Monday, August 10, 2015


Jon Stewart has completed his 16-year-plus run on The Daily Show. I watched the finale with my son Eddie and, even during the show, I struggled with finding the words to describe what Stewart and the show meant to me. Here’s the best I can offer.

I was not a regular viewer of The Daily Show at first. I’d watch it from time to time. I couldn’t tell you when, but, sometime within Jon’s first year, I realized TDS had become the most indispensable program on television. I don’t think I’ve missed more than five or six episodes in the past fifteen years.

When my rage at the world of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and stolen elections and a President who lied us into a war and more would make my blood pressure rise to dangerous levels, Jon and his crew would talk me down from the abyss. Their humor and canny perceptions were my shield against the bullshit and the evil.

If Jon weren’t comedic/satirical genius enough, he shared his show with some of the most talented performers I've ever seen. Stephen Colbert. Steve Carell. Larry Wilmore. John Oliver. Lewis Black. Rob Riggle. Samantha Bee. Jessica Williams. Rob Cordrey. Jason Jones, who doesn’t know this but who is the personification of a character I am creating with the hope it become successful enough that I can hire him to play it. Jon Hodgman. Kristen Schaal. Oh, hell, almost all of them. On my bucket list of things I want to write before I kick the bucket is a screenplay that would star as many of them as I could get.

Jon could take the bullshit of terrible people and make me laugh at it. When the bullshit got too big, he pooper-scooped it away with wit and wisdom. When the worst things happened, he expressed the sadness in ways that brought us together.

At the end of sixteen years and change, Jon Stewart emerges as one of the finest citizens of the United States and the world. He has been a force for decency, hope and involvement. And he leaves the program by reminding us of our responsibility to speak out against bullshit and evil. Like gladiators in a Roman arena, we must be as one in working and laughing our way to a better world.

“I am Jon Stewart” comes the first voice from the gladiatorial arena, followed by a second and a third and so many more than we can see the fear on the faces of the rich and the powerful. Even in their arrogance, their supreme arrogance, they know they are heading for the dustbin of history. I am Jon Stewart. We are Jon Stewart.

Thank you, Jon. By the way, sorry for the hyperbole. I do realize you’re not dead.


Briefly noted: Attila [2013].

Here’s the basic plot:

When American soldiers uncover Attila the Hun's staff of power, the wrath of his son is awakened. The mummified warrior comes to life, slaughtering anyone who gets between him and the staff.

This is the weakest films I’ve ever seen from The Asylum, which is tied with Disney/Marvel as my favorite company. It was co-written by Anthony C. Ferrante, who directs the Sharknado movies, but it has none of the, well, anything, to be found in those amusing films. Bad acting, horrible special effects, even the sets are poorly lit. Give this one a pass.

Briefly noted: Invisible Invaders (1959).

This was one of the movies which aired on Turner Classic Movies on its special Alien Invaders Night. Here’s the basic plot:

Aliens, contacting scientist Adam Penner, inform him that they have been on the moon for twenty thousand years, undetected due to their invisibility, and have now decided to annihilate humanity unless all the nations of earth surrender immediately. Sequestered in an impregnable laboratory trying to find the aliens' weakness, Penner, his daughter, a no-nonsense army major and a squeamish scientist are attacked from outside by the aliens, who have occupied the bodies of the recently deceased.

This is an entertaining low-budget film. Though most of the special effects are stock footage from military training films and such, it makes good use of them. The scenes convey the destruction happening around the world.

John Agar is terrific as a tough-as-nail major assigned to protect a trio of scientists. Jean Byron is smoking as the daughter of the oldest scientist. Philip Tonge plays her father, bringing a spiffy combination of determination and exhaustion to his character. The stand-out is Robert Hutton as a must-be-bipolar scientist who goes all over the emotional map in the movie, even putting the group in jeopardy when he gives into despair and terror.

Definitely worth watching.


Briefly noted: What Pet Should I Get? By Dr. Seuss

This is the “recently discovered” new book from Seuss and it’s easy to see why he put it aside. It’s a clever idea that never actually comes together. The wordplay is not as sharp as what we’ve come to expect from Seuss. There are pages and verse that fall flat. Worst of all, the ending is unsatisfying and not merely because the book ends with the reader having to guess which pet the child stars of the book select.

I do not know if Seuss was okay with the publication of this or any other posthumous work. I haven’t even figured out how I feel about this for my own work. On the one hand, I think there are some fine fragments and notes and notions and plots in my files. On the other hand, would they still be my work if I don’t finish them? If I had to make a decision today, I would ask Bob Ingersoll to go through the stuff with my son Eddie and let them figure out on some case by case basis.

Anyway...there are plenty of other Seuss books completed during his life. Read those to your kids and skip this one.

I’ll be back sometime next week with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. I've always enjoyed INVISIBLE INVADERS. I even bought the dvd. The walking dead scenes are eerie. And Agar does his best John Wayne in the film.

    Scott Lovrine