Helene Wecker's dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange old man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Struggling to make their way in this strange new place, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their Jewish and Syrian neighbors while masking their true natures. [more inside]
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Asylum Season 7, Ep 27
This week from the white void. Trump is beset with October Surprises (contracting COVID, news finally breaks about his tax avoidance, and we find out he had a previously-unknown bank account in China), although his supporters think Hunter Biden's laptop is a thing, entirely because Fox News keeps telling them it is. Trump gets a pass from the press on the final debate because he acted like less of a loon than usual. And Now: The Movie Taste of People On CNBC Is Exactly What You Think It Is. Main story: Immigration, specifically, how the Trump administration has been extraordinarily cruel to asylum seekers trying to enter the US. On YouTube (21m) And Now: Like We Said, The Movie Taste Of People On CNBC Is Exactly What You Think It is.
Warrior: If You're Going to Bow, Bow Low Season 1, Ep 10
Ah Sahm rethinks his place in San Francisco; Big Bill waits for Lee; Zing and the Fung Hai debate positions with Mai Ling; Dylan Leary brings some friends to negotiate with Bryon Mercer, while Penny has a look at his books. [Season Finale] [more inside]
Years and Years: Episode 3 Season 1, Ep 3
It’s 2026 and a General Election is looming. [more inside]
Years and Years: Episode 2 Season 1, Ep 2
The world is still reeling from the events of Hong Sha. Daniel tries to build a new life with Viktor. Edith returns home for good. Rosie, attends Viv Rook's political rally and is amazed by her power and passion. Celeste loses her job, but that's just the start of her problems: when she and Stephen are woken at 4am by a series of urgent texts, they realise their entire life is about to come crashing down.
The Twilight Zone: Point of Origin Season 1, Ep 8
A suburban housewife wants to go home. But where - and what - is home, really? [more inside]
How many lives fit in a lifetime? When Hero De Vera arrives in America–haunted by the political upheaval in the Philippines and disowned by her parents–she’s already on her third. Her uncle gives her a fresh start in the Bay Area, and he doesn’t ask about her past. His younger wife knows enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. But their daughter–the first American-born daughter in the family–can’t resist asking Hero about her damaged hands. (Penguin Random House blurb) Elaine Castillo's debut novel, and well-regarded, from Kirkus Reviews to Bustle. [more inside]
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Family Separation Season 5, Ep 28
- 2018 Midterms, which has been exceptional in negativity. California Congressman Duncan Hunter accused opponent Ammar Campa-Najjar of being a terrorist trying to infiltrate Congress; Iowa Congressman Steve King, who has been notorious for associating with white nationalists and got pissy when confronted about it before cameras, and lost the support of a number of corporate PACs; and in Nebraska's 1st district a sign promoting Jeff Fortenberry was defaced with googly eyes and changed to read Jeff Fartenberry, causing his Chief-of-Staff to accuse a local professor, who was unlucky enough to have "liked" a Facebook photo of the sign within his random notice, of supporting vandalism.
- And Now: Out Annual Check-In With The Consequences Of Combining Local News Shows And Halloween
- Main story: Immigration, "The system that brought you me, but it's still good, and I promise that won't happen again." Specifically, the Trump administration's family separation policy. It's faded from the news, but its consequences have not ended yet. Content warning: horrifying consequences of the enforced separation of children from their parents. YouTube
- And Now: Halloween Part II: Just The Traffic And Weather
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: China President Xi Jinping Season 5, Ep 15
- Trump's summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un happened. The result was what Oliver reminds us is a Trump speciality, something akin to an "Ice Cream Blow Job." Something that sounds great, but when you think about it, doesn't actually mean anything.
- Thousands of children were forcibly taken from parents due to the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy over illegal imigration, an act that has infuriated millions.
- And Now: Senator Chuck Schumer Is Caught In An Endless Graduation-Speech Time Loop
- Main story: China President Xi Jinping has overcome term limits, had his ideas enshrined in China's constitution, and cultivated a cult of personality around himself. Under him, China's released catchy viral videos to advance their economic interests. LWT made their own to remind everyone of their human rights issues. The main story (20m) is available on YouTube.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Immigration Courts Season 5, Ep 6
- President Trump appoints to the head of the VA his White House doctor.
- Egypt has a Presidential election, the winner of which will almost certainly be strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, since one of his opponents was arrested and three more intimidated into withdrawing. His only opponent, Mousa Mostafa Mousa, was a supporter of his!
- Sinclair Media Group's continued efforts to turn local news into Fox News 2, including must runs trying to push the idea of a "deep state" working against Trump, and trying to push an idea that national media outlets push fake stories. (Links below fold.)
- And Now: Baseball's Back, And Local News Knows Exactly What That Means. (It means weird concession food.)
- Main Story: Immigration Courts, which are a complete mess. One judge said of them, "In essence we're doing death penalty cases in a traffic court setting." Furthermore, they're not criminal courts but civil courts, meaning many guarantees, such as for legal council, are not available, and they're not part of the Judicial Branch, but instead, of the Executive Branch, and Jeff Sessions can in fact review cases himself. In some, children as young as three are actually asked to represent themselves before a judge. Just to drive home how stupid that is, LWT produced a bit of a court show in which everyone but the defendant (H. Jon Benjamin!) is three or four: Tot Bench.
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through...
Continued: Sruthi Pinnamaneni follows the world's best bounty hunter on a peculiar case.
Sruthi Pinnamaneni follows the world's best bounty hunter on a peculiar case.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Joe Arpiao Season 4, Ep 23
Whew, what with hurricanes and stuff it's been a while! This episode is now a month old! Let's take a step back in time, to an age when we were, due to the aging effects of the Trump presidency, all several years younger:
- Trump's busy week. First he met with Congressional leaders to hammer out a deal to raise the "debt ceiling." (Suprisingly, Trump sided with the Democrats, giving them additional leverage in December when the time comes to make the deal again, and infuriating Republicans.) Then Trump gave the floor to his daughter Ivanka, annoying the further hell out of the Republicans (fortunately, they have an ample supply of hell to spare). No one seems to know why Trump did either of those things.
- Trump announces that he's ending Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), putting the fate of 800,000 undocumented immigrants in immediate jeopardy, then immediately spins and says Congress should really get off their butts and do something about this tragic circumstance he created. Trump on why he did it: "Either we have a country, or we don't have a country."
- And Now: A Look At What the NFL Will, And Will Not, Tolerate (This relates to players taking the knee during the National Anthem. This was before Trump directly attacked players who did so, provoking a considerable backlash, with many more players joining the protest.)
- Main story: the (then) recently pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, his many horrible acts, his downfall, and why Trumps pardoning of him was an awful thing to do. YouTube (14m) Warning: segment includes footage of Arpaio painfully droning "My Way.")
- And Now: Joe Arpaio Singing Another Song With No Sense of Irony Whatsoever (the theme from Fame, aka "I'm Gonna Live Forever")
- Finally, Scranton, PA station WNEP mentioned Last Week Tonight's mentioning of them on the air for the strangely controversial backyard train set they run on-camera during the weather report. Prompted by this, LWT went and build a ridiculously large train set for them, to have. More on that in the next episode....
"Our good pal Karina Moreno (@KaryinBrooklyn)comes by to talk DACA, immigration, and what to hope and dread about." This was especially informative about the history of the U.S. recruiting Mexican farm workers in the 1960s. [more inside]
So, last week....
- "Unfortunately, we must begin, again, with President Trump, two words that continue to sound unnatural together, like 'Walrus Porn,' or 'Tilda Swinton.'" Trump promises a crackdown on illegal immigrants, despite problems hiring ICE agents, and withdraws Obama-era guidelines for transgender students in school bathrooms.
- And Now: Some Random Thoughts From WCBS2 Meteorologist John Elliott
- Main Story: The Affordable Care Act (YouTube 19m), and Republicans trying to repeal it despite unexpected (to them) popular opposition. LWT examines what it is, problems with it, and Republican plans to fix it.
- And Now: WCBS2 Meteorologist John Elliott Drops Some Famous Names
- Finally, the Supreme Court. Republicans refused to hold a hearing for Obama's Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland for 11 months, so that they'd have the opportunity to have their guy Neil Gorsuch confirmed, a historic abberation. To reflect this, LWT's Dog Supreme Court is filling the seat, not with a dog, but by a choice of three lobsters, that they're asking viewers to vote for on their Twitter feed.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The NRA and Brexit Season 3, Ep 16
- The aftermath of Orlando shootings, from Trump's predictably awful remarks to the Democratic Party's filibuster, and the choke-hold the NRA holds over Congress and regulatory agencies, despite relatively low membership and campaign contributions. YouTube (11m)
- And Now: "60 Minutes" Anchors Are Still Prompting People to Deliver the Exact Soundbite They Need
- Main story: Brexit, that is to say, the motion to remove Great Britain from the European Union. Last Week Tonight debunks some of the reasons given for exiting. At the end, LWT provides their own (foul-mouthed, half-hearted) lyrics supporting staying in the EU, sung to the tune of Beethoven's "Ode To Joy." YouTube (16m)
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Trump's Border Wall Season 3, Ep 6
This week.... Brazillians protest against their president Dilma Rousseff and their legislature moves to impeach, although 60% of members themselves face criminal charges of some kind. Obama nominates Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by Scalia's death. And Now: two segments on CBS This Morning's Awkward Sex Talk. Main story: Trump's proposal to build a border wall along the US/Mexico border. (YouTube 19m) Finally, Last Week Tonight begins to consider updating their All-Dog Supreme Court and asks the public to choose a dog for the event that Garland gets confirmed. [more inside]
An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a romance with a local. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within. [more inside]
Bordertown: Series premiere / first 3 episodes Season 1, Ep 0
Created by Family Guy writer Mark Hentemann and executive-produced by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, the show follows two neighboring families, lead by Bud Buckwald, a border agent, and Ernesto Gonzalez, an immigrated Mexican landscaper. [more inside]
River: Episode 6 Season 1, Ep 6
Everything comes together in this final episode, where River and Ira continue to follow various threads that lead to (and through) Stevie.
A woman who grew up in the USSR talks about a bad accident and its aftermath. [more inside]
Who was General Tso, and why are we eating his chicken? This feature documentary explores the origins and ubiquity of Chinese-American food through the story of an iconic sweet and spicy chicken dish. [more inside]
When a Russian musician defects in Bloomingdale's department store in New York, he finds adjusting to American life more difficult than he imagined. [more inside]