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Rosie O’Donnell: "When she was good, she was very, very…"

23 Feb
Rosie O’Donnell might be viewed by an uncharitable person as someone who keeps trying to fill a large hole with something: she’s keeps adopting kids, new ones with new spouses, as the original set age out; new houses; new spouses, who are actually spouses, not just lovers; food; drink; money; and disappearances from and reappearances in, TV shows like The View.

My natural inclinations do include those toward the uncharitable, because Rosie is one of those half wit, ill educated, fools, who get to influence the public in a pincer movement (the other side being state funded and credentialed academia).  Like Sandra Bernhard, Jon Stewart, Patricia Arquette, Roseanne Barr, and Ellen Degeneres, Rosie’s formal education was acquired in bars, comedy clubs, and popular magazines, before she got promoted to being educated by proglodyte cocktail parties and leftover network entertainment execs.

I really liked her original TV show, though Ellen did eclipse it in the same way Oprah was better than Donahue.  It had some problems.  The running gag, before she came out, where she claimed to be infatuated with the very heterosexual Tom Cruise, got old.  Since Degeneres was already out by the time she became a talk show queen of nice, she never had to do that.

Rosie has an HBO special in rotation this month that explains a lot of this drama.  She originally left her talk show to spend more time with her kids (in this special, which is mainly biographical and about her family life, her now teen daughter, upset that her mom can no longer intorduce her to the likes of Justin Bieber, tells her this was a “bad decision”).  She started The View when the kids got old enough to not need two at home moms, then left it when she got divorced.  She returned to the show when the kids got older.  She then married, nursed her new lipstick lesbian wife through cancer, adopted another baby, had a heart attack, and then left the show again when she divorced.  Now she is selling one of her houses.

But the special is good as comedy, somewhat free of political preaching, though horrifying in some of its details of her personal life.  It begins with a rather crude and thoughtless story about her son’s circumcision.  She thought she had; she told the doctor to do so.  Her friend Rita Wilson asked her why she didn’t, and Rosie, unfamiliar with what penises look like, said she didn’t realize the baby was uncircumcised.  So they call in Kate Capeshaw and Steven Speilberg’s mohel and did it later.  So the baby woudn’t “look different” or “have a funny penis.”  An odd choice for a preacher for gender non-conformity.

The bits pile up.  All well written, well timed, funny, and well delivered.  But somewhat horrifying, like her depiction of the competitive victim-off she has with her new wife (in a short lived marriage) over whether Rosie’s heart attack or the wife’s cancer was worse.

The set ends with Rosie saying God saved her after she prayed for the first time in years, with the intercession of her observant Catholic mother’s ghost, so she could be here to advocate for women’s cardiac health.  Somehow I don’t think Rosie would allow any conservative politician to make the same type of theological claims.

Interstellar – Almost Stellar

11 Nov
Interstellar is really very good.  It quotes, visually and in plot elements, from Signs, Elysium, Contact, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gravity (and NBC’s recently cancelled show Revolution), and no doubt many other films, much as last year’s Tom Cruise offering, Oblivion, reproduced action sequences and panoramas from Independence Day (the flight chase in the canyon, itself a redo of Luke Skywalker’s flight through the death star canyons in Star Wars), the original Planet of the Apes (a nearly totally eroded Statue of Liberty), Star Wars, etc.

I love syfy so it wouldn’t have taken much to get me to see this film, but then last week Anne Hathaway appeared to promote it on Ellen.  Ms. Degeneres, a nice enough gal and a great entertainer, but a robotic Democrat (her Veteran’s Day guest today is Bill Clinton) immediately said the premise of the film was that the earth had been destroyed by global warming, and Ms. Hathaway (who is simultaneously a sometime or former Obama supporter and an admirer of Ayn Rand) stopped Degeneres and corrected her – the climactic/biological crisis wiping out the earth has no specified cause she said – the movie leaves it open as to whether it is climate change, or something else, possibly not man made.

And that is correct.  Species, including human crops, are dying out one after another (wheat and Okra are gone, corn is about to go) due to a “blight” and the only thing said about it is that it depends on nitrogen.  Simultaneously, the soil, maybe because it is infected with this blight, and not its normal bacteria, is producing dust clouds that terrorize the dwindling human populations and lead to high rates of childhood respiratory problems and mortality.

Matthew McConaughey is a widowed father, Cooper, with a son and daughter (Murph) living in a farm house with his widower  father (John Lithgow).  It’s not exactly the Mel Gibson corn field farm house from Signs, but alien forces are at work in it, making things fall from the shelves in his daughter’s bedroom, which she interprets as ghosts.

(This post will contain spoilers, AFTER the video, so it is safe to read the part before.)

And this is one of the notable things about Interstellar:  it’s what Molly Haskell would call a women’s film, or 70 years ago would have been called a “weeper.”  It has some action, but no sex, and almost no violence.  (Spoiler alert!)  It’s a movie about a family, a father and daughter.  Ultimately it is a remake of The Wizard of Oz, where a wizard like interlocutor in the 5th dimension tries to tell Jessica Chastain (Dorothy) how to get (her father) back home, communicating to her from behind the curtain of her childhood bookshelf by means of manipulating gravity.

It’s also about mis-communication and treachery and deceit.  And most of the deceit and treachery, libertarians will enjoy seeing, is from the government.  An Obama-like soft totalitarian government is trying to manage the decline, and perhaps extinction, of the human race.  The internet doesn’t seem to exist any longer.  The government allocates diminishing resources to what it thinks important: very few people are allowed to go to college (Cooper’s son is denied admission) and most are encouraged to become farmers.  All text books have been re-written to teach that the space program was a hoax and men never landed on the moon – it was simply a brilliant bit of Cold War psyops to make the Soviet Union bankrupt itself (apparently communist central planning alone didn’t do that) by wasting money trying to compete in a fantasy space race.  Pre-teen Murph gets in a fight and suspended from school when she brings her dad’s old text book to school that has a chapter on the lunar landing.

Her father’s model of the lunar lander (turns out Cooper was an pilot back when NASA existed) is one of the items the ghostly forces keep knocking of Murph’s bookshelf.  She starts trying to figure out what the poltergeist is telling her, scientifically recording its bumps in the night and trying to see if they are Morse or other code.  Eventually Cooper discovers that they are coordinates, and off he goes in his farm truck to find them (with little Murph stowed away against his orders).  They arrive at a NORAD base being used by the remnant of NASA (now apparently run by Straussians who treat the possibility of space travel as esoteric wisdom) to assemble a last ditch effort to create an interstellar ark to save the human race.  A scientist named Dr. Brand (Michael Caine) runs it, and was conveniently an old teacher of Cooper’s; Anne Hathaway is his daughter.  Plan B is to send a few people and thousands of frozen embryos (the women among them will get to carry), through a black hole some extraterrestrial intelligence has parked (shades of 2001) near Saturn. that leads to another galaxy with marginally habitable planets.  Plan A is to send a whole colony through on a giant space station (but this requires solving some advanced physics about black holes, quantum mechanics, and relativity, that is beyond current earth science).

Hathaway and McConaughey are part of a 4 person crew who undertake Plan B, and head off to the new galaxy.  During a long trip that is days in their time but decades of earth time (due to relativistic effects), they discover that the whole NASA project may have been a treacherous attempt to get them to go, shepherding the frozen eggs, even though no one believed they would ever be able to return; nor would any more human beings (including their families) ever be able to join them.  In tracking down a handful of scientists/astronauts who made the journey in a dozen small ships a decade earlier to find the most hospitable plant, they meet Matt Damon, alone on an icy world.  He’s sent back fake data claiming it as a good candidate for Earth 2.  Turns out he is a homicidal maniac who has decided he alone knows best how to shape humanity’s future.  A delicious turn given Damon’s real life statist politics.  And funny that the world they are escaping is run by programming its citizens with politically corrected history in the public schools, given Damon’s history of attacks on school choice.

The science and the deus ex machina used to wrap up the movie aren’t that important.  It’s still worth seeing if you decide to go to a film this Holiday afternoon.  And it’s kind of patriotic and anti-statist at the same time.

Rob Lowe and other libertarian birthdays

8 Apr
Rob Lowe, newly out as a libertarianish small government type, turned 50 on March 17, but he appears tomorrow on Ellen where Degeneres jumps him and makes out with him for his birthday,  Presumably Portia is not really worried.

However today is actually libertarian scholar Bryan Caplan’s birthday.

Clint Eastwood on Criticism, Gay Marriage

17 Jul
Clint Eastwood on Criticism, Gay Marriage and his Daughter’s Boyfriend |

Ellen asks Clint to define “libertarian” in this post-GOP convention 2012 interview.