Friday, June 01, 2007

Nothing is Beatle-proof!

Friday Beatles blogging.

Saturday Night Live - April 24th, 1976. Host: Paul Simon. Musical Guest: George Harrison.

Hi. I'm Lorne Michaels, the producer of "Saturday Night." Right now, we're being seen by approximately twenty-two million viewers, but please allow me, if I may, to address myself to just four very special people -- John, Paul, George and Ringo -- the Beatles.

Lately, there have been a lot of rumors to the effect that the four of you might be getting back together. That would be great. In my book, the Beatles are the best thing that ever happened to music. It goes even deeper than that. You're not just a musical group, you're a part of us. We grew up with you.

It's for this reason that I'm inviting you to come on our show. Now, we've heard and read a lot about personality and legal conflicts that might prevent you guys from reuniting. That's something which is none of my business. That's a personal problem. You guys will have to handle that.

But it's also been said that no one as yet has come up with enough money to satisfy you. Well, If it's money you want, there's no problem here. The National Broadcasting Company has authorized me to offer you this check to be on our show. (HOLDS UP CHECK) A certified check for $3,000. Here it is, right here. Dave -- can we get a close-up on this? Which camera? Oh, this one. (CAMERA MOVES IN TO SHOW CHECK) Here it is, a check made out to you, the Beatles, for $3,000.

All you have to do is sing three Beatle songs. She loves you Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's $1,000 right there. You know the words. It'll be easy. Like I said, this is made out to the Beatles -- you divide it up any way you want. If you want to give Ringo less, it's up to you. I'd rather not get involved. I'm sincere about this. If it helps you to reach a decision to reunite, it's well worth the investment. You have agents. You know where I can be reached. Just think about it, okay? (HOLDS UP CHECK AGAIN) Thank you.

A little later in the program George Harrison and Paul Simon performed together:

While this was happening John and Paul were actually in New York at John's apartment and watching SNL together and came one cab ride away from taking Michaels up on his offer. John talked about it in an interview with Playboy-

PLAYBOY: Aside from the millions you've been offered for a reunion concert, how did you feel about producer Lorne Michaels' generous offer of $3200 for appearing together on "Saturday Night Live" a few years ago?
LENNON: Oh, yeah. Paul and I were together watching that show. He was visiting us at our place in the Dakota. We were watching it and almost went down to the studio, just as a gag. We nearly got into a cab, but we were actually too tired.
PLAYBOY: How did you and Paul happen to be watching TV together?
LENNON: That was a period when Paul just kept turning up at our door with a guitar. I would let him in, but finally I said to him, "Please call before you come over. It's not 1956 and turning up at the door isn't the same anymore. You know, just give me a ring." He was upset by that, but I didn't mean it badly. I just meant that I was taking care of a baby all day and some guy turns up at the door. . . . But, anyway, back on that night, he and Linda walked in and he and I were just sitting there, watching the show, and we went, "Ha-ha, wouldn't it be funny if we went down?" but we didn't.

"Funny?" Funny? It would've been the ultimate pop culture put-on and would've never been matched. These guys were offered millions to get back together and then they do it for $3000.00. That would've been a sheer act of entertainment genius.

I'm sure Yoko is ultimately responsible for this not happening. Somehow.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Oh no, Toonces. Look out!

Yesterday Tony Snow stepped up to the podium, cleared his throat and vomited forth this nonsense:

"The Korean model is one in which the United States provides a security presence, but you've had the development of a successful democracy in South Korea over a period of years, and, therefore, the United States is there as a force of stability," he said.

Speaking for myself - it's becoming increasingly difficult to remain calm when you're in a car careening down a mountain road and President Toonces is driving.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Don't talk to me like that, assface.

Via Alicublog I see that Reihan Salam has chosen to take my name in vain in his article on movies entitled "Snob vs. Snob." To whit:

So, why is Fletch such a failure? It could be that—like it or not—hipster liberalism just doesn't mesh well with screwball comedy. Animal House, the ur-text, pits the lovable ne'er-do-wells of Delta Tau Chi against the duplicitous and icily priggish Dean Wormer, and we know from the start whom we're rooting for. Or take the more recent smash hit Wedding Crashers, in which a pair of charming scoundrels square off against the privileged scion of a great American family. To the extent there's any political subtext here, you might think it's simple, straightforward egalitarianism: You can't let some two-bit tyrant ruin all your fun, and you can't let some J. Press preppie bastard get the girl.

"Icily priggish?" Bite me, Salam. If anything I'm warmly priggish. Just for that he's on double, secret detention.

Start with his reference to the movies mentioned as falling into the genre of "screwball comedy." Really? Most of the screwball comedies (such as the defining classic "It Happened One Night") share only the barest resemblance to "Fletch" and "Animal House." Screwball comedies have never been completely defined but the few things they do tend to have in common are rapid, witty banter, sex without sex, romance and weird situations (having to haul around a leopard for example.) "Animal House" is a great movie but a classic screwball comedy it ain't.

But that nitpicking pales by comparison when put in context of his broader and hugely ignorant take on the politics of these films.

As a movie, Fletch is all but unwatchably bad. But as a cultural artifact, it is invaluable. Reagan had just been re-elected by a landslide when the film hit theaters in 1985, and Fletch reflects, in a strange and roundabout way, an era of wrenching liberal despair. While the enlightened bourgeoisie and their scruffy spawn were no longer running the country, they could at least laugh along with Chevy Chase as he poked fun at Reagan's America—the nouveau riche, the pig-headed cops, the Mormons.

Get that? "Fletch" is a bad film because Chevy Chase is portraying a character that is typical liberal snob. "Fletch" appeals to the left because he spends so much time sneering at little people he runs into in the course of the film. Fletch is a limousine liberal writ large which is why liberals love him.

If "Fletch" represents liberalism then what would be a good example of a film on the other side of spectrum? What could embody the spirit of conservatism? Why "Animal House," of course.

But there's more than a passing resemblance between this narrative and classic right-wing populism. Like "Bluto" Blutarsky rallying his fraternity to ruin the homecoming parade, crafty conservatives have been riling up middle America for decades against champagne-sipping limousine liberals. The boys in Animal House aren't, say, fighting tooth and nail for a living-wage ordinance. These mostly privileged young men are fighting for their right to party—a libertarian cause if there ever was one. And consider that the villain in Wedding Crashers is a Kennedy clone, a cultured environmentalist who hides his woman-hating ways behind earnest platitudes.

The only thing Bluto had in common with modern conservatism is his complete and implacable stupidity. In the scene Salam mentions above Bluto rallies the Deltas by asking rhetorically "did the Americans give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?" A line that would be right at home coming out of the mouth of our current President.

"Crafty conservatives?" Puhleeze. The Deltas were a motley assortment of everybody that didn't fit in with the establishment and the school administration that supported them. The Deltas were made up of jews, slobs, drunks and a cross section of Americana that was in no way rich, white and waspy. They weren't "privileged" they were middle class and poor. The Deltas were anything but conservatives. Has he even seen the damn film?

These films did have a libertarian streak but it wasn't "conservative libertarianism," whatever the hell that is. It was that element of libertarianism focused on the idea that if it isn't hurting anyone then it's none of the government's damned business. That idea is anathema to what most self-described conservatives would believe is culturally acceptable.

But in a broader sense all of these films are about the phrase from "Caddyshack" that Salam tries to milk for irony in his title to his article: the slobs vs. the snobs. "Animal House," "Caddyshack" and the lesser "Fletch" are nothing but an index finger to the establishment. The rich and powerful are the villains of all these movies. This is class warfare with the heroes being the not-so-well-to-do. Is there any question which political party Judge Smails would belong to? Or Dean Wormer for that matter?

These films were popular and resonated with the public because they stuck it to the guys with the stick up their butts. Salam may want to pretend differently, but then I would simply answer with my favorite quote from the genre:

Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Nip it. You go read any book you want on the subject of child discipline and you'll find every one of them is in favor of bud-nipping.

Why I'm not a Right Wing Blogger by Dean Vernon Wormer.

I have a sense of shame.

The End.

(Case in point - This weekend Atrios pooches something and then publicly flogs himself for getting the basic facts of the matter wrong. At the very same time the conservative Ace of Spades completely botches another "fake memo" story but refuses to apologize or make a correction proving once again that the conservative blogsphere is made up of a bunch of intellectually stunted four year olds.)

Wa, wa, wa, wa.

I'm sad to admit that I think this is good news.

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Cindy Sheehan, the soldier's mother who galvanized an anti-war movement with her monthlong protest outside President Bush's ranch, said Tuesday she's done being the public face of the movement.

I like Cindy Sheehan and am thankful for her initial efforts to end the war and the gold star families for peace, but she's simply become too much of a distraction and is actually detracting from the peace movement's cause at this date, IMHO.

I've had to check myself quite a bit to make sure I'm not internalizing the Right's caricature of Sheehan. Conservatives hate her guts and love to use the same sort of "moonbat" comments that they regularly toss at the likes of Michael Moore and Al Gore, usually built on the given that outspoken liberal icons are crazy by definition. Don't bother asking them why. All grown-ups are difficult to understand if you're Charlie Brown.

But in this case Sheehan really has done some crazy, counterproductive stuff that has hurt the movement to end the war. Her comments that hurricane Rita was no big deal, protest blocking access to the U.N. last year and pseudo hunger-strike are just some examples of a rather self-distructive personality that is not media savvy.

I wish her well and continue to hold out hope that the broader anti-war movement get it's act together and realize that the overall goal of ending the war isn't always compatible with saying the first thing that comes into your mouth or getting oneself arrested. Times have changed.