As if it wasn’t enough for the joyless, bitter scolds among the wokerati to have an absolute tizzy over the head of Goya Foods being civil and respectful of the office of the President of the US, another provider of excellent and relatively inexpensive foodstuffs is in their cross-hairs. Unlike the president of Goya Foods who basically told them to pound sand – and is now enjoying the economic benefits of having defied the wokerati – the management of Trader Joe’s is beating a sniveling and apologetic retreat, and promising to redo their policy of labeling their various ethnic food items with a suitably ethnic variation on ‘Trader Something-or-Other’. This was a bit of light-hearted bit of humor on their part, playing with naming stereotypes, but good lord, the grim and determined wokerati cannot abide any humor at all and so the whole concept must go. The Daughter Unit tells me, and the above link conforms, that the whole thing started as a petition by high school students, which doesn’t surprise me in the least. I suspect the responsible students are the earnest and censorious sorts, desperately trying to out-woke each other.
Frankly, the whole ‘Trader Joe’s’ South Sea Island – Tropical Paradise motif always struck me as a last gasp of the 1950s ‘Tiki Culture’ and about the only one which didn’t involve a bar decorated with fishing nets and dried starfish, and fru-fru drinks with little umbrellas in them. Trader Joe’s various products are high quality, reasonably priced, and the social-consciousness is laid on with a light hand, in pleasant contrast with the mountain of ostentatious correctitude and high prices offered at Whole Foods. There is a reason the latter is derisively known as “Whole Paycheck.” I can only think it’s only a matter of time before the social justice warriors go after Trader Joe’s for that bit of cultural appropriation as well.
At least the providers of groceries are not having as rotten a year due to the Chinese Commie Crud as Hollywood is. Theaters shut down, premieres cancelled, top-flight releases like Greyhound, with Tom Hanks and based on C.S. Foresters’ war novel The Good Shepherd diverted to release on streaming video, the fall-out from “Me Too” and Harvey Weinstein’s wholesale-level practice of the casting couch, the apparent urge among our producers of entertainment to whore after foreign audiences, and now looking to curry favor with the hot new trend of ‘anyone but white heterosexuals in front of the camera and behind it as well as behind it in any capacity’ … well, Establishment Hollywood has earned the foul reputation they richly deserve. Those of us in flyover country are watching old movies on DVD (from our own libraries, let it be known) or on streaming video, watching foreign films or series – practically anything other than grim parables and lectures by the wokerati.
Comment as you wish: what are you going to watch, now? The Daughter Unit and I are watching episodes of Are You Being Served? Which has the side benefit of being gloriously politically incorrect, and not featuring any masks or six-foot apart social distancing. (The Daughter Unit and I temped for a few months at an upscale department store over the holiday season some years ago. We consider ‘Served’ as nearly a documentary on retail sales at a certain level.)
37 thoughts on “Oh, FFS!”
After perusing our selection of movies I settled on “The Man Who Would be King” (on a Blue-ray DVD), turned on the tube, player and stereo, and kicked back to watch that fabulous movie. It gets better every time I see it, with Connery and Caine chewing on the scenery, Plummer playing Kipling with profound respect, and Saeed Jaffrey superbly playing the Gurkha, “Billy Fish”.
Massively politically incorrect, and yet another movie which could never be made today. No CGI, either, just a cast of what looked like tens of thousands.
The trouble with current Hollywood releases is that – now they have half a century and more of excellent classic movies, or even good and relatively obscure ones to go up against. The current crop? Ugh … why waste your evening, when you could be watching something like “The Man Who Would Be King” on a home theater system, or at least a big-screen TV.
We watched 1776, much browsing of Curiosity Stream, the kids are working through the Animated Batman again (1992-1995 one, of course), and Crunchy Roll is getting heavy use for stuff like My Hero Academia and That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime. Oh, and we’re supposed to watch Howl’s Moving Castle soon. ™
I think the most recent big Hollywood type movie we watched was Clue. In theaters, Frozen II, because we have four daughters ten or under.
Oh, wait, we inhaled Mandalorian too, best western of our times.
I go back with Trader Joes to Pronto Market on Mission Road in Pasadena. It was a family market and the family lived up above. Joe Columbo was the son who built the business and then sold it about 15 years ago. The buyers are obviously the typical corporate pussies.
When the Columbo family owned the market, they rented the top floor apartment to LA County OBGYN residents. I don’t know the story but it was a tradition that went before my time. They were a great family. Times have changed.
I can’t tolerate the majority of the offerings on television or in the theaters, these days.
The last time I really enjoyed network television was “Justified”. Everything else? Feh.
The amazing thing is how pervasive the “crap” is; I have a shared Amazon account with my mom, who loves Brit mysteries and so forth. Most of the offerings on Britbox, Acorn, and mHZ are equally intolerable to what’s on American TV–It’s all trite, politically correct, and totally unwatchable. There are a few gems out there like “Inspector Montalbano”, but they’re rare.
Frankly, describing it as a “vast wasteland” is pretty much over-egging the pudding. It’s more a sere desert, devoid of virtues.
The book market ain’t much better. I’m currently re-reading my Bujold, and have re-read “Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance” about a half-dozen times. I don’t know why, but it’s just… Comforting.
Too bad there isn’t much of anything else out there.
I read “The Good Shepherd” on a recommendation from a good friend just before the movie was announced.
While I’d like to see it, I’ll wait until it’s available on some third party site. Or, not. I’m good either way. The book was superb, and that’s good enough for me.
Die, Hollywood, die!
I don’t understand why anyone compares Whole Foods to any other supermarket or grocery store. It’s an excellent choice if you’re looking for bulk spices or perhaps some obscure spice that McCormick’s doesn’t offer. It’s great for out of the ordinary vegetables, but — organic or not — it’s not the place to buy russet potatoes or yellow onions. Their cheese selections couldn’t even accommodate my rather ordinary tastes — no plain havarti? It would be impossible to buy groceries to feed a family of four for one week there even if price was not a consideration. It is a specialty store, not a grocery store.
Donna B – our local Sprouts covers what’s offered at Whole Paycheck rather nicely; the same array of bulk spices, etc.
Try Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister original version BBC doco???on
I picked through Netflix carefully and settled on The Highwaymen with Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson which is about the two Texas Rangers who caught Bonnie and Clyde. It’s good. Netflix also has the old movie Airplane! which could not be made in today’s Hollywood, but I laughed a lot. As for books….I stick to the classics and a small group of mystery/thriller writers. I heartily recommend C.J. Box’s books and I’ve been reading some Catholic urban thrillers by Declan Finn which are pretty decent.
Sgt. Mom, thanks for the heads up on Sprouts. I didn’t know they existed and there is a near local store to me. Will have to check them out.
As to movies. As soon as our living room finishes getting painted and the TV goes back up on the wall, we are about to embark on another epic journey to Middle Earth and watch all 6 extended editions of the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings masterpieces of sight and sound. We also regularly make our way through Tome Cruise’s Mission Impossible series along with his (all time favorite) Edge of Tomorrow (Live, Die, Repeat) which for me is the best Sci-fi love story of all time and the combination of sound and effects in our living room mini-theater is exhilarating. I love Bill Paxton’s role as the no-nonsense Chief Master Sargent and I too fall in love with Emily Blunt every time I watch the movie…my wife understands. ;-) My wife has made her way through all of her versions of Pride and Prejudice (see has every one ever made) and never seems to tire of Mr. Darcy, et al. not to mention her slow scroll through the years of NCIS and Gibbs, her favorite character of all time (we named our dog after Jethro Leroy Gibbs).
Yes minister and yes prime minister, best lessons on how any government works plus the writing is exceptional,drool and histerically funny
If you don’t mind subtitles, the Korean drama series “Mr. Sunshine,” is just excellent on many levels. It’s set during the last gasp of the Korean monarchy, and centers around a noble woman who is trying to save her country and a low caste boy who goes to America and comes back as a Marine – in a position to help his homeland. All of the characters are nuanced and rich. Heroes are heroes (unlike the current US tendency for “gritty” action heroes that it’s hard to like at all), and villains are villains. It’s very well done, has a great score, and is generally satisfying. Just be warned that, like the Irish, Koreans love a good tragedy, so there isn’t a happy ending.
In the off-season we had been steaming “The Rockford Files” and “Columbo”
A far better UK comedy series from the 1970’s than Are You Being Served that has disappeared for PC reasons is I’n Aint Half Hot Mum. A sitcom about a British Army entertainment Unit in India during the World War 2.
It was written by the two of best British TV Comedy writers of the era about their war experiences. Although some of the episode plots and characters seemed outlandish by TV standard of the time the writers said that storylines and characters were actually very toned down version of what India was really like during the war.
The reason why the BBC have buried the series for PC reasons is because one of the key characters was an Indian native solder, but played by an English actor who wore theatrical makeup to further darken his already sallow skin.
Now the fact that the actor, Michael Bates, was born in Indian, spoke fluent Urdu, had served in an Indian Gurkha regiment, that he played his character as a loving and respectful recreation of a dearly loved family friend and he made sure that the other Indian characters got good lines was irrelevant to the BBC. They stopped showing episodes decades ago and tried very hard to suppress it ever being released on DVD.
This was classic white PC patronizing racism. British Indian loved the show and in fact really enjoyed the often sly and borderline rude banter that Bates ad libbed in Urdu with the other Indian actors. None of the anglo characters knowing what was being said about them.
The plots followed the standard wise servants, foolish masters pattern that goes back to Classical Greek times so the Indians characters always ended up looking good and their anglo masters looking like twits.
Was never shown in the US but the first four series, before Bates died, are some of the best British traditional (un-PC) TV comedy ever made.
I’m re-watching several series I originally watched during what I think of as the true Golden Age of TV (not the 1960s):
Star Trek Enterprise…though it doesn’t hold up quite as well as I’d remembered it.
Battlestar Galactica, James Olmos version
NCIS, the original but not the knockoffs
The Unit, brilliant show and one of the few that actually does a decent job of portraying military life both on the field and off
Burn Notice…again, ’nuff said
There are also some older TV series that hold up pretty well, including Star Trek The Original Series; Time Tunnel; the original (1962 version) of Twilight Zone; and Secret Agent/Danger Man.
Also rewatching The Expanse, a really fine SF series.
I’m also rewatching some older movies, including Enigma (about the cryptographers’ war, much better than the Benedict Cumberbatch movie); Whit Stillman’s loosely-connected trilogy of Metropolitan, Barcelona, and The Last Days of Disco; Seven Samurai (duh); the Bogey/Bacall tetrology along with Casablanca, Maltese Falcon, and Beat the Devil.
There are some more contemporary movies I’ve liked, but they are mostly arthouse or import flicks: I particularly liked The Death of Stalin, a brilliant, dark comedy with a very sharp bite.
But most of what H’wood has produced in the last decade or so is tedious pablum or frankly unwatchable.
My Wife and I are slowly working our way through the Star Wars movies, starting with the Phantom Menace (which is just as bad as I remembered). We watch an hour or so each night so it seems like a television series. Tonight we will start the Empire Strikes Back. She skipped Solo, which I watched “solo”, due to her having several webinars for work that night.
While I have seen all of these movies several times, she barely remembers them and is finding it helpful to see them in order. It also helps that we are watching them with the subtitles since there are many difficult voicing/phrasing pieces of the dialogue.
I had read that George Lucas had talked of using classical music instead of an original score but was introduced to John Williams by Steven Spielberg and the rest is history. Can you imagine Star Wars without the Imperial March or the other iconic songs? I can’t.
Other that that, my wife likes America’s Got Talent (meh) and I will stop and watch Antiques Roadshow or Nova on PBS occasionally.
I agree that the rough-and-tumble South Koreans have birthed a fair number of excellent flicks, Holly. They do tend to a certain … gnarliness. Did that guy really just swallow a cluster of fishhooks on lines and then give the cluster a mighty yank? Jesus, talk about hard-core suicide. >.<
Anyways, most of the folks here have undoubtedly seen Oldboy (2003), The Man from Nowhere (2010), and Lady Vengeance (2005) — all great movies. My long, long list of movies to be seen contains other likely excellent titles, including The Wailing (2016), The Handmaiden (2016), and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (2003). I'm rather hoping that last one is as gentle as it sounds with no live fish being filleted on both sides and then released to swim away with much of its meat missing or other wince-worthy scenes. ^^;
I do love many of the British series myself. Without question, All Creatures Great and Small (1978–1990) and Doc Martin (2004—) ruled the airwaves! I look forward to the final season of the latter when it arrives in a year or two. Let's see now … oh, right. Red Dwarf (1988—), and what's this? A new, extremely "catty" episode appeared in 2020? O_O
Lovejoy (1986–1994) is another naughty yet charming series from The Beeb, and Foyle's War (2002–2015) arguably occupies the same rarefied air as The Wire (2002–2008), the latter of which which I admittedly haven't yet watched myself. Blasphemy, I know. ^_^
I'll also admit to a weakness for satanic-angelic movies. They're just so much fun when done right, notwithstanding the torrents of schlock through which one must wade to find the few gems. The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), The Devil's Advocate (1997), Drag Me to Hell (2009), In the Mouth of Madness (1995) … damnation for all! Even the silly comedy The Witches of Eastwick (1987) is good, underrated fun with Jack Nicholson unsurprisingly dominating the screen. And who can forget the obnoxious yet amusing Dogma (1999) with that charming scene of God … erm. No spoilers!
I could go on and on, but suffice to say that even with vigorous and increasingly tight winnowing over the years, my primary list of distinctly superior movies and television series to be watched sometime in the misty future still holds over 1200 individual titles, including several famed series such as the aforementioned The Wire (2002-2008) as well as Breaking Bad (2008–2013). My secondary list of watchable but not outstanding movies and series similarly contains over 1200 titles. Unless you're a total fanatic about immediately gobbling down absolutely every decent title from the past century of movie-making, you'll likely never run out of filling cinematic fare.
Hmmm, might be that in November 2024, I'll hole up with several boxes of Bota Box Old Vine Zinfandel and the entire Breaking Bad series to wait out a nerve-wracking election for the soul of post-Trump America. Or perhaps Vikings (2013—) would be more appropriate for that. -_-
In a year in which Hollywood income is ‘way down, the opportunity costs of posturing rather than entertaining are ‘way down, too.
We are all getting older — which means there are lots of things we have seen before, and our tastes change too. Are Canadian-produced Hollywood-financed TV shows & movies really getting worse? Or are we simply outgrowing them? [Getting worse, I think, but others may have a different view].
Interesting that no-one is paying any attention to the Westerns which were once such a feature of California-produced TV — the Virginian, Wells Fargo, etc. They are still being broadcast on one of those remote digital channels which we all usually skip. Some of the story lines were excellent.
Like Holly, I got interested in Korean film and TV series. There are some absolute gems, like City Hunter. But most of them are formulaic and predictable. Movies like The Handmaiden (literally, “Lady” in Korean — English tile changed for obvious reasons) are beautifully made, and clever.
The best of Japanese anime is very good — Mushi-Shi, Darker Than Black, PsychoPass (first series only). But most anime is not worth watching. Some Japanese movies are excellent — “The Apology King” is one of the most intelligent comedies ever made; it is a challenge not to cry watching “A World Without Cats”.
Some European productions are good, but most are equivalent to what comes out of the Canadian factory.
Perhaps the message is that high quality is difficult to achieve in any language — but fortunately can be appreciated by any audience.
Re: Grim Reaper An excellent Korean movie and one of my favorites, with great action scenes, is The War of the Arrows. Worth watching.
I can’t believe nobody has mentioned two 1950s classic sci-fi movies: THEM! and The Thing from Another World*.
As part of the 50’s black and white genre, the camera work is superb in both movies. Also, the scripts were written for educated adults: tight, interesting, witty, and intelligent. The plots were, for the time, big and bold (giant mutant ants in Them! and a vegetable-based life form from a flying saucer in The Thing).
It’s also fun to see (especially in Them!) some cameo appearances by then-unknown actors who later rose to great heights.
If you’re in the mood for cheesy (but not Ray Harryhausen cheesy) special effects, intelligent scripts, and great entertainment, give either or both of them your time.
*And yes, I know that John Carpenter did a 1980s remake with Kurt Russell (my hero), but it’s an entirely different movie. Good and worth watching, but not what I’m recommending here.
Thanks for the suggestion, William Meisheid — I’ve added The War of the Arrows (2011) to my list. It appears to be available for streaming on Netflix, too. :-)
BTW, that’s “Grim Leaper.” It’s a funny twist on “Grim Reaper” based on the notion of grim-faced, heavily armed kangaroos tackling an army of undead — reference “stinger missiles” and “kangaroos” in your favorite search engine and then add the popular trope of zombies as a stand-in for the screeching armies of leftist idiots. ^_^
Also, since I’m cluttering up the thread anyway, I’ll add for the benefit of thread readers the further suggestions of Rome (2005–2007) and Sons of Anarchy (2008–2014) for those who like plenty of violence with their man-cave soap operas. ^___^
TJ’s is now owned by a German company – does anything else need be said.
I loved “Are You Being Served”, LO, these many years ago, and “Black Adder”.
“Warrior Nun” on Netflix — despite the goofy title — has some of the best plot twists on TV — and believes in God and the Church!
The first week of April we signed on for CBS TV (the first month free, of course) commercial free, so we could watch the Perry Mason episodes in succession. We have enjoyed them so much we continued on for the $10/month. For reading material, Paul Johnson’s short biographies, Darwin, Socrates and Churchill. Back in the day I read his tomes. I fall asleep reading too easily these days to commit to a large work right now.
People still watch TV? I’ve been a videogame addict since the 80’s, I never did develop much interest in television outside of a couple shows.
I don’t understand why anyone compares Whole Foods to any other supermarket or grocery store.
The only item I buy there is sushi. They have pretty good sushi.
I have a collection of DVDs of classic movies but have hearing issues now. I am still working on a solution. I hear the TV alright but the DVD player volume is significantly lower.
“Occupied” may suit. Subtitles, mostly, though they do habla Ingles from time to time. Free Norway!
i recently became an Amazon Prime member. They have a lot of TV shows and movies too. What amazes me is that its pretty well _all_ garbage.
I can certainly go along with Smokey and recommend Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister but there is one wonderful show that has gone on since the 90s, Have I Got News For You. Smart people being funny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfDjDl52FuQ
I have to agree, as hard as I may try not to. Like a lot of stuff on Amazon the programming on Prime is cheap for a reason. Finding the pearls among the morass is something I seem to find the time for less and less and I probably don’t buy enough to really justify it otherwise. Especially now that delivery times seem to notional at best.
There was a story going around in the last week or two that only like 10-20% of people who start movies/shows on Netflix/Amazon finish them. So it seems clear that for Amazon their programming is just a way to try to get you onto their site (and paying for Prime), where they can then sell you other stuff (and of course collect your purchase history). I don’t know what the appeal is for Netflix.
Re Perry Mason – a long time ago I put up an post on Perry Mason, with which I, too, have an obsessive fondness.
As that suggests (and many of my posts) I spend a lot of time watching television and I do agree it is wasted, but. . . still. . . I’m drawn back.
We have been happier with recording titles on TCM than trying to find them on Netflix or Prime. They just did a salute to John Ford – put up a director like him or a star like Spencer Tracy on your cable search and you aren’t gong to get junk as a general rule. After the seventies narrative is less valued and cynicism overrides.
B movies: it may not be to anyone else’s taste (I doubt it is to my husband’s, but he humors me) but we record film noir series on tcm late night (11 cst) Saturday and Sunday morning, with “Noir Alley’s” introductions. The greats are on there (as in general on TCM) like Mitchum, Bogart and The Lady from Shanghai, but others are still real entertainment – sometimes not so noirish and pleasant, sometimes noirish and disturbing.
Our take – but we are old, sentimental, etc. – movies set during the 30’s and WWII are generally better, if for no other reason than the proportions are better – it is hard to be superficial, even if light and funny, in the midst of a world war. Such intensities draw more out of artists. Come fifties movies celebrate competence – the competence that was building America and had won the war – in subtle ways.
We’ve been watching “A Bit of Fry and Laurie” but it seems by the fourth season to lose some of its surprise. We really liked a couple of the Seinfeld one-man shows – his observations on life seem true, as go those on Frasier and cheer us up as well.
A friend hasseled me for three or four years to watch “Person of Interest” – when I finally did, it seemed to have foreseen much about the Chinese desire for control. I watched it again. Again, it is not to everyone’s taste (I haven’t even tried to get my husband to watch it, given the number of people beat up and/or killed by the end of every episode). It is also paranoid; the only romance is one hot lesbian episode, everyone else is pretty much dedicated to the premise of action and saving people in trouble in a pretty terrible world. But the ability to mature, change, soften, etc. that we see in the main characters, when given a purpose and seeing better human choices around them is charming and true to our understanding of the nuances of some people’s growth (not very realistic, of course, but still with the realism of developing character in most good works). That is, of course, the core Victorian novel: the character moves through time, changing, as exposed to life and the lives of others. (Strangely enough the CIA man gone killer gone good Samaritan is played by Cazeill, who played Christ in Gibson’s work – it may be laid on too thickly, but that is also what draws me in.)
The two series we do record – Blue Bloods and NCIS – do a lot with father/son relationships, with what a boss can do and should do, and, well, what asserts the importance of those relationships more than the weekly family meal on Blue Bloods and the recurring holiday ones on NCIS. Television does enough to encourage the worst in our society; it is nice to pay some homage to the best.
It is maneuvering Prime and Netflix and YouTube that is hard – though maybe it is because my attention span is getting shorter and shorter.
The problem with Netflix, Prime, HBO, etc. is that they lost access to content. First to each other as the premium cable channels started streaming, abandoning cable to its fate, then anybody with rights to anything decided that they were getting in on the streaming gravy train on their own. They totally lost sight of the fact that the value to the consumer is in aggregation. I’m not going to pay several $10 a month fees on the chance I’ll find something I want to watch on one of them.
They’ve all decided to bet on original content. They aren’t any better at picking winners than the networks were, probably well below 30%. That didn’t matter so much when there were only two or three other choices. Now, just getting noticed is a major problem. I’m finding the promos on Prime between every episode increasingly annoying. Then because they’re desperate to fill out their content, a lot of crap that should never have gone beyond a pitch is showing up.
If I was a steaming executive, I’d have a trap door over a tank of boiling oil that would spring anytime someone uttered the words: “Game of Thrones”. I’d bet that HBO will waste as much money every year as they made on it, trying to do it again. It’s like a batter trying to hit every pitch out of the park. I’ve thought for a long time that James Cameron did incalculable damage to the industry by showing that you could spend considerably more than $100,000,000 and make money.
We all remember cherished movies going back to the beginning of sound and before and forget the larger number of stinkers that have dropped from sight for good reason.
Well, of course it was a crap shoot for the studios! Fund a hundred movies at a whack, ninety of them would be forgettable crap, ten of them would be good or brilliant, and the three or four which would be blockbusters and the one or two which would win an Academy Award would bring in enough over time to pay the bills on the rest.
The studio system was a movie factory – they had enough slack to take chances now and again. And yes – the stinkers that dropped out of mind and memory? Just the odds and the cost of doing business. The winners made up for all that.
I first became interested in streaming here some years ago and now other than Blue Bloods and (name escapes me – Michael Weatherly as the courtroom shrink? – Bull) – streaming is all I watch. Bosch was excellent. Funny how so many of these series are great – then you wait months – and the following season is a dog. Hannah is one. Goliath is one that had its ups and downs.
Norsemen? First 2 seasons were great – 3? WTF?
Highwaymen was excellent.
I would have streamed Greyhound (heard it is excellent) but having to join Apple TV to do so? Why did they pick that?
Topgun 2 now to July 2021?
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