The Spectacle Blog

Alan Rickman, R.I.P.

By on 1.14.16 | 3:26PM

Actor Alan Rickman has passed away following a battle with cancer. He would have turned 70 next month.

The British born Rickman was best known for playing Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films and had notable roles in Die Hard with Bruce Willis and as The Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner. I particularly enjoyed Rickman's work in two British films which I saw on Canadian television - Truly, Madly, Deeply and Close My Eyes co-starring a young Clive Owen.

A decade ago, Rickman co-wrote My Name is Rachel Corrie with Katharine Viner (who is now Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian) based on Corrie's diaries. Rickman would direct its stage debut at the Royal Court Theatre in London and would win the Theater Goers' Choice Award for Best Director. Corrie was the American university student who became part of the anti-Israel International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and would travel to Gaza with them to act as a human shield. She was accidentally killed by an IDF bulldozer in March 2003.

The ‘Donald Trump Jam’ Will Haunt Your Nightmares

By on 1.14.16 | 3:13PM

Okay, people. I thought the most disturbing thing I saw today was that Tweet announcing that Guilermo del Toro was selected to helm the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie adaptation, thus ensuring that, once I have seen seen it, I shall never sleep again. 

I was wrong. This is the most disturbing thing I saw today. And yes, you have to watch it. It's like The Ring. You have to make it all the way through or the creepy kids singing the Donald Trump song will crawl through your computer screen and force you to caucus in Iowa. 

The Donald's admiration for Kim Jong Un has obviously boiled over into his scheduler. 

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Go To War Over Single Payer Healthcare

By on 1.14.16 | 1:25PM

Hillary Clinton has found her support dwindling these last few weeks, and Bernie Sanders is reportedly pulling even with the presumptive nominee among Iowa caucus-goers.

So what's a girl to do? Easy. Point out to her loving public that Bernie Sanders has no grasp of even basic economics, and although he considers his "give everything away for free" campaign platform to be both cheap and affordable, his healthcare plan alone - a single payer nightmare designed to mire Americans in a government-run system - will cost so much, he'll have raise taxes on the Middle Class just to make the website work.

According to Hillary's "Briefing" Twitter account, dedicated to countering misinformation, we're in for a $15 trillion Bernie bill.

Why It’s Too Bad 13 Hours Wasn’t Released in September Instead of This Weekend

By on 1.14.16 | 12:46PM

The movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi premiered earlier this week in Los Angeles and will get wide release come tomorrow.

Last night, Megyn Kelly interviewed several relatives of those who perished in Benghazi and discussed what the implications the film might have for the 2016 presidential election.

Honestly, I don't think the film will have much impact on the election. It isn't a question of the subject matter at hand, but rather the timing of the movie's release. The election is nearly 10 months away and, except for the people who lost loved ones and conservative Americans already committed against Hillary Clinton, the movie will be a distant memory.

This would not have been the case had the movie been released on September 9th, two days before the 4th anniversary of the attack and exactly 60 days before the election. That would put 13 Hours smack dab in the middle of the election season. 13 Hours would very much be on the mind of voters in a way it won't be with a January release.

I Have Not Seen Any of The Films Oscar Nominated for Best Picture of 2015

By on 1.14.16 | 12:08PM

This morning the Motion Picture Academy of Arts & Sciences announced the following eight films had been nominated for Best Picture at the 88th Academy Awards which will take place on February 28th:

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies


Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant



I have seen none of these pictures. This is quite unusual. Even in this era where up to 10 films can be nominated for Best Picture, I have usually seen at least one or two of the movies nominated. But not so for 2015. In November, I very nearly went to see Spotlight which tells the story of how The Boston Globe broke the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal. The night I was going to see it was the same night of the Paris terrorist attacks. I stayed home in no mood to watch any movie and haven't felt the need to see it since.

Whoever Wins The $1.5 Billion Powerball Jackpot Will Join Bernie Sanders’ Enemies List

By on 1.13.16 | 9:19PM

Should anyone win tonight's $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot that person will attain wealth, short-lived fame and earn a place on Bernie Sanders' enemies list.

When Sanders talks about "millionaires and billionaires" he means Powerball winners every bit as much as CEOs and hedge fund managers.

Yet I bet many a Sanders' supporter bought Powerball tickets. Maybe the winner will be a Sanders' supporter and if this Sanders' supporter offers Bernie his or her money just maybe Bernie won't mind "millionaires and billionaires" just this one time.

Can you see it? Billionaires for Bernie!!!

The Sorry State of American Politics

By on 1.13.16 | 7:14PM

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

The media rightly ridicule the bigotry and ignorance of the Republican voters who are responsible for Donald Trump’s buoyancy in the polls.  But your report today on Hillary Clinton’s proposed 4% “surcharge” on millionaires reveals that Democratic voters are also infested with a mix of bigotry and ignorance that, although different in detail from that of the Republicans, is no less uncivilized and dangerous (“Hillary Clinton Proposes 4% Income-Tax Surcharge for Wealthy Americans,” Jan. 12).

Tug-of-War Over Federal Lands Leads to Standoff

By on 1.13.16 | 6:54PM

Lost in all the hoopla over “y’all queda” and “VanillaISIS” is any basic history of how public rangelands in the West — and in eastern Oregon in particular — got to this point. I’ve seen no mention in the press of two laws that are probably more responsible than anything else for the alienation and animosity the Hammonds felt towards the government.

The first law, the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978, set a formula for calculating grazing fees based on beef prices and rancher costs. When the law was written, most analysts assumed per capita beef consumption would continue to grow as it had the previous several decades. In fact, it declined from 90 pounds to 50 pounds per year. The formula quickly drove down fees to the minimum of $1.35 per cow-month, even as inflation increased the costs to the government of managing the range. 

NARAL Slams…Nancy Pelosi?

By on 1.13.16 | 4:47PM

Thanks to an enterprising reporter, Nancy Pelosi received a nastygram this morning from one of her favorite organizations: NARAL. 

In an interview, captured by Roll Call, Nancy Pelosi, who supports abortion rights despite being what she describes as a "devout Catholic," claimed that the Center for Medical Progress videos, which captured Planned Parenthood executives describing a heinous organ-harvesting procedure using aborted fetuses, had been "doctored." Whe she was corrected by the reporter, who said that an independent review had found no evidence of doctoring,  she claimed that Republican efforts to defund the abortion provider were actually centered around denying family planning services and contraception. Then, asked whether she could explain her opposition to a bill that outlawed abortion after 20 weeks gestation, she first claimed late-term abortions were illegal, then clairified her statement by saying that she "[does not] believe in abortion on demand" — a shock, I'm sure, to most of her supporters.

The Biggest Difference & Similarity Between American & Canadian Lotteries

By on 1.13.16 | 4:40PM

In a few hours from now, the Powerball numbers will be drawn. The jackpot is presently at $1.5 billion (and growing). But not everyone is happy about it.

Michelle Malkin calls Powerball "a government-sponsored gambling racket." Malkin objects the cut state governments receive from Powerball and other lotteries. Yet I can't help but wonder if she too has bought a ticket. Or two.

I wonder if Malkin would prefer Canadian lotteries. They are tax free. Granted the jackpot isn't as large. Lotto 649 (it's called that because you can pick six numbers between 1 and 49) sold its largest winning ticket worth $64 million (about $45 million in U.S. Dollars) last October. Canada's federal and provincial governments get none of that money. Again, $64 million Cdn isn't a $1.5 billion U.S. but it belongs solely to the winner.