Friday, February 12, 2010

An amazing blog posting by Andrew Sullivan

Read this.

Excerpt: "I am incensed by the way in which this country adopted torture and much of the MSM and the Congress let it slide; by how conservatism has been abused by the GOP; by how alleged conservatives bankrupted this country and now blame it on others; by how most neoconservatives have preferred power to honesty in grappling with their failures; by how religion has been cynically used as a tool by Rove; by the way in which gay people and their dignity has been cruelly maligned. And I remain very firmly of the belief that in due course many of my points will be vindicated, even as they have often been written off as the rants of a crank. I think that my view of Palin in all its particulars - mocked by many - will also stand the test of time."

I'm officially in love with Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart on the big snowstorm in Washington, D.C., and climate change

Sarah Palin continues her no-scrutiny approach

Sarah Palin is appearing at 2 big-ticket events and wants no media present. (I heard about it from Andrew Sullivan, Daily Dish)

Here's a wonderful article in TIME Magazine by 2 authors of a new book on Palin that looks at her lies and the press' unwillingness to challenge her on them.

I have sometimes found Sarah Palin laughable. Right now, I find her dangerous. She appears to be the complete demogogue -- willing to say anything for political gain, no matter how untrue -- and finds crowds eager to hear more. In that respect (and probably no other) she reminds me of Adolf Hitler in his rise to power in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Catching up on movies, part 2

Saw Up in the Air with my brother Tim, who was visiting from Wisconsin. Wow. Excellent acting, brilliant script. I'm really impressed.

Rented A Simple Twist of Fate from Netflix. I don't know why the description doesn't say it's the Silas Marner story. The star, Steve Martin, wrote it, and credits say, "suggested by Silas Marner" -- suggested by? There were very few differences in the plot, none of them significant enough not to say "based on." The Masterpiece Theatre production of Silas Marner starring Ben Kingsley is much better. Steve Martin does an okay job, but the script makes the mistake of being funny in places where it should be touching, which I think was the same mistake he made in Roxanne.

I'm still thinking about and mulling over Roots. I loved this conversation between Tom Harvey's son Bud and the family's white friend Martha, after a mob of sheet-covered white men whip Tom:

Bud: I'm 'a kill those white men someday.

Martha: Bud, you oughtn't to talk like that.

Bud: I'm gonna kill 'em.

Martha: Bible says it ain't right to kill people, Bud.

Bud: Do the Bible say it's right o' 'em to whip my daddy?

Martha: No, it don't say that neither.

Bud: Then I'm bound to git 'em.

Martha: Which ones, Bud? Couldn't see their faces.

Bud: I'll find a way to get the ones who done it.

Martha: Suppose you make a mistake? Suppose you hurt some white folks that ain't done your daddy no harm?

Bud: I'll do what I gotta do.

Martha: Then I guess you might as well start with me, Bud.

Bud: I didn't mean you!

Martha: Well, I sure am white. I'm white as a cotton ball. And if you starts hurtin' whites for bein' white, then sooner or later you'll get 'round to me and Ol' George.

Bud: I don't wanna kill you.

Martha: Well, that's what happens when you starts hurtin' folks for the color of their skin. You won't be any better than those men who hurt your daddy.

Bud: I hate 'em. Hate 'em!

Martha: Hate 'em for what they done, not because they's white. Me and mine is white. But we love you just like our own. If you'll let us love you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Catching up on a few movies, part 1

I'm catching up on some movies I missed.

Last night I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and found it sad, long, and disappointing. I've never read the story on which it is based, so I don't know if Fitzgerald fleshed out the character more than Brad Pitt did, but in this telling, Benjamin is mostly an onlooker, someone who observes what's going on around him without displaying much emotion, and I found that frustrating. When his lover, played by Tilda Swinton, says goodbye in a very offhand way, Benjamin barely reacts. I had forgotten (if I ever knew) that the story was by Fitzgerald, so I spent part of the movie wondering if it had been written by the author of Forrest Gump, another story about a man who observes some of the great moments in history.

Last week I watched Up, mostly because my daughter told me her friends were telling her that the bird's character reminded them of her (it reminded me of her as well). The movie was cute at times but the story didn't seem to hang together, it seemed to have been written by a committee.

And I'm halfway through watching Roots for the first time, and enjoying it very much. I don't remember what I was doing in 1977 when it was first broadcast, and I'm not sure I had a TV at the time (I can't picture one in the apartment I was living in, but I probably had one). That year I went to England for the first time to study the early years of Thomas Paine, about whom I was attempted to write a book, and maybe I was just too caught up in my research to watch the miniseries. But it's ironic because that year I was living in an entirely African-American neighborhood (4000 block of Sansom Street in Philadelphia) for the first and only time in my life.

I've got a lot of questions about Roots, so I'm planning to borrow the book from the Library. I'm so glad the mini-series began with a pretty good look at Kunta Kinte's culture, to know where he came from. I wanted more detail on the passage, though it would have been grim, and I suspect that's why there wasn't more detail.

In watching films about injustice and tragedy, I find I hold myself back from feeling all of my anger and grief, I think because I fear the resulting sense of powerlessness and feeling of shame -- shame that I'm not willing to drop everything else I'm doing and devote my life entirely to fighting the injustice. I've found it almost impossible to watch films about the plight of Native Americans, even the ending of Dances with Wolves.

Watching LeVar Burton play Kunta Kinte is really interesting, since I was a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation and knew him pretty well as Giordi LaForge. His performance as Kunta Kinte is so fresh and innocent, it's really lovely, and I wish they'd found a way to age him rather than have John Amos play the older man. I enjoy John Amos (most notably as an Admiral on West Wing) but he's less expressive.