Out for an early morning milk run. Guy ahead of me at the counter just off the night shift at a small factory nearby and buying his breakfast which seemed chosen more to give him a quick sugar buzz than an infusion of nutrients and necessary fiber---in short, he was having for breakfast what I routinely have for lunch. Big, beefy, young, I peg him at about thirty, with a shaved head, an earring, and an infectious smile. A young father, as it turns out. He’s telling the clerk how he can’t wait to get home and get the kids off to school so he can dive into bed.
The clerk, a middle-aged woman who has seen it all and not much cared for the view, appreciates this. As far as she seems to be concerned, the whole point of school is to get the kids out of the house so parents can get some sleep.
The young father tells her how glad he is his kids are back in school. They had yesterday off for Yom Kippur, which was a problem for him and his wife because neither could get the time off. And this is after Friday’s half-day of school. Teacher planning day.
“They were supposed to be spending the day ‘planning.’” he said with a sneer in his voice though his smile stayed cheerful and friendly. “By one o’clock there wasn’t a teacher in that building. Planning? Planning for what I’d like to know.”
“Planning for their weekend,” the clerk said.
“Damn straight,” the young father said.
“Yep,” I said, surprised at the sound of my own voice, because I usually don’t butt in, “What do they need to plan for? They make it all up as they go along.”
The two of them looked hard at me. His smile froze. They knew I wasn’t really agreeing with them and they suspected what was coming.
“Only job in the world where they don’t have to spend time thinking about what they’re going to do and figuring out how they’re going to do it. Every day it’s a surprise to them what comes out of their mouths.”
The young father had no idea what to say to that. Besides he was in a hurry. His kids had to catch their bus. He paid for his breakfast and left.
I stepped up to the counter and set my milk down. The clerk was still staring at me. I said, trying not to sound belligerent but trying not to sound apologetic either, “It’s a tough job. Teachers work hard.”
“Some of them do,” the clerk said. “The good ones. But how many’s that?” She held up her hand, fingers spread wide. “You look back, you can probably count on one hand the really good teachers you had.”
I didn’t say, “That could be all your grade school teachers or half the teachers you had in junior high,” and I didn’t say, “That’s the way it is at every workplace, isn’t it? A few highly competent people do the heavy lifting while everybody else coasts.” I said, “Actually, I was lucky. I need both hands.” Which is true, depending on what you mean by “really good.” The clerk seemed startled by this news. But I figured it was best to put an end to the subject and get out of there before I ruined her and my morning. I tapped one of my gallons of milk. “I’d like to use my milk card to get one of these free.”
Now, of course, I’m defensive of teachers. I’ve been one. I’m related to several. My kids depend on them and incidentally have had many good ones over the years, more than they can count on one hand. And as it happens I was lucky. I did have many good teachers, but part of the reason is that I had a lot of teachers, because I got to go to college and graduate school. And part of it is that I grew up in an upper middle class suburb with high property taxes that few taxpayers more than flinched a little at paying because they could afford it and because they were the parents of the later and larger wave of baby boomers and were sending their own small tribes through the schools. Our school district had the money to attract the best teachers.
I don’t know if the clerk and the young father live in this district, which isn’t as well-off as the one I grew up in but is still better off than many---and that relative prosperity doesn’t just allow us to attract fine teachers, it allows us to give them the support they need to be fine teachers. And I don’t know where they grew up and I sure wasn’t going to ask.
And the point isn’t how many good teachers there are anyway or how many good teachers the clerk and the young father had when they were growing up or what they think of the teachers they actually know.
The point is that they don’t get Yom Kippur off with pay. They don’t have long weekends every month, and definitely not two in some months. They don’t get week long vacations at Christmas and in the spring. They don’t get two months off every summer. They aren’t paying into the relatively generous and secure (for now) New York State pension system. They don’t get their health care benefits through the state.
They can’t afford to take the day off whenever their kids’ schools decide to give the kids a snow day or send the teachers to a conference. For them, an important job of schools is to provide free day care.
Of course they’re jealous of teachers and, unfortunately, jealousy has a habit of expressing itself in bitterness and resentment. They don’t want teachers to get less. Not really. What they want is more for themselves and their families but they don’t see any chance of that happening soon.
It’s wasn’t teachers who designed an economic system that has no problem using vast numbers of human beings as beasts of burden and pays those human beings based on the same logic and degree of compassion a stingy farmer would have towards feeding an ox or a mule, which is to give them no more than they need to get through the work day with the strength to do the job at hand, and also has the same stingy farmer’s expectation of uncomplaining patience and dumb gratitude from his livestock.
(My metaphor’s dating quickly. More and more the system treats workers as robots not livestock and the owners of that system seem to think that workers should be paid as if they’re robots too and that they have a robot’s need for sleep, rest, praise, appreciation, medical care, time for families, vacations, and comfortable retirements.)
And it’s not teachers who fight like fiends to protect that system from any attempt to humanize it or extend its benefits.
But teachers are easy targets. They’re right there and you can insult them even in their company without worrying that if it gets back to your boss you’ll lose your job. Bosses resent teachers too, for some of the same reasons. For other reasons too, reasons that have to do with protecting the system as it is, but nevermind that for now. And it’s just easier to understand and express however bitterly your wish that you had what teachers have than to figure out why you don’t have it and who is to blame, because when you get right down to it what is it that teachers have? A sane and sanity-preserving number of days off a year, a truly decent amount of vacation time, a pretty good health care plan, a salary that pays them almost half of what they deserve, and the expectation of a comfortable and secure retirement.
Seems like the very minimum of what the supposedly richest and most generous country in the world should offer to all its citizens.
How come we don’t and who’s to blame?
Who should I be mad at if not the teachers?
The banksters. The suits.
But what good does it do to get mad at them? Who listens? Who cares? Who’s going to do something?
Some members of Congress are listening. They care and they’re trying to things. But the Village Media would rather bring President John McCain back for another buttering up on a talk show or let President-Never-in-a-Million-Years Gingrich hog another camera or put Glenn Beck on the cover of the magazine.
Liberal Congressmen and women and liberal Senators have a similar problem as vampires in front of mirrors---they are invisible to the Village cameras.
Fortunately, liberal Presidents don’t have the same problem, much as the Insiders wish it weren’t the case. This liberal President commands the rapt attention of cameras.
I believe the President is listening. I believe he cares. I believe he is trying. I don’t agree with everything he’s trying to do and I wish he would try harder to do what I do agree with. I wish he would (or could) do more. But no matter how much he is trying to do and how much he wants to do, I also wish he’d sound more like he cares and like he’s trying.
I wish he’d find a way not to express his anger---there are reasons he has to be careful about that---but to acknowledge our anger and harness it and direct it towards the right targets.
In short, I wish he would be more of a rabble-rouser.
The United States has had only three effective rabble-rousers as President, and fortunately two of them were progressives, although only one of them was a radical, and that one wasn’t Franklin Roosevelt.
FDR didn’t have to be a radical because Teddy Roosevelt had gotten there thirty years before him.
What Franklin had to do was remind people they believed what Teddy had convinced their parents of.
Watching last night’s episode of Ken Burns’ The National Parks increased my already high opinion Teddy Roosevelt. And what TR said of the national parks he helped create and the system he put into place to protect and preserve them---that they are for the benefit and enjoyment of the people, and by the people he meant the same people Lincoln meant, and Lincoln meant the ones declaring themselves the governors of these United States in the opening words of the Constitution, WE the People, all of us---and what he said about the forest reserves---“The forest reserves should be set apart forever for the the use and benefit of our people as a whole and not sacrificed to the shortsighted greed of a few”---and what he said about all the nation’s natural resources---that the “rights of the public to the national resources outweigh private rights”---he meant to apply to everything about the nation. We own it, not you, not I, not they. We. And we all have a right to share in its benefits.
Roosevelt’s task was not just to convince people to cherish their national heritage, but to understand that it was their right in a democracy to own it---every citizen owning a stake. In an era of free-for-all-capitalism, [this idea] was revolutionary.
That at the time very few people shared in the benefits of the nation they owned was in large part due to the efforts of a few rich men, and Roosevelt knew exactly who they were, because for one thing they were not shy about identifying themselves and unapologetically declaring their belief in their right to own and make money off of whatever they could lay their hands on.
Roosevelt, in his turn, was not shy about pointing them out and calling them what they were, “the most dangerous members of the criminal class, the malefactors of great wealth.”
“There is not in the world a more ignoble character than the mere money-getting American,insensitive to every duty, regardless of every principle, bent only on amassing a fortune.”
He wrote that while he was still McKinley’s Vice-President but one way or another he said it after he became President himself, loudly and often.
And the men he was talking about hated him for it, and they hated him more for winning so many of the fights they had with him. Eventually they took control of his party and ran him out of it. But it was too late. TR won the argument for the next seventy years.
Now, you don’t need to remind me that Teddy Roosevelt could be a warmonger (although at least he had the good grace to go get himself shot at in the war he helped start), and he was a (half-hearted) imperialist and a racist (of the Take Up the White Man’s Burden sort, but still). He wasn’t my ideal President. That would be Franklin Roosevelt. He wasn’t the best. That would be Franklin again. And although his ideas were radical and his goals were Progressive he didn’t always go about achieving them in either a radical or a Progressive way. My point here is simply that he invented the bully pulpit, which was named after his favorite superlative, but which might as well have been named after what he used it for, which was not to bully anybody, but to identify for the people the bullies who were bullying them, and I wish that President Obama would use it more and sound more like TR or FDR when he does take to it.
Seventy years from the end of TR’s Presidency brings us to the eve of Reagan’s, and of course the eight years of Reagan’s Presidency were when the malefactors of great wealth, who had never completely given up control of the government, wrestled a lot more of it away from the people, and they’ve held onto what they’ve grabbed and been at work grabbing more in the two and a half decades since. It may seem that TR finally lost the debate. But carefully and intelligently designed polls show that isn’t the case.
Reagan cheerfully made the case that the country belonged to those with the money to buy (or leverage unto themselves) large chunks of it. His Interior Department almost literally put For Sale signs on the national forests wildlife refuges and wilderness areas. (Corrected thanks to fed-up fed.) He was happy to see the malefactors of great wealth carrying off the nation’s resources in big black bags marked LOOT. He got away with this by persuading people who were being robbed that they were part of the gang of robbers or would be soon enough and the only reason they hadn’t received their cut of the swag yet was that liberals were snatching it away to give to…THEM!
But in a way this was his mistake. He was never able to persuade people, because he didn’t really try, that they didn’t want or deserve their cut. That is, he suggested but could never sell the argument that working people shouldn’t expect any benefits from living here except the ones the rich folks who owned the place deigned to give us.
Now that the financial collapse has made people wake up to the fact that should have been plain all along---we’re not going to get our cut, and what we do have barely covers the cost of living here, and the only way we’ll get to keep that, if things continue as they are, is if we’re really, really lucky, people are mad. They feel they’ve been played for suckers, which they have. They’re looking for somewhere to place their anger and so far they’ve been offered two choices---on themselves (Your fault for being a loser, loser!) or on the targets offered to them by the demagogues on the Right.
And because people don’t like hating themselves, don’t like feeling like chumps and losers, it’s not a surprise that many of them have accepted the Right’s offer.
And that’s how we get the great irony of the Tea Parties, thousands of people marching to preserve the system that screwed them into the ground.
Thousands of people furious at the thought that the bandits who robbed them and the con artists who bamboozled them won’t get to keep robbing them and bamboozling them as much as they were allowed to when their stooge, George W. Bush, was President.
Look, I’m not saying the clerk and the young father at the convenience store this morning were Tea Baggers or even Republicans. Their conversation was casual and probably meaningless to them. The young father wanted to get home to bed. The clerk would have just as soon badmouthed investment bankers as teachers and Martians or Brazilian soccer players or even Tea Baggers just as soon as either teachers or bankers.
For all I know they both voted for Obama and are proud of it.
Their conversation was about what most conversations between passing strangers are about and can be boiled down to this: “Hey there, friend, I recognize that you are a fellow human being with troubles and pains just like mine and I wish life was better for both of us.”
All I’m saying is that I would have liked it if instead of overhearing them ragging on teachers I heard one of them say to the other, “Did you hear what President Obama said about the insurance companies? He called them the real Death Panels,” and the other say back, “Yeah, that was a good one, but I liked it better when he called the guys on Wall Street bandits” and then the two of them agree that Teddy Roosevelt was right, about the malefactors of great wealth and about the country being for the benefit and enjoyment of all of we the people.
Episode One and Episode Two of The National Parks are available to watch online. The website is great fun and it includes a page on Teddy Roosevelt that comes with some clips from Episode Two, in case you don’t have time to watch the whole thing right now.
Wednesday morning update: Episode Three of The National Parks is online as of today.
In the comments, Minstrel Hussein Boy, who I believe is Native American and who is enjoying the series, points out that the National Parks system presents some uneasy questions for Native Americans:
there are several native american nations who look at many of our parks as monuments to stolen land. it really doesn't make it better that it's being shared with everybody, it's still, for the most part, stolen.
ask the chumash about [Yosemite]. ask the havasupai about the grand canyon. ask the chiricauhua about cochise monument, ask the lakotah and the cheyenne about mount rushmore and the black hills, ask the paiute about zion national, ask the navajo about painted desert....the list my friends, is truly endless.
This is why you should check out the PBS series website. There are all kinds of things that couldn’t be included in the broadcast, including a 10 minute video about Mount Rushmore where the park superintendent, Gerard Baker is trying to deal with those questions. Baker is a Mandan-Hidasta Indian.
Hi, I'm Oliver Mannion. For those of you who don't know me I'm the youngest son of Lance Mannion. Tonight and every Monday night I will live blog the show Heroes. Here's a recap for those who missed last weeks Heroes; There is a troup of carnival people who have powers. Peter is back in New York working as an EMT. Claire is in collage. Matt is back as a cop but is seeing Sylar in his mind. I've got to go it's about to start.
8:01 Bunch of short scenes involing different characters.
8:03 The carnival leader who can control ink has one of the most creative powers ever! That might be why the episode is called "Ink"
8:05 Who is this women we're seeing? A new character?
8:06 Gasp! A spoon!
8:07 I've gotta say I love Sylar in Matt's mind. It brings out that Deadpool humor in him.
8:11 I love how the picture of my dad has a cicerate since he really doesn't smoke.
8:13 HRG says to Claire, "yeah, I'm okay, I just got stabbed." (He didn't really say that).
8:15 I can think of a million bad jokes right now about Claire avoiding her friend.
8:16 A stuffed rabbit. Hmm... and a house used for something worse. Making evil killer stuffed toys!
8:17 She's deaf Peter! I forgot you tend to be a dope sometimes. Now you have to face the evil carrnie guy.
8:21 Peter just redeemed him self by showing some common sense.
8:23 I'm starting to like this new character, Ema.
8:24 I agree with Claire that does not look like tasty food.
8:26 That's a cute bunny.
8:27 So a girl was kidnapped. Well there goes my evil stuffed animal theory.
8:31 It's not my fault I jumped out a window and she saw me.
8:33 Matt's going crazy!
8:35 Peter doesn't cause accidents! (Insert lame joke here)!
8:36 Now phones for the carrines? Sounds like my school. Of course I don't have to worry since I don't have one.
8:37 I think that last scene was from a web series. Heroes is just like a comic! It has tie ins.
8:40 The reason I don't use Claire's friend's name is I can't spell it.
8:41 Well Peter I thought you would stop being a dope. But now you failed. Nice speech though.
8:44 Okay Ema can use other people's talents. That's cool.
8:45 I want to see Hiro! I wonder if Ema (unlike the other characters intuduced after season one) will stay with us?
8:50 I'll never want to get drunk. That's just stupid!
8:53 More Heroes should trust people with their identity like the new Blue Beetle.
8:55 Sylar just sounded like the Joker from the Dark Knight.
8:56 Talk about burrying your past.
I done fro the night. I hope you enjoyed and sorry for the spelling mistakes. Feel free to comment (please do). See you next week!
Took the sixteen year old to the optician’s this morning to replace the new glasses he got last week. Frames looked sharp on him but they were too small for his face—he has his mother’s great big eyes---and he complained that he kept seeing around them and under them and over them. Optician made the switch cheerfully. Which was good because it said “NO REFUNDS” on the receipt and I was afraid I was going to have to argue them into ignoring their own policy.
This is not one of my talents, arguing with anyone---clerk, bureaucrat, repairman, black jack dealer, loan shark---who decides to stand on policy and make a principle out of adhering to the fine print.
I start out reasonably enough but the second the policy-obsessive starts to dig in his or her heels I go right to DefCon 2.
Sometime I’ll tell you about how I went all Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces on an assistant manager of the cafe at Barnes and Noble who refused to mix Oliver a chocolate milk.
But as I said, the optician was cheerful and helpful and we’re picking up the new new frames on Thursday.
On the way back to the car I started to laugh. The sixteen year old asked why and I said, “I’m thinking about Pop.”
“Well, no matter how old you get, there’s always a part of you that stays the kid you were,” I said, “And whenever we go on errands like this I can’t help feeling that it should be Pop and me and not me and you.”
“So, sometimes when that happens I start imagining that I am Pop and you’re me.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“I’m not Pop.”
“How are you not Pop?”
The question threw me. I’m not sure why. Might have been his baffled tone. It sounded as if he didn’t see a difference between his super-competent and brilliant grandfather and his lovable but bumbling dear old dad. I was so baffled myself by his bafflement that I almost told him the truth, which is, Your Pop is really good at these things!
And he is. At least…
It always seemed to me that he was. At any rate, I don’t remember my father having to go all Jack Nicholson on someone making a principle out of reading the fine print. In fact, what I remember is that whenever there was trouble, officious store clerks, bureaucrats, and repairmen would always back down when Pop Mannion stepped up to the counter. And as far as I recall, he never yelled, he never even raised his voice. He just explained the problem, listened closely when they explained their position, and then explained why their explanation wouldn’t wash, and they would think about it for a moment and then agree, it didn’t wash.
“Ok, Mr Mannion, let’s see what we can do.”
Invariably they would see that they could do what my father had asked them to do.
Today, thanks to the sixteen year old, I began to wonder. Was this how it happened? Or was it only how it appeared to my hero-worshipping eyes?
I felt bumbling and incompetent this morning, as usual. I was worried that the optician would stand on policy. But that’s not what the sixteen year old saw. What he saw was that he had a problem with his new glasses and his father walked casually into the optician’s, stepped up to the counter, and solved the problem.
From that point of view, his question “How are you not Pop?” is practically rhetorical. I was in his eyes what Pop was in my eyes. Dad. And solving problems is just what dads do.
By the way, Oliver got his chocolate milk that day.
So when you knew that you'd be nude in this role -- that was just old hat?
Oh yes. My first job on Broadway was "The Changing Room" in 1973 and it all took place in the locker room of a rugby team. And I had a long scene stark naked on stage. I won a Tony Award for that so I look for every opportunity to take my clothes off ever since. People don't always necessarily want me to, of course.
I ask again. Who among us doesn’t want to see Lithgow take his clothes off? Apparently, if you don’t, you won’t want to watch Dexter this season. Lithgow will be playing not the most evil character he’s ever played---that would be Lord Farquaad, wouldn’t it?---but pretty darn close, and apparently nakedidity is a part of this character’s evil---
How could John Lithgow get as far from "3rd Rock from the Sun" as possible? By playing Arthur Mitchell , a serial killer on Showtime's "Dexter" who has been murdering women for decades and whispering the same sweet nothings -- "It's already over" -- to each victim before she dies: Fans of Lithgow's work will see a lot of him in this role.
By the way, I don’t agree with Lithgow that the trick of Dexter is getting the audience to have sympathy for the devil. Dexter is a monster, not a devil, and the show’s writers and directors and its brilliant star, Michael C. Hall, are actually pretty good at distancing us from Dexter when he is at his most devilish---when he has his victims wrapped and helpless and prepped for death; that is the point when we come close to having sympathy for the devil, the one on the table, not the one about to dispatch and dismember him. One of the show’s strengths is its willingness to let us see that what Dexter does is horrific and that there is a form of moral insanity in having the method of justice be murder and having the hero take pleasure in the method more than in the justice.
When you get down to it, Dexter does what the heroes of countless cop shows, movies, and novels have always done. He tracks down and brings to justice bad guys that the regular cops are too stupid, too corrupt, too weak, or too handicapped by the legal system to bring to justice, and just as in so many of those TV shows, movies, and books, the bad guy winds up dead, killed by the hero. If those heroes aren’t evil, then why is Dexter evil? Because he takes the trouble of disposing of the bodies instead of leaving the mess for the coroner to clean up the way those other guys do?
Or you can stand the question on its head. If Dexter’s evil, then why aren’t those other guys evil?
I suppose the question of self-defense enters into it. But aren’t those other heroes awfully clever about arranging things so that they have to defend themselves with deadly force?
Dexter isn’t evil, but he does do evil. He’s a monster, created by his father and trapped in the job his creator has designed and built him to do. It’s an old story. Harry’s forerunners in myth and fable were gods, then wizards, then mad scientists. Dexter’s poetic ancestors include the Minotaur, Caliban, and Frankenstein’s monster---also, but not as ironically as it might first appear, Superman. Superman is in his way a creation of his mad scientist father, Jor-el, who knew what he was doing when he pointed the rocket carrying the baby Kal-el at a planetary system with a yellow sun. Clark Kent is trapped in the job his father designed and built him for. Of course, except for the whole double-identity thing, the similarities pretty much end there. Smallville has added the notion that Clark, like Dexter, resents and resists the destiny his father’s chosen for him.
But since we know how Clark’s going to resolve that problem, his refusal to rush into the role of Superman is more often than not a source of amusement. We have no idea what Dexter will become if he gives up his role as Harry’s appointed dark angel of vengeance. The possibility is---something much worse.
In Season Two, Dexter began to try to rebel against his father and make his own way in life, but both Sergeant Doakes and Lila kept showing up to tell him that that wouldn’t be easy and in fact might be impossible. Doakes said that the only way Dexter could escape was by admitting what he was, a monster, and accepting punishment. Lila said that the only way he could escape was by admitting what he was and embracing it.
In Season Three, Dexter found to his dismay and horror that he could escape his father’s shadow by becoming his father and playing mad scientist to another monster.
In Season Four, it looks as though Dexter’s found another path to normalcy but is having the same problem most normal people have balancing work and family. As it has since the beginning, though, the central question of the show continues to be asked: Who are we, the monster we know we are inside or the person everybody else takes us to be?
The geniuses who schedule these things must know what they’re doing, but it doesn’t make sense to me that HBO has Bored to Death slotted to run against the last half hour of Dexter. Even with On-demand, TiVo, iTunes, DVRs, and endless re-runs, doesn’t winning the time slot matter? I can’t imagine someone thought, “Hey, we’ll pick up all those people who get bored with Dexter in the middle!” Maybe HBO’s and Showtime’s audiences don’t overlap. Maybe they’re targeting viewers like me who will be watching both shows tomorrow online, along with tonight’s episode of Mad Men. Speaking of which, Michael Berube gives the approved cultural studies reading of last week’s now infamous lawn mowing episode.
“3rd Rock” was about an outsider, an alien in another person’s body, and nobody knew his secret, and it was the source of insane comedy. Well this is also about an outsider who is pretending to be a conventional person, and it’s the source of horror. I think both things have the same taproot. The tension is about how you present yourself and what you really are. It’s the difference between the super-ego and the id. Half the time you see the Trinity Killer, and he’s pure uncontrollable impulse — which is exactly like Dick Solomon on “3rd Rock.” I think I’m using the same tools in a sense. It’s delicious to me.
This is something I did during my brother’s Shiai. He was doing demonstrations. I couldn’t post it live because there was no wireless.
1:42 Doing warm-ups and thanking people for various things
1:47 Showing off the basic moves and counting in Japanese. I have trouble counting in Spanish so I don’t know what they’re saying.
1:52 Black and Brown belts showing off their moves. Lots of yelling. It’s hurting my ears. It funny how my brother can always pick an activity that hurts my ears. In case your wondering I’m talking about African drumming.
1:55 White belts showing off their moves. Still lots of yelling.
1:57 Yellow and Orange belts showing off their moves now. A little less yelling.
2:00 Talking about some visitors from across the River.
2:01 Green, blue, purple belts showing off their moves. Mainly grunting instead of yelling.
2:04 Different group of brown belts showing off their moves. A little more yelling this time. My back hurts.
2:05 Sat in a chair and my back feels better.
2:08 Bunch of 5 year olds attacking padded blockers. This is really funny. I love live blogging!
2:10 Now it’s six year olds attacking the blockers
2:11 I love my new glasses! I can see much better than I could even with my old ones. Unfortunately I can hear well too. My ears…
2:13 My brother did this time along with some of the other older students he did well.
2:16 Bunch of kids from a karate summer camp doing demonstrations. They’re yelling but not as loudly.
2:18 A fight among adult brown and black belts weapons included.
2:21 Brown belts doing… something involving a circle. Oh yeah and yelling.
2:23 My brother will get to break a board.
2:25 Showing off his strength, my brother broke the board. I would hurt my hand if I tried.
2:27 Some people broke some boards with their head. Ow.
2:29 My brother’s favorite instructor got promoted to first instructor.
2:30 Now the white belts are getting promoted to white belt 2.
2:33 The white belt 2s are getting promoted to yellow belts.
2:35 The yellow belts are getting promoted to orange belts. I have a feeling this will go on for a while.
2:37 Orange belts getting promoted to green belts.
2:39 Green belts are getting promoted to blue belts.
2:40 Blue belts getting promoted to purple belts.
2:41 Purple belts being promoted to brown belts.
2:42 Brown belts are getting promoted to black belts.
2:44 Battery is starting to run low. I hope this will be over soon.
2:45 Brown Belts receiving their black belts.
2:47 This will go on for a while so I’m going to be quiet. Man, I’m tired!
2:56 We’re getting close to the end.
2:58 Someone has a few announcements to make.
3:00 Giving flowers to someone.
3:02 Finally the potluck is about to start!
3:03 I’m done. I want to live blog (or semi-live) blog again. Maybe when I’m watching Heroes…
The barn is made of wood. And the work inside the barn is about bending the limitations of wood. There's sawing, there's hammering, there's collecting. Then there's batting away all the mosquitoes.
Travis Kerr, a lanky bespectacled kid with fluffy blond hair, checks his laptop, which displays sketches and blueprints.
Kerr points out a slab of wood – called a flat – lying on the barn floor. Hammered to the flat are pieces of wood that indicate the frames of two windows. He saws out the wood inside the frames.
Watching him is Brendan Burke, artistic director of the Shadowland Theatre in Ellenville, who exclaims: “This is where the magic happens.”
It is magic: A dozen or so devoted volunteers will build, assemble and refine a set, take down another set and prepare for a three-week theater production. They'll each pull about 40 hours a week with one goal in mind: To put together a production of David Mamet's “American Buffalo.” They start with almost nothing and will need to have everything finished in 19 days.
Back at the beginning of the school year, in a post called Trying to change the fisherman’s mind, I wrote about Bennett Weiss, a local activist who was arrested for protesting an Orange County school district’s decision not to show President Obama’s speech about working hard and staying in school to its students.
Remember how Superman had those robots would fly overhead from time to time so people would see Clark Kent and Superman in the same place at the same time? President Obama may have a squad of cardboard cutouts of himself that he deploys so that people think he’s in once place while he’s really off saving the day somewhere else. Evidence. Look at the way “his” smile doesn’t change in this series of 130 photographs. Takes about 20 seconds to watch.
Yes, her face is green. My guess is she’s the understudy for Elphaba’s understudy killing time before the Wednesday matinee. She already knows she’s not going on, again, so she’s volunteered to make the coffee and newspaper run, and why bother rushing with the cold cream if you’re just dashing out for a couple of minutes. But then why aren’t her hands green?
But this is New York. There could be a couple dozen reasons for the green make-up, including personal taste. She might be playing a Martian in a TV commercial, she might be testing a new product, she might be making a political statement, or she might just think she looks good in in shamrock green. She might think she is a shamrock.
There are eight million stories in the naked city and having the fun of figuring out what hers and the other 7,999,999 are is one of the reasons I like to go there.
Three weeks ago, when I wrote about getting cursed out by the furious woman who thought I was taking her picture, Dr Intueri left a comment pointing out that I had accidentally stumbled out of this world into that angry woman’s universe. “Not a fun place,” observed the doctor, who’s hung up her shingle in the city and added that she hoped that I’d enjoyed my visit to her new hometown despite the encounter.
But here’s the thing.
I enjoyed the visit even more because of it.
She wouldn’t have believed me, if she’d stopped cursing at me long enough to listen, but I wanted to thank that woman for being such a character and giving me a story to tell. I don’t feel as though I’ve been in New York unless I come home with at least one story, and I usually do. Hers was a good one. But if she hadn’t happened to be there when I took the picture of the bar sign, I’d have come home with another story, probably one about the gang of Russian waiters outside the Old Homestead Steakhouse who loudly but cheerfully tried to bully me into coming in there for lunch and who I think would have carried me kicking in screaming into their restaurant, sat me down at a table, and force-fed me a porterhouse if I’d stopped within arm’s reach to take my picture of the plastic bull over the doorway.
This is something I should go back and put in that post. It’s something I wanted to tell that woman.
This is what I wrote:
It began to sink in. Don't know why I was so slow on the uptake. She thought I was taking a picture of her, although God knows why she thought only a pervert would want her photograph. I gave her a good look for the first time. She was moderately attractive, I guess, in a somewhat worn around the edges kind of way. Have to take into account that she wasn't at her best with her face twisted up with anger and hatred like that. But once I realized what she was objecting to I got angry. The nerve of her thinking I was a pervert. The nerve of her thinking I was taking I was taking her picture when all I was doing was taking a picture of a wooden sign. And the nerve of her thinking that if I was sneaking around Manhattan snapping photographs of strange women for my perverted pleasures she was someone I'd want a picture of! Lady, I wanted to say, today I saw a young blonde who was as beautiful as a model, who might even have been a model, made more beautiful by her being six months pregnant. I saw a waitress at an outdoor cafe who looked like a young Marissa Tomei. I saw a goddess of a woman from India over six feet tall, all legs, in gauzy white blouse unbuttoned down to her chest and up to her diaphragm. I saw countless other women far more beautiful than you and if I was tempted to take any pictures of strange women for my perverted pleasures I'd have taken every one of theirs twenty times before I even looked twice at you! But I didn't take their pictures! I took pictures like this one of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe instead!
What kind of pervert goes around taking pictures of churches?
I should have added that it wouldn’t just have been pictures of prettier women I’d have taken before I took hers. I’d have taken the pictures of men too, and not necessarily pretty men. I’d have taken a picture of the Russian waiters. (Actually, I did. It didn’t come out. Way too bright. Had the camera on the wrong setting.) I’d have taken a picture of another waiter, a very young, very short, very bushily moustached Pakistani in a black vest and a very long, very white apron strolling in the shade on Greenwich Avenue and the picture of the tall, handsome Iranian businessman talking on his cell as he stood in the middle of traffic on Houston, the long cord of his earbud dangling out of his suit pants pocket all the way down to his ankle. I’d have taken their pictures for the same reason I’d have taken the pictures of the pretty young women, if I was faster and braver with my camera---because what I was doing was taking pictures of New York City, and to me New York City is a city of characters with stories to tell. In my opinion, the best TV show about New York isn’t Naked City or Mad Men or even Seinfeld or Law and Order, the original, before Jerry Orbach left. The best show as far as I’m concerned, because it portrays the New York City I fell in love with, is Barney Miller. To me, New York City is a comedy.
If I’d noticed that woman and decided I to take her picture, it’d have been because I’d decided she had a story I wanted to know, like the green-faced (maybe) actress and the news vendor in the picture up top.
My pictures are notes to help me remember those stories, which is why I don’t need to take pictures.
All this is a long way to go for this: I’m sorry I couldn’t go to the Clinton Global Initiative today, but if I could have made it, it would only have been for the closing session to hear Hillary Clinton speak. I’d have been in and out and spent the whole time there in the press pen in hotel ballroom, where I probably wouldn’t have found any New York stories to bring home. But who knows?
Wednesday, I walked up to the Sheraton from Grand Central, which is a hike of what, four blocks up and ten blocks over? But although I passed story after story, including the green-faced actress’s, it wasn’t until I got to the last block that I found the story I really wanted to tell.
No picture to go with it, but like I said. I don’t need the pictures.
I was walking up alongside the hotel on West 52nd and came upon a cop looking bored in that extremely bored but still alert way cops manage. She was youngish, probably no more than thirty, on the small side even for a lady cop, Hispanic, round-faced, pretty but I didn’t notice that until she did something.
She was leaning with her back against the hotel wall which was papered over with a faded mural, her thumbs tucked in her gunbelt, staring at nothing and everything, including, it turned out, me. Our eyes met.
“Good morning, officer,” I said brightly. And this is what she did in response. She winked.
She smiled too. Actually, more than smiled. She beamed. But it was over just like that. Smile. Wink. Done. She went right back to staring at nothing and everything, looking bored in the cop way.
Guy a couple tables over from us at Barnes and Noble the other day didn’t know he was taking his life in his hands. He thought he was being helpful, probably, trying to save his friend the trouble of going to see The Informant! by telling him the whole movie, plot point by plot point, surprise twist by surprise twist, wrapping it up neatly by revealing the ending and adding his opinion that Matt Damon was wasted in the leading role.
If the blonde and I hadn’t just seen the movie the night before I might have gone over and dumped my coffee over his head.
But his verbal review convinced me of something I was already pretty sure about. There’s no way I’ve thought of yet to write a detailed review of The Informant! without giving away surprises and plot twists, and the surprises and plot twists are half the reason for going to see it.
I’m going to try, but maybe you shouldn’t read this in case I don’t pull it off.
I think I can say this much without giving anything crucial away. Director Steven Soderbergh’s stylistic jokes are hit or miss, and the ones that hit are smilers not knee-slappers and the ones that miss are more head-scratchers than groaners. The story takes place the 1990s but it looks like it’s taking place in 1965, and I’m not sure if that’s another one of the visual jokes or if it’s just Soderbergh and his designers being true to the time and place---that part of the Midwest has always been a generation behind the times in mores and manners and I would guess that the engineers, chemists, and accounting types who worked for Archer Daniels Midland were even more conservative in their lifestyles than their neighbors. At any rate, if you see her character as a pure product of the year she’d have been born, as if she’d taken in everything about how a woman, a wife, and a lady should be when she was a toddler and stuck to what she’d learned all her life, then Melanie Lynskey’s performance as Damon’s wife is very poignant. But if Ginger Whitacre’s meant to be representative of all the women of her circle, then her character is just bizarre and only fathomable as something of a nutcase. Since there are no other female characters who are part of her circle, there’s no way of telling for sure which Soderbergh intended, and that’s the case with much of what happens in the movie and with the movie---Soderbergh doesn’t give us any points of comparison to judge his characters or their situations against. There is no normal or “normal” in The Informant! Our idea of normal behavior don’t seem to apply but the characters’ ideas of what’s “normal” are left unexplained and unillustrated. This opens the possibility that everybody on screen isn’t normal, either by our or their own lights. This movie might be packed full of lunatics, mild eccentrics, or “normal” and basically sane people caught up in a crazy situation. Soderbergh keeps all three possibilities open.
I’ll give you a for instance. Scott Bukula’s hair. Bakula plays an apparently competent and decent-hearted FBI agent, a no-nonsense but not humorless or heartless law enforcement professional just doing his job as best he can. But what’s with the Vulcan haircut that makes him look like Mr Spock’s long lost brother, the Vulcan undertaker (when it’s not making him look like Herman Munster’s long lost brother, the undertaker)? Is it a mistake? He went to the barber one day and his regular guy was sick and this is what he came out of the shop with? Does he like it? Does he think it makes him look hip? Cool? Dashing? Does his wife like it? Do his colleagues laugh at him behind his back? Or do they admire his going against the grain? Every other male FBI agent we see has a conventionally short and conservative haircut. Is Bacula’s character a secret rebel? Or is he a secret fop who has no clue? Is the fact that he can look in the mirror without shock and dismay a sign of a lack of vanity or a sign of his not being able to see the reality of what’s in front of him, which would be a statement about the plot, or is it a sign that he’s divorced from reality?
We’re never given enough information to make even a guess.
This is not a bad thing. But your willingness to accept such dizzying inconclusiveness will determine whether or not you’ll enjoy the movie. I liked it, but I wasn’t quite satisfied, and left the movie theater feeling as though i was leaving a restaurant where I’d had a good meal but was half-wishing I’d ordered a different dessert.
I will say one more thing. That guy at Barnes and Noble was wrong about Matt Damon. The other half of the reason to see The Informant! is to be constantly surprised by the realization that you are watching Matt Damon in the leading role.
It’s not so much that he disappears into the character in the manner of Daniel Day-Lewis or Meryl Streep. It’s more that he doesn’t. He wears the part like a cheap disguise, a costume bought at the last minute from The Party Place, but as can happen with someone dressed up in a bunny suit, you lose track. The costume takes on a life of its own. This isn’t accidental either. But you need to see the movie to understand the point.
Or sit next to that guy at Barnes and Noble.
A lot of Damon’s disguising himself is accomplished with the way he sets his jaw throughout the movie. From what I’ve seen from the trailers, it looks as though Brad Pitt’s character in Inglorious Basterds is also a creation of the way the star re-sets his jaw. I wonder if Damon and Pitt have discussed lower mandiblar rearticulation as an acting technique. If I’d run into either one at the Clinton Global Initiative yesterday I’d have asked them about it. Didn’t see them though. Maybe they weren’t there. Damon was there on Tuesday, though. Here he is talking about Water.org’s commitment of $2 million dollars to bring safe drinking water to Haiti.
This is really cool. According to this video, something like a billion people in the world need glasses but don’t have them. For many of them that’s because eye doctors haven’t set up shop in their poor, out of the way villages. Glasses cost too much too, even if they could get their prescriptions filled---one to two months’ worth of earnings. President Clinton announced a commitment from Adaptive Eyewear, a not for profit British company that has set out to deal with this problem.
We’re talking about algae here, and biofuel! One of the commitments President Clinton announced yesterday was from Solazyme, which has committed to “work toward commercialization of its renewable oil that produces advanced oils from cellulosic materials such as algae. This revolutionary technology creates biofuels and edible oils, thereby reducing greenhouse gas impacts while improving the well-being of communities.”
Press conference after Plenary Session. Have just learned that Cash for Clunkers started as a Clinton Global Initiative commitment last year.
About to be grilled by the press:
Vinita Bali, CEO and Managing Director, Britannia Industries, Ltd
Commitment: Securing Children's Rights to Growth and Development
Partners: Britannia Industries, GAIN Business Alliance
From PR release: “In 2007, Britannia Industries Limited partnered with the GAIN Business Alliance to develop vitamin and mineral-fortified products. Today, Britannia's products reach 40% of Indian households, helping to alleviate Iron deficiency among 180 million children.”
Bali talking now: In a school district in India, the only reason children came to school was for the free meals. Hemoglobin levels jumped in short time. All this for two cents a day.
School has 3000 students. Started by police officers who dealt with communities ravaged by drugs and dealing.
Commitment: Cash for Clunkers – Accelerated Vehicle Recovery Program
Partners: Google.org, Auto Futures Group, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation
PR release: “Cash for Clunkers was launched as a commitment at last year’s CGI Annual Meeting and since then has been passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Obama. Jack Hidary will discuss the journey from commitment announcement to being splashed across the headlines.”
Hidray himself now: Helped to green NYC taxi fleet. 9 mpg to 30 mpg.
50 percent of foreign oil used in cars.
Cars 13 yrs or older responsible for 25 percent of miles driven, but 70 percent of toxic emissions.
Cash for Clunkers: 3 Billion dollars leveraged 23 billion out of consumers, 26 billion floods the economy.
Bill maybe coming out of the Senate. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, Chair, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, pushing Feebates: Fees for cars that get bad mileage; rebates for cars that get great mileage.
Idea for Cash for Clunkers came from memories of going with his grandparents when he was a kid to trade in old air conditioners and old refrigerator at stores that offered rebates and discounts. Irony is that the Obama Administration has introduced a cash for clunkers program for appliances.
“Go home and change your lightbulbs, the world is melting.” Solutions offered so small. Cars are big things. People can feel they’re making a contribution. See it.
“How are people going to know about this program?” Hidray’s reply, “We’re going through car dealers.” Dealers will make sure people know. Clunkers hanging from cranes out in front of dealerships.
Moving on now. President Clinton himself moderating a special session on Northern Ireland. Idea is to attract American investment. Economic progress and opportunities to invest aren’t the first things that come to mind when you mention Northern Ireland. Things have changed there, says Bill. Northern Ireland now a model other troubled areas can look to. People should be interested in transplanting the process of peace and reconciliation, overcoming the constant interruptions by “irritants”---nice euphemism there, Mr President, considering who’s on the panel with you.
Who is on the panel with him. Declan Kelly, the US economic envoy to Northern Ireland, for one. Northern Ireland Secretary of State Shaun Woodward, Michéal Martin, Minster of Foreign Affairs, from the Republic of Ireland---Ireland Ireland---and the First and Deputy First Ministers of the Northern Ireland Executive, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness.
Robinson noted that as recently as two and a half years ago, you wouldn’t have found McGuinness and himself sitting side by side. “Two and a half years ago, Martin McGuinness and I had never spoken one word to each other.”
Political differences doesn’t begin to describe it. Robinson’s DUP. McGuinness is Sein Finn.
Not an easy thing, the DUP and Sinn Finn being in the Government together. But there’s nowhere else for either to go. “The war’s over,” says McGuinness. The people want peace, stability, economic progress.
No more ourselves alone.
Credit to President Clinton for “your courageous decision” to let Gerry Adams come speak in the U.S. Not said, that granted some legitimacy to Sinn Finn as political party. At the time few saw much distinction between Sinn Finn and the IRA. Clinton also praised for helping with the Good Friday accords.
Same storefront on Seventh Ave. Around noon today. Wonder how long it’ll be before they sell the kids and the lions. Here’s a question. Who in this part of New York City’s going to buy things like this? Don’t you need to have a lawn? Or are there that many people in Manhattan with large living rooms and weird senses of humor?
Dateline Sheraton Ballroom. Afternoon Plenary Session, Clinton Global Initiative. Waiting for Al Gore. Film introducing session on cataract surgery for the world’s poor sponsored by CGI. Blogging pal can’t be here this year. She’s having cataract surgery. Pop Mannion busy today. He’s having cataract surgery. Coincidence? You make the call.
Have lost Tom Watson. Heard Demi Moore and Barbra Streisand are here. Suspect one or the other has got him. Perhaps both fighting over him. Sending out hotel security.
Down in press room things are cramped and feelings are running high. Trying to maintain a cheerful relationship with neighbors. Some of whom are actual journalists. In other words people with no scruples or conscience. Sending for hotel security.
Keep tripping over a young blonde journalist to my left and an older brunette to the right. They keep tripping over me. We remain civil. Mutual apologies. No weapons have appeared. I blame President Clinton for the inadequate spacing of chairs. He should have stayed last night to help set up. He’s the host. But, no. He had to go on Letterman. Look, Bill, just because Barack does it…
No water from one faucet in bathroom. I blame Matt Damon. He’s the water guy. (www.water.org).
Still no sign of Watson. No sign of Al Gore either. Gore saving Watson from Streisand?
Took train into city this morning. Sat in seats facing rear of train. Pretended I was going backwards in time, arriving at Grand Central an hour and a half younger.
Pretended I was Steven Wright when I wrote that.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Bill Clinton!
How bout some more chairs downstairs, Mr President?
Bill announcing new commitments. First from Visa and FIFA to increase financial literacy around the world. There will be a video game, Financial Football---soccer to us Americans.
New commitment. Rebuilding university system in Africa. Can’t keep sending their best and brightest overseas, says Bill.
Bill wants Americans to pay attention. In 10 years we went from first to tenth in number of citizens between 25 and 30 with four year college degrees.
Ten year commitment to GI Bill at end of Bill’s Presidency. Benefits gone in five.
Now Bill is talking about saving 5 billion diapers a year.
250,000 trees used to produce one year’s worth of disposable diapers in America.
3 billion gallons of oil.
Proctor and Gamble working on saving trees and oil by some research involving disposable diapers.
American and Chinese energy companies, Duke Energy and ENN, talking to each other, negotiating “as if they were governments,” Bill says with a chuckle. Arent’ they, though?
America ranked 100th in energy efficiency.
“We have never mobilized to seize the job opportunities in the lowest hanging fruit, energy efficiency.”
Somebody google Jim Rogers (Rodgers?) for me? Thanks.
“Save 30 percent of energy use by this hotel we give ConEd a little power plant.”
Glass towers the size of football fields needed to provide useful outlet. That needs work.
Bill done. Panel onstage.
Matthew Bishop, New York Bureau Chief and American Business Editor, The Economist Al Gore, Chairman, The Alliance for Climate Protection Jack Ma, Chairman and CEO, Alibaba Group Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director, The World Bank Group Judith Rodin, President, The Rockefeller Foundation Muhammad Yunus, Managing Director, Grameen Bank
Btw, Ken Houghton of Angry Bear is here with me. He’s probably understanding the numbers being tossed around better than I am and taking serious notes. Make sure you visit Angry Bear then.
Al Gore onstage. Looking slimmed down. Guess he wasn’t out rescuing Tom.
“We have what it takes to solve three or four climate crises. We only need to solve one. What’s been missing has been political will.” Gore says business leaders have been ahead of politicians on this.
Of course, he admits, there have been business interests opposing dealing with the problem too.
“It’s not free to put all that junk up in the air and we have to put some value on saving human civilization.”
Muhammad Yunus, banker to the poor, economist, Nobel Peace Prize: Social business, a business in which you are not in it to make money for yourself.
Can’t bring doctors to every village. Why not do it by mobile phone and internet?
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala :Innovation does not have to be technological. Bringing informal business structures into more formal business community.
Jack Ma, Ali Baba Group: Events bring 20,000 “netrepreneurs” together in stadiums.
70 percent of innovations, 70 percent of jobs come from small and medium sized companies. Nobody helping them. “Small is beautiful.”
“We want to create more crazy companies like Ali Baba.”
Plan is to grow another hundred million jobs in China.
Judith Rodin, President of Rockefeller Foundation: J.D. Rockefeller got a request from young Einstein asking for 500 dollars. Rockefeller told an aide, Give him a thousand. I think he may be onto something.
Group sourcing produces innovate mosquito repellant based on wax and human sweat.
Gore asks people in audience “who have connections to anyone in the U.S. Senate” to use those connections to get right votes. This is the kind of audience where those connections might be by marriage, blood, old school ties, big donarship.
Gore: Projections that crop yield in Africa will decline by 50 percent due to climate change.
Carbon content of soil depleted. Down around levels of American midwest during the Dust Bowl years.
Yunus on obstacles to social business innovations: Recognition. Education not geared to teach it. Financing. Redirecting money that usually goes to charities and into pockets of governments.
Ma: Shareholders? Better to call them share traders. Financial crisis came, all shareholders gone. Customers stayed with us, employees stayed with us. Businesses need to focus on the people who will stay with you.
Gets back to his favorite line. “Small is beautiful.” Big banks, big car companies, they failed. Not isolated disasters.
Gore follows up talking about “sustainable capitalism.” Over last 35 years the average holding time for a stock has gone from 8 years to 6 months. Not investing. People will do what you pay them to do. If you pay them to maximize their own earnings on a quarterly basis then that’s what they’re going to do.
Tom Watson has twittered in his whereabouts. Reports he’s safe. Demi Moore has left him alone. Too old for her, Tom says. Tom and Demi are the same age.
Speaking of Ashton, who is here somewhere too…
Anybody know if he’s still leading CNN in Twitter followers? Anybody care?
We’re being shooed out of the ballroom. Back downstairs to the press room. More from there including a report on the buffet.
Another post card from New York, dated one year ago tonight. The Carengie Deli, around midnight, September 22, 2008.
My image of New York was formed a hundred years ago when I was a kid and when I go into a place like this I expect the waiters to be elderly Jewish men in less than congenial moods. That night, though, the waiters were in rather cheerful moods---my waiter was positively jovial---and they were all young and middle-aged Asian men, except one. She was a middle-aged Haitian woman and she was in a foul mood. For good reason.
I was at the register paying my check when she strode up beside me. “They can all go back where they come from,” she said in a thickly accented, musical but angry voice. There wasn’t anybody at the register at the moment. I looked around but it was just the two of us waiting there. She was talking to me. I said, intelligently, “Oh?”
“Four dollar tip on a fifty dollar meal, and they supposed to be so rich.”
“Them Europeans. They rich. The exchange rate is that good for them now. They always over here t’rowing their money around. Four dollar! She can go back to England, the bitch. They like cheapskates like her over there.”
While she was talking the cashier came and took my money. The waitress saw I was ready to go.
“You like your food? What you have, dear?”
“Pastrami on rye,” I said. “It was terrific.” I wanted to add, “I left a tip. Twenty per cent!” What I said was, “I wish I had room for dessert.”
“That very nice, dear. You have a good trip home.” And she turned to the cashier. “Four dollar that English bitch left me! Can you believe it? She should go back where she from and good riddance!”
An economic system based on the notion that the strongest, the smartest, the boldest, and self-designated most deserving get to take whatever they can lay their hands on and are entitled to keep as much of that as they feel like is called feudalism. Most of the economic and political progress that has been made since the Dark Ages has been a matter of prying the loot and the land out of the hands of the warlords and bandit-kings and then devising new and ever more ingenious ways of preventing them from taking it back at swordpoint.
ANKARA (Reuters) - Archaeologists in the ancient city of Troy in Turkey have found the remains of a man and a woman believed to have died in 1,200 B.C., the time of the legendary war chronicled by Homer, a leading German professor said on Tuesday.
Ernst Pernicka, a University of Tubingen professor of archaeometry who is leading excavations on the site in northwestern Turkey, said the bodies were found near a defense line within the city built in the late Bronze age.
The discovery could add to evidence that Troy's lower area was bigger in the late Bronze Age than previously thought, changing scholars' perceptions about the city of the "Iliad." (Continued)
I'd like to think this is Hector and Andromache, but we know from Euripedes that she made it out of Troy alive (carried out, kicking and screaming, on the shoulder of some Greek warrior), along with her mother-in-law and sister-in-law, Hecuba and Cassandra. Helen survived and returned to Sparta to live happily ever after with Menelaus, apparently, but maybe she was just putting on a good show for Telemachus, at any rate, it's definitely not her and Paris.
Troilus and Cressida, maybe? Do any of the myths say whether or not she lived? If she didn't, though, it's unlikely Troilus would have appreciated sharing a grave with her. I suppose Pandarus might have arranged it anyway. Good public relations, especially since his pandering business took a real black eye on that bit of matchmaking.
But wouldn't Patroclus have been in there with them?
All this reminds me---you knew it was going to remind me of something, didn't you?---back in high school, my friend Bob was cast as Troilus in a community theater production of Tiger at the Gates, Jean Giraudoux's take on the Trojan War. Troilus is a relatively minor character in that play, but the director decided to put him in as many scenes as she could find a dramatic excuse for putting him in. The director was fortysomething, married, and embarrassingly head over heels in love with Bob, who was seventeen at the time. Bob was very good looking and in great shape and the director made strategic use of him as eye candy. She had him dressed in the skimpiest of tunics and had him assuming various statuesque poses. In one scene she had him sitting far downstage center left, his right leg dangling over the edge of the stage, showing quite a lot of thigh. "Swing your leg, Bobby," was her direction. "Not too much, and slowly."
This weirded Bob out. I thought it was hilarious. Bob was the guy every freshman and sophomore girl swooned over in the halls. (Juniors and senior seemed more immune to his charms, which perplexed me at the time. But maybe they sensed something. See tomorrow's post.) Thinking back on it, though, it's not that funny. I used to think there was a short story in this, but I could never find the right angle. Maybe because I kept thinking of it as sitcom funny. Now I'm thinking there's an Elmore Leonard novel here.
On the other hand, why should I find the director's using Bob as eye candy odd? His age, I guess. A friend of mine from college played Helen in a professional production of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida and her director used her as eye candy. He had her wearing leather, for some reason, and not much of it. Less than Red Sonja wears. My friend, who had done nude scenes on stage, said she felt more naked in her leather than she'd felt in her skin. She thought of it as her most difficult and challenging role, not for what she had to do and wear on stage, but on what she had to do on her own time to look good in her little bits of leather. She spent three hours at the gym every day during rehearsals and the run of the play. I've always been sad that I missed that production.
But speaking of plays about the Trojan War, I think I'd like to see Tiger at the Gates done in repertory Troilus and Cressida, a compare and contrast between irony and out and out cynicism. I read recently that Shakespeare may not have written all of Troilus and Cressida. I was disappointed, and I'm not sure why.
One of my fantasies of heaven is that it's not a single place, it's every place you'd like to visit, anywhere in space and time, so you could---well, I could. This is my fantasy. If you're nice to me, I'll invite you along. I'll even buy the beers.---go to every game of the 1921 World Series or attend the opening of Picasso's first exhibit or go see my friend in Troilus and Cressida or Bob in Tiger at the Gates.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. scientists in the Gulf of Mexico unexpectedly netted a 19.5-foot (5.9-meter) giant squid off the coast of Louisiana, the Interior Department said on Monday, showing how little is known about life in the deep waters of the Gulf.
Not since 1954, when a giant squid was found floating dead off the Mississippi Delta, has the rare species been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico.
The squid, weighing in at 103 pounds (46.7 kg), was caught July 30 in a trawl net more than 1,500 feet underwater as it was pulled by a research vessel.