2012 - %3, September

"Movie & An Argument" Podcast: Terrorists, Serial Killers & Samuel L. Jackson

| Fri Sep. 28, 2012 3:00 AM PDT

On this week's episode of A Movie & An Argument, With Alyssa Rosenberg & Asawin Suebsaeng, we discuss:

  • Last Resort, a new serial drama about a rogue US nuclear submarine, premiering on Thursday, September 27 at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC. (Alyssa thinks it's one of the very best pilots she's seen this fall; I thought it was worse than The World Is Not Enough.)
  • Homeland, the Emmy-winning psychodrama that returns for a second season on Sunday, September 30 at 10 p.m. EDT on Showtime.
  • Dexter, which kicks off its seventh and penultimate season on Sunday, September 30 at 9 p.m. EDT on Showtime.
  • Samuel L. Jackson's new pro-Obama, super-PAC-funded video, titled "Wake the Fuck Up," and other celebrity political ads and web videos.

 Listen here:

Each week, I'll be sitting down to chat with ThinkProgress critic Alyssa Rosenberg (who also does killer work at The Atlantic and Slate's "Double X"). We'll talk, argue, and laugh about the latest movies, television shows, and pop-cultural nonsense—with some politics thrown in just for the hell of it.

Alyssa describes herself as being "equally devoted to the Star Wars expanded universe and Barbara Stanwyck, to Better Off Ted and Deadwood." I (everyone calls me Swin) am a devoted lover of low-brow dark humor, Yuengling, and movies with high body counts. I hope you enjoyed this episode, and tune in during the weeks to come.

We'll be featuring guests on the program, and also taking listeners' questions, so feel free to Tweet them at me here, and we'll see if we can get to them during a show.

Thank you for listening!

Click here for more movie and TV features from Mother Jones. To read more of Asawin's reviews, click here.

To find more episodes of this podcast in the iTunes store, click here.

To check out Alyssa's Bloggingheads show, click here.

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WATCH: Mitt Romney's Bain Employees Gone Wild!

| Thu Sep. 27, 2012 11:07 AM PDT

Our own David Corn had yet another video scoop today: Footage from a CD-ROM created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Bain Consulting in which a young Mitt Romney speaks of "harvesting" companies for profit—with, of course, nary a mention of job creation. But buried way down in Corn's post was this gem featuring company employees getting wild onstage at Bain parties. Enjoy!

Quick Reads: "The Signal and the Noise" by Nate Silver

| Tue Sep. 25, 2012 3:00 AM PDT

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don't 

By Nate Silver

PENGUIN PRESS

Nate Silver, now the New York Times' resident stat-head, began earning his rep as something of a whiz by devising a probabilistic model that changed the way baseball franchises evaluate players. And during the 2008 election, he correctly predicted the winner of 49 states and all 36 Senate races. But his book isn't a victory lap, it's a confession: We're not as smart as we think we are. From the housing bubble to political science, the best and perhaps the brightest routinely blow the biggest calls because they can't separate the signal (truth) from the noise (distractions). We'll risk one prediction, though: Silver's book will be hard to put down.

This review originally appeared in our September/October issue of Mother Jones. 

WATCH: The Romney Résumé [Saunders Cartoon]

| Mon Sep. 24, 2012 11:10 AM PDT

Editors' note: Mother Jones illustrator Zina Saunders creates editorial animations riffing on the political news and current events of the week. In this week's animation, Romney applies for a real job for the first time in his life. Watch Romney explain (or try and fail to explain) his tax shenanigans and those remarks from the secret video. The animation, as always, was written, animated and acted by Zina Saunders.

Short Takes: "The Waiting Room"

| Mon Sep. 24, 2012 3:00 AM PDT

The Waiting Room

OPEN'HOOD INC.

81 minutes

This engrossing, fly-on-the-wall documentary captures the faults of our health care system through the eyes of ER patients and staff at the public Highland Hospital in Oakland, California. Moving beyond grim statistics and talking heads, filmmaker Peter Nicks delivers an intimate look at what it really means to be uninsured in America. The patients' stories, notably the narrative of a young man with painful testicular cancer who found himself turned away by a private hospital, are beautifully interwoven, and the film's brutal honesty in matters of life and death strikes an emotional chord.

Quick Reads: "The Story of My Assassins" by Tarun J. Tejpal

| Mon Sep. 24, 2012 3:00 AM PDT

The Story of My Assassins

By Tarun J. Tejpal

MELVILLE HOUSE

To remedy a "journalism of public relations" in his native India, Tarun J. Tejpal cofounded a muckraking magazine whose exposés earned him an assassination attempt and six government bodyguards. In this fictional memoir, Tejpal's reporter-narrator investigates five men accused of plotting to kill him. What starts off as a repugnant protagonist's account becomes a gripping exploration of the country's underworld, from train station thugs to weapon-smuggling rings. With characters funny, flawed, and redeemable, Tejpal challenges our notions of hit man and target, and leaves us mulling over the gnarled and vibrant tapestry of modern-day India.

This review originally appeared in our September/October issue of Mother Jones.

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Is "Gangnam Style" a Hit Because of Our Asian Stereotypes?

| Mon Sep. 24, 2012 3:00 AM PDT

ProTip: Dress classy; dance chessy. YG EntertainmentPro tip: Dress classy, dance cheesy, play into American racial stereotypes. YG Entertainment

If you haven't been following South Korean rapper PSY's meteoric ascent to transcultural ubiquity, allow me to get you up to speed: "Gangnam Style" is now the most-watched Korean pop music video on YouTube, and as of last Thursday, the most-liked of all time, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The song, which currently tops the iTunes charts in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and a half-dozen European countries, just jumped to the 11th spot on Billboard's Hot 100 after debuting at No. 64 hardly a week ago.

Since its release on July 15, PSY's addictive new single has been dissected, parodied, translated, and meme'd (Move over, #YOLO). It's inspired propaganda in North Korea, a gun fight in Bangkok, and this surreal moment on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Justin Bieber's manager promises to turn PSY into an American shining star. E! declares "Gangnam Style" is so in, it's already out. Like a knight in a one-button tuxedo, Jae-Sang Park, the 34-year-old father of twins, galloped into our cultural consciousness atop his invisible horsey and captured our hearts with his irresistible hook and four-step jig.

A Beautiful Book of Glam, Proto-Punk, and Bubblegum 45 RPM Record Sleeves

| Mon Sep. 24, 2012 3:00 AM PDT

It's been 30 years since Glam, Proto-Punk, and Bubblegum burned up the music charts. Even then it was a brief flareup, especially in the US where Gary Glitter and his ilk were mere hemorrhoids on the Billboard Top 100, quickly extinguished by whatever new tune the Eagles, Led Zepplin, the Jackson Five, or the Carpenters cranked out. Nonetheless, the recently published book Wired Up! pays tribute to these lost soldiers in the rock 'n' roll war with beautiful, faithful reproductions of sleeves of 45s released in Europe from 1970-1976.

Given that Wired Up! is a book of record covers, the most obvious way to approach this is by gawking at the outlandish, supremely ridiculous get-ups these bands wore. Hector, the band whose song the book is named after, wore bib overalls and striped shirts and painted giant freckles on their faces like lifesized Raggedy Andy dolls, finishing off the look with the obligatory platform boots. A number of bands opt for a glittery, mullety outer-space look, while others are just 1960s detritus washed up on the shore of the '70s—fried hippies and blitzed-out wannabe bikers.

The Most Clint Eastwood-y Clint Eastwood Quotes in "Trouble with the Curve"

| Fri Sep. 21, 2012 4:36 PM PDT

Trouble with the Curve
Warner Bros. Pictures
111 minutes

NOTE: There will be no empty chair jokes in this post. Yes, Clint Eastwood gave a circuitous, hilarious speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention as an old and slightly confused man. And just three weeks later, he has a new movie in theaters in which plays an old and slightly confused man. It practically begs for a torrent of lazy puns, headlines, and ledes. Almost all the film critics making their chair jokes are motivated by a misguided impulse to be clever, cute, and topical. (Emphasis on "misguided.") Do. Not. Make. Them. You are better than that. (Also, if you'd like to hear more about this film, ThinkProgress critic Alyssa Rosenberg and I chat about it here.)

Clint Eastwood's new movie came out today. It's an ordinary but innocently enjoyable film about cigar-chomping baseball scout Gus Lobel (Eastwood, always worthwhile) and his daughter Mickey (the reliably wonderful Amy Adams, who is also in Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master this week). Yogi Bear adaptation superstar Justin Timberlake shows up for some of the movie. Trouble is serviceable, but nothing special (for such so-so material, Eastwood was probably wise to produce and star, and turn over directing duties to Robert Lorenz).

At its better, non-sentimental moments, it's simply Clint Eastwood continuing to elevate crotchety emoting to a level of art form.

And so I present to you my list of, "The Most Clint Eastwood-y Clint Eastwood Quotes in Trouble with the Curve":

1. "Don't laugh. I outlived you, you little bastard." — to his penis, as he urinates in the morning, struggling with an aged prostate.

VIDEO: "Farm It Maybe"

| Fri Sep. 21, 2012 11:02 AM PDT

Just when I was about to give Cookie Monster the award for best parody of "Call Me Maybe," this kid comes along:

"Hey, I just milked you. This cow is crazy! But here's her udder. So milk her maybe."