I can't stop thinking about this sign.


And frankly I feel attacked.

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Recent movies and TV

Harley Quinn: Based on only the first couple episodes, this looks to be the best DC cartoon since Batman The Animated Series. I had no idea that the one simple thing that was missing was for the characters to swear like sailors, but yes, that is the thing that was missing.

Reprisal: It's a revenge-noir set in some indeterminate pseudo-60s time period with cell phones, and idealized "biker gangs" that resemble actual biker gangs in precisely the way that strip clubs in movies resemble actual strip clubs. It's not bad, but the amount of smoking in it is actually making my clothing stink through the TV. The smoking is so distracting that in one episode I started counting any time someone was not smoking and I never got higher than 45 seconds. Even though I haven't noticed explicit product placements, I feel pretty sure that there has to be some tobacco industry payola making this happen.

Treadstone: To my great surprise, this is a quite solid spy show! I enjoyed the first Bourne movie and don't remember anything about any of the sequels, so I didn't really have high expectations for this, but it's really fun. The writing is twisty, the spycraft is good. They end nearly every episode with a surprising cliffhanger that feels more "damn, that was a strong ending" than "what a cheat".

Nancy Drew: It started out as: it's Veronica Mars but she's a more-fucked-up depressive underachiever, has two Cordelias, and they're Scoobying ghosts. And I was there for that. But then the ghosts turned out to be real ghosts rather than a Trumpian real estate con-man in a rubber mask, and that's when they lost me. (I mean, I'm still watching it but now it pisses me off.)

Terminator: Dark Fate: This is the third-best Terminator movie, fourth if you count Sarah Connor Chronicles. It hits all the Terminator notes -- so much so that it kind of emphasizes how similar the structure of the first and second were -- but it works, and unlike almost all of the other sequels, it doesn't demean the earlier movies. This must be the 10th timeline in, what, 6 movies? SCC had at least 3 timelines alone. I do like that they take advantage of that freedom, to just pick a point in time and branch off from there.

Tigers Are Not Afraid: Creepy and cool. Ghost stories don't often take that "magical realism" turn.

Blood and Chocolate: Just another Werewolf Romance, but it's not bad. Here's the thing though, wouldn't werewolves be allergic to both silver and chocolate? I have trouble with the concept of werewolf chocolatiers. Not to be confused with Blood and Donuts.

Chernobyl: Well that was pretty fucked up right there.

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996): This might be my second favorite Christmas movie, after The Ref and before Batman Returns. Samuel L. Jackson goes on a road trip with a wisecracking amnesiac blonde who could break him in half, but it's Geena Davis instead of Brie Larson. I saw this at Alamo as part of what they called their "Queer Film Theory" series, which was certainly not what came to mind for me when I thought about this movie, but the host made a good case: whereas the actual text of the movie is ass-kicking and dick jokes, the subtext is pretty heavily about performative gender roles. But there's lots of ass kicking, let's not forget that.

The Expanse: Season 4 was uneven. It was mostly pretty good, but the planet-side parts were both too long, and marred by having the worst Big Bad of the entire series. This guy was such a moustache-twirling Snidely Whiplash of the East India Company that it was just annoying. Even Burke in Aliens was more sympathetic and believable than this guy. He brought into perspective how well written the "villains" had been in the previous seasons.

The Mandalorian: This show is so uneven and squandering its potential. The idea of High Plains Drifter set in the Star Wars universe sounds like a natural. And the sets look great! Look at all that glorious Ralph McQuarrie design! But then I look closer and realize that there's nothing, not a single thing, that is new here. All of these designs were in A New Hope. All of these species were in A New Hope. It starts off on a planet that isn't Tatooine but is totally Tatooine -- oh, and then they go to actual Tatooine, re-hashing the canonical sin of the Star Wars universe: this "galaxy" only has five planets in it.

The episode where Gina Carano kicks an AT-ST's ass was excellent, and the single good one so far.

Also, Baby Yoda is bullshit, and here's my prediction: Baby Yoda is actually Yoda. They're going to ratfuck the whole franchise by introducing time travel. You're welcome.


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DNA Lounge: Wherein Christmas came early for Live Nation.

What's most surprising about this story is that the DOJ is actually pursuing antitrust action. That's very off-brand for this administration. Hasn't the DOJ been dismantled by now? Maybe this means that Live Nation forgot to renew their Mafia-a-Lago membership.

DOJ preparing legal action against Live Nation

The U.S. Justice Department is preparing to take legal action against Live Nation Entertainment on allegations the concert promoter has sought to strong-arm concert venues into using its dominant Ticketmaster subsidiary. The department believes the concert promoter's conduct has violated the merger settlement Live Nation and Ticketmaster reached with the government in 2010 and plans to file a decree enforcement action, the source said. [...]

The Justice Department allowed the companies to merge on condition they abide by a range of conditions to keep ticket prices in check, including agreeing here to be barred from retaliating against venue owners who use a competing ticket service.

As ticket prices rise and the settlement is set to expire next year, the government now plans to extend the restrictions by several years and prohibit coercive conduct by Live Nation.

"Extending the restrictions" means "Stop! Or I'll say 'stop' again." But hey, baby steps.

Live Nation Consent Decree Review Requested by House Reps to DOJ

The effectiveness of the consent decree's antip-retaliation provision has been the subject of debate in recent years as its July 2020 expiration nears. Besides forcing Ticketmaster to divest several assets and temporarily license its technology to AEG, the company was barred from retaliating against venues and promoters that didn't use its technology.

"The decree gets a lot of misconception," Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said. "It says we can't threaten venues. We can't say to a Ticketmaster venue that says they want to use a different ticketing platform, 'If you do that, we won't put shows in your building.' It also says we can do what's right for our business, so we have to put the show where we make the most economics and maybe that venue [that wants to use a different ticketing platform] won't be the best economic place anymore because we don't hold the revenue."

"Nice venue you've got there. Be a shame if something.... happened to it."

That distinction -- between retaliating against companies that go with competitors (not allowed) and rewarding clients that do go with Ticketmaster (allowed) -- critics argue has essentially given Ticketmaster the de facto monopoly position in music and the ticketing supply chain that many feared 10 years ago.

I'm old enough to remember that time in 2018 when Live Nation got caught scalping their own tickets and then literally nothing happened. But, at least some imaginary money went back to imaginary-money-heaven: "Live Nation shares fell 7.3% on Friday [...] The drop shaved about $1 billion off Live Nation's market cap, which sits around $13.8 billion."

You may recall from my earlier round-up on the corporate consolidation of live music that TicketMaster sells 80% of all tickets in the US, and their parent company, Live Nation, own 117 venues and exclusively books 33 others, including The Fillmore, The Masonic, Cobb's, Punch Line and August Hall.

Update, a week later:

Live Nation and the DOJ reached a "settlement" that does nothing but extend the time period of the consent decree, with no fine. So it goes like this:

    "You have to follow these rules for ten years."
    "Hey, you didn't follow those rules at all!"
    "Ok, now you have to follow them for another ten years. Please?"

"Live Nation's stock immediately rebounded after the story broke, up nearly 10%." So all that imaginary money came back from imaginary-money-heaven, with interest.


Patients die as lawyers ransack hospital

Not a metaphor.

More than 200 lawyers wielding sticks stormed Lahore's Punjab Institute of Cardiology at midday on Wednesday. Hospital officials said the lawyers forced their way past security and split into groups, attacking various departments and wards. [...]

There has been simmering anger among young lawyers since 20 November when half a dozen of them accompanied a colleague to the hospital for the treatment of his sick mother, says the BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad. There they got into an argument with hospital staff and a doctor on duty, leading to a fierce fist fight in which the lawyers were outnumbered by the hospital staff. Both sides filed police complaints against each other but no arrests were made.

The lawyers said they were avenging an attack in November by doctors and staff of the hospital, after the lawyers demanded preferential treatment.

Some of the lawyers involved in Wednesday's attack said they were moved to act by a viral video by one of the doctors, who mocked and ridiculed them through reciting poetry and belittling remarks. [...] "Look at the sea of lawyers, doctor," the lawyer said in a bombastic tone. "Today, we will insert stents in the doctors." [...]

In recent years, lawyers in Pakistan have not shied from resorting to violence and taking the law into their hands. Lawyers have attacked judges over disagreements during court hearings. Clashes with police are frequent.

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