Friday, March 31, 2017

Jared Kushner, Man About Washington


By Nellie Bly
Spy Washington Bureau

Lots of media outlets have noted that famous son-in-law Jared Kushner has a lot on his plate in the Grifter-in-Chief's burning clown car of an administration.  Considering that he never had to put in an honest day's work in his life, some are wondering how he can keep up with the demands of running the United States Government and staving off the collapse of his family's famously overleveraged real estate empire.

But only the Spy has dug up an example of one day's grueling workload for this young plutocrat, with comments written all by himself. As will be immediately apparent to even the most casual observer (like his father-in-law), young Tom Hagen is managing just fine, and once again, despite all the media hype, there's nothing to worry about here.
Jared' Busy Day

Sunday, March 26, 2017

That's Entertainment!

Be very afraid
Rocking a dirty mind and a sick sensibility, the British import “Prevenge” sends a pregnant serial killer on a darkly comedic odyssey dictated by her malicious fetus. . .  .

As Ruth, a profoundly lonely expectant mother, Alice Lowe (who also wrote and directed) personifies weaponized gestation. Lumbering and implacable, she bears down on her victims in zombielike obedience to the tiny voice emanating from her uterus.

“Baby will tell you what to do,” a chipper midwife  . . . says soothingly, unaware that Ruth knows all too well that her womb has a view. In a series of gory vignettes that jab insistently at sexism and gender, Ms. Lowe (who, at the time of filming, was barely a month shy of her own delivery date) carefully builds thematic layers. And what initially registers as simple retaliation for the gutter misogyny of random creeps — like a slimy pub D.J. (Tom Davis) who is sliced with Lorena Bobbitt-like specificity — soon evolves into payback for those who may have caused the death of the baby’s father.

At its core, though, “Prevenge” is a brilliantly conceived meditation on prepartum anxiety and extreme grief. Vividly evoking the impotence of imminent motherhood  . . , Ms. Lowe makes Ruth a deeply conflicted avenger. You’ll laugh, you’ll squirm, you’ll want to get sterilized immediately.


The New York Times, March 22, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

Why We Fight, Part 94,130

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The Taliban captured the strategic district of Sangin in the southern province of Helmand on Thursday, according to local officials. It was the culmination of a yearslong offensive that took the lives of more combatants than any other fight for territory in Afghanistan.
 
While spokesmen for the central government denied claims by the Taliban that the district had fallen to them, some conceded that the insurgents had overrun the district center and government facilities. But local Afghan government and military officials said there was no doubt Sangin had finally fallen to their enemy.
. . . .

More British troops and, later, American Marines died in Sangin than in any of Afghanistan’s roughly 400 other districts, until the international military coalition began turning it over to Afghan military forces in 2013. Since then, hundreds of Afghan soldiers and police officers have lost their lives defending Sangin, while American Special Operations soldiers and aerial bombing tried to prevent the collapse of the district, apparently without success.

The district, a center of the lucrative opium trade, is strategically situated between the Helmand River and the border with Kandahar Province. “Sangin’s location is very, very important,” said Gen. Abdul Jabar Qahraman, President Ashraf Ghani’s personal military envoy to Helmand Province, who recently offered his resignation over widespread corruption that he says is undermining the government’s efforts there.
 
“By capturing Sangin, the Taliban are now able to connect Helmand with Kandahar,” General Qahraman said, referring to Afghanistan’s second-largest city. “Abandoning Sangin is a mistake, but the government is no longer able to keep forces there.”

Because of its strategic importance, the international coalition has invested heavily in defending Sangin, even after the American withdrawal of most combat forces from Afghanistan. In the years before then, it was the site of substantial losses for both British and American forces.

“This district was one of the most dangerous not just in Afghanistan but maybe in the whole world,” Robert M. Gates, then the United States defense secretary, said in 2011 in Sangin, addressing the 3/5 Battalion of the United States Marines, which was deployed there. Those Marines had just “suffered the heaviest losses of any battalion in this 10-year-long war,” Mr. Gates said.

 . . . . By the end of the battalion’s full seven-month deployment in Sangin, 29 members had died.
 
Officials in the Afghan central government adamantly denied Thursday that such sacrifices had come to naught.

“It is not true,” Maj. Gen. Dawlat Waziri, the spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, said of the reports of Sangin’s fall. “We relocated an army battalion in Sangin, we moved them to a newly built garrison. Whenever we move our forces in Sangin, they claim that they capture Sangin.”

Local government and military officials, however, said Thursday that the remaining battalion of Afghan National Army soldiers defending the town of Sangin and the district’s government and military bases had pulled out overnight. That was followed by heavy aerial bombing by the American-led coalition, to destroy vehicles, weapons and heavy equipment that the soldiers had abandoned, the officials said.
 
Hajji Mirajan, a member of the district shura, or government advisory body, in Sangin, said he did not understand why the soldiers had left, as no major attack had been underway. “There were no big threats to the district yesterday, and we do not know why the district is abandoned,” he said.
 . . . .

The shift of the defenders to a regimental base outside the district center meant the district had been conceded to the Taliban, Mr. Shakir said.
. . . .

The Taliban had long dominated most territory in Sangin except for the district center, which was home to the government and police headquarters as well as the army base. According to Mr. Shakir, the insurgents now hold seven of Helmand Province’s 14 districts; in five of the others, he said, the government holds only the district centers. Only two districts and the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, are completely under government control, he said.

Several of Helmand’s districts have repeatedly changed hands, and it was possible that could happen in Sangin as well. But the Taliban have been determined to take the district, fighting almost constantly over it for the past eight years, and analysts said they would be unlikely to give it up easily.
. . . .

In response to the worsening situation in Helmand Province over all, the American military has announced plans to redeploy 300 Marines to the area this spring, the first time Marines will have been deployed in Afghanistan since leaving Sangin in 2014.

The New York Times, March 24, 2017

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Spy exclusive: Belichick's thrilling D-Day narration

"Good battle.  Special teams really added a lot."
By Roscoe Arbuckle
Entertainment Correspondent

Lots of media sources have reported that Bill Belichick has inked a deal to narrate a new documentary on that obscure corner of history known as D-Day.  But only the Spy has actually got its mitts on the shooting script!  Spoiler alert: it's as thrilling as you might expect!  Judge for yourself:

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D-DAY: OVER NORMANDY

FINAL SCRIPT 3/17/17

F/X: Guns shooting, planes swooping, bombs falling

NARRATOR

It was the most decisive battle in history.  We asked genius football coach Bill Belichick to tell you all about the thrilling story of D-Day.

BELICHICK

Allied invasion.  Great team.  Everyone did their job.  Good offense.  Army did great.  Navy did great.  Air power was good.  That's it.

NARRATOR

That's it?  Tell us about the German defenders.

BELICHICK

Great defense.  Good plan.  Lots of talent there.  We had to take them seriously.

NARRATOR

But D-Day was only the beginning.  The Allied Armies rolled all the way to Berlin.

BELICHICK

Berlin's a long way off.  Thinking about Normandy.  Take it a week at a time.

NARRATOR 

The most decisive battle in history and that's all you've got to say about it?

BELICHICK

Yeah.  That's pretty much it. 

F/X: 89 more minutes of guns shooting, planes swooping, and bombs falling




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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lawrence: City of Death



By Jack Kerouac
Merrimack Valley Correspondent

LAWRENCE, Massachusetts – Thanks to the courage of the plucky Governor of New Hampshire, Chris “Thanks Dad” Sununu (R – Inheritance), the lid has finally been prized off one of the most shocking crime stories in New England history: the kidnapping and forced drug addiction of tens of thousands of upstanding Granite Staters at the hands of the arch criminals rampaging through the streets of this weary Merrimack Valley mill town.

According to Thanks Dad, innocent New Hampshire men and women are lured from the trailer parks by the siren salsa of Lawrence drug dealers.  Once across the state line, these lambs are kidnapped, injected with heroin and fentanyl, and then doomed to addiction and death, thanks entirely to these Massachusetts-based fiends and not at all to New Hampshire's chintzy failure to fund an adequate public health and drug treatment program.

Sununu made his sensational charge in an address to the New Hampshire Association of Mouth Breathers at their annual convention at the Dunkin' Donuts in Manchester.  He alleged that New Hampshire's crushing opioid epidemic was “85%” the fault of these Lawrence malefactors, rather than bored and stoned Granite Staters looking for a buzz.

It may look innocent, but Gov. Sununu has a warning for all
Granite Staters: be very afraid
A spot survey of the streets of Manchester appeared to bear out Sununu's claim: everyone we saw looked like they were blasted out of their brains on narcotics.  The few that had yet to fall into Lawrence's spider web of sin were quick to place the blame where it belonged.

“I know that at least half of my fellow Londonderry Mensa members have been lured into Lawrence and forced to consume huge amounts of narcotics,” said Mary T. Burke, who gave her address as Trailer #317, Londonderry.

Speaking outside of the New Hampshire High School, graduating senior Jimmy Burke said that most of the kids in his class decided they might as well get wasted in Lawrence after learning that all AP classes had been cancelled due to the decision of Governor Sununu and his cracker legislature to cut state funding to local schools to zip-oh.

“My friends were super jacked to be able to take calculus but then the school announced that we would instead be sent home and told to study Wikipedia because the teachers had all been fired,” he said.  “So we decided we might as well drive to Lawrence and there these scary brown people made us eat this really spicy food and shoot up after.”

Governor Sununu, having leveled his bombshell accusation, then emulated his political and ethical ego ideal by ignoring the subject all week and going into hiding at a Koch-fund retreat in nearby Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

However, he emerged on Friday to open the new New Hampshire State Liquor Store located feet from the Massachusetts state line on Interstate 93.  He hailed the state-of-the-art packy, noting with pride the freshly paved express off- and on-ramps that allow motorists headed to Massachusetts to tank up on cheap hootch without even leaving their cars.

“Proving once again that New Hampshire leads the nation in liquor sales innovation, I am so proud of our new drive-in frozen margarita bars, which allow motorists to grab foot tall tequila-laden slushies without leaving their cars.  Another first for the Granite State,” he exulted.

The rookie Governor went on to excoriate those who would seek to make a profit by peddling dangerous addictive drugs to innocent passers-by, calling them “the lowest form of hypocrites.”

Standing in front of the gleaming new outpost of the state's liquor sales monopoly, Governor Sununu told New Hampshiremen that he would never tire of fighting what he called “creeping socialism” and reminded Bay Staters of the New Hampshire Liquor Authority's convenient “no carding” policy.

Friday, March 10, 2017

That's Entertainment!

“Raw,” Julia Ducournau’s jangly opera of sexual and dietary awakening, is an exceptionally classy-looking movie about deeply horrifying behavior. Infusing each scene with a cold, unwelcoming beauty, the Belgian cinematographer Ruben Impens makes his camera complicit in the trashy goings-on. Sneaking beneath bedsheets and sliding over young flesh, his lens takes us places we may not want to go.

Hasn't this movie been made already?
Unfolding during rush week in a nightmarish veterinary school, where freshmen are relentlessly hazed, and every night is a bacchanal, the movie clings nervously to the virginal Justine . . . .  A jumpy faun in a concrete jungle, Justine is a legacy student and lifelong vegetarian. So when a hazing ritual requires her to swallow raw offal, the angry crimson rash that flares on her body seems a physical manifestation of her extreme disgust.

That repulsion is soon replaced by a craving that will drive Justine closer to her sister and fellow student  . . . and further from her classmates. Her transformation suffuses the film with animalistic energy — like a cat, she chews on her hair, then vomits it up — and her isolation produces a melancholy that permeates even her erotic encounters, where the connection between sex and sustenance is presented with nerve-twanging literalness.

Like Jorge Michel Grau’s social-decay fable, “We Are What We Are,” “Raw” is an astonishingly bold debut feature that embeds cannibalism in a framework of environmental chaos and familial dysfunction. . . .

The New York Times, March 10, 2017

Sunday, March 5, 2017

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Friday, March 3, 2017

Them's good eats!

“Everything in moderation, including moderation,” it is sometimes said. At Aska, the recently reopened Williamsburg shrine to alchemical Nordic cuisine, the only real immoderation is the sheer amount of coyly inventive food. In place of the usual crescendo of fine-dining tasting menus—a few seafood skirmishes followed by revelatory red-meat battles—there is a procession of intricate tactical maneuvers, nineteen courses that span sea, field, and forest. Here is the lichen turned crouton; here, the squid turned tartlet. For a while, this gentle sleight of hand is fun. Then, all at once, it is wearying.

. . . .The new dining room is nearly unlit, and the round tables are heavy, immense, and draped in black tablecloths. The vibe is best described as hipster funeral.

“Or we could just order in?”
Some dishes stand out against the gloaming. Take the seaweed known as bladderwrack, which when Googled brings up images of tablets meant to cure indigestion, but here was served in its long, tendrilled natural form — quick-fried into a chip, and kissed with blue-mussel cream. A bakery’s worth of bread and cultured butters nearly earned its place as a standalone second course, thanks especially to the Manitoba, a high-protein mini-loaf made yeasty by an infusion of I.P.A. And kudos to whoever figured out how to compress kohlrabi so that it becomes as firm and juicy as a water chestnut, and then draw out its flavor with cucumber dust.

Yet the kitchen’s attempts at drama tend to repeat themselves. Cannibalism seems a central theme: king crab swam in king-crab consomm√©, and a skate wing sat in skate-wing sauce. A pile of incinerated lamb heart, served over a pad of rendered lamb fat, was something of a choking hazard (aska means “ash” in Swedish). Thankfully, a pig’s-blood pancake was heavy enough not to merit an additional bloodbath, but a birch-wood ice cream took its sylvan motif to extremes, studded with mushrooms that were variously candied, dehydrated, or meringued.

The New Yorker, February 27, 2017