The Real and the Unreal: Downton Abbey and Joys of Distraction

Tonight the announcer for PBS promises “surprises and scandals,” but today has been full of them in real life–forget Masterpiece Theater.

This morning everyone was stunned at the news that Philip Seymour Hoffman had been found dead in his New York City apartment.  He was only 46. Winner of an Academy Award for his portrayal of Truman Capote, praised for his stage work with such plays as Death of a Salesman, his talent was indisputable.


He was found with heroin.  He had apparently struggled with addiction.  He had three small children.  He was supposed to see them today.  Something went terribly wrong.  But it had been going wrong for awhile.  Richard Brody has already written a piece for The New Yorker praising his stratospheric talent, and suggesting that in some way his genius was so great, so incomprehensible to mere mortals, that, somehow, he had died for his art. This is the stutter of grief. Continue reading

Downton Abbey: The Best of Times, and the Worst of Times

As I was on my This Is A New Year Get Off The Couch run this morning, in the beautiful 63 degree sunshine of Houston after that ice storm, I was thinking that if the writers of Downton Abbey couldn’t address the Anna/Bates problem, I would just indulge my guilty pleasure of pop music and forget Downton Abbey and watch The Grammies.

But then Daft Punk accepted their award in space masks.  And Katy Perry showed up in a Vampirella costume for some sort of Halloween dance to a song that didn’t seem evil or anything, but it sure was boring.



And then they started some kind of TRIBUTE to Chicago, the band, like they are old or something, and it took me a minute but then I realized Mr. Blurred Lines was singing a TRIBUTE, to, well, anyone, and so I decided maybe I wasn’t the target audience for the Grammy Awards anymore, and so forget them!  PBS is cool.  So.  There. Continue reading

Keep Calm and Carry On; Or, Downton Abbey Returns

When men watch sports it is so funny:  they don’t mind when the announcers talk the whole time during the game giving their little opinions, but they get all irritated when I start talking.  Usually I am just asking an innocent question, like, “Why is a field goal only three points?”  Then I get “the look.”

Well, forget them.  They usually say really brilliant things, like, “We need some defense.”  Well, duh.

So I am going to redirect my talking to people who care, and I am going to do a little play by play of tonight’s first episode of Season 4 of Downton Abbey:

Hey, a baby is crying.  You have DOZENS of servants–someone get that baby!

A servant left.  Well, you should have paid her more.  Duh.  But she was mean.  Yay, she’s gone.  Good riddance!  Does that sound British?

Edith is helping.  She is going to place an ad.  Good for you Edith.

Lady Crawley looks awful.  I would too if that MATTHEW character person left because his contract ran out.  Is there no loyalty anymore?  His departure totally ruined my sticking with this program so these two could finally get married.  Thanks for nothing, Matthew person.

Oooooh!  Someone just told Maggie Smith that it is “a changing world.”  Brave guy! Continue reading

Solving Mysteries; Or, A Night With Sherlock Holmes

sherlock-holmes1All month my head has been spinning with the constellation of scandals that won’t seem to go away. Benghazi, the IRS targeting of conservative groups for exclusion from tax-exempt status, the NSA and their lists, the eye-brow raising intrusions into journalists’ phone calls and emails, all of which make one think that certain freedoms from government intrusion are becoming something historic, while getting fully disclosed information from the government becomes almost impossible.  We have already forgotten Fast and Furious, because there is only room for so many simultaneously operative catastrophes.  After all, all we need is Hilary Clinton stating “What difference does it make now?” and the truth seems devalued, a messy inconvenience that can be tossed aside in the power plays of articulate politicians.  These scandals, no matter what side of the aisle you are on, are so disheartening that it makes most Americans just want to look for the exit.  These scandals are really not so different from one another:  they are all symptoms of some kind of common denominator that is part of the governmental status quo.  But it would take a detective of the highest order to figure out the ultimate truth:  does this administration think that they can hide various ill-conceived machinations, or do they just not have a handle on what they are doing, thus having almost every imaginable scenario spin out of control?  I know: it’s a tough call.  Just be glad you are not Jay Carney:  he is the lucky guy who gets to explain it all. Continue reading