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Archive for October, 2011

Lions Eat Christian

Could that be?   Naw.  Detroit’s Stephen Tulloch wouldn’t have the balls to mock the constant praying of Tim Tebow, whom he just sacked, would he?

Lions 45, Christian 10.

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Yay!

Just so you won’t worry about Sunday’s phone call:   Nebraska beats Michigan State 24-3!  The defense was stellar (finally) and the offense was sturdy and pretty much unstoppable when they got rolling.  Rex Burkhead, pictured above, had 34 carries, which is a hell of a lot.   Three of those ended in touchdowns.

Michigan State is, of course, the team that beat Wisconsin with a Hail Mary last week.  And Wisconsin is the team that wiped up the field with Nebraska three weeks ago.  Welcome to the Big Ten.

Hooray!  Go Big  Red!

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The Rite Gets It Wrong

Cheese whiz, Trep. I’ve written more posts today than I have in the last two weeks taken together.   And I have two more brewing.  I guess when the urge to write hits, it hits with a vengeance.  Sorry to drag you through all of these ruminations.  ‘Course that’s the nice thing about reading blogs–you can skip right over stuff that doesn’t interest you.

I know you like movie reviews, though, so here’s a new one.  Last night I girded my Catholic-girl loins (that’s probably a contradiction in terms–Catholic girls are not supposed to have loins) and watched The Rite.  This movie starts out in a very promising way.  It features an attractive young  man (played by an actor I’ve never heard of) whose father is played by Rutger Hauer (add one point).  The young man doesn’t really want to be a priest, but he doesn’t want to disappoint dear old dad, either.  (I resonate–six or seven of my high school classmates went off to seminary after graduation solely in order to please their parents.  All returned, though, to much rejoicing and beer consumption.  When I asked my best buddy why he left seminary, he said:  “No girls.”  QED.)

Anyhow, Dad points out that if handsome young man goes to seminary he’ll get a good, free, education, and he doesn’t have to take his final vows, after all.  So HYM goes off to study priestliness.  Four years pass.  Next we see HYM, he is writing to his mentor explaining why he can’t take his vows.  I perked up when the mentor showed up because he is played by Toby Jones, whom I last saw giving a first-rate performance as Truman Capote (add another point).  The mentor helpfully points out that if HYM resigns, he’ll have to pay back the $100,000 dollars the church has invested in his education.  Oops.  He then suggests that the Vatican is looking for priests who want to learn how to do exorcisms.  Seems the number of demonic possessions are on the rise world-wide (I surmised from this that he wasn’t referring only to tea partiers).  The wily mentor apparently hopes that the beauty of Rome and perhaps the example of lots and lots of priests may convince the HYM to remain in the priesthood.

As you have surmised, HYM is sort of putty in the hands of his elders.  But this is not unusual among devout young Catholics–take my word for it.  Next  thing we know, he is in Rome, which is indeed beautiful, but the city makes a too-short cameo appearance in the film.  He attends the exorcism lecture, and who should be giving it but Ciaran Hinds (add five points).  Hinds plays a Dominican priest (how do I know this stuff?) who seems to take church doctrine on exorcism seriously during his lectures, but who, in private, seems a bit more skeptical about the whole thing.  After all, teaching a class that “learning the demon’s name is of first importance in exorcising it” might turn anyone into a bit of a skeptic.

HYM is also skeptical so he is advised to go see a practicing exorcist named Father Lucas, played by Anthony Hopkins (add ten points–hell, add fifty points for this inspired casting).  I won’t give any more of the plot away except to say that through this connection we get to witness a number of exorcisms, each more scary than the last.

About halfway through this part of the film I found myself remembering that The Exorcist scared me shitless when I first saw it in 1973.  Now this is not good for The Rite:  viewers definitely should not be reminded of a better film while they are watching another one.  But that’s probably not fair;  back then I had been a dissenter from Catholicism for only twelve years or so, and everything that Sister Bertranda had literally pounded into my head still haunted me on occasion.  It didn’t help that I was living the dissolute life espoused by everybody I knew in graduate school during the early ‘seventies–in fact I saw the movie with my then-lover, and we were, shall we say, under the influence.

People say Catholics never get over feeling guilty about sinning as the church defines it.  This just isn’t true–I dropped all that baggage years ago and have been merrily sinning by Catholic definition ever since (river trip, anyone?) without a smidgen of regret.  Perhaps that is why I was able to suspend belief, to use Coleridge’s notion, while watching The Rite.  Or maybe it’s just a less compelling film than The Exorcist, despite its stellar cast.  I suspect it’s the former.  I’m not the only viewer who just could not get into the Catholic mumbo-jumbo about the devil and God locked in eternal struggle for human souls.  Here’s Roger Ebert on the current difficulty of believing in phantom demons:  “people get the demons they deserve. While true believers go into frenzies, the Masters of Wall Street more cruelly lose joy in their wives and homes.”  While I’m not sure such demons are adequate punishment for Wall Street grifters, I do think that actual belief in demons is necessary to be spooked by them.

On the other hand, Anthony Hopkins in full diabolical mode (see The Silence of the Lambs)–now that’s scary.

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Who Calls the Cops?

Women’s dorm, Jackson State University, May 1970.

I’ve been reading Corey Robin’s The Reactionary Mind.  He defines conservatism as  “a meditation on the felt experience of having power, seeing it threatened, and trying to win it back.”  I was  skeptical when I first read this (on page 4 of Robin’s book), and I remained so throughout his historical trip through modern conservatism.

This was probably so because I usually define an ideology as a set of ideas.  But the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that conservatism is not an ideology in this sense.  Rather, it’s a feeling, a gut response, which suggests that something has gone wrong and needs to be fixed–just as Robin claims.  This explains why Republicans can have so few ideas and remain successful.   Mitch McConnell’s primary goal is not to redesign the tax code or to send troops to the mideast or abolish social security;   no, all he wants is to unseat Obama.  The few ideas that the Republican candidates for president do have (9-9-9 or a flat tax) are either so ill-informed as to be laughable, or they are borrowed from thinkers (if you can call them that) in other traditions, chiefly Ayn Rand libertarianism and fundamentalist Christianity.

But in and of itself, conservatism is little more than gut feeling.   And who do you call when you feel that your hold on power is threatened?  Why, the police, of course.  Or even the militia or the military if you are in a position to do so.

So Robin has helped me to understand why the police never use force when the right stages a protest (tea party, anyone?), but are front and center, locked and loaded, when anyone hoists a sign whose politics can possibly be construed as left of center.  I guess the sight of tea party activists carrying loaded AK-47s didn’t frighten the cops and the people who employ them for some reason.  Maybe they just looked too clueless to be thought dangerous, or maybe the guns lent them enough power that it didn’t seem right to mess with them, brothers in repression that they are.  And the tea party sealed the deal when they spat on Congressman John Lewis, an icon of the Civil Rights movement and hence a symbol of all that conservatives hate because they don’t understand–and don’t want to understand, ever–how it feels to be powerless.

I can think of one exception:  Wisconsin, where police marched in solidarity with everyone else who was protesting the governor’s highhanded attempt to bust unions.

But if you think about it, the Occupy movement, where the police are up to their old tricks busting heads and using gas, is raising the same issues that concerned the marchers in Wisconsin:  loss of jobs, unresponsive government, a terrible economy.   Maybe the difference is  that Wisconsin cops could see actual harm done to their paychecks and livelihoods.  A threat to power is usually felt to come from somebody conceived of as “other” in some way.  Such folks were easy enough to find in the 60s and 70s in the persons of black folks and DFHs.  So today the media have been very busy construing the Occupy movement as born-again flower people.  (Which may be partially correct, given the number of elderly people who are participating and  who could easily have been standing on the campus of Kent State or Jackson State in 1970.)  But the cops in Wisconsin saw that people they knew–their buddies, their spouses, other family members–were being harmed by the governor’s policies, and so they linked arms with the protestors.  And the governor had no one to call because even the National Guard turned him down.

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Embraced

This here is Matt Slauson, who played left guard for Nebraska in 2007-08.  While there are many interesting things to be said about Matt, the reason I’ve posted his pic here is that it shows the brace he wears on his left knee.   Slauson is now playing for the NY Jets, and he’s still wearing the brace:

Here he is embracing (sorry) QB Mark Sanchez, and you can see the brace, still there under his left pant leg.  It looks as though Sanchez may be wearing some sort of protection on his left leg, as well.

While the medical literature seems confused about the protective value of knee braces for uninjured players, a few football coaches have dictated that all offensive linemen wear them nonetheless.  After all these guys begin every play with one knee on the ground, and they push off from both knees on every play.  Plus, they are in the middle of every pileup on the line of scrimmage, where the chance that one or two 300+ pound defensive linemen will land on their legs is pretty high.

I am interested in knee braces because I just got one that I’ve been awaiting for over a month.  On Wednesday my new brace was finally welded together, strapped, and fitted.   When the prosthetitian (neat word, eh?) was satisfied that he had sufficiently tugged, pulled, and properly adjusted the thing, he asked me to stand up and walk around.

Oh. My. Goddess.   Walking felt so good that I could hardly wait to get out of the office and run across the parking lot.  (Well, maybe “jogged” would be a more accurate term for what I do when moving faster than walking).   Until I wore the brace I hadn’t realized how much I had favored that leg, and how much improved would be my posture, how grateful would be my back and neck for the support on that side.

Now some football players don’t like to wear knee braces because they claim the brace slows them down.  Maybe so.  This makes sense for a wide receiver or defensive end who has to be fast.  But having worn my own, I certainly understand why some  players–especially linemen–want to wear them.  Granted, they are bulky and ugly, and it takes awhile to get the thing adjusted correctly.   But those are small potatoes compared to the relief mine has brought to my injured knee.

In case you haven’t been paying attention to my whining, I injured my left knee playing volleyball many years ago, although I was old enough even then to know that combining volleyball with just one more beer was not a good idea at my age.  Apparently I tore my ACL and ruptured the miniscus.  I’ve been living with it ever since on more or less comfortable terms, and of course when I developed arthritis, it said to itself:   “Look here at this juicy injured knee. Let’s chew away at what’s left of the padding here.”   Henceforth when the knee gave out, as it often did, it stayed sore.  And when I fell on the tile on my kitchen floor awhile ago, I decided I was too damned old to risk breaking bones.   So I went to an ortho, who said surgery wouldn’t help, which was fine with me.  He recommended the brace and therapy, and I am now a happy camper.

Anybody wanna hike the Supies?

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Post-Prandial Pastime

What could be cooler than breakfast followed by a nap in a warm bed on a crisp sunshiney morning?

Not much.

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Now, That’s Scary

I agree with you wholeheartedly about the republican ‘presidential’ lineup, Doc.  I probably wasn’t able to stomach them even as much as you – you know my aversion to frightening imagery.  They’re like clowns with fangs.  I’m not sure which are scarier; the ones who know they’re spouting a load of BS or the ones who don’t.

(Flagstaff’s newest mural.  It says ‘Happy Halloween’ at the far end.  ok…)

Of course they shovel it out because the crowd wants it.  And the crowd wants it because they’ve been being fed the same slop for years through talk shows and the media.  I came across a pertinent factoid the other day that only 9% of Obama’s media coverage is positive.  The negativity is insidious and effective, eroding the confidence of Obama supporters even as it reinforces antagonism amongst his detractors.

Andrew Tobias had this up this morning – even knowing that the negativity propaganda campaign is in operation, some of the details here still shock me with their blatant and petty nastiness.

This is from a larger and very informative post about Obama’s accomplishments during his first term, by presidential historian Robert Watson.  Worth skimming through as a fresh reminder of how little we’re told and how much we’re misled, if nothing else.  (Why, why, won’t they stop misling us?!).  It’s at http://www.andrewtobias.com.  (After the 19th, you’ll need to click on the Oct. 19 link to read it).

FACTOIDS & MISCONCEPTIONS

Online/talk radio claim:

The Obamas demanded and spent more money than any first family to move into the White House.

Fact:

The Obamas paid for the renovations of the private living quarters in the White House with their own money rather than using the funds provided to all new first families.

Online/talk radio claim:

The Obamas are Muslims (some emails claim atheists) who did not allow Christmas to be celebrated in the White House.

Fact:

The Obamas are Christian and celebrated Christmas in a very traditional way during each holiday season at the White House. They also recognized celebrations and customs from other religions. What was different about the Christmas celebration was that the Obamas reused many Christmas ornaments from previous White House trees rather than buy new ones and used LED energy-saving lights.

Online/talk radio claim:

Obama received extra money as part of his Nobel Peace award and he pocketed it all.

Fact:

Obama received the same award as other Nobel laureates, but donated the award money for the prize to several charities.

Online/talk radio claim:

Obama has been secretive and unwilling to allow public or media access.

Fact:

In only his first year in office, Obama held 23 town hall meetings, gave 158 interviews, and held 42 press/news conferences, as well as 411 speeches, comments, and remarks

* Note: Official numbers are not available on such things, but this seems to be a new record high in the White

House

Online/talk radio claim:

Obama vacations more than any president.

Fact:

In his first year in office, Obama took only 26 days of vacation (2009) * Note: Official numbers are not readily available on such things, but this seems to be a new record low and far lower than Bush

Online/talk radio claim:

Obama was not born in America and is some sort of international “Manchurian” plant who supports other countries over America.

Fact:

Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961. He has been an internationalist president insofar as he took 10 foreign trips to 21 nations and met with 74 foreign leaders in only his first year in office (he also took 46 out-of-town trips to 58 cities and 30 states in 2009).

Online/talk radio claim:  Obama has not kept any of his campaign promises.

Fact:

Official numbers are not kept on such things historically, but it appears Obama made more promises and discussed more policy issues during his campaign than any other presidential candidate. But, it also appears he has kept more promises than perhaps any other president.

(As of 10/4/11) Obama has kept 147 of his campaign promises and another 197 of them are currently in progress; but he has broken 49 of them and compromised with Republicans on 44 of them; another 69 of his campaign promises have been stalled by Republicans. (Source: PolitiFact)

… and in case you were wondering

Obama promoted the celebration of the Reagan Centennial and established the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission (June 2, 2009)

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