Don't worry, you can trust me. I'm not like the others.

Banned In China

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Memorial Day Again. I've always liked this part of the movie Battleground. Perhaps it is a little hokey, but still it says something to me about what might be, or at some time in the not so distant past, was considered our kind of Shared American Religion. Don't believe it? Drive around the middle American states and look at the county courthouses built at the end of the nineteenth century and tell me that those are not a sort of temple built to a civil religion. Of course, that weird kind of civil religion excluded anybody who wasn't Christian or Jewish (or white), but it was still a big tent. It was also more of a kind of aspiration than a reality, but there you go that is mostly what life is after all.

People get all mushy and talk about the "Heroes" who are "Defending Our Way of Life:" freedom and democracy, don't ya know? It is impossible for most to accept that World War II was the last war we actually fought for some of those ideals (even though our most important ally was the Soviet Union, hardly a bastion of freedom). We have fought for nothing but Empire since WWII, with the possible exception of Korea. We have openly fought more than eight "conflicts" since WWII, including those three we are now involved in. I can't even begin to count our proxy wars and secret wars since the end of WWII.

As far as "heroes" are concerned, by the current definition which defines hero as everybody who ever served in the military I'm a hero. No bloody likely. Although as I get older my younger self becomes more and more heroic in my mind, but then I would guess that includes just about everybody.

So each soldier's death is a personal tragedy for the dead and for the family, but those deaths, all of them since at least 1953 and perhaps since 1945 have done nothing to preserve our or anyones' freedoms. I would like people to know and accept that, but that is a little much to ask, I guess.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

More Not Politics and From Here To Eternity

One click in.  Thanks Slobber and Spittle.

So at any rate in my attempt to alienate the two or three people who actually read what I rite.  We picked up and watched the movie From Here to Eternity the other night.  It had been years (decades?) since I had seen it last and my wife never had.  It held up very well.  Since the novel even as it was originally released was quite a bit too explicit for the movies it was interesting to see how they did it.  No V.D. as we used to say it, nor S.T.D. as is the current acronym would have it nor any whores.  But still the writing and acting are so good that I cannot imagine another version ever being made.  The acting of the five main characters (and Fatso Judson) is close to perfect.  The writing, given the limitations of the time, is as good as one could, I think get.  Debra Kerr and Donna Reed both play against type, so that casting increases the impact of the movie for those of us who remember particularly Donna Reed as the perfect mom.

It started me thinking about other movies from books which haven't been remade because they are so good.  The Maltese Falcon, I think.  Which incidentally was the third version of the book to be put on film.  Gone With the Wind, perhaps although the book and the movie are so racist that I can't see it being remade is just for that reason alone.  But to be fair the movie is as good as it gets if you look at it as just movie making, and ignore the accepted racism of the period, although I no longer am able to do that.

I suggest the T.V. version of Dicken's A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott, but I suspect that will be remade again and again no matter how perfect one version is just because for some reason they seem to think the story can be improved on for the movies. (Looking this up on Amazon, I see there is a Jim Carey version, I'll pass, thanks.)  Although the Scott version follows the book nearly page for page.  There are constant remakes of Call of the Wild and The Great Gatsby, but those all "improve" on the book, so none of those are much good.  With the exception of the Clark Gable version which is so far removed from the book, that the movie stands on its own.  I'm told that the James Dickey version is true to the original book, but I have not seen it, and I'm sure that won't prevent it from being remade.

I'm probably showing my parochialism limiting myself to American movies of novels written in English, but there you go.  My ADHD or ADD (now called something else, I guess) kind of limited my ability to learn foreign languages (or at least that is my excuse and I'm sticking to it) and I seem unwilling to put forth the effort now.

Monday, May 23, 2011

No Real Politics

Just finished Gore Vidal's Lincoln and I'm starting James Jones' unexpurgated From Here to Eternity plished in ereader form by Open Road Media.  I wonder if Vidal writes as he does naturally or he gets there with massive rewrites?  I read somewhere that Fred Astaire would not let anyone watch him practice: "Never let 'em see you sweat."

The question about Vidal was brought about by reading Jones and the different styles of Jones and Vidal.  Jones does not seem to have that same ease with language that Vidal does.  And since I've just read Williwaw I think that the comparisons are fair since both of these books (Williwaw and From Here to Eternity) were written at around the same time and when the authors were about the same age, and Williwaw does have that apparently easy facility with words.

I thought I had read Lincoln when it first came out, but now I'm not sure, there is so much in it I don't remember.  The book is fascinating for its depiction of the mature Lincoln and his political skill and the politics of the time, which from what I get from the histories of the time is pretty accurate.  A Civil War book with no (or almost no) battles.  One sees what the people who lived in Washington, D.C. saw, and little more.  We see Grant and Sherman when they visit Washington, and not in the field.  The politics are what are important to Vidal.

Well at any rate, now I'm trying to figure out how to load a Barnes and Noble ebook The Hammer of Thor onto my Sony ereader.  For the most part when there is a difference in price both Nook and Kindle are cheeper than Sony.  Also, and this is the first time this has happened, I've been looking for a good book about the Norse myths and there are more than a few that are on Kindle which are not on other ereaders.  First attempt a failure, but will try again.  Thank god for Google.

Current politics are simply too depressing.  The nursing homes in the area have combined to put the county home out of business, because to quote the CEO of one the county home doesn't charge enough.  Then there is this from one of the Common Pleas judges in town.  I had thought that he was one of the least bad, well perhaps he is the least bad, but what does that make the rest.  Not that the FOP is a model of a progressive union, but still.  Back into my paper worlds (or perhaps some more Charlie Chan).

Interestingly enough could not find a photo of Vidal writing, also most of his pics were of him in more or less "dressed up" outfits.  Jones the opposite, and most in worker or casual clothing.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Picture and Words, Not Mine

Stolen from Down With Tyranny from a post the rest of which I don't agree with, so I'm being petulant and only linkingto the site.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bah Humbug

Things are too  much with me near and far.  For some reason this article pushed me over the edge.  Or perhaps just further over the edge.  I have no desire to help anybody or vote for anybody in the up coming elections, although maybe that is their (you know: them, those, whatever) plan.

We had a friend over for about four days after she put her adult daughter into rehab.  Very frustrating.  The friend would explain to us how she had to watch and control everything her daughter does in order to keep her safe and off the drugs.  This is the third time the daughter has been arrested and at least her second (I think more like fifth or sixth) time relapsing.  The mother insists that the Court "must" do certain things and if she just tells the judge, well he will understand. 

Luckily, she lives about 130 miles away so she ended up with another lawyer in her home city.  The guy did a great job for her daughter on her first charges getting her a great deal, and now the daughter may have screwed it up.  It is of course, not the daughter's fault, but rather the guy she was with.  Having some experience in that area both professionally and personally I tried to explain to the Mom the way things are and simply couldn't get through to her.  One of the counsellors at the rehab asked her how that was working for her.  My friend thought he was rude.

The one fun thing was that she brought her four or five pound chihuahua with her (well it would have been more fun if she had house trained her dog).  Watching my 180 pound St. chase her dog and then her dog turn around and chase the St. was hilarious.

I'm disappearing into the written word again, trying to run away from the here and now I guess.  I love my e-reader, although I might have gotten a Nook if I knew what I know now, but the Sony is great.  I downloaded Gore Vidal's Lincoln which was just released in e format (if it is available on one e format, it is usually available on all of them).  Then last night I downloaded James Jones' From Here to Eternity.  Of course, From Here to Eternity has all the original four letter words and the homosexual bits put back in.  I also see that there appear to be several of Faulkner's novels coming out in e format within the next week.  That and finding both Canadian and Australian sites which have (what are in those countries) books that are out of copyright and I am in hog heaven especially when one combines them with

Not my guy, but pretty much the way it was.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I was reading this article in Salon about Grant and then I went to the letters section and was quite interested in several of the letters there.  

One person wrote that there were more slaves in New York than in any of the southern states at the time of session.  I didn't slide across that until later and it was even later that I looked it up.  It is not hard to find just Google: slaves in New York in 1860, or even easier the 1860 census which is on line.  It turns out that there were no slaves at all in New York in 1860 as New York was a free state.  Interestingly enough no one caught it and responded.

Other people started to post things that then people were responding to.  One said that both Lincoln and Grant owned slaves while Lee and Jackson and other confederate officers didn't.  Others said that Grant had refused the surrender of Vicksburg until July 4th thereby causing unnecessary civilian deaths and that Grant had refused to exchange prisoners after a certain battle even though Lee wanted to.   Now these were in addition to the usual arguments concerning Grant's allegedly more corrupt administration and his profligacy with the lives of his troops (these arguments although I think they can be refuted are positions that can be defended, albeit not well, in my opinion).

The interesting thing in so many of these arguments is that with really little research on can find out that these points are simply not true.  One can read the battle field notes between Grant and Lee about the wounded on that battlefield.  One can read the histories of the Vicksburg campaign and see that Pemberton was the one who chose the day of surrender.  One can fairly easily check out the histories and see that Lincoln never owned slaves and that Lee did own slaves as did most of the southern commanders.  One can see that Grant was given a slave from his wife's family and that the Grant's freed the guy even though they were in hard times and it would have been financially better to have sold him as far as they were concerned.

So the question is why make these points?  It can't be because the people really care about the truth.  So what is it?  It is I guess possible that they are just lazy and heard bogus stuff when they were in high school or a second rate history department at a second rate university and don't feel like looking it up.  But then why do they continue to defend these positions?

Monday, May 2, 2011

No Question About It

Lives In The Balance?

Am I just too cynical?  Why don't I completely believe the United States Government when they say that they killed Bin Laden and then that they buired his body at sea?

Ok, an update, in lower case, but why did they bury him at sea within a couple of hours?  I assume that if he (Osama, not Jackson Browne) doesn't show up on a video going:  "Na, na, na, you missed" in a couple of weeks then he is probably really most assuredly dead.  Still there are the Elvis sighting to consider.  Can we look forward to a movie in about twenty years called The Boys From Lahore?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

No Stay

Ok in answer to my own question.  Why does the right keep attacking no matter what democrat is president even when the president is one of those nice republican lites: Carter, Clinton, or Obama?

Because they can.  If they push they will get more and more and when they get more they want more.  They are kind of like my dogs.  If I give them a treat, they don't say thank you and lay back down they come back immediately looking for another.  Like the wolves after that sledge.

Now, the question then becomes, if it isn't some super secret cabal, why do the democrats keep giving them these treats?