Category: Reviews

A Gutfeld! Feeling

If he was on any other network, their ratings would go through the roof. And then activists would hit the roof. There’d be public protests and calls for boycotts, and his ass would be fired before you could say, “there’s nothing good on the boob tube anymore.”

But Greg Gutfeld makes his home at Fox News. That’s where he thumbs his nose at the world, with a Fox-hole as his safe haven.

Late-night ratings have soared at Fox News, because of him. But there hasn’t been much outrage. That’s because activists seem to have given up on Fox News. It’s as if they’ve concluded the reprobates there will never share in any vision of their liberal utopia. So they’ve chosen to shrug their shoulders and ignore that network, hoping it will somehow go away.

Thus, Greg Gutfeld hasn’t been the target of any protests, boycotts, or employment terminations.

Gutfeld!” has been the name of his hour-long romp of politically incorrect banter. It debuted as a five-night-a-week, late-night talk show in 2021. But it prepared a long time for this debut, because from 2015 to 2021 it appeared only once a week on Fox, and was known as The Greg Gutfeld Show.

The show’s spartan stage setting and production make an art out of simplicity. Greg occupies the apex of a semi-circle of seated panelists, before a live audience, where he introduces issues for discussion. Usually these subjects cover the controversial or trending topics of the day, whether they be political, cultural, or matters of the strange and unusual.

Greg punctuates serious commentary with his wacky, satirical, and often irreverent sense of humor. He crosses lines with his humor that few comedians dare trespass, in this day and age of cancel culture and hypersensitivity. And he offends all groups equally, whether they be oppressed or oppressor. He even skewers other Fox News hosts.

And he attacks his rivals on other networks mercilessly. Late-night talk show hosts such as Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and James Corden, are ripped apart regularly by the spears, arrows, and grenades lobbed from the tongue of Greg Gutfeld. He complains that they’re not funny anymore, due to their obsession with being politically correct, and their fear of cancel culture.

He may be right. When Gutfeld! debuted in April of 2021, critics predicted low ratings and an early demise for this uncouth experiment by Fox News. But TV audiences, hungry for meatier humor in their homily soup, abandoned the established shows, and flocked to Fox. Gutfeld’s ratings quickly took flight, and by August of 2021, he was sailing over his competition.

Gutfeld! has dominated the late-night ratings ever since. His rivals exclude him from mention, choosing to ignore this nemesis that reigns as the new king of late-night. Even those who rate late-night talk shows often ignore Gutfeld!, omitting it from their ranked lists. Perhaps this is because the show has a conservative political slant. Conservatism is treated like leprosy by many media outlets.

I watch Gutfeld! regularly. Sometimes I find it funny, but it often falls flatter than our economy during a pandemic. That’s because it’s primarily a serious program, that adds humor to its recipe to make its messages more easily digestible. But when it’s funny, it can be sphincter-dilating funny. So I’m always careful to put on a pair of adult diapers, before I switch the show on. In my opinion, it’s like no other late-night talk show these days, in its willingness to violate social taboos for a good laugh.

But what do I know? I don’t even watch those other shows anymore.

If you are a bleeding-heart liberal, or often feel oppressed, or identify with a group that claims to be oppressed, you’ll probably recoil from watching Gutfeld! But if your skin is thick enough to take a joke, and you delight in well-crafted sarcasm and satire, and the slaughter of sacred cows, I think you’ll enjoy the hour of viewing. In fact, I have a Gutfeld! feeling you’ll like it.

You can watch Gutfeld! on the Fox News Channel, weeknights at 11:00 PM, Eastern Time. Unlike other late-night talk shows, it does not adjust its air time to be in the same slot for each time zone. Thus, it airs at 10:00 PM Central Time, 9:00 PM Mountain Time, and 8:00 PM Pacific Time.

Here’s a recent clip from Gutfeld!:

The Ramona Pageant

Back in 1884, the author Helen Hunt Jackson penned the novel, Ramona, while touring various locales in Southern California. It became a popular American classic, has enjoyed more than 300 printings, and has been adapted for film five times. Ramona has also been adapted for several plays, and one such play has been performed outdoors, in April and May, nearly every year since 1923.

[SPOILER ALERT! If you plan to read the book, don’t read these captions!]
Ramona is twice an orphan. Her parents died when she was a baby, and later her foster mother dies. But while the foster mother is on her deathbed, she is promised by her sister, Señora Gonzaga Moreno, that she will take good care of Ramona. The play begins with Ramona as a teenager who lives on Señora Moreno’s huge rancho, in the Mexican territory of Alta California.

This play is called The Ramona Pageant. The Ramona Pageant is considered to be the longest running outdoor play in the United States. It takes place in Hemet, California at the Ramona Bowl. This is a natural amphitheater, nestled in a small valley near the site of a former Indian village. Actors perform on a steep hillside and valley floor, while the audience observes from stands located on the opposite hillside.

Early into the play, the United States conquers California, during the Mexican War, and now Moreno finds her claim to her ranch being disputed by Americans. They carve it up and take much of her land away from her.

The Ramona Pageant has only missed being performed in the years 1933 (due to the Great Depression), 1942 (at the onset of our involvement in World War II), and in 2020 (due to Covid-19 restrictions). It is California’s official State Outdoor Play, and is a celebrated tradition of Southern California. My grandfather performed in this play back in the 1930s. I’ve seen a photo of him posing as an Indian, in the rocks of the steep hillside.

Angry about losing her ranchland, Señora Moreno (right) hates Americans. But she’s a bitter woman anyway, who does not love her foster daughter, Ramona (left), and who treats her harshly.

Several notable actors have starred in The Ramona Pageant, including Victor Jory, as Alessandro, from 1933-1937, alongside his wife, actress Jean Inness, who played Ramona.

An Indian named Alessandro, from the nearby Temecula tribe, falls in love with Ramona and wins her heart. They want to get married, but Señora Moreno forbids the marriage. And she threatens to kick Ramona off the rancho if she ever catches her with Alessandro again.

Raquel Tejada played Ramona in 1959, at age 18. She married her high school sweetheart, James Welch, within days after her final performance. The marriage didn’t last, but Raquel Welch’s love for show business has lingered for a lifetime.

Ramona protests being forbidden from seeing Alessandro, and this is when Moreno confesses that she hates Indians, and that she has hated them ever since one of her children died as the result of an Indian attack. And then she reveals that Ramona, herself, is half-Indian and half-Scottish. This comes as a surprise to Ramona, who had always thought she was of Spanish descent.

Actress Anne Archer also broke into show business, with her role as Ramona, in 1969. But there are many other’s who’ve gone unsung, performing at this spectacular. The cast and crew are populated by 375 members, most of whom are local residents of the Hemet area. Also, many horses and mules appear in the play. And a family of traditional Mexican musicians, the Arias Troubadours, have provided the sound track for the play since 1924.

Ramona realizes that her foster mother’s bitterness and prejudice against Indians is why she has been treated so harshly by her. So she decides to elope with Alessandro. She and Alessandro marry and have two children, but they find themselves driven off Indian lands by white settlers. Finally they move into a mountain cabin, and are happy for awhile, until their baby gets sick.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I traveled to Hemet and watched the play for our first time. It was the 99th anniversary of The Ramona Pageant’s first performance. My sister, River, assisted as a stage hand, and a friend of hers was a member of the cast. But we sat well away from this action, way up in the comfortable shade of box seats.

Alessandro steals a horse so that he can find a doctor to care for their sick baby. But the doctor arrives too late, and the baby dies. Soon after, a posse with the owner of the horse that Alessandro stole, tracks Alessandro down and shoots him dead.

We loved it. It was fun being part of an audience that cheered for the heroes and booed at the villains. Next year will be the pageant’s 100th anniversary, and my sister has volunteered to be a cast member. At age 69, she will be the one who rides onto center stage, sweeps someone up onto the back of her horse, and gallops away. So naturally we’ll have to go again, in order to watch all this horsing around. Who knows, perhaps like Raquel, this will bring her big break in show business.

Now widowed, Ramona returns to the rancho of her childhood, with her remaining daughter, who is also named Ramona. She discovers that Señora Moreno has died, and that Moreno’s son, Felipe, now owns the rancho. But Felipe has always loved Ramona, and he proposes marriage. She agrees. They have several children, but their daughter Ramona remains their favorite. They all live happily ever after at their rancho, in the beautiful new state of California.

The Animal Kingdom of Oceanside

I have 13 different hometowns. That’s because when I grew up my family moved a lot. We weren’t military, we were just vagabonds. My mother and stepfather were always chasing new opportunities while staying a step ahead of bill collectors and the law.

But one of my hometowns does happen to be a military town. In fact, it’s my hometown three times, as that’s how many times we moved back and forth to it. I spent a cumulative six years of my childhood growing up in Oceanside, California, which is next door to the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base. Those six years makes Oceanside qualify as the homiest of all my hometowns.

I visited Oceanside a few weeks ago. This house on 1022 S. Tait Street is where I lived for three-and-a-half years, during the early 1970s. It’s only one block from the ocean, and about a mile from the Oceanside Pier. It was an old house then, and rent was $210/month. But today, according to Zillow, this ancient, 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 1,200 square foot house is valued at $1.8 million, and rents for $3,969/month. Damn, I guess I’ll never live here again.

Recently I was browsing through the cornucopia of television offerings created by our hyperactive world of entertainment, when I encountered a show called, Animal Kingdom. It was not the nature show the title might lead one to believe.

Animal Kingdom is a TV series based on a 2010 Australian movie of the same name. But unlike the movie, the series is purely American. It’s about a family of criminals residing in a California beach community. It looked mildly interesting, so I thought I’d try watching the first episode of the first season, to see if it could draw me in.

I lived in this house, also. It fronts Myers Street, almost directly behind my other house on 1022 Tait. The garage has a loft where, in 1969, we harbored a couple of Marines who had deserted the Vietnam War. You can read more about that by clicking this link.

It didn’t take long before I felt a tickle from the barb of a hook. Then, about halfway in, there were scenes that embedded the hook deep within the flesh of my soul. I came to realize that the setting of this TV series was none other than my hometown of Oceanside.

Scenes of surfers, and the Oceanside Pier triggered some old memories in me. I walked to this pier from my house quite a few times when I was a kid.

There was a scene of a long, straight road leading downslope toward the ocean in the distance. This was much like a road I’d ridden my bicycle up and down, many times. And then there were unmistakable scenes of the Oceanside Municipal Pier, and The Strand. This was my purlieu where I had often perambulated as a kid.

The Strand, where beach homes can sell for about $5 million. The rocks were put in place after I moved away from Oceanside. Before that time, homeowners on The Strand fought a constant battle against the surf, and often lost during high tides on stormy days.

And there’s even a character in this series who reminds me of my childhood. Deran resembles a tough guy named Leroy, who my sister, River, married. She met Leroy in Oceanside, and he was as much a criminal as Deran. And he too, belonged to a family of thugs that engaged in shady business.

Deran’s bar, called the Killfish in the TV series. It’s located at 314 Wisconsin Avenue, less than a half-mile from my home at 1022 Tait Street. In real life, this seems to be a vacant building, or a small warehouse for storing plumbing supplies. The front entrance area is littered with rubbish, most likely from homeless people.

Deran Cody, played by Jake Weary, is the youngest of the brothers in the “Cody” family. The Cody family is run by a matriarch nicknamed “Smurf,” played by Ellen Barkin. There are four brothers altogether in this family, named Pope (Shawn Hatosy), Baz (Scott Speedman), Craig (Ben Robson), and Deran. They are Smurf’s children, and are all from different fathers. Also, there’s one grandson of Smurf’s, named Joshua, or “J” (Finn Cole).

This beach house on The Strand is often seen on Animal Kingdom. It’s the fictional home of Baz and Craig Cody, and uses the alias address number of 427. In real life it seems to be a vacation rental. Zillow values it at about $2.7 million, with a rent estimate of $8,789/month.

Smurf does her best to run the family and control her children, but she encounters constant resistance and suspicion from them. She plans, or helps plan, “jobs” for her kids, and then they go out and rob and steal hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cash or goods, in these heists.

One of Smurf’s challenges is to launder the booty, then dole it out to her children. This leads to a lot of infighting, because her kids suspect she’s skimming and holding out on them. Smurf handles this by being a master at pitting her kids against each other, in order to distract them from going after her.

But her grandson, “J,” is the smartest of the bunch. Smurf is in danger of having met her match, dealing with him. But that’s all I’m telling you. I won’t go into the plot any further, or I might spoil it for anyone who wants to watch this series.

The Wisconsin Market is featured in one scene of Animal Kingdom, where a couple of punk teenagers ask Craig Cody to buy some beer for them. It’s only a few blocks away from where I lived on Tait Street. And for a few months, I lived in an apartment on Myers Street, directly behind this market. I frequented this store as a child, where I shopped for candy, soda pop, cigars, and chewing tobacco. I also engaged in occasional shoplifting, until that infamous time when I was caught. And I sold sand candles with a buddy of mine, on the corner.

My wife and I like a good crime-flavored TV series. We loved The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, and Dexter, and would rate all three of them a 10. We kind of like Ozark (about a 6). But we hated Peaky Blinders (1). We rate Animal Kingdom as better than Ozark, but not quite as good as The Sopranos. I give it a 9, because it’s set in my hometown, but my wife rates it an 8.

Animal Kingdom episodes initially broadcast on Turner Network Television (TNT). Then they become available on Amazon Prime. The first four seasons are available free on Prime. That’s how Amazon gets you hooked, like a drug slinger on a street corner. Then, to watch Seasons 5 and 6 you have to pay $24.95 apiece. We’ve paid for our fix, by buying Season 5. Season 6 will be the final season, but it won’t be available until 2022.

The first season has 10 episodes, with 13 episodes in all the following seasons.

Oceanside Harbor can be spotted in some of the scenes of Animal Kingdom. I’ve been up in that lighthouse when I was a kid, but it seems to be closed, now. The two-story restaurant next to it was once called, The Poop Deck. Of course that name appealed to my puerile sense of humor, and inspired many a wise crack.

I’m surprised that Animal Kingdom hasn’t received much publicity or recognition. It debuted on TNT in 2016, but I’d never heard of it until a few months ago. In 2016 and 2017 it was nominated for a Saturn Award (whatever that is), as the Best Action-Thriller Television Series. However, it lost to Riverdale and Better Call Saul, respectively.

I think it deserves much better recognition than that, so I hereby nominate and award Animal Kingdom with the Tippy Gnu Golden Unicorn for best Television Series, Depicting Bitter, Infighting Members of a Crime Family.

The Oceanside Pier at sunset. It’s such a clear evening that you can see Catalina Island on the horizon to the right. This is a very rare sight, from Oceanside.
linnie and the jets ...

you know i read it in a magazine.


Philosophy, living life, and other fun stuff

Stephen Metcalfe

playwright, screenwriter, and novelist

Experience Film

A Visceral, Psychological Perspective on Modern Cinema

Water for Camels

Encouragement and Development for Social Workers and Those with a Mission of Helping Others

"Depths of Poison" Book 2

Scroll down to read the sequel.

Marie Lamba, author

Some thoughts from author and agent Marie Lamba

Catxman's Cradle

Catxman dances, Catxman spins around, leaps ....... // I sing a song, a song of hope, a song of looove -- a song of burning roses. / Synthesizer notes. // (c) 2021-22


Celebrating God's creatures, birds and plants...

Chel Owens

A Wife, My Verse, and Every Little Thing

Chasing Unicorns

Where smartasses chase unicorns

suyts space

Just another site


A site for the Barsetshire Diaries Books and others

The Trefoil Muse

Words are art on paper, and for me they are the seeds of my soul.

Marta Frant

Humor and Lifestyle

Jessica reads&write

I read to live, I write to share their life

Jessica E. Larsen

Writer. Reader. A mom and a romantic dreamer 🥰 💕