Sunday, January 23, 2022

REVIEW: Jean Smart Is No "Hack" on HBO Series

Jean Smart in "Hacks" on HBO
I'm catching up with HBO shows since managing to subscribe two minutes before the premiere of the 20th season of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher—and was rewarded with a funny and poignant New Rule about Senate Gary Candidate Chambers smoking weed in his campaign ad. 

Another reward: Catching Jean Smart's tour-de-force performance as the acerbic, veteran Las Vegas stand-up comic Deborah Vance in "Hacks." 

In the series, Deborah reluctantly hires the self-involved young writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder) as a joke writer. Ava is smart, sarcastic, and a somewhat stereotypical twenty-something. She sends a naked selfie to her ex, and takes Molly and cocaine to excess with a guy she meets, who encourages her to take a leap before tragically taking one of his own. It's established that Ava gets high when Deborah questions why she's been charged for three chicken parmesan dinners sent to Ava's hotel room in a single night. 

In Episode 6 ("New Eyes"), Deborah has an "eyelid refresh" at a spa/surgery center and takes Ava along for the weekend. Deborah, who pronounces that she doesn't like marijuana (saying, "Why would I want to take something that makes me feel lazy and hungry too?"),  agrees to take a cannabis gummy to deal with her pain when offered by Ava, who joins her. The two are soon laughing together and sharing insights about their lives, something women tend to do when they use cannabis together (but is rarely seen on TV or in films). 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Tokin' Women and Others We Lost in 2022

Sadly, this page will be updated throughout 2022.

Jim Seals (6/6)

Seals and his musical partner, Dash Crofts, were still teenagers when they were asked to join an instrumental group, the Champs, which had had a No. 1 hit in 1958 with “Tequila.” By the mid-1960s they had tired of the band and of the loud, sometimes angry strains that were infusing the hard rock of the time. Adherents of the Baha’i faith, they sought to make a calmer brand of music, mixing folk, bluegrass, country and jazz influences and delivering their lyrics in close harmony. The result was hummable tunes like "Summer Breeze," "Hummingbird," "Diamond Girl," and "Get Closer." Source.

Sophie Freud (6/3)

Psychosociologist, educator, and author Freud was the granddaughter of Sigmund Freud, and a critic of psychoanalysis, aspects of which she described as "narcissistic indulgence." She wrote a book titled, Living in the Shadow of the Freud Family where she observed how all of her female relatives, including her mother and aunt Anna, were negatively impacted by Sigmund's harmful claims about women and their internal experiences. She was a feminist who pushed for women's rights in academia and fought against the presumption that a woman who became pregnant would be unable to continue with education or, in her case, professional social work activities. Source

Ray Liotta (5/26)

Liotta was memorable as Shoeless Joe in Field of Dreams and starred in movies like Something Wild and Dominick and Eugene before being forever known as the mobster in Goodfellas who endures craziest, most heart-pounding sequence of drug smuggling ever filmed. 

Bob Neuwirth (5/18)

"Like Kerouac had immortalized Neal Cassady in ‘On the Road,’ somebody should have immortalized Neuwirth. He was that kind of character," said Bob Dylan of his collaborator and promoter. Neuwirth taught Janis Joplin to play Kris Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee" and was a co-writer on "Mercedes Benz." He was also instrumental in the career of Patti Smith, who said, " I think he immediately recognized something in me that I didn't even recognize in myself, and he took me under his wing."

Régine Zylberberg (5/1)
Abandoned in infancy by her unwed mother, Régine was left alone at age 12 when her Polish father was arrested by the Nazis in France. In 1957 she opened a basement nightclub in a Paris back street where she pioneered the dual-turntable discotheque. Chez Régine built an empire of 23 clubs in Europe, the Middle East and the Americas, including the swanky and popular Régine’s in Manhattan.

Kathy Boudin (5/1)
A member of the Weather Underground who was convicted of felony murder for her role in the 1981 Brink's robbery, Boudin won an International PEN prize for poetry she wrote in prison in 1999. She was released on parole in 2003 and became a criminal justice advocate and an adjunct professor at Columbia University. Boudin was a model for the title role in David Mamet's play The Anarchist (2012). Her son Chesa Boudin is the progressive District Attorney of San Francisco.

Naomi Judd (4/30)

Tragically, Judd took her own life the day before she and her daughter Wynonna were honored by the Country Music Hal of Fame. Judd, who worked as a nurse to support her family while building her musical career, suffered trauma from childhood sexual abuse and struggled with severe depression and anxiety. The week she died, studies were released finding that both cannabis and psilocybin are effective against depression. 

Judy Henske (4/27)

Henske was a powerful singer once dubbed "The Queen of the Beatniks." Known for her 6-foot-tall physique and her humorous patter onstage, her 1963 recording of "High Flying Bird" was influential on folk rock, and her 1969 album Farewell Aldebaran was an eclectic "fusion of folk music, psychedelia, and arty pop." Henske's relationship with Woody Allen partially inspired his pot-smoking character Annie Hall, who, like Henske, was from Chippewa Falls, WI. 

Orrin Hatch (4/23)

Hatch, a longtime Senator from Utah, was an advocate for loosening regulations on herbal supplements like ephedra. He wrote a forward to a booklet published for parents in 1998 by the Salt Lake Education Foundation that included "excessive preoccupation with social causes, race relations, environmental issues, etc." as a warning sign of marijuana use. Hatch "evolved" a bit on medical marijuana, after making a pun-filled speech about it upon introducing a research bill in 2017. Hatch told a group of women protesting Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court to "grow up."

Cynthia Plaster Caster (4/21)

Rock groupie extrordinaire Cynthia Albritton became known as "Plaster Caster" after she started making casts of rock stars' erect penises, starting with Jimi Hendrix. Ultimately she made 50 casts, and branched out into casting women's breasts. Doubtlessly an inspiration for The Banger Sisters, in which former groupies Susan Sarandon and Goldie Hahn look at pics they took of their conquests (after getting stoned), Albritton also inspired the character of "Juicy Lucy" in the 2017 TV series Good Girls Revolt.

Robert Morse (4/20)

The devilishly impish Morse, who won his first Tony award for "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," played Bert Cooper on Mad Men while in his 80s. In this scene, Bert appears after he dies to Don (who has been smoking pot and having visions in other episodes). Morse won a second Tony for portraying Truman Capote in "Tru." Maureen Arthur, who played Hedy La Rue in "How to Succeed," on Broadway and in film, died on 6/15. 

Patrick Carlin (4/17)

The older brother of, and influence on, comedian (and Very Important Pothead) George Carlin, Patrick was a marijuana fan who wrote the words to this ultimate pot poster. "My dear Uncle Patrick has moved onto the spirit world. He’s currently spinning tunes, smoking a jay w/my Aunt Marlane and shooting the shit w/ his brother," tweeted George's daughter Kelly, whose book, A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up With George was published in 2015.

Liz Sheridan (4/14) 

Sheridan, known for her role as Jerry Seinfeld's mom on TV, wrote a book titled Dizzy & Jimmy about the time, as a young actress and dancer in NYC, she dated James Dean, whose marijuana use was confirmed by Ann Doran, the actress who played his mother in Rebel Without a Cause. Sheridan died two weeks after the death of Estelle Harris, the actress who played the mother of Seinfeld's sidekick George Costanza, as well as voicing Mrs. Potato Head in the Toy Story movies and playing "Easy Mary" on TV's "Night Court."

Madeleine Albright (3/23)
Our first female Secretary of State, Albright was a chief delegate to the United Nations and foreign policy advisor to Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to run for vice president. Born Maria Jana Korbelova in Prague just before the outbreak of World War II, she did not learn until she was nearly 60 that both of her parents were Jewish. In addition to Russian, she spoke Czech, French, German, Polish, and Serbo-Croatian, and her brooches, which were part of her diplomatic language, were displayed at the Museum of Art and Design in NYC. She clued Samantha Bee into speaking to female heads of state about sexism in this clip (above) and took flack for saying while Hillary Clinton was running for president, "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other." Her last book was, Fascism: A Warning (2018).

Adriana Hoffmann (3/20)
Chilean botanist, environmentalist, and author Hoffmann was Chile's Environment Minister in 2000 and 2001. She advocated for the sustainable management and protection of Chilean forests, leading opposition to illegal logging in her role as coordinator of Defensores del Bosque Chileno (Defenders of the Chilean Forest) since 1992. Hoffmann authored over a dozen books on the flora of Chile and 106 botanical names, mostly realignments of species and infraspecific taxa of cactus.

Don Young (3/18)
Rep. Young (R-AK) was one of just five GOP members of the House of Representatives to vote in favor of a bill to end marijuana prohibition in 2020, and was a Cannabis Caucus co-chair. First elected in 1973 during the Nixon administration, Young was in his 25th term and 49th year in Congress when he died at age 88. Born in California in 1933, he was drawn to Alaska as a young man by Very Important Pothead Jack London's book Call of the Wild.