Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Translating the President


"We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him."
- George Bush, Leader of the Western World, in his State of the Union address last night.


“Well, if that there varmint don’t do what I like, well, sure, I’ll go talk with the Sheriff, but if the Sheriff says, let’s wait, well, tarnation, I ain’t gonna wait. No, I’m gonna round me up a posse and go lynch that no good rustler. Yee-haw!”
- George Bush, Cowboy of the Western World, in his State of My Ranch address yesterday evening.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful. - Friedrich Nietzsche

The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them. - Mark Twain

Sunday, January 26, 2003

"It gave them somewhere to go, that they didn't have to hang on to me so much. Almost like a mama. I can't entertain 'em all the time. I can send 'em to the playground, though, with fun people that I trust. You know: `Go. Go, go, go play. Go swing. Go get on the seesaw.' 'Cause they feel like it's all me. It's under that Dolly umbrella. And I feel good that I've been able to give them something. An extension of myself, so to speak." Dolly Parton sweetly explaining the significance of her theme park, Dollywood. [NYT]

She goes on to be surprisingly candid: ""I've often wondered if it's healthy for some of these people to depend on me that much, to where people live through you and don't live their own lives. It's like when people say, `I'm in love,' when they're really in lust. They call so many things love. I spend a lot of time thinking about stuff like that in the wee hours. But I think it's healthier for those people to have something to look forward to than to not. If they've got a show to look forward to or a record to look forward to, it might keep them from doing something bad to themselves or to somebody else. Or give 'em something more to do than just dwelling on themselves so much. I don't know. I just know I love the fans. I appreciate 'em. I love what I do. So I guess we'll all be at it for a long time to come."

Honestly, I find Dolly to be annoying as hell. But those words seem pretty honest. Maybe some of the candy-coated craziness in America does have some goodness waiting beneath the surface.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

"The audience is never wrong. They have a huge appetite for this and we've got a responsibility to satisfy that appetite." So says Sandy Grushow, chairman of the Fox Entertainment Group, on the popularity of reality shows, as reported in the New York Times.

You know what the public wants? Public executions. OK, so I stole that from the Tony Wilson character in 24 Hour Party People, but it fits.

Wonderful commentary by Michael Kinsley shows how George Bush wouldn't be where he is today (er, the White House) without having benefited from a peculiar brand of affirmative action. How the man got into Yale with his academic record is nothing short of a miracle. Unless you consider the fact that he's the son of a graduate. Rich. And from a high-profile political family. As Kinsley says, Bush "may be the most spectacular affirmative-action success story of all time."

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Jerry Thacker, whom I remember from Bob Jones University, withdrew his name from consideration for Bush's Presidential Advisory Commission on HIV and AIDS today after it was revealed that he believed AIDS is a "gay plague." [CNN] He's also well known for believing homosexuality is a sin. Bush immediately distanced himself from the bloke, but, come on, you can't tell me he wasn't aware of his beliefs before he considered him. His web site declares them pretty clearly. Or maybe not. Interestingly enough it's hard to find the words "gay" or "homosexual" on the site. This site seems to be aiming to help primarily good, straight Christian people who get AIDS. HIV is "just a dumb virus!" one brochure on the site exclaims. "It doesn't care if you are religious or irreligious." Watch out Christians, you can get AIDS, too!

On a related note, Mr. Thacker, his wife and daughter all have AIDS, after his wife received a blood transfusion in the '80s. I certainly wish them the best and hope only for their improved health. But I do think it's ironic and terribly sad that they haven't adjusted their intolerant beliefs after having undoubtedly spent a great deal of time around gays over the past couple of decades: they've made it their ministry, you see, to educate people about AIDS and AIDS prevention--and the need for abstinence, of course.

Monday, January 20, 2003

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. - John Muir

War is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow. - Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

When I let go of what I am, then I become what I might be. - Lao Tszu

On Friday morning I heard a great piece of satirical commentary by John Ridley on NPR's Morning Edition. He pointed out that if we had a draft solely for America's rich white kids, the country would never go to war. But that we'd never have a draft for those kids because if we did, all the rich white folks would be afraid that the country would be taken over by women, gays and blacks in their absence.

Friday, January 10, 2003

And now, the war on terrorism extends to the war on condoms, and millions of deaths may result around the world because of the Republicans' irresistible impulse to foist their puritanical values upon the rest of us--and the rest of the world, in this case. Some wacky evangelical folks out there are even distributing misinformation that tells you that the AIDS virus measure sonly about a micron in diameter and so easily passes through the (nonexistent) pores of a condom which they say are 10 microns. Of course, if that were true, we'd surely even more AIDS cases on our hands than we do. And we'd have millions of people who have always used protection who'd have AIDS and they'd likely have passed it on to many more people. You do the math. There'd probably be more people with AIDS than without it by now. But people don't take these things to their logical extent.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

"It breaks my heart to find myself within the cesspool of reality TV shows."

Peter Funt, the host of "Candid Camera" and son of the original host Allen Funt. Last year at an Arizona airport security checkpoint he tricked an unwitting participant into laying on a conveyor belt and passing through an X-ray machine. The man came out the other side bruised, bloody and humiliated. His concern for the reality TV cesspool aside, Funt exhibited little sympathy for this poor bloke: "We accidentally hurt somebody," he said. "I was relieved that it wasn't worse and upset that it happened at all. We turned it over to our insurance company. He was offered a token amount, a few thousand dollars, and he turned it down."

Funt then returned for another swim in the cesspool.

Story from the NYT.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

Tried my hand at automatic writing tonight, something I hadn't done in quite a while. I was inspired by the writing prompt on my friend Ken Ronkowitz's Poets Online site.

The Men of Our Imagination

The men of our imagination speak in the moonless night,
Their words unfit for public speaking,
Curling at their feet and growling
Slipping silently along the moistened ground

Decrepit they are in their features
Stone noses and calloused ears
Their eyes trip about, to and fro
Scanning each other, themselves, others, you, me

They cannot speak kindly; their words are only those of war
Quick sons of Mars, fecund friends to blood
They ache for visceral pleasures
For the steam of raw and tender flesh

Their hearts exposed; they beat relentlessly
Their breath is quick and redolent with meat
They know and relish primitive desires
Desires other men fear, cautious for their selves

Their whispers gurgle slick, both common and exotic
Their words sharp projectiles, slung like mean tacks
Their demeanors stolid, faces set, determined
Yet, their spirits are delirious, ripe with relish for their strength

We know the moon is not hidden by clouds
The moon all-knowing has fled for tamer quarters
Leaving the footprints of these men to be discovered
Only by future alien tribes who come and wonder

Robert Stribley

I don't know how true that is to "automatic writing," since there's a pretty clear and current theme running though it. I wrote it in a hurry though--does that count?

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Why the sudden penchant for posting poems? Because I can, I guess.

~ Reported Missing ~

Can you give me a precise description? Said the policeman.
Her lips, I told him, were soft.

Could you give me, he said, pencil raised, a metaphor?
Soft as an open mouth, I said.

Were there any noticeable peculiarities? he asked.
Her hair hung heavily, I said.

Any particular colour? he said.
I told him I could recall little but its distinctive scent.

What do you mean, he asked, by distinctive?
It had the smell of woman's hair, I said.

Where were you? he asked.
Closer than I am to anyone at present,
I said, level with her mouth, level with her eyes.

Her eyes? he said, what about her eyes?
There were two, I said, both black.

It has been established, he said,
that eyes cannot, outside common usage, be black;
are you implying that violence was used?

Only the gentle hammer blow of her kisses,
the scent of her breath, the...

Quite, said the policeman, standing,
but I regret that we know of no one
answering to that description.

~ Barry Cole ~

My Favorite Movies of 2002

In no particular order:

Time Out - probably my favorite - French existential masterpiece about a man who loses his job, can't bear to tell his family, so begins to construct an elaborate artificial life. Chilling, sad, yet somehow also hauntingly beautiful.
The Sunshine State - Edie Falco (Sopranos) steals the show in a hilarious, touching performance - John Sayles does Magnolia in Florida with folks conniving for real estate.
The Fast Runner - first movie in Inuit - saw it at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic. Beautiful, Shakespearean tale.
Far From Heaven - sad, beautiful and soberingly current
The Piano Teacher - stark, horrifying, believable - Isabelle Huppert is gripping.
24 Hour Party People - giddy wonderful fun, especially if you love '80s bands like New Order and the Happy Mondays, whose evolution this psuedo documentary, rooted in "history" depicts
Y Tu Mamá También - sexy road trip in Mexico with lessons both startling and poignant learned along the way.
Lantana - an Aussie Magnolia. Anthony Lapaglia is solid, as is Geoffrey Rush--and everyone else. It probably came out in 2001, but I saw it this year in the theater.
About a Boy - wonderfully funny, touching wihout being grotesquely sentimental. Hugh Grant's character even learns something about himself, and the changes he makes are reasonably believable. A great, highly animated cast: the expressions flitting across the faces of the various characters in this flick are reason enough to watch it. Toni Collette and, er, the kid who plays the kid, were wonderful choices.

Didn't live up to the hype: The Gangs of New York - interesting a times with a marvelous over the top performance by Daniel Day-Lewis. But hardly top 10 material. A hackneyed plot and one of those unforgivable scenes where villain is about to kill the hero, but instead offers a ludicrous reason for letting him go: obviously, so the hero can return to kill the villain later on. Please! The background details strung throughout the movie were far more interesting, but, unfortunately, these seem consciously inserted, somewhat deflating their value and makng you think our watching a pseudo-documentary.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Now, here's something: Pepys' Diary in blog format. What a great idea and a wonderful, literary use of the web. With a new entry added each day. Readers can even add their own annotations. Brilliant!