Chris Neary is a producer for On the Media.
OTM Staff Picks Volume 45
Thursday, February 28, 2013 - 10:14 AM
A few of our favorite things.
My pick this week is a 22 year-old film scene. I was watching House of Cards the other day and was really struck by an episode in which the show’s main character, the House Majority Whip, travels back to his all-male alma mater. He’s reunited with a few of his old friends and to one of them, late at night, after lots of drinking, he very quietly expresses his love. It was love expressed between two men, one ostensibly straight, in a way that was remarkably subtle for such a heavy-handed show and it reminded me of an indelible scene from when I was young. I was 17 when My Own Private Idaho came out and I’d never seen anything like it. It’s still one of the most beautiful, tender depictions of men’s love (again with one character ostensibly straight) that I’ve ever seen and it’s crystallized in this scene (which I’ve read was improvised).
I haven’t seen the whole film in years but its work is done, I think about it often.
I have just started getting into the FX show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” which is soooo good, but at the same time soooo bad. Every episode is more offensive and politically incorrect than the previous one—in one episode, two of the main characters decide that being on welfare instead of working will free them up to follow their dreams, and subsequently develop crack addictions in order to prove that they deserve to be on welfare. The clip below is a relatively tame one, in which the guys try to explain Israel to each other:
I’m using my staff pick to ask a question. Did the Jesus Lizard lift the riff in their song “Then Comes Dudley” from the Miles Davis tune “Great Expectations”?
Great Expectations (riff @ 0:37)
Then Comes Dudley (riff at 0:08)
I mean, yes, it seems obvious that they did, but did they do it consciously? And isn’t that Miles Davis song a total creepy killer? Did you know I love music? I love music.
My pick this week is Time magazine’s special report on healthcare. “Bitter Pill” is an exhaustively researched article by Steven Brill that looks at the costs of hospital bills, examining everything from routine procedures to emergency visits to more specialized care like cancer treatment. He documents the routine mark-ups of medication (a 1.5 cent acetaminophen pill that hospitals mark up 10,000% when they bill patients) and how non-profit hospitals generate enough cash to compensate their executives as much as many for-profit businesses. What I found most incredible is this fact:
“According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the pharmaceutical and health-care-product industries, combined with organizations representing doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, health services and HMOs, have spent $5.36 billion since 1998 on lobbying in Washington. That dwarfs the $1.53 billion spent by the defense and aerospace industries and the $1.3 billion spent by oil and gas interests over the same period. That’s right: the health-care-industrial complex spends more than three times what the military-industrial complex spends in Washington.”
Doing some late-night cabling, I ran across Daddy and Them (2001), written by/directed by/starring Billy Bob Thornton. It kind of collapses toward the end, but till then it is a hilarious and surprisingly poignant look at a dysfunctional, working-class Arkansas family in crisis. Andy Griffith, rest his soul, is particularly funny (look for the line "I sugar-coated it.") Other surprises: John Prine as brother Alvin and odd appearances by a young Ben Affleck and Jamie Lee Curtis as married lawyers who hate each other.
Here's a short (NBC promotional) film about radio from 1947.