February 26, 2013 - February 19, 2013
Saturday, December 03, 2011
The Most Violent
you're the squeamish sort, don't watch the trailer after 1:30.
MIDLIFE WUSS. I
admit it. I went through a phase when I thought movies had
gotten too violent for moi. The tipping point, as it is now called, was
Total Recall, which featured
lots of the deaths of innocents, casually disposed of. I drew myself up
to my full height (just under six feet) and said, "Hollywood has gone
over the top, by gar." I may have said other geezer things too.
Now I'm rethinking that position. Yesterday I watched the movie
featured above. The most hideously violent I've ever seen. I didn't
look away once. I enjoyed it.
Where are we as a people? Of course, Hobo
was set in Canada, which means it didn't matter from the git-go, but
still. I'm concerned about myself. Am I becoming an inside-out Paulista?
Why? Because I know everyone's complicit in the destruction of our
children. The same people who decry the pernicious influence of the
government in every aspect of our lives also have emperor children,
cartoonishly infantile living rooms, and minivans stuffed with Fisher-Price stuff
that makes the pyramids look small, and they wrap their lives around
their children's whims as if anything other would be a sin. (Here's the
sin: Not telling the little bastards to pipe down because grownups are
What's killing us. Too many toys. Too many child-rearing experts who've
never understood the meaning of the word "No." Too many parents who
don't comprehend the danger of letting the little love muffin watch the
same video seven thousand
times in a row without saying, "Uh uh. All done. Mommy and Daddy are bored."
"I just want them to be happy." An otherwise smart guy told me
yesterday that happiness is the prime objective of the human race. No,
it isn't. Where the fuck did that idea come from? Oh. Yeah. The single
most badly chosen word in the Declaration of Independence. Which he discounts because it's not fair enough or something.
Even Thomas Jefferson could have used a good editor.
Life isn't about happiness. It's about fulfillment. Which is a
completely different animal.
Bottom line? If you have emperor children, you've lost your right to opine about the sorry state of the nation. Their little smiles are the death rictus we'll all be wearing a decade from now.
But, I guess, most of you animals have no idea what I'm talking about.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Carrying the Torch
She was the
soaring female voice in Meatloaf's hit trilogy.
REMEDIAL TUTORING. Torch songs are only partly lamentation. They
are also an
affirmation of the primacy of love even in the face of defeat and
broken hearts. It's the love itself that is transcendant. It is a proof
of life enduring in the face of personal catastrophe, unafraid to
experience loss and yet live on.
It's okay to flirt with despair, but not to give in to it. When I hear
Americans who profess to believe in traditional American values
doubting not just our future but our moral right to continue spreading
those values throughout the world, I get disgusted. Is it possible
America is done? Maybe. But it damn well better not be done because I gave up fighting when the odds
were against us. Here's a new term for you to chew on: Pussy Patriots.
"Okay, it was great while it lasted, but it's done now because of all
the evil leftists and I'll take
refuge in the liberal ego cocktail of seeing the bad stuff ahead of
time -- which makes me somehow superior to all the losers who are still
Good luck with that. I will not go gentle into that good night. I've
been seeing the bad stuff and writing about it a lot longer than almost
everybody here. I really don't care if you think you've had it tough.
This time of tribulation is not an impending apocalypse so much as a
test. Is our love still strong enought to prevail, as our ancestors
have done innumerable times, against frightful odds? Is it?
Little Round Top. No ammunition and no reinforcements. If you can't stay
where you are and can't retreat, attack.
Joshua Chamberlain got his strategy from reading Greek.
I don't care how old you are. You have to find your own torch song. And
your own torch. Here's mine:
And don't ever tell me -- or imply to me -- that the whole American
experiment has been a waste, exposed as some lie by a quarter
millennium of history. All that tells me is that you, for all your
self-ordained sophistication, count time only from the moment of your birth. Which is pitiful indeed.
My apologies to everyone for whom this lesson was unnecessary. I know
there are many.
Little Round Tops
THE PPs. We all have some Little Round Tops of our own. I've had a
not life-threatening to be sure, but threatening to my future and my
career. The hard part is recognizing the ones that don't occur on the
field of military battle. Where Joshua
Chamberlain got lucky. He was a
classics professor who somehow became a military commander, and it
might have been easy for him to surrender in the face of impossible
circumstances, but he didn't. His education made it possible for him to
recognize the moment when it came. Shellfire is a big assist at such
This is much on my mind at the moment. My wife -- whose birthday it is
today -- has a Little Round Top moment of her own right now. I know how
she'll do. Hell, she's already fired the first shots from an encircled
position. I gave her flowers for the big day only because I couldn't
get her a keg of nails and a blunderbuss. It didn't take her a split
second to see the moment when it came. Now we'll have to live with the
results of the battle. Which will be my privilege, no matter how it
turns out. And it could be very very costly. So. Be. It.
Because even the brave talkers have a way of missing the moment.
They're sure they'll take action when the crisis finally comes, but
then suddenly it's too late and what could they have done? Frustrated
heroes. Because when it's too late it's too late, and all that's left
is looking out for the family and not doing anything self-destructively
The crisis doesn't come with Hollywood movie titles announcing and
defining the conflict. It comes suddenly but not always in Technicolor.
It's here the moment you know you might have to take sides against a
fait accompli, and when the people who are reassuring you that
you're not involved or responsible are no longer friends but operatives
of some other agenda that has nothing to do with friendship, loyalty,
or integrity. That's the instant you should know you're on Little Round
Top, most likely alone.
It's an instant most people miss. They don't want to know it. They're
afraid. They massage themselves with their principles and promise
themselves that if things get nasty, they'll do the right thing. And
they mean it. They really really mean it until the opportunity to take
action is hopelessly in the past.
How do you keep yourself from being surprised by a Little Round Top
that swiftly passes you by? You look
for Little Round Tops. As Joshua Chamberlain undoubtedly did. He wanted that moment of decision in
his life. And, yes, that moment might kill you or blight your future
life, but if you never confront a great decision, you will never know
who you really are.
The good news is that military experience doesn't necessarily make you
any better at recognizing such moments when they occur in everyday life.
The bad news is that if you don't think you've ever had such an experience
thus far, you almost certainly missed one or two or more of them. If
you've become a defeatist by nature, that's tantamount to proof. You've
never seen the moments when you might have made a critical difference. Which makes you a big part of the problem.
Too bad for you. But I freely concede everything is harder for GenXers
and Millennials. You just never quite get
anything until the key moment has passed. But you have learned a lot
about the purely
prudential use of language. Maybe that will pay off somehow.
. I was going to respond to Helk's grumpy comment here,
don't want to step on Brizoni's elastically defined "tomorrow"
post on the enigmatic Psayings.5Y
chapter of The Boomer Bible.
So I'll talk about the Philadelphia Eagles instead. After yesterday's
humiliating loss to the Patriots, the end of the Andy Reid era may
finally be in sight. The whole stadium up and left at the end of the
third quarter, after a full-throated, and very well enunciated, chant
of "Fire Andy!" It's reported that there were near fisticuffs
between two of the Eagles coaches. Hooray.
The thing that's bothering me, though, is the dull imaginations of the
WIP SportsTalk crowd, who continue to speak of Reid's potential
successors as Jon
Gruden and Bill
Everyone here knows how I feel about Jon Gruden, and Bill Cowher
coached nearly as long at Pittsburgh without a Super Bowl win as Andy
Reid has in Philadelphia. Time for some fresh thinking.
The obvious, even inevitable candidate is Rob Ryan, son of Philly's
beloved bad boy, Buddy
Ryan. He's the anti-Reid. Like his more famous brother, he'll be
voluble and responsive in press conferences, and he will start his
tenure by building the defense first. His personality is a perfect
match for Philadelphia: blue collar, fiery, and old school.
So why hasn't anyone else mentioned it? Because he's currently employed
by Dallas. Talk about lamebrain bias...
The way I feel
sometimes. Not always. But why I'm cross so often.