Category Archives: Pop Culture

Ariana Gandhi

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. Also when you bust that ho Britney’s ass in a Twitter war.”

Words to live by

The sage of Sesame Street, Cookie Monster.

The stuff of nightmares

Just when you thought this scene from “The Shining” couldn’t get any weirder.

Do it. Or else.

Or else I’ll cut myself and the acid I have for blood will dissolve your liberal ass.

McCarthy is Spicer’s doppelganger

The real Sean Spicer (left) and Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer.

The resemblance is uncanny.

Imagine if you were the first person to say to Melissa McCarthy, “Ya know. Sean Spicer actually looks like you. He even sounds like you.”

You might have noticed at the beginning of the SNL skit with McCarthy that much of the audience starts laughing from the beginning at how much McCarthy has taken on the annoying look and feel of Spicer. 

If Trump thought he could bully a bunch of New Yorkers into backing down he is learning how foolish that really is.

The biggest miscalculation that Trump and his minions may have made is to believe on some level that they don’t need all the networks and television show and actors and musicians and comedians who make up American pop culture.

They do.

Steve Bannon has spent too much time in the bubble that is Breitbart and the wacky online right-wing. He thinks he is more powerful than American pop culture.

He is not and never will be.

There are good reasons why so many totalitarian regimes are scared of American pop culture. For better or worse, it is everywhere. And once it turns against you, you have lost in ways from which you will likely never recover.

Meanwhile, Sean Spicer The Original is none too happy about all of this SNL fun at his expense in one of the most talked about skits in a very long time:

SNL had Melissa McCarthy on this weekend to lampoon tSean Spicer, though it would seem that the White House Press Secretary isn’t exactly enraptured by how the comedy show portrays the Trump Administration.

McCarthy depicted Spicer during the White House Press Briefings, and she attracted critical acclaim for replicating Spicer’s contentious engagements with the press corps. Extra asked Spicer for his thoughts on the sketch, and his reaction was that McCarthy “could dial back” with her impression and she “needs to slow down on the gum chewing; way too many pieces in there.”

Spicer eventually turned his attention to Alec Baldwin, who returned this weekend with his impression of Trump making phone calls to foreign world leaders. Trump has complained about SNL‘s mockery of him before, and Spicer more or less said he agrees with the president’s opinion.

“Alec has gone from funny to mean, and that’s unfortunate,” Spicer said. “SNL used to be really funny. There’s a streak of meanness now that they’ve crossed over to mean.”

Awwww. For all the insults conservatives love to lob toward progressives about “poor little snowflakes needing safe spaces,” it strikes me that conservatives — especially Trump himself — continue to be the hypersensitive ones.

But we knew that already.

(Note: OK. It’s Doppelganger not Doppleganger. Corrected. Thanks for pointing out my mistake.)

The ignorant bully Biff, “Back To The Future” and Donald Trump

The writers behind "Back To The Future" reveal that the character of bully and all-around ignoramus Biff Tannen was modeled after Donald Trump.
The writers behind “Back To The Future” revealed that the character of bully and all-around ignoramus Biff Tannen was modeled after Donald Trump.

Being a bit of an oddball myself, I have always liked off-kilter actor Christopher Lloyd, made famous  by his roles in the “Back To The Future” film franchise (Dr. Emmett Brown) “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Taber) and Taxi {Reverend Jim Ignatowski), among others.

So I read with interest this actually well-done interview with Lloyd in the Guardian in which Lloyd says this about the news that bullying ignoramus Biff (played by Thomas F. Wilsonin the “Back to the Future” franchise was actually modeled on Donald Trump.

When we meet it is still a few weeks before the US election and Lloyd has recently re-watched Back to the Future 2. Last year, BTTF’s writer, Bob Gale, confirmed that he and the director, Robert Zemeckis had, as fans long suspected, based the depiction of the wealthy and – in that particular film – politically powerful bully, Biff Tannen, on one Donald J Trump.

“I was stunned by how accurate [that storyline] was. I mean, it’s just incredible,” says Lloyd, those crinkled eyes widening in astonishment at the memory. “[Zemeckis and Gale] must have been so prescient to see it. They were certainly more prescient than me.”

So how does it feel to see Biff running for the White House for real?

“Ach!” cries Lloyd, reeling back in his seat as if in physical pain. “He’s a BEAST. He needs to be put in a cage.”

If ever a time was ripe for the return of a fictional character, that time is now and that character is Biff. However, Thomas Wilson, the actor behind the bully, has never seemed to enjoy his association with the film – certainly not as much as Lloyd, who, after some initial wariness (“I had a bit of an attitude”), now happily rocks up to Comic Con events and chats to fans for hours. There haven’t been many days since 1985, when the first film was released, in which Lloyd hasn’t been asked about his career-defining role, “and I never get tired of that. Never. People tell me they decided to become scientists, or doctors, or get involved with computers [because of his character, Doc]. I remember kids seeing it when it came out and they became parents and took their kids, and it’s still going on, the same cycle. It’s just – it’s just …” he struggles for a moment to put his feelings into words. “It’s just amazing to see how it’s had such a positive impact. I never would have guessed.”

That last part shows that, despite revealing in interviews over the years that Lloyd knows as well as anyone else that America’s fascination with fame can often be the not healthiest part of the entertainment industry, Lloyd never uses that as an excuse to be rude to members of the public who want to talk to him about his career and the characters he has played. He is not into making people feel small.

It’s a wonderful article overall. You can read the entire interview here.

(Why it is that British entertainment journalism is so much better than American fluff? I mean, it’s all fluff in the end. But at least this is well-written fluff.)

And do watch the clips below of Biff. Now that you know he is modeled on Trump — which I just learned from this interview from Nov. 21, even if that fact was revealed previously — it all makes perfect sense.


Jon Stewart’s first comments since Trump election to White House



Harvard takes a stand against the notion of “boys will be boys”

A picture from the web page of the Harvard men's soccer team.
A picture from the web page of the Harvard men’s soccer team.

Now comes this from the Boston Globe:

Harvard University abruptly canceled the season of its men’s soccer team Thursday, after a university investigation found that a lewd online “scouting report” about female athletes created in 2012 had continued into the current fall semester.

Harvard president Drew Faust said the decision was made after university officials discovered that the “appalling actions of the 2012 men’s soccer team . . . appear to have been more widespread across the team and have continued beyond 2012, including in the current season.”

Initially, the ranking system was linked only to the 2012 team.

In her statement, Faust said she is “deeply distressed” to learn that the postings had continued.

The team had two more regular season games scheduled, including a matchup Saturday against Columbia, where a share of the Ivy League crown, and an NCAA tournament berth, was at stake.

But those hopes were dashed Thursday, when Harvard athletic director Robert Scalise made the decision to cancel the remainder of the season, and any playoff hopes.

 This was no 1-through-10, hot-or-not ranking system:

The stunning move came days after Faust asked the university’s Office of the General Counsel to “conduct an immediate review” of the 2012 men’s soccer team’s sexually explicit “scouting report” of freshmen women soccer players.

The “scouting guide” was circulated July 31, 2012, through an e-mail server that remained public on Google Groups until recently, the Crimson reported.

The freshmen players were ranked by number, given written and photographic descriptions of their appearance, and assigned assumed sexual behavior.

 We are in the midst of a presidential campaign where the most dangerous demagogue of our time is still, against all reason, in the running to win the White House.

It has been a campaign where the GOP front runner has been shown to have been a serial sexual harasser and abuser, and has spoken openly of grabbing women by the genitals against their will. He subsequently rejected his accusers because they are simply not hot enough for him to have done the things of which he is accused — implying, of course, that he could have done all of it if they were. 

This seems to have not much bothered, and indeed seems to have only encouraged, a decent portion of the American citizenry under the guise of fighting political correctness. Yes, that’s right: ignoring sexual harassment is now not only socially acceptable, it’s the morally defensible thing thanks to this campaign, Donald Trump and his supporters.

Now that same GOP candidate also stands accused of actual sexual crimes and he still remains in the race as a viable choice.

There is such a thing as rape culture and it starts with the sense that many men have of ownership over women’s lives and bodies.  

There is a reason why you so seldom hear of women committing crimes of passion during divorces and non-marital break-ups. There are reasons why it is almost always husbands and boyfriends who murder wives and girlfriends. It’s because men think that they own women and if they can’t have them, nobody can.

And if women oppose them they are painted as shrill harpies or menstrual.

The long line of lessons learned from childhood and through their teen years by boys and men who think such things have to be broken somewhere.  Something is not right. 

Harvard said, “Enough!”

As for the severity of the punishment, I find it hard to believe that Harvard officials would punish an entire team if the behavior in question was not widespread and egregious. I wouldn’t be shocked if most straight team members took part because that is the kind of society we have been building. Those are the kinds of men we have been raising.

Donald Trump is ample proof of that. 

It’s time someone started somewhere taking a stand.

Words are cheap. Action speaks.

Harvard took action. Good for them.


MASS WALKOUT at Schumer show! (but not really)


So this happened:

About 200 people walked out of Amy Schumer’s comedy show at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Sunday when she mocked Donald Trump as, among other things, an “orange, sexual-assaulting, fake- college-starting monster.” 

Loud booing from a vocal, but small minority of the arena crowd started about halfway through the show, when Schumer’s raunchy humor veered into more topical matters, including gun control and the presidential election.

You would guess from the whining butthurt emanating from Trump supporters across the web and on Fox News that Schumer had done something horribly wrong by being a stand-up comedian who goes onstage and talks about politics, along with all the other topical issues in her act. 

Based on the outcry from the Right, you’d never guess that if you went to YouTube and entered the search term “stand up comedy donald trump” that more than a million results would appear at your fingertips, most of them by comedians other than Schumer, generally calling out Donald Trump’s ridiculous and offensive candidacy for the presidency.

Why, even a 14-year-old on America’s Got Talent got into the anti-Trump act and I don’t recall any news stories about members of the audience being shocked and walking out and then engaging in a frenzy of video postings complaining about the nerve of someone talking about politics during a stand-up comedy act.

Schumer is painfully aware that some people were shot and killed at a showing of her movie. She has talked publicly about gun control many times. She’s also been sexually assaulted and has spoken on TV and elsewhere about wanting other victims to come forward. So it stands to reasons that she’d bring up the orange-haired tycoon who courts the NRA openly and wants to be sexual abuser-in-chief.

Yet these Trumpers act shocked that a comedian with this background would say what she said in Florida.

I want this election to be over so we can get back to ignoring these aggrieved white people until one of them shoots up a school or bombs a public building.

One more thing: It was not a mass walkout as some on the Right are claiming. It was an estimated 200 people. And the boos at the concert were mixed with cheers when she made the Trump jokes.


Casa Bonita, South Park and Donald “Cartman” Trump

Eric Cartman at Casa Bonita

I am volunteering as a line monitor and greeter for Chicago’s celebrated architectural Open House 2016, the yearly event during which buildings and architectural spaces around the city  mark the occasion by opening their doors to the general public. Some of them give tours which can include parts of the building that are normally off-limits. Some buildings are not open to the public at all unless you work in them or are somehow otherwise connected to them.

I have been assigned two buildings this year, one of which is Casa Bonita, which Open House Chicago notes:

This extravagant Spanish-Renaissance-Revival apartment building in glistening white terra cotta surrounds a stunning landscaped courtyard. The building’s 66 units share several unusual amenities, including a billiards room, a library and a large indoor pool—one of several found in nearby apartment buildings from this period.

I’m excited because the building itself is so beautiful. But also, as some of my friends pointed out to me as soon as I told them, it shares a name with the Denver-area restaurants of the same name made famous in a classic episode of South Park, the plot of which Wikipedia describes:

Kyle announces that as a birthday treat, his mother Sheila is taking him and three of his friends to Casa Bonita. Cartman’s initial joy is crushed when Kyle says he is taking Stan, Kenny, and Butters and not Cartman. Cartman decides to prove that he is actually nice, but since kindness is such a foreign concept to him his first attempts are unsuccessful. Eventually he succeeds and Kyle is touched, and tells him that if Butters is for some reason unable to attend, Cartman can. Cartman subsequently tells Butters that a meteor is about to hit Earth and hides him in a bomb shelter, so that he does not appear in time for the trip.

Cartman is set to replace Butters when Butters’ parents tearfully inform the boys that Butters is missing. Kyle postpones his party, and Cartman hears police will be checking bomb shelters, potentially ruining his plan. He then tells Butters that the meteor has hit, civilization has crumbled, and that the world is filled with radioactive cannibals. He moves Butters to a broken-down gas station where he locks him in an abandoned refrigerator for his protection. After Cartman leaves for Casa Bonita with Kyle, a garbage truck comes and takes Butters to the city dump. Butters mistakes the dump for post-apocalyptic Earth, and after finding a dog, tries to build a “new civilization.” A junkyard worker stumbles across Butters and tells him where he really is, and that everyone is fine and they have been searching for him for more than a week.

Just as the party arrives at Casa Bonita, Kyle’s mother gets a phone call informing her of what has happened to Butters. The other boys confront Cartman, notifying him that the police are on their way. Knowing that his plan failed, Cartman makes a mad dash through the restaurant to sample every attraction and food in the few moments of freedom he has left. He is cornered by the police, Sheila, and the boys. A police officer explains the trouble Cartman has caused, noting that Cartman will be sent to Juvenile Hall for a week, that he’s made the whole town worried, and that his friends now hate him. Cartman concedes it was worth it nonetheless.

Of course, I had to watch it again in honor of my Open House assignment just in case anyone asks me about it while I am volunteering.

The Casa Bonita condo complex in Chicago.
The Casa Bonita condo complex in Chicago.

As I was watching it I realized that Eric Cartman could very well be a stand-in for what I believe Donald Trump must have been like as a young boy.

Brash. Totally spoiled and doted on by his overbearing mother, who never passes up a chance to tell him he is special. As amoral as a third grader could be in his attempt to always get his way, which would include, as you can see, putting a classmate in danger — such as locking him up in an abandoned refrigerator — just to serve as a means to his self-absorbed ends.

You can totally imagine little Donald doing as Cartman does in this dialogue (full episode below from Hulu) where Cartman lures gullible friend Butters to an old gas station by putting a box over Butters’s head and telling him the town is destroyed and overrun with zombie cannibals — all so that Cartman can get Butters out of the way and Butters cannot go to Kyle’s birthday party at Casa Bonita and Cartman can go in his place:

[The old gas station]
Cartman: Here we are at the old gas station. It survived a lot of the impact. We might be safe here. [steps to the other side and begins making noises, then steps back] Oh my God!
Butters: Whaaat??
Cartman: It’s a cannibal! Stay back, cannibal! [steps to the other side and begins making noises, then steps back]
Butters: AAAAHH!
Cartman: We’ve got to fight them off! [jabs at the air a few times] Stay away from Butters! He’s humanity’s last hope! [makes “cannibal” noises] Awww! He bit me! He bit off my hand!!
Butters: Waaaaaah!
Cartman: [picks up a twig] Aw man, he’s eating my hand like a piece of chicken! Can you hear the bones crack? [goes to Butters’ other side and begins breaking off pieces of the twig as he makes more “cannibal” noises.]
Butters: Ooohhhh!
Cartman: Wait! Look here! There’s a dead body with an axe in the back. I’ll pull out the axe and use it to chop off the cannibal’s head. Hunh! [swings it and kills the “cannibal”] Die! [one last jab, the “cannibal” “croaks” and it’s over]
Butters: Ooooh, what happened? What happened?!
Cartman: [feigns exhaustion] The cannibal! The cannibal’s dead, Butters! But he bit me, [checks out his hand] which means soon I will have a taste for human flesh as well.
Butters: Oh no!
Cartman: We have no choice, Butters! We have to lock you away somewhere where even I can’t get to you!
Butters: Uh w-where??
Cartman: Look! There’s an old refrigerator! [reaches it and opens it] Get inside, Butters! I’ll break off the handle so nobody can get to you!
Butters: Aren’t you coming?
Cartman: Too late for me. I can already feel my… body start to… change. [begins to “change”] No! Must… fight… it… Don’t open this door for anybody, Butters! No matter what you hear, stay inside for four days! Here’s some water and food from the shelter.
Butters: Eric, you’re the …best friend in the whole world. I… I love you.

Not only is Eric Cartman like Donald Trump — devoid of concern for others except as that faux concern might allow him to take advantage of all around him — but the adult Donald Trump is still a lot more like third grade Cartman than not.

Also, Cartman is loveable in his own third grader way and Trump is, well…not.