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Archive for the category “Satire”

12 Facebook Quizzes You’ll Never, Ever Take

NarcissusBefore the dawn of the written word, ancient Greeks told the tale of the self-besotted Narcissus, eternally gazing upon the reflection of his sweet and comely visage. But imagine what Narcissus could have done with Facebook. Or Buzz Feed. Or Quiz Bone. Then, oh then, might his sweet and beguiling likeness have been reflected back into his own hypnotic eyes by every computer screen and website upon our ever shrinking planet. For when we look into the the abyss of the ubiquitous Facebook Quiz, we see reflected back our inner most natures, our selves, and our souls. Which character from Harry Potter are you? Which Beatle? Or Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader? The list is as endless as Narcissus’s own self love. But as the man from the Underground famously once said: there are some things which a man is afraid to admit… even to himself. With that in mind, The Autumning Empire is both proud and afraid to present 12 Facebook Quizzes that neither you nor Narcissus will ever, ever take. So don’t look too closely into that river of pop culture; you never know where you might fall!

12. Which David Brooks New York Times Op Ed Article Are You?


How about the one that’s poorly written and cites absolutely no facts to support its dominant culture bias? You know. That one.

11. Which STD Are You?

Aw man! I was really hoping for chlamydia! But instead I got non-gonococcal urethritis. Can I take that quiz again?

10. Which State Representative From South Dakota Are You?

Wait. There’s more than one Dakota?

9. Which Shakespeare “Problem Play” Are You?

I’m sorry! Do you have a problem with All’s Well That Ends Well?

8. Which Lame-Ass, Middle Of The Road Liberal Excuse For Barack Obama Are You?

I was shooting for, “He inherited a big mess,” but instead I got, “The job of the president is very, very hard.”

7. Which Broken New Year’s Resolution Are You?

Wait, is it February already? God, I am such a loser. Jesus.

Pol Pot6. Which Genocidal Dictator Are You?

Not happy with Pol Pot, huh? Who did you want? Hitler? Oh my god, you did want Hitler, didn’t you? That is just…I’m sorry. I really have to go back to my cubicle. Now.

5. Which Whit Stillman Movie Are You?

Ok. Who’s Whit Stillman?

4. Which Terrible Johnny Depp Performance Are You?johnny_depp__willy_wonka_by_nyuxd94-d4xrep0

How dare you? How dare you? Johnny Depp is an amazing actor! You’re just jealous ’cause he’s hot!

3. Which Joe Biden Article from “The Onion” Are You?

Ah, how about the one where he’s washing the car? I vaguely remember that being less un-funny than the others.

2. Which Edward Albee Play Dwelling In Well Deserved Obscurity Are You?

Did he write anything besides The Zoo Story and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Oh. Right. Seascape. Yeah.

1. Which Woody Allen Movie Are You?

Dude, nobody took my Woody Allen quiz! How come? What’s wrong with Woody Allen? Seriously. Am I missing something?


David Berkson

February 10, 2014

 Don’t forget to “like” The Autumning Empire on Facebook. You can contact David Berkson at, or @DavidBerkson on Twitter.


The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.Wow! The 2014 Oscar nominees have just been announced, and nobody is more excited than The Autumning Empire!

But how can we express our excitement, especially through social media where our opinions are so highly valued and so thoroughly masticated, swallowed, and digested? Never fear! The Autumning Empire is here with your very own Academy Award Social Media Mad Lib! Simply cut and paste the Mad Lib below, insert the appropriate parts of speech and numbers into those parenthetical sections, and presto! You have an opinion! Better hurry, though! You wouldn’t want to be bested by your “friends” now, would you? There’s lots of “nominees,” “but” “only” “one” “winner”!

2014 Social Media Oscar Mad Lib!



But what’s up with (ROBERT REDFORD)? Why’d they (VERB) him? That Academy! Every time they just (VERB) him and (VERB) him and (VERB) him! He was so good in “Barefoot in the Park”! I’m sure he was just as good in (THAT FILM I KEEP MEANING TO SEE BUT NEVER WILL). Oh well! Just goes to show you that the Oscars (ADVERB) get it (ADJECTIVE)!



David Berkson

January 16, 2014

 Don’t forget to “like” The Autumning Empire on Facebook. You can contact David Berkson at, or @DavidBerkson on Twitter.

The U.S. Must Strike Now. But Not Against Syria

FlagThis week, members of Congress will make what is possibly the most important vote of their careers. They will decide whether or not to support President Obama’s call for military action against the oppressive government of Syria. It’s a momentous choice, and while some legislators have already made up their minds, for those who are still on the fence, the decision is pure agony.

It need not be. The choice is stark and simple. The United States is the world’s greatest – and perhaps only – superpower. We have an obligation to stand firm against the forces of evil. We cannot sit idly by while a nation commits human rights atrocities. America must act, and it must act now.

But not against Syria. True, its government has used chemical weapons against its map_of_syriaown people. True, its army routinely detains, tortures, beats, and kills unarmed civilians.  True, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has turned his country into a charnel house, a black hole of human rights, and an international pariah.

But there yet looms a larger threat: a rogue nation that puts our very planet on the very brink of collapse and ruin.  Aggressive and belligerent to the point of bellicosity, this country repeatedly ignores international calls for multilateralism, cooperation, and basic human decency. It chokes the world in a vice-like grip of greed and insatiable avarice. It is the number one threat to our global security, and yet accountable to no one.

It is the United States of America.


We cannot let this stand. Americans must stand firm against tyranny, imperialism, brute force and naked aggression. Diplomacy has failed. The choice is clear. The time has come for the United States of America to take action against the United States of America.

Let me be clear: I am not asking Congress for a declaration of war. This will bear no resemblance to Afghanistan, Iraq, or even Libya. There will be no boots on the ground. But the time to move is now.

Is the American public ready for this? More ready than you might think. 49% of all Americans support a strike against our own military. Besides, when it comes to right and wrong, you don’t go around asking permission. You’ve got stand tall and be tough. But if hearts and minds needs be moved, so be it. The United States has never shirked whipping up public support when it comes to demonizing our enemies. And since the United States’ greatest enemy is the United States, it’s only fair to lay before the public the worst of our government’s innumerable atrocities:

The United States is a Human Rights Pariah

The United States is one of 195 signatories to the Geneva Convention. Yet the  Washington Post identifies 367 men who are currently being detained in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. These individuals have not been formally charged with any crime, let alone brought to trial, and many have been there since the camp was established in 2003. Reports of prisoner abuse and torture are rampant. Amnesty International said: “Guantanamo has become the gulag our times, entrenching the notion that people can be detained without any recourse to the law.”

U.S. President Barack Obama promised in his 2008 campaign to close the Obamadetention center. Five years later, the camp is still open.

America’s Carbon Footprint is Destroying the World

Believe it or not, the US is not #1 in everything. We rank 38th in healthcare, 17th (in the developed world) for education, and 27th in infant mortality. But as polluters, we run a close second only to China, which produces 6,018 million tons of greenhouse gasses per year, as compared to America’s mere 5,903 million tons.

But did China get there all by itself? No way, baby. Who do you think funds the activities that produce those greenhouse gas emissions? U.S. Corporations, that’s who. Every time you purchase a product with the words “Made In China” engraved on non-recyclable plastic, feel proud that you’ve done your part to contribute to that country’s sky rocketing pollution. Take a look at CNN’s staggering list of U.S. corporations that export jobs to China: Google, Apple, Target, Toys ‘R Us, Verizon, 3M – even American Greetings employs people in China. Ironic, isn’t it? But what a great way to avoid all the pesky labor and environmental restrictions that cut into these corporations’ astronomical profits. So go ahead, People’s Republic: toot your own made-in-China horn as the world’s greatest polluter. Just don’t forget the U.S. companies that help put you on top.

The U.S is a Global Military Menace

In 2011, the United States spent $711 billion on defense. That’s more than the next 13 countries combined, which spent $695 billion. Not $695 each. $695 billion combined. In this area, at least, we are indisputably numero uno.

Defense Chart

Now, you’d think that a country that spends this kind of dough on weapons would feel more secure, not less. But that’s not how it’s panned out since the end of the Second World War. From the 1940s to the early 1970s, the U.S. carried out a pointless, bloody, and unpopular war in Vietnam. The American government was a great friend and supporter of pinochetAugusto Pinochet, the infamous Chilean dictator who murdered and “disappeared” thousands of peaceful political dissidents. It also supported South Africa’s racist apartheid government, and listed Nelson Mandela’s ANC as a terrorist organization. In the 1980s, the U.S. supported right wing military juntas in Central American countries such as El Salvador and Honduras. In both 1991 and 2003, the United States invaded and waged undeclared wars in Iraq. (The pretense for the second invasion – complicity in the 9/11 attacks and a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction – proved to be one hundred percent false.)

And today? The United States repeatedly carries out drone strikes against no less than seven countries, including Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan. These attacks have killed hundreds of children. Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down, describes “a whole new depth of outrage,” experienced by those on “the receiving end of the missile,” because “the guy pulling the trigger” is in a “position of safety.” Rather than keeping us safer, Bowden argues that the drone program empowers America’s to act with impunity, and is used as a pretext to commit terrorist acts against civilians. Thus, America is in the awkward position of being a threat to everyone. Even itself.

What do you want? More? How’s this: the United States is a country that spies not only on its enemies, but on its allies and even its own citizens. What does that sound like to you? A beacon of freedom and democracy? Or an eastern European Soviet backed police state?

So when the world is faced with such a monster, who is there to save the day? The United States. Only America can stop America. As the world’s greatest – and perhaps only – superpower, the United States alone has the power to degrade and wipe out the overwhelming strength of its own bloated military.

Now, I’m not suggesting this is going to be easy. As our president is so fond of saying, there are gonna be some tough times ahead. But this is a Gergensituation where America simply cannot afford to lose face. As David Gergen says, “The danger is the more reluctant you are, and the more deliberative you are, the danger is you start looking weak.”

I couldn’t agree more. It’s time for us to face the real enemy. And it’s the best of all choices. Striking a blow to America’s military might will involve no collateral damage. Not one bomb need be dropped; no bullet need be fired. Such action will save countless lives  abroad, not to mention those of the brave men and women serving in our military. It is time for America to liberate America from the stifling grip of tyranny. Think about what the saved hundreds of billions of dollars in military spending could buy: affordable, single payer healthcare; new roads and bridges; well funded education; and an end to our mounting deficit. Gergen is right: we can’t afford to be weak. The best part is, we can do it without the United Nations or the help of a single other country.

Because in the end, the only one in the world who can put a stop to America’s war machine is America itself. It’s time to get busy. Please contact your senator and congressperson today, and tell them to vote “no” on U.S. military action in Syria.

David Berkson

September 9, 2013

 Don’t forget to “like” The Autumning Empire on Facebook. You can contact David Berkson at, or @DavidBerkson on Twitter.

Hello, Mr. Chips! The Autumning Empire’s Back to School Guide for Teachers

Mr. Chips
Wow! Where did all the time go? Seems like summer just got started, and here we are in mid-August! That means it’s not just back to school for students, but for teachers, too! Now, educators, you all know perfectly well that teaching isn’t just a job; it’s a calling! Still, even the most idealistic of our ranks may feel some degree of anxiety as that impending first day approaches. But never fear: The Autumning Empire is here! Let us be your teacher’s assistant with these fifteen indispensable tips to help you prep for the upcoming year:

  1. Re- watch Dead Poets Society, a heartwarming story of a man who achieves what no other teacher has by getting a group of sensitive, privileged, teenage boys from New England to appreciate Western literature.
  2. As you sit down to prepare your course material, spend 2 hours cleaning your desk and sharpening your pencils.
  3. Enjoy a restorative day at the beach. Gaze at the calming waves. Remember that at any minute melting polar ice caps could create a devastating tsunami that’ll wash you and your loved ones out to sea.
  4.  Move to Albuquerque and start cooking meth to help pay for your chemo.Bad
  5. You know that novel that you’ haven’t been writing all summer? Well start writing it. Now.
  6. Become critically injured in a parachuting accident; then have Oscar Goldman’s crack surgery team at the OSI bring you back to life through the miracle of prosthetic bionics.
  7. Remember that there is no higher calling than giving young people the skills they need to pass a standardized state test.
  8. Relax. Nah. Just kidding. I had you there for a second, though, didn’t I?
  9. Make a list of professions that pay better than teaching and require far less education.
  10. Remember The Alamo. Just be careful how you teach it in Arizona or Texas. Seriously. Consider yourself warned.
  11. Follow Jack Black’s example in School of Rock by using students to form a band in which you are the wacky, irreverent front man. That’s really what the students are there for, anyway, isn’t it? To make you look good?Black
  12. Get out your old copy of Led Zeppelin II and crank it. It may not help. But it sure won’t hurt.
  13. As the anxiety of the impending school year causes you to vomit uncontrollably, comfort yourself with the realization that it’s bringing you this much closer to your summer weight loss goal.
  14. Look at your fading 2008 and 2012 campaign bumper stickers; bitterly realize that your life as an underpaid, overworked professional educator under President Obama is no better than it was under President Bush.
  15. Scream.

August 14, 2013 

Disclaimer: this Autumning Empire post is a piece of satire. We neither condone nor recommend the manufacture or consumption of illegal drugs in New Mexico or elsewhere. Similarly, we condemn procrastination, anxiety induced vomiting, and over-rated star vehicles for Robin Williams and Jack Black.

We are, however, dead serious about Zeppelin. 

ZepDude. Those guys were awesome.

Don’t forget to “like” The Autumning Empire on Facebook. You can contact David Berkson at, or @DavidBerkson on Twitter.

19 New Year’s Resolutions from The Autumning Empire

2013 TwoAccording to Business News Daily, as many as 88% of our New Year’s resolutions from last year have already been broken. Why? Unrealistic goals. Successful self-improvement relies upon setting before us that which is attainable. With that in mind, The Autumning Empire presents nineteen New Year’s Resolutions for the year 2013. They’re simple, practical, and above all, obtainable. So come on, 2013! Give us your best shot. We’ve got you licked before you even got started. Wait, you already got started? Well then…

 This Year, I Resolve To

  1. Lose 107 pounds in one month.
  2. Copyright and patent the letter “J”; levy a surcharge upon every person who uses it in writing or in speech.
  3. Try to remember the kind of September when life was young, and oh so mellow.
  4. Before the next hurricane hits, build an arc and fill it with animals – two of every kind.
  5. Write an wildly popular, crowd pleasing musical based on James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.
  6. Take the time to actually read James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.
  7. Whoa, now that I’m actually trying to read this book, it looks really hard. Maybe I’ll just make a musical out of Finian’s Rainbow instead.
  8. Wait…Finian’s Rainbow already is a musical? God damn it!
  9. Fashion a magnificent golden toilet seat with studs of rubies, diamonds, and pearl.
  10. Go to the gym religiously for the next four days, then stop for the rest of the year.
  11. Make more scenes at the dinner table. It’s how my folks brought me up; for my kids, it’s the least I can do.
  12. Read political columnists who share my point of view, then post their opinions on Facebook.
  13. Minimize my carbon footprint by making a human sacrifice of all my second cousins once removed. If it’s people who create climate change, then let’s just nip this sucker in the bud.
  14. I cannot fucking believe that Finian’s Rainbow is already a musical. When did they do that?
  15. Make lists. Tons and tons of lists. It’s always worked before. Why shouldn’t it work this year?
  16. Every time I procrastinate, tell myself how important it is to “slow down” and “take care of myself.”
  17. Follow every rule set down in the Book of Leviticus. Especially the parts about stoning my neighbors. Because if it’s there in the Bible, then you can’t go to jail. Right?
  18. Clean out the garage. No, just kidding. No fucking way, man. No. Fucking. Way.
  19. Gain 115 pounds back by the end of March.

Questions? Excellent. Let’s put our noses to that collective grindstone, America. Happy New Year, from The Autumning Empire.

David Berkson

January 1, 2013

Don’t forget to “like” The Autumning Empire on Facebook. You can contact David Berkson at, or @DavidBerkson on Twitter.

Always feel free to post a comment and get a discussion going. Keep your remarks civil, but don’t feel bashful about starting a vigorous and healthy debate.



Oscar Mania! Your Own Facebook Madlib For The 2013 Academy Awards!


oscarsHere at The Autumning Empire we just love The Oscars – and we know we’re not alone! The stars, the styles, the suspense, and the bulimia: all converge upon a magical night in which the hopes and dreams of a chosen few are fulfilled by Oscar’s magic wand, whilst the remaining losers are forced to grind their sparkling teeth into the grimace of good sportsmanship as they choke back the bitter vitriol of humiliating public defeat. So if you’re like us (and we know you are!) you can’t wait for January 10 when this year’s nominees will be announced. And if you’re exactly like us, you’ll want to head right on over to Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, Flickr, MySpace or Friendster the minute those nominees are announced so you can tell the waiting world exactly what you think about them!

But you’d better be ready, and you’d better act fast. When it comes to social media, the buzz of the day is the blink of an eye. That’s why we at The Autumning Empire have provided you with our very own Oscar Madlib Facebook Post! Who knows? You might have something else to do on January 10. Like work.  But with The Autuming Empire’s help, real life’s inconveniences become minor obstacles to be overcome with a flick and a click to your keyboard. So read, copy, and fill in the blanks so that your social media posting can make you…a winner!

My Personal Oscar Facebook Posting


Interjection! I can’t  verb it!  Number between 5 and 29 Oscar nominations! UnknownWay to go name of overrated, uplifting box office behemoth with just enough intellectual stimulation to make educated bourgeois audience members feel like their time was well spent and that everyone knew was going to get nominated! This is definitely established director who takes just enough risks, but not too many ‘s best! Of course, it’ll have adjective  noun from  other overrated box office behemoth ! I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely keeping my body part s verb ending in “ed” !

And hey! Way to go  European person with grey hair  for getting a shot at Best Supporting  trained performing animal you might see in a circus . I’ve been  verb ending in “ing”  gender specific pronoun for years!


CroweI have one complaint and one complaint only: why’d they nominate Russell Crowe ? Oh well, I guess if anyone deserves an 
obscure form of medieval punishment , it’s him. One thing’s for sure, come February 24, I’ll be sitting down with my  group of people you secretly detest  and watching the 85th Annual  ceremony program that arbitrarily confers awards upon film using no coherent standards or criteria ! Ok, Oscar! Let the countdown begin!

David Berkson

December 30, 2012

Don’t forget to “like” The Autumning Empire on Facebook. You can contact David Berkson at, or @DavidBerkson on Twitter.

Always feel free to post a comment and get a discussion going. Keep your remarks civil, but don’t feel bashful about starting a vigorous and healthy debate.

As The Autumning Empire gets ready to celebrate its 1st birthday, we thought we’d republish our very first blog! Read it, enjoy, and have a very Happy Holiday Season!

The Autumning Empire

 Rankin/Bass’s 1964 TV holiday classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has stood the test of time. Indeed, you’ve probably seen it more than once. Perhaps you approach it with joy, and even deep nostalgia as your number of viewings rise into the double digits. Maybe you’ve shared it with your children, and made it an annual holiday family night. And you might even watch it ironically, chortling over its cheesy songs, primitive production values, and ridiculously dated kitsch.

 But after you’ve turned the television off, finished up the eggnog, and hopped into bed, no visions of sugarplums dance in your head. No, something is wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. Like its protagonist, something marks this holiday special as different, aberrant, and even terrifying. So it’s time to stop pretending and face the brutal facts. Some boils disappear of their own accord; Rudolph is one that must be lanced with a sharp…

View original post 1,969 more words

100 Worst Portrayals of James Bond Ever

Everyone loves James Bond, but even the most die hard 007 fans have to admit that a few of his cinematic incarnations have left a bad taste in our mouths that even a vodka martini can’t shake. Or stir! Much as we’d like, none of us can forget the worst portrayals of everyone’s favorite secret agent. The ones who should have had their licenses to kill revoked! Or been given the ejector seat! So while you’re enjoying the opening weekend of the brand new 007 movie Skyfall, don’t forget the SPECTRE of yesterday’s failures!

Here then are the 100 worst portrayals of James Bond ever:

100. Barney Frank

99. Sting

98. Roger Moore

97. Fred Rogers

96. Tina Louise

95. Sondra Locke

94. Gary Sinise

93. Brit Hume

92. The Osmond Family

91. John Malkovich

90. Don Knotts

89. Eileen Brennan

88. Milton Berle

87. Peter Lorre

86. Colleen Dewhurst

85. Ryan Seacrest

84. Marlon Brando

83. Roger Staubach

82. Johnny Bench

81. Lucinda Williams

80. Jimmy Stewart

79. Justin Bieber

78. Gerald Ford

77. Kate Smith

76. Charo

75. Vincent Price

74. Vincent Minnelli

73. Liza Minnelli

72. Judy Garland

71. Mickey Rooney

70. Andy Rooney

69. Lester Bangs

68. Frank Rich

67. Gore Vidal

66. Martin Van Buren

65. Robert Redford

64. The 1976 Dallas Cowboys

65. Viggo Mortenson

64. Exene Cervenka

63. Charles Nelson Reilly

62. The Guy Who Played Mr. Whipple in the Bounty Commercials

61. Julie Andrews

60. Anne Bancroft

59. Billy Ray Cyrus

58. Vic Damone

57. Washington Irving

56. Tiny Tim

55. The girl named Jenny who inspired the ‘867-5309’ song.

54. Shimon Peres

53. The Lost Lenore

52. Nina Totenberg

51. Leonard Maltlin

50. Jennifer Jason Leigh

49. Rex Harrison

44. Rod Steiger

43. Nellie the Elephant

42. Sid Vicious

41. Eddie Cantor

40. Shelley Duvall

39. Ralph Ellison

38. Fredo Corleone

37. Oh M’Darlin’ Clementine

36. Clint Howard

35. George Reeves

34. Keanu Reeves

33. George and Martha from ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’

32. The Apostle John

31. The Character in the Ian Flemming Novels

30. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

29. Alan Alda

28. Jack Nicholson

27. Roman Polanski

26. Sid and Marty Croft

25. Keith Richards

24. Adrian Zmed

23. Daniel Radcliffe

22. Will Kempe

21. Helen Hunt

20. Steve Buscemmi

19. Ted Nugent

18. John Foster Dulles

17. Jay Silverheels

16. Billy Zane

15. Phil Spector

14. Edward Platt

13. Keith Moon

12. Joe Strummer

11. Nosferatu

10. Rich Little

9. Carey Grant (ok, he wasn’t that bad!)

8. Raymond Carver

7. Anna Maria Alberghetti

6. Mildred Dunning

5. Dom DeLuise

4. Ozzy Davis

3. Harold Bloom

2. Crispin Glover

And at number one, the worst James Bond ever is…..

Sean Connery

Art House 007: How Heineken Poisoned the Well of the West’s Most Beautiful Franchise

James Bond fans are angry. Very angry. At a time of economic chaos and global uncertainty, we need archetypes that are consistent and reliable. Can you imagine Homer Simpson eating caviar? Hamlet making a fart joke? Carrot Top making a successful joke at all? No, this is not the time to “experiment,” “shake things up,” or “think outside the box.” Yet the creators of Skyfall, the latest James Bond film, have done just that. In a scene that’s created no small measure of hullaballoo and controversy, audiences will now be forced to watch Daniel Craig’s 007 drink not the customary shaken-not-stirred vodka martini. No, instead fans throughout the world will be treated to the spectacle of the world’s greatest secret agent and super spy sipping on…a Heineken.

Why? In the name of god, why would anyone allow this to happen? The answer is simple: money. This is product placement, nothing more than a cynical bid from the makers of Heineken to convince us to purchase and drink their pernicious swill of watered down, alcoholic inequity.

Well, I don’t know about you. But I, for one, am outraged that the hallowed 007 franchise has whored itself out for profit and commercialism. Remember when James Bond films didn’t care about the money? When they were cool? When it was all about the art? When they had visionary directors at the helm like Orson Welles and François Truffaut? When Bond the girls were played by Glenda Jackson and Vanessa Redgrave? When 007 himself was inhabited by the likes of Shakespearean actors like Anthony Hopkins and Albert Finney?

Well those days are gone, people. Consider them chapters of a bygone era. Do Heineken’s fortunes give them a license to kill the west’s most beautiful franchise? Perhaps they do. So for those of you unfamiliar with the 007 canon, here is a retrospective of five previous Bond films – all of them money losers – that represent the height of cinematic achievement and artistry, uncorrupted by commercial considerations of any kind.

Twilight on the Sunset of Tomorrow (1959)

Kafkaesque in its inscrutability, this surrealist classic gives us a James Bond sent to the rural English village of Surrey with vague instructions from a nameless superior to capture and murder another secret agent. There, Bond finds himself in the midst of a bizarre Italian carnival, surrounded by a variety of entertainers and circus freaks. 007 becomes uncharacteristically less focused on the task at hand, instead befriending the carnival “strongman” named Hugo. During a fifteen-minute monologue, James Bond reveals his more “sensitive” side to the weight lifter, who brutishly devours pounds of raw meat during 007’s soliloquy. Spoiler alert: if you’ve seen Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, you’ve got a pretty good idea of where the whole thing is headed. Shot entirely in black and white, this low budget (and money losing) critic’s darling influenced an entire generation of directors, including David Lynch and Terry Gilliam. It took Orson Welles seven and a half years to complete the movie, evidenced by continuity problems in an otherwise flawless film.

Beach Blanket Bondage (1965)

At the time 007 aficionados cried, “sell out!” – but a few critics new better, praising the “James Bond Musical” for its “radical experimentalism” and “post-modern irony”. Sent to Southern California, 007 poses as a surfer, where he infiltrates SPECTRE’s smuggling ring to Eastern Asia. Screenwriter Hunter S. Thompson is credited with his successful (if jarring) incorporation of Hell’s Angels into the musical numbers, where Albert Finney’s 007 sings surprisingly well.  Finney’s chemistry with Annette Funicello fell flat with some viewers, but no one can forget the “club house” sequence in which the secret agent turns on Frankie Avalon, and beats the teen idol to a bloody pulp (a scene that never failed to earn standing ovations). It still remains unclear if director William Asher was aware that he was satirizing his own career. The movie proved “too weird” for most viewers, putting it on the list of many 007 box office failures.

Broken Bond (1969)

James Bond is sent to Hanoi with clear instructions to assassinate Ho Chi Minh. There he is captured; the subsequent scenes of torture are brutal, even by today’s standards. This historic Arthur Penn work is one of the only major Hollywood studio releases to deal explicitly with the Vietnam War while it was taking place. Arthur Miller’s script was widely (but not universally) panned, as was Marlon Brando’s outing as the only American actor to ever play 007. President Nixon himself
personally decried the film as “…un-American, un-Believable,
and un-worthy of the dollar fifty price of admission.” The movie went $5 million over budget – an
astronomical sum at the time – partially because Bond girl Jane Fonda brought in acting guru Lee Strasberg to help her find the proper motivation in the love scenes with Brando. Brando had Strasberg fired after three hours of shooting. The star also frequently butted heads with Penn, improvised most of his scenes, and gained 200 pounds.

Le Dossier du James Bond (1972)

Jean Luc-Goddard, fascinated by the possibilities of a cinematic secret agent, created an infamous piece of cinema vérité when casting a balding, middle-aged Scottish actor named Sean Connery in the role of 007. Goddard released a film of which consisted of Connery reading the recently leaked Pentagon Papers in their entirety for a period of four uninterrupted hours. The actor took the job, but was not amused. “I never really understood the role of Bond,” Connery said years later. “The life of espionage doesn’t appeal to me: the bureaucracy, the paperwork, the effeminate attention to detail. It’s fine a fine role for a certain type of actor, but I prefer a man of action.” Seated behind a desk and incessantly chain smoking as he reads, Connery could not look more uncomfortable. Critics unanimously praised the film as socially relevant, historically indispensable, and completely unwatchable.

Bond of the Spirit (1985)

Harshly condemned by the Vatican before the first ticket was sold, this controversial Ken Russell masterpiece has 007 thwarting an assassination attempt on the Pope, only to be plunged into a crisis of faith in the process. Malcolm McDowell (who played James Bond more than any other actor) is riveting in the infamous confession scene, where he recounts his many acts of violence and sexual promiscuity. “As 007, MacDowell has finally shown us the inner Bond,” wrote Roger Ebert, “and he is frightened, wasted, and vulnerable.” Bond of the Spirit is the only film in history to dramatize 007
seducing a nun. The Vatican released a statement condemning the film for its “craven heresy” and noted
that the film’s PG rating made it essential that society “protect children from the predatory, sinful actions of certain depraved individuals in whom parents have placed so much trust.” The boycott was successful: the movie lost $15 million, but like all the James Bond films, it enjoys a loyal, if small, cult following


See ye now the purity of the well that Heineken hath so heinously putrefied? The James Bond franchise has never, ever been about financial gain. These aren’t the kinds of movies that pander to the lowest common denominator; they’ve never used cheap thrills, gadgets, or special effects to get the butts into the seats. Each film is a coherent, fully realized work of art that intentionally employs innovative, risky aesthetic choices that challenge and sometimes alienate their audience. To have the Bond character say or do things we don’t expect is, of course, alienating, but for all the wrong reasons. Narrative choices should be artistic, not financial, and no film series exemplifies this principle in all its glorious purity better than that of James Bond. How do we react to the discovery that all the filmmakers really want to do is take our money? Daniel Craig himself recently attempted to put this fire out by saying: “It’s unfortunate, but we get the movies made, and that’s all that matters. And I whore myself out a little bit for that…and so what? Everybody wins.”

Really, Mr. Craig? Really? Does everybody win? Everybody? Well I put it to you, sir, that this game in fact does have a  loser, and he goes by the name of Art. And it is Art, not SPECTRE or the Soviet Union, who is now James Bond’s rival and arch-nemesis, one whom 007 seeks to destroy by drowning it Heineken’s corporate vat of insatiable greed and avarice.

Once upon a time, there was a franchise. Its sole purpose was to further the art of narrative cinema to its finest, fullest potential – commercial gain be damned. Now, with the flick of a bottle opener, those days are gone forever. Bon voyage, 007. As the saying goes: if you can’t beat ‘em…

Besides, I suppose we can thank Heineken for finally reminding us what James Bond is really all about.


David Berkson

October 26, 2012

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Survival Guide To The Republican National Convention

UPDATED 8/26/12

See bottom of post for inclement weather policy.

Sometimes pain can drive a man harder than pleasure. Surely you know that, doctor. Captain James T. Kirk

Thus, we turn our attention to the 2012 Republican National Convention. Of course, you aren’t going to watch it. And you know you probably shouldn’t.

And yet…

Amid the squalor of the empire’s final days, may we not discover the smallest traces of divinity, grace, and beauty?  “I can resist everything except temptation,” said Oscar Wilde, a man who most Republicans would burn in effigy – if only they knew who he was. Never the less, should you feel compelled to stare into the depths of the infinite Republican abyss, here is The Autumning Empire’s Survival Guide for the 2012 Republican National Convention.


The Lord has sent us a tropical storm! Hallelujah! His will be done! Unfortunately, this particular storm threatens the fate of thousands of white evangelicals now attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, Florida. Brothers and sisters, listen to me, and remember: God does not punish Republicans. Rather, the Lord tests the faith of his beloved servants. You know, kind of like Job. Only different. And just forget all that other stuff I said about Hurricane Katrina being a punishment for America’s sins. Seriously. Forget about it. Now! The Lord works in mysterious ways. And throughout the infinite cosmos, and all of creation’s wonders, there is only one being who truly can truly understand the mysterious works of God: Me, Pat Robertson. So pray for our delegates. And God Bless America. And don’t forget to Vote Republican!

The Autumning Empire’s Survival Guide To The Republican National Convention

Sunday, August 26

7:46 AM  Wake up and learn that Tropical Storm Isaac’s approach means that the convention has been all but cancelled for Monday. Privately admit that you were actually looking forward to sitting in front of your TV and making fun of these hypocritical wankers.

8:12 AM Oh my God! It’s almost as if the storm is a….metaphor for the Republican convention itself!


814 AM  Wait, is that a metaphor or an allegory? Damn it! You never could get the two straight!

10:27 AM Read that the GOP is prepared to hand out umbrellas and ponchos to all the attending delegates. Man, it sure is comforting to know that if these guys are elected, they’ll know how to handle a natural disaster.

12:54 PM  Ok, wait, if the storm is a metaphor, then what does it actually stand for?  A metaphor actually has to stand for something specific, doesn’t it? Jesus, don’t you remember anything from Freshman English?

2:26 PM  Be struck with the profound hope that the entire convention will be cancelled, and Obama will run in November unopposed. Then ruefully remember what happened when you dared to hope four years ago.

3:03 PM  Wait a minute, what if the storm is a metaphor for Romney and the entire GOP?Which would mean that Florida is actually the United States. Or what if the whole thing is a metaphor for another Florida voting debacle in November. Or what if – you know what, THERE IS NO METAPHOR! Realize, finally, that English Humanities was a complete and total waste of time, and decide to call it a day.

Monday, August 27

1:58 PM Quickly use your work computer check in on the abbreviated proceedings while your boss isn’t looking. Admit that you are powerless over politics, that your life has become unmanageable.

2:00 PM  Hear the opening gavel reverberate ominously throughout eternity..

2:17 PM  Experience a massive wave of relief that, due to a change of schedule, The Oakridge Boys will not be singing the national anthem.

2:19 PM  Explain to your boss that this is a “sort of trying a new marketing strategy.” Experience Kafkaesque anxiety that perhaps he is a Republican, himself. Is he? It’s possible For Josef K, it was always so hard to tell.

2:20 PM  Listen to Chairman Reince Priebus’ sage and judicious words about the safety of the delegates before he wisely adjourns. Realize that if these elitist Republican wankers had shown the same concern for the people of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, history would have turned out a whole lot different.

Tuesday, August 28

5:45 PM  Express disappointment that Billy Crystal isn’t hosting this year. Ok, maybe not.

6:02 PM  Avoid the temptation to stifle your emotions through binge eating; resolve to snack only when a speaker utters the name of former president George W. Bush.

6:15 PM  Derisively scoff at the practice of nominating the president first, and the VP second. Where’s the build? Where’s the tension? Didn’t these people ever learn about a story arc? Well, given their hostility to public education, probably not.

6:18 PM Using a Hegelian framework, analyze this convention as a negative, yet necessary, mediative process through which the abstraction of the republic must pass through in order to become fully realized and concrete.

On second thought, just keep making jokes at the expense of the speakers, and tell yourself that you are much, much smarter than those who are about to take control of your country.

6:30 PM  Boy, this role call thing sure is taking a long time. Even though no one’s mentioned W.’s name, maybe you’ll do a little snacking after all. Eating a whole bag of Smart Popcorn isn’t binging. Is it?

7:00 PM  Throughout David Brooks’ balanced yet incisive analysis, take a nice long trip to the bathroom. Preferably one outside of your home.

7:48 PM  Fall under the hypnotic spell of John Boehner’s orange, shiny forehead.

8:07 PM  Suck the nectar of Mike Huckabee’s sugar honey’d words as a weasel sucks eggs.

8:09 PM  Hope for an appearance by Ryan Seacrest, who would bring this ironic spectacle back from the brink of armegeddon into the safe and comfortable bailiwick of camp.

8:21 PM  Oh! Now you get it! That’s where they came up with the term: “santorum”.

8:23 PM  Wonder if the second night of the convention was important enough to pre-empt PBS’s Tupperware! American Experience.

8:36 PM  Choke on your pretzel upon realizing that Bobby Jindal is nothing more than a life sized marionette.

8:43 PM  Be pleasantly surprised at the GOP’s efforts to “reach out” to Latinos; ignore the nastiness of its unprecedented attacks on immigrants. And whatever you do: don’t think about Arizona.

8:51 PM  Wow. That’s Chris Christie? You were expecting someone more…more…oh, never mind.

8:52 PM  Turn off TV early; look for that bag of Peanut M&Ms.

Wendesday, August 29

 7:30 PM  Admit it. This is worse than you thought. Much worse.

7:32 PM  Stare at the new bought bag of Halloween candy from Wallgreens, and realize that it probably won’t help. Oh, well…since you already bought it…

7:36 PM  Take comfort from the fact that Ulysses S. Grant was a Republican. He wasn’t so bad, now, was he?

Oh right. He was.

7:42 PM  Wonder how even a Republican can stand the grating monotony of Mitch McConnell’s voice.

8:03 PM  Hey! John McCain! You used to sort of like that guy. Until you listened to what he actually had to say.

8:04 PM  Notice the cutaway of Sarah Palin grinning in the audience. Well, now! Don’t you have a thing or two to say about her!

8:05 PM  Find yourself wishing that they’d do more Sarah Palin cutaways.

8:06 PM  Damn it, it doesn’t matter what she looks like! Sarah Palin’s evil! You’re not about to “like” her on Facebook!

8:06 PM  Ok, you can just block her postings on your newsfeed. Or better yet, just read them ironically. That’d be ok, wouldn’t it?

9:02 PM  Hey, how come all these photos are of Sarah and Todd? How come there aren’t – oh! Commercials are over! What did you just miss?

9:03 PM  Switch over from PBS to Fox News. Never mind, turn it back, turn it back, turn it back!

9:04 PM  Put two and two together as Britt Hume drools every time someone says, “Paul Ryan”.

9:07 PM  Look at Ryan. Remember when the scariest Republican out there was Dan Quayle? Where the hell is he? Somebody bring him back! Now!

9:13 PM  Jesus, what happened to all the Wallgreen’s candy? There’s no way you could have eaten it already. Is there?

9:14 PM  Wonder why Paul Ryan is saying: “If I can not inspire love, I can cause fear!”

9:17 PM  Nod your head approvingly as Ryan advocates for less government control. Now scratch that same head as he calls for complete control over women’s bodies and reproductive rights.

9:29 PM  Understand that even though you may disagree with Paul Ryan, he is a rising star in the GOP, who is a disciplined, far reaching political theorist. Wait, you didn’t actually think that. It was Fox News thinking it for you.

9:31 PM  Pass out on the couch in a sugar-induced stupor. Dream of a world with candy…lots and lots of candy…

Thursday, August 30

7:24 PM  Skip dinner. Get right to the good stuff. Eat the brownies over the pan; you won’t spill crumbs on the carpet.

7:30 PM  Tune out the now familiar opening ceremonies and contemplate the looming horror of history’s iron boot.

8:04 PM  Hey, with a little more eyeliner, Marco Rubio could look exactly like Billy Zane in Titanic!

Can you tell the difference?

8:14 PM  Standing ovation for Mitt Romney.

9:14 PM  Romney’s speech begins.

9:26 PM  Be pleasantly surprised that the Republican nominee has devoted twelve minutes of his speech to address the crisis of American poverty.

Yeah. In your dreams, America.

9:27 PM  In a dramatic, hallucinatory flashback, realize that it was Romney who brutally murdered your parents and made you live with the Dursleys.

9:28 PM  Slap hand to forehead as Romney proposes that America become more reliant on fossil fuel. Wow! How come no one ever thought of that before?

9:29 PM  Pace the floor. Contain your anxiety. Are Romney and Obama really at a dead heat? Really? Really?

9:31 PM  Realize that Mitt Romney has spoken for thirteen minutes without uttering a single verb.

9:35 PM  Tell yourself that Romney would be a warmonger. Conveniently forget that President Obama ratcheted up the war in Afghanistan, legalized indefinite detention, and broke his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. Just shut up about Obama, ok? He inherited a big mess! What! Do you want Romney to be president? Well? Do you?

9:37 PM  Gasp in horror as you realize that Miit Romney’s hair product is Soylent Green

9:42 PM  Raid the freezer in the basement and stuff your face with Otis Spunkmeyer frozen chocolate chip cookie dough. Anything to mitigate this growing sense of panic! Maybe the brainfreeze will make it better.

9:45 PM  Dear God, Romney’s still talking! What the hell left is there to say?

9:46 PM  Call your mother and scream at her. That’s right! Scream! She’s the one who ruined your life! She’s the one who has to pay!

9:47 PM  Call 911! Romney could be our next president! Someone has to do something! Now! Also, mom was kind of surprised by your call; she might have fallen and injured herself.

9:48 PM  What do you mean the police can’t stop him from being elected? What about the fire department? How about the National Guard?

9:49 PM  Realize that nuking the Resurrection Hub would have been highly, highly advisable.

9:52 PM  Turn your head away as Romney removes the rubber mask. Don’t look at it! Shut your eyes, Marion! Don’t look at it, no matter what happens!

9:53 PM  Gape in horror as the Romney and Ryan families storm the stage. This is the Zombie Apocalypse. Lock all the doors and board up the windows. Time to get ready for the long haul.

10:00 PM  Turn of the television, and realize that this is what’s left of the party of Lincoln.

And cry, beloved country.




The Autumning Empire is is an educational website. Like all educational institutions, we don’t plan ahead for bad weather, scramble at the last minute, and ask that you rearrange your life accordingly. If it’s good enough for my son’s grade school, it’s good enough for me. For your convenience, we will provide updates by 6AM, PDT every morning until the convention has reached its dark and apocalyptic conclusion. We realize that you have many options when shopping for conventional support; thank you for choosing The Autumning Empire.

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