As of this writing, February 2020 is but eight days old and already the drama, excitement, silliness and stupidity of its daily news feed has been exploding like a fusillade of concussion grenades, leaving in their wake ... well, pretty much a big hot mess of widespread disgruntlement interspersed with concentrated pockets of schadenfreude, cynicism, giddiness and glee.

Three of my favorite first-week-in-February highlights follow. Would love to hear yours.

Super Bowl XXXXX4. I went with the X’s because Roman numerals are archaic, pretentious and annoying. Besides, I never learned them all. Plus, Super Bowl’s halftime showgirls, J. Lo and Shakira, also went all X’s when creating the show’s choreography and costuming. The game itself proved one of the better bowls. The beleaguered city of San Francisco saw its gridironers grasp defeat from the jaws of victory as its beloved ’Niners blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to the winning Kansas City Chiefs.

The loss was a particularly cruel one for San Francisco, which sure could use a break these days. “The City by the Bay,” once renowned for its sweet vibe, natural beauty, booming economy and defiantly woke attitude, now sadly grapples with rampant homelessness, increasing blight and sidewalks splattered with stuff not meant to be walked on. Anyway, while the ’Niners and Chiefs took a break from blocking and tackling, J. Lo and Shakira entertained with bumping, grinding, grabbing and pole dancing, all while wearing not a whole lot. The oversexed spectacle was better suited for Showtime after hours. And incorporating prepubescents and young teens in the mix of steamy choreography was particularly — how to phrase this delicately — creepy.

Monday, Feb. 3 — A day that will live in Democratic Party infamy. “Snafu” is too weak a word for the unmitigated disaster also known as the 2020 Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses. As the Iowa party’s new but untested vote-count technology crashed, failing to produce any meaningful data (other than “there is no data”), cable news outlets hyperventilated in unison.

In a rare and flummoxed demonstration of unity, Fox News, MSNBC and CNN agreed the debacle was nothing short of a debacle, a critique their anchors and commentators repeated incessantly while gathered at high-gloss conference tables in front of ultra-high-def screens brightly informing viewers that each Democratic candidate for president had garnered a whopping zero percent of the vote.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer was so distraught that, as the evening wore on, he appeared in the throes of a medical emergency. Brian Williams at MSNBC was on his usual high horse, bloviating on the inadequacies of the poor schlubs responsible for the mess. Over at Fox News, they were doing their best to contain themselves but could not resist alluding to the irony of a party seeking to reinvent government being unable to generate a timely, accurate vote count in a small, rural state. After several data-free hours, the candidates deduced that in the absence of data to the contrary, they could try to claim or feign victory, which each did in venues of their gathered supporters and the media before skedaddling to New Hampshire, a state that knows how to conduct primaries the old-fashioned way.

Inarguably, the most contentious, dramatic and entertaining State of the Union address in history was delivered on Feb. 4, 2020. Were it a football game, it would be Ravens-Steelers for the Division Championship. As President Donald Trump presented formal copies of his speech to Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he ignored or missed Pelosi’s offer to shake hands, setting the mood for the remainder of the address.

Trump went on to deliver what many described as his first campaign speech of the 2020 presidential campaign. The address might better be described as a production, featuring a litany of Trump administration accomplishments and objectives, interspersed with a large cast of citizen heroes and role models, each with a poignant and inspirational story. Several of the vignettes also served as unsubtle exclamation points to some stark and contentious differences between Democrats and Republicans, particularly on abortion and school choice.

The former reality TV star was putting on a show and as the rhetoric and cast of heroic characters unfolded, Republicans dutifully and repeatedly stood and cheered while Democrats simply sat and seethed. When the president directed first lady Melania to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to conservative icon Rush Limbaugh, who has stage 4 lung cancer, both the cheers of Republicans and groans of Democrats could be heard.

Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi was putting on a show of her own. Seated behind the president and in constant view, Pelosi was a study in dismissive perpetual motion, negative body language and exasperated facial expression. As she constantly shuffled and reshuffled pages of the address, you could almost see it coming. The Rip Watched ’Round the World was something to behold as Madam Speaker purposefully tore the SOTU in half, several pages at a time. If you missed the hissy fit, no worries. It’s certain to be run in campaign ads ad nauseam for the next nine months — by both sides.

Brent Grimes writes from Damascus (brentongrimes@gmail.com).

(38) comments

gary4books

I found this article to be very apt in some ways, but did not know exactly what. Now I know where it shuld go - "Since 1982 the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest has challenged man, woman, and (very precocious) child to write an atrocious opening sentence to a hypothetical bad novel." Except it is more than one sentence. Otherwise it is unmatched in stale ideas and phrases. It has echos of our past that go way back.

des21

Ouch Brent- I think, but I'm not sure- that's Gary being insulting...………..[unsure]

gary4books

No insults were intended, just some old "chestnuts" that may or may not still be true. A critic's view.

public-redux

IIRC, the Style Invitational has had a few contests based on the Bulwer Lytton.

DickD

Lot of rambling from Brent.

matts853

Speaking of concussions, over 100 of our fine service members on the hot end of the Iranian retaliatory missile barrage suffered TBI. Is this the imminent threat to our assets that Trump supposedly thwarted by taking out that Iranian guy? If so, that was a not so brilliant move by the stable genius in chief. If not, then he owes them all the Congressional Medal of My Bad.

des21

100 concussions for the death of Iran's mastermind of terror operations? Are you for real Matt? I'll take one- I had about 4 playing soccer and hockey..... not so bad.

DickD

Diagnosed? I probably had one for football, not diagnosed.

des21

Just 2 diagnosed- the others, my bell was just rung. I'm sure they would have been diagnosed - especially today. CYA you know?

gary4books

Four? Now I understand.

des21

And just to beat all you haters to the punch- "that explains a lot."[beam][wink]

Dwasserba

Not inaccurate.

des21

Poor Iowa. Let's lay off for a while. Think that state will go Red again? I do after all the abuse they've taken from the Democrats.

My 24 year-old daughter who is a Berniac currently (ah, the young, sometimes we just need for them to experience life a little) tells me the offending app (sp?) was heavily invested in by the Clintons and that Mayor Pete (why is he STILL claiming victory) is an investor too. I don't know if that is true, perhaps a social media rumor, but if it's true I guess it worked the way it was designed! The "Screw Bernie" feature works well! Mayor Pete was proclaiming victory with 0% of the districts reporting. These are the people who want to be in charge of your health care ladies and gentlemen, the Democrats, let's give them a hand.[unsure]

threecents

Another solid Hillary conspiracy theory? If you watched the last Democratic debate, you would have learned that Democrats generally don't agree with or care about Hillary's characterization of Bernie.

des21

I think the entire DNC and all super delegates despise Bernie- and with pretty good reason- he's a miserable old man who is not a Democrat.

DickD

But why are you, someone married to a wife that is a minority and two minority children a Republican? Yes, money is probably part of it as I am sure your pay and your wife's pay is higher than most, but is that the only reason? I know you are smart enough to know better.

des21

Because I am about freedom and the Democrats are racists who seek to make people dependent on the state. IMO Dick. Simple as that.

gary4books

There is a certain amound of symmetry here; Trump is not my idea of a Republican. Should we see this as a real breakdown in the two party system? Is the Pope catholic?

threecents

I think the PC term is now "party fluid". [cool]

matts853

I don’t think a single person in America, official or un, truly understands health care. It’s a purpose built political enigma sans a coda.

gary4books

I call it "a work in progress..."

DickD

Look at the alternative, Dave! Trump and the Republicans are cutting taxes for the wealthy and large corporations. They have squandered a lot and now continue all efforts to destroy what is left of Obama Care, cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. along with SNAP and other welfare subsidies. Maybe you don't think they are necessary, but they are for the people involved and those over 65 tend to turn out in much higher percentages.

threecents

No Dick, Those subsidies that we force on poor people are ruining their lives. Do you honestly think that poor people have any use for food, clothing, and shelter?

threecents

Fitting that Trump gave an award to Rush, the single most divisive American of my lifetime. Rush paved the way for Trump.

DickD

It really surprised me to find out some really believe the trash Rush hands out. I thought he was just trying to be controversial to stir up discussion for his show.

threecents

Weird transition from the Super Bowl halftime show to the SotU Address, but I guess they were equally annoying spectacles, which is why I avoided watching both of them. Though JLo was very good in Hustler, I think she was ignored by the Academy because she basically played herself.

des21

JLo was in Hustler? When? Are they still publishing? Wow.

hayduke2

Calm down des - it is a movie titled Hustlers....

matts853

Too funny! My mind went there too.

des21

[love]

gary4books

(smile) Wikipedia: "to search

For the 2010 Finnish comedy film, see The Hustlers (film). For the 2013 American film alternatively named 'Hustlers', see Pawn Shop Chronicles.

Hustlers

Theatrical release poster

Directed by

Lorene Scafaria

Produced by

Jessica Elbaum

Will Ferrell

Adam McKay

Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas

Jennifer Lopez

Benny Medina

Screenplay by

Lorene Scafaria

Based on

"The Hustlers at Scores: The Ex-Strippers Who Stole From (Mostly) Rich Men and Gave to, Well, Themselves"

by Jessica Pressler

Starring

Constance Wu

Jennifer Lopez

Julia Stiles

Keke Palmer

Lili Reinhart

Lizzo

Cardi B

Cinematography

Todd Banhazl

Edited by

Kayla Emter

Production

company

Gloria Sanchez Productions

Nuyorican Productions

Annapurna Pictures

Distributed by

STXfilms

Release date

September 7, 2019 (TIFF)

September 13, 2019 (United States)

Running time

110 minutes[1]

Country

United States

Language

English

Budget

$20.7 million[2]

Box office

$157.6 million[3][4]

Hustlers is a 2019 American black comedy crime film written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, based on New York magazine's 2015 article "The Hustlers at Scores: The Ex-Strippers Who Stole From (Mostly) Rich Men and Gave to, Well, Themselves" by Jessica Pressler." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hustlers_(film)

gary4books

All the short lines could be edited out and still make my "point." It really is my fault.

threecents

Des, You go for the older ladies?

des21

How old's Ivanka?[beam]

gary4books

Ben Franklin had high praise for older women. Now the younger ones can be a problem. Even for a POTUS.

des21

I was hoping it was a 30 year old issue honestly...………...

gary4books

Should we award the product or the effort? Many play themselves and that is just about all they can do. Acting is difficult. If they product the desired performance, that should be worthy.

threecents

I think it depends on whether the actor's personality distracts and detracts from the movie. I think the role was written for her to deliberately match her diva persona, and that might have detracted from the viewing pleasure for some on the Academy.

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