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

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.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Andy Dehnart's Reality Show Update


Andy Dehnart, who writes about reality TV shows on his site, Reality Blurred, was back on my show to talk the renewal of "The Amazing Race," the upcoming finale of "Survivor: Game Changers," changes coming to "Shark Tank," a spinoff of "The Bachelor," and some suggestions for reality shows to watch this summer.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Showbiz Show 5/19/17


This week on the showbiz segment of my show, guest critic Jim Batts and I reviewed "Alien: Covenant," "Chuck," "Everything Everything," and "The Lovers" -- plus some other movie/showbiz news.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Harris Challenge 5/19/17

This week's Harris Challenge -- the most fun you can have with your radio on! -- includes categories Where Was That?, Showbiz Week, and Have You Been Paying Attention? Listen and play along, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Want more Harris Challenges? Click here.

Knuckleheads In The News® 5/19/17


On this edition of Knuckleheads In The News®, I have stories about an asphalt workaround, a rattlesnake kiss, and coffee with rats. Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Want more Knuckleheads In The News®Click here.

Friday, May 19, 2017

KTRS Friday


I'll be back on my 3-6pm CT show on KTRS today. You can listen over the air, via the station's free app, or at ktrs.com.

In the first hour, I'll talk with Andy Dehnart of Reality Blurred about the future of "The Amazing Race," the upcoming finale of "Survivor: Game Changers," and some new reality shows to watch this summer.

In the second hour, guest movie critic Jim Batts and I will review "Alien: Covenant," "Chuck," "Everything, Everything," and "The Lovers," plus other movie/showbiz stuff.

In the third hour, you can test your trivia knowledge on my Harris Challenge -- the most fun you can have with your radio on -- and I'll have a new batch of Knuckleheads In The News®.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Good Pizza, Bad Parenting

My wife and I went out for pizza at our favorite place a couple of nights ago. Halfway through the meal, I heard what sounded like audio from a cell phone, as if when we got out of the car, the music had kept playing despite being disconnected from the Bluetooth.

I checked mine: nope. She checked hers: nope. So I looked around and, at the table behind me, saw a mother and her two young sons, each of them enjoying a slice of pizza -- but the younger one was watching some video on his phone without headphones, forcing the rest of us to listen along to whatever he was enjoying whether we liked it or not. He wasn't hiding it from his mother, who was obviously aware of what was going on, but didn't care about whether it might bother other customers.

Perhaps she would justify her inaction because it kept her son quiet and in his seat, but if we're going to share a somewhat civilized world, it's incumbent upon parents to teach their kids how to behave in public. That includes forcing them to withdraw their attention from an electronic device and become aware of the world around them, their impact upon it, and its effect on them.

I could have spoken up, berated the woman, and risked looking like an insensitive jerk, or I could have tried to ignore it for a few more minutes while we finished our pizza and got out of there. There was a time I would have chosen the former, but I was not in the mood to lecture yet another human being about how she and her family should act in proximity to other humans, so I chose the latter.

Unfortunately, I'm sure I'll have another opportunity when her kid won't stop texting during a movie, or blocking my view while shooting video of a concert on a phone directly in my field of vision, or checking out a full shopping cart in the 20-items-or-less line, or talking too loudly during an entire flight while in the row behind me, or smoking a cigarette directly in front of a busy doorway, or a myriad of other annoying acts.

In retrospect, I should have pulled out my phone and recorded the scene for a minute or so and then played it back with my volume turned all the way up and the screen pointed towards her. But I have a feeling Mommy Don't-Care wouldn't have understood my subtle message.

Deborah Lipstadt vs. Holocaust Deniers

Last year, I named "Denial" one of the ten best movies of 2016. It starred Rachel Weisz as Deborah Lipstadt, a college professor who wrote a book about Holocaust deniers, only to find herself sued for libel by one of them. If you missed the movie -- as too many people did, unfortunately -- take a look as Lipstadt telling her own story, with some important insight into "fake news," too...