March 31, 2013 - March 24, 2013
. Oh you thought that was Blazing Saddles?
Sorry. That came much later. The first and best one was Cat Ballou.
Why best? No fart jokes. I really hate fart jokes. They remind me of
the whole current generation of standup comics, whom I also hate.
Besides, Cat Ballou was just better all round. Jane Fonda was still
a comely ingenue, Cleavon Little was great in BS but no Nat King
Cole, and Lee Marvin won an Oscar for a gunfighter performance I
somehow neglected to include here.
He plays the part of both Alan Ladd and Jack Palance in a Shane
sendup, and the movie's denouement prefigures (what spoof anticipates a classic of the
genre?!) the hangman-cheating con of Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach
in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- with the added bonus of
allowing us to look straight up Jane's skirt before Lee shoots up
the town to cover the getaway.
And there was actually one good song in the mix too. See if you can
pick it out.
No, don't thank me. I'm just trying to get in your good graces
before the next Brizoni post puts us all in our theocratic places.
Are you packing? Good. Me too.
Oops. Didn't give you the actual trailer. Here it is.
Sillyfights can be fun. Remember that. In the days to come.
P.S. My better half reminds me it's not fair to bury a lovely song in a long clip. Rectifying the error:
A sorrier but more moving way to end a post, I think we can all agree.
. Fitzgerald famously said, there are no second
acts in American lives. He was wrong.
Pardon me for being gleeful. You have no idea how disgusted I've been by ESPN's multi-year, joyful obituary of Tiger Woods. While NFL and NBA players got arrested and forgiven for gun crimes, domestic violence, assaults, drug offenses, DUIs, murder (Hi, Ray!) and killing dogs (which is, you know, a mistake), the poobahs at the nation's sports network singled out Tiger for special abuse. He cheated on his wife, pretty monumentally. Nobody else in the NFL/NBA/NHL/MLB ever did that. They were outraged and their reporting reflected it. He was done, they were pleased to report, he was a shell of his former self, he had lost the 'intimidation factor' that probably helped him win in the first place. "Nobody's afraid of him anymore," they exulted. When he missed a cut, which he's done more rarely than any professional golfer in modern history, they made it the lead of entire broadcasts.
Why? Because ESPNers are so slavishly faithful to their own wives? [Time out while we all chortle in unison.] No. They hate Tiger because before his screw-up they had no way of feeling superior to him whatever. It's easy to feel superior to NBA superstars. They pronounce the word 'ask' as 'ax.' Easy to love Bret Favre because he's as dumb as the guy who loses your credit card at the Citgo. They don't dare look down on Peyton Manning because he's a threat to take their own jobs some day and, you know, U. Tennessee ain't Harvard. But Tiger...?
Whole other story. Uppity sumbitch. Stanford. Composed. Articulate. Reserved. Maybe a little condescending to even those blueblood golf reporters? Dayamn. And richer than the CEO of ESPN and, not incidentally, God himself. Never going to audition for a spot as SportsCenter host. Hate him, hate him, hate him.
Crystallized for me, finally, by one of Imus's sidekicks (Geez, there's a kickback in time; haven't watched those sorry losers in two years). The studio erupted in laughter at his impression of Tiger, which was actually an impression of Richard Pryor doing his (truthfully, rotten) impression of a white guy. But everybody fell on the floor laughing about it. Aren't we all sooo sophisticated these days? We even know which black people we can safely make fun of.
Come again? Tiger is laughable because he's some kind of phony white guy nerd? Really?
Let's walk this all back a bit. Tiger is a joke because he doesn't speak Ebonics. Tiger is a joke because he's dominated his sport more thoroughly than anyone in history, including Gretsky, Jordan, and Johnny Unitas. Tiger is a joke because he's gotten laid more often and in more ways than the most salacious fantasies of ESPN's lowliest girls-locker-room-peeper correspondent. Tiger is a joke because he's so rich he could go all Howard Hughes on us in a moment and never appear in public again -- because he doesn't need us. For anything.
No. Tiger is a joke because he doesn't give up his quest to be the world's greatest golfer. He keeps playing in tournaments. What an asshole. We're laughing, he's losing, and we just can't get enough of his humiliations. He's supposed to know he's done because we said he was. He missed the cut! Hah! He missed the cut!!! We've got three interviews with young golfer punks who will tell us how "over" the whole Tiger thing is. And how about that Phil Mickelson? And that Rory McElroy. The next Tiger, if we ever thought Tiger was.
I. Love. It.
ESPN cannot kill Tiger. Nothing can kill Tiger except Mr. Death himself. He's a demonstration of the limits of media. And the power.
There are times when a smart man or woman just bows to greatness and quits trying to chip it away. Muhammed Ali. Secretariat. Tiger Woods. So monumental in legend that everyone else in the future of their sport will be measured against them and probably found wanting.
If Tiger had died in that late night car accident, he'd still be the greatest golfer who ever lived. And nobody in professional golfing should ever say a word against him. When he plays, TV watchers watch. When he doesn't, they don't. Simple. Living legends are the rarest thing on earth. Every professional golfer on earth is just an extra in the Tiger Woods story. Don't like it? Then find yourself a story you like better. Maybe HBO has something you'd prefer.
Today was kind of funny. Mr. Tactless, i.e., Johnny Miller, has always had a talent for the truth. Which gets him in trouble. Probably not today, though. He said, and I'm paraphrasing here, so only half-quotes, 'People have gotten over-focused on the Majors. Maybe Jack Nicklaus did that (throat clearing noises), don't know. But winning tournaments, lots of them, that's the real measure. And nobody wins tournaments like Tiger Woods.'
What he was pointing out is that is Tiger has already won more total tournaments than Jack Nicklaus ever did. In about half the career. He's chasing a guy (Sneed) who played well into his fifties and may overtake him before too long.
Today, Tiger put McElroy back in his place. Nothing against the kid. He knows Tiger is better. Said as much a week or two ago when he acknowledged he should have been tough as Tiger when he dropped out of a tournament for a toothache and a bad mood.
Bigger question. Will ESPN be able to overcome its own envy, hatred, and lust for superiority now that Tiger is once again, officially, Number 1?
Number 1! Did we mention that? Number 1!
Shakespeare never had an ESPN literary network to give (or withhold) its stamp of approval. What would they have done in the face of the greatest ever in their mediocre eyesight?
Probably the same as today's ESPN.
Bear that in mind, you superiors of the universe. Bear it in mind.
. Robert has requested I take this discussion out of the latest Brits thread and make it its own post. Not a problem. But first, a loose end to tie up.
But it wasn't a model. It was a demonstration-- who moves the world-- via a hypothetical-- what if the men of the mind went on strike? If Atlas had been a blueprint, Rand herself certainly had the means to follow it, to take a serious swing at starting a new society somewhere in the Rockies. She wasn't interested. And laughed at anyone who suggested it. (And they didn't sink the ship. The ship was already sinking. The heroes of Atlas were those who insisted on their right not to spend every waking moment of their lives bailing it out.)
OK then. Down to business.
First, I'm saying Christianity and theism in general are insufficient AS a moral foundation. Second, law and morality are not seperate concerns. The former is properly determined by the latter. Third, his use of the word "personally" is a masterstroke. Paints a picture of my offense existing in a vacuum of self-regard, unconnected to any fact or reasonable standard of value. And one has to applaud the artfulness of the euphemism "complement." It's the best possible word in the language he can use to describe what the Founders did without collapsing into gibberish. "Improve," advance," "evolve," and "augment" all subordinate Christianity too much for his liking. Even "suppliment" implies too clearly that Christianity needed something added to it (and even the Founders who were committed Christians presumed to know true Christianity better than any Christian since the year zip, including Charlemange and Augustine and even Paul). Ironically, "compliment" better connotes supplication.
Here's my theory. Not only should morality be life-centric and not God-centric, but it has always been life-centric. Whether or not anyone realized it.
This quote from old you-know-who is pertinent.
An analogy: Just as religion's story of the natural world was a primitive form of philosophy-- guessing and imagining causes vs. observing and determining causes-- so God-centricity is a primitive form of life-centricity-- guessing and imagining a foundation of rules for human conduct vs. observing and determining a foundation of rules for human conduct.
God-centricity means the idea that morality consists of serving God. Life-centricity means the idea that morality consists of behaving so as to preserve human life and further human flourishing.
What the believers of ancient myths got right is that things do have sources. All that natural phenomena around them wasn't just a given. Wind has a cause. Something is happening under the earth that makes volcanoes erupt. It's important to guess and imagine, but for most of history, men made the mistake of being satisfied with a story that fit with the knowledge they had. It's taken us until very recently to learn that a better way is to expand our knowledge until we know the true story-- not just any old story that seems to make sense.
Similarly, what the God-centrics got right is that morality has a mandate. They understood that ethics were needed to survive. But their view of nature muddied their insight. Back when they thought God caused tornadoes and droughts and such, appeasing the God of nature made sense. And if that God's rules kept people from killing and robbing other people, people generally liked that. Some intuited that this might be the best part of the deal. Few realized that this was the real justification of the deal.
Watch that video up top, if you haven't yet. The Parliamentarians didn't work out so well for England. But who would dispense with the idea that, for their conduct, kings are answerable to men and not God alone? Who would deny that was a step in the right direction?
And who would deny the clergy's obstinance in permitting any of those changes to come to pass?
This all begs the question: By what standard do we decide which texts to implement and which to ignore? I say that standard has always been life-centricity (a fumbling, blind groping toward that standard, but glass half full). Morality's mandate is man's need for it. Not God's demand of it.
Look at it from another angle. What impelled the Roundheads to disempower the king? Was it staunch piety? Remember that (some) scripture and all of Christian tradition was against them on this point. Was it avarice and ambition that they contrived to twist the scriptures in support of? Remember that they didn't have to "twist" the story of David any more than Charles I had to twist Ecclesiastes. Or did they implicitly understand that men couldn't be free under an unanswerable sovereign? And could it be that the cruelties and excesses that followed under their rule came about because their understanding was only implicit?
Go back further. Look at the major milestones of religion. What impelled the inevntion of Yahweh? What impelled Jesus to so fundamentally transform Judaism? Why did gods of popular imagination go steadily-- slowly, but steadily-- from demanding virgin sacrifices to proclaiming the brotherhood of man? How did the ideal of "peace on earth" catch on with so many whose avowed cosmology insisted life on earth was merely prepatory for life in heaven (why do people who believe in heaven cry at funerals, for that matter)? My answer is that man's moral strivings can't help but hew at least a little to the standard of life.
For most of human history, God was a reasonable supposition. Now, our knowledge has expanded to the point where that's not quite the case. Even the religious (now) agree that you can't prove God. What they don't realize is that that fact alone takes God off the table as a justification for morality. Which is fine. We've had, implicitly, a better justification the whole time. Now it's time to make it explicit.