not in our stars, but in ourselves
1. Since I’m at work and I have to pretend not to be goofing off all day, I haven’t been watching the Benghazi Committee circus today. I’ve been following along as best I can on Twitter, and it sounds like this sums it all up:
2. Spent a while recently combing through the archives of Jeb Lund’s (apparently defunct) blog, Mr. Destructo. I really recommend reading anything and everything that catches your eye, but this oldie-and-goodie, “Let Them Eat Pussy: The Moveable Feast of Rob Ford” is pretty spectacular. To wit: “If I were mayor, I would preemptively deny all the places I had allegedly eaten pussy. It would be like Green Eggs and Ham, but about pussy.” Lund has gigs elsewhere, as a columnist for The Guardian and Rolling Stone, in case you want more Jeb (not Jeb!, please note.) F’rinstance, this one about Jim Webb yesterday:
So it’s on to a potential independent ticket for the former Senator from Virginia. Webb talked up his potential third party bid by saying that, if it comes down to a Hillary vs Trump showdown, “I honestly could see us beating both of them”, which is basically insane. He added, “More people in this country call themselves independents than either Republicans or Democrats.”
He’s right: people call themselves “independent” all the time. They also tell you they donate to charity, plan to learn a second language and regularly work out. In practice, people are actually mostly Republicans or Democrats. Calling yourself an independent is essentially a pointless way of trying to appear sophisticated, like eating popcorn with chopsticks. Nobody’s going to flock to Jim Webb except the hacks who make centrism into a virtue in vacuous defense of the status quo.
3. I can’t tell you how delicious it is to watch Trump troll the living shit out of the GOP, with his brief inclusion of facts in his campaign strategy: belying Jeb Bush’s claims that his brother “kept America safe,” Trump has accurately noted that GWB was, in fact, president when 9/11 happened. Seeing Jeb and other righty non-starters effectively do a Three Stooges-style “why I oughta!” in response has been tremendously satisfying.
4. Relatedly, ALL the Republican candidates are, objectively, terrible. This isn’t something I say as a pinko inner-city godless lefty. This is something I say as a human being evaluating other alleged human beings. Politicians may be bad people most of the time, but none of these shysters even have any policies worth tearing apart – and then, beyond that utter lack of policy, they’re bad people to boot. I don’t like Hillary, as a person or as a candidate, but hell, she has policy ideas. Do I agree with all of them? No. Do I think they’re often baldly cynical attempts to pretend she’s a feminist and a liberal? Yes. But do they have some work put into them? Some heft? Some ideas that aren’t just brain farts? Yes, they do. And then, you have the jokers on the right. I happened to catch Ben Carson on George Stephanopoulos’s show this past Sunday, and it really was as bafflingly bad as Charles P. Pierce says it was in his Esquire column:
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, sir, when we look back at 9/11, 3,000 people dead on that day. We knew Afghanistan was harboring Osama bin Laden. Ninety percent of the American public supported taking military action, every member of Congress but one. If that is not a case where you would order retaliation, what is?
CARSON: Well, I just said, I do believe that we should have taken aggressive action. I just don’t think necessarily putting tens of thousands of our troops was the correct way to do it. But, you know, we’re talking about things that are in the past. We will never know the answer to that.
Yes, because who can know anything about things that are in the past? Was George Washington a monitor lizard? Could Abraham Lincoln have been a Soviet spy? Life is such a mystery.
One of my friends summed it up pretty succinctly: Ben Carson is the dumbest person ever to pioneer brain surgery. Anyway, I often find it incredibly sad that the political system here in America is so irretrievably broken that we entertain fools and trolls like these as serious candidates, because we know in our hearts that we’re all owned by a few huge corporations anyway, so the person taking that oath in January 2017 really won’t matter all that much except in a symbolic sense; but I try to laugh to keep from screaming. Doesn’t always work – but sometimes it helps a bit.
5. Speaking of incredibly sad things, The Hollywood Reporter has a devastating story about Mickey Rooney’s awful last few years, during which his wife and stepson abused him physically, emotionally, and financially. Rooney wasn’t a great guy, to put it lightly, but he certainly deserved better than the ending he got.
6. To more enjoyable topics: I haven’t seen Crimson Peak yet (don’t worry, I’ll post all my ~*~thoughts~*~~ here when I do), but based on this list of twelve films with similar subject matter/tone/theme/style, I am ACHING to see it as soon as humanly possible. Probably Sunday, so stay tuned on Monday. (Maybe.)
7. Reverse Shot is challenging the dominance of auteurism, and I’m delighted. As someone who tends to prefer films from before 1950; who will always see cinema as a basically collaborative art, even when certain contributions are more noticeable and integral than others; and who tends to see acolytes of auteur theory (particularly when they consider themselves the Great Auteur of whom they speak) as a bunch of self-important gas bags; I am all for this development. Now, don’t worry. I’m not trying to say that the director is just another cog in the machine. But I think that his (almost always “his,” isn’t it) importance is often overstated. Even a monomaniac like Hitchcock understood full well that he could only bring his film to life by working intimately with other people: his composers, his costume designers, his sound designers, his cinematographers, his screenwriters – and occasionally his actors. He was never shy about admitting it in his interviews, essays, etc., and that’s why he remains (for me) a mostly unproblematic fave. It’s the ones who take the “le film, c’est moi” approach that you have to look out for. Anyway. I’m a crank, as you all know, so this project especially appeals to me.
8. After the better part of a year – during which I edited a lengthy project, very slowly and very inefficiently – I’m finally reading a book again. It’s shameful to put it so plainly, but if I can’t be honest with you, gentle reader, with whom can I be honest? The book is Nathaniel Philbrick’s Bunker Hill, and it’s quite good. Lots of juicy details about how Bostonians (and Massholes in general) have always been fucking jerks. Great patriots, y’know, but jerks. That sounds about right. One of the great heroes of the Battle of Bunker Hill was Dr. Joseph Warren, to whom I was hoping to claim some tenuous ancestral link, as I’m descended from Richard Warren – a passenger on the Mayflower‘s 1620 voyage to Plymouth – but alas, they don’t seem to have been related. Bummer. I’m only related to so much New England troublemaker royalty. I may write up a more comprehensive post when I finish the book…or I may not. Ha.