May 23, 2008 - May 16, 2008
Dog Bites Man:
. Free-association commenter Penny will be all over us on this
one. She doesn't like it when we don't keep up with the rest of the
blogosphere on a timely basis. She may have a point this time. The blog
entry we're referencing goes all the way back to April 9. And it
concerns Ace of Spades, who isn't exactly at the top of our list of
estimable bloggers. (We'd like him a lot more if he used some of his ad
income to hire a damn copy editor to correct his spelling and
apostrophe errors -- its, it's, its, it's, its, it's not all the same,
pirate boy.) What can we say? We don't pay all that much attention to the blogosphere. So sue us. Today, we're writing about old news. In defense of Ace. The "Me Too" king of the Internet.
Even so. Ace is frequently smarter than he is redundant and careless. And he made a perfectly good point about Obama's "Let's Talk About Race" speech:
Okay, true, that's the whole thing. End of post. (How else do you get
to be Conservative Blog of the Year?) But what's interesting sometimes
is what happens after the
right harpoon has been cleverly sunk in the blubber of the whale.
Here's what Europe's "Best Humorous Blog in 2004," from Germany, had to say in response:
I especially like the phrase "whole legions of Jews." Has a certain
Teutonic ring to it, doesn't it? But not as much as the part about how
they "get refused service at Cracker Barrel1..." [sic] Yeah, that's
what really steams all the Jews I know (and don't start with me, you
Sadly Neiners; I do know some
Jews). If it weren't for the Cracker Barrel thing, they'd be completely
okay with the fact that the minority they've done more to help than any
other ethnic group on earth, going all the way back to the earliest
days of the civil rights movement, is delighted to parrot all the
anti-semitic bile uttered by the likes of Louis Farrakhan and Reverend
Wright. Particularly at a time when most of the 'civilized' Old World is blithely willing to give Adumjihad a pass on his stated intention to nuke Israel out of existence.
It's absolutely fine that another ethnic minority is voluble about the desire of many of its members to see you and your homeland wiped off the face of the earth as long as there are no embarrassing incidents at third-rate chain restaurants.
It takes a really discerning intellect to reduce a question like Ace's to irrelevant, contemptuous farce. One might almost say it requires a German intellect. Which is odd. Given that when I made fun of Sadly Nein's boast about its European awards and German origin, its bloggers were quick to point out that they weren't really German, just smarter-than-average Americans.
Guess what? I'm thinking you're Germans. I'm thinking you're goddam Krauts. Only a Kraut would be too arrogant to realize that this is one subject people with ties to Germany should know better than to be superior and dismissive about.
P.S. If you're wondering about relevance, don't. Here's what's happening now.
never knew when Jimmy Stewart's birthday was. It was a surprise to
discover in Mark Steyn's outstanding
essay on the man today that it's only one day after my Dad's.
Another dutiful Taurus. That's not all they had in common. But the
coincidence moved me to look up an old post I wrote when I was blogging
without a computer more than 10 years ago. Here it is:
Yes, it's an acknowledgment and not much more than that. For a
beautiful treatment of Stewart as an actor, read the Steyn piece.
It's well worth it.
Now. If you don't like family bragging, stop reading now. We don't do a lot of it here, because we don't like it either. But I'm going to do it today because I'm feeling nostalgic about my Dad, who died eight years ago. He was 14 years younger than Stewart, but also a WWII pilot, and they went to the same boarding school in Pennsylvania, Mercersburg Academy, as did I. (Along with Benicio del Toro, Robin Thomas, Franchot Tone, and Tom Drake.) In fact, James Stewart roomed with a cousin of my Dad's at Mercersburg and Princeton. Perhaps because of all this, I actually saw Jimmy Stewart in person, when he received an award from the Hasty Pudding Society in 1970. I was a freshman and not yet a member, so I sneaked in with the help of a kind steward and an understanding upperclassman. He was ten feet away, standing alone, waitiing to be called for the ceremony. Tall. Distinguished. Looked exactly like his pictures. All I had to do was walk around one couch and speak to him.
I chickened out. I left without invading his space. Sometimes I'm sorry about that. Mostly I'm not. He looked like a genuinely nice man, a private man. I didn't have anything to say to him other than that I was a fan and went to a school he had gone to. I think I caught his eye for one brief look and a smile. That's enough.
He left us all those movies, which are still a pleasure to watch. Only an ingrate would lament not having more than that.
Just got a nasty email from Mrs. CP. "Where's the funny?" she
asks. "You guys have gotten as depressing as everyplace else on the
Internet. STOP IT!"
Sorry. It's a gray gloomy day in the neighborhood. We're only human. So here's what we were able to find in a desperate search across the web for "funny."
An Onion article about the terrible trauma to children caused by Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction.
A TMZ photo gallery that might be funny unless it's just plain loathsome.
A site about Engrish. Yes, it is. You know it is. Funny.
Many hours of funny in the
form of the top 50 comedy skits of all time. Forget your angst. Enjoy.
And just in case you've forgotten why it's suddenly gotten so hard to
find and be funny, here's an
explanation of what funny is and why it's
so damned inappropriate with the Messiah about to mantle us with
You see. There isn't going to be any more humor when the Obamillennium
arrives. Laugh at Michelle
and watch your own head go rolling down the street. So enjoy it while
I don't want to overdo this, but once I got started thinking
about it, I couldn't stop. So take all that follows with a grain of
salt, but also remember that salt is a miraculous spice which somehow
heightens the keenness of the taste buds so that it doesn't change
flavors so much as increase our ability to perceive them.
What got me started was this morning's Drudge Report:
As he sometimes is, the tabloid king of the Internet was right. The
scene of Obama's latest campaign exploit was part religion and part
Hollywood. There's something of the sacred ceremonial rite and
something of the pure cinematic scene in it. But what if those two
perspectives are really the same thing? What if the salvational liberal
vision that is always so reluctant to consider the long-term
consequences of its policy prescriptions is actually no more
substantive than the happy ending of a classic Hollywood movie? Is
what's being sought, in fact, merely a dramatic plot resolution that
highlights the heroes-villains duality of our emotional cosmology and
then immediately fades to black before the messiness of ongoing reality
can disrupt the happy sensation of closure?
It's an idea that can't be tested or even fully explained without an example. So I went looking for famously perfect Hollywood endings, most importantly ones that preclude lame sequels, which are notoriously the mark of mercenary Republican capitalists who start planning Spiderman 8 after the initial blockbuster windfall because it's so easy for them to believe that every epic conflict will have to be repeated again and again, and again and again and again, based on the logic that truly final endings are an invitation to bankruptcy.
Which made me think of Casablanca. Yeah, I know some TV whore once contemplated or produced a sequel (who cares which, unless there was actually some godawful TV series), and some idiot is presently planning a remake, but this is a movie everyone knows ended with the scene shown above. It's an archetype, so embedded in our popular culture that the most lucrative exploitation of it was a Woody Allen comedy that fleshed out the process by which Hollywood fantasy becomes personal, even semi-scriptural, allegory.
Call it a post-modern deconstruction. Liberals love that kind of intellectual exercise, don't they? What can we learn about libs by analyzing an ultimate filmic happy ending?
Sorry. Truly. I love the movie, too. I think it's one of the best
Hollywood ever made. But there is no
happily ever after. Real life is not a static model. There is no single
point at which all that has been done wrong can be automatically
corrected by a moment of deep-down good intentions. Hostility does not
fade away under the relentless pressure to talk people's passions into
acquiescence, and most of the people you talk to don't look like Ingrid
Bergman anyway. Evil is not disposed of by a single revolver shot fired
by a man so much in love that he crosses the ultimate boundary to stop
a long overlooked nemesis. Eternal friendships are not created on the
fly by morally ambivalent rivals whose interests momentarily intersect.
The consequences of years of cynical inaction, fence-sitting, and
generalized contempt for everyone cannot be swept away with a last
minute, wholly self-interested decision to act. And deciding that
the object of your personal decision to commit murder is a Nazi does
not bring automatic absolution to those who believe they are living in
a godless universe where the only possible crime is murdering someone
who's not smart enough to believe in nothing.
If you really truly think you believe in nuance, try walking a mile in the shoes of the producers who make the sequels. Try imagining that after the credits you think portend salvation for all the supporters of Obama there will be another soul-challenging plot, and another, and another, another. Until he has to confront the evil in himself to know what it takes to protect those in his charge.
You see, that's the biggest thing liberals can't bring themselves to believe in -- that time and life and history will still keep going after the end of history they imagine will proceed from their nomination of a deus ex machina to fix everything wrong in the world with the right goddam platitude.
I'm inclined to agree with them. Of course, everything in life can be fixed with a platitude. My tragedy is that I'm old enough to be literate. Obama is incapable of generating the right platitudes. He's just Jimmy Carter with better diction. A pessimist with bad vibes, a sour wife, and enunciation that doesn't remind anyone of backwater country music. But just as grim. And, as commenter Guy T. points out, the mien of an undertaker.
The only movies starring undertakers are horror movies. And they never have happy endings. What would Dooley Wilson think?
Here's how the blogging thing works. You get an idea that's going
to be great and all you need is to round up all the links and other
material for your witty observations. So we came across The Onion's very
funny piece about McCain and decided to locate other funny clips about
all the rival presidential candidates. Except that we couldn't. When
do a search for "Obama" and "humor" at YouTube, you get weird results
-- like clips of Obama speeches where Obama supporters think he's
displaying a sense of humor. But that's just plain wrong. The man has no sense of humor. And then you
get other clips from angry conservatives who think they're being funny,
although what they're really being is leadenly satirical. Like this:
The closest we could find to actual humor was this:
Which is cute but basically a derivative commentary on "Obama Girl" and
other YouTube phenomena -- in other words, the media commenting on the
media, not on the candidate in any illuminating way.
It gets worse when you get to the next tier down, the candidates who don't have any chance of getting elected but are still somehow annoyingly there.
We looked hard for Ron Paul humor, and this is the best of a totally miserable and unfunny lot:
Sad. (It was also the first instance of a YouTube search phenom we'll
tell you about later.) The news is even worse for Ralph Nader. Nobody
thinks he's worth doing a dedicated clip of funny about. Understandable
-- the only more humorless citizen of Planet Earth than Ralph is his
-- but it's kind of pitiful when all you can find is a
stand-up routine that bashes our savior from evil corporatist America
His jokes about Bush and Cheney are funnier. Even his Kerry jokes.
Worst of all, though, is the result of a YouTube search for "humor Bob Barr." The first page of listings doesn't vary at all from the results of a search for "Bob Barr." Is that a comment on YouTube? Or Bob Barr?
Our guess is, both. (Much the same as what we found for Ron Paul, actually, with the exception of what we cited above and a few seriously lame serious spoofs.)
The experience has given us a new theory, though. Political survivors in America are likely to be the candidates who inspire the most original and truly funny humor. GWB has certainly helped himself no end on that score with his constant verbal gaffes and other miscues. If we're right, though, McCain has to be favored and Obama may be in serious trouble come election day. HE JUST ISN'T FUNNY, either personally or as an object of deliberate joking or satire.
Did we just discover something important? Sorry. That was never our intention. This is only the Friday Follies.