shoebox_dw: (garfield well-informed)

Weirdest quote on yesterday’s events comes from Toronto MetroNews TV columnist Rick McGinnis: 

 

“The inauguration was as uninteresting as it was overwrought…” 

 

Dude. Anger, sure I can understand that; also cynicism or even the more moderate forms of paranoia. But if you were unable to find anything interesting in what happened in Washington yesterday, then you need to pack up your little columnist bags right now, ‘cause you have no business dictating to the human race on pretty much any level whatsoever. 

 

My personal interest, although great, was not so much in the whole ‘dawn of a new tomorrow!’ hype, partly because I’m not American (and apolitical with it), and partly because I have always been unable to rid myself of the suspicion that Obama’s greatest strengths – the ones on display yesterday – may also be his biggest weaknesses. 

 

Whatever your ultimate POV, he is the closest thing the Western world currently has to a politician who means what he says; heady stuff, that. Just standing there at the podium, he made any number of impossible dreams real - albeit, as Martin Luther King III seems to have been alone in pointing out yesterday, not quite the one to which his father gave iconic voice. Racism still exists, political divisions still run deep, and there were security snipers lining the tops of buildings on the inaugural route yesterday. 

 

All this also leaves President Obama alarmingly vulnerable to spectacular gulfs between ideal and reality, and I don’t think it’s going to take long at all for them to emerge. If his transition is any indication, he’s already gone into cautious mode. His first speech was a stirring call to arms, yes, but not to the soaring imagination that launched his career. He will be a good President, I think – if for no other reason than that he seems to want to be, in ways that the Bush machine could not even fathom. But no, he cannot change fundamental human nature, and so he will not bring on a new dawn flowing with milk and honey. 

 

Still…for the moment it is possible to believe that the saddest, most sordid chapter of American history might have a happy ending after all. That’s insane. Seriously; for a long and uncomfortably recent while there, the notion of a Negro/Black man/African-American/person of colour as President would’ve been considered literally crazy. Opining about politics in yesterday’s context is ultimately kind of irrelevant; this moment belongs to emotional healing, to everyone who’s ever been made to feel less than human. 

 

And it has its effect too on those who belong to the ‘privileged’ classes. LJ-friend[info]briansiano  made several interesting points the other day about the uncomfortable Catch-22 well-meaning types have to walk in re: racism – on the one hand needing to be totally free of it and on the other, to be hyper-aware that it exists. We are compelled, as per a klutzily pretentious teenage poem of mine, to understand the finest points of something we can never understand. 

 

And now the presidency of Barack Obama – the happy ending - has brought those details out into the open, lifted the guilt enough to make dialogue possible. It may be fractious and contentious dialogue in a lot of respects, but it will be there, and it may turn out to be a lot more fascinating than any of us expected (as klutzy me discovered when I once attempted to discuss the lack of black characters in Star Wars with a co-worker of colour. Let’s just say he was embarrassed long before I was.) 

 

‘Uninteresting’. Damn, Rick, what were you thinking?

shoebox_dw: (ratatouille remy pensive)
So apparently I'm about the only over-18 female blogger who hasn't yet commented indignantly on the Twilight phenomenon.

OK then, let's fix this right now: The Twilight phenomenon.

...Seriously, I'm just not all that interested. Also, I'm not all that qualified, given I was a tender devotee of the Sweet Valley High series at the same age. Yep, up to and including the 'Super Thriller' in which the crazed spa owner, not content with her army of beautiful zombie employees, decides to redo herself as the Wakefield twins' mom by luring her to her secret underground plastic-surgery lab.

Colin Watson once remarked that bestselling authors do not get that way by shaping attitudes; they tap into existing ones. When the sparkles clear, Twilight's popularity simply reflects the latest tempting gloss on the near-universal need, among tween girls, to validate their unremarkable selves as Secretly the Most Beautiful and Special of All. Naturally this will be intuited by a gorgeous and sensitive guy, who will whisk them far away from Des Moines or wherever that their True Love may prevail over all those nasty, jealous girls in gym class.

Eventually, the ones with an ounce of sense, which I think is the majority, grow out of the fantasy and go on to find real fulfilment. The ones who don't, of course, grow up to force their bridesmaids to wear Disney-themed dresses complete with faery wings, but they provide endless entertainment for the sensible ones in the process. It works out.

For those who feel like doing some serious hand-wringing over our nation's youth, may I suggest the following headline?
Carleton University Students Drop Fundraiser for Illness Targeting Caucasians. 

Whereas Orientation week strives to be inclusive as possible;

Whereas all orientees and volunteers should feel like their fundraising efforts will serve their diverse communities;

And whereas cystic fibrosis has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men;

Be it further resolved that: The CUSA representatives on the incoming Orientation Supervisory Board work to select a new broad reaching charity for orientation week.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.
shoebox_dw: (bob & ray)

Overheard in passing at the subway station this morning, two young men in Bay St. suits:

 

“Well, for the Republicans he was the best candidate, anyway…”

 

Ave aqua vale, John McCain; in your time, you would’ve probably made a splendid President. It’s not really your fault that your time has long passed.

 

Although, the Palin thing…and all the other wildly misguided efforts you made to keep up…those are still your fault. Totally.

 

I’m thinking about McCain’s particular epoch especially since I finally got around to listening to Bob Edwards’ fine interview – or reminiscence, really - with Bob Elliott earlier this year, on the occasion of the latter’s 85th birthday. (One of the many just-slightly-off-plumb circs that surround Bob & Ray is that they were born almost exactly one year apart, in March of ’23 & ’22 respectively.)

 

I’ve been holding off on downloading it for some time now, just because…well, I didn’t really want to think of my bright, bold comedic heroes as - old. I’m cowardly that way, I guess. Didn’t help that around the same time the show was produced I’d been deep into the earliest Bob & Ray material, recorded when they were in their mid-twenties. Did not wish to consider that spark, dulled.

 

I shouldn’t have worried.

Read more... )
shoebox_dw: (garfield well-informed)
Oof. [glances at clock in mild disbelief] That's well over then. I have never been so glad to be so completely wrong about the American people...

...now, if I could just get rid of the lingering fear that bullets will be flying every time the President-Elect steps in front of a crowd. Seriously.

The right candidate won. That is, the one who didn't lower himself to cynically pander to the most backward elements of the American psyche. McCain was exceptionally gracious in defeat, but I do still believe that in this moment, Obama cares more about running the country. (Note to foaming and possibly armed right-wingers: as distinct from 'cares more about the country', OK?)

McCain may not be, exactly, last in a long line of self-consciously slick good ol'boy politicos...but he freely allowed himself to be remodelled as same, in order to become President. This was frankly kinda creepy to watch and I'm very glad he and Caribou Barbie have both been slapped back to reality, where they might have a chance to do some good.

Meanwhile, whether Obama's idealism - without at least some basis in pragmatic politicking - can be maintained in the long run I have my grave doubts. CBC.ca allotted him all of about a half-hour's honeymoon before busting out the laundry list of promises he'll have to break.

Were I the anointed - not too strong a word, based on what I saw on the faces in that Chicago crowd - leader of a clean slate and a fresh start for America in 2009, the first thing I'm going to be upon waking to face  that new dawn is absolutely frelling terrified out of my tiny mind.

But for now...damn was that a Moment, or what? 
shoebox_dw: (garfield rabid moth)
...other than watching the Republican ticket lurch from strawman to strawman hoping one'll keep them dry in the storm, that is.

Seriously. Wasn't their reaction to the Obama infomercial just too precious? To think, a candidate for President, raising lots of money to campaign on - and then to actually go and campaign with it. The elitist jerk had the nerve to try and give the public a coherent vision of what might be should they vote him into office.
Next thing you know, he'll be trying to convince the masses thet thar derned sci-en-mit-if-ical research has a purpose. Casting doubt on the idea that the Good Lord Above created the universe in seven days - and not a second more, d'y'hear? (I always picture Jesus, beside him, holding a stopwatch - "Hurry up, Dad, don't bother to fix the guy nipple thing! They'll work it out!").
Why, I bet that Barack Hussein fella didn't even notice when the soda-pop folks took the words 'Under God' off the Pledge of Allegiance cans awhile back. Godless commie terrorist heathen - uh, black guy!

...and oh, do I wish I was kidding, about the pop cans. But no.

Anyway, besides that. As it developed over the course of a few more threads on the CC, the person posting as 'Wally Ballou' there is also only in their mid-thirties! There are two of us! Reason for yay!

To celebrate, here's a short (15min) Bob & Ray spoof from their 1980 Carnegie Hall show: In-Depth News With David Chetley. Basically: If Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert had existed in 1975. (The specific reference is to NBC's iconic Huntley-Brinkley Report).

shoebox_dw: (ratatouille remy pensive)
So the thing that gets me the most about this Sarah Palin phenomenon is the embarrassment. Or rather, the lack thereof. I'm flipping through all the various reactions to her candidacy and while I'm encountering a lot of mocking scorn from the traditional quarters, I've yet to come across anyone, liberal or conservative, who's properly mortified at the implications inherent in the McCain camp's perception of their supporters.

Don't mistake me, I'm all for down-home feisty frontier gals as a matter of principle... I even kinda liked Northern Exposure... but c'mon now. Palin comes across like a snarky caricature McCain's posted on the American Electorate's bulletin board, with a big arrow pointing to the caption 'This iz yu!' Call me naiive, but to my mind a political 'maverick' would be defined as a Republican presidential candidate who doesn't assume his support base are the same people who re-elected George W... or at least assumes that they've learned their lesson.

I just about died of incredulous laughter when she appeared on the celebrity magazine covers holding the Down's baby front and centre - albeit there's one big positive, that the kid will never fully realise how shamelessly he's being exploited (as if being named 'Trig' wasn't bad enough)...but everybody's just keepin' on keepin' on like this is all part of the process. Palin doesn't know policy from a hole in the ground? No biggie, just rehearse her like mad until she can fake it convincingly on national TV! And when she does manage to pull it off - sort of - let's celebrate it as a victory!

Weird, man. Especially in the middle of a Real Live Big Scary Crisis With Global Implications. I'm not an enormous Obama fan either - maybe I've just been too deep into the Orwell lately, but he kinda reminds me of Snowball from Animal Farm; convinced that his sheer dedication to rightness will be enough. But at least he gives the impression of being interested in the job of running the most powerful nation in the entire world itself, and not just the chance to have it at last.

shoebox_dw: (garfield rabid moth)
News item: Barack Obama clinches the Democratic party nomination for President of the United States.

Now, I'm not normally a political animal - if you're looking for profound or provocative punditry, there are many better choices of blog out there. But I did spend a few minutes the other day rolling the possible ramifications around my mind: US President Barack Obama...President Obama...

News item: Michelle Malkin, professional rightwing whackjob, harasses Dunkin' Donuts into pulling an ad featuring Rachael Ray in a scarf that could, in some remote parallel universe wherein everyone looking at it was a right-wing whackjob, be construed as a homage to an Arab keffiyeh headdress, by claiming that this clearly 'supports Islamic jihad.'

...So, he really doesn't have a hope in hell, does he?

Now, I realise the vast majority of respondents have reacted to this 'controversy' with the horselaugh it deserves - just personally, I await Malkin's follow-up post in which she announces
she's cracked the code in Ray's Tasty Travels series that indicates which of America's coffee shoppes the jihad will nuke first. If she orders an apple Danish, it's good-by Kalamazoo.

The thing is, though...this stuff still makes news, in America. It's still possible for even the most obviously loopy ultra-right-winger to set PR  alarm bells ringing just by invoking Arabic custom. Not terrorist, not Palestinian, not even Muslim; Arabic. Even when there's evidence of American soldiers in Iraq wearing the damn things. (Seems they keep out the heat and dust real good. Their value as inconspicuous covert terrorist mission attire, on the other hand...)

In this climate, no, 'President Obama' doesn't roll easily off the tongue, at least to this bemused observer.

In terms of pure entertainment value, though, this election promises to be the most enthralling thing to hit the public eye since...well...I dunno, I've heard the Kennedy-Nixon debates mentioned often, but there's a quixotic streak to this latest national watershed that belongs especially to these post-millennial times. At the end of it we'll know more about the American mindset than maybe we ever wanted to - what's really under all that happy content consumerism, once it's been stripped away.

Fascinating choice, really; there's no real safe status quo. The GOP candidate, Bush's nominal successor, is seventy-one and has major health issues. The Democratic alternative is a young guy with major baggage. Do Americans want change enough to take a risk, or fear it enough to prop up a rickety figurehead?

(And, just as a parenthetical aside to my original musings, what happens if one candidate actually dies during the campaign? Does that mean that the other just gets swept in unanimously, or is it one of those things where the Vice-Presidential candidate takes over and runs in his fallen leader's stead? Is this why Obama's hesitating to name Hilary as his running-mate? The mind boggles.)

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