We Need To Talk About Cosby

without the trusted Bill Cosby, he couldn’t be the predator for so long

we need to talk about cosbyMark Evanier wrote a post simply titled Cosby. He was touting the fact that he will record the new four-part documentary on Showtime by W. Kamau Bell, We Need To Talk About Cosby. You should watch the 150-second trailer on his page.

Interesting, though, that he just never found his records — or him on TV — uproariously funny.” Mark’s “qualified admiration for him as a comedian all flows from seeing him perform live at Harrah’s in Reno in the early eighties.” Whereas I loved the comedy records, and still have a half dozen in the attic somewhere.

MY POV is captured better in the review of We Need To Talk About Cosby in The Hollywood Reporter. The “docuseries explores Bill Cosby’s legacy as a TV icon and a convicted predator, showing how his fame, influence, and criminality were all connected.”

Writer Daniel Fienberg says it is, “for the most part, exactly the right documentary for the moment and Bell is clearly the right filmmaker to have crafted it. It’s a complicated and pragmatic project” which doesn’t gloss over his awful behavior.

The significance

“The documentary is designed to instigate a conversation and not to build a case, which gives Bell a very different responsibility… That means not ignoring the significance of Cosby the comic and Cosby the entertainment mogul and Cosby the reshaper of public perceptions of Black family and Cosby the champion of education and Cosby the self-appointed hectorer of troubled Black masculinity… Some people won’t want to see how complimentary the series is at times, much less for how long.”

Yes, Cosby was a popular comic but also the guy, the BLACK guy, who won three Emmys in a row for I Spy, when there just weren’t many black folks on the TV screen. Not to mention his several other series from The Electric Company to the Cosby Show, most of which I watched regularly.

“The point that Bell and his experts… want to make is that without establishing how beloved and, more than that, trusted Bill Cosby was, you can’t fully understand how he was able to do what he allegedly did for so long. And if you can’t make clear his position of righteousness and rectitude, you can’t understand both why it was so hard for some people to believe those stories and why Hannibal Buress felt the need to famously put Cosby on blast in a 2014 comedy routine.”

It WAS difficult to accept. And oddly, part of it was his moralizing hectoring, which I found merely annoying at the time. In retrospect, it was ironically pathological.

Powerful

“And if you can’t understand the power that Cosby wielded in Hollywood, and how basically unprecedented it was for that power to be wielded by a Black man, you can’t properly put Cosby in the context of Hollywood’s upheaval of the past five years — nor can you understand how, with many of these accusations as public as they were, a network like NBC still was trying to develop new projects for Cosby as recently as 2014. What he meant can’t be separated from what he did.”

W. Kamau Bell said both on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and in Vanity Fair that he is “terrified for people to see his Bill Cosby docuseries.” Even before people have seen it, he’s already getting pushback.

Evanier mentions in passing that separation of art and artist is always tricky. My buddy Greg Burgas mentions Orson Card, the science fiction writer, who is merely racist and homophobe. My real problem with William H. Cosby is that a) I find his behavior, especially after his moralizing blather, unforgivable, b) his damn comedy routines are STILL stuck inside my brain, and c) I don’t have SHOWTIME but really want to see this series.

Lydster: the COVID-19 home test

shot #3

home testShortly before the return to school in early January, we received an email informing us telling about the availability of a COVID-19 home test. Parents were to pick it up at a specific school district location on that Sunday, either by car or by standing in line. Since it was rather cold outside and I was at church in person, my wife drove over.

Though she got there in the car before the designated time of noon, she spent about an hour in the line. From a Facebook list that I’m on, this was the experience of many people.

I started reading the instructions in the package. “Ensure you have an Internet connection and download the App prior to starting the test.” The app is something called On/Go.

“Ensure you have a compatible smartphone. (iOS 13 or newer for Apple iPhone and Android10 or newer for Android phone.)” Do I have iOS 13 on my iPhone 8 Plus? Apparently, I have 15.1. This exercise reminds me that Internet access and a smartphone are not luxuries but necessities in American life.

Studying for the test

The next morning my daughter and I start the process. I wash my hands, unpack the components, and place the test cassette “on a flat, clean surface. My daughter opened the extraction vial, I unwrapped the nasal swab. She decided she would swab her nostrils herself. I put it in the extraction vial, removed the swab, capped it, mixed it, then put drops in the test cassette. Ten minutes later, the test came back negative.

Meanwhile, I tried to scan the QR code on the box. But there is a white stripe that made the reading of the code impossible to scan. Ultimately, it didn’t matter. But I had to go through all of the instructions on the video, including the 10-minute wait before I could take a picture of my daughter’s negative results. It SAYS it’s a 10-minute test, but the whole procedure took closer to a half-hour.

Oh, and there was no imperative to actually go to the site to pick up the package since they would be distributed in the schools on that Tuesday. Incidentally, there are two tests per box, suggesting this testing may be replicated.

Booster

Meanwhile, I wanted my daughter to be able to get a booster. She had gotten her second shot in April. Just before the US Thanksgiving, I had gone to the county health website, filled out the form. The system said she was not eligible yet, which I thought was incorrect. I figured she’d have to wait until March.

Still, I tried the CVS page in early January, and I was able to make an appointment. She is now thrice vaxxed. Given the numbers in the schools, worse than the community at large (and those were huge at the time), this makes me quite happy.

Movie review -Spider-Man: No Way Home

multiverse

Is there a point in reviewing a film that has already grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, and in only 12 days? Who knows? Still, I need to discuss the movie Spider-Man: No Way Home.

It has to do with my great affection for Spider-Man, and even more for Peter Parker. I even edited an issue of a magazine about the web-slinger.

In the past few years, I had scurried to see all of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I haven’t, to date, seen any of the ones in this current crop: Black Widow, Shang-Chi, or The Eternals, though I probably will eventually.

It’s not necessary to have seen all of the earlier Spider-Man films to appreciate the new one. Still, in 2020, I watched four I had not viewed before. I do think it enhanced my enjoyment, especially the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

For you non-comics fans, the broad idea of a multiverse is that there are a lot of Spider-Man stories that exist over nearly 60 years. Invariably internal inconsistencies arise. So some stories are about Spider-Man in OTHER universes. If you get that, you can appreciate No Way Home just fine.

Peter Parker is Spider-Man!

The secret of our Peter (Tom Holland) is out, as we learned at the very end of the previous film, Spider-Man: Far From Home. Daily Bugle blowhard J. Jonah Jamison (J.K. Simmons) accuses him of a heinous crime. This puts the people he cares about, girlfriend MJ (Zendaya), best pal Ned (Jacob Batalon), and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), in danger. Can Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) cast a spell to erase people knowing that Peter is Spidey? But wait, not everyone…

We end up with villains engaging with Spider-Man. But he’s not THEIR Peter Parker. They can be sent back to their own universes. But don’t they deserve a shot of redemption? If by chance you haven’t seen it, just about everything I could say further would be a spoiler. If you HAVE seen the movie, read how it was shaped by its casting.

I can report that I loved this movie. There’s a scene, reminiscent of a part of another film but with a different outcome that made me a little teary-eyed. (It’s the storyline from Amazing Spider-Man #121, the second issue of the comic I ever purchased.) By the end, the reset button has been hit for our friendly, neighborhood hero, and that is a good thing. And, maybe because it was the season, elements of It’s A Wonderful Life came to mind.

Does it have too much insider humor? A negative review notes: “There’s no attempt to hide that the film is pure fan service, a greatest-hits mashup of Spider-Man’s cinematic legacy.” If it’s a fan service project – and the writers are clearly fans -then it succeeded wildly. But I think the non-initiated can enjoy it too.

I saw No Way Home at Spectrum 8 in Albany, a Landmark Theatre, in the last week of 2021. That was before I realized, per an SNL cold open, that  Joe Biden blamed ‘Spider-Man’ for all of the nation’s problems.

Paul Weinstein (1963-2022)

a good dad

I had to do the math. It was only two and a half years at the most between the time I met Paul Weinstein, and when his then-wife Nikki invited us to Paul’s surprise 50th birthday party in the early spring of 2012. That has to be right because his daughter and mine were classmates in first grade.

I remember that party exceedingly well, given how long ago it was. It was at a very nice wine bar in downtown Albany, closed to the general public. Paul introduced my wife and especially me to a lot of his friends.

Paul was one of those people who was fully engaged in caring about who he was talking with. That said, he was always highly complimentary of how smart I was, sometimes to my slight embarrassment. Part of that might have been the JEOPARDY effect. But some of it was our separate times in Binghamton, me growing up there, him going to college at the university.

He also wished the best for our daughter, often recommending extracurricular activities for her to try, such as archery, which his daughter participated in. I’m not sure we ever took any of his suggestions.

There were quite a few dads who participated in activities at the elementary school, such as Walk Your Child To School or preparing simple breakfast snacks at the school. Paul was always the most enthusiastic.

At West Lawrence and Madison

Generally, I’d see Paul Weinstein in the neighborhood, a lot. It was often at a corner two blocks away, whether he was on foot or in his car. The last time I saw him was there and he suggested we get together. Right after I retired in 2019, he recommended we go biking together. As is often the case, these things never happened.

My wife and I had the same reaction to the announcement of his sudden death. We can’t believe it. He appeared healthy and happy and engaged in life. My condolences to his two kids, who seemed to adore him. And also to his ex-wife. Even though they couldn’t live together – and I believe they tried – it seems that they still had a love for each other.

The watching sports report

Week 18?

watching sportsI grew up loving watching sports on television. Not just baseball and football, either. I grew up with the Wide World of Sports. Not so much in 2021.

Oh, I caught some innings of a few baseball games, but almost nothing from beginning to end. Yet I would READ the box scores and stories about the previous night’s games. I was particularly fascinated with Shohei Ohtani, who GQ profiled. “Not since the days of Babe Ruth has one of baseball’s greatest hitters also been one of its finest pitchers.”

Maybe it was the fate of the New York Mets, who looked as though they might get to the World Series but ended up not even getting to the playoffs. Or the New York Yankees who were streakily great, followed by being terrible and were eliminated after one playoff game.

Perhaps it’s my antipathy for some of the teams. Both the 2017 Houston Astros and the 2018 Boston Red Sox were nicked by a cheating scandal. The Astros also yanked their team affiliation from our local Tri-City Valley Cats. More parochially, the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the 1963 World Series; I hold a long grudge.

Gridiron

As usual, I didn’t watch the NFL before Thanksgiving. I saw bits of one of those Turkey Day games, then nothing else in 2021 unless the CBS game ran late, delaying 60 Minutes.

But then there was week 18. Week 18? There used to be 17 weeks in which the teams each played 16 games, with one week off. Now there is a 17th game. And, perhaps related to the expansion of the eligible playoff teams to 14, it seemed that almost every team that didn’t play their home games in New Jersey still had a chance.

Such as the Pittsburgh Steelers. Chuck Miller described what happened. But that Raiders-Chargers game that ended in the final minute of overtime was edge-of-my-seat exciting. The following week there were a couple of close games which I saw. However, I will acknowledge that I watched almost the entire Buffalo Bills beating of the New England Patriots, 47-17. Seven touchdowns in seven possessions!

Soured

Only one of the annoying things about COVID is that sports figures who you felt neutral or mildly positive about managed to act in a disappointing manner. Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers spread some malarkey about his vaccine status.

More irritating, though, was Novak Djokovic, the tennis star who got booted out of the Australian Open because that country actually wants to take the disease seriously. Then the Serbian president blasted Australia. Now, Djokovic may not be able to play in the French Open in May if he isn’t vaccinated. I had no strong opinion about Novak, beyond admiring his considerable talent, but now he’s rather ticked me off.

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