Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Sit down, John...and stop singing

The most disturbing news of this holiday weekend concerned neither sharks nor terrorists.  I learned that someone has released a director's cut of 1776.  The theatrical release was over seven hours long, or maybe it only seems that long because it contains not a single memorable song (and no one who can actually sing except John Cullum).  What it has is a strong screenplay by Peter Stone, adapted from his original book.  Woody Allen used to joke about Noel Coward acquiring the rights to My Fair Lady in order to remove the songs and turn it back into Pygmalion.  I would support anyone who wanted to do that here.  Or perhaps Tony Kushner, who  made the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment sexy in Lincoln, could write a new film on this story.  For such a momentous event in the history of the world, the American Revolution has not been well served by the movies.  The Devil's Disciple comes to mind (from a play by Shaw), and...I'm out.   

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Abstinent friends

One, as Lady Bracknell observed, may be an accident; two looks very like carelessness.  So could somebody tell Bristols Palin (and show her with an anatomically correct doll, if necessary) where babies come from?  Otherwise, this will keep happening. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How long?

I apologize for being late through the gate, and can only blame a combination of (continuing) computer problems and overwhelming mental exhaustion.  I am heartily sick of this country, my country, the  only one I know.  What is there left to say?

I note that among other things, the sovereign state of South Carolina appears to have done away with the presumption of innocence.  Even allowing the fact that "southern" and "justice" have only a nodding acquaintance, a line seems to have been crossed.  Normally victims of crime are invited to make statements after conviction and before sentencing.  In South Carolina, though, they attend the bond hearing even before the accused has been indicted.  I was, frankly, stunned by these grieving and gracious people expressing their forgiveness -- who wasn't? -- but the guilt of Dylann Roof was thereby taken for granted.  Yes, he confessed, but confessions are thrown out every day, especially when made without counsel.  Yes, the hateful website and its incoherent manifesto, but what about the law?  I have an idea the state would love to skip the trial and strap him into the electric chair by Labor Day.   Not that I give a swat about this dull-eyed sack of Dixie with his Ish Kabibble haircut (Google him), but what of the next defendant who may actually be innocent?

This massacre (or, as Thick Rick Perry would have it, this "accident"), we have apparently decided to skip the pointless gun debate and argue about historical battle flags instead.  This is probably the correct choice; if twelve murdered children didn't move the issue forward, nine murdered adults won't, either.  So we argue about the purely symbolic (in every sense) sedition flag proudly reminding South Carolinians of their heritage all the way back to 1961, when it was dug out and deployed in defiance of the civil rights movement.  As if burning every Confederate flag would stop the next Dylann Roof, no doubt planning the next outrage in some abandoned barn or his momma's garage. 

I hate to spend time exploring the minds of madmen, but this one seems particularly, oh let's say counterintuitive.  Roof says he was "radicalized" by the Trayvon Martin case.  Excuse me?  A self-appointed white vigilante stalked and killed an unarmed black teenager after the police told him to go home, and was acquitted by a jury of six ninnies.  If anything, the case should have radicalized a young black man to shoot up a white church, which has never happened ever.  Roof wanted to start a "race war."  In 2019, we will mark the four hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the first slave ship -- in, as it happens, Charleston.  The race war began that day and it has never ended.  So let's talk about flags and language -- "hate crime" or "terrorism" or "attack on religion" (that's the Fox Noise interpretation).  Yeah, let's.  But don't politicize it, because that might make people uncomfortable.

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Given the short-term memory problems of our newsertainment media, this awful story was a gift to some people.  It shifted attention from the curious case of Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP official who has chosen to identify herself as African-American to the bemusement of her whiter-than-white parents.  Of course, people have been "passing" as white for centuries, to get a job or an education or just a tolerable life.  We should be happy to claim so much progress that white people are passing for black, and not in a creepy Al Jolson way. 

It also turned a page quickly on the low comedy of the Donald Trump "campaign," and the revelation that Trump had to hire actors to look like a crowd at his announcement event.  That was just vain and sad, like Trump himself.  What was dumb was imagining nobody would find out.  If I know actors, that went right on their resumes.  If you want to buy people's silence along with their self-respect, fifty dollars won't do it.  The tell, of course, was that their hand-lettered signs were identical and correctly spelled, something never seen at Rightzi events.  Either they're calling Obama a "socilist" or they're so goofy you suspect ironic intent.  I recall one, at an anti-immigrant rally, that said "RESPECT ARE COUNTRY SPEAK ENGLISH."  Could The Onion do better?

As of this writing, Matt and Sweat, late of the Clinton Correctional facility, are still at large and leading the police a merry chase all over New York.  First they were seen near Vermont, then at the Pennsylvania line, and now back in the vicinity of the prison, where multiple staff members seem to have succumbed to their charm and aided in the escape.  Several cable channels have reportedly sought to give them a spot in the fall "reality" lineup.  See, I made that up and you didn't blink.

Meanwhile the President stopped by Marc Marron's garage, literally, and gave a podcast interview in which he declined to euphemize That Word.  The sky did not fall.  I can't wait to read Obama's next memoir, in which he releases all the rage and disgust he has had to swallow for eight years.  But what do you really think of Louie Gohmert?  As Flann O'Brien would say, it is not sufficient to reserve your copy.  Reserve your copy in advance.

  

Thursday, June 04, 2015

FIFA, ho-hum

As the great Perelman would say, the FIFA indictment divided the nation into two camps, in the larger and drowsier of which I find myself.  Not since December 6, 1941, have more Americans given less of a toss about the conflict roiling the rest of the planet.  Will the 2022 World Cup really be held in Qatar?  Will it bollocks.   (OK, we've moved on to Myles na gCopaleen.)  I am more riveted by Josh Hamilton's urine tests.

Moving on...I'd like to thank the absurd Duggar family for contributing a verb to our language at precisely the moment it was needed.  "To duggar" will henceforth refer to being sexually abused by a holier-than-thou Rightzi type.  Use it in a sentence?  Glad to:  With more than a million dollars in hush money/blackmail apparently paid out, we're dying to know how many kids were duggared by Denny Hastert.  Urban Dictionary, it's all yours.   

We are also wondering how many more headline-grabbing indictments we can expect from the Justice Department.  Although the investigations have doubtless been going on for months, it looks like Loretta Lynch hit the ground running.  (Who says that?  Paratroopers?)  Is she running for president?  Isn't everyone?  I mean, George Pataki?  If he wins, can we re-name the country Patakistan?  The only announced candidate with a concrete platform appears to be Lincoln Chaffee, who has put his clout behind the metric system.  Yes, but how does he stand on cursive writing?

And now a serious note...the Buttermilk Sky organization has regretfully but indefinitely postponed its Free Speech Freedom Event 2015:  Make Fun of Anne Frank.  Events in Garland, Texas (and Paris, France) have reminded us that free speech is never free, that it had better occur for some reason better than pissing people off, especially people with short fuses and access to automatic weapons.  Like all rights, it demands to be used judiciously and thoughtfully, and not just to mock dead people who can't defend themselves and to enrage their admirers.  Much as we dislike her mawkish diary ("People are basically good," are you shitting me?) which we were forced to read in junior high school, we have decided to give the little Dutch girl a break.  It will give our many readers a chance to polish their incisive parodies.  If Salman  Rushdie thinks that makes us pussies, well, that's his free speech.  He might think about the police who protected him from the ayatollah (at the insistence of Margaret Thatcher, I seem to recall), not to mention the folks in the kosher grocery store in Paris, who probably never saw an issue of Charlie Hebdo but were murdered anyway.  Free speech comes with collateral damage, and no one has a right to expect that.
 

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Words, words...words?

     Thug:  a cutthroat, ruffian, rough (OED)

Another week, another city, another black man dead in the custody of police.  What was different about this one?  The city has high unemployment, bad schools, racially segregated neighborhoods, lots of crime and poverty and not much love between police and policed.  Could have been Detroit, Chicago, Memphis, Philadelphia, Newark or New Orleans, but this time it's Baltimore.  Could have involved choking, beating or shooting, but this time the man died of a fractured spine after being handcuffed, shackled, placed otherwise unsecured in the back of a van and driven around for, say, half an hour.  And this time the city kind of lost it, with a few hundred people out of thousands looting and burning and throwing rocks at heavily armed cops and National Guards. 

It made for great television.  Everyone had an opinion and was willing to share, and some of them had actually spent time in the city.  Somehow the late Freddie Gray got lost in the side-stories about baseball and series TV.  What if they gave an Orioles game and nobody came?  It's never happened in the history of baseball!  How does this resemble Homicide:  Life On the Street?  Or The Wire?   What would Edgar Allan Poe say?  Well, what about Barack Obama?  He knows about that black stuff, doesn't he?  He called the looters what?

It seems the word "thug" has gotten away from us and is now a synonym for...for that other word we have to hint at, like parents who don't want a toddler to know he's going to the d-o-c-t-o-r.  It is now racially charged, possibly because Fox "News" and other racist megaphones have applied it to every black male, especially the freshly killed ones, since at least Trayvon Martin.  This is how language changes, through general usage and not through dictionaries.  To be blunt, "thug" is the new "nigger."  It's already been applied to the President himself, though the only time I saw him with a gun was that unfortunate skeet-shooting photo-op.  I'd suggest he stick with golf, but in the hands of a "thug" even a driver is a weapon, right? 

Nobody has used the t-word to describe James Holmes, currently on trial for shooting up a Colorado movie theatre.  Nobody has attached it to Dzokar Tsarnaev, even as the people of Boston debate what kind of box to put him in.  Certainly nobody would attach it to Cliven Bundy and his heavily-armed freedom fighters, who drew their weapons on federal officers and weren't even arrested by the tyrant Obama.  Well, I would, but I don't care about incurring the wrath of SpongeSean Squareface, who is free to call me a thug if he feels like it.  He has the instincts of a thug, too.   

Are words important?  I think we all agree that "violence" is bad, but the hottest story of the day involves a woman being applauded for using violence on her young son.  It looks like "violence" will be the next word to be re-defined.  Baltimore=bad violence.  Fallujah=good violence.  Second Amendment=good violence.  Video games=bad violence.  So much to talk about, with the words we have left.    

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Thursday, April 09, 2015

Putting your money where your hate is

The alleged murder of Walter Scott, allegedly at the hands of Michael Slager, former police officer of North Charleston, South Carolina, could not have come at a worse time.  Memories Pizza, whose owner vowed to withhold pepperoni from Those People, was rewarded with nearly a million dollars in contributions from other homophobes.  A huge "defense fund" was raised for Darrin Wilson, killer of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, which turned out to be unnecessary, though apparently non-refundable.  Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are raking in millions from those who want to rescue America from the results of the last two presidential elections, when all those people voted wrong.  The needlepoint kits the godly ordered from Hobby Lobby are gathering dust, and the income tax is due in a week.  Let's face it, the folks on Rance Primbus's mailing list are tapped out.  They'll have to dig through the sofa cushions to come up with the price of Bellow Reilly's Killing Rommel and still be able to send Rev. Pat their love offerings.

Culture war is hell.

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Friday, March 06, 2015

Don't curb your enthusiasm

A remarkable week in our nation's capital, where Acting President John Boehner hosted Prime Minister Netanyahu at the headquarters of the shadow Executive Branch.   And there was much rejoicing, but lo, not all were pleased.  Jennifer Rubin, who apparently works for The Washington Post, took to the Twitter to observe:  "Unenthused Rand Paul Lifelessly Applauds Bibi.  almost like he has been faking his support for Israel until now."  NB 1. Correct capitalization is not a requisite for working at the Post, and 2. Bibi-love equals support for Israel.  (Polling in advance of Israeli elections suggests that roughly half of Israelis don't support Israel either, which would appear to Make No Sense, Jennifer.)

Rand Paul responded by protesting that "I gave the prime minister 50 standing ovations."  (But did you achieve full orgasm, Senator?)   Which naturally got me thinking of the dear, dear days of the Politburo, whose members were expected to applaud Comrade Stalin until their hands bled.  The first to stop clapping was often shot, which probably made it easier.  That's a level of "support" our own totalitarians are still aiming at, no pun intended. 

I think it's disgraceful that members of Congress can't fire their weapons in the air to show solidarity with our heroic allies.  Bad timing, I call it.  The Congressional Open-Carry Bill is tied up in committee, stuck behind a measure which will abolish the laws of gravity on the basis that they were formulated in a foreign country (England) by somebody called Newton, and therefore have no application to our Exceptional Homeland.  Pastor Ham the Dinosaur Man is pushing to have them replaced with "Intelligent Falling."  (And since this blog gives credit where it's due whenever we remember to, Roy Blount, Jr., coined that phrase.)

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