This book cover was brought to my attention by my friend and fellow NOLA blogger Charlotte of NOLA Femmes fame. It's tacky, tawdry, and has awesome tag lines. Who could ask for anything more?
This book cover was brought to my attention by my friend and fellow NOLA blogger Charlotte of NOLA Femmes fame. It's tacky, tawdry, and has awesome tag lines. Who could ask for anything more?
A reminder that if you want to get your authentic Irish on, you can always purchase this book. Since you know the authors and all.
Mike will be signing up at the Village Vintner in Algonquin from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. I'll be there too, mostly to just drink. Come say hi if you're in the neighborhood!
When I wrote about Sam Raimi's cinematic take on the Oz mythos, I neglected to mention my own fondness for L Frank Baum's books, which I read as a laddie. Despite being aimed at children, their tone was considerably darker than the MGM film classic, which is one reason I remain fond of the books.
I used the google and found to my delight that Gore Vidal's classic 1977 essay On Rereading The Oz Books is online at the NY Review of Books' web site. Check it out, y'all. It's the Master at his best.
And now for today's book cover. How about a little fire, Scarecrow?
It's conclave Tuesday, y'all. The gathering of what Charlie Pierce loves to call the "cult of the red beanie." I have no red-hatted dog in this fight but I've gotten a kick out some of the pre-conclave spin. My favorite was this item about Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milano:
To illustrate that life is a journey, one of the Italian cardinals touted as a favorite to be the next pope doesn't just turn to the Scriptures – but also to Jack Kerouac and Cormac McCarthy.
Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, is seen as Italy's best chance at reclaiming the papacy, following back-to-back popes from outside the country that had a lock on the job for centuries.
Quoting from Kerouac's iconic Beat Generation novel `'On the Road," Scola invited his audience of students to reflect on whether they `'were going to get somewhere, or just going." And he cited McCarthy's post-apocalyptic father-son journey in `'The Road," urging youths to consider the meaning of "destination" – a key theme in McCarthy's work.
`'The destination is a happy life, an accomplished life that doesn't end with death but with eternal life," the archbishop said.
Jack Kerouac? Crazy, daddy-o. The Cardinal actually quoted a notorious bi-sexual alcoholic drug user. Awesome. Does this make him a closet liberal? Unlikely. Perhaps he'll quote Ginsburg or Ferlinghetti next, which inspires me to suggest a possible name: Pope Beatnik I. The hipsters will love it and it shouldn't scare too many old ladies or altar boys. The latter, alas, are always scared and the former mostly admire the Cardinals for their red frocked finery.
I'll let Ian Anderson, of all people, have the last word, with this ode to the Beat Generation:
It's potboiler time at PFT again. This week's entry is a tribute to my friend Kevin who is an avid fan of PFT and trashy pulp artwork in general. He uses this tawdry magazine cover as his avatar at a certain social networking site whose name I will omit to protect the guilty:
Senator Aqua Buddha has spent much of today conducting an old fashioned talking filibuster in the Senate chamber. While I prefer an open display of filiblathering to the cloak room kind more typical of the Lott-McConnell years in the Senate, I have a request: enough with the Mr. Smith Goes To Washington references.
I realize that cameras came to the Senate fairly recently so there's not a lot of footage to show on teevee but the true face of the classic filibuster is this:
That's right, the real-as opposed to reel-face of the filibuster belongs to the arch-segregationist and disgustingly racist Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Thurmond, of course, ran for President as a Dixiecrat in 1948, was a pioneer Southern Republican and never stopped calling black folks "nigras" during his lifetime.Thurmond also holds the land speed record for the longest filibuster in Senate history: 24 hours and 18 minutes against the weak and watered down 1957 Civil Rights Act. Unless, that is, Senator Aqua Buddha breaks the old mark some 56 years later.
In the so-called "good old days of bipartisanship" it was Southern segregationists who used the talking filibuster as their main weapon against progressive legislation, not "noble" crusaders such as the fictional Senator Smith.
Additionally, as a film buff, I wonder how many people are aware of the bizarre political lineage of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Its star, Jimmy Stewart, was an ultra-conservative Republican who was well known for being "uncomfortable" around black folks. Its director, Frank Capra, was an ultra-conservative Republican in faux populist drag who was later blacklisted and became a friendly witness during the red scare. The film was written by Sidney Buchman who was a Communist who joined Capra on the blacklist but at least he was an actual scary red.
I haven't ranted here in awhile and that felt good. So, please, I'm begging you: retire the Mr. Smith references and I promise not to mention Frank Capra's uber reactionary politics again. Btw, his memoirs, The Name Above The Title was one of the best novels of the 1970's. He really knew how to sell that phony man of the people shtick. I ought to know: I bought it for many years until I read Joseph McBride's brilliant biography, Frank Capra: The Catastrophe Of Success. It's a must read tome, y'all.
That is all.
Odds Against Tomorrow is a beautifully shot and well acted late period film noir from 1959. It's a combination caper/social commentary flick produced by star Harry Belafonte. It features yet another skilled variation on Robert Ryan's villainous shtick as a racist sociopath. It's director Robert Wise's last edgy indie film before he went over to the mainstream dark side and directed <sigh> The Sound Of Music among others. Wise pulled out all the stops here and delivered a helluva film before donning lederhosen...
The movie is based on a pretty darn good pulp novel by William P. McGivern:
Here are 2 lobby card variations. One of them is kind of blurry but it's a great image so what's a bit of blurriness among friends?
Here's the trailer, which gets the release date wrong:
I just finished reading David Halberstam's great 1999 book The Children for the first time. I'm not sure why it took me so long to read it since Halberstam is one of my heroes and I'm deeply interested in the history of the Civil Rights Movement but better late than never.
The timing is also somewhat fortuitous because the SNCC "children" of the title were responsible for the Nashville sit-ins, the Freedom Rides and the Selma March, a series of epic events that helped lead to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. That is, in turn,a big story today because the Supremes took up an Alabama case that wants to rip out the heart of that act, Section 5. Discrimination? What discrimination? We have a black President, what more do *those* people want? Sorry, for channeling Justice Scalia but his "crazy wingnut uncle who watches Fox News all day" shtick is contagious, y'all.
Crazy Nino has stopped caring about his public image as a judge who believe in judicial restraint. If he were *actually* a true conservative, he'd defer to Congress instead of going off like Archie Bunker the first time he met George Jefferson, but Crazy Nino is too far gone for that. Here's hoping that at least one of the conservative Justices can read the election results instead of trying to dictate them, and the Court upholds this vital provision.
Back to The Children. It's a must read. For me, reading (and re-reading) Halberstam is like hanging out with an old friend who writes long sentences and is obsessed with semi-colons. That may be contagious since I write some rather epic sentences and tend to be at least semi-high colonic as well. <rim shot> Anyway, nobody writes narrative non-fiction prose quite as well as Halberstam and his biographical snap shots of his "characters" are unsurpassable.
Dr. A and I saw Halberstam speak at the Louisiana Book Festival in Red Stick one year. It took place in the state house chamber and I halfway expected someone to offer me a bribe or to shake me down for one. As I said before, Halberstam was one of my idols so Dr. A suggested that I chat him up. I couldn't do it, I was afraid that I'd babble like an idiot a la Ralph Kramden going "humina humina." I wish that I'd given it the old college try but I did not.
One more thing about The Children. John Lewis is one of the central figures in the book. I didn't think it was possible for me to admire him more than I already did but it happened upon reading this book. I knew that he was a remarkable man but he is also genuinely humble as you may have noticed if you saw him with Rachel Maddow tonight. (When he told Rachel he was honored to be there, he meant it.) If I were him, I'd be a raging egomaniac but John Lewis remains the same modest kid who grew up in racist rural Alabama and became an American hero. Strike that. John Lewis is an American super hero.
One of my all-time favorite non-fiction writers, Richard Ben Cramer, has died at the age of 62. Cramer wrote one of the best political books-What It Takes-as well as one of the best baseball books-Joe Dimaggio: The Hero's Life-ever. He also wrote a lot of very amusing and very long sentences in his day.
I'll let James Fallows of the Atlantic have the last word on the remarkable Mr. Cramer:
I am shocked by the news just now that Richard Ben Cramer has died at age 62, of lung cancer.His book What It Takes is the first book I tell anyone interested in American politics, American culture, and American journalism to read. It is timeless but also timely, since its cast of characters -- those competing for the presidency in 1988 -- includes our current vice president, Joe Biden. It is also a remarkably empathetic and humane look at politics and politicians. If you want to understand what keeps these people going, how they can stand it, what they have to endure and why they endure it, this is what you should read.
Detroit Lions all-time great, broadcaster and actor, Alex Karras, has died after a long illness at the age of 77. Unfortunately, more people are mentioning his part on the junky sitcom Webster than his days as one of the fiercest and best defensive players of the NFL's early days. Karras' name also surfaced recently during the Saints bountygate clusterfuck since he and Paul Hornung were suspended for the 1963 season for betting on games but never against their own teams. That's probably why Karras is not in the football hall of fame but he should be since Hornung is in like Flynn...
If you've ever read George Plimpton's classic book, Paper Lion, or seen the Alan Alda movie based on the book, you know that Karras was an intelligent, articulate and funny man. If you're unfamiliar with Paper Lion, check it out: Plimpton practiced with the Lions, and even played QB in an exhibition game. No, not a pre-season game, they hadn't come up with that dread euphemism in the 1960's.
Since Karras was one of the first Greek-Americans to achieve national prominence, my late father offered his classic commentary about that fact: "He's Greek, you know. He's doing very well."
The main reason I am posting in honor of Alex Karras, however, is his indelible performance as Mongo in the Mel Brooks masterpiece, Blazing Saddles. I am prone to employ Mongo speak when it suits me, as I will now: "Mongo sad."
Because don't get me wrong, your first fall is always the hardest and oh my GOD, the Three Garridebs and the Granada version and the BBC series and even Elementary isn't terrible, but in answering Melissa's question I have to go with Michael Jericho:
I've loved Robert Lindsay since the A&E Horatio Hornblower series, in which he took a character that I'd never thought much about and made him the weight and conscience of the entire program, such that the Internets invented elaborate and varying backstories for him and the fanfiction had fanfiction, we all gave that much of a damn. Watch "The Wrong War" (or "Frogs and Lobsters") when he says he stands accused by his own conscience, and just try not to feel it like a punch in the gut.
But Michael Jericho ... it's not just the hard-boiled thing. Those are a dime a dozen. It's the compassion he shows towards victims and the cruelty he displays towards himself and those who love him the most, it's the intense race and class consciousness of the show itself. I've got a whole post somewhere about Law and Order: UK and the ways in which British crime shows deal honestly with divisions Americans like to pretend don't exist. (I've been watching Prime Suspect for the first time and holy shit.) Servants and employers, black and white, immigrant and native-born, gay and straight, the show jumps right into it and chews it all up and finds no easy answers.
Mostly, though, it's that Jericho is a story about people coming back from the war, and if you've been reading here since the Galactica days you know there's nothing I love more than a story about the aftershocks. Jericho and his partner, Clive Harvey, came back from World War II and the world they left didn't exist anymore. Jericho's one true love married someone else. Clive's wife and kids lived through the Blitz, but barely. All around them boundaries are blurring and the old rules no longer apply.
And everything they do, everything that happens to them, everything they do to one another, comes from the absolute disorientation you feel when it wasn't the world that exploded, it was you. The world is the same. You're the different thing.
I think this sort of thing demonstrates the inadequacy of our educational discourse. First, it really should give pause to anyone who is among the “blame teachers first” crowd; how can a teacher be blamed for the results of processes that begin, at the latest, during the toddler stage? But more to the point, it demonstrates that our educational outputs are conditioned by a host of factors that are really beyond society’s control. We don’t take children from their parents, and of course we shouldn’t. But a growing body of evidence suggests that parental input at the earliest stage of life have a huge impact on the success of children. How do we square that with our egalitarian aspirations, when we know that not all parents are made equal? I don’t have an answer, except for this: to protect all of our people from disadvantage through a robust and generous social safety net.
I can't tell you how important it is to be able to write. Not from an artistic perspective, but from a practical one when searching for jobs or doing those jobs. If your e-mail is entirely AOL kiddiespeak, or misuses words, you don't get to the next stage of the interview. If you can't fill out a form in plain language, or read a paragraph to understand insurance benefits or a doctor's instructions, or write a request letter, it stymies you in ways that go far beyond just the inconvenience of not expressing your thoughts clearly.
Part of solving this is equalizing the opportunity for exposure: better funding for libraries and musuems, especially in economically disadvantaged communities. Part of this is also making sure we close the digital divide; there are whole libraries online and I know the joke is that today's technologically connected kids don't read but reading on a screen is still reading.
And part of this is making sure there is time in which to read. It's easy to bag on parents who don't read to their kids, but if you're working two jobs and aren't home for bedtimes, if you're so exhausted when you get home that you've got nothing left to give to your family, if you're miles from a university or school of any quality or ambition and don't get paid holidays to take trips, if your every thought is about the rent and the phone and electric bills, where exactly are you supposed to find the reserves to pick up Dickens, or even Judy Blume?
I joke all the time that as the oldest of three I was the starter kid, and my dad, though working full-time, did stuff like taking me to see Star Wars when I was two and reading me The Hobbit when I was five and generally treating me like an equal when it came to culture from the time that I could talk. He just sort of popped me into a backpack and went on about his day, and as a result I got exposed to a lot of things we now consider luxuries, or think of as adult pleasures. We would take annual trips down to Chicago and spend the day wandering around the Art Institute looking at paintings. One night we stayed over in a hotel (exciting!) and after dinner happened upon a play that was just starting in a cramped theater upstairs in a college. It was To Kill a Mockingbird, and it blew my tiny little mind.
We could do things like that not just because we had (relative) money -- museums have free days and there's all kinds of low-cost theater options available even in small towns, and libraries too -- but because we had the time. Vibrant literature is evidence of free minds, and a great society is one that can support the freedom to expose oneself to great writing, the mental and physical space in the day to take it in. Quality child care, sensible family leave policies, living wages, all of those have as much to do with creating generations of readers and writers as anything that happens in a classroom.
What book changed your life?
The first book in the series, June 2011's Lancelot And The Wolf, was rereleased for the Amazon Kindle, where it raced up the charts. However, a torrent of one-star reviews on Amazon.com first tipped off Mirador publishers that the issue may be more than a coincidence. The investigation that ensued revealed that all the reviews were posted in the same short time period and had similar anti-gay connotations, describing the series as “Twisted” “Perverted” and “Disgusting.” Not long afterwards similar hate emails began pouring into the publisher’s offices and to Luddington directly.
I think 90 percent of our sex problem is the need to put everybody in a box, and say you are straight, and you are gay, and we are friends, and we are In Love, and the most important thing is where you put your bits so that we know how to categorize you. I can't tell you how many people argue that bisexuality doesn't exist, like it's just laziness or refusal to pick a side or something. What if there aren't sides? What if it's just love, either way?
I've actually read the original here, and I'm sorry, you tell me who Lancelot loved more. You tell me who Arthur loved more. The point is that they loved each other. Otherwise it's just two guys waving their dicks around over a chick, and not a tragedy. Things like that are just a mess, and everybody involved would be far better off with a threesome than this CHOOSE ME OR HIM bullshit, and also who the hell on earth has a vested interest in keeping Lancelot straight anyway? Like what is the inherent win there for anybody except maybe Guinevere?
This may not be the best, or even pulpiest, cover but dig the title of this tome by the hardboiled writer John D. MacDonald. It's also his first novel, which is both brassy and cupcakey:
I'm feeling a bit like the Grim Reaper lately, y'all. But I needed post about this one. What may be the last generation of public intellectuals continues to drop like flies. Robert Hughes, the acerbic, witty and brilliant art critic and historian has died at the age of 74.
Hughes was an Australian emigree to the US and disdained the g'day mate/Crocodile Dundee stereotype of *his* countrymen so beloved by *our* countrymen. He was the author of a brilliant history of his native land, The Fatal Shore. It also became a teevee documentary series, as did several other of his tomes including Barcelona and The Shock Of The New. The latter series was Hughes' ode to 20th Century modernism, and featured my favorite art historical quote from the Futurist Manifesto, "Oh, maternal ditch." I refuse to provide any context because, as Tom Stoppard once wrote, "my art belongs to Dada."
Here's episode one of The Shock Of The New:
Vidal week continues with this 2008 British teevee show:
Contrarians- particularly funny ones- can be the spice of life because they keep you on your toes and, most importantly, get you thinking. We've just lost the greatest contrarian of all: Gore Vidal who died at the age of 86.
I've been reading and re-reading Vidal for most of my life. His historical novels were not only very popular but they breathed life into the past as well as putting the story back into history. He was a master of mixing real people in with fictional characters and spinning a helluva yarn. His status as our national contrarian was perfected with the publication of Burr, which was an argument on behalf of one of the great scamps of our history, Aaron Burr.
His rather surrealistic novels such as Myra Breckinridge, Myron, Duluth and Kalki are underrated gems. Myron is one of the funniest books ever written in the English language; especially Vidal's use of Supreme Court Justice's names for bodily naughty bits. To paraphrase Tricky Dick's henchman John Mitchell, if you have them by the Whizzer Whites, their hearts will surely follow. Or was that Chuck Colson?
Much of Vidal's literary reputation lies in his essays; many of which started as book reviews for various publications but took on a life of their own. This is the body of the master's work that I have avidly re-read and poured over the most. Vidal's sharp wit and barbed prose is a major influence on my own humble work as an internet smart ass. Anyway, check out United States, which is the uber compilation of some of Vidal's finest essays.
In many ways, Gore Vidal was the H.L. Mencken of our time although the only thing the two of them would have agreed on was the power of the written word and the utter awesomeness of a good wise crack. Mencken was something of a conservative curmudgeon whereas Vidal was a man of the left always eager for a scrap with any and all comers. They were both, however, elegant writers with barbed tongues and sharp literary knives.
I haven't even scratched the surface of Vidal's importance as an openly gay writer (even though he preferred the term same-sexer) and the firestorm his 1948 novel, The City And The Pillar caused. I will leave that to others. All I can say is this: he will be missed.
Not really but I dig this crazy cover y'all. I also like the author: Kenneth Millar is Ross MacDonald's real name. I haven't read this one but he was hard to beat for hard boiled detective fiction.
Dr. A and I saw Ridley Scott's Prometheus last weekend. We thought it was keen, groovy and swell. The film did, however, deploy one troublesome sci-fi cliche: it had a bald alien. Why are all aliens bald? Is there anti-hair bacteria floating around out there or are they all Michael Jordan fans? I firmly believe that there are hairy aliens. Just look at Mitt Romney who is clearly from the planet Weirdo...
Writer, director and second generation humorist Nora Ephron has died at the age of 71. Her book Heartburn is one of the funniest things I've ever read although her ex-husband Carl Bernstein, who is skewered therein, may beg to differ. Her film career ended on a high note in 2009 with Julie & Julia and who among us didn't howl, guffaw and cackle during When Harry Met Sally? Writing comedy is serious business and Nora Ephron was one of the best. She'll be missed.
Here's a swell tribute to Nora by Lawrence O'Donnell:
I'm fond of Westerns and as I'm overly fond of saying they're the root of most of today's action genres. Edgar Rice Burroughs was one of the grandaddies of sci-fi and his books gave their heroes a space helmet instead of a stetson; other than Tarzan who was hatless except when Cheetah sat on his head.
This week's pulp cover takes that whole mixed hat thing to it's logical extreme:
I love old paperback cover art: the pulpier the better. Pulp Fiction Thursday was a regular feature at my original blog for many years. Since that blog has temporarily vanished from the interweb because of the demise of blog city (I have some of sort of copy on my hard drive) I thought that I'd revive the feature here at First Draft.
I usually pick the covers whimsically. Some are books that I've read, others are simply cool oddities with either interesting art or bizarre titles. This week's edition fits in to the cool oddity category. Besides, what's more pulpilicous than a skull?
I'm about 10 pages from the end right now, and practically ate the thing in the past three days.
"I'm mean & I'm nasty, I'm full of abuse. I'm evil incarnate, a most sinister goose! If you think I am kind then your idea's absurd, I am a low-down stinking fowl-feathered bird!"
The book is clearly autobiographical. For more info, check out Homan's post about it.
The books have sold some 10 million copies globally — and the author, Suzanne Collins, is the “best-selling Kindle author of all time.” They are a shrewd combination of standard YA fare — another love triangle between a girl and two boys … really? — and pop-culture riffs. You have the extreme version of reality shows like American Idoland Survivor. You have the young girl who reluctantly grows into a ferocious killer, which started with Buffy and Nikita (if you have to ask…) and now seems to be found in almost every other movie.
The books also had some fortunate timing for the author in terms of catching the zeitgeist, since perhaps the core theme is the 99% (the 12 districts) vs. the 1% (Capitol), the poor and underfed vs. the rich and overfed.
I've written before about how our culture seems obssessed with the end of the world right now, with what we'd do and who we'd be if everything just caved in. The Hunger Games, the Walking Dead, The Road, the Change series, too many movies to count my favorite of which is this one for its quiet, normal brutality and dread:
Some of this current obssession is the same wish-fulfillment that's been around since we started telling tales of the hunt around the camptire: Sure, I'm a loser here and now, but when you need somebody to terraform Mars you bitches will be lining up to blow me. Right now my archery skills don't mean shit, but wait till I'm making you scrub my floors for some of the venison. My knowledge of feudal economic structure surely means someday I'll have an army of vassals doing my bidding, not to mention court concubines.
But some of our present concern about having a plan for the world ending has to do with the fact that the world is, in fact, ending. The economy kids are graduating high school into is one in which fewer and fewer opportunities exist. It's one in which the contributions of young people and especially young women are constantly denigrated: Their generation is spoiled, entitled, lazy, even as they fight for scraps with a determination that should bring us to awe. They are connected to the misery of the world like nobody ever has been before, and the mystery is not how many of them have gone mad from it but how few. And like all kids ever, they have to prove to the world that they are worthy individuals, who are themselves and not their possessions or their parents or their hometowns or their diplomas.
They can drive through their hometowns and see the burned out factories, the boarded up storefronts. They can sit at the dinner table and listen to their angry, embittered parents talk about how the old neighborhood used to be before all those new peopel ruined it. They can chuck a rock and hit a place that looks just like a science fiction film, just like a song about hopelessness, just like a District beaten into submission for daring to defy the ruling class.
It's no wonder a story about a girl who stands up and says fuck you to all of that sings loudly in their ears. I'm two decades away from teenagehood and it plays at top volume for me.
Yesterday marked the bi-centennial of Charles Dickens' birth. Dickens is one of the few writers that I read as a kid that I still read, which either means I was a child prodigy or I'm now an old fart or both.
Anyway, I'd like to pose a mid-week question: what's your favorite Dickens novel, film based on one of his novels and teevee adaptation? It's a hard one for me because not only did the great man write so many brilliant books but his work adapts so well to both the big and small screen.
I'm going to cheat and list a favorite as well as a runner-up. It's hard y'all.
Novel: Great Expectations. Runner-up: David Copperfield. The latter is my first Dickensian love but I re-read Great Expectations at least every other year.
Film: David Lean's Great Expectations (1947,) which is on my list of the greatest films ever made. I've seen this one at least 15 times. Runner-up: the 1934 version of David Copperfield is a sentimental favorite because of WC Fields as Mr. Micawber and Basil Rathbone as the cold hearted blaggart Mr. Murdstone.
Teevee; Dickens and the mini-series were made for one another and Martin Chuzzelwit (1994) is my favorite. Tom Wilkinson as the slippery Mr. Pecksniff steals every scene he's in. Runner-up: Bleak House (2005.) The endless litigation of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce tells you everything you need to know about why "the law is an ass."
Okay, readers, it's your turn.
What book have you tried to finish, but just can't?
I get five or six pages into One Hundred Years of Solitude every time, and cannot get any farther.
You see that bullshit right there? That is the cover of a soon-to-be-released children's book. No, really. Some guy (of COURSE it was a guy) looked around at the world and thought to himself, "You know what young girls don't do enough of? Hate their bodies. I better do something about that!"
I wish I was making this shit up. But no, it's really happening. You can buy it yourself come October 16. I'm sure Athenae and Virgo are currently en route to beat this guy with a stack of stupid Oprah diet books.
Jesus, the cover image alone is enough to warrant having this guy visited by the Feminist Hulk. I realize that this pile of offal is self-published; at least there's that. Oh, in case your blood isn't boiling yet, have a look at the blurb the author himself uses to describe his literary steamer:
This book is about a 14 year old girl who goes on a diet and is transformed from being extremely overweight and insecure to a normal sized girl who becomes the school soccer star. Through time, exercise and hard work, Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self image.
I think I speak for decent people everywhere, Mr. Kramer, when I say FUUUUUUUCK YOUUUUUU!
People, I don't have any children, and I've never been a woman (batshit insane reincarnation "theories" aside). But--and this is the important part here, and part of why we seem to be so fucked lately--I can imagine that this nonsense might not make girls and women giddy with excitement. Hell, it should offend men, too, simply because of the anti-human message, but let's not go too far with our utopian dreaming here.
But back to why we're so fucked, and why I often end comments with the phrase "Come on, meteor." When did the very notion of imagining other people's reactions become taboo? I realize that Sonia Sotomayor was pilloried because she might display empathy (something you want not just in a judge but, you know, A HUMAN GODDAMNED BEING), but I can accept that was an attack used by the screeching howler monkeys of Fox News. This? This? A grown man honestly thought this was a good idea. Jesus. Don't buy this book. Do spit on Paul Kramer if you see him.
Happy Friday! Come on, meteor.
Speaking of all things nerdly, do we need a Dance with Dragons thread? Has everyone else finished devouring it yet? Or should I give it another week or so?
Most of the crap in this book is about what you'd expect from the 1947 copyright date: If you kiss boys before you're married you're a giant slutty whore and no man will ever want you. Also don't wear too much lipstick, you clown-faced slag.
But this bit really chafed at me, and not just because it's crap advice and hectoring during ANY era. Because something I've been talking a lot about lately (mostly due to research on the Irish pub book, actually, and the women who ran the places that bore their husbands' names) is the forgotten truth that poor women have always worked outside the home.
Women in factories, schools, hospitals, and in the homes of the wealthy and well-off, those women were working wives, working mothers, too. They didn't have the option to NOT leave the kids with the neighbor or a relative (or just leave the kids alone) and go off to the job. It wasn't the desire to make something of themselves or have their own lives and incomes or not be dependent on their husbands that led them to enter the workforce. It was the powerful desire to EAT and PAY RENT and buy their children SHOES.
They weren't being "contrary to nature" so much as they were being "contrary to debtors' prison."
And I'm guessing those ladies had bigger problems than somebody in a book calling them morally inferior to good upstanding housewives, but for some reason it particularly cheeses me right off that the same nonsense women were subjected to back then so neatly forshadows the same treatment today, from the same militant Ladies Against Women types:
I believe that many people are realizing that the decline in stay at home moms has been a major factor in the decline of the American family. In the past several decades we have seen a significant rise in the rates of crimes, teen pregnancy, childhood behavioral disorders, and violence.
I think that many moms have decided that enough is enough. They have decided that their children should be raised by a loving, nurturing mother and not a cold, impersonal daycare. I realize that there are some daycare providers that truly do love the children they care for, but unfortunately many only think of it as a job.
These smug people assume everyone has choices, and I know this is becoming a Thing for me lately, but not everybody can choose one path or another. Plenty of women would probably love to work, but can't, because a lack of affordable child care options in the community make working either income-neutral or actually more expensive than staying home. Plenty of women would probably love to stay home with the kids, but Dad's sick or unemployed, or Dad's job pays 10 percent less than it did last year and somebody needs braces, or something.
I mean, the number of ways you can be fucked these days approaches infinite, so to assume that the only reason a woman wants to work is for herself (and don't get me started on THAT, either, like how dare you have a life when you have a husband!) is just the worst kind of privileged bullshit. Lifing women about their choices — whether those choices involve work or home life — sucks anyway, but it comes from a place of assuming they have them, and that's not a safe assumption. It never was.
I've kinda sorta missed having C Ray to kick around. I haven't missed having him as my Mayor but he was so easy to mock that he was good for the satire business. It got to the point that he was such a soft target that I laid off. It was probably sometime around the point when his approval rating sank to 19% or thereabouts. It was like kicking a shiny headed dog with worms or something.
C Ray is back in the news this week, which gives me an excuse to take this stroll down malakatude memory lane. As you can see from the picture above, Nagin has written his very own Katrina tome even though back in January he told the Picayune that he had no plans to write a "tell all thing.' Knowing Nagin he probably said man at the end of the sentence, man. The Mayor as hipster doofus or is that douchebag?
The book is called Katrina's Secrets. I have a hunch that there won't be many secrets divulged or truths told because Nagin is terminally delusional. I doubt if I'll buy it but it could have some new foot in mouth masterpieces such as "crime keeps the brand out there" or "Ground Zero is just a big hole in the ground." It probably won't discuss the 90 minute shower he took on Air Force One while other Gret Stet guvmint officials were trying to get W to do something. C Ray had to shave, buff and shine his empty head. The man was never able to walk past a mirror without admiring himself: vanity can be a form of malakatude too.
C Ray has also hit the lecture circuit with middling success: people aren't that eager to hear from someone whose reputation lies somewhere between buffoon and poltroon. He's also billing himself as a "recovery expert and green advocate." Not many people in New Orleans would agree with either characterization. Recovery expert is laughable on its face and "green advocate" is almost as funny: his administration ended curbside recycling here and his sanitation director, and Whitney Houston wannabe, Veronica White said that "recycling was so 20th Century." Ms. White was, if anyhting, funnier than her boss; unintentionally, that is...
I could go on and on about Nagin's malakatude but since he's yesterday's man I won't. I did, however, once dub him malaka of the century and that should suffice.
See ya later, C Ray; after a while crocodile:
Hope that spinning platter didn't make anyone dizzy. If it did, I blame the vain, which is the title of yet another riff on Hizzhonor the former Mayor as well as a great song by Dwight Yoakam.
I don't know about y'all but I'm deeply conflicted about the Libyan intervention. Gaddafi, however you spell his name, is indeed a bloodthirsty lunatic and I wouldn't shed any tears if his tent got hit by a tomahawk missle. BUT the way this whole thing came down is way too haphazard for my taste.One day everyone was obsessed with Japan and the next day we're bombing Libya. The rebels did appear to be on the verge of losing but at the risk of sounding like Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy, "who are these guys?" Beats the hell out of me. They're a leaderless bunch of guys who shoot guns in the air every time there are teevee cameras around. I hope Richard Engel doesn't get hit in the head with a stray bullet. Yo, Richard, maybe you oughta come home and write a book and let some other bastard get shot at.
I am usually NOT a process person but the way this happened doesn't sit well with me. It seems to have been driven by two pols who are very unpopular at home right now: President Sarko and Prime Minister Posh Boy. But now that the operation is underway, guess who's in the lead? In the immortal words of Bob Newhart, "that, that, that would be us." The mere fact that the President feels it necessary to say that our leadership role will last "days not weeks" makes me nervous. We've been on this slippery slope before and I'm not alone in having war fatigue.
I believe the Obama Administration's intentions are good: they don't want to see an humanitarian disaster on the scale of Bosnia occur on their watch. (Btw, I think that phrase should be retired but I'm using it in honor of Jude the Submariner) BUT good intentions are NOT sufficient. After watching the Bushies give Wilsonian internationalism a right wing twist, I'm a born again realist in matters of war and peace. If it's in our national interest to use violence, I'm willing to hold my nose and hope for the best. In this instance, however, I'm inclined to agree with Josh Marshall who ended a very strong post as follows:
So let's review: No clear national or even humanitarian interest for military intervention. Intervening well past the point where our intervention can have a decisive effect. And finally, intervening under circumstances in which the reviled autocrat seems to hold the strategic initiative against us. This all strikes me as a very bad footing to go in on.
And this doesn't even get us to this being the third concurrent war in a Muslim nation and the second in an Arab one. Or the fact that the controversial baggage from those two wars we carry into this one, taking ownership of it, introducing a layer of 'The West versus lands of Islam' drama to this basically domestic situation and giving Qaddafi himself or perhaps one of his sons the ability to actually start mobilization some public or international opinion against us.
I can imagine many of the criticisms of the points I've made. And listening to them I think I'd find myself agreeing in general with a lot of it. But it strikes me as a mess, poorly conceived, ginned up by folks with their own weird agendas, carried out at a point well past the point that it was going to accomplish anything. Just all really bad.
Like Josh, I *really* hope I'm wrong about this because I'd love to see that murderous brown clad shitbird Gaddafi toppled. But the way they've gone about this gives me the heebie jeebies. I think they should have drafted Silvio Berlusconi to go down and hang with his boy Muammar and talk him down when the latter is all mellow after a bunga-bunga party. That's what Dr. House would do, after all. Holy crap, did I just invoke Hugh Laurie's lunatic teevee doctor as having the prescription for world peace? Hookers and House, hookers and Berlusconi, hookers and Gaddafi. Bunga-bunga instead of bongo fury or something like that...
Yeah, I know war isn't funny but the absurdity of the situation cries out for mockery. I blame it on Joseph Heller: at a formative age I read Catch-22 far too many times for my own good. I've always identified with Yossarian's absurdist view of war. I'll leave sincerity to Nately and the Bush gang. Hmm, I wonder who Nately's whore was in the Bush era? But I digress,..
Despite my Catch-22 fixation, for many years I was something of a do-gooder when it came to international affairs. I thought that, in some circumstances, the good guys should intervene to protect people from dictators. It was, after alll, *one* of the reasons we fought against the Nazis. Then, I took a very interesting course in human rights law at Tulane Law School. It was taught by a visiting professor, Tom Farer, who is an expert in the field and a very entertaining prof to boot. The funnier the teacher, the more I learn. Surprised? I thought not.
The final exam was an eye opener: Farer created several scenarios involving military intervention in the name of human rights. It made me realize that while there *are* bad guys and there *is* evil in the world, it is very, very hard to use force in support of human rights. It sounds all righteous and noble but people still get killed, war is unpredictable and shit always goes wrong. Always.
I hope these ramblings made sense: other than spell checking, I applied no polish and just let 'er rip. (I guess that qualifies as a run-on sentence alert.) I am deeply conflicted about this latest episode as well as suffering from a nearly terminal case of war fatigue. Sometimes, I just wanna crawl under the covers and hide. In the end, all I can do is cross my fingers and hope that somebody takes out Gaddafi pronto so Sarko and the Posh Boy can thump their chests and get back to being deeply unpopular. I know nobody's going to take my advice about Silvio, Muammar and bunga-bunga but it would be less costly in lives and treasure.
So this happened:
If you missed us at Kitty's (it was a madhouse all day, between the amateur drinkers and the pipe band marching through the place) you can order an autographed copy here.
Thus endeth the pimpage for a while. Thank you to everybody who bought online, came out to see us, and generally cheered us on. This was a fun project, but for it to work lots and lots of people had to invite us into their families, Irish and otherwise. The generosity of others never fails to astound me.