Asawin Suebsaeng

Asawin Suebsaeng

Reporter

Asawin Suebsaeng is a reporter at the Washington, DC, bureau of Mother Jones. He has also written for The American Prospect, the Bangkok Post, and Shoecomics.com.

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A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., Asawin came back to DC with hopes of putting his flimsy Creative Writing major, student newspaper tenure, and interest in human rights and political chicanery to some use. He started cutting his teeth at F&M's student-run weekly, The College Reporter, serving as editor in chief. He has interned at The American Prospect, been a reporter for the Bangkok Post, and scribbled for ShoeComics.com. His favorite movie is either Apocalypse Now or Pirahna 3D, depending on the day or mood.

"30 Rock": A Political History

| Thu Jan. 31, 2013 4:48 PM PST
Liz Lemon.

Thursday night, 30 Rock takes its curtain call.

After six years on the air, Tina Fey's beloved NBC comedy is ending its run with an hourlong series finale. The series, which is set behind the scenes at an Saturday Night Live-like sketch comedy show, earned a devoted fanbase with its cultural satire and rapid-fire wit. 30 Rock premiered on NBC in 2006, just as the network was launching Aaron Sorkin's highly anticipated drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Stripanother series revolving around a fictional sketch comedy program. Strangely enough, it was Sorkin's hugely political Studio 60 that tanked, while Fey's goofier series became the award-winning critical hit. (As a sidenote, it's worth remembering that when Tina Fey first pitched the show, her original idea was basically the same premise behind Sorkin's latest series, The Newsroom.)

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No, the University of Chicago Isn't Tearing Down Reagan's Childhood Home to Make Way for an Obama Parking Lot

| Thu Jan. 31, 2013 10:59 AM PST

There's a new rumor going around that the University of Chicago wants to pave what's left of Reagan's paradise and put up a socialist parking lot.

On Wednesday, the UK tabloid the Daily Mail published a story claiming that the university had plans to demolish Ronald Reagan's childhood home in Chicago (832 E. 57th St.), to make room for a parking lot for a potential Barack Obama Presidential Library. It goes without saying that this would be flipping one gigantic bird to the American right.

It was at this apartment building that Reagan survived a severe bout of pneumonia. It's also where the future president was living when his older brother was run over by a horse-drawn beer wagon (the incident wasn't fatal, but left a long scar on his leg). In 2004, the University of Chicago bought the land encompassing the apartment building where the 40th President of the United States lived between the age of 3 and 4. Residents were ordered out in 2010. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks denied the structure "landmark status," which gave the university the greenlight to take a bulldoze to the vacant six-flat building to make way for planned campus expansion.

"Some have said that the liberal Chicago establishment does not want a reminder that Reagan, a conservative icon, once lived in the city," the thinly sourced Daily Mail report reads.

"The Americans": Lovable Soviet Spies Who Smack-Talk Reagan and Do Kung-Fu Are Finally on Cable TV

| Wed Jan. 30, 2013 12:20 PM PST

Matthew Rhys, left, and Keri Russell.

"The American people have elected a madman as their president," a softly bearded Russian general says to KGB officer "Elizabeth Jennings" (played by a terrific Keri Russell), in obvious reference to The Gipper. The general continues: "He makes no secret of his desire to destroy us. Our war is not so cold anymore...Our enemy is strong and capable. We must meet the challenge." The year is 1981, the Reagan era has dawned, and communist sleeper agents are apparently running around Washington, raising their families and seducing Justice Department officials.

The Americans, a new series premiering tonight at 10 p.m. ET on FX, focuses on Elizabeth and her husband and partner-in-counterintelligence-crime Phillip (Matthew Rhys, the "Welshman who plays a Russian playing an American"). Their marriage was arranged by the KGB during the Khrushchev era. The two live in an upper-middle-class neighborhood with a young daughter and son, both of whom are blissfully ignorant to mommy and daddy's real allegiances. For years, the duo has hidden in plain sight, running a small travel agency, while fulfilling their mission to subvert the United States government and funnel valuable information back to the Kremlin. Elizabeth is the true believer of the household: "I would go to jail, I would die, I would give up everything before I would betray my country," she shouts. Phillip is the non-ideologue who is far more interested in his family than in ensuring Soviet global domination: "America's not so bad. We've been here a long time; what's so bad about it, you know? The electricity works all the time, the food's pretty great, the closet space..."

A Fascinating Look at the Life of Ed Koch

| Tue Jan. 29, 2013 4:11 AM PST
Ed Koch, left, with President Jimmy Carter in 1978

Koch
Zeitgeist Films
95 minutes

This fiercely honest tribute to Ed Koch, the hard-nosed and exuberant figure who ruled New York City from 1978 to 1989, briskly strings together interviews with the late former mayor, grainy archival footage, harshly critical testimony from Koch's contemporaries, and a rollicking classic-rock soundtrack. The result is a documentary that intrigues and intoxicates like a David Mamet stage play.

The finest moments in the film, which premieres Friday in New York City, focus on Koch's rise to power in the late '70s, when the Big Apple was a powder-keg metropolis engulfed in financial disarray and a crime wave. Koch—a closeted homosexual and iconoclastic liberal—is depicted as the consummate political shark, siphoning off key constituencies during a gang-fight-like mayoral election in 1977. Neil Barsky, a former hedge fund manager and economic reporter for the Wall Street Journal, directs with a gritty cinematic zeal.

Ed Koch spent his final days as he always was: charmingly megalomaniacal. "This belongs to me…Thank you, God," Koch, 88, says as he reminisces about his tenure as chief of the Empire City—where he pissed off scores of feminists, Jews, African Americans, and hardened lefties alike. Overall, Koch is a riveting portrait of a towering and polarizing man.

It's also great fun, so watch it with plenty of buttered popcorn. Trailer here:

Click here for more movie and TV features from Mother Jones.

"Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" in 3D: Diabetes, Witches, Kung-Fu Witches, and Sex With Witches

| Fri Jan. 25, 2013 12:54 PM PST

#YOLO.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
Paramount Pictures
88 minutes

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters—a new action film presented in IMAX 3D that is very loosely based on the famous German fairy tale—delivers surprisingly profound commentary on the epidemic of diabetes.

Hansel, played by Oscar-nominated actor Jeremy Renner, is now a full-grown adult who tortures and mass-murders sadistic Wiccans for money and justice in the 19th century. At one point early in the movie, he sits down to chat with an attractive young village woman. Suddenly, he rips a stout syringe out of his pocket and plunges it into his skin. The witch-killing protagonist informs the villager that when he was a child a witch force-fed him vast quantities of evil candy. Because of this, he has to take these injections every day, or he will die on the spot.

The word "diabetes" isn't ever mentioned. But it's still a helpful reminder from Hansel and Gretel about the dangers of consuming too much sugar.

Anyway, the rest of the film (directed by Nazi zombies auteur Tommy Wirkola and co-produced by Will Ferrell) involves a lot of witches doing kung fu and eating small children from the village. If you enjoy watching witches doing kung fu in 3D, then this movie is for you. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to see Hansel have sex with a blonde witch in a tranquil meadow, then this movie is for you. If you've ever longed to see a grown-up Gretel (played by Gemma Arterton, a.k.a. the Bolivia-dwelling MI6 agent "Strawberry Fields" in the James Bond series) karate chop witches, wield a crossbow, and threaten to blow a corrupt sheriff's brains out "all over these hillbillies," then this movie is for you. If you have ever desired to watch Famke Janssen portray Bloodlusting Witch Hitler, then this movie is for you. And if you have ever yearned to watch a mass of ugly witches get mowed down with a Gatling gun and a shovel, then, by god, this movie is for you.

Here's the trailer, in the language the story was meant to be told:

ALSO: This is a good time to remind you that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is also a thing. It too was in 3D.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters gets a wide release on Friday, January 25. The film is rated R for being so powerfully awesome that the human mind almost reels. Click here for local showtimes and tickets.

Click here for more movie and TV coverage from Mother Jones.

To read more of Asawin's reviews, click here.

To listen to the weekly movie and pop-culture podcast that Asawin co-hosts with ThinkProgress critic Alyssa Rosenberg, click here.

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