I don't believe that on the whole the national press corps wants Trump to win. Seems that way sometimes though doesn't it?
But most of the journalists covering this circus of an election are smart, decent-minded people and they know Trump for what he is and are appalled by him and at the prospect of him president. And there are signs they are growing more and more appalled and angry, and they’re determined to do something about it.
Trump does have allies and closet fans in the press corps. There are right-leaning, racist, corporatist authoritarian journalists, and not all of them work for FoxNews. Not all of them think of themselves as conservative. Some of them are liberals. Ostensibly, anyway. But they see Trump as their kind of president. Presidents are big, tall, tough-talking, strong men--- strongmen, in fact. Presidents keep the nation safe by blustering and bullying and they keep the riffraff in line the same way.
But there are members of the press corps who don't want Trump to win. They want Hillary to lose.
And serve her right.
What this would mean for the country is not their immediate concern. And not their problem.
And the profession, like just about every profession, includes a great many hacks and mediocrities. They don’t cover elections. They cover the conventional wisdom and they do it the old conventional way and that means reporting on Personality and Process, who’s winning and who’s losing today, and who made what gaffe and how will that affect who’s winning and who’s losing today. And they do it by treating both sides as the same, but with the Democrats being more of the same because God forbid they reveal a liberal bias and have to face criticism from their Republican friends. They’re also affected by Trump’s celebrity and their sense of what a real President looks like.
I don’t think they want Trump to win.
They just don't want him to be losing.
And they don't want Hillary to be winning.
They want this to be a tossup right up to just after the polls close on November 8.
And I’m afraid this goes for even the good, decent-minded, responsible ones.
They have papers to sell, eyeballs to grab, clicks to bait. They have jobs they need to justify to themselves and their bosses. Trump, Hillary, the voters, the future health and well-being of the country don't matter at any given moment as much as ratings and page views.
And to those ends Trump is more useful than Clinton. Trump is NEWS! in the way news is really defined by those whose livelihoods depend on reporting it---spectacle, scandal, controversy, and Personality on shameless display.
One of the things journalists covering her can't stand about Clinton is she refuses to be a Personality.
Of course, the rare times she tries it they hate her for not being good enough at it.
Instead of being a Personality, all she can manage is to be the person she is.
The press corps isn’t rooting for Trump to win in November. They're rooting for him to be NEWS! today.
That covering him as NEWS instead of as the lying demagogue he is and the disaster he would be is helping him is something they're aware of and the best of them worry about and try to resist. But they don't know how to cover him otherwise. The best way to cover a would-be dictator who is exploiting the media coverage of him as his main tactic for getting himself elected dictator is not to cover him.
That won't happen.
Even the good ones will tell you they can’t do that. That would mean not doing their jobs as reporters. You can’t ask political reporters not to cover politicians, especially politicians running for President on a major party line. It would be like asking local reporters not to cover a fire, as if fires are conscious and start themselves in order to make the news.
They have to report the news.
By which as I said they mean the NEWS!
It's their job. It's their responsibility. It's their duty.
The Hillary haters and the hacks and mediocrities and the ones having too much fun covering the NEWS and even many of the ones who are almost as smart and conscientious as Jamelle---we’re talking about the white ones. Reporters of color know better from experience---seem to accept that putting a lunatic racist clown in the Oval Office will be too bad but nothing to really worry about. Trump's a clown, right? How much harm can a clown do?
Anyway, there's another election in four years. If the people don't don't like having this clown as president, they can vote him out the door.
Meantime, at least he'll be fun to cover. He'll be NEWS!
Adapted from my Twitter and Facebook feeds and mined from the notebooks. September 14, 2016.
On Wednesday morning, July 27, I went into the hospital for long-needed surgery on my back. The operation appears to have done what I needed it to do, put me back on my feet, but the recovery’s taking a little longer than I expected.
July 27. 7:38 P.M. Apparently I'm alive folks!
July 28. 7:54 A.M. I haven't had coffee it 36 hours! Just ordered a whole pot from the hospital cafe. They say it'll take 45 minutes. That's inhuman!
July 28. 11:00 A.M. Physical therapist came by. Had me take a walk around the hospital floor. Did three laps. Spent the whole time talking about his junior high school age son’s golf game. Apparently the kid’s a phenom.
July 29. 3:42 a.m. The night nurses hate me.
July 29. 8:30 a.m. I'm such a goddamn big baby!
July 29. 7:54 P.M. Feeling much more upbeat tonight. Seems the last person to get the news I was having major surgery was me. Apparently what happened last night was I forgot where I was and tried to make a break for it. But I had a good day and have been up and walking around and they'll probably send me home tomorrow.
The nurses did tape this over my bed though.
July 30. 7:38 A.M. Hey, what's going on here? I'm still in the hospital!
July 30. 2:00 P.M. Cheryl, the day nurse is great. Cheerful, friendly, interested, concerned, encouraging, although her favorite words of encouragement are, “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
July 31. 10:50 A.M. Today's medical update: Most important thing, Mrs M showed up early bearing coffee, so clearly she's not holding this invalid thing against me.
Next: I may be sprung today but it's more likely going to be tomorrow because there's equipment that needs to be in place at home beforehand and it probably can't be delivered until tomorrow.
Finally: I still hurt but I'm definitely on the mend. I'm getting around. In fact, I feel best when I'm up and walking, so the danger is I'll wear myself out doing laps around the floor. Have to learn to pace myself.
July 31. 5:23 P.M. HOME! I'm home! Hospital kicked me out late this afternoon. And it's all legal and everything! No one's coming after me to drag me back! So we're celebrating tonight with pie!
August 1. 8:12 A.M. Hey! Where are the nurses to make a fuss over me? Why hasn't room service sent up my coffee yet? It's almost like I'm not in the hospital anymore!
August 2. Valium now or Valium in an hour?
August 3. Today's interesting medical fact: you aren't in a condition to drive when you're doped up on percocet and valium. Somebody should have warned me ahead of time so I could have made plans.
August 4. Today's planned two steps on the road to recovery: beginning the switch from Percocet to Tylenol and...shaving!
August 5. Beautiful morning here. How is it by you? Been out for a walk yet? I have. Yup. All the way up to the corner and back. Mrs M could hardly keep up. Gonna do it again in a little while. If I get up to speed, I might just keep walking until I reach Cape Cod.
August 6. 8:26 P.M. Well, today was just no darn fun.
August 7. 1:02 P.M. The Mannion guys and Mrs M have gone off to the movies. I don't mind being left behind. Sitting for two hours in the theater would probably be torture. So I'm here alone and ready to party! Of course, shape I'm in, a party means taking a Valium and a four hour nap. But still...wild man!
August 7. 10:27 P.M. Going through my Twitter and Facebook timelines and liking just about every post. I think this is because there's simply lots going on out there to like and not because I overdid it on the painkillers.
August 8. 9:48 A.M. Took a walk all by myself just now. Just me and my walker all the way up to the corner and back. Felt like a real hero. Now I feel like a nap.
August 10. 9:13 A.M. Just got back from dropping Mrs M off at the bus depot. Later, I'll be taking Oliver to work. Yep. I can drive. I've quit taking the Percocet and Valium so if a cop stops me I'll pass the drug tests. So I'm mobile! Where should I go?
August 12. 8:26 A.M. First extended drive. 45 minute round trip taking Oliver up to work and...A bear! A bear! We saw a bear in the road!
August 13. 12 P.M. I was a goddamn superhero yesterday. And I'm paying for it today. So I think I've earned the right be a goddamn big baby for the rest of the afternoon.
August 13. 7:20 P.M. Laughter isn't the best medicine. Percocet is. But laughter's a close second, followed by pizza. Which is why tonight is Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and pizza night here in Mannionville!
August 15. 8:58 A.M. All right. This recovery business has gone on long enough. The operation was two and a half weeks ago. I've been home from the hospital for two weeks. It's time for me to be all better and to get back to work busting broncos and fighting crime.
August 15. 10:43 P.M. Side-effect of Percocet they don't warn you about: an uncontrollable urge to whistle. I've been whistling "Don't Fence Me In" non-stop for the last half hour. My family hates me.
August 16. 12:30 P.M. This morning I was at the surgeon's for my first post-op follow up. Folks there were pleased with my progress. But to help the healing I was fitted with a "bone growth stimulator." I'm not sure how it works but the way it was explained to me sounded very scientific.
It *sounded* scientific but how would I know? For all I understood it, they might have been outfitting me with a magic wand.
At any rate, I'm supposed to belt the thing on and wear it for two hours every day. And, said the tech, at the end of six weeks...PRESTO!
My response to this news was a stoical, "SIX MORE WEEKS? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?"
I don't think I'm very good at this stoicism thing.
August 21. 10:19 P.M. Ok. I need to be all better in the morning so that's what I'm going to be. No more malingering.
August 24. 8:45 P.M. Being a good patient and wearing my bone growth stimulator which requires me to sit still for 2 hrs doing nothing. So basically it's like being sent for an adult time-out.
August 29. 10:07 A.M. Sears sent me an email this morning asking if I need help with my "appliance repair." They mean fixing our washing machine which I bought a new part for from them just before I went into the hospital. I do need the help. It's just a matter of putting in the part but I can't do that myself because of the bending, lifting, and twisting involved. And I was warned by my doctor. NO BLT! (That's bending, lifting, and twisting. You probably figured that out.) But if this morning's an indication, I'll be able to do it.
I DID YARD WORK!
Nothing heavy. Just some weeding and hedge trimming. Very little BLT. But I was on my feet and out moving about for a good 20 minutes with a minimum of pain and without collapsing.
I would still be at it, in fact, if it wasn't so hot and humid.
So, thanks anyway, Sears, but I think I got this.
September 9. 12:44 P.M. Ok, I think I’ve milked this recovery business for all the pity and attention it’s worth. When my surgeon and set things up back in May, he warned me that the recovery could take up to six weeks and I laughed a cavalier’s laugh. Two, maybe three weeks tops, I promised myself. It’s now been six weeks and two days. So I must be recovered. And actually I am feeling much better. But I’m also tired of feeling sorry for myself. And I’m feeling guilty about it too. It’s not just that I am feeling better enough that any complaints I still have sound to me like whining. And it’s not just that as we’ve been so sadly reminded by Father Blonde’s death that there are worse things or that I know there are people who’ve gone through more intensive surgeries and suffered longer and more difficult recoveries or that there are even more people with illnesses and conditions that no surgery can fix. While I was in the hospital, the daughter of some friends of ours, a little girl fifteen months old, went into the hospital too. She was being treated for leukemia. She’s now down in New York City at Sloan-Kettering undergoing a second round of treatment. Reports are she’s bearing it all with cheerfulness and patience. She’s a little heroine and an inspiration and object lesson to whiny and self-pitying adults like me to shut up.
September 14. 10:30 A.M. Back at B&N for the first time in the seven weeks since the surgery and my favorite barista remembered my Membership number!
Not all those bad drivers are Trump supporters. Not all Trump supporters are bad drivers. But I think it can be safely assumed that many Trump supporters, if they’re not menaces to traffic, go out of their way to make themselves obnoxious in some other way. They’re like Trump himself in that regard. Never happy unless they’re sticking it to someone else. Like this guy we saw yesterday, driving his not very bright, not very shiny, not very new pickup with a YUGE American flag flying from the bed, a TRUMP sticker on the rear window, and a Gadsden yellow and black DON’T TREAD ON ME sticker on the gate.
His obnoxiousness wasn’t in how he was driving or what he was driving but in where he was driving.
We were up on Ken’s new college campus, picking him up after class. SUNY New Paltz is one of the best and artsy-est and most diverse of New York state’s colleges. The village of New Paltz is decidedly Bernie Sanders’ kind of town. It’d be Jill Stein’s kind of town, if she wasn’t such a crank. It’s had a Green mayor who got himself in trouble by marrying same-sex couples years before that was legal here. The driver, a middle-aged character wearing a fatigue cap, knew he was in what he surely regards as enemy territory. I suppose he could have been a non-traditional student. He could have been what I was, just a dad with a kid enrolled there. He could have been a professor. He could have been on the staff. He could have just been lost.
He could have been.
But I doubt it.
He was looking for a fight.
At least one he could fight and win in his own head.
The country is full of guys like him, middle-aged and old men out looking for fights---young men too---not out of meanness or simple belligerence or because they’re full of restless, violent energies that need to be let loose.
They’re desperate to make a point. Not necessarily a political point. In fact, even the ones who think they’re making a political point are probably really making another point. I’m here. I’m alive. I matter. I have worth. I have strength. I have a right to be here. Here being the planet.
These guys are in an argument with a Fate that has decreed they’re to live lives less than they deserve, to be less than they feel they are.
I’ve written before how I think Trump is the candidate of these men. Angry, insecure, disappointed men, needing to feel like the heroes they believe they should have been, could have been, would have been, if only…
I imagine this guy driving through campus every day, hoping. Hoping someone will give him a reason to stop. Some student will mouth off from the crosswalk. Some professor on his---or her, maybe preferably her---bicycle will roll up next to him at a stop sign and sneer or sniff or scold. And he’ll have his chance. He knows what he’ll say. He knows how he’ll shut them up, make them squirm, leave them speechless and sputtering and embarrassed and beaten.
Then he''ll drive to his favorite bar or diner or coffee spot where he'll meet up with a friend or two, angry, insecure, disappointed men like himself, and tell them how he won the day on their behalf or would have won it. And for a little while they'll sit there enjoying the moment, feeling like the winners they know they’d have been, if only...
Chris Pine as World War I flying ace Steve Trevor and Gal Gadot as the Amazon warrior-princess Diana , soon to be known as Wonder Woman.
Saw the Wonder Woman trailer before The Magnificent Seven this afternoon. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman doesn’t look like she’s having any more fun being a superhero than Henry Cavill’s Superman or Ben Affleck’s Batman. But! It looks like it’s going to be a lot more fun watching her not having fun than it’s been watching them. Helps that she appears to have around her characters (and actors) who are having fun watching her (and being in a superhero movie), particularly Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). And to be fair, Wonder Woman isn’t really a superhero yet. She’s a warrior on the warpath. Her becoming a superhero is, presumably, part of the plot of Justice League.
Mined from the notebooks at last. Saturday, July 23, 2016. Posted Monday night, September 19.
“That cunning man…the great tactician…the resourceful” Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) marooned amid the wreckage of the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek: Beyond.
Saw Star Trek: Beyond today. Better. Much Better.
I don’t know what producer and director J.J. Abrams thought he was doing with Star Trek: Into Darkness, the second of the now three installments of Abrams’ reboot of the original Star Trek series of TV shows and movies. I’m not sure Abrams knew either. Into Darkness opens with a rousing mini-movie that could have been an interesting full-length Star Trek movie and promises more fun to come but instead it’s followed by a series of mini-TV episodes each with the theme of Kirk learning a lesson in leadership and Spock learning a lesson in friendship and teamwork. That could have worked out fine. There are many good moments in the sequences. But they’re connected by a story arc about a sulking madman with minor superpowers that seem to come and go and an inexplicable grudge against the entire planet Earth who happens to have the same name as the original TV series and movies’ greatest villain.
It’s almost a category error to call Ricardo Montalban’s Khan Noonien Singh a villain. It’s like calling Hector the villain of The Iliad. From the Trojans’ and Hector’s own points of view he’s the hero. The tragic hero. And that’s what Kahn is, if you see things from his point of view, a tragic hero who unfortunately for him and his devoted followers goes up against a straight-forward romantic hero who---Watch out, there’s an abrupt switch of literary references coming---is as charmed and protected by his virtue as King Arthur.
But the Khan of Into Darkness is a run of the mill action-adventure movie bad guy bent on world domination. The only thing that saves him from being boring is that he’s played by Benedict Cumberbatch who, smartly having decided not to make even a gesture toward recreating Montalban’s lordly, high-minded, Milton and Melville-quoting anti-hero, Cumberbatches his way through the part with sinister charisma and a saturnine charm that I wish Peter Jackson had allowed him to show much more of as both Smaug and Sauron in The Hobbit movies. Actually, Cumberbatch is almost the only thing that saves Into Darkness from being a mildly and intermittently enjoyable but forgettable time-waster. In the end, there just wasn’t much point to it, either in bringing in any version of Kahn or to the movie itself, except to unmake the best of the original series’ original series of movies. Maybe Abrams thought he was doing an homage to Wrath of Khan but all he accomplished was a travesty of Spock’s death and rebirth and to turn the love of Kirk’s life, Carol Marcus, one of the Federation’s most brilliant scientists, into a pin-up.
There wasn’t much humor in it either.
Star Trek: Beyond includes truly heartfelt and affecting homages to the original series and more than a fair share of humor. In fact, it begins with both, with Kirk alone on a diplomatic mission that doesn’t go quite as hoped and ends with him having to be beamed out of there in a hurry---a scene that’s an homage to an homage that many wiseacre fans regard as the best of all the Star Trek movies.
I’m not kidding.
Abrams is spending the greater portion of his creative life these days in that galaxy long ago and far away, overseeing Disney’s Star Wars franchise, where Abrams has admitted his fanboy’s heart truly lies. Star Trek: Beyond has a new director, Justin Lin, who manages to give the movie the feel and tone of an extended episode of the originals while still turning out his own lively and fun 21st Century action-adventure film.
The Enterprise is lured into a deep space version of the Sargasso Sea where among the wrecks and hulks of old spaceships it’s swarmed and boarded by insect-like space pirates. The Enterprise is destroyed, again, although for the first time in the reboots. The crew abandons ship, escaping to a nearby planet where most of them are taken prisoner by the pirates. Only Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, and Chekov evade capture. The better part of the rest of the movie follows their attempts to rescue their crewmates, find a way to get themselves off the planet and back to Federation territory, and thwart the evil plans of the pirate captain, Krall, who has gone Khan one better in holding a grudge. Khan just had it in for Earth. Krall’s grudge, which goes back a hundred years or more, is against the entire Federation of Planets. It’s not clear how much of the Federation he plans to destroy or conquer but he intends to start with the space station Yorktown which is essentially a city in space populated by thousands of innocent civilians including children, all of whom must die!
Krall, even though he’s played by Idris Elba, isn’t as compelling a villain as Cumberbatch’s Khan, but he makes more sense as a villain within the Star Trek universe than Into Darkness’s version of Khan, despite Khan’s canonical heritage. We’ve seen Krall before, other versions of him, at any rate, and once his motive is revealed, the reaction of most fans of the original series is likely to be a delighted “Well, of course!”
There are many “Well, of course!” moments in Star Trek: Beyond. The script was written by Doug Jung and Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty, and they know their Star Trek lore. Their affection for the original TV series and the movies and for the rebooted franchise is palpable. They are true to the spirit of the original while advancing the vision Abrams brought to the first of these new movies. The script contains many allusions,references, quotes and echoes---visual and verbal---and tropes and themes that call up vivid memories of the original---there’s even a great “I’m a doctor, damn it, not a [fill in the blank] joke---but it still tells a new and interesting story of its own.
The most important thing J.J. Abrams did when he rebooted the series was assemble a cast who could simultaneously remind fans of the original cast while making us forget them---that is, he gathered together an ensemble of talented actors who didn’t simply stand-in for William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and the rest but who, while capturing aspects of those stars’ performances, captured the essences of their characterizations while still making the characters their own.
Zachary Quinto looks a lot like a young Leonard Nimoy (although he’s now four years older than Nimoy was when he first took on role of Spock) but he acts like Spock without acting like Nimoy acting like Spock. As McCoy, Karl Urban, who really doesn’t look that much like DeForest Kelley or sound like him, somehow looks and sounds exactly like Kelley’s McCoy. It’s downright spooky. And Chris Pine just is Kirk.
Much along the same lines can be said of Pegg, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin. In their performances they pay homage to James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Walter Koenig, but they each add their own special touches and nuances that make Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov their Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov.
Down on the planet, our heroes are separated into teams of two. Kirk and Chekov, McCoy and Spock, and Uhura and Sulu.
Scotty, to his chagrin and exasperation, finds himself paired with a new character, Jayla, a teenage castaway who has been living a Swiss Family Robinson adventure but all on her own as a Swiss Family of one since the spaceship she was on was brought down by the pirates and her parents were killed when she was a child.
Jayla, played by hip-hop and street dancer (which is to say extremely athletic dancer) Sofia Boutella, turns out to be an engineering prodigy who has taught herself all the tricks of the trade she’s needed to construct and maintain high-tech weaponry, build fiendishly cunning man traps, and make a comfortable home and a fort out of a wrecked spaceship she calls her house. She’s also taught herself some formidable martial arts skills. She has not, however, taught herself manners or how to control her temper. That’s up to Scotty, who becomes a proud although wary surrogate father to this brilliant but ferocious wild child, who, I hope, is going to become a new series regular, playing something of the same role in the crew as Worf in The Next Generation and Seven of Nine in Voyager, the outsider of uncertain temper for whom acting “civilized” according to human standards is a continual challenge.
They’re a fun couple, but so are Kirk and Chekov, a pairing I wouldn’t have thought of as working as well as it does until I saw them in action together, and then it made perfect movie trope sense---the cocky, devil-may-care popular jock taking under his wing the nervous and insecure nerd who gains courage if not confidence in following the jock’s reckless lead. Chekov is a science nerd. He’s the Enterprise’s second science officer. So the nerdiness was there. Yelchin, who died in a freak car accident in his own driveway back in June, plays up the nervousness to delightful and funny effect and it’s sad to think what the future movies will be like without him.
As fans would expect, the pair who are the most fun to watch and whose actors seem to be having the most fun playing off each other are Spock and McCoy. Their scenes together could have been cribbed straight from the TV series, and Urban and Quinto capture the antagonisms and grudging affections that underlie McCoy and Spock’s prickly friendship. This is exactly what they---Spock and McCoy and Nimoy and Kelley---are like in the originals when Kirk isn’t around to referee or, as he often enjoyed doing, egg them on in their bickering.
The pair who are the least fun are Uhura and Sulu because they’re given the least to do. But it’s also the case that they’re ill-matched.
They’re too much alike, strong-willed, highly competent, can-do lieutenants---that’s not just their ranks, it’s their fictional type.
A lieutenant is the character who steps into the role of hero when the story’s main hero isn’t available. This is how I’ve seen Sulu since I was a kid and, as I wrote in my warm-up post Captain Sulu, it was Gene Roddenberry’s plan for Sulu if the original series hadn’t been cancelled for him to become more of a leading man and do some Kirk-like swashbuckling and romancing on his own. But Oliver Mannion tells me it was also part of the plan for Uhura to become more active and adventurous. Never mind her red uniform, she was part of the command crew and although we never saw her do it in the original series Roddenberry intended that there would be times when Kirk would say to her on his way off the bridge, “Mister Uhura, you have the con.”
For some reason I have the idea that in the 23rd Century space navy, female as well as male junior officers are called by the traditional “Mister”.
Where’d I get that?
At any rate, Oliver adds that in an episode of the Saturday morning cartoon series Uhura does get handed the con. So it’s good to see that side of her at work in Star Trek: Beyond.
The trouble is that Uhura and Sulu spend too much time together sharing the same role in the plot, taking turns doing and saying what only one of them needs to do and say. In other words, for a good stretch they’re pretty much the same character. The script eventually splits them up and gives each their own goal to accomplish, but I think it would have been better if they’d each been on their own from the start, with Uhura having to engage Krall in a war of wills and words as she pretends to be trying to talk him out of his evil plans---after all, she is the Communications officer---while in the meantime Sulu engineers a Great Escape by the captured Enterprise crew, showing himself to be the future starship captain we know he is.
And for all its virtues, Pegg and Jung’s script continues one of Abrams’ egregious mistakes from the first two installments. Abrams made Uhura more assertive and physically active than she was in the originals but at the same time demoted her to the stock character role of the Girlfriend.
Basically her job was to be supportive while at the same time try to rein in the boys’ egos and put a damper on their enthusiasms. Even though he has more to do this time out, she’s still mainly there to humanize Spock, and I swear she’s referred to more often as “your girlfriend” than she is by her own name.
This does lead to some great McCoy jokes at Spock’s expense, however.
Finally, though, it doesn’t matter as the crew reunites and sets to work to defeat Krall in one of those classic “It’s going to take the whole team” plans the original set of movies made the basis of the plots of each of the films after Wrath of Khan. This is true to the spirit of the original TV series and its follow-ups in which a connecting theme was that everybody matters, everybody contributes everybody has individual worth.
It’s just that one character matters just a little bit more because it’s his story, after all.
Like I said, Krall isn’t as compelling a villain as Khan. In fact, he’s not very compelling at all except as a threat. And since his face is basically an animated mask and his voice is electronically altered, he could have been played by any halfway decent character actor. The reason he’s played by Idris Elba is to make the point that Krall, before he turned evil, was once somebody we’d have been happy to see played by Idris Elba. He was once a hero, a vain and temperamental hero, like Achilles or, to again to switch literary references in a hurry, this time from Homer to Shakespeare, Coriolanus, but still a hero. And this is important because of what it reminds us about Kirk.
The original series insisted on the possibility that as talented and smart and heroic as Kirk was he could still fail, either within an episode or in the end. It did this by having Kirk make mistakes---his rectifying a mistake was often more important to the adventure than defeating that week’s villain---and by routinely introducing talented, smart, and heroic Starfleet officers and starship captains, scientists, adventurers of different types, and one-time or would and could-be heroes of various other kinds, who not only made terrible mistakes but went wrong---who became villains.
The idea that Kirk was potentially a tragic hero was always in the subtext.
Pine’s Kirk has Kirk’s essential intelligence, driving curiosity, and sense of mischief that Shatner gave to the character but this time out Pine also includes that touch of melancholy that was an implicit in Shatner’s Kirk in the TV series and became more and more explicit in each of the movies, a melancholy that seemed to stem from Kirk’s awareness of the end for which he was heading.
That day is still a long way off when the story picks up in Star Trek:Beyond. Kirk is in a thoughtful and somewhat sorrowful mood when the movie opens, but it’s his birthday and in this timeline the day is more meaningful to him as the anniversary of his father’s heroic (and lonely) death than as a celebration of his own birth. In a scene that’s a real homage to The Wrath of Khan, McCoy and Kirk share a drink to toast the occasion and reflect on the meaning of it all. In Wrath of Khan it’s established that the birthday toast is long-standing tradition with them. In Star Trek: Beyond the tradition isn’t as long-standing yet but its purpose is the same. Bones sees it as his job to try to cheer Jim up.
By the way, this scene and the scene in Wrath of Khan it foreshadows reinforce a fact about the relationships of Star Trek’s three main characters. Bones is Jim’s best friend. Spock is his brother.
But back to the story. Kirk is brooding about his career as a starship captain. At the moment, he doesn’t see the point. He’s wondering why he even joined Starfleet to begin with. McCoy suggests it might have been to prove he’s a worthy son to his heroic father. But Kirk seems doubtful of that.
Of course we know why he joined or we ought to know. He tells us in the speech that began every episode of the TV series.
When the first of the movie reboots was on its way into theaters back in 2009, I wrote that the TV Kirk started out as a Boy Scout who needed to find his inner pirate while this new version of Kirk seemed to be a pirate who needed to find his inner Boy Scout. But it doesn’t matter which way he got there, Kirk is a blend of both pirate and Boy Scout and he needs to be both in order to be good at what he truly is, not simply a great starship captain, which is just something else he needs to be in order to be what he truly is.
An adventurer and explorer.
And that’s what he’s on his way to becoming in Star Trek: Beyond or, rather, realizing that’s what and who he is, the Jim Kirk we know from the originals, the one whose last words, for all intents and purposes, are the ones he says at the end of The Undiscovered Country when Chekov asks what course to set for what will be the Enterprise’s final voyage: “Second star to the right and straight on till morning.”
Probably shouldn’t push the allusions to Homer too hard but then all epic adventure tales derive from Homer, so…
The Star Trek universe extending across all the series and movies features its Hectors and Achilleses, Ajaxes and Agamennons, Nestors, and various versions of Patroclus, Paris, Menelaus, Priam, Diomedes, Troilus, Philoctetes, and Aeneas. If I really wanted to stretch it I’d make the case that Harry Mudd was a Pandarus and their Thersites would be a Ferengi. But there’s only one version of Ulysses otherwise known as Odysseus. The “resourceful” Odysseus. “The great tactician.” “That endlessly cunning man.”
Maybe Kirk dies alone in this timeline. Maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he doesn’t in the other one either. I don’t like to let myself imagine past the end of The Undiscovered Country. But when I do I don’t imagine the story all the way to Kirk’s death. I end with Kirk, having finished a great adventure, making his last voyage...home.
Accompanied now by only Chekov and possibly Uhura but maybe only by Jayla, he makes his perilous way past Sirens, past Scylla and Charybdis, escaping the Cyclops and Circe and resisting the lotus-eaters---whom he’ll have dealt with before---and leaving behind Calypso, back to wherever his Ithaca lies where his Penelope, Carol Marcus, waits, not patiently but busy with her own work in the lab, and the tale ends where it ends with Odysseus and Penelope, with our hero finally home and the two of them alone in bed, telling each other the stories of their days.
Star Trek: Beyond, directed by Justin Lin, written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung. Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yeltchin, Sofia Boutella, and Idris Elba. Rated PG-13. Still in some theaters.
Medical update and literary blogging: Taking too long as far as I’m concerned, but slowly but surely I’m working my way back up to snuff, and that includes getting my blogging chops back. I'm about done with my review of Star Trek: Beyond and I’ve got a post in the works about a musical based on Kurt Vonnegut’s novel God Bless You, Mister Rosewater. That one touches on themes in Vonnegut’s work I’ve written about before, so I think that gives me an excuse to re-post this post from May 2006:
In Timequake, the very odd book by Kurt Vonnegut I'm reading these days, Vonnegut says that once upon a time he almost wrote a novel about how his mother, who committed suicide when Vonnegut was 22 and away from home being a soldier in World War II, was killed, in a way, by her father, Vonnegut's grandfather.
The novel would have been a realistic novel and true to life.
The premise would have been that the sins of a parent are often visited upon his children.
Vonnegut's grandfather was a prosperous businessman in Indianapolis, a member of the upper-crust with higher ambitions. He believed, writes his grandson, "that America was going to have an aristocracy based on the European model."
Vonnegut's grandfather, whose name was Albert Lieber, was training to join that aristocracy when it finally materialized. One way to recognize an aristocrat, according to Albert Lieber, was his choice in wives. An aristocrat married a woman whose job in life was to be an ornament. One of the sad results of this ambition was that Lieber raised his daughter to be an ornament---"useless" in Vonnegut's word---and as an ornament, with no real work to do later in her life, she had no defenses against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune nor, finally, against the depression that overwhelmed her and took her life.
But that depression began in her childhood.
Albert Lieber's first wife, Vonnegut's grandmother, died giving birth to Vonnegut's uncle, her third child. Vonnegut's mother had been her first. Albert Lieber married again. His second wife was an accomplished violinist, probably a talented amateur. I think Vonnegut would have mentioned it if she'd been a professional. There were plenty of women who were professional concert musicians a hundred years ago. But a professional wouldn't have been an ornament. She'd have been a person in her own right with work to do. Albert Lieber wouldn't have married her then.
The second Mrs Albert Lieber turned out to be crazy.
The symptom of her lunacy was a malevolence towards her stepchildren that was so pure and vicious that it makes stepmothers in fairy tales suddenly plausible.
Vonnegut writes, "She hated his kids with a passion. She was jealous of his love for them. She wanted to be the whole show."
"This female bat out of hell, who could play a fiddle like nobody's business, abused Mother and Uncle Pete and Uncle Rudy so ferociously, both physically and mentally, during their formative years, before Grandfather Lieber divorced her, that they never got over it."
Vonnegut doesn't describe how he'd have used this family history in a novel to tell how a father could cause his grown daughter's suicide. I don't wish he had. I wish he'd written the novel.
Vonnegut doesn't wish he had. He's glad he didn't write it. He doesn't think he could have pulled it off. He doesn't think anyone would have wanted to read it anyway, even if he had been able to write it.
Maybe he's right. An intimate family drama set among the German-American aristocracy of Indianapolis at the turn of the last century? There might not be much of an audience for that.
There might not be an audience for such a novel written by Kurt Vonnegut, just because it doesn't sound like a novel Kurt Vonnegut would write.
Vonnegut has written realistic novels. Bluebeard and Jailbird and Player Piano. A lot of people thought Player Piano was science fiction, Vonnegut says, even though he meant it as a realistic depiction of the General Electric plant in Schenectady, New York where he worked and lived for a time. I thought it was when I read it as a kid, and I was living in Schenectady. My father and grandfather and the fathers and grandfathers of most of my friends worked for General Electric too.
But I knew Vonnegut wrote science fiction so I thought Player Piano was science fiction, a dystopic fantasy like Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451.
Famous authors do get boxed in by their reputations. The number of readers panting for a realistic family romance written by Kurt Vonnegut is probably as great as the potential audience waiting for a comic science fiction novel by Alice Munro or a serious novel of ideas by Robert B. Parker.
Vonnegut, however, sees the difficulty as a technical problem. In order to tell the story he wants to tell, he says, he'd have to explain, "from scratch," the society his grandfather moved in and into which his mother was born and from which she was in essence exiled from when the Great Depression hit, and he doesn't think readers would sit still for that.
Vonnegut writes by way of explanation: "The great critic H.L. Mencken, himself a German-American,, but living all his life in Baltimore, Maryland, confessed that he had difficulty in concentrating on the novels of Willa Cather. Try as he might, he couldn't really care a whole lot about Czech immigrants in Nebraska.
I was surprised when I read this this morning that Vonnegut didn't mention two great American novels that have already done a lot of the kind of spade work Vonnegut thinks the kind of novel he decided not to write.
Tarkington's novel is set in Indianapolis and is about the society that Vonnegut's grandfather aspired to join and Dreiser's novel is about the social ambitions of German-American immigrants in Indiana at about the time Vonnegut's grandfather would have been a young man. And Dreiser's other great novels, Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy, although not set in Indiana, share themes and ideas and character types, not to mention a part of American history that Vonnegut's imagined novel would have tapped into.
Mentioning Dreiser might remind readers of Sinclair Lewis' novels about Midwestern social climbers, Main Street and Babbitt and Elmer Gantry---they're not about Hoosiers or German-Americans but they are thematic, historical, and literary cousins.
Start thinking like this, and even Willa Cather and her Czech immigrants become relevant.
There's a great strain of American literature that a novel like the one Vonnegut conceived about his family can draw from. The readers who could appreciate such a novel are there. I think the real reason Vonnegut never wrote that book is that he knew of one important reader of his work who would want to have nothing to do with it. Couldn't bear to read that stuff.
It's not that he isn't interested in his mother's story.
It's that he's spent his life putting distance between himself and the place her story is anchored to.
As a writer, Vonnegut has none of Thomas Wolfe's nostalgic longings for a childhood lost. You Can't Go Home Again, Wolfe insisted with the title of one his gigantic novels, but he spent his whole writing career trying to do that imaginatively, recreate the world he grew up in on paper. Vonnegut doesn't want to go home to Indianapolis in his imagination any more than he wants to go back there to live.
In another part of Timequake, but very close to where he describes the novel about his mother and grandfather he never wrote, he writes about all the friends and relations he grew up with in Indiana who left there as soon as they could. Somewhere else I think he quotes Theodore Dreiser's brother, the songwriter Paul Dresser, who said, "A lot of great men came out of Indiana...and never went back."
Speculating as to why he and all his kith and kin got out, Vonnegut says he thinks it might have been that they were "escaping the powerful pull of Crown Hill Cemetery."
Crown Hill is where Indianapolis' rich and famous are buried. The poet John Whitcomb Riley lies there. So does John Dillinger.
"Crown Hill got my sister Allie," Vonnegut writes. It didn't get his first wife, though, and "It won't get my big brother Bernie. It won't get me."
The Depression killed off what remained of that would-be Hoosier aristocracy and the society into which not just Vonnegut's mother but he and his brother and sister were born. Once that was gone, there was no place for the smart and ambtitious children of the aristocrats. So they left.
Some of them, like Vonnegut himself, didn't leave so much of their own accord. World War II dragged them out of there. But once out, they saw there was no point in going back.
So maybe the reason Vonnegut didn't write his novel was that he still saw no point in going back.
Maybe writing that book would have felt like a trip to Crown Hill to bury himself.
Actually, I’m not sure I’d enjoy bowling here. Bowling alleys are already venues for sensory overload. My brain would short circuit after two frames. Pretty to look at though so make sure you look at all the photos.
This is not a level, stable, protected kind of beach. It is steep, full of long shoulders and curves, and fluctuates in outline not only as a result of storms but with each tide and even with every wave, making new bays, curves, shallow hills, and hollows; but the beach is an interbalanced system. All its materials come from offshore or the erosion of the cliffs. Wave action removes the cliff material, and currents moving parallel to the shore take it both north and south: there being a neutral point around Cahoon’s Hollow, halfway between Highland Light and South Wellfleet, although its location is dependent on the angle at which the waves come in along the shore. Half the cliff material moves north to build up the hood at Provincetown, and half moves south to be deposited along the sandpits from Nauset to Monomoy.
More mining from the notebooks. July 23, 2016. Posted Monday, September 12.
Last movie I saw before going into the hospital for my back surgery was Star Trek: Beyond. Which I liked a lot. But I didn’t get a chance to write up my review before the operation took the stuffing out of me for the next six weeks. I’m working on it now and should have it up by tomorrow. Meanwhile, here’s a post I planned as an aside to the review.
“You can fly this thing, right?”: With Ensign Chekov (Anton Yelchin, left) looking on nervously, Captain Jim Kirk (Chris Pine, center) is about to ask helmsman Lt. Hirkau Sulu (John Cho) a foolish question, in Star Trek: Beyond.
I don’t care that in Star Trek: Beyond they’ve made Sulu gay (or allowed him to come out). I mean I don’t care as in there’s not much in the fact to care about. It had no emotional impact for me. It’s done almost as an afterthought, perfunctorily and sentimentally, with no effect on the plot and without adding to Sulu as a character except to tell us that, in this timeline, Sulu’s a good family man. George Takei cares. He doesn’t like it. Reportedly, Sulu’s sexual reorientation was done as a tribute to Takei, but he took it as a practically an insult, not to himself, but to Sulu and, more importantly, to Gene Roddenberry.
The original TV series was cancelled in the middle of its third season, apparently, as I recall, to Roddenberry and his production crew and cast’s surprise despite the show’s plunging ratings. Roddenberry had plans in motion not just for the rest of the season but for future seasons (There were scripts already written. Many of them were rewritten for the cartoon series.) and one of those plans was to expand Sulu’s role and make him along with Uhura and Chekhov more of a second set of leads. For Sulu, that was going to mean including love affairs. Heterosexual love affairs (at least on his part), of course, because that’s all the times would have allowed and the censors stood for. But that would have still been groundbreaking. An Asian-American actor as the romantic hero of a television series. And think about it. It’s unlikely his leading ladies would have been white, but they could have been green or blue and so played by white actresses.
Takei and Roddenberry discussed all this---they also discussed the possibility of introducing a gay character but it wasn’t going to be Sulu. Roddenberry felt the show was already too far out on the limb in dealing with racial and social issues. They’d done several episodes that were critical of the Cold War and by extension the war in Vietnam. And sexist as the show often was, it was a given that in the 23rd Century women are scientists, lawyers, and doctors without anyone thinking anything of it. They’re even captains of starships, although as far as we see only of Romulan ones. The episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” took on segregation and Civil Rights, focusing on the absurdity of human beings dividing themselves according to skin color. Then there was Kirk and Uhura’s kiss.---and Takei was looking forward to having more to do beside say “Aye, aye, Captain” and pretend pressing this button instead of that button mattered to where the Enterprise went next. He was looking forward to playing that character. And that character happened to be straight the way Hamlet happens to be the prince of Denmark. As far as Takei is concerned, it’s intrinsic to who Sulu is.
Maybe he also thinks making Sulu gay adds way too much subtext to the scene in the classic TV series episode “Mirror, Mirror” in which the mirror-universe’s leering, fencing-scarred Sulu makes a play for our universe's Uhura.
But it is the case that Takei feels that making Sulu gay as a gesture is not as progressive or inclusive as creating a new LGBT character who’s a well-rounded and fully-developed human being---remember, looking back on Wrath of Kahn, what human means in the Star Trek universe---in his or her own right with his or her own role to play as a member of the Enterprise’s crew.
Like I said, I don’t care that Star Trek: Beyond’s Sulu is gay or, for all we know from the little we’re given, bi- or pan- or trans-, because we’re not given reason to care about it. What I care about that he’s been given more to do. Not enough more. But a lot more than he had to do in the previous movie in the new series, Star Trek: Into Darkness. In Into Darkness, it’s practically the case that if you blink, you might miss him. A real waste of Sulu and of John Cho, who plays him. In Star Trek: Beyond, Sulu’s definitely much more of a presence and factors much more importantly in the plot. We get to see that he is in fact on his way to becoming the action-adventure hero Roddenberry and Takei envisioned. Which is how it should be, and not just because Roddenberry and Takei wanted it that way. After all, Sulu is the one who’s on the command track. He’s on his way to being a starship captain. That’s in fact how we last see him in the original set of movies based on the original TV series, as captain of the Excelsior, arriving in the nick of time to help save the day in a Kirk-esque wily way at the end of The Undiscovered Country. And we should see that’s where he’s headed in these movies when we’re meeting him still early in his Starfleet career. We should see the talent, the intelligence, the leadership, the toughness, and the drive. We should see that in any command situation where Spock isn’t there for Kirk to turn to, he turns to Sulu.
And in Star Trek: Beyond we do get to see it. That’s the real tribute to Takei, letting us see that side of Sulu Takei himself didn’t get a real chance to show in the TV show and only briefly in the movies, most particularly in The Undiscovered Country but most amusingly in The Voyage Home when we find out that Sulu knows how to fly a 20th Century helicopter and our first thought upon seeing him in the cockpit is, Of course he knows.
Star Trek: Beyond includes a scene that I took as an allusion to that scene in The Voyage Home. Sulu’s at the helm of the grounded wreck of an old starship the crew of the Enterprise has had to commandeer and Scotty’s jury-rigged to fly again in order to escape from the space pirates that had been holding them prisoner and just before take-off Kirk asks Sulu if he’s sure he can fly the thing?
The moment’s undercut a bit because director Justin Lin has Cho say in words what he expresses more succinctly, effectively, and eloquently with a look. It’s all in that look. The full-fledged Sulu. The Sulu Roddenberry and Takei wanted. The Sulu we always suspected he was. Hikaru Sulu, action-adventure hero. Captain Hikaru Sulu, future starship commander.
The egregious Patrick Healy embarrassed himself and his employer the New York Times this morning with a through-the-looking-glass report of Trump’s visit to Mexico and the unhinged speech he gave on immigration afterwards in Arizona. The story had to be edited multiple times to bring it into an approximation of what really happened. Media Matters for America has the story on the story. In Healy’s defense, though, I have to say his mind was probably elsewhere when he was out there covering Trump, probably in London’s West End. Healy loves the theater, but he never comes late, that’s why the reporter is a tramp. He does not love politics. Or politicians. “Bad actors with flag pins,” he calls them. And he hates covering politics. It bores him. Unfortunately, Healy is not one of a kind among the boys and the girls on the bus. As I wrote in a post back in December when Healy’s mind and his whole body were in fact in London’s West End where he was giving himself what he deemed a much-needed break from covering the presidential campaign, “The political press corps is lousy with prima donnas who think the whole process of electing the President is an amateur theatrical staged just for them.”
So I’m taking advantage of Healy’s latest bit of drama criticism to repost that post.
Judi Dench as Paulina and Kenneth Branagh as one of Shakepeare's most dunderheaded leading men in a current London production of The Winter’s Tale, a play Shakespeare did not write as a lesson in political philosophy for 21st Century American candidates for President. Photo by Johan Persson viaThe New York Times.
Don’t know how it is with you, but one thing that really burns my brisket is reading a smug, privileged journalist who has what I’d regard as a dream job feeling sorry for himself because said dream job isn’t as dreamy as it could be. My brisket chars on both sides when that journalist’s way of solacing himself is to take what I regard as a dream vacation.
I had the theater of politics on my brain as I took a break from covering the 2016 presidential race to indulge in my favorite form of escapism: plays and musicals in London. Instead of listening to the same speech at three campaign events a day — candidates are just bad actors with flag pins — I wanted to lose myself to the heady dreams, hilarious squabbles and heartbreaking fates of a strong-willed scientist, a raging drug addict, a one-legged transvestite, a junkyard full of cats and other unforgettable souls. But I also came to the West End to feel a world apart — not just from the crude, improvised drama of the televised presidential debates, but also from the familiar haunts and customs of American theater.
All right. I’m in a bad mood. I’m resentful and full of envy. I’ve got a month-long break from my own dream job coming up but there are no great theater going experiences ahead for us Mannions coming up. If I’m lucky I’ll get to see The Big Short and The Force Awakens and lose myself to the heady dreams, hilarious squabbles, and heartbreaking fates of fallen Jedi and rising hedge fund managers. The most romantic destination on our travel itinerary is my in-laws’ house. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying Healy’s appealing for sympathy from the wrong guy. And there’s something in the tone of that paragraph that grates and it’s not the theater snobbery.
It’s the bit about his having to listen to the same campaign speech three times in a day and candidates being bad actors with flag pins.
The political press corps is lousy with prima donnas who think the whole process of electing the President is an amateur theatrical staged just for them.
If they’re going to be forced to sit through the bad acting and banal writing the candidates stumping should at least say something new, provocative, stupid, or outrageous or, best of all, make a “gaffe” to entertain them and give Healy and his fellow primma donnas something fun and sexy to write about so they don’t fall asleep at their keyboards when they go to file their copy or if they do at least cause them to have pleasant dreams full of whimsy.
Healy knows those repetitive speeches aren’t being delivered for his benefit. The candidates are speaking to voters and to three different sets of voters. They give the same speech three times a day because people in one crowd weren’t in the previous crowd to hear it before. For many people in the crowds, campaign rallies are entertainment. It’s what they have in place of lots of frequent flyer miles to cash in and tickets to opening night. Healy knows all this. And he understands. But it wears on an elite journalist of a sensitive nature and refined intelligence and he must seek his soul’s replenishment.
Like I said. A bad mood.
Or maybe I was just put off from the start by Healy’s lede.
JudiDench could teach Hillary Clinton a thing or two about backbone.
In the perfect stillness of a London theater, where audience members are savvy enough to stop eating candy during a big scene, Ms. Dench is delivering a master class in political gutsiness in Shakespeare’s “TheWinter’sTale.” As Paulina, the ally of a wronged queen, she is unflinching as she faces the jealous king Leontes, played by Kenneth Branagh. He hurls insults — “audacious lady,” “mankind witch,” “gross hag” — not unlike Donald J. Trump’s attacks on Mrs. Clinton and Carly Fiorina. But Ms. Dench doesn’t blink, which you can actually notice because of the intimacy of London playhouses.
Is there a candidate in this race less in need in a lesson in backbone than Hillary Clinton, let alone one from an actress playing a fictional character dealing from a stacked deck as she takes the audience’s side against one of Shakespeare’s least appealing and most dunderheaded leading men? I’d be inclined to think that was the basis of Healy’s point, that even someone with the iron spine of Hillary Clinton could learn a thing or two from Dench’s performance, if he hadn’t gone and paired her with Carly Fiorina. Clinton has yet to face Trump and hasn’t had to stand up to his bullying. Fiorina has and, although she maintained some dignity, I don’t think it’s generally agreed she got the better of him. So maybe Healy does think he’s giving Clinton needed advice.
But here’s the thing.
There’s more of a point to this post than me being a grump.
I have a bias.
The political press corps is notorious for writing drama criticism in place of analysis of policies and platforms. When they’re not covering politics as a game, they’re reviewing it as performance art. Healy’s a star practitioner. And he works for the Times which is not exactly friendly to Hillary Clinton. My first inclination when I read this piece was to think that if Hillary showed the backbone Healy recommends, he’d find a way to give it a negative review.
The Clinton Rules would dictate it. One of those rules is that any quality journalists and pundits admire in all other politicians is suspicious, ersatz, or outright vicious when exhibited by a Clinton.
I try to get as much of my news from reading the newspaper. The world looks a lot different in print than it does in pixels. It makes more sense. But I still spend too much time online and way too much of that time on Twitter and things seep in. I generally like Twitter but it is a minute by minute demonstration of selection bias. And Liberal Twitter is often a closed loop, an echo chamber, and an ongoing experiment in confirmation bias and group think. Get your news and sense of how the world is spinning exclusively from Twitter and all you know isn’t what’s actually going on but what a bunch of people with your biases and prejudices are telling each other is going on. People don’t know things. They know what the people they follow know. And those people know what they people they follow know.
I know the Clinton Rules are real and in force. But I mostly see them in force through outraged tweets from people passing along what they learned from somebody else’s outraged tweets.
Just don’t let it fill you with resentment and envy like me.
And, by the way, Donald Trump is a lot shrewder, smarter, more conniving, wittier, more verbally dexterous, more conscienceless, and far meaner than Leontes.
Leontes is a jealous dolt and he’s outwitted and out-talked by just about every other character in the play. But he has a heart and deep down he’s basically a good man capable of admitting he’s wrong and asking for forgiveness.
But, as Hamlet says in his play of an antagonist much more formidable than the one Paulina faces down, Trump is a smiling, damnèd villain!
It’s going to take a lot more than well-acted backbone to get the better of him.
Hank Greenberg, Father Blonde’s baseball hero, parking one in the summer of 1945. This was taken at a game in Detroit, but it’s likely the next time the Tigers were in Philadelphia, the then 13 year old Father Blonde was in the stands hoping to see the Hammer belt one out of Shibe Park. Photo courtesy of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
I got resoundingly booed yesterday when I started to give the toast to Father Blonde at the luncheon Mother Blonde hosted after the funeral. Maybe I shouldn't have led off with the fact that I'm a Mets fan. Probably shouldn't have added the score of Friday night's game either. But I just had to point out the happy irony that the Mets and the Phils are playing each other this weekend.
Don't worry, I won the crowd back right away when I told them how Joe never held my being a Mets fan against me. And this is true: there were years when he was happy the Mets were doing well, not just because he was happy for me (the way he was happy for Pop Mannion when the Dodgers were having a good year), but because he felt losing served the Phillies right. Joe grew up a Phillies fan when the Phils were busy losing most of the games that have added up to making them the losingest team in MLB history. In 1945, when he was 13, the Phils went 46-108. He never got over it. The Athletics weren’t much better---52 and 98---but he went to more of their games, partly because it hurt less to watch them lose, mainly because they were in the American League and that meant the Tigers to town regularly and Joe would go to see his hero, Hank Greenberg. (Greenberg was home from the war in ‘45. In ‘46 when Ted Williams was back, Joe went to see the Athletics play the Red Sox too. When the Cardinals were in town to play the Phillies, he’d go their games to see Stan Musial. Both the Phillies and the A’s played in Shibe Park, a half hour trolley ride from Joe’s parents’ house in Havertown.) So I don't think he'd have minded that the Mets won 9-4 Friday night and then clobbered Philadelphia again last night 12-1. In fact, he would have wanted to talk about it this morning more than I would have, because complaining about the Phillies is apparently more fun for their fans than cheering them on.
So, for Father Blonde's sake, I hope the Mets complete the sweep today. Because that's the kind of devoted son-in-law I am.