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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Comey Rule’ on Showtime, a Miniseries That Attempts to Undistort James Comey’s Image

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The Comey Rule is a Showtime two-parter starring Jeff Daniels as former FBI director James Comey, insert Dumb and Dumber joke here. Potential viewers wondering if the miniseries is sympathetic to the man — who was a public whipping boy for the part he played in swaying the 2016 presidential election — should know that writer-director Billy Ray (Shattered Glass) adapted Comey’s memoir A Higher Loyalty, and invited the man himself to the film set. So there’s that. But whether this story, the first high-profile dramatization of the Trump-era shitshow, is relevant four years and countless Trump-related social and political tragedies after its events, remains to be seen.

Opening Shot: In an archival TV clip, Stephen Colbert compares Comey to Severus Snape, because we don’t know if he’s a good guy or a bad guy.

The Gist: It’s 2013, and James Comey (Jeff Daniels) picks out a smart suit and tie and heads out of the house. “Say hi to Barack for me,” his daughter says. He walks into President Obama’s (Kingsley Ben-Adir) office and immediately confesses that he supported John McCain and Mitt Romney. That doesn’t ruffle Obama’s feathers at all — if he hires Comey as FBI director, it’ll lead to “thoughtful disagreement,” Obama asserts. When the president asks why Comey doesn’t want a job in the more lucrative private sector, he responds plaintively, “Money is nice. Stopping bad guys is better.” Wait, is this guy Superman? Or Captain America?

Either way, it sure feels like this is the beginning of the end of civility, the last stand of norms and procedures. Comey replaces a gruff Robert Mueller (Peter Coyote) at the FBI, where he establishes himself as a loveable guy who chats earnestly and meaningfully with employees in the cafeteria, and a cool, collected boy scout-type who gives inspiring, anti-cynical speeches at every field office in the country. His primary directive as director is to remain — please don’t laugh, please please don’t — non-partisan. Now it’s 2015, and he cocks his bat to meet the first narrative curveball as the show turns into But Her Emails: The Movie. Comey and his top deputy Andrew McCabe (Michael Kelly) lead a team of agents investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her stint as Secretary of State. Shit job, but someone’s gotta do it, and Comey’s there, calmly handling it, no fluster on his face whatsoever, then heading home at 6, 6:30 so his employees don’t work too late because they never leave before the boss does, to his wife Patrice (Jennifer Ehle) and daughters, who all think the Hillary scandal is overblown and part of a grossly sexist political hitjob.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump (Brendan Gleeson, although we don’t see his face until part two) lands the Republican presidential nomination, and his legion of greasy flea-eating sewersquib cronies begin making appearances: Michael Flynn (William Sadler) pals around Moscow with Putin, George Papadapoulos (Anthony Bowden) chums up with Russian shadies, etc. There are more of the soon-to-be-president’s poo-flecked pals, but there are so many, I lost track of them in real life and while watching this show. Kushner, Manafort, Trump Jr. — they’re just a homogenous blob of moral destitution, and I direct my disgust in the general direction of all the whiteness.

Anyway, and you know this, but the Hillary email thing goes away and comes back, forcing Comey into a series of decisions that involve him one shit sandwich or another shit sandwich. So he chooses the least shitty of the shit sandwiches, announcing the re-opening of the Hillary email investigation days before the election, as his non-partisan duty tells him to do. He then gamely absorbs the hatred from decent people and admiration from the crumbs who think Trump is right on with his criminally disingenuous “crooked Hillary” crapola. It gets worse, as the show becomes Pee Tape: The Movie, and Comey has to ask what a “golden shower” is as Trump’s Russian connections come into focus. He steadfastly and bland-facedly remains apolitical and committed to the law, in a world that’s about to render such ideals tragically obsolete. “I’m not a politician,” he says, and sad violins play on the soundtrack. He pretty much got Trump elected. So much for stopping the bad guys, Comey. End part one.

Jeff Daniels in The Comey Rule
Photo: Showtime

Our Take: Is it possible to set aside COVID-19 and racism and the literal fires of climate change and Russia interfering with the 2020 election in order to “enjoy” The Comey Rule? It’s too soon to look back and laugh, so Ray doesn’t stage this as an Adam McKay-style cynical horror-farce. And it’s too soon to cry, because Trump may be voted out in a few weeks, and Ray and Daniels pushed hard for Showtime to air the series before this year’s election, so people can see how they rendered Trump as a villain who leads the country like a mob boss. Which is pretty much objectively true.

So Ray went the earnest route, and took the title of Comey’s memoir at face value. Daniels’ Comey is a naive idealist, a plaintive family man and an open-door guy who’s a great boss. And maybe, beneath Daniels’ bland expressions, he’s lost and clueless, not at all cut out for Trump’s mad-dog chaos-world. Or maybe he’s a true patriot beneath Daniels’ blankness. The actor leaves it up to interpretation, so both may be true. He’s a man of manners. He loves his wife and daughters unendingly. He’s friendly. He puts himself on equal ground with his employees. He’s a man of the people. He’s truly Trump’s foil.

Part one of The Comey Rule takes place pre-election, and part two, 30 minutes longer and clocking in at two hours, dramatizes the turmoil leading up to Comey’s firing, including the infamous one-on-one dinner during which Trump asked him to pledge his loyalty. It’s a cluttered three-and-a-half hours, with drop-ins on then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (Scoot McNairy) narrating Comey’s story to an aide (Dalmar Abuzeid), an affair between two FBI agents on Comey’s team and a myriad of other supporting faces (including Holly Hunter as former Attorney General Sally Yates). The revelation of Trump is kind of distracting, definitely novel and absolutely grotesque and terrifying in Gleeson’s hands; it’s a thankless role, because how do you un-caricature a caricature? It’s the first straight-and-serious rendering of him on camera, and I wonder if it might’ve been more effective if he was depicted more along the lines of Jaws, with limited direct screen time, and the soundtrack thrumming ominously as his absurd coif breaks the surface of the water.

Ray’s goal, I believe, is to undistort Comey’s image. The filmmaker doesn’t shy away from schmaltz or on-the-nose dialogue, and the film’s only real ambiguity is Daniels’ performance. I’m not sure it’s entirely convincing. Ray definitely steers it away from being F— You: The Movie, although it’ll still be that for the weary and hardened who seek a scapegoat for the events of the past four years. It’s kind of fascinating in its timing, the appeal of its cast and its dramatic reiteration of news headlines. It’s also not much fun, but you probably knew that already.

Sex and Skin: None.

Parting Shot: A shot of Trump and his hair from behind as he parts a curtain and walks on stage.

Sleeper Star: Trump lickspittle Reince Priebus is played by T.R. Knight as a comically weaselly naif. Maybe that’s funny, maybe it’s not funny. Who knows.

Most Pilot-y Line: From part one: A doctor tells Comey, fresh from some medical tests, that Hillary Clinton deserves to be investigated, and Patrice quips, “That ‘crooked Hillary’ stuff is sticking to her. Now it’s part of your colonoscopy results.”

A rich one from Trump in part two: “My behavior has been unimpeachable.”

Our Call: STREAM IT. I’m on the fence with The Comey Rule — it’s not revelatory, and mostly tells us what we already know. When it’s entertaining, it seems almost unintentional. But ultimately, it’s a curiosity watch that’ll compel you to stick with it through its entirety.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work at johnserbaatlarge.com or follow him on Twitter: @johnserba.

Stream The Comey Rule on Showtime

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The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses

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When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.

What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?

As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.

  1. It saves your money

Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.

  1. It allows you to try several games

Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.

  1. It will make future gambling more profitable

Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.

Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.

We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.

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3 Key Mistakes to Avoid When Playing Blackjack

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Blackjack is the most popular casino game in the world. The card game, sometimes referred to as ‘21’, accounts for an average of 31 percent of all casino table traffic – this is consistent both online and in physical casinos. For reference, the second most popular is roulette (24%) followed by poker (21%).

It’s easy to understand blackjack’s popularity. It’s a simple game to grasp and offers players a mix of luck and skill: luck in the cards that are drawn, skill over how those cards are dealt and a player’s eventual hand. Compare that to roulette, which is based entirely on luck, and poker, which has a huge skill element to it.

However, while the beauty of blackjack is in its simplicity, there are also a number of complexities to the game, and as is the case with almost anything in life, you learn more from mistakes than successes.

With that in mind, here are three key mistakes to avoid when playing blackjack that can significantly increase your chances of winning, while limiting your losses.

Choosing the Wrong Table

Before a single card is drawn, being at the wrong table – whether live or online – is the first mistake to avoid.

First of all, each blackjack table will have different minimum bet requirements so avoid choosing one that is out of your budget. For instance, if you choose a table with a $100 minimum bet and your budget is $200, you might only play two hands.

Secondly, check the payout odds on the blackjack table. These are typically 6:5 and 3:2 and will affect how much gets paid out when you hit blackjack and land other bonus wins. Where possible, choose a 3:2 table as it pays out higher.

Thirdly, choose between a virtual and a live table. This is not so much a mistake to avoid but more comes down to personal preference. Virtual tables allow players to play against an automated computer, so you can play at your own pace, while live tables are usually quicker paced as human dealers are keen to move the game along.

When to Hit and Stand

As a general rule, most blackjack players know to hit when the hand is 12 and to stand when the hand equals 17. However, there are plenty of variables to consider that could influence when to hit and stand. Getting these right can really boost your chances of beating the house, while getting it wrong could prove costly.

One key move to implement is to always hit on a soft 17 – when the two cards are an ace and a six. This means that if you draw a 10 or picture card (jack, queen, king), then you convert your hand into a hard 17. It also gives greater flexibility if you draw a smaller value card as the ace can be used as a one.

While many players adopt a strict ‘never bust’ policy, meaning they always stand when their hand equals 12 or more, this can be ill-advised as it depends almost entirely on the dealer going bust.

Instead, analyze the value of your two cards compared to the dealer’s first card and weigh up the risk factor in drawing another card before the dealer draws their second. As a strict rule, if your first two cards equal 17 or more, then stand – anything else can be hit depending on the situation.

When to Split and Double

If you are playing in a blackjack tournament, either online or live, learning when to split and double can make all the difference to your chances of success. The same also applies to individual games of blackjack.

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Splitting is when you split two cards when dealt the same value cards, so a pair of eights for example. Doubling is when you are given the option to double your bet after being dealt your initial two cards.

While it can be tempting to split and double at every opportunity to increase your winning, doing at the right time is the key.

It is not recommended to split when:

  • You are dealt two picture cards or two 10s
  • You are dealt two 9s
  • You are dealt two 5s
  • The dealer holds a 10 or picture card

It is best to split when:

  • You are dealt two 8s
  • You are dealt two aces
  • The dealer holds a 5 or 6 (as this is the highest probability of a bust)

Similar to knowing when to hit and stand, take a brief moment to assess the dealer’s drawn card compared to your own two cards and determine whether the probabilities are in your favour.

Likewise, knowing when to double down – when not to double down – can change the complexities of your blackjack game. A simple rule to know when to double is if your two cards equal 10 and the dealer’s card is between 2-9. Additionally, if you hold an ace, you can consider a double as these have the flexibility of playing as 11 or 1. But if the dealer’s card is an ace, ignore the double.

Conclusion

Blackjack may be a simple game but there are some important strategies to keep in mind next time you head to the virtual or live table. The game itself is still rooted in luck so there are never any guarantees to long-term success. However, by keeping these three important rules in mind, you can at least avoid making avoidable mistakes.

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Top 5 Entertainment Activities for College Students

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The life of college students is sometimes too complicated. They have to face tons of homework assignments that steal their time. Many students get stressed because of continuous learning. They seem to forget how to relax. If you’re a busy student, you should remember that you’re still young and shouldn’t waste this precious life stage. You can undertake some entertainment activities sometimes. Take your friends and organize funny games to unwind and let off some pressure. We asked writing experts from a professional essay service Smart Writing Service to share their ideas and provide you with top-5 entertainment activities for college students you may like. 

Who Are You?

Students, especially freshmen, don’t know each other perfectly. They may be taken by surprise when some of them tell something quite unexpected about their hobbies, preferences, and so on. If you want to know other students better, suggest playing a game called “Who Are You”.

Form at least three teams. If there are many folks, you can form more teams. Choose a speaker of the game. It may be even one of your teachers or professors. All groups will be given topics to discuss. The speaker is supposed to announce a new topic every few minutes. You may discuss and answer the following topics:

  • What is the greatest challenge you are facing?
  • What do you like or hate most about yourself?
  • What is your greatest value in life?
  • What emotions do you express easily?
  • What is the most valuable thing in friendship?
  • Who you want to become in five years?
  • What is your major objective for next year?
  • Is there something you want to improve about yourself?
  • What motto do you try to live by?
  • Where would you like to travel?
  • If you were to study abroad, what country would that be?

Students should write their answers on index cards. The speaker should gather the answers of every student and shuffle them. Afterward, he/she redistributes them randomly to students. Each person should guess whose card he/she is holding. Play this game after you spend some time together and already know at least something about one another.

Sentence Completion

Another fun activity is “Sentence Completion.” Most people like it because it’s commonly accompanied by laughter and good mood. It’s necessary to prepare a list of sentences. Those sentences should have a beginning, but with no end. Every student should finish the sentence he/she gets. Oftentimes, students give funny answers. At times, they are quite serious, and we can learn something important about other students. Here are several sentence beginnings you may choose:

  • Before I came to college, I was interested in…
  • When I was a child, I wanted to become…
  • The best moment I remember most about high school is…
  • My favorite pet is…
  • The things I value most are…
  • Five years from now I hope to be…
  • My greatest personality trait is…
  • My favorite subject at high school was…
  • If I could change one thing in the world, it would be…
  • My greatest fear is…
  • After I graduate from college, I…

The Reception Line

You may likewise try another entertaining activity for college students. It is called “The Reception Line.” Gather all the mates eager to participate. Divide yourselves into two groups. If you form more, it won’t fit the rules of the game. Each person talks to the person in front of him/her until he/she must move. The person at the end of one line goes to the end of the other line. This method makes it possible to meet new people. Thus, students will learn more about each other. You can make shifts every next topic or set a limit. For example, the pair should discuss 5 topics and afterward move to change partners. Here are some interesting topics to discuss:

  • Where would you like to travel?
  • What motto do you try to follow?
  • What is your favorite movie?
  • What music do you like?
  • What is your favorite hobby?
  • Why did you choose this college?
  • What do you like about college life the most?

Take Sides

You can likewise suggest a game, which offers only two options. It’s called “Take Sides.” Create a list of questions with two answers. Students should obligatorily choose one of them. Afterward, you may discuss the answers. Let everyone explain his/her choices. Thus, you’ll learn more about each other, and it will bring you closer. Here are several suggestions:

  • Watermelon or banana?
  • Sweat or bitter?
  • Short trips every weekend or a journey around the world for three months?
  • Partying or hiking?
  • Listen or speak?
  • Rock or pop?
  • Morning or night?
  • Superman or Batman?
  • Robocop or Terminator?
  • Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings?
  • Los Angeles or New York?
  • Liberal or conservative?
  • American football or ice hockey?

My Most Embarrassing Moment

You can likewise tell each other about the most embarrassing moments. It’s important to be honest and don’t imagine a story that never took place. All the participants should agree on this term. Commonly, it is a very entertaining activity. Students tell funny stories they’ve been through. It commonly makes them closer.

These activities for college students are very simple to follow. They are really entertaining. Mind that we have mentioned only 5 of them. However, you can try a hundred activities more. Use our examples to have fun and relax. They may inspire you and your friends to look for other entertaining activities.

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