the coronavirus. We are about a third of the way there, according to a USA Today vaccine panel designed to offer readers an objective, nonpartisan understanding. ‘The brightest minds in the world are in this fight, and they are moving with an incredible sense of urgency.” Two: a recent newspaper poll finds that most Americans support reforming law enforcement to reduce police brutality against African Americans. Favored reforms include weeding out bad cops, focus policing on serious and violent crimes, and stop buying military gear.