Knives Out

[4.5 stars] [IMDb Link]

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Netflix's algorithm thought I'd love this movie. It was correct. Smart non-formulaic writing, sympathetic heroes, fine acting, interesting plot. That's all I ask.

Daniel Craig plays legendary private investigator Benoit Blanc. (In the mold of Hecule Poirot, a deductive wizard with a sharp eye and some endearing quirks. Like singing showtunes when left to his own devices.) He's been hired by an anonymous client to investigate the grisly death of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer): was it suicide, or murder most foul?

There are suspects galore, many played by actors and actresses of renown. Mostly members of the large Thrombey clan, but there's also that pretty nurse; it becomes obvious pretty quickly that she knows more than she's telling.

As an extra bonus, if you pay close attention to the small talk between characters, seeming irrelevancies become important later. I love that too. (You can go to the IMDB trivia page to see if you missed any.)

Last Modified 2024-01-23 2:06 PM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2020-03-22 Update

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I hear you wondering: is that your faithful blogger who posed for the cover photo of the Amazon Product du Jour?

Why, yes. Yes, that's me. Fake background, though.

Well, according to the oddsmakers, we're really down to two likely winning candidates, no more or less: President Bone Spurs and Wheezy Joe. Last week's long-shot betting flirtation with Hillary and VP Pence has subsided to put them below our 2% inclusion threshold… but not that far below.

Note that the bettors have essentially made the Trump/Biden race a coin-flip. Trump is still the landside phony-hit winner, though, with a 3-to-1 advantage:

Candidate WinProb Change
Donald Trump 47.0% -0.6% 1,530,000 -50,000
Joe Biden 46.0% +2.0% 469,000 +6,000

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

  • P. J. O'Rourke looks at the field in the latest issue of American Consequences, and he writes as if Bernie still has a shot. But I think he's talking about our fair country, when he titles his article Old Enough To Know Better.

    In fact, the entire 2020 presidential campaign has turned into a remake of Grumpy Old Men. And when that 1993 movie was released, Jack Lemmon (at 68) and Walter Matthau (at 73) were younger than any of the three front-running presidential candidates will be on Election Day.

    Being a grumpy old man myself, I guess I should be… whatchamacallit… word’s on the tip of my tongue… Huh? What’s that? Speak up, goldurnit! And where are my dang bifocals?… Oh… I’m wearing them… Anyway, as I was saying… What was I saying?

    We might as well just go ahead and call 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue “The White Home” – A National Assisted Living Facility.

    Trump is much too old and far too big for his britches to be hanging around the political playground making up nasty nicknames and teasing the wimpy kids. One of these days, his big fat old ego is going to get stuck in the slide, bend the monkey bars, or break the swing set seat.

    Joe Biden is a zombie from the policy cemetery of the Carter era, with a stump performance like Election Night of the Living Dead.

    And Bernie Sanders is the decrepit grouch who should be sitting on a park bench in Boca Raton, grouching about his grandchildren voting for Bernie Sanders.

    All too true. Allow me a bonus excerpt. Even though we've gone past worrying about the Elizabeth Warren Menace, P.J. quotes an exchange our governor, Chris Sununu, had with WBZ radio guy Dan Rea:

    Dan Rea: “Governor, it looks like Elizabeth Warren is getting a real beating in New Hampshire. What did she do wrong?”

    Gov. Sununu: “She campaigned here.”

    Dan Rae: “And…”

    Gov. Sununu: “People got to know her.”

  • I usually take Politifact fact-checking with … not a grain of salt, but a couple of these:

    [giant halite cubes]

    But they seem to have Our Epidemiologist-in-Chief dead to rights with his recent claim about the pandemic. Trump on March 17:

    Q: "Some people did note that your tone seemed more somber yesterday. […] Was there a shift in tone?

    DJT: I didn't think -- I mean, I have seen that, where people actually liked it. But I didn't feel different. I've always known this is a -- this is a real -- this is a pandemic. I've felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic. All you had to do is look at other countries. I think now it's in almost 120 countries all over the world.

    Trump on January 22:

    JOE KERNEN: --are there worries about a pandemic at this point?

    PRESIDENT TRUMP: No. Not at all. And-- we’re-- we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s—going to be just fine.

    Politifact gives Trump a deserved "Pants on Fire" rating. But in fairness:

    • How seriously can you take Trump's claim that he "felt" it was a pandemic "long before it was called a pandemic"?
    • I'm not sure—even now—he has a firm handle on what a pandemic is.
    • The WHO didn't call Covid-19 a pandemic until March 11. So we're gonna bust Trump's chops about not calling it a pandemic on January 22?

    But, yeah, Trump's a notorious bullshitter on this, as he is on every other topic.

  • Atlantic staff writer Adam Serwer points his shaky finger of blame: Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality Did This. "This" being, … well, whatever this is, I guess.

    Trump and the conservative media apparatus have had the predictable impact of persuading audiences not to take health officials’ warnings seriously, viewing them as just another liberal “hoax.” One pastor in Arkansas told The Washington Post that “half of his church is ready to lick the floor, to prove there’s no actual virus,” adding that “in your more politically conservative regions, closing is not interpreted as caring for you. It’s interpreted as liberalism, or buying into the hype.”

    Conservatives have argued that it is the mainstream media’s fault for being so relentlessly negative about the president. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tweeted that “one of the dangerous consequences of having a totally dishonest left wing news media was that most Americans discounted their hysteria as phony.” Gingrich’s attempted indictment of the mainstream press is a backhanded acknowledgment that the conservative media do not conceive of their job as informing the public.

    Well, that's overblown. Are Trump and "conservative media" to blame for death tolls in Italy and Iran?

  • TruthDig contributor Bill Blum looked back on last week's Biden-Sanders debate, and came to a glum (for him) conclusion: Like It or Not, Donald Trump Won the Biden-Sanders Debate.

    More importantly, neither landed much of a blow against Donald Trump, who will square off against one of them in November. That failure made Trump the big winner of the night, and a major failure it was, especially because the candidates were served a softball question on the all-consuming issue of the coronavirus by CNN’s Jake Tapper at the outset of the debate, inviting each to appraise Trump’s handling of the crisis and to tell us what they would do differently as president.

    Biden, who has never been a good debater, answered that we are “in a war” with the virus and that he would provide funding for temporary hospitals to meet “the surge” in our medical needs, even calling out the military to help build the makeshift facilities. He invoked, as is his wont, the experience of the Obama administration in dealing with public-health emergencies as models that he would follow in his own administration. But like the gaffe-prone speaker he is, he referred to the Obama administration’s handling of the “N1H1” flu when he meant to say “H1N1,” and to the “coronavirus” before correcting himself and saying, “Ebola.”

    Sanders, who is generally a good debater, got off to a strong start, remarking, “The first thing we’ve got to do is to shut this president up right now because he is undermining the scientists and the doctors who are trying to help the American people. It is unacceptable for him to be blabbering with unfactual [sic] information that is confusing the general public.” But he then went on to discuss how he would handle the “Ebola” outbreak with universal single-payer health care before correcting himself to reference the coronavirus.

    TruthDig, of course, is usually the number one hit in our phony query for Wheezy Joe: Joe Biden Is a Fraud, Plain and Simple.

  • The Church Militant also tries to boost Joe's phony numbers: Phony Catholic Joe Biden Locks Nomination.

    Biden's record on abortion is rated 0% by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) indicating the highest pro-abortion rating. His record includes

    • Voting NO on defining unborn child as eligible for SCHIP
    • Voting NO on prohibiting minors crossing state lines for abortion
    • Voting YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines
    • Voting NO on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortion
    • Voting YES on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives
    • Voting NO on maintaining ban on Military Base Abortions
    • Voting YES on banning partial birth abortions
    • Voting NO on banning human cloning

    Biden and other prominent Catholics politicians including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Secretary of State John Kerry have rationalized their wildly radical abortion positions by adopting an "I accept Church rule personally, but not in public life" perch.

    That's a phony stance I would guess politicians take on non-abortion issues too, but I'd guess that abortion is the most common.

  • And in the running for the Libertarian Party nod is one Vermin Supreme, who gave us a phony hit with his tweet.

    I'm not sure the everyone-gets-a-pony plank will fly with the big-L Libertarians.

Last Modified 2024-02-02 4:53 AM EDT