The stimulus package has conditions to stop Trump and his family from benefiting

The Trump family’s grifting and exploitation of his office is so shameless and obvious to all that the stimulus package apparently has language preventing them from using it to benefit themselves. Although it does not name him but instead says that it applies to the president, other lawmakers, and their families, it is clearly Trump that lawmakers had in mind.
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Watching Bizet’s Carmen while ‘sheltering in place’

I am not a fan of opera, having seen only one live performance in my life. It was a long time ago when I was in Germany and we were taken as a group to see Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. My reaction? Kind of meh. But I decided to take advantage of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s decision, during the time when they are shut down due to the pandemic, to broadcast recordings of their past live streams of operas for free with a new one every night. (See this post for details).
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A boon for opera fans

If you are a fan of opera, New York City’s Metropolitan Opera announced that they will, starting tonight and continuing for the duration of their closure due to the pandemic, live-stream, free of charge some of the recordings they have of past performances, no doubt to keep people entertained while they are restricted to their homes.

Since 2006, the company has been transmitting live performances to movie theaters via satellite as part of a series called The Met: Live in HD; now the Met will be streaming those performances for free, one per day, for the duration of the closure.

Each opera will be available on the Met’s website beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern and will remain available to stream until 3:30 p.m. Eastern the next day. They’ll also be available through the Met’s Opera on Demand apps.

You can see the first week’s offerings here. Tonight will be Bizet’s Carmen.

TV review: The Good Place (no spoilers)

I watched the finale of this NBC TV series a couple of days ago. The series consisted of 52 half-hour episodes spread out over four seasons. I have long been a fan of this show that dealt with issues of ethics and morality and what makes a person good. I gave it a rave review after seeing the first season, and have been following it since.
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TV Review: Good Omens (2019) (No spoilers)

This six-part mini-series based on the book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is superb. The 1990 book of the same name is very good but this TV adaptation is even better. It definitely benefits from being made into a miniseries that lasted a total of nearly six hours, rather that a shorter feature film. It enabled the screenwriter Gaiman and the director to provide a much richer texture to an already complex story. The series is available on HBO which I do not subscribe to but I happened to be staying at my daughter’s place and they do subscribe so I took the chance to watch it. I can strongly recommend it. In fact, I plan on seeing it again because the dialogue and acting are so good that it is the kind of thing that benefits from a second viewing, where one picks up on gags that one missed the first time around.

The story is based on the impending Armageddon that will climax in a major battle between the forces of Good and Evil that will be triggered by the Antichrist, who is boy named Adam, soon after his 11th birthday. The TV series expands the roles of Aziraphale (an angel) and Crowley (a demon). Aziraphale was the angel guarding the gate of the Garden of Eden who took pity on the banished Adam and Eve and even gave them his flaming sword to protect them from the wild creatures they would encounter in the hostile world outside. Crowley initially appears in the form of the serpent who tempted Eve. The angel and demon are supposed to be on opposite sides in the war but over thousands of years of crossing paths at various major events in human history have developed a sort of friendship that is grudging at first but becomes stronger when they realize that they both do not see the point of destroying the Earth and all its inhabitants and decide to try and thwart the grand plan. This puts them in the bad books of their two organizations, who try to pull them back into line.
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Color, credits, and Cary Grant

After watching the inscrutable film The Lobster, I decided I needed a break from high-brow art films and so decided to watch films that just entertained and did not tax the mind. And for that purpose, I have been on my own personal Cary Grant film festival. I first watched That Touch of Mink (1962) that co-starred Doris Day, then Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief (1955) co-starring Grace Kelly, then my favorite Charade (1963) with Audrey Hepburn. Next in my queue if I can find them are Indiscreet (1958) with Ingrid Bergman and The Grass is Greener (1961) with Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum, and Jean Simmons.

Grant almost always plays a suave, witty, sophisticate. These old romantic and/or suspense comedies all provide the promise of being very pleasant and unchallenging. You can be sure that everything will end happily and that they will never take a sudden dark turn, though one false note that one should be prepared for is the casual male chauvinism on display that was taken for granted in those days but now strikes the viewer as jarring.
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Violent reaction to Brazilian comedy film

Last week I favorably reviewed the Brazilian comedy The First Temptation of Christ that has drawn protests from Christian groups because of its suggestion that Jesus may have been gay. Now the protests have spawned violent offshoots that have attacked the filmmakers’ offices with firebombs.

Police are investigating a fire-bomb attack on the Rio de Janeiro office of a production company behind a controversial Christmas special aired on streaming service Netflix.
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Who are the people in Star Wars?

Those who recall the first Superman film starring Christopher Reeve will I am sure remember the scene where he is heartbroken that he could not arrive in time to save Lois Lane from death when she falls into a crevasse, if I recall correctly. So what does he do? He flies around the world at high speed in a direction opposite to the Earth’s rotation and by doing so he reverses the flow of time so that events go backwards and Lois emerges from the depths and he can rescue her. This was laugh-out-loud funny bad science.
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Film review: The Lobster (2016)

This is one truly weird film. I watched it because the capsule description said it was a comedy and it had many well-known good actors such as Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman (who seems to be in everything these days), Ben Whishaw, and John C. Reilly. I did not laugh even once. Instead I watched it with a kind of curious fascination, trying to figure out to what the hell it was all about, what message the film makers were trying to convey. I still don’t know.
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