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Film from South Africa About Toll of Executions: Shepherds and Butchers

Shepherds and Butchers premiered this month at the Berlin Film Festival. It's about the death penalty in South Africa, and the country's notorious Pretoria Prison, which houses its Death Row. The film is adapted from the book by a former South African defense lawyer, Chris Marnewick, who moved to New Zealand. Marnewick says the film's message isn't the same as the one he wanted to portray. He may not want to see it. The book earned several awards. You can get it here or read the first chapter here. [More...]

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Grammy's 2016

The Grammy's started at 6 pm here -- way too early, I missed the first 45 minutes. I tuned in during a Lionel Ritchie segment.

At least I didn't miss the Glenn Frey tribute.

Why did "Girl Crush" get a standing ovation?

This is a thread for all things Grammy's and music related. Updates below [More...]

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Halftime Superbowl Show

I caught the last two songs of the Superbowl halftime show. The last song was my favorite, with Coldplay flashing photos of Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston and others, and later being joined by Beyonce, Bruno Mars and hundreds of others, I presume were non-famous typical folks.

Haven't Beyonce and Bruno Mars already performed at the Superbowl? Why the encore? Did ColdPlay show the Who, Tom Petty, Madonna or Katie Perry? I may have missed it, the images went by fast and I was typing. Did Bon Jovi ever perform at halftime?

This is not an open thread, please keep your comments related to Superbowl -- either the game (which I'm not watching) or Superbowl Media (music, commercials, past and present, commentary, production value, etc.)

How was Lady Gaga's national anthem?

I think Denver is ahead 13 to 7, but I can't tell what the numbers flashing on the screen mean -- hopefully it's not some other statistic. There's not that much street noise coming through my windows. I do want Denver to win, just not enough to watch the game. Time for dinner -- an authentic Italian meatball sandwich on some great, crusty bread with plenty of sauce.

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Tina Fey Back as Palin on SNL

The cold open from last night's Saturday Night Live. Tina Fey, as usual, nails Sarah Palin. She mostly uses Palin's own words.


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Tributes and Open Thread

Other than work, the only thing I've thought about today is Glenn Frey's untimely passing. Keith Urban posted this really heartfelt tribute on his Facebook page. Love the piano. It's already been viewed 12 million times. And Bruce Springsteen played a live tribute to him in Chicago. The audience sings along, and check out all the lights in the audience starting around the 3'15" mark.

The comment I see repeated the most, at so many sites, "The Eagles wrote the soundtrack to my life." They certainly wrote mine in the 70's.

RIP, Glenn Frey. I think this is the only time in the 13 year history of TalkLeft I've written two RIP posts for one person. I won't be surprised if I write a third tomorrow, I'm just so, so shocked by his death and feel terrible he suffered so much pain for so many years.[More...]

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R.I.P. Glenn Frey

R.I.P. Glenn Frey. I read this hours ago and I am still shocked and so very sad. He was 67. I'm also upset to think that despite his access to the best medical care, medicine couldn't save him. He suffered for for a long time.

He and the Eagles were such a huge part of my early adult life -- as they were to millions of other Americans coming of age in the 70's. I've been writing this all night and keep adding more. At some point I need to stop and publish, and this is probably as good a place as any. Here is the announcement on the Eagles' website: [More...]

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Sean Penn on "60 Minutes"

Sean Penn's interview with Charlie Rose airs on "60 Minutes" tonight. Here's a recap from Variety.

Penn believes he failed to accomplish his goals, which was to talk about the U.S. government’s was on drugs. “We all want this drug problem to stop. And if you are in the moral right, or on the far left, just as many of your children are doing these drugs, just as many of your brothers and sisters, your mothers and fathers, the teachers at school, are doing these drugs. Just as many,:” he said. “And how much time have they spent in the last week since this article come (SIC) out, talking about that? 1– 1%? I think that’d be generous.”

Even so, Penn said he has no regrets about his actions, and was simply trying to offer readers a look at a hard-to-reach figure in order to illuminate discussion around a heated issue. “I’m really sad about the state of journalism in our country,” he told Rose. “It has been an incredible hypocrisy and an incredible– lesson in just how much they don’t know and how disserved we are.”


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Unimas Begins Airing "Ruta 35"

Ruta 35: The Escape Valve is finally airing on Unimas (with English captioning.) It's about the snitches recruited by the DEA and ICE to rat out the drug cartels in exchange for leniency for their own misdeeds, and is based on the career of long time ICE agent Dylan Wilkins .

This dramatic series is the story of Dylan Wilkins and the criminals he recruits to assist him in his relentless pursuit of drug lords and other wanted felons. These criminals become informants for ICE and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in exchange for reducing their charges and avoiding prosecutions.

However, Wilkins’ informants are not your typical criminals- he introduces an array of men and women who, all driven by different motives such as fear and revenge, risk their lives everyday on a dark and risky mission. Among his informants are a 75-year-old grandmother who transports drugs, an IT engineer who has close ties and unparalleled access to a Mexican cartel, a “professional” informant who has been living a perilous double life for years, and the cousin of a ruthless mafia king, thirsty for the reward over her cousin's head.


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Top Media Internet Peeves of the Year

Worst Media Internet Practices of 2015 (Worthy of a Boycott of Sites That Use Them)

1. Auto-playing videos on news sites that slow or hang my computer. I continue to refuse to link to any site that has auto-play video and I close the window as soon as I see it. Worst offenders: CNN, ABC and local news, but almost everyone is doing it now. Fewest might be Reuters and NY Times, but even they do it sometimes.

2. News articles republishing unconfirmed facts without doing any independent investigation to verify. There's no excuse for lazy. San Bernadino is this year's best example.


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Weekend TV Binge-Watching

I've only binge-watched one series so far this weekend -- Netflix' Frankie and Grace with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. They play two 70 year olds who are married to law partners. In the first episode, the law partners announce they are leaving their wives to marry each other, and reveal they've been secretly having an affair for 20 years. There are 13 episodes. It has many recognizable stars. Parts of it are very funny. Lily Tomlin has been nominated for a Golden Globes award for her performance and it's been renewed for a second season. Jane Fonda looks terrific.

The beach house where most of it was filmed is very nice (although not as nice as Diane Keaton's beach house in the Hamptons in "Something's Got to Give."

I'm not finding much else to watch despite all the offerings. What are you binge-watching on this weekend? Are you using Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or your cable service?

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Thoughts On Homeland Finale

Caution: Spoilers ahead, don't read if you haven't watched the Homeland finale.

Season 5 of Homeland wrapped up last night. I think this Variety recap is the best.

For me, it was an okay season, but not one of the best. There were too many subplots going on in each episode, I never felt like I had a grasp of what was happening. [More...]

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35 Years Ago Tonight: Remembering John Lennon

35 years ago tonight, in the middle of Monday Night Football, Howard Cosell announced there had been an "unspeakable tragedy in New York City." John Lennon had been shot twice in the back outside his apartment building in New York City. He was declared dead upon arrival at the hospital. (Video here.)

There are millions of people in this world whose lives were enriched by John Lennon, his persona and his music. He told his truth and it was the truth of an entire generation. His death was a tragedy, but his life was an inspiration. His legacy is timeless. [More...]

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Time's ShortList for Person of the Year

Al Baghdadi and Donald Trump are on Time Magazine's shortlist for Person of the Year.

They are two peas in a pod in some ways -- one insists everyone practice his preferred brand of Islam, while the other finds any kind of Muslim entering the U.S. to be unacceptable.

As for Person of the Year, since all Trump has done is talk about himself on the campaign trail, I'd give it to al Baghdadi, who has actually done something even if it's a negative: He's instilled fear in the heart of every Western Government and many civilians in his neck of the woods, which includes great swathes of Iraq, Syria, and soon to include Libya. He took on al Qaida and beat them to the Caliph punch, leaving them way behind in second place. Al Baghdadi has also created a governing state in many provinces --Trump has no such governing experience.

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NY Times Runs Gun Control Editorial on Front Page

For the first time since the 1920's, the New York Times is featuring an editorial on the front page of the paper. It calls for gun control.

It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.


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Over the Vain-Bow

I would have loved to read Carly Simon's memoirs 30 years ago. Now, I could care less.

The parade of famous men she recounts sleeping with are all now in their 70's. No one is going to read about her exploits now and say "I wish it were me."

I doubt anyone who remembers wondering who "You're So Vain" was about 45 years ago could care less about the answer now. Maybe she needs the money, but I think the only people who will read this book are those vain enough to wonder if they're mentioned in it.

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