"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Friday, October 15, 2004

America, Fuck Yeah!

Sounds like Matt Stone and Trey Parker nail the humorless left in their new film "Team America: World Police." One sign of their success is this lame review by Salon's dreadful Charles Taylor. The film satirizes anti-war celebrities, something Taylor finds objectionable. "Wouldn't it have been funnier, and more accurate, not to show the stars killing for peace but being so dedicated to peace they'd be willing to tolerate any atrocity?" Um, no. So Taylor accuses the film of echoing Ann Coulter, the worst insult he can muster. And of course he quotes Stone and Parker out of context. Read Salon's Heather Havrilesky's interview in its entirety to see what I mean. (Havrilesky is having a writing contest at her blog, by the way.)

The genius of South Park can't be denied, so Taylor must argue that Stone and Parker have "changed" or lost their satiric ability. In reality, Taylor doesn't agree with the view, as Parker puts it, "Because there are assholes -- terrorists -- you gotta have dicks -- people who hunt down terrorists. And I think that that is a pretty strong thing to assert, actually ... at least the pussies think so."

Also, read these letters to the editor about the Havrilesky interview and despair (or laugh).

Parker and Stone's movie seems to be about the fact that yes, America may overreact in the "war on terror" - in fact it has in some ways - but there's also the danger that it will "underreact." If it does, it will be because of people like Taylor, who demonstrate their lack of seriousness, by their glaring lack of a sense of humor. And if America loses it's sense of humor, it means the terrorists have won.

You're entering the sexual harassment zone
She claims he had phone sex with her against her wishes, "babbled perversely" to her while watching a porn movie, suggested she buy a vibrator, propositioned her and a female friend, and invited her to his hotel room.
Mackris's suit quotes O'Reilly (who is married) as telling her over the phone, allegedly after pleasuring himself: "You know, Mackris, in these days of your celibacy and your hibernation, this is good for you to have a little fantasy outlet, you know, just to keep it tuned, keep that sensuality tuned until, you know, Mr. Right comes along and then you can put him in traction. . . . I'm trying to tell you, this is good for your mental health."
The thought of Bill O'Reilly "pleasuring himself" is too much.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Bookslut has Gordon McAlpin's rendering of
the Satrapi reading I attended.
impressively accurate.
Deconstructionism (sic)

The Chicago Tribune's James Warren and Clarence Page are always worthwhile to read, but the paper as a whole is somewhat lacking. The title of its obiturary for Jacques Derrida was "JACQUES DERRIDA, 74: Theorist advanced deconstructionism." A local coffeshop had the clipping up with "ism" crossed out. Back in college, I gave deconstruction a go, as I did with existentialism and structuralism, being of curious mind. I probably wasted too much time on it though, after figuring out that it's mostly about mercilessly applying logic to texts and philosophies, which would lay bare the holes and contradictions in what the authors had probably meant to say. This close reading was keeping with tradition, as Daniel Wakin writes in the New York Times "We have all learned that great works of art and literature may contain ideas and assumptions that their creators may not have been entirely aware of. There is the Freudian unconscious, the Marxist theory of superstructure, the learned dissections of metaphor and allusion in literary criticism. Who would be surprised to learn that things are seldom what they seem?"

By chance, one of Chicago's art house movie theaters is showing Luchino Visconti's The Leopard, so I went to see if it's as good as people say. The 1963 movie is based on Giuseppe Tomassi di Lampedusa's novel of the same name. Lampedusa was a conservative artistocrat and The Leopard centers on an aging aristocrat, played by Burt Lancaster in the film, in Italy during the 1860s, a time of revolution. Visconti was a communist who came from the aristocracy, so I had Marx and his admiration for the conservative Balzac in mind while watching the film, which was quite good and very epic, like an Italian Gone with the Wind.

The climatic ballroom scene, which the hard-to-please Pauline Kael called "one of the greatest of all passages in movies," was mindblowing. The film has a melancholy ending, though, with the aging aristocrat mourning his impending death and, apparently, the death of artistocratic "virtues." His idealistic nephew who fought for the revolution becomes a conservative defender of the status quo. A little hope breaks through, though, when a nebbish representative of the state visits and tries to convince Lancaster's honest and respected aristocrat to get involved in politics and become a senator in order to help the people of Sicily, his home. But he declines, seeing mostly downside in politics post-bourgeois revolution, with all its pandering to the masses and obsession with money. The emissary from the state tries to appeal to his conscience and inquires, "don't you want to help the people of Sicily improve?" which Lancaster responds to by saying "they don't want to improve, they think they're perfect already. It's their vanity." (quotes aren't exact, btw) The film certainly gives you a lot to chew on. Its constant bashing of the idiocies of religion is quite bracing. Lancaster's bon vivant aristocrat doesn't think much of religion even though he keeps a priest around. The revolutionary nephew has some great bawdy lines at religion's expense, also.