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Tuning Out the News


This is a perfect time to catch up on the best of television, since so many of us are watching more of it these days, particularly on Saturday nights. I’ve been assiduously avoiding all news for the last month or so and am faintly aware of the impeachment proceedings and Biden’s energy pipeline kill-shot only because they were mentioned by subscribers in the Rick’s Picks chat room.  My self-imposed news blackout has been as tight as I, a lifelong news junkie and former newspaper editor, can make it. I canceled a subscription to the Wall Street Journal that had run for nearly 40 years, and I don’t even watch Tucker anymore, let alone network or local news.

Serious collateral damage from the red/blue color war still raging in America has so far amounted to the loss of two friendships, one of them stretching back 65 years.  When I was scheduled for chemo and radiation, my good buddy came down to Florida to see me through a horrific first week that was to have included massive infusions of metal-heavy chemicals and enough X-ray exposure to kill just about any living thing. At the last minute, I opted instead for a so-far successful surgical treatment at M.D. Anderson Center in Houston. This allowed my friend and I to spend the week taking epic walks on the beach, enjoying South Florida’s great restaurants, and discovering the pleasures of Delray’s Asian massage parlors, a shadowy niche he has spent his adult life exploring. He is from the theater world, a founder of one of the country’s most successful non-profits. He is also a self-described anarchist, espousing political views that could not be further from mine.

‘A Killer of 450,000 Americans’

This was never a problem before Trump. In the end, though, with just a couple of condescending text messages from him, our friendship was over.  No more dialogue, he admonished, until I “get things sorted out.” This was an allusion to my certitude that the election was stolen — an opinion that I had kept to myself in our emails over the last several months. No matter, it would seem.  He was giving me an ultimatum to either see things his way of cease communication. And so I let the dialogue rest there rather than let fly with the kind of invective that would have killed any chance of reconciliation. I even gave him the last word when he texted the absurdity that “my guy” had “killed 450,000 people” with Covid. With that pfft of flatulence, one of the brightest, most articulate guys I know became a lame-brained horse’s ass, one more liberal so arrogantly certain of his moral superiority that he regards anyone who disagrees with him as literally crazy.

And now to the best on television. I stumbled upon Netflix’s Ozark last night after tiring quickly of the highly recommended but overrated Gomorrah. While polling an astounding ‘8.7’ stars on IMDB, Gomorrah is just a thinly plotted, garden variety shoot-’em-up involving warring mafia clans in Italy. Ozark, however, is a real class act. Its producer, director, writer and star is Jason Bateman, who brings a quirky kind of realism to every project he’s involved in. Here, Bateman’s character, a by-the-numbers financial planner, agrees to launder drug money in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, for a vicious Mexican cartel boss who’d marked him for death.

A ‘B&E Magician’

In episode two we meet the redneck Langmore clan, including teen daughter Ruth, whom the local sheriff describes as a “B and E magician.” The scene where Bateman tries to recover a pile of drug money from the Langmores ranks with the best television I’ve ever watched. Some other favorites include: Deadwood, Mad Men, The Sopranos, The Queen’s Gambit, Boardwalk Empire, Peaky Blinders, 24, Billions and Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.  All are way better than anything that has come to the theaters in recent years.  Who needs AMC, Marvel comic-book heroes and imitation-buttered popcorn when you can get the real thing for practically nothing at home?

  • Rich February 12, 2021, 4:00 pm

    Hi Rick & Co

    The sad loss of your 65 year friend shows the power of mockingbird media and press to sow discord to achieve nefarious ends.

    We had similar disconcerting experiences with brothers schmoozed to the left by cablelandia and cut off from family.

    Re entertainment media, we recently enjoyed Everwood, Heartland and Searching for Bobby Fischer.

    Finally, am I the only person noticing the implosion of Treasuries with 10-Year T rates soaring + 139 % from August ?

    Precious has a long way to go to catch up to inflation.

  • RedWillDanaher February 12, 2021, 5:27 am

    Sorry to have read about what you’ve been going through Rick. Wishing you a full and lasting recovery. With you on the so-called news. I’ve been done with them all for some time. I miss the seriousness and sobriety that seems to have died off with David Brinkley. The WSJ became a boring and predictable comic book.

  • Randall February 12, 2021, 5:03 am

    Wishing you all the best Rick. May God bless you with a quick and lasting recovery.

  • Thomas February 10, 2021, 10:00 am

    Rick, I feel your pain having lost 2 forty year friendships to self righteousness/Trump Derangement syndrome. I don’t even vote, but if one goes off the narrative, the vitriol and attacks that come your way can unbelievable. Of course, their hypocrisy is stunning. It hurts, but I’ve found it’s best to take the high road and move on. You won’t change these people because they no longer are rational beings. It would be like trying to de-program a cult member. I’m a long time fan of your work, and your interviews are always top-notch. I wish you the best of luck in your recovery, and continued good health.


    Thanks for sharing that, Thomas, and for your kind words. RA

  • Robert February 9, 2021, 10:45 am

    The technological advancements happen too fast relative to people’s consciousness. Like foolish kids people binge and sometime loose themselves in the matrix of stimulus, screen and information. They often become reactive monkey do, click this click that. This entrain the brain to be more reactive (reptilian part of the brain fight or flight) and people become more impulsive and do not take the time to think. They react.
    The reality is that our brain becomes literally overloaded by the the stimulus and people can’t think because of this — their brain is full already. You must first empty the cup (news break, less screens) and go walk and do nothing!
    But if you go back to your hold habits you will fill you cup again with all kind of garbage news.
    Being aware is making conscious choices and actions that promote one’s balance.
    At the zero point of your Heart lies all answers and all knowledge. But one must first listen in silence to hear them.

    • Pan February 10, 2021, 9:06 am

      I like this a lot “At the zero point of your Heart lies all answers and all knowledge. But one must first listen in silence to hear them.”

      What you’re saying there is what all good Buddhists know. Our mind is like a mirror, in it’s original state the mirror is bright and clean reflecting exactly what ever passes before it. If the mirror is not kept clean it’s surface soon becomes covered in dust and the images it reflects are no longer clear or true. The images become hazy and distorted until eventually the mirror serves little useful purpose.

      It is to maintain a clean mirror that the Buddha taught his meditation techniques; to rid the mind of defilements, hindrances and impurities which prevent the arising of insight-wisdom.

      Each to their own of course, but if anyone is tired of that mad monkey on the shoulder you too could maybe benefit from researching a little Buddhism and meditation.

      Peace seems to be a largely forgotten and under rated state of mind in these days.

      Ok back to my whisky.

  • Ben February 8, 2021, 11:46 pm

    Rick, I know my opinions don’t count for much, and I’m okay with that, but if there’s any one thing I will ever say that you should give serious consideration to, this might be it…

    Sounds like your cancer is in remission. I hope so, anyway. Over the past five years, I’ve lost two relatives, though not to the cancer they each had, but to the weakened immune system, owing to the chemo and whatnot. It was the pneumonia, in both cases, that killed them. Sadly, and though both had more than earned it, neither ever got to retire.

    Hey, just a suggestion! Not everyone gets to enjoy those golden years they have coming! You know… maybe?

    But if retirement just doesn’t suit you, and you ever get tired of the TV shows — and this is for everyone! — here’s a few of my favorite YouTube channels (no politics, media, or anything like that)…

    1) Townsends: 18th century history and re-enactment. Educational, fun to watch, and James Townsends and crew are some of the nicest and most down to earth people! Every Friday afternoon, they do their Nutmeg Tavern live stream.

    2) Joey van der Steeg: “Amateur” blacksmithing. There’s just something about the sound of someone banging on a piece of metal that I find relaxing! There’s many blacksmithing channels, but the sound his anvil makes is the one I most enjoy, for some reason. He makes some pretty cool things, too.

    3) Primitive Technology: I’ve binge-watched this channel a few times, and I still don’t know who the guy is. But he lives on his own land and makes _everything_ from scratch, much like the primitives of old (I suppose). Pretty fascinating!

    4) Adrian’s Digital Basement: Lest I be accused of being a mummy that only likes ancient stuff, this channel is at least about modern technology, though usually of the old/obsolete variety. What can I say… I’m an old-fashioned sort! Anyway, he reviews and often restores these machines and devices, which is pretty neat.

    note: for those fighting the battle against Big Tech, some of these channels — and a whole lot more — can also be found on LBRY/Odysee. This platform has ‘best YT alternative’ written all over it and is well-worth checking out!

    Have a blessed week, everyone!

  • Robert February 8, 2021, 2:31 pm

    It’s called cognitive dissonance. When someone’s core beliefs are challenged, one closes one’s mind and either ridicules or aggressively attacks the messenger, depending of the intensity of the dissonance.
    Beliefs are reassuring for the ego. And right now there is so much to challenge our beliefs that it’s just too much for those who are not well grounded. They are scared that their beliefs are incorrect and are too proud to admit it.

  • Pan February 8, 2021, 11:00 am

    It’s a funny old life sometimes Rick, as they like to say across the pond, there’s ‘nowt so queer as folk’

    Pan : )

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