Entertain me

You’d think that with dozens of cable channels to choose from, one would never run of television entertainment. You’d think that with the number of movies that premiere each week, there will at least be one winner that will be remembered, talked about, dissected and debated over coffee, wine or beer. “Hellboy 2″ put me to sleep. I couldn’t make out if it was a horror movie, a comedy or a sci-fi and, after about ten minutes, I just stopped trying. And the movie that I had been waiting for for so long, “Righteous Kill” with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, proved to be such a disappointment as well. Sure, they are still great actors but not as effective as they used to be. Really, finding worthwhile popular entertainment these days can be such a hassle. Even the quality of paperbacks are getting so vapid that, last Sunday, I found myself buying two cookbooks instead of something from the bestseller list.

Still, I consider myself lucky. For a few hours each day, I do manage to find something good on television. Not the news, dearie — are you kidding me? Not the public affairs programs either. I tried to make myself go through the U.S. Presidential candidates’ debate over CNN last week but when Barack Obama started mouthing rhetoric and platitudes, I lost my appetite. Here was the man everyone says will change American history practically agreeing that the war in Iraq was the correct response to the 9/11 attack. Here was the man touted to reshape American politics doing some very unprovoked and very arrogant chest-beating by declaring that “America is the greatest country in the world.” Politicians aren’t very entertaining, much less enlightening. And Obama is just another politician. I won’t even waste my space writing about McCain.

But I digress. As I was saying, I still consider myself lucky because I still manage to get a few hours of worthwhile entertainment from television each day. Some are even informative beyond being entertaining. Well, somewhat informative. The National Geographic two-hour special on Stonehenge, for instance, looked promising on its first hour. There was this archeologist whose team dug up remains of a settlement near the area which led them to believe that Stonehenge was visited twice for a few weeks each year — once for the summer solstice and again for the winter solstice. They had me quite convinced that Stonehenge was a temple for the dead ancestors while a parallel structure made of wood was the site where the living celebrated after honoring the spirits of the departed.

Having come up with a good theory for the existence of Stonehenge based on relics that the team dug up, what remained was providing a plausible explanation as to how such large and heavy stones could have been moved to form such an architecturally perfect circle under such primitive conditions with the absence of advanced tools and complex machinery. That was where the informative segment ended and the cheap entertainment began. The documentary videos taken from the dig sites were over. Instead, there was a dramatization — yes, like a movie — of someone’s far fetched theory. Don’t get me wrong — I like theories. But when a theory rests on nothing but maybe’s because there is no other obvious explanation, I get a little miffed. I expected more from National Geographic — certainly not conclusions based on incomplete evidence. Disney’s “National Treasure” and its sequel had more convincing scripts. Even Anthony Bourdain makes more sense.

Ah, Bourdain. I can write three columns about the man and his show and not run out of words. I like him even more for poking fun at Rachael Ray. But I’ll reserve Bourdain for another time. A few days ago, I saw an episode of Food Safari where the Indian host was just as frank, as unrelentlessly vocal and as irreverent as Bourdain. His name is Vir Sanghvi and I learned afterward that he is a journalist. What made Sanghvi and that singular episode memorable? It’s the irony that Britain’s love for the chicken tikka masala that led former Labour foreign secretary Robin Cook to proclaim it as “Britain’s true national dish”. It’s quite ironic that, in a sense, India has come to invade the culture of its former colonial master. Information like that is not something you’d come across on the evening news and especially not by watching reality shows and soap operas.

These days, popular entertainment sucks for the most part — in a big way. It is often hard to discern where humor ends and insults begin with the amount of humiliation that gets heaped on contestants in the most popular shows, including American Idol and its franchises. It is just as hard to understand how some very badly made films manage to gross millions in the box office. I suppose the smart way of looking at it is that we learn to be more appreciative of the few good ones that come along once in a while.

Comments

  1. says

    I totally agree, and the way local entertainment shows are trying to emulate the popular US versions are so outragious, this is exactly the same reason why we never subscribed for TFC here. I just don’t get it when hosts/judges make fun of the contestants who are trying to earn more or those who wants to have a shot at fame (and the hosts/judges are masking it as public service none the less).

    • jojo says

      I would have to disagree with you on Obama. Actually, he was against the invasion of Iraq at the outset. His position was and still is that the US should focus its efforts on Afghanistan. I also disagree with your perception of Obama. People (including me) are drawn to him because he speaks to one’s best aspirations. I’m impressed with his intellect, political skills, temperament, and yes, genuineness. As the first black candidate for a major party, he has already made history. I’m proud to vote for him in November.

  2. peterb says

    Love Actually is one of the best movies out there! I always recommend it to people when i get asked what’s a good movie to watch. I hardly get to watch any TV anymore, except for a couple of food shows. I guess part of it is also having a 3 year watching repeats of Cinderella, The Little Mermaid…etc. I usually watch movies using my laptop or just surf the net for good things to read or eat. Good thing there’s the internet! I haven’t seen Bourdain at AFC though, i’ll try to watch tomorrow.

    • says

      “It is just as hard to understand how some very badly made films manage to gross millions in the box office. I suppose the smart way of looking at it is that we learn to be more appreciative of the few good ones that come along once in a while.”–Ms. Connie

      If you haven’t viewed “The Shawshank Redemption” yet, I highly recommend this movie. I have viewed the dvd copy more than five times already and well, I don’t have to tell you, you have to find out for yourself why it’s definitely worth your while.

    • ice says

      @kreez… may be true for most local TV shows, however… part of your comment reveals how you view Philippine entertainment in general… which is quite sad, no matter how true part of it is. imagine millions of Pinoy thinking that way, what hope is there for our local entertainment?

  3. Tom says

    What Americans should do is rein in these corporations that had gotten out of control and then go after these politicians- like eliminating this third layer of government called the federal government.

  4. says

    Trosp, I got it from the Boston Globe. But there’s a more recent article here: http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/the_truth_on_troop_support.html He voted for it 10 times and against only once but there is an explanation for it. I didn’t really read your views on Hillary and Biden. When you said in your comment about feminists being against Palin because she doesn’t wear pantsuits made me dismiss whatever else you wrote. No offense but statements like that sound silly to me.

    • Trosp says

      Geri,

      Let’s go beyond what were in factcheck.org about Obama’s vote in Iraq war. I have included the summary of the bill for your reference.

      Obama voted for war appropriations according to factcheck.org:

      1) Vote Date: April 21, 2005, 04:55 PM
      Measure Number: H.R. 1268 – Summary: http://tinyurl.com/3pgs6r
      Measure Title: An act making Emergency Supplemental
      Appropriations for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and
      Tsunami Relief, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2005,
      and for other purposes.
      Vote Counts: YEAs 99, NAYs 0, Not Voting 1

      2) Vote Date: May 10, 2005, 05:50 PM
      Measure Number: H.R. 1268
      Measure Title: An act making Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for
      Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, for the
      fiscal year ending September 30, 2005, and for other
      purposes.
      Vote Counts: YEAs 100, NAYs 0

      3) Vote Date: October 7, 2005, 09:17 AM
      Measure Number: H.R. 2863- Summary: http://tinyurl.com/7twvx
      Measure Title: A bill making appropriations for the Department of Defense
      for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, and for other
      purposes.
      Vote Counts: YEAs 97, NAYs 0, Not Voting 3

      4) Vote Date: December 21, 2005, 09:57 PM
      Measure Number: H.R. 2863
      Measure Title: A bill making appropriations for the Department of Defense
      for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, and for other
      purposes.
      Vote Counts: YEAs 93, NAYs 0, Not Voting7

      5.} Vote Date: May 2, 2006, 11:00 AM
      Measure Number: H.R. 4939- Summary: http://tinyurl.com/4jwln6
      Measure Title: A bill making emergency supplemental appropriations for the
      fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, and for other
      purposes.
      Vote Counts: YEAs 92, NAYs 4 (Dems), Not Voting4

      6.) Vote Date: May 4, 2006, 12:04 PM
      Measure Number: H.R. 4939
      Measure Title: A bill making emergency supplemental appropriations for
      the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, and for other
      purposes.
      Vote Counts: YEAs 77, NAYs 21, (all Reps), Not Voting2

      7.) Vote Date: June 15, 2006, 10:00 AM
      Measure Number: H.R. 4939
      Measure Title: A bill making emergency supplemental appropriations for the
      fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, and for other
      purposes.
      Vote Counts: YEAs 98, NAYs 1, Not Voting1

      8.) Vote Date: September 7, 2006, 06:08 PM
      Measure Number: H.R. 5631- Summary: http://tinyurl.com/4nt7cu
      Measure Title: A bill making appropriations for the Department of Defense
      for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007, and for other
      purposes.
      Vote Counts: YEAs 98, NAYs 0, Not Voting2

      9.) Vote Date: September 29, 2006, 10:00 AM
      Measure Number: H.R. 5631
      Measure Title: A bill making appropriations for the Department of Defense
      for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007, and for other
      purposes.
      Vote Counts: YEAs100, NAYs 0

      10) Vote Date: April 26, 2007, 12:56 PM
      Measure Number: H.R. 1591 (U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina
      Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 ) Summary: http://tinyurl.com/4m7yv8
      Measure Title: A bill making emergency supplemental appropriations for the
      fiscal year ending September 30, 2007, and for other
      purposes.
      Vote Counts: YEAs 51, NAYs 46 (all Reps), Not Voting 3
      {Obama’s final vote for troop funding (Vote 147, April 26) was for an emergency supplemental appropriation THAT ALSO INCLUDED A CALL FOR WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ /caps are mine/. Obama issued a news release at the time, saying: “We must fund our troops. But we owe them something more. … With my vote today, I am saying to the President that enough is enough.” The measure passed 51 to 46 and was vetoed. http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/the_truth_on_troop_support.html)}

      Obama Voted against

      11) Vote Date: May 24, 2007, 08:26 PM
      Measure Number: H.R. 2206 (U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 )
      Summary: http://tinyurl.com/46bm9l
      Measure Title: Making emergency supplemental appropriations and
      additional supplemental appropriations for agricultural and
      other emergency assistance for the fiscal year ending
      September 30, 2007, and for other purposes.
      Vote Counts: YEAs 80, NAYs 14 (9 Dems, 4 Republicans, 1 Ind), Not Voting 6

      The first nine just have mentioned Iraq, I would say, in passing. I would say he has to vote in affirmative since they were party-line votes. (Aside from there is nothing there to explain later.). His party line votes statistic, if I’m not mistaken is around 96%. If we are splitting the hair here, Obama can be said to have voted in favor of troop funding in Iraq.

      The tenth, which was the significant one for Iraq (an issue category) – he voted affirmative but with string attached as I have mentioned above. IMO, he was playing both sides of the coin here. In any event something go wrong, it will be very comfortable for him to say “sabi ko na nga sa inyo, tigas ng mga ulo nyo”. Again, if we’re splitting the hair, we can say that he voted for troops funding.

      The eleventh, a similar bill from the tenth, was eventually approved without Obama’s proposed troop withdrawal. We all know that what came next was the US military surge in Iraq which up to now he is telling us that it’s success was “beyond the expectation” (read: expected to fail).

      I would say we are seeing this issue from different perspective. I will say it was my bad by not being categorical with my previous comments. I’m not used to in having a discourse with Daily Kos, Huffington Post, NYT, Salon, etc. readers/commenters.

      As for Palin’s not wearing pantsuits, try this link – http://tinyurl.com/5wpbe7
      Or you want some more?

      • says

        Trosp you are of course free to make your interpretations on what goes on Obama’s mind. Actually I have only been visiting the Huffington Post, other than that I read or watch the news. I have to check out those other sites you mentioned.

        With what’s happening on Wall Street (historic, transformative, unprecedented are just some of the adjectives being used) opinions of Sarah Palin’s outfit whether they be democrats or republicans is the least of my concern right now.

        • Trosp says

          Geri,

          I agree with you. I did not make them. All the while, I thought those moronic remarks from the leftwing were just parodies or satires and then I found out they’re really very serious about them.

          Heh…

          • Trosp says

            BTW Geri, I don’t want to leave any open loop, here is what made me have an impression that Obama has voted affirmative for the US to go to war with Iraq:

            “During a July 2004 interview reported by the New York Times when asked how he would have acted in regard to the Iraq resolution in 2002, Obama answered “What would I have done? I don’t know. What I know is that from my vantage point the case [against invading Iraq] was not made” and that he was “not privy to Senate Intelligence reports,” using it as a reason to support John Kerry and John Edwards in the 2004 election. Obama defended his words on a later edition of Meet the Press saying that he made the statement because it was during the middle of an election in which his party’s presidential nominees had both voted to authorize the war and noting that he was openly opposed to the war as early as 2002.”

            And since your are very good in fact checking, let’s have some fun with these items –

            http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/50lies.asp

            http://www.snopes.com/politics/palin/palin.asp

            You have the factcheck.org to validate them.

  5. vernalee childress says

    Hi Ms. Connie,

    I’m a big fan of yours : ) You always makes me laugh with your blog. My favorite one was the one when your husband mr. speedy “brad pitt” was trying to install, i think the window stuff (i forgot) and it was also his time to cook for the day, the picture that you took of him that day and the captions was hilarious.

    Ms. Connie i suggest you buy the movie “LOVE ACTUALLY” & “P.S. I LOVE YOU” (by hillary swank) I’m really not a romantic-love story-comedy person but I Had a Blast watching both those movies especially P.S. I LOVE YOU. (i like hard action movies, zombies and lots of blood and guts, my husband said i’m the first woman he knows who doesn’t love romantic movie) .

    BTW, i like Obama, i guess is different when you just watch the person in TV and being edited, but to see him and listen to him in person that man is genuine. Not him nor McCain will bring real peace and prosperity in this country (or world) but at least Obama is doing with sincerity. Only God can end all this misery in this world.

    But I’m an Obama girl…hehehe

    Good Luck with everything.

  6. says

    Hi Vernalee, you mean this entry? Hehehe Real life is often funnier than any comedy.

    I’ve seen both films and loved them! My favorite character in Love Actually is Billy Mack (Bill Nighy). Even after seeing the DVD so many times, I still laugh so hard when he sings in THAT costume.

    Saw P.S. I Love You about three weeks ago after my daughter Sam assured me it was worth seeing. I never liked Gerard Butler (I thought he was awful in The Phantom of the Opera) although I admit he has a body to die for but, my goodness, I so adored him in P.S. I Love You.

    Re Obama. Well, I hope you’re right. America can use a breather after 8 years of Bush.

  7. jojo says

    Sorry I got caught up with politics that I forgot my recommendation to you. I don’t know if “Mad Men” is already on Philippine cable (here it’s on the AMC channel) but if it is, please watch it. It’s a new series about the advertising industry in the early 60s. It’s so authentic, from the characters down to every detail of production. No wonder it got a lot of Emmy nominations.

  8. Miguk says

    That’s why I entertain myself in other ways. The insipid offerings has forced me to hone my poker skills to a fine edge :-)
    I do hope Obama will win the election. I feel he will go a long way in repairing the tattered relations the U.S. throughout the world.

  9. says

    Jojo, re “His position was and still is that the US should focus its efforts on Afghanistan.”

    Obama’s statement during that forum was that he agreed that Bush dealt with the 9/11 attackers accordingly. Which means that he agrees that invading an entire country as a response to the actions of certain individuals or a group of individuals is justified. An invasion of Afghanistan is no more justified than an invasion of Iraq. Unless one lives by the creed that “America is the greatest nation in the world” and therefore entitled to do anything it pleases in accordance with its own interests and irrespective of the rights of other people.

    Ormocanon, you know I have a DVD copy of “The Shawshank Redemption”. Had it for years. Bought it because I love Stephen King and because it was one of his 1 dollar projects (short stories sold for a dollar to help start-ups). But I have this bias against prison movies. Speedy saw it, said it was wonderful, but I haven’t seen it up to now.

  10. Trosp says

    Perhaps I’m OT but just my four liners on Obama –

    If you want to quote Barrack Hussein Obama (The Teleprompter Man), just make sure to attach the date when he was quoted saying an item. Never in the history of US presidential election a presidential candidate who has the habit of contradicting himself.

    As I’ve read in various US presidential election coverage – two things going in his favor in this coming US presidential election in which he is exploiting- he is black and McCain is perceived to be another Bush. Other than that, IMO, he is a political disaster.

  11. says

    Trosp, ahh you should look out for tomorrow’s column on Sarah Palin and why McCain chose her for his running mate hehehe

    Tom, re “What Americans should do is rein in these corporations that had gotten out of control…”

    Isn’t it ironic how these corporations have gotten so powerful under Bush what with the hiring of “private contractors” in the Iraq war and the “war on terrorism” in general?

  12. Miguk says

    Casus Belli was fully met with the Afgan government’s aiding, and abetting an act of war. That an invasion was not justified is a non sequitur.

  13. jojo says

    The war in Afghanistan was waged as a mission to hunt Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda in response to 9/11and was sanctioned by the Afghans and the international community. Iraq is a different kettle of fish. I’m not sure which forum you refer to, but I’ve never heard Obama justify the reason for going into Iraq. That would be news-his opposition to it is the cornerstone of his pres. bid after all. I’m not naive to think that he is perfect, only that he is the best candidate. McCain-Palin? Now, that’s scarier than “Hussein,” huh, Trosp?

  14. says

    Miguk, re “That an invasion was not justified is a non sequitur.”

    Really? The Afghan government, in aiding and abetting, was voicing out the sentiments of the population who agreed to risk dying en masse? Sounds more to me like the actions of two governments with private agenda instead of representing the interests of their people. And that is hardly non sequitur.

    Jojo, the forum in Columbia University. And the reference to Bush and his response to the 9/11 attackers was made during the first 15 minutes or so.

  15. Miguk says

    A private agenda? How much more public was multiple civilian airliners being used by murderers to hit America’s financial and military heart? Was that not clearly an act of war? How was the Afghan government’s harboring and collusion with the perpetrators not justification enough for retaliation? Anti-Americanism aside, how is preventing another attack by bringing the war to the enemy not in the interest of the American people and not justified?

    Russia’s invasion of Georgia is unjustified. China’s continued subjugation of Tibet is unjustified. Indonesia’s rape of East Timor was unjustified. Sudan’s continued genocide in Dafur is unjustified. Please try to make your prejudices less blatant.

  16. Trosp says

    Jojo, as I’ve commented, if you want to quote Hussein Obama, attach a date when he said an item. So when was that when he said he agreed with the invasion of Iraq? And when was that when he was against it? And then flip flopped again that the military surge is winning the war in Iraq beyond the expectation?

    Obambi is just a plain Chicago thug IMO. You must revisit also how he became a senator. You must also revisit who are the people who would vote for him. Try googling Daily Kos and Democratic Underground or you might even visit Obama’s website.For a better understanding, you may also google Newsbusters.

  17. says

    Connie, have you watched Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)? If I had more free time I would probably watch the entire series. I think you might enjoy it.

    I have to agree with Jojo about Obama and the Iraq war, he has always consistently been against it from the very start, even speaking in an anti-Iraq war rally in Chicago on the day Bush and congress announced their resolution authorizing it.

    A shout out to my fellow Obamans Jojo, Miguk and Vernalee :)

    I read your piece about Palin and you hit the nail on the head!

  18. says

    Both McCain and Obama voted in US Congress that US go to war against Iraq. Just like Vietnam and Korea, US will not win this war in Iraq, only the big moneyed oil companies will. Yet McCain and Palin wants US troops to stay there longer. They need to get back to basics and focus on our #1 problem – the economy.

  19. says

    In 2002 Barack Obama was still an Illinois State Senator, so he couldn’t put a vote on the Iraq War. But he has voted for war appropriations while in Congress in 2005. There is a difference in voting to go to war and have the troops be fully provided for (like life saving equipments and supplies).

  20. jojo says

    Yey, Geri. Just the facts.

    Trosp, I don’t have to google anything. I read the Daily Kos, Huffington Post, NYT, Salon, etc. every single day. Those people? Well, I’m one of them. I voted for Obama in the primaries and will again in November. Of course, you have every right to express your opinion. But if it’s an ad hominem attack based on lies straight out of the right wing media playbook….

  21. Miguk says

    Re: “Oh dear, we’re not going into that arena where US-instigated/supported wars are always justified but all others are not, are we?”

    Avoiding the argument with curt dismissals doesn’t change the facts. We are not talking about all U.S. instigated/support wars – we are talking about Afganistan which you claim as an unjust war but fail to back up your argument.
    As for others – namely Iraq – that is just a slow motion disaster and I concur with you completely.

  22. Trosp says

    Geri,

    I might be wrong in Obama has not put up the aye vote in Iraq war. I might construed it to what I’ve read from his statement that I’m still googling. I don’t know if the below link is the same as what you’re claiming that he voted in favor for for war appropriations while in Congress in 2005-

    http://hotair.com/archives/2008/07/24/rnc-radio-ad-obamas-war-funding-vote/

    He was against the appropriations.

    Of course, you might have a more reliable source. I hope to see the link from you.

    But for Hilary and Biden, my views still stand.

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