Sunday, May 31, 2009
Lebron & the Cavs: allegory for the NBA
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Kanye is a Frigging Idiot
You know for some people, places and things these scumbags like Tom Tancredo, Rush Limbaugh, Newt, Andrew Napolitano, Hannity, Beck, Skeletor Coulter have a point. Here's one: Kanye West. Read the piece on MSNBC and sigh, heavily, how people like this are valued more than teachers, social workers, Habit for Humanity Builders, AIDS researchers, and yes, our troops.
What a fucking clown. And for any of you who buy this book and call me a hater, you ought to be ashamed...
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
George Pelecanos: Life after "The Wire" & D.C. grit
No review, no pithy comments from me. Just buy this book. It's his homage to what I call "literary fiction with a plot." hahaha. He's a master (and I don't mean the folk whose books have the golden, splashy book covers, front and center in our dying, slowly going to curio shops spots like Borders and B & N). Read the masters before they either expire or are consigned to writing scripts for reality shows (don't laugh--we "midlist" folk are already doing crazy stuff like that...and being edited for writing at a higher grade level than the average adult...).
George, we who are about to die salute thee. In a perfect world, there'd be bronze statues of you, Walter, Carcaterra, DeLillo, Bayard, Geraldine Brooks and a bunch of other folk [I'm not levaing anyone out on purpose--it's just that I haven't mentioned those specific people in a while] circling marble libraries like a metal picket. ot to keep people out, but to shield us from stupidity. Oh well...
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Judge Sonia Sotomayor
Monday, May 25, 2009
Memorial Day: 10 favorite Conservative Movies
Well, to provoke and prod, here's my list of supposedly conservative movies which I love. Some are classic motion pictures, some are guilty pleasures. Note there aren't brothas or women or Asians or any of the usual suspect downtrodden folk in the lead roles. These are the usual whiteboy fare come Memorial Day, or when "Sex & the City" or Michael Moore's films are off rotation. Sometimes I have to wait till no one's around to watch/rent this stuff, as if I'm squirrelling away a private porn collection. I'm playing a game on you all here, for many of these flicks are sheep in wolves' clothing: either presenting notably non-wingnut anti-war, anti-corporate, anti-dogma or mob rule themes, or otherwise showing allegories for man vs man or man vs nature etc conflicts. I would point out to my friends that some flicks which liberals might wave in conservative faces, like "Taps," (starring Tim Hutton, Sean Penn, Tom Cruise and Evan Handler with hair, and Giancarlo Esposito with very smooth skin) actually are about sacrifice, honor, innocence, maturity after naïveté. Likewise, I often see lingering nihilism or the seedlings of more of the same when it comes to black folks movies like "Boyz in the Hood." I have caught hell from folk for that. Nor do I have no problem rebuking progressive cohorts for their lauding of movies which I feel are too much PC/oversimplified "revisionism." For example, 1992's "1492" where Columbus goes from age-old schoolbook demigod to advance man of Hell for all native peoples and the environment of the Americas in one take.
That said, here's my top 10 list, with commentary. Most pop up around Memorial Day:
1. Predator. (1987) Never mind Jesse "The Body" Ventura's progressive ephiphany as "The Mind," or his recent video screed against Dick Cheney; this film spawned three anti-intellectual, anti-liberal toons running for governor. Two won. Sonny Landham--"Billy" (and "Billy Bear" in "48 Hours"), ran for GOP guv of Kentucky, promising to exault the Second Amendment uber alles. He dropped out of the race. (in Kentucky? day-um!) Despite the muscles, the guns, the macho commando stuff, the "I ain't got time to bleed," etc. this is still a sci fi/horror flick made entertaining and iconic only by the missives and idiosyncratic performances of the stars--from Carl Weather's strange eye-liner, to Arnold's troublesome accent, to Bill Duke's uncanny ability to chew scenery though remain very quiet. Arnold doesn't "win" until he punts the trappings of high tech Reagan era warfare and touches his inner caveman. Strangely, some gun nuts still don't seem to put the allegory & irony in perspective: that this crableg-dredlocked mofo is killing for sport because he can, not because he must. John McTiernan directed the flick. Guess what--he's a closet liberal, a Juilliard man. Yet he's directed rightie stuff that didn't make my list (but should have): "Die Hard," "The Hunt for Red October," "The 13th Warrior," etc. The muscles, bloodshed and rah-rah are vehicles, not the ends themselves. It's about inner strength, sloughing shackles of conventions, time-honored traditions, old hates, corporate-ness, political necessity...and establishing one's own code to (1) survive, (2) serve a greater good. Check out "Medicine Man," one of McTiernan's other films, and listen to Sean Connery's lines to get the gist of what I'm saying. Close second: Arnold in "Commando."(evil tip: Watch his chemistry with Alyssa Milano, who plays his daughter; when she matures, other stuff supposedly happened...) McTiernan might be going to jail soon, but that's another story...
2. The Alamo (1962). No, not the silly made for TV low budget crap version with Alec Baldwin as William Barrett Travis, nor John Lee Hancock's excellent, true-to history, true to character 2004 verison starring Partick Wilson, Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton nailing David...not Davey...Crockett. I mean the bubble gum history great white man, rah-rah version directed by John Wayne, starring the Duke as Crockett, with coons and coonskin hats, with evil "We don' need no steenk-keeg badges" wet-back/Frito Bandito-looking folk (and no mention that Texas was part of their country) and the usual cast of characters in Duke flicks, like his son Patrick, fat gruff Chill Wills. Pock-marked ugly ass Richard Boone as Sam Houston. Look for Frankie Avalon as well (cast for the girlies). Silly as hell, utterly false in so many ways, but a rousing damn movie!!! Indeed, only in America, like regular black folks ceding culture to bammas, can wingnuts turn myth into fact. The film itself became history; a depiction of the battle based on the film used to be presented as fact on old Alamo tours!!! That was until heroic journalists in Texas and Mexico, military and social historians, forensics experts--along with a very vocal (and admittedly too strident Hispanic community)--challenged the sacred redneck creed and nearly caused another culture war. Much like the truth, not "revisionist" (which is a wingnut weasel word, like "judical activist"), of so-called Custer's Last Stand. So? I still love this movie.
3. The Green Berets. (1968) See #2 above. The Alamo with cammies and M-16s. I love the flying mini-gun platform "Puff the Magic Dragon." Yes, utter silly bullshit and wingnut melodrama, but even the most touchy feely Whole Foods shopping -PC Blue State- close Gitmo- moonbat sheds a tear when the child Ham-chuk's dog dies, or he cries out for his fallen "Peter-san"... and the film closes with Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler's heart-tugging "The Ballad of the Green Berets." Put silver wings on my son's chest...
4. Red Dawn. (1984) This is the Reagan Era at its best...or worst? Ha! John Milius is McTiernan without McTiernan's Juilliard-inspired want of non-wingnut allegory and metaphor. But peep this: Milius also directed "Conan the Barbarian"...and co wrote it with...ready? Oliver Stone. Hmmm. So even with Milius, there's more to these films than is apparent to the average neo-con pansy or Bud-swilling Ted Nugent fan. Not convinced? Rent his "The Wind and The Lion" and tell me there's not a subtext of which conservatives might take issue. LOL The switcheroo in Red Dawn prompts comparisons to Predator; the Commies are the occupiers, not the insurgent/guerillas. Good Christian whitefolk are the people who refuse to give up "hearts and minds," and MTV teens are "Wolverines:" guerilla heroes. Very cool. And an insidiously liberal twist when the average conservative suburbanite starts whining about why certain neighborhoods/nations/peoples can't "fix" themselves. Can't they see the cops/Marines et al. are there to "liberate" them? Well now they saw it's not so simple. Moreover, at the time this film was made, the Russkies were rampant and supposedly ready to turn all of Central America into a new Cuba. Good thing we had the drug lords on our side! But then they started getting ploughed under in Afghanistan and Milius found himself with a more timely hook than the WWII partisan/resistance angle. Bad news eventually: it was these very folk who were chapping Soviet asses in the Middle East who'd later help run planes in the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Weird politics aside, I love the performances in this film, and it's not toonishly shot. Milius has an almost gay artistic eye for composition. LOL. Irony: most of these actors who played the stalwart young Godfearing freedom fighters weren't youthful Reaganites in real life. Even for Patrick Swayze, it was sex, drugs and rock and roll. Hey, you had Charlie Sheen, too. Nuff said. Then Leah Thompson, Jennifer Gray (who sat on a grenade before practicing dirty dance steps with Patrick, I guess), C. Thomas Howell, Brad Savage. All Hollywood young partiers. Cool to see Superfly's "Priest", the late Ron O'Neal, as the Cuban colonel. Great action, great soundtrack.
5. The Longest Day. (1961) Should have been "The Longest Movie." This is Daryl Zanuck's almost 4 hour send up of D-Day. For something showcasing John Wayne, it's pretty damn historically accurate, and of course presents, objectively, the German POV through both generals and ordinary Kraut footsoldiers. This thing is shot and scripted like a narrative/literary nonfiction book; there's a distinct documentary style which pretty much cuts against the wingnut rah-rah crap. It's also a perfect counterpoint to the dreamy, silly style of "A Bridge Too Far." The battle scenes look real; the most exciting for me isn't the 82nd Airborne's paratrooper getting shot up as sitting ducks over St-Mere-Eglise, or the British commando attack on the Orne River Bridge. Nope, it's the sequence where French (yeah--it was them invading their own country) troops swarm ashore and attack a town called Ouisterham. Now, the most harrowing scenes are of the carnage at "Omaha" Beach. It's fitting the film ends with General Norman Cota's fighting 29th. These are the men from Maryland, DC, Va. and parts of NC: old men I still see on Memorial Day, and I remember when I drive up and down US 29.
6. Heartbreak Ridge. (1986). This is Clint at his third best, with "Unforgiven" (which single-handedly destroyed the John Wayne notion of the West and a western the way Kurt Cobain destoryed hair bands) and "Gran Torino" being one and two, respectively and respectfully. And forgetting the nonsense with Spike Lee, let's think of "Flags of Our Fathers"/" Letters from Iwo Jima," too. Think of "Bird" (by which he made Forrest Whittaker a star) and yes, the ultimate chick flick, "The Bridges of Madison County." Put them in a food processor and mix, then distill the essence. Taste it. Think of the dialogue, the themes, the shots, even the music, the look of the characters. Heartbreak Ridge fits this serum perfectly, seemlessly. Not some ode to US Marines, or to manly men, or winning a war rather not "losing" or a "tie" as if an NFL schedule. Clint is the king of the bait and switch. I'm not gonna say he's a closet liberal, oh hell no. But he, unlike Spike, gives us ALL something on which to feast: the superficial crap for the wingnuts, the deeper stuff for regular folk. And everyone's happy. I'd say Gunney Highway was indeed the antithesis to R. Lee Ermey's insidiously entertaining Gunney Hartman of "Full Metal Jacket." Hartman--who's fragged by a fat and insane Vincent D'onfrio (presaging dude on "Law & Order" to some degree hahaha)-- was closer to the liberal stereotype of the redneck military scumbag. Love the playa, hate the game...
7. The Sand Pebbles. (1966) One of my favorite films, period, and my favorite "war" movie about a war which wasn't. China 1927. US Navy gunboats patrol major rivers and lakes while warlords, Communists and Chiang Kai shek's Nationalists fight a three way conflict. Most Americans know nothing about this era, or the lasting affect on China's psyche. Richard McKenna, who wrote the novel, was there for real, and was a simple swabby. This is a classic sheep in a wolf's fur. An epic story with war as but the backdrop. And it made me LOVE Steve McQueen as Jake Holman. Steve was probably the most right-wing dude to ever play in anti-establishment flicks. Of course toward the end of his life, he grew a beard and produces Ibsen plays, so who knows? Rent this movie. It deserves a redux by a thoughtful director (though how do you beat Robert Wise?). The battle scene at the junk boom, with the Stars and Stripes flying, gives me goosebumps. But there's scene after scene having nothing to do with war that prompt the same response. Note: I fast forward through the entire "Great Escape" to watch Steve jumping his motorcycle past pursuing Germans!
8. 300. (2007) Forget the planned, almost diabolical sacrifice of overwhelming cultural and historical fact for style. About the only thing accurate was the Spartan fighting method. Lord you could do a treatise on the levels and layers here. One thing remains, as does with Wayne's Alamo, or even the Custer whitewash, "They Died with Their Boots On:" a few brave souls stood against many. There is something visceral, compelling about that, and hell if it doesn't demands empathy even if you hate the m-fs so enshrined for their deaths. Test it out. I've even seen unrepentant rednecks cheer Denzel in "Glory," and folks who hadn't a clue about 1846's Mexican War's significance side with the Irish immigrant deserters who formed the Catholic "San Patricio" Brigade fighting the US in "One Man's Hero." Or GOP-lovin' WWII Vets pulling for Jude Law in "Enemy at The Gates" (Soviets battle Nazis for control of Stalingrad). When I think of the real Leonidas, of the brave Athenian fleet at Salamis, then watching 300's oiled up male models, Gerard Butler's giant mouth, and comic book zombies portraying what was a marvel of a Persian Empire ain't so bad to take...
9. The Ten Commandments. (1956) Cecil B. Demille apparently despised Jews more than he did black folks and Commies, so of course they are called "Hebrews" in this epic. Or "Danites" in "Samson & Delilah." The word "Jew" is used only four times in 3 hours of "Ben Hur." Hmmm. Where to start? OK, with DeMille himself. Nuff said. Next, the historical, archeological, anthropological and even theological bases for this movie as written and shot (not the story of Moses or Yaweh--just the actual movie) is beyond suspect. The evidence is now that the Jews weren't even slaves for that period of time (the slavery being almost allegorical), time, or may have offered themselves as indentured servants or laborers for pay; Goshen was pretty much an autonomous province of Egypt. The Egyptians themselves built their monuments with paid labor (who had health and dental, unions, their own slogans, logos and theme songs!) and not dudes being whipped. Ramses The Great (who basically was Yul Brenner) wasn't an egomanical creep but one of antiquity's greatest leaders. You can see the mofo on display. Moses himself may not have been just a deliverer, but also a military genius; the exodus appears to have been more a mass migration (and conquest-ethnic cleansing once the Tribe got to Canaan) rather than a true escape. My favorite take: the wind and tide (whether it's the weather or God's breath) blew down and helped dry the muddy "Reed" Sea, which was only about a couple of inches deep to begin with. The tide and wind changed after a day or so, pharoah's chariots and footsoldiers got stuck and the crews were picked off by Moses' men.
But who do audiences care if anything's "accurate" archeologically, historically or even Biblically? Not really. Seeing Anne Baxter basically begging for Chuck Heston's wang for two hours is priceless, as is Yul's "So let it be written, so let it be done." The Red Sea scene...and swallowing the chariots...remains awesome even in this age of mindless CGI. God talking to Moses as a pillar of fire, burning out the Ten Commandments--I love that stuff!!! Edward G. Robinson as Dathan? He echoes Tavis Smiley nowadays when Tavis pricks Obama ("What do think of your deliverer now?"). This is Cinemascope spectacle at its pinnacle. Easter always brings two things for me: spiritual & physical nourishment...and Chuck Heston!
10. Exodus. (1960) OK I know some of you were trying to smell around for some anti-semitism from me after #9. It is historical fact that when Joshua led the Israelites back to Canaan, he was all about conquering and murdering every man, woman and child there. So much for the ancient moral authority to toss out Arabs and Palestinians (who are all children of Abraham as well, according to the Good Book). But what happened in Europe from about 1100 a.d. to 1945 might have mitigated that stuff, I'd say. Otto Preminger (who was Jewish-Austrian himself, though maintained this Germanic mystique, ironically) doesn't get mawkish in this story measuring one slice in the fight for, and founding of, Israel. It's almost Sand Pebbles-like in epic sweep, emotion, characters, cinematography, etc. (not such a stretch as he and Robert Wise were the best directors of the 60s, before the grit of The Exorcist, The French Connection, The Godfather etc took over). How many Jews were among the stars in the cast? Paul Newman. Yep. And Lee J. Cobb ( born Leon Jacob). Most people don't name name them first. The theme song/soundtrack's as timeless and powerful as Dr. Zhivago's, though now its seems confined to elevator muzak. I'm partial to "Cast A Giant Shadow" for battle scenes of Israeli teens in khaki shorts and sandals fighting Muslim tanks & planes, but "Exodus" is more meaty in the story department. It even touches on the touchy subject of Jewish terrorism against the Brits and Palestinians. But somehow, you understand though do not accept these acts, as you become Ari Ben Canaan (Newman). Amazing film. Watch it before you rent "Schindler's List." Seriously.
So, if you're a wingnut, disciple of all things Cheney-esque, feel free to write down your consternation. If you aren't, tell me if your tastes comport with mine, or if you have additions, subtractions.
BTW remember the fallen on Memorial Day. Even the Confederate-redneck fallen. The key word here is fallen...
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Bully: all American suburban kids murder a dude
Near the boardwalk I heard a woman around my age musing...whispering...to a younger woman about how pleasant our little stretch of the Delware shore is compared to farther down toward Ocean City, Md, where there are "too many black kids who look like criminals." Funny, I've never seen anyone like that at the beach--in Delaware or down there at Ocean City. Above is a depiction of something done by kids in Florida, who more resemble the type of kids I've seen around here. Not very smart, those kids. But then again, they didn't have to be. Think about it. Cower. Or remain in denial. The latter's easier. Easy is de rigeur.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Janet Langhart Cohen: Her take on Emmett Till & Anne Frank
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Some Common Sense on Guantanamo (Gitmo) Detainees
Sunday, May 17, 2009
What the Notre Dame Speech showed us about Obama
Friday, May 15, 2009
Sandra Day O'Connor: kiddie author
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Nat Turner in the Washington Post
Monday, May 11, 2009
Saberi to be released: more Iranian PR?
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Mother's Day: Dysfunctional WASP Family
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Notre Dame & Catholic University = Fundamentalist Madrassas? Hades, no!
At Notre Dame--which the Jesuits do NOT control --wingnut folk are sphincter-puckered up over Barack speaking at Commencement. No matter this venom ("scandal at Our Lady"?!) is unprecedented given the plethora of speakers and honorary degree recipients in the history of that institution and indeed the entire stretch of the American academy, that O man's the frigging PRESIDENT of the USA!, and it only seems to come afire now that a brother's in the White House (rather than running touchdowns for Lou Holtz or dunking for Digger Phelps). Indeed, never mind that now the Vatican has stepped in...yes, the conservative Vatican, Benedict XVI's Teutonic regime itself...and said chill the heck out. The Holy Father's rag, L'Osservatore Romano, published essays and statements within the last week stating so, and it's driven the loonies mad! That would be the end of the story with most sane people, but, like some Muslim fundamentalists, no one can be happy till someone's strapped on bomb or stolen a Pakistani nuke (figuratuvely, of course). (nervous laughter).
Today, the Washington City Paper published Amanda Hess's article (accompanied by Boehm's amusing illustration, see above) on Catholic University's bizarre sex policies (pretty much equating masturbation, fornication and contraception with rape in school conduct manuals). The God squad'll get ya! Catholic, not Hoyaville on the Hilltop, is the wellspring of what some diehards would call "for-real Catholic dogma-based education in the Nation's Capital." (my neighbor's term, not mine). Of course they try not to hit you over the head with it--too much. Particularly as they compete with other universities--like Georgetown--for top post-graduate (sciences...yes...sciences & research, literature, history, philosophy, etc.) and professional (ie law, social work, library science, architecture, adult/continuing ed) students both locally and nationally. But they apparently don't hesistate to pull out the trumpets out when it comes time for veiled politics. Newt Gingrich rolls up to the Basilica all the time for absolution. I've never seen him at the Dalhgren Chapel.
Hoyas don't seem to step into the bullshit as much. Remember, the Jesuits weren't the order giving blessing to slaughtering Indians of the Americas (especially South and Central America), r convert-or-die evangelism, or staffing the Inquisition (Jews should take note) or burning women as witches for such sins as having orgasms or back-talking their hubbies. Perhaps our own Patrick Healy, S.J., the Obama of the 19th Century, might have been fingered as a spook and hung had he tried to join the Dominicans or other order down south? Be interesting to go back in time and test...
So come on, right wing white Fox News-loving Catholics (that's really what's afoot, not religion). This here Episcopalian (don't get me started on Henry VIII) hates to sound like Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York, spewing about "Roman Popery" before the big Irish vs. KnowNothing Brawl, but attacking the O man, or retreating to fundamentalism, ain't gonna get you to Jesus or his Momma on the fast track. Indeed, reading between the lines of what was in L'Osservatore and other such statements recently, the thought is this: you'll be left behind (apologies to Lahaye and the Baptist fundamentalists), shut out of research dollars and other goodies (not cool for universities, Catholic hospitals, etc.) and perpetually in the "No we won't" camp rather than "Yes we can" movement. The implications in the 21st Century are thus: if the Church is on the front lines of fighting poverty, disease, ignorance, want, genocide, injustice & war worldwide (the ultimate right to life), being tagged with the U.S. wingnut "NO!" is a tough albatross. Of course, the folk screaming about Barack at ND aren't part of this real life agenda. That, fanboys & girls, believers & non-, is what's worrying Herr Ratzenburger and his minions in Rome. On a basic level, the Pope knows this protest has got shit to do with stem cells, abortion, or birth control pills beyond a superficial rallying point...
As for Catholic U., I know it wants to make a pronouncement, a statement of beliefs...but this stuff which Amanda Hess exposes in her piece is both sad and laughable. How about treating the students like adults, rather than pre-teens in their First Communion whites? Simple as that. Even at liquor-swilling, meth-popping, roofie- in the- frat house-beer mindless party schools, the ratio of studying/community service to trolling for p***y/d*ck is lopsided in the former's favor; likewise, the success rate for attaining the latter is actually pretty low, given the hype. Make a statement without actually making one, as is done at Georgetown. Trust the students to follow it. Two great places to start: (1) Love your fellow man despite his/her faults, and (2) Love God. That doxology sound familiar?
To be fair to the average Muslim madrassas--and, I guess, the rabid rightwing "Domers" (ND alums)-- it appears none of the 9/11 terrorists graduated from religious schools. They went to secular universities here and in Europe. Indeed, even the waterboard king & 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (drowned so many times at Gitmo he likely even confessed to killing Danny Pearl's parents...who are alive & well and supporting Georgetown's Pearl Project, thank you), studied engineering at ol' North Carolina A & T. Lawd. An HBCU!!! Okay, so I never said I'm infallible. I'm not the Pope, after all.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Gabrielle Union helps Americans with Empathy
The point of this exercize is that I wanted to find some common ground on decisions and opinions. Too many people have been losing their minds in either attack or defense of Barack Obama and everything he represents or is allegory for with dozens of permutations of that formula. We have ethnic and caste commentary given to the swine flu. We have acrimony over who'll replace Justice David Souter even though we're months away from anything concrete.
The key isn't surgical analysis, in my opinion, though analysis and empirical measure is damn important. It's "empathy" in decisionmaking. In writing, or news reporting or essay drafting or love or sex or at work at school or foreign policy. Yes, the word that doesn't mean sympathy or siding with someone or being a pussy or a dupe. My definition is an amalgam of many: Intellectual and emotional awareness and understanding of another person's or group's thoughts, feelings and behavior, even those that are distressing. Observation based on available info and our bank of knowledge, is subject to so many, many factors. Some not so positive or touchy feely. Most without due regard to empathy. Soon the actual truth doesn't even matter--just who's lining up on what side, or whose opinion rules. And if we learn a truth and that truth is tested and verified as fact, there's always lunatic naysayers rather than healthy skeptics doing the analysis. Alternatively you have the people who's answer was vindicated with "truth" wanting to beat folk who were "wrong" over the head the results, rather than help them learn from it, and build.
Of course, I just think Gabby's pretty, regardless. And she's a decent actress, too. But I try to understand other views--even ones that are distressing. That's written here on this blog without an agenda...
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Friday, May 01, 2009
Annoying White People...
Nope. It's people like this: