Note: The first episode shown during the First Quarter 2023 was a rerun of #335 on December 19, 2022.
Episode #944: Let's Reset It
First Broadcast: 12/26/22
Do you remember Usenet? Humans are hard-wired to be social, aren't they? It's why children who are raised away from other people have such a hard time reintegrating with other people, right? That's also why solitary confinement is considered torture, isn't it? It's also why people who harass others in a social place like a bar, club, or restaurant, can be thrown out by the management--to keep things "social." And, if people are actively anti-social on social networks--e.g., harassing others and distributing false information--then content moderation there plays a similar role, doesn't it? Moderation isn't the same thing as censorship--after all, if you throw a drunk out of one bar, there's nothing stopping them from going to another. And no one is obligated to let racists and white supremacists use their platform to propagate their views and recruit new members! Where will we be in 2023? Still lurking about!
Episode #945: One Piece At A Time
First Broadcast: 1/2/23
Feeling better now that the cold snap at the end of 2022 is gone? It killed a lot of people upstate, which probably didn't help the decreasing life expectancy here in the United States. Of course, the continuing deaths from assault weapons and guns in general aren't helping either, and neither is the continuing COVID pandemic and the people who still refuse to get vaccinated for it. Is it me, or are there way too many people who would prefer a future that's more like Mad Max and less like the Jetsons (some of which we've already achieved)? Why are some people hell-bent on destroying democracy, either by civil war or some other method? After all, don't people naturally want to help each other? Wasn't this obvious in New York City in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when so many people volunteered to donate blood without prompting, and overall crime rates in NYC dropped and continued to drop for years afterward? Isn't this why "Survivor" is the antithesis of human nature, because when people really are trapped on an island together, they don't automatically descend into Lord of the Flies? Oh well, here's hoping for more cooperation in 2023, at least!
Episode #946: Fully Ensconced
First Broadcast: 1/9/23
If you like government documents, you might be interested in these two recent releases: The January 6th Report on one hand, and Donald J. Trump's tax forms on the other. Fun reading to start off 2023, which might otherwise be known as the third or fourth year of 2020, depending on how you look at it. That's bad enough, but if we take a longer view, it feels like the world fell down a hole in 2015 and still hasn't quite climbed out of it yet. Deprogramming the millions of people who seem to have joined the cult of the last ex-President would certainly help, but where do you even begin with that? Maybe that Housing Works cannabis dispensary opened up at just the right time, and maybe all those unlicensed pot stores have hit the end of the road if the New York City Sheriff's Office has anything to say about it--and that Sheriff is not Sam Elliott, no matter what I might imagine!
Episode #947: Crowded Cramped Dark
First Broadcast: 1/16/23
This week, we talk about the late Owen Roizman, the cinematographer responsible for the looks of such films as The French Connection, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Network, and Tootsie, among others. From there we bounce to such topics as: Manfred Marx's influence on the Marx Brothers; New York City as a movie location, and the directors who like to shoot there; and David Lynch's memorable public service announcement against littering; as well as other subjects that I don't remember--but that's plenty for now, isn't it?
Episode #948: Self-Destruct Button
First Broadcast: 1/30/23
Do we really know anything for sure about George Santos (if that's even his name), beyond the fact that he's a Republican who was elected to Congress? Are Republicans refusing to kick him out of the House because they need every vote they can get to not raise the debt ceiling? Why do the Republicans in Congress want to keep holding the economy hostage to their demands? Whose idea was it to put a self-destruct button in our economy? And where did the concept of a self-destruct mechanism come from, anyway? These, and other questions, may or may not be answered--but that won't stop us from asking them!
Episode #949: Various Monsters
First Broadcast: 2/6/23
For the 2023 Academy Awards, Everything, Everywhere, All at Once led the pack with 11 nominations, while The Banshees of Inisherin and the latest rendition of All Quiet On The Western Front had 9 nominations each. From there, we jumped around to such topics as Jojo Rabbit, Wonder Woman, Generation War, the 1930 version of All Quiet On The Western Front, the BBC series Being Human, Howard Zinn's damning judgment of World War One, how progress doesn't always move in a straight line, whether or not we're already in a new Dark Age, how too many people are too willing to kill each other, how Tyre Nichols' death this year and the events of January 6, 2021, and the ridiculous number of mass shootings in this country are some of the latest examples of the latter, and how Florida's efforts to ban AP African-American studies and all books in public school libraries are recent examples of the former. Sheesh, we're all over the map in this one--but what else is new?!?
Episode #950: Convenience Stores Are Convenient
First Broadcast: 2/20/23
Par for the course, we bounce all over a whole bunch of topics this week, including: delis (or bodegas, if you prefer) inside New York City; convenience stores outside New York City; ice tea across the country; lunch culture here and elsewhere; how unusually warm it's been this winter; how happy we are that the people who (allegedly) assaulted Ray Alvarez have (allegedly) been caught; the lack of desire for any kind of Presidential rematch in 2024; species collapse across the globe; various dead businesses in the East Village; and sober bars, to name just a few! I told you it was all over the map!
Episode #951: Bear Warnings
First Broadcast: 3/6/23
Every so often, an "R"-rated movie for adults comes along that might not be the most intellectual film in the theater, but it's still a fun thing to watch, and right now that movie is Cocaine Bear, a horror flick directed by Elizabeth Banks that earns its rating with just enough blood to remind you that getting mauled by a coke-fueled bear is a grisly business, but not so much to make you feel like you need a shower after viewing. As one "negative" review put it: "Banks and screenwriter Jimmy Warden have created a mashup of Quentin Tarantino bloodfests, Sam Raimi’s scare tactics and the Coen brothers’ absurdity." To which I say: Don't threaten me with a good time! It's also nice to see a movie that doesn't require homework to understand what's happening, a condition that more than one Marvel and DC movie has felt guilty of lately. Much like Snakes On A Plane, everything you need to know is in the title! I also compliment the film's portrayal of the 1980s in a way that doesn't feel overly exaggerated, unlike other '80s period movies with much bigger budgets, giving it a more authentic look that wouldn't feel out of place next to a documentary like Mall City, for example. It's not an easy task to thread a needle in between a film that's too dumb to watch and one that takes itself way too seriously, but Banks accomplished this in a way that makes it look effortless, and she deserves to be complimented for succeeding at such a difficult feat. So, remember: Just as you shouldn't put a bear in a factory, and you shouldn't keep a tiger in an apartment, you also shouldn't give a bear cocaine; but you should definitely watch this movie about it. Nobody paid us to endorse this either! Our opinions can't be bought that easily!