Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Wal-Mart Worker Dies in Rush

While doing my own Black Friday shopping (just to keep this fair), I stumbled upon an discussion on this article. Naturally the purpose of this discussion was to establish blame, and its placement was fairly evenly split between those who blamed corporations for inspiring this level of rabid consumerism and those who blamed the crowd for losing control.

What do you think?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Let The Right One In

Let the Right One In - Oskar and Eli the 12 year old vampireAllow me to rescind, fleetingly, my previous disappointment with the horror genre. Let The Right One In is an exceedingly rare and beautiful example and it earns its place in the pantheon of great horror films. I don’t want to say that it’s a film obsessed with things, because in truth it’s not. It’s subtle. But it is a film about our obsessions or, at least, a film which touches on mine.

There are things about childhood that we never can manage to leave behind: our first kiss, our first love, the teasing, scorning words of our schoolmates. For some these things provide comfort and for some a nauseous looking back. For myself, I have yet to think on my first love without regret and sorrow: I have yet to be truly free of it. The pain I felt at its end, of course, is not nearly so great and has been replaced by a kind of nostalgic sadness, because age has conspired to alter me. But it is still there, and I can imagine what the outcome might have been had I never been able to move on from that awful age of transition where my first love had its inception. Therein lies the horror of this movie: a 12 year old girl vampire who is neither a girl nor 12 years old - who can never grow old and never leave the dismay of that age, who can never escape the memory of that time, who can never transcend her appalling hunger and its violence - and a 12 year old boy who is taunted viciously by his schoolmates, who cannot escape them, is impotent against them and their own violence. Natural cycles. Let The Right One In is a movie about natural cycles. The first, blushing hint of love in the playground. The shy awkwardness of its approach. Its hesitant acceptance and the subsequent uncertainty. The discovery of our true natures. The vampirism of the female. Consummation. Symbiosis. All steeped in the horrible flesh tones of memory.

I don’t want to ruin a film which is still in theaters. Go. See it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wolf Tracks

The Northern News is a small newspaper with circulation in Hampstead, Manchester, Lineboro, and Upperco. I have never seen it before now and frankly hope to not see it again; although, it is apparently mailed to my house regularly.

I mention it today because of an editorial in the November 6th edition (Vol. 1, No. 13), which I will quote here in its entirety owing to the extremely limited circulation of the paper and my intent to critique the whole of the article. It is reprinted with all its myriad grammatical errors and missteps.

Michelle Obama as First Lady is My Last Choice

Wolf Tracks
By Hoby Wolf

“As I write this I have no idea about who will win the election for President of the United States. I know what the polls say is a projected winner, I also know what my heart and hopes tell me.

From the comments I receive on this column I know I’m not exactly alone in my prayers.

Frankly, when I heard Michelle Obama make that speech after her husband won the Iowa primary election that, ‘for the first time in my life I’m proud of my country.’ Then and there I figured if Sen. Barack Obama was dumb enough to pick a wife, so unfeeling to make that statement, he wasn’t smart enough to run for this country.

My first thought was she must have slept through every history class. Evidently she thinks those few patriots that stood fast against a British onslaught at Bunker Hill were chicken livers. The fact that Mrs. Obama isn’t an agriculture worker today is the result of men who lived and died that would make anyone proud of America.

Guess I’m not the only one she turned off in a big way. If you noted while Cindy McCain was at her husband’s side during his speeches, the mean spirited Obama was not visible with her husband.

If Obama wins and they have a television picture of her in the White House, my advice is that you not be down wind of me, for surely I will “frow-up” on the spot!

My hope is that the polls of prospective voters are wrong. All of the people who have skin that is not black have been pushed in such a defense role that we no longer can say what we believe.

Over the years I have worked with some very talented African-Americans There was ‘Mr. Henry’ who showed “city folks” how to run the Fairbank Dairy in Eldersburg. Then there was Stirling Collins, who took the time to show me that any block or brick that was even a fraction of an inch below the line level had to be reset.

That was a masonry lesson, but also a life lesson in demanding that keeping a beginning standard is what made your end results worth having.

Dave Ward will always be a fond memory. He won a Julliard music scholarship and was furious when later scholarships were awarded on the basis of color, because as he put it, “it makes my winning less valuable.”

My closing thought is just this question. Why didn’t Bill Cosby have presidential ambitions? He certainly would have had my vote. If your kids are following what he advocates, your family is a winner right now.”

. . .

Mr. Wolf, I will agree with you on one point in this article: Michelle Obama’s comment that “for the first time in my adult life, I’m proud of my country” was a stupid thing to say. However, it was only stupid because she chose to say it at a time when her husband was so politically vulnerable. Otherwise, I’m quite fine with it, really, and even endorse it. Up until Election Day of this year I can’t myself think of a time in my adult life when I was proud of my country, and even now I can’t be sure that I wasn’t just caught up in the emotion of Obama's win. That’s right. I am not proud of America, Mr. Wolf. But then, I did notice in your article that even you have trouble finding relevant things about which to be proud. The Revolutionary War ended in 1783. Slavery was abolished in 1865. These are the most recent examples of American heroism and greatness that you could muster. If they occurred in your adult lifetime then I can understand your pride in America, if not exactly how you wrote your editorial.

Of course, slavery was abolished in the other British colonies in 1834, and the French abolished it in 1848. The Jews at Masada chose to die rather than live under Roman rule in 73CE. Should Michelle Obama pay homage to them, too? What America did was hardly without precedent: what America became was. There is something to be proud of there, and I am. I firmly believe that our country once was the greatest nation ever to stand on this Earth. But sadly our shared belief in yesterday is not enough to save today.

What we are is not what we once were, and it is a dangerous folly to lull yourself into the belief that because America once was great it will ever be. We have allowed our military to enter into a union with our industry that neuters the will of the American people. We have allowed our greed for resources to turn us into a colonizing force far more sinister than the one we shook off. We have allowed our media to be overtaken by corporations and in doing so dominated the will of our free press. We overthrow sovereign nations in the name of those businesses. We rob our own people blind in their name. If you are proud of those things, Mr. Wolf, then more power to you. As Thomas Mann says below, there is always a feeling of inherent adoration for one’s country and a belief that it is somehow exempt from the history of the world. But truth be told America is not special, America is not great, and America can fail. What once was worthy of pride in this country is gone yet remains the same thing that could be worthy of pride in it today: its people. However, so long as they are allowed to believe that America remains the City of God and that wearing a flag upon their lapel marks them as an initiate into that greatness, America will be doomed to its fate.

Our founding fathers believed that government was “for the people and by the people” not that the state was a sovereignty onto itself, its authority preceding that of the individual. Yet here we are in a country where our current President was never elected and who, in his autocratic wisdom, tells us we must give our money to the industry or we will surely perish. Somehow, this is not America.

And as much as I would love to end this commentary here, you sadly chose to extend yours beyond the reach of your title. You were irate that Michelle Obama had the audacity to not show unerring and sorely deserved pride in her country and felt the need to write an editorial about your frustration that she will likely end up as the First Lady. Your editorial was published. The newspaper it was published in will go out to over 10,000 homes (and a few hundred more now that it’s online).

. . . And yet you chose to end your piece with a rant on how “all of the people who have skin that is not black have been pushed in such a defense role that we no longer can say what we believe.”

Didn’t you just say, in your first 246 ineffectual words, what you believe? And do you really speak for “all of the people who have skin that is not black”? Only 11% of America is black - so 89% of the American population - including all those other weird people who ain’t white or black - were repressed by Barack Obama’s candidacy? If that’s the case, then we need to open up a complaint with the UN and implore them to have the election redone with foreign non-blacks presiding over the polling stations to ensure that the great black conspiracy (which somehow mustered 7.2 million votes more than the great white conspiracy, no doubt thanks to the liberal media) cannot prevail!