In Other News… Bevin undoes Beshear, Hunter S. Thompson, bars open on Christmas, Lawrence spreads ‘Joy’

Gov. Matt Bevin

Gov. Matt Bevin

In Reverse: The New York Times, Newsweek, Politico, Yahoo!, The Huffington Post and The Advocate report Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin made good on some of his campaign promises this week, mostly to undo some of what his predecessor Steve Beshear had done.

On Tuesday, he issued an executive order directing the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives to create new marriage licenses excluding the names of county clerks in an effort to protect those who have objections based on their beliefs; reversed the minimum wage hike for state workers to $10.10 an hour; and halted the restoration of voting rights for nonviolent felons who had completed their sentences. Similar to the minimum wage issue, if you already received the benefit, you won’t lose it.

“Today, I took action to uphold several commitments I made during my campaign so that we can implement real solutions that will help the people of Kentucky.”

I’m unclear on exactly who any of that is helping. Maybe Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and the other guy from Casey County.

No one talks about Casey County Clerk Casey Davis anymore. No personal invitations to inaugural events. No private meetings with the pope. Of course, he also didn’t go to jail for obstruction, so it’s probably a wash.

On the marriage license issue, here’s Bevin’s statement:

To ensure that the sincerely held religious beliefs of all Kentuckians are honored, Executive Order 2015-048 directs the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives to issue a revised marriage license form to the offices of all Kentucky County Clerks. The name of the County Clerk is no longer required to appear on the form.

And here’s the ACLU’s response:

“Governor Bevin’s executive action has added to the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over marriage licensing in Kentucky. The requirement that the county clerk’s name appear on marriage licenses is prescribed by Kentucky law and is not subject to unilateral change by the governor — conceded by the previous administration in court filings. Today, however, a new administration claims to have that authority.

The ACLU continues to work with loving couples who hold marriage licenses of questionable validity and for those who are waiting to legalize their unions until this is resolved. And the ACLU will continue to challenge government officials who disregard the law in favor of promoting their own personal beliefs to the detriment of the rights of others. Government officials, from the highest to the lowest, have a duty and responsibility to impartially administer the laws that exist, not the laws as they wish them to be.”

So I guess we’ll find out if he can do the thing he just did, which by the sounds of the ACLU attorneys, he kind of can’t. We’ll all find out together.


O Christmas Tree: The holidays hold many traditions. Family gatherings. Presents under the tree. Setting said tree on fire while horrified onlookers beg you to stop.

Or maybe that’s just the Hunter S. Thompson household. That’s the story (and video) making the rounds this holiday season, at least, picked up and popularized by Esquire, The Daily Beast, UPROXX and Open Culutre; We ran it here at Insider, too.

Here’s the clip:

Notice the fire extinguisher sitting in the foreground for most of the clip until its inevitable if not largely ineffective role comes into play near the end. That’s just good drama is all that is. Show me a gun in the first act, you’d better use it in the third, and the extinguisher stays visible like a futile guardian of impending, fiery crazy.

TIME magazine’s Sam Allis was there at Owl Farm in 1990, trying to interview Thompson. Here’s how we describes the scene:

Before he put the tree in the fireplace, there was a small fire burning already. The mass of the tree almost snuffed out the first fire when he jammed it in, so Hunter threatened to splash lighter fluid on it. In the original video, you can barely hear Deborah and [Allis] screaming, “NO, HUNTER DON’T DO IT” above the Cowboy Junkies playing “Misguided Angel” at maximum volume over the array of living-room speakers.

Hunter gets a bit of lighter fluid onto the tree, and then throws a match after it, creating the conflagration you see in the film and then in the aftermath below. The flames were coming out of the top of the chimney in a 4-foot cone of fire, like the exhaust of a jet engine. Hunter, Deborah and Allen retreated to the front porch where Hunter taped the inferno with pride. No one remembered to carry out the manuscript of the latest book in progress, which was laying on the living-room table.

It’s hard to say if the good doctor’s son, Juan F. Thompson, carries on the family tradition of the burning of the tree, but he might say in his memoir, “Stories I Tell Myself: Growing Up With Hunter S. Thompson.” The Washington Post reviewed the book this week.

In it, the younger Thompson describes the difficulty growing up with such an unpredictable presence, describing his dad as “always brilliant, often monstrous, sometimes tender and funny,” which doesn’t seem too dissimilar from the persona that defined his work.

The Post likes the book just fine, if you’re curious. They say it doesn’t really achieve the heights of a great memoir nor does it provide enough surprises to be a good tell-all. So a solid “B-” maybe.

Tis the Season: Depending on your particular familial situation or brand of holiday cheer, this could be the most important thing I share with you this week. Maybe ever.

Thrillist presents “11 Louisville Bars That Are Open On Christmas Day.”

Here you go:

Nach Bar, Germantown
Magnolia Bar, Old Louisville
Outlook Inn, Highlands
The Back Door, Highlands
Castaway Lounge, Okolona
Freddie’s Bar & Lounge, Downtown
Haymarket Whiskey Bar, Downtown
Sergio’s World Beers, Crescent Hill
Big Bar, Highlands
Gerstle’s Place, Crescent Hill
Zanzabar, Schnitzelburg

This list, I don’t know, just sort of feels right for the day somehow. Like if you’re going to be in a bar on Christmas Day, it ought be someplace that really drives home that you are, in fact, in a bar on Christmas Day.

Darth Baby

With Child, She Is: OK. So here’s my excuse to talk about the Star Wars this week. The Huffington Post says Taylor Starr of Louisville discovered she was pregnant while visiting Walt Disney World and wanted to find a special way to tell her husband, Bryan.

Using a little Jedi mind trick on Bryan, she snuck off to The Jedi Training Academy at Hollywood Studios to enlist the help of the Dark Lord himself.

He doesn’t really help so much as give witness to the giving of the dark onesie. But according to the video description, he did it on his lunch break, as did his Stromtroopers.

Congratulations, Taylor and Bryan and all the best to you and your new family.

More on Star Wars in a second.

Jennifer Lawrence Joy
Joyous Occasion: We’ve talked enough about this by now that you likely remember your girl Jennifer Lawrence’s new movie comes out today; “Joy” is playing at a theatre near you. Lawrence stars as Joy Mangano, inventor of the Miracle Mop and her rise to QVC fame and fortune.

And the reviews are in. USA Today says “Jennifer Lawrence is a real ‘Joy,’” though concedes the rest of the film doesn’t work as well.

And then Slate says “David O. Russell Fails to Deliver Joy.”

See how that works? Name your movie something like “Joy” or “Awesome” or “Movie” and the writer types are going to take it and pun with it.

The New York Post says, “‘Joy’ makes it official — Jennifer Lawrence is a real movie star,” I suppose in a way being one of the most bankable and decorated stars of the last five years did not.

Mashable says, “Jennifer Lawrence deserves every shred of hard­-won success in ‘Joy’”; Maxim says, “Jennifer Lawrence Deserves Better Than ‘Joy.’”

Lot of antithesis happening when you put the headlines together thataway.

Also, what about the job of movie reviewer at Maxim? What must that be like?

Hollywood Reporter takes on the making of the film and says it had so many problems, it almost didn’t happen at all.

And something we didn’t talk about last week — the trailer for the next big X-Men smash-em-up came out, prominently featuring Jennifer Lawrence.

People are upset that she’s not blue more often in that, because, they say, it betrays the character. But also, FOX would like to maybe not keep the biggest star in the movie unrecognizable.

You know who is unrecognizable is that Oscar Isaac as the giant, creep villain, also blue. He’s the main hotshot X-Wing pilot in the new Star Wars movie.

Oh! Did that come into the conversation again? That Star Wars movie? Well, how did that happen?

Did you see it? Did your $12.50 weigh into the record-setting $517 million, give or take, it made in its opening weekend?

We saw it on Sunday. Megan said we could wait until Christmas and see it with her family, and I agreed — I would be more than happy to see it a second or third time on Christmas. Provided I’m not in one of those 11 bars above.

But I wanted to see it before people started jabbering about this thing or the other and tell me that it’s great until the soccer ball robot saves the galaxy from the new Darth Vader-ish villain by rolling over his toe while crossing a catwalk over a giant pit.

So I won’t spoil the movie either. Except to say that it’s a lot of fun and hits a lot of the right notes. And it feels like a real Star Wars movie and not just because the old cast is back. A friend took his kids and said it was like recapturing the magic he had as a kid and watching that magic get passed down in an updated package.

Also, he has four kids, God bless him. Taking four kids to the movies now is like a mortgage payment, and that’s before they’ve eaten anything. The theater we attended had one of those soda machines that lets you pick any of like 1,000 options, which is like a siren’s call to me. Rang up $145. Or $6.25. But still.

Here are some Star Wars stocking stuffers I can leave you on the way out this week.

Here’s the cast with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots performing an uncanny acapella version of the classic themes from the films:

Everyone knows Star Wars merchandise is the mother of all collectibles. And every time something is super successful, you always have knockoffs. The Daily Mail gives us a few fraudulent toys. Meet the evil Dennis and Upright Slug from “Episode 1.”

Dennis and Slug

Does Dennis look a lot like a young Nic Cage to you?

And the thing winning the Internet this week: Emo Kylo Ren.

There may be spoilers on that account, so be warned should you travel there. But it’s also filled with things like:

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 11.47.21 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 11.47.31 AM

Thanks to Salon’s — and Louisville’s! — Erin Keane for reporting that.

Finally, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, I hope you’re having a beautiful day today. Be well, and when we next talk, we’ll be on the verge of a brand spanking new year.

See you next week.