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May 26, 2013 - May 19, 2013

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Where were we?

TIME IS A BLOODSUCKER. Sorry. It's been awhile. I'm not losing interest. Just had some extraordinary demands on my time in recent days. Normally I can juggle work with posting, but occasionally there are fire drills and other emergencies.

This time, reentry will be a potpourri, which I normally don't like to do because it seems as if you only ever respond to the last item on the list. Don't do that. Everything here is something I want to know your thoughts about.

First because most in the news: Whitney Houston. I'm already on record about her. My first Guilty Pleasures post began with a video (now unavailable, except here) of I Will Always Love You. What I said at the time:

A saccharine, sentimental, monotonal mess of a song written and first performed by Dolly Parton, who also happens to be one of my other Guilty Pleasures, a sweet and beguiling woman who cheerfully compares her own singing to the vocalizations of a nanny goat. She's right but I admire her anyway. She's an incorporated powerhouse with her own theme park, but she's still sweet. That buys her a pass on her ridiculous hair and chest balloons in my book. And I will "always" listen to the Whitney Houston version of Dolly's song when it plays on the radio or in the movie because there is something pure and wistful and stirring about it. It's an anthem of women's capacity for love that if you've ever been on the receiving end of it can bring you to your knees.

My thoughts are scattered and mostly malicious. I'm with Geraldo Rivera (there's a first time for everything) in wanting Bobby Brown tried for her murder. There are people whose natural response to something pure and beautiful is to destroy it. My vengeful celtic soul wants to destroy him for destroying her. She was from New Jersey. Sinatra would have known what to do. Something involving the Jersey marshes (excuse me, wetlands).

We watched the Grammies because... well, for the same reason a bunch of other people watched the Grammies. To see crocodile tears and the handful of genuine moments that redeem the tawdry fakery. Emcee LL Cool J said a prayer. I said out loud, "I'm offended. I'm an atheist and you have no right to make me do this." My wife, who was ill with a chest cold and a fever, said, "I didn't know LL Cool J was an atheist." I had to explain. "He isn't. I was just speaking for all the militant atheists in the liberal audience." Yes, we can pray for Whitney, but we hate like hell when religion rears its ugly head in any other aspect of American life.

Jennifer Hudson stepped up bravely (and I mean that sincerely) to the challenge of singing I Will Always Love You to the Grammy audience. The next day, Imus, who needs to be forcibly retired from his tired repetitive shtick of celebrating Levon Helm above all other musicians and trashing every Republican candidate in exactly the same terms every single day, damned her with faint praise. Jennifer Hudson is good, he allowed, but she's no Whitney Houston. As if she shouldn't have sung the song. (Why do I still watch Imus, you ask. Because of Connell McShane's increasingly open contempt for the old hag host, who still thinks it's a running gag like Charles McCord's erstwhile stylized rants; only it isn't. Connell honestly despises Imus. As everyone should.) He couldn't have been more wrong. Hudson sang the song as a lamentation, deliberately eschewing the high sustained notes of Houston's rendition because they embody a kind of triumphant vitality that is now, suddenly, gone. Instead, she chose to sing minor-key harmony with our shared memory of Whitney Houston's recording. It was a masterful, deeply moving performance, a duet with the ghost of her idol. She's a magnificent talent, and I'd bet Imus's hairsprayed head on the likelihood that if she wanted to compete with rather than mourn Whitney, Jennifer Hudson could belt out a version of the song that would make the question of who's best a toss-up. She's a class act.

In other grammy news, class acts were in short supply. With Bobby Brown unavailable, the producers had to make do with Chris Brown, presented as a superstar notwithstanding his history of beating the bloody hell out of superstar Rihanna, who was pleased to show up half-dressed in a gown so skimpy that Joan Rivers would have carped about the fashion disaster of "side boob" if there had been boob enough to have a side.

Oh. There was a new superstar. Her name is Adele. Think of her as the cockney Piaf. All of her songs are about the tragedy of broken affairs between human males and one distinctly bovine female who can't enunciate the "th" sound or the end of any English word except in song. Forget the "Little Sparrow." Think instead of a Big Pigeon baying in the deep.

Speaking of guttersnipes, there was also Nicki Menaj, who showed up with the Pope and pretended she needed an exorcism in her big production number. Maybe she should stop pretending.

Change of Subject. Did somebody mention the Pope or something Catholics might actually get upset about? No? Well, there's this thing lefties call a women's health and birth control issue, what Catholics call a crisis of religious conscience, and what crazy conservatives call a First Amendment, freedom of religion issue. I'm not going to say a lot about this, but that doesn't mean you can't. To my mind, there's plenty of fault to go around, and the current tarantella is hardly surprising. The Obama adminstration's hatred of all forms of Christianity that aren't African-American Liberation Theology isn't new. Nor is what Rush Limbaugh has rightly called the Catholic Church's history of "kissing the Socialist ring since the 1930s." I'm guessing the Church will cave before conspiring in the defeat of the social justice president. It's the rest of us I'm worried about. How many are still capable of perceiving an antiquated position on birth control as a direct assault on religious freedom? I'm losing my religion on that.

Another Change of Subject. There's losing religion and there's getting religion. I managed to see a fair amount of CPAC. Gingrich got two standing ovations (one for a good Fed-Ex joke). Romney got a whole bunch of polite applause. Santorum got to speak sometime before 2 am. And Ron Paul was in Maine!? Everybody's a winner, right. Until Sarah Palin stepped up to the microphone. Wall to wall standing ovations, before during, and after. Well earned If you haven't seen her speech, do so now. I concede I've been all over the place on the subject of Sarah. My wife has been, is, and remains adamantly for her. Maybe I should have listened. She blew the roof off that place. And I found this essay provocative. A key excerpt:

[V]oter sentiment, as it relates to the meaning of different candidates and the basis of government, is changing.

And that, I think, is about half the reason why Sarah Palin didnít throw her hat in the ring for this campaign cycle.† Her evaluation of political conditions is remarkably accurate and prescient:† she saw, long before most of the voters did, that the game of expectations itself needed to change, and that only we could do it.

What strategic value was there for Palin in participating in the Cynical Media Slime-fest and All-Out Kick-em-in-the-Nads, mud-slinging, business-as-usual, expectations-on-autopilot primary season?

Six or eight months ago, the sea change in the votersí sentiments and propensities might have been foreseeable, but it hadnít happened yet. †Those who think Palin could have won lots of primaries on the basis of pre-primary voter sentiments are wrong, I think.† After all, the business-as-usual approach Ė Karl Rove tells everyone how bad a candidate is, the media magnify his or her every quirk or mistake, the media and some (not all) of the other candidates pile on with allegations that range from hostile spin to outright falsehood Ė has so far felled our most conservative candidates.

But in the process, the voters have been changing.† Thatís what Palin saw before others did.† Do I think she is counting the days to a brokered convention?† No.† There is no one who could reasonably adopt that as a ďplan.Ē† She wonít run this year; thatís my rational assessment as well as my gut feeling.† (I could of course be wrong, although I think some big conditions will have to change more for that to be the case.)

But if she does run, it will not be because she has changed, but because we have.

The other speaker who got to me was Andrew Breitbart. At base, he's an old-time print journalist, not a performer. He's rough, fumbles with his notes, and doesn't have that easy connection with his audience good politicians do because he's so locked in to the hand-to-hand combat of the daily working press. What most struck me -- and what was confirmed by press members of the CPAC Tea Party panel later -- was the barely containable rage he felt about the mainstream media. Most of the CPAC speakers and participants seemed to be engaged in a crusade. Breitbart, in every word and uncontrolled gesture, was clearly at war. It was rage he was trying to share with his audience, as if he were actually trying to infect them with the horror of the hell into which the one-time profession of journalism has now fallen. Notably, this degree of anger can't be seen in the politicians, pundits, professional bloggers, and other members of the conservative cause. It is reserved for those who spend huge amounts of time dealing with the mainstream media as one of their, uh, colleagues.

For the most part, I don't think the audience got it. But I did. Most of the word-mongers on both sides are corrupted by their desire to seem objective, even in the teeth of a monstrously rigged game. Breitbart knows a truth all the new celebrities of the Tea Party right don't. There is no more politics as usual. Answering lefty talking points reasonably and rationally is its own kind of complicity, its own kind of surrender. It's like writing Op-Eds in the Berlin Times refuting the policy initiatives of the Hitler administration. The devotion to civility and the bend-over-backward attempt to see the other side is a stinking corruption of its own.

Breitbart is truly, deeply, and completely pissed off. Until conservatives figure out why he is right to be so, we will always lose.

So is Palin btw. But as a politician, she transforms her rage into a form that infuses her audiences with an energy akin to lightning.

I'm left with a sorry contrast I'd rather not make. But I will because I must. Leftist Hollywood is currently lionizing Whitney Houston, a millionaire who died of her own inability to survive success. The same people who admire Whitney Houston and make excuses for her premature decline and death have absolute contempt for Sarah Palin, who has survived political defeat and the most relentlessly malevolent personal assault launched against anyone in the new 24/7 multimedia environment and rises like a phoenix to inspire people as no one else can. Palin is a brave and beautiful survivor. Whitney Houston is a pitiable victim. Who do you love?

A question liberal Catholics should be asking themselves too.

If you're a lefty, your first impulse is to canonize Whitney and piss all over Sarah.

If you're a conservative, you're more inclined to grieve for Whitney and admire Sarah all the more. After all, nobody ever hated Whitney, mocked her publicly, questioned her very motherhood, ridiculed her intelligence and education, made sport of her disadvantaged baby (hey, crack happens, right?), and ransacked her emails and underwear drawers for any hint of scandal. Instead they just loved her, forgave her her for very public mortal sins, and now claim to be honoring her with their belated, impotent grief.

There's the cultural divide in a nutshell. Lefties hate Sarah because she cannot be hammered into submission. They love Whitney because she could be and was, unto death. Makes all the mediocrities feel ever so much better.

I guess I should wish everyone a happy Valentines Day. Here's an idea. Dress up in red like a Valentine to yourself (you know you want to), amplify your sacred self-love with a papal accessory, and tell God (or the government) to see to it that you're happy. The force (i.e., the Obama administration) be with you.

Odd. She STILL doesn't look happy. Does she?
Life's a bitch. Unless it's not life that's the bitch.

And with thy spirit.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Vampire Thing

Sooooooo romantic.

A REMINDER. Just taking a quick break from a job of work (why I've been somewhat absent of late). I have a niece with a head injury and a broken pelvis because a cop slammed into her car going the wrong way on a one-way street. Was he in pursuit? Who knows. She has two children, a husband, and an extended family who are all injured and traumatized by a single act of no doubt unintended violence.

Why does this make me think of vampires? They're only a fantasy, after all. Their violence occurs in the realm of the imagination, not reality. Except...

Vampires have become a media obsession. Movies and TV series devoted to romanticizing their undead plight and explaining away their unfortunate habit of killing others to keep on keeping on. The defense against their blatant moral turpitudes? Coolness. Pretty faces, fashionable costumery, superhuman invulnerability and violence, and perverse sexual innuendo, as if murder were akin to orgasm and eternal life.

Hard not to perceive the metaphor of American youth and its various isolating pathologies, including drug addiction, homosexuality, perceptions of racial, gender, and ethnic discrimination, and [sigh] existential alienation.

I'm calling foul. This is a realm where so-called entertainment has become politics in a big way.

Most vampire movies and TV shows are the exact opposite of a coming of age story. They're a truncating of age story. A malevolent version of Peter Pan. You don't ever have to grow up. What does it mean when you're invulnerable to injury, immortal, and never have to experience the sunshine of public scrutiny? You're free to kill the uncool because they are mortal, lesser, inconsequential. Who, then, are you?

What are vampires? Parasites. They have to kill others to survive. Do the math. How many people does a vampire have to kill to perpetuate his adolescent sense of immortality? Right. It doesn't matter. Because he and she are so cool their victims are mere cameos in the drama of me. There are no consequences because time no longer matters. There is only the eternal NOW of the beautiful ones. And never any sign of accumulated wisdom. Just repeated expressions of monotonous appetite. A perfect picture of teenage consciousness.

In the old days, vampires were villains. They were the evil that continually stalks the good. Now they're the beautiful that consumes the dull and the fatally frail who can't afford designer boots.

But there are consequences. To everything we do. Every life casually tossed away, or even put into danger, affects dozens and dozens of people. Our narcissistic children may be in a state of denial about that. They may dream of a world in which they get to do whatever the hell they want because they're young and invincible, but it isn't true. Being a selfish, self-obsessed pig isn't romantic. It's just sub-human.

Which we're doing a pretty good job of convincing our kids is the right way to be. They may fancy themselves undead. But in reality they're just, well, dead.

Screw the whole vampire craze. Time for everyone in its thrall to wake up and smell the coffee. Two movies that show vampirism as the curse it would inevitably be: We Are the Night and Midnight Son.

Now I have to get back to work. (GW: I spent one hour on this. Now I'm back on task.) And my prayers for Sandy and her family.

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