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News For Dudes & Friends — March 1st, 2021

Hello. My name is John and I’m trying my best. If you’re receiving this in your email box that means you follow my blog about movies, TV, and feelings Humungus. I appreciate the support. Like most of the internet, this newsletter is a desperate work in progress so feel free to let me know what you like, or don’t like, or want to see more of, and I will review your thoughts with an open heart.

Fun Fact: Apparently, there’s a superstition that says good luck visits anyone who says or repeats the words “rabbit rabbit rabbit” or “white rabbit”…


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Photo: Miramax

Apparently, this is news.

The mighty American media machine has been consumed with a recent question: can white people ever use racist slurs, especially the worst one that has been used to terrorize Black people for countless generations?

The answer is “no.”

I think, once upon a time, the answer was “yes,” but that’s because a white man asked another white man the question.

Recently, a couple of seasoned journalists — from esteemed publications like The New York Times and Slate — were disciplined for using or defending the worst possible slur. One of them, a veteran reporter, used the word during a debate…


The reality of the COVID-19 pandemic was just starting to settle in…

The 2011 Steven Soderbergh thriller about a deadly virus was frighteningly prescient twelve months ago — and that was before the true, nightmarish scope of the pandemic became apparent. I…


Two Potato Head toys on a shelf. On the left is Mrs. Potato Head, her pupils not visible behind her yellow-rimmed glasses. On the right is Mr. Potato Head, wearing neon green glasses and sticking out his tongue.
Two Potato Head toys on a shelf. On the left is Mrs. Potato Head, her pupils not visible behind her yellow-rimmed glasses. On the right is Mr. Potato Head, wearing neon green glasses and sticking out his tongue.
Photo: Tom Small via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

A classic toy rebrands itself as gender-neutral, and grown men lose it

I just always assumed “Potato Head” was just a last name like Fitzgerald or Rodriguez. And it turns out, I was partially right.

Earlier today, Hasbro stirred up a controversy that they almost immediately had to backtrack when the toy manufacturer announced it was dropping the “Mr” from the classic Potato Head brand’s name in order to expand the product. It was a well-intentioned attempt at inclusivity, allowing children more creativity when playing with the iconic anthropomorphized root vegetable. For instance, a little kid with same-sex parents could choose to play with two Mr. Potato Heads of the same sex…


The new doc ‘Allen v Farrow’ exposes, again, what we already knew

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Woody Allen movies, Manhattan is a cerebral comedy about a love triangle between a recently divorced middle-aged man, the mistress of his…


A young girl, Setsuko, wearing a dress, and her older brother Seita, wearing military-like clothing. They’re standing in a field at night, illuminated by the dim glow of fireflies all around them.
A young girl, Setsuko, wearing a dress, and her older brother Seita, wearing military-like clothing. They’re standing in a field at night, illuminated by the dim glow of fireflies all around them.
Image: Studio Ghibli

Warning: This animated classic will wreck you emotionally

The firebombs look like fireflies in Japanese filmmaker and Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata’s animated 1988 masterpiece Grave of the Fireflies. The incendiary devices falling from above bring death while the summertime lightning bugs call spirits home. The movie is about two children trying to survive after their mother is killed in a raid. Takahata is not interested in the politics of the Second World War — America was ruthless in its attempts to bring the Japanese Empire to its knees but the details of the conflict are immaterial. All that matters are the orphans. The animation gives the movie…


Fern (Frances McDormand) with close-cropped hair, wearing a jean jacket over a dark-colored hoodie, standing on a barren field under a darkening stormy sky.
Fern (Frances McDormand) with close-cropped hair, wearing a jean jacket over a dark-colored hoodie, standing on a barren field under a darkening stormy sky.
Photo: Searchlight Pictures

In ‘Nomadland,’ Frances McDormand stars as a struggling widow on the road

I have shared deeply personal feelings during my weekly men’s group therapy sessions. I have opened up about past traumas, and substance abuse, and embarrassingly petty resentments but when it came time to tell them I had been laid off, again, I winced. I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to confess that I was out of work and struggling to pay the bills. I had talked about my sexual insecurities but discussing money was too intense, too intimate.

A few weeks prior I had openly ugly cried about missing my late father but somehow saying “I’m broke”…


Milla Jovovich and Tony Jaa in ‘Monster Hunters’
Milla Jovovich and Tony Jaa in ‘Monster Hunters’
Photo: Sony Pictures

If you like video game adaptations, then I have a movie for you.…

A movie based on a video game will win the Academy Award for Best Picture one day but not anytime soon. Until then, there’s Monster Hunter, now on-demand, a new action-fantasy based on a video game that delivers on the promise made in the title: There are monsters and hunters and, as an added bonus, non-stop CGI mayhem. If this appeals to you, then absolutely check it out. Otherwise, buyer beware.

I like monsters. I think monster movies are an underrated genre, frankly. If Monster Hunter works, and I’m not certain it always works, it's because of the main two…


Four overlapping Saltine crackers in a row on a blank white background.
Four overlapping Saltine crackers in a row on a blank white background.
Photo: Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons

Dear soda cracker, you are a friend to all soups, and to me

It is soup season, which is to say it is cold and dark. There is still shoveling left to do, plenty of white stuff left to be piled.

The opposite of snow and cold isn’t sunshine and warmth it’s a bowl of tomato soup, steaming. Or beef stew or lobster bisque. A few slurps from a spoon and bones thaw, then coziness creeps up legs. The winter is for soup and if I were a bowl of split pea I’d be pretty pleased with myself. But what about the saltine? The humble soda cracker can be crumbled, and snapped in…


Gloria Swanson, as Norman Desmond, in the classic movie ‘Sunset Boulevard’
Gloria Swanson, as Norman Desmond, in the classic movie ‘Sunset Boulevard’
Photo: Paramount Pictures

This is the circle of life

There was a tweet yesterday I want to write about but you should know I’m not going to link to the person who tweeted it because that person was unfairly piled on. That person shared a movie opinion.

The tweet in question set what some call “Film Twitter” into a self-righteous tizzy. “Film Twitter” is a term for an online clique of critics and cinema enthusiasts who love le cinema with the compassion and understanding of a rabid mob.

The author of the offending tweet isn’t a powerful politician whose every public word is open to criticism nor are they…

John DeVore

Creator, Humungus. I write about movies, TV, and feelings.

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