Listen to me on KTRS/St. Louis every Friday, 3-6pm CT

Friday, May 26, 2017

KTRS Friday

I'll be back on my 3-6pm CT show on KTRS today.

In the first hour, I'll talk about the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album with Slate pop critic Jack Hamilton.

In the second hour, Max and I will review the new "Baywatch" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, along with a bunch of TV news.

In the third hour, you'll have a chance to test your trivia knowledge on my Harris Challenge, and I'll have a new batch of Knuckleheads In The News®.

You can listen over the air, via the station's free app, or at

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Picture Of The Day

Will Durst explains what it's like to be a political comedian in the age of Trump...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Same Old Grief Response

Why must we hear from American politicians whenever there's a terrorist attack somewhere else? After the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert this week, it was one thing to hear from the mayor of Manchester or the British Prime Minister, but who cares what Paul Ryan or Nancy Pelosi has to say about it? For that matter, why even quote President Trump when he calls the attackers "evil losers." Wow, those are the words of a statesman. Or a talk radio caller.

How does that help?

I know the reason we get those quotes is that media outlets have correspondents with connections to politicians, so they are the first people they think of asking for comments about pretty much anything that happens. It could be a bombing at a concert in England or an earthquake in Venezuela. In any circumstance, the politicians don't have much more to offer on the subject than your average Facebook user who posts "my thoughts are with the people of...."

We can knock that off, too. It's nothing more than an attempt to show your followers that you're a compassionate person, but it's literally the least you can do after events like this. It would be different if you knew someone involved, or had some clues as to who the culprits were, or the horror happened in your own town.

Worse are the people who feel compelled to report they took their own daughter to see Ariana Grande when she was in their city, so they have a connection to the victims' families. No, you don't. Your child is alive and well, while theirs is maimed or dead. Despite what you may believe from your social media addiction, not everything is about you.

I also get annoyed at the authorities who ramp up the alert status after one of these mass killings. If it was a suicide bomber then, by definition, the suspect is dead and thus unlikely to commit another grievous act. If there are others like him, they will simply wait until you lower your alert status as they plan their next attack. These things don't usually coincide with anything in particular -- that's why they're called random attacks.

Finally, I'm still confused as to what attackers like this hope to accomplish. Are they trying to achieve some sort of policy change? If so, when has that ever worked? Can you name a single random mass murder in recent years that made the situation better for those who sided with the killer? What gains were realized after this year's insidious incidents in Paris, London, and Stockholm? How about from the shootings in Orlando, San Bernadino, or Charleston?

Is the only goal to kill as many people as possible? That's just psychopathic behavior, and you'll never be able to stop someone motivated by that, regardless of your alert status or the number of faux grieving Facebook posts.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Movie Review: The Lovers

In "The Lovers," Debra Winger and Tracy Letts star as a long-married couple, both of whom are having affairs on the side with lovers who want the married couple to get a divorce and start a new life with them. Once Winger and Letts agree that their marriage is coming to an end, they rediscover each other sexually and pretty soon they’re lying to their lovers to make excuses to skip dates with them so they can hop in the sack at home. But that doesn’t last because once out of bed, they still have nothing to say to each other.

I'll admit that I still resent Tracy Letts for writing “August: Osage County,” another boring family-fighting story, and this did nothing to change my mind about him. I was excited to see Winger on screen again, because I’ve always liked her, but she’s stuck in a story about four people I wouldn’t want to spend five minutes with -- make that six unlikeable people, if you count their son and his girlfriend, who show up two-thirds of the way through the story. None of them has anything interesting to offer, and much of the movie is buried under a way-too-intense violin score that often obliterates everything we’re supposed to be watching.

I give “The Lovers” a 4 out of 10.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Stop Talking Impeachment

Trump haters who are convinced he'll be impeached any day now are fooling themselves. They might even believe that if it happened, the presidency would revert to Clinton as the runner-up. Nope. You lose Trump, you gain Mike Pence, and you're not going to like his policies one bit. Yes, he's more mentally stable than Orange Man, but Pence remains an ultra-conservative who would turn back the clock on pretty much every progressive policy advancement of the last eight years.

But back to the impeachment question.

What makes you think that Republicans in the House -- who have not only gone along with Trump on most of his nonsense thus far, but are trying to push him further along their right-ward path -- would vote in favor of articles of impeachment? Remember that, as of today, there's been no proof that Trump surpassed the constitutional standard of "high crimes and misdemeanors," which isn't the same as "not having your act together, obnoxious tweeting, and continuously embarrassing the country." Even if that unlikely scenario was to play out on the House, you'd still have a GOP-dominated Senate that would have to vote to convict him, an event so rare it has never happened in American history.

In other words, you can stop holding your breath.

On the other hand, I am amused that it's now right-wingers in government who are being accused of, and condemned for, having ties to Russia. It wasn't that long ago in the American timeline that left-wingers were being accused of being communists and socialists and having connections to the leadership in Moscow. That begat an ugly period that included thousands of lives destroyed, many by mere implication, with blacklists, HUAC hearings, McCarthyism, etc.

Let us never allow that type of virus to infect our nation again, from either side.

Movie Review: Chuck

"Chuck" is the based-on-truth story of Chuck Wepner, who was plucked from obscurity in 1975 to have his 15 minutes of fame. At the time, Wepner was a liquor salesman and the best heavyweight boxer in New Jersey, where he was known as The Bayonne Bleeder for his face's tendency to gush buckets of blood whenever he got hit in the ring.

After Muhammad Ali beat George Foreman in the Rumble In The Jungle, promoter Don King decided Ali's next fight should be against a white guy, and Wepner was the only Caucasian in the top ten (he was ranked 8th in the world at the time). Wepner went fifteen rounds in the ring with Ali, losing in the end, but gaining a measure of fame he'd only dreamed of. He became the real life inspiration for "Rocky" (remember, Balboa lost to Apollo Creed in the first one) and rode his fame as hard as he could. Unfortunately, cocaine got in the way, as did Wepner's undisciplined lifestyle.

"Chuck" does a very good job of telling this story. Liev Schreiber is excellent as Wepner, as is Elizabeth Moss as his long-suffering wife Phyllis, who is supportive until he starts cheating on her. Naomi Watts is almost unrecognizable as a bartender who defines “sassy” that Chuck falls for. There's also good supporting work by Ron Perlman as Wepner’s manager, Jim Gaffigan (with a lot of padding) as Chuck’s best friend John who joins him in various escapades, and Michael Rapaport as Chuck’s brother. Pooch Hall doesn't have much to do as Ali, but he's fine.

The boxing scenes are well shot, everyone gets the Jersey accent right, and the special effects guy makes sure lots of blood flows every time The Bleeder gets hit. There are even scenes with Stallone (Morgan Spector) happy to see Chuck and allowing him to audition to be in "Rocky 2."

My only complaint is "Chuck" relies on voiceover to fill in the exposition a little bit too often, but it's not a fatal flaw. As a boxing biopic, this is not as good as "The Fighter," but better than last year's failures of the genre, "Bleed For This" and "Hands Of Stone."

I give "Chuck" a solid 7 out of 10.