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February 26, 2013 - February 19, 2013

Saturday, December 03, 2011

The Most Violent Movie

If 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 talking now...)

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.

Like me.

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. Right?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Carrying the Torch

She was the soaring female voice in Meatloaf's hit trilogy.

. 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 trying."

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

TORCHING THE PPs. We all have some Little Round Tops of our own. I've had a few, 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 times.

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 stupid.

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. Someday.

Or not.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Life's a Bitch

STORMY WEATHER IS UPON US. When everything is about as bad as it can get, you need torch songs. Passion simmering and betrayed. Here are some of the best.

Women are better at it. So be it.

But guys can carry the flame too.

Except that women who aren't even professional singers can break your heart.

And yet Sinatra still rings in with the haunted male voice:

The saddest thing, though, is that Doris Day is now 87.

The party's over. When she goes, what do we have left? Rihanna?

Make no mistake. A love affair is ending. Americans are falling out of love with America. I don't know about you, but I'm carrying a torch.

Big time.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Just a Suggestion...

THE BEAGLES. I was going to respond to Helk's grumpy comment here, but I 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 Cowher. Yuck.

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...

Blame Brizoni.

The way I feel sometimes. Not always. But why I'm cross so often.

LIKE I'D FORGET MOTORHEAD... There are a lot of lines that get me, but mostly the last four:

I have seen the diamond worlds
I have seen the shape of space
I have nothing but the world
I have nothing to take its place.

Now come get me off the hook, B-Man.

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