Humungus
Movies. TV. Feelings.
A blue paper surgical mask and brown and yellow leaves on a black background.
A blue paper surgical mask and brown and yellow leaves on a black background.
Photo: Adam Nieścioruk via Unsplash

The pandemic is getting worse because Americans think they’re so damn special

I’d like to think the Pilgrims would have skipped Thanksgiving if one of them was contagious with the plague, or whatever. Smallpox, the Red Death, there were so many awful diseases back in the 1620s. I know they were starving but it would have been the polite thing to do, you know. Love thy neighbor, etc.

It was also ancient knowledge that sickness spreads. The only way to protect a community from disease was to quarantine the ill. Humanity has always understood that surviving a plague requires collective self-sacrifice. Which is smart and thoughtful.

That’s just my imagination having some fun. I don’t know if the Pilgrims were polite. I don’t want to romanticize Thanksgiving, but it’s not impossible that there may have been a moment of grace between the native peoples of America and the Europeans, a rare breather from the slaughter. …


The hosts and judges of the reality competition show ‘The Great Pottery Throw Down’ on HBOMax
The hosts and judges of the reality competition show ‘The Great Pottery Throw Down’ on HBOMax
Photo: HBOMax

The first season of HBOMax’s new reality competition show isn’t original — it’s baked bowls instead of loaves — but it’s soothing AF

  1. If you like low-stakes reality competition shows then you’ll like HBOMax’s The Great Pottery Throw Down. The show isn’t original because the pitch was obviously “The Great British Bake Off but weird shiny vases instead of tiny delicate cakes.” But that’s okay. The show features a diverse cast of British home potters looking to show off a little. I didn’t think I’d become emotionally invested in cutthroat arts and crafts and yet I am infatuated with this show. The process of turning a brick of clay into a beautiful, usually functional, object that can last centuries takes patience. I find watching these contestants slowly shape wet clay spinning on a wheel, and their intense concentration while doing the work, to be oddly soothing. Hypnotizing. It’s also surprisingly emotional: cracks can happen, suddenly. There are dangers every step of the way. The Great Pottery Throw Down is also full of sexual innuendos. I don’t know if this is because the British love a genital joke or because potters are naturally horny. There is a lot of blushing. …


Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) in a wedding dress in a large palace room in “The Crown.”
Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) in a wedding dress in a large palace room in “The Crown.”
Photo: Netflix

I shouted, ‘Run, Diana, run!’ while watching the all-new episodes on Netflix

I thoroughly enjoy Netflix’s The Crown, their epic retelling of Queen Elizabeth’s long reign. Unlike, say, Downton Abbey, it’s not just a pretty soap opera. It is an ambitious, deadly serious drama about a family emotionally warped by crushing wealth and privilege. The series entertains me and that’s that. It’s very pretty but also cold, like a cemetery statue.

The costumes and acting are exceptional. The writing sharp for a series about the most boring people in the world. Do you like palaces? There are many palaces filled with large rooms filled with all sorts of ornate furniture in The Crown. Oh, and the gardens. There are splendid gardens. I enjoy all servants who are barely humanized at all. Good. I don’t want The Crown to be about emo butlers. I enjoy watching these pampered grotesqueries navigate a life of mind-numbing leisure. I also enjoy the snooty accents. …


A tweet by Candace Owens (embedded below) showing two photos of Harry Styles posing in dresses.
A tweet by Candace Owens (embedded below) showing two photos of Harry Styles posing in dresses.
Image: Candace Owens via Twitter

Conservatives are blaming the fall of Western Civilization on a dude wearing a dress

Any person who talks about how a man should act or dress is selling something — aftershave or fancy whiskey or a war in a faraway country. In right-wing activist Candace Owens’ case, she is selling a political identity to a very specific audience: men, the demographic who overwhelmingly support the Republican party.

Owens isn’t selling ideas. Her pitch is simple: Remember the good ol’ days. And in the good ol’ days, men were trees with legs. Men were simple, like bacon and eggs. Hearts like carburetors. Fists like sledgehammers. They were not vulnerable or scared or imperfect. No. …


A person in a creepy, melted mannequin-like mask and long blond wig, screaming.
A person in a creepy, melted mannequin-like mask and long blond wig, screaming.
Photo: Elevation Pictures/Neon

‘Possessor’ is a cinematic nightmare about faces

Long ago, I interviewed iconic filmmaker David Cronenberg. I was nervous and sweaty and asked him a poorly conceived question about why he directs horror movies and he icily replied that he does not, in fact, direct horror movies. He directs movies about bodies.

Well, so does his son, director Brandon Cronenberg. His new science-fiction horror movie Possessor is a remarkable nightmare that is in direct conversation with his father, who became famous in the late ‘70s and ‘80s for gross-out films about the flesh. …


Mason Storm (Steven Seagal) glaring at a person whose hand he’s yanked towards him palm-up.
Mason Storm (Steven Seagal) glaring at a person whose hand he’s yanked towards him palm-up.
Photo: Warner Brothers Media

I watched one of his most popular movies looking for answers

I decided to stream Steven Seagal’s 1990 hit action movie Hard To Kill for two reasons: I had never seen it and I wanted to know why this guy was ever a thing. And he was a legitimate box-office thing, starting with his big-screen debut in 1988. Seagal is a demigod in the pantheon of all-American movie champions, a group of handsome men who pretend to punch.

In Hard To Kill, Steven Seagal never sweats nor smiles. For one hour and forty minutes, he grimaces with quiet rage while chopping henchman in the throat with his big tomahawk steak hands. …


A scene from the movie ‘Kajillionaire,’ a dark romantic-comedy about small-time crooks
A scene from the movie ‘Kajillionaire,’ a dark romantic-comedy about small-time crooks
Photo: Focus Features

Miranda July’s new movie is a very modern romantic comedy

I grew up with a friend who was genuinely rich. He lived in a mansion and vacationed in Europe and was gifted a new car when he turned 16.

Many years later, he and I went out to dinner with a group of friends. We all proceeded to get buzzed on cheap beer but he didn’t join us. When the bill came he offered to pay it on his credit card if we gave him cash. Everyone enthusiastically handed over everything they had. Wallets opened and twenties were pulled out and thrown on the table. The pile of cash before him looked like more money than what was on the tab. …


A scene from Netflix’s show ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ about chess during The Cold War.
A scene from Netflix’s show ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ about chess during The Cold War.
Photo: Netflix

I’m not. But this Cold War thriller is a must-stream.

The new Netflix limited series The Queen’s Gambit sounds like a high-minded drama produced to win awards but it isn’t. At first, I thought it may be like Netflix’s The Crown, their sprawling, big-budget retelling of Queen Elizabeth’s nearly seven decades on Britain’s throne. That show is an opulent nap that I quite like. It’s pleasant and smartly-done and every so often something mildly stirring happens.

No. The Queen’s Gambit isn’t about royalty at all. The title refers to a popular opening move in a game of chess. The show is a stylish action-adventure about a young woman who happens to be a chess genius. The show is set during the ’60s when the Soviets dominated the game. Instead of car chases or gunfights, there are exciting scenes of chess gameplay where the main character destroys every male brainiac she encounters. As Elizabeth Harmon, Anya Taylor-Joy is mesmerizing. The actor made an impression in the 2015 horror movie The Witch and I’m happy to root for her in this subtle thriller. Her performance is both feral and cerebral. The character is a sort of superhero whose superpower is being incredible at playing chess. …


A scene from the Disney+ ‘Star Wars’ show ‘The Mandalorian’ featuring a giant insect alien
A scene from the Disney+ ‘Star Wars’ show ‘The Mandalorian’ featuring a giant insect alien
Photo: Disney+

And I want it to be about my favorite new ‘Star Wars’ character

The most recent episode of Disney+’s The Mandalorian introduced a card-playing insectoid character named Dr. Mandible. Dr. Mandible!

The — literally — bug-eyed non-CGI man-ant was playing the popular intergalactic game sabacc with Pelio Motto at Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina on Tatooine when he was introduced to the title character and his companion, an adorable baby alien goblin who looks like Yoda’s love child. Pelio Motto is an outspoken local mechanic and antique droid collector played by writer and comedian Amy Sedaris. …


A US flag on a flagpole. The white stripes nearly blend in with the light-grey cloudy sky behind it.
A US flag on a flagpole. The white stripes nearly blend in with the light-grey cloudy sky behind it.
Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

Every so often, the country does the right thing

America sucks except when it doesn’t. I wish the country hadn’t elected a white power president four years ago but I’m happy I helped vote him out of office. That outcome doesn’t erase the truth that almost half of my fellow citizens still support an elected official who sold hatred like an infomercial pitchman from hell.

America sucks. And then you have days when just enough people come to their senses long enough to reject pointless cruelty at the ballot-box. I don’t want America to forget how much it sucks but thank god he’s almost gone. I exhaled when I heard the news. …

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