VOD Movie Reviews: “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” and “Kung Fu Panda 3” (2016Jun29)


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Wednesday, June 29, 2016                                               1:01 AM

“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” stars Tina Fey—I can’t think of any previous dramatic film role, unless you want to count “This Is Where I Leave You” (2014) which was a dramedy—a humorous take on a serious subject. And there is certainly humor in “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”—though it has rare moments of comic relief rather than an overarching comedic tone. So it would be stretching things to claim that Ms. Fey has suddenly dived into dramatic roles. Still, it would be wrong to overlook her jumping decisively into this wholly dramatic role with both feet—and sticking the landing, IMHO.

Tina Fey’s performing career is just a late bloomer, I guess. She did a whole lot of writing before she became a well-known SNL cast member—I’m not an expert on her career arc, but to take on a serious movie role for the first time, a few years after winning the 2012 Mark Twain Prize for her life’s work in virtually every aspect of the comedic side of the entertainment industry—that’s taking one’s time in developing an acting career.

I don’t know much about Kim Barker, either—I haven’t even read her war-correspondent memoir “The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan”, on which the film is based. I’m both tempted to go and read it now, having seen the movie, and reluctant to go even deeper into the troubling truths being confronted in the film.

There’s the ‘big picture’ stuff, like how our military can fight and bleed in a faraway country while the citizens at home can’t even be bothered to hear about it on the news. And there’s the personal, like how a woman can find herself trapped between the opposing extremities of being an invisible desk drone—or doing stand-up reports amidst flying bullets and shrapnel. In the end I was left with the impression that the big, cold world is more pervasively evil than the discrete violence of a war zone. In spite of my penchant for happy, sappy, ever-after-type movies, I enjoyed being fed this more serious fare, with Tina Fey as the spoonful of sugar that made it go down.

KungFuPanda3

Being sixty years old, I was, of course, embarrassed to watch “Kung Fu Panda 3” all by myself—this stuff was much easier to explain when the kids were small. But I loved it—sue me, I’m a sucker for a good animated film. And I was reminded that these films are serious business when the end credits listed the voice actors (most of whom spoke in all three films): Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, J.K. Simmons, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Kate Hudson, James Hong, Wayne Knight, and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Try making a live-action movie with a cast like that—it’d be a hundred-million-dollar budget before you even began shooting. Angelina Jolie must have enjoyed the recording sessions the most—all of her and Brad’s kids are also voice-credited in the film.

I know that the messages in these kid films are simplistic—but I still believe in teaching kids to care, even with a silly movie. When Po sacrifices himself to save the whole village, it cuts a little close to the edge—the authors of the New Testament may have a case for plagiarism there—but he returns from the ‘world of the spirit’ (falling on his butt upon landing) so we are left with the ‘out’ of interpreting the whole thing as ‘clever strategy’, rather than a re-telling of The Messiah, so no harm done.

I think I favor the Kung Fu Panda franchise because its fantasies always have two components—the traditional threat of a big, mean bad-guy, and the search for wisdom as a means of defending against the impending evil. Po spends equal amounts of screen time worrying over the enemy’s arrival and his struggles to please his teachers and learn the lessons he’s being taught. He doesn’t go looking for a great weapon or go on a quest to destroy the one ring—he always goes looking for wisdom. I like that.

Wakey-Wakey   (2016Jun28)


Tuesday, June 28, 2016                                            10:26 AM

I’m sick of it—every time one of my Facebook friends posts a new bit about the disgrace that is Trump, some jackhole responds with a comment like, “But Hillary is a big, fat liar.” First of all, genius—Hillary’s state of grace has zero to do with all that’s wrong about Trump, so that response is worthy of a three-year-old brat—and changes nothing in the area of Trump being an embarrassment—only slightly less of one than the absolutely mortifying numbers of supporters who can’t think straight enough to see through him. Secondly, it is Hillary’s accusers who are the liars.

What did yesterday’s Benghazi Report tell us? One—it told us that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did nothing wrong—and she certainly never refused assistance to Americans in peril. Two—it told us that the months (and the millions of dollars) spent investigating and re-investigating the Benghazi incident failed to produce anything new—that, basically, no matter how badly her detractors wanted to find it, there was zero fault to be found with Clinton’s handling of a bad situation. I won’t even get into the fact that everyone is ignoring the true lessons that came of the investigation—that there is no big hullbaloo about revising State Department protocols in the wake of this tragedy.

And the email server—what have we learned there? We’ve learned that Hillary made a mistake, that she apologized for it, and that not a single bit of classified intelligence was ever leaked due to her mistake. But did Hillary go on to make mistake after mistake, like her idiot opponent—or did her witch-hunters latch onto the email server simply because Hillary’s mistakes are so rare? If she was as incompetent as they would have us believe, wouldn’t they have a wider menu to choose from?

I find it disheartening to see the parade of accusations and attacks on Hillary Clinton, all of which are either disproved entirely, or found to be minimal lapses unworthy of such outrage—and yet we never turn to her accusers and say, ‘Stop lying.’ No—years and years of their shameless misrepresentations go unindicted, while even somewhat-sensible people start to ask themselves if they can trust one of our most dedicated public servants. It’s madness. They’re like a bunch of monkeys hurling feces around and blaming her for the stink.

In 1977, the young lawyer Hillary co-founded the non-profit Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. Two years later she became the First Lady of Arkansas. You know the rest of the story—a lifetime of public service. That’s an entire lifetime of looking out for children’s welfare, of advocating for women’s rights, and of fighting for social justice and national security. That people can nit-pick at her occasional imperfections, as if none of her achievements meant anything, insults our intelligence. And I defy you whiners and bullies—name a single act in Trump’s life when he did anything for anyone but himself—when he even considered the public welfare over his personal gain. The idea that this moron could have people willing to elect him president makes my head want to explode.

Lastly, our mealy-mouthed national disgrace, the presumptive GOP nominee, has suggested that Hillary is somehow complicit in her husband’s scandal. Try this—go to any of the millions of Americans whose spouses have cheated on them—tell them that it’s their fault—tell’em that they’re to blame—go ahead and try that—but don’t forget to duck.

I don’t know which sickens me more—their baseless attacks on a great American like Hillary, or their joyful embrace of the sickest, most vile and divisive piece of offal that has ever gotten national exposure. If you are a Trump supporter, I hate to be the one to tell you this—but you are gullible, confused, uninformed, and a cheerleader for your own destruction—wake the fuck up.

Diminishing Returns   (2016Jun27)


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Monday, June 27, 2016                                            11:20 AM

Diminishing returns—that’s what I’m dealing with here. My hands shake, my vision is blurry, my head is all kinds of discombobulated. I’m weak. I’m short of breath. I get kinda squirrely whenever I have to talk to people in person—I just get into a loop, second-guessing myself and them—basically, I’ve just lost the ability to deal. I used to be a shut-in because I didn’t have the strength to walk around—now, I think I hide indoors because I know that regularly interacting with people will expose my insanity and get me committed.

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Smoking is a problem—I shouldn’t smoke, of course. But I don’t have that much else to amuse myself with—being damn-near dead—so it’s hard for me to rationalize quitting to save my life. What life, without a smoke to pass the time?

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Loved ones—sure, I have those. But they have actual lives—they’re busy, they’re engrossed in their own stuff—and any leaning on them takes away from that. I think one person stuck in a frustrating place is sufficient—I can’t see dragging them into this. The paradox of age and infirmity—I’m supposed to be all that more grateful for my continued existence, even as it loses more and more of the features that constitute an actual life. When people congratulate someone on reaching their ninetieth birthday, all I can think is ‘That poor bastard—what must his day be like?’

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Not that I’m promoting euthanasia—I’m not paging Dr. Kevorkian. It’s just that younger, healthier people think of old age as ‘extra additional years’, as if their seniority will be as full and engaging as their thirties or forties. But it’s really a matter of diminishing returns—to a certain extent, we fade before we die. And fading isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, I’m still breathing and I’m still watching TV and eating my breakfast every morning—but I’m used to more than that, or I was—I want more than that.

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Pain? Yes, certainly. I mean, it’s not like someone amputated one of my limbs or anything—but there’s definitely pain. The headaches are the worst because it makes it hard to think of something else—which is my go-to remedy for other pains. But let’s face it, with the back spasms, the stiff neck, the random nerve pains and restless leg—thinking about something else only gets me so far for so long. The gas pains from my messed-up guts are usually the sharpest—sometimes the cry coming out of my mouth is the first notice I have, it’s so sudden. I usually try to morph it into a sentence, as in “AAH-ow ya doin’ this afternoon?”—just so I don’t scare people into worrying about me.

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My close acquaintance with my old friend, pain, makes me a big fan of OTC pain relief—my favorites are aspirin and ibuprofen. But those things only work for a short time—and the next day, I have nerve-endings that are even tenderer from the after-effects. I reach the point where it’s impossible to up the dosage any higher, and the pain is that much worse—it’s a dead-end solution with a high price-tag. Stronger drugs are out of the question—the same cycle, with far greater costs and risks.

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My life is so sedentary I spend most of my time watching TV—and it embarrasses me. TV is such a festival of stupid. So I turn it off and start reading. A few hours later, the pain behind my eyes reminds me why I don’t read like I used to—it’s amazing how much physical effort it takes to read. I used to think it was the most relaxing thing in the world—how healthy I must have been!

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Here are three poems I stole off a few poetry sites:

Cacoethes Scribendi

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

 

If all the trees in all the woods were men;

And each and every blade of grass a pen;

If every leaf on every shrub and tree

Turned to a sheet of foolscap; every sea

Were changed to ink, and all earth’s living tribes

Had nothing else to do but act as scribes,

And for ten thousand ages, day and night,

The human race should write, and write, and write,

Till all the pens and paper were used up,

And the huge inkstand was an empty cup,

Still would the scribblers clustered round its brink

Call for more pens, more paper, and more ink.

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The Birthnight

Walter de la Mare

 

Dearest, it was a night

That in its darkness rocked Orion’s stars;

A sighing wind ran faintly white

Along the willows, and the cedar boughs

Laid their wide hands in stealthy peace across

The starry silence of their antique moss:

No sound save rushing air

Cold, yet all sweet with Spring,

And in thy mother’s arms, couched weeping there,

Thou, lovely thing.

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Moonrise

Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844 – 1889

 

I awoke in the Midsummer not to call night, in the white and the walk of the morning:

The moon, dwindled and thinned to the fringe of a finger-nail held to the candle,

Or paring of paradisaïcal fruit, lovely in waning but lustreless,

Stepped from the stool, drew back from the barrow, of dark Maenefa the mountain;

A cusp still clasped him, a fluke yet fanged him, entangled him, not quit utterly.

This was the prized, the desirable sight, unsought, presented so easily,

Parted me leaf and leaf, divided me, eyelid and eyelid of slumber.

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Why poems? I don’t know—it just came up. Poems are nice—when they’re short enough. I used to read epic poetry—whole books of the stuff—I don’t have that kind of concentration anymore. I own many different English translations of the Iliad and the Oddysey—I prefer the ones that don’t go too ‘prose’ and don’t go too ‘lyric poetry’—it’s difficult to retain just enough of the poetry of it that you don’t lose the pace of the storytelling—a subtle balancing act, which is why there are so many versions. I wonder what it must be like in the original Ancient Greek?

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I always wish I’d learned more languages. Languages are the most liberal-arts thing there is—it’s hard to see how they can be of practical use, yet those who learn them have a great mental advantage over the monolinguist. I studied French in high school and college—I never became fluent because I never used it. But even in an English-speaking environment, I’ve run across some Latin roots and French phrases that are gobbledy-gook to other people—so it wasn’t a complete waste. It’s still the easiest way to be the smartest person in the room—knowing a language that no one else does, when that language pops up. And wouldn’t it be nice to watch a foreign film and not have to read the captions?

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I got a new TV recently—I switched to LCD because my old Plasma screen acted as both television and space heater—very convenient in winter, but a real pain in the ass come summertime. My old buddy, Flippy, came by today to take the old monster off my hands—I hope he’s going to use it in a well-ventilated area. It was a huge, expensive TV, so I’m happy that it didn’t end up in the junk pile.

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The new TV is disappointing—I bought a 32′ diagonal Sony LCD because I figured if I moved it closer to the bed (the big one was all the way across the room) it would have the same apparent size as the big one. But Sony tricked me—the screen is 32″, but the picture is much smaller, unless I go full zoom, which fills the screen but makes the picture grainier. Consumerism is such a bait-and-switch con game. Plus, the TV was surprisingly inexpensive, until I realized that I now need a sound system for it (the old, big one had it built-in) and the sound systems price out at about the same price as the new TV! So now, instead of being happy with my purchase, I’m watching a tinier screen with tinnier sound. Argggh!

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One good thing about the new TV is that it’s Wi-Fi enabled. That means I can switch to Netflix or Hulu—I can even watch myself on my YouTube channel videos—that’s pretty cool.

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Okay, here’s one of my favorite Bach pieces:

and since it’s a really nice composition, and I don’t play it that well, here’s the link for Glenn Gould, playing the same piece, but properly–and beautifully:

Enjoy.

Think Fast—Too Slow! (2016Jun25)


Saturday, June 25, 2016                                           5:40 PM

Think Fast—Too Slow!   (2016Jun25)

Politics is so complicated! We’re seeing two kinds of Trump spokesperson making the news-talk rounds. The first type of Trump- spokesperson, as you’d expect, is the flaming yahoo, wielding a sword of misinformation and a shield of denial—a true-believer whose gonna win that argument because God told them so (or whatever voice is in their heads). The second type of Trump- spokesperson is the slick old PR veteran who debates with their wits, their ethics (if any) firmly under lock-down.

I’d like to see one of each get accidentally booked for the same panel—It’d be a hoot to see them get confused and start contradicting each other. Contradiction is a mainstay of any campaign—but when I look closely I seem to see a difference in those who defend their stance based on well-thought-out arguments discovered in the course of looking for real answers—and those who have ‘picked’ a side and are just trying to win the argument. Now, winning the argument is the bottom line—and there are many arguments won by the simple expedient of out-shouting the opposition—so we see both sides trying to win however they can.

The difference is in what you don’t hear. The side that’s thought through their position will grudgingly admit to things that can’t be denied. The side that’s all about winning will never admit to anything, no matter how obviously true it might be. That seems to be the easiest way to tell where someone is coming from. If you’ll admit to something damaging and then try to move on, you’ve got your eyes on some future prize—if you never give an inch, even when it’s ridiculous not to, you’re just trying to win—and, of course, you’re relying on the voters being too slow to see through you.

It Was Easy (2016Jun23)


Thursday, June 23, 2016                                          4:33 PM

We had it easy—our biggest worry, back in the day, was the commies shooting off their ICBMs and making a crater of the globe (with the help of our retaliatory strikes, of course). But it was called MAD for two reasons—the obvious acronym, Mutually-Assured Destruction—but also because it was literally madness even to contemplate—and everyone knew it. We could worry about a madman getting hold of a bomb and starting something that would quickly get out of hand—but that was a long shot, mentioned mostly in novels of the ‘thriller’ variety. And no one seriously expected our governments to find any rational use for their nuclear arsenals—MAD, remember? Purely defensive, or so we would have it—don’t start none, won’t be none.

We didn’t worry about the environment—most of the pollution, and all of the data, would come later. Rachel Carson had made an iron-clad research project out of proving that the American Bald Eagle and other birds were endangered by the use of DDT as a pesticide, which caused egg-shell thinning and premature hatching. But we all took “Silent Spring” as a special case, a one-off complication. We were still fine with lead paint and asbestos insulation. Even the ecologically-minded were unaware of the build-up of consequences our civilization was beginning to have on our environment, and on ourselves.

We didn’t worry about energy—gas was pennies to the gallon—‘cruising’, the act of driving one’s car around just for fun, was a popular tradition among American teens—we wouldn’t have our first gas shortage until 1976. And even as we worried over OPECs surprising stranglehold on oil production, our concern was mainly over reliable supply-lines and the economic implications of foreign-oil dependence. Catalytic converters were invented only to reduce smog in crowded, car-choked cities—we were still decades away from any concerns over carbon-footprints and greenhouse gasses.

We didn’t worry about recycling—the first recycling drives were reliant on the need to do something with all the garbage—we were busy picking up trash along the highways or vacant lots and it all had to go somewhere. Lots of it was bottles and cans—and so a push began to make them all deposit-return containers—to compensate the collectors. Recycling as a concept, as a way to mitigate against runaway consumption, came later.

We were focused on trying to “Make America Beautiful”. At the time, it was considered more important to raise the fines and enforce the laws against littering—doing something with all that trash that used to line the highways came much later. I can still remember a time when, on family trips, the end of a fast-food meal was the act of jettisoning all the trash out the car window, at speed. Nor did we have to undo our seatbelts to do it—nobody wore those things. Of course, without them, or a speed limit, Americans on the highways were dropping like flies. Today’s highway fatalities, while still the number four killer, are nothing compared to our old stats—today’s roads are baby-proofed in comparison.

We had worries—sure. But we trusted our leaders. We thought the world too big to be vulnerable to our industry. We thought that faraway people who hated the USA only affected our travel plans, not our national security. Everyone watched the same TV shows—everyone listened to the same radio stations—we were connected as a culture. And we still felt that oppressing women and minorities and the disabled was just the way of the world—and being gay was still the ‘love that dare not speak its name’. It wasn’t right—but boy, was it simpler. The fine judgments of the politically correct were still decades away—on the other hand, we didn’t laugh at its complexity yet, either. We were still busy trying to laugh it off, deride it back into invisibility.

Part of our difficulty with the present is that our many problems, and our social progress, contribute equally to the growing complexity of life. Complexity is a big problem. You give everyone a computer network that they can carry in their pocket and what do they do with it? Well, some of us plan trips to Mars, sure—but most of us use it to meet for drinks or play games. You offer greater complexity to the human race and only a few will dive in—the rest will look for the ‘easy’ exit, like Twitter, Snapchat, or Angry Birds.

Complexity is a deceptive indicator—we don’t want our problems to become more complex, but we are okay with the needs of social justice making our interaction more complex. Well, perhaps we’re not ‘okay’ with it, not all of us, certainly—but we accept its inevitability. It stands to reason that making sure we override our assumptions, forcing the equality of persons who may have never enjoyed equal status—is a complex process. The political correctness of our speech is nothing compared to the complexities of legislating equal rights, not to mention enforcing that legislation. And all of this is working against the inertia of generations of handed-down bias and hate.

Certainly it would be easier to get rid of all that hate—then we wouldn’t need to legislate social justice. But some things need to be brought out in the open—people can be childishly secretive, especially when their hearts tell them there’s something not quite right about their behavior. Domestic abuse, child abuse, corporal punishment—these things are still problems that trouble us—but the numbers are way down. Not so long ago, beating your spouse or your children—that was a personal decision you made behind the privacy of your own front door. And if things got bad enough that the authorities became involved, they turned a blind eye to whatever madness the head-of-the-household was indulging in. Now it is recognized as the felony it always should have been—and for the most part is treated that way (though pockets of ignorance persist).

My point is that if such obvious evil has traditionally been hugged to the patriarchs’ bosoms throughout most of history—if denying them that outrageousness is so relatively new—then we can see how much more difficult it is to try to limit prejudice and bias (merely mental violence) in our daily lives. The fact that some people ridicule political correctness just demonstrates how small they see that evil as being. They target the most progressive view possible, which admittedly can often have paradoxes and growing pains from being so new a concept—and deride the least thought-out aspects of it, as if that negated the value of social justice itself. Niggling whiners—they cherry-pick the weakest faults of the new, yet have beams in their eyes when it comes to the monstrous faults of the familiar, old ways.

Evil has time on its side—and tradition. Human civilization grows like a goat-path, retaining every kink and twist of its caveman days—the push for social justice is an attempt to straighten some of those pathways. And not only because it is right—though it is justice we seek—but also because society is more efficient when it affords choice and opportunity to every individual, when the weak are not oppressed by the powerful.

Human nature is on the side of evil—we are naturally greedy, selfish, and demanding creatures. The history of legislation is the history of people trying to outmaneuver the rules—so of course it becomes very complicated. Everyone has got an excuse why they should be exempt from the sacrifices implicit in fairness. Even those who benefit from new legislation will sometimes seek ways to get more than their fair share of opportunity. We are none of us saints—even the downtrodden have urges. Make a rule, any rule—and you’ll find you need to make five more, to modify the first—then ten more, to modify the other five.

In truth, legislation only enables the bare bones of justice—it is only when our culture has absorbed the spirit of the law and begun to live in that spirit, that the rules work properly—and, ironically, that’s when the rules become extraneous, their job completed. Take seat belts—people began using them to avoid getting a ticket—now they do it for safety, and teach their children to use them, too.

Even seat belts have their complexity. At the advent of seat-belt legislation, many complained that wearing the original lap-belt was as likely to cause harm as prevent it. The head rest and the shoulder strap were added, which made seat belts effective safety measures under virtually any conditions. It wasn’t until after these improvements that seat belt legislation could be enforced (because the cops could see the shoulder strap)—but it also made wearing seat belts the sensible thing to do.

Yes, everything was easier in the old days—but not better. We often yearn for simpler times—but they were simpler because they were dumber—we were dumber. Nobody used to use a keyboard—except stenos, secretaries, bookkeepers, and keyboard players—we wrote things down with a pencil—and if we needed two copies, we wrote it down twice. Nobody knew how to connect up wires on appliances—if appliances needed wires, they came with—or an expert installed them. Now toddlers hook up their own video game consoles. People used to disappear from our lives forever—just by moving far away. If you really wanted to, you could write them a letter (with your pencil), glue a stamp on it—and a bunch of people would pass it back and forth until it ended up in a mailbox. Imagine. You can still do that, you know—I wonder if anyone does?

We didn’t worry about climate change—oh, it was happening—we just didn’t have a bunch of satellites collecting sensor readings on the atmosphere over years of time—or recording time-lapse proof of the shrinking of the polar ice and the glaciers. All of that information is very new—which is why backward-looking folks can pretend it isn’t real. Old folks call it new-fangled—but new-fangled information is still data—it won’t go away—we can never go back. Yet it’s hard to blame them for trying—I’d like to go cruising again, myself.

Be Leaders   (2016Jun22)


Wednesday, June 22, 2016                                               9:27 PM

I was criticizing a Brexit supporter online today, telling him that it made more sense to remain in the Union and work for change from within, rather than turning away and making the problems bigger through greater fragmentation. I suggested that they ‘be leaders’.

It wasn’t until after I made the comment and logged off that I began to think about what I meant. At first I figured I was just projecting—isn’t that how we Americans feel, that we need to lead by example? Sure, we’ve lost sight of that, or at least our government has—preferring to lead by intimidation, diplomacy, and military intervention—but our ideal is that we lead the world forward by exemplifying how much better things can be if we all get on the civilization bus.

But in considering that, I realized that there’s a more ‘boots on the ground’ aspect to leadership. We see it in the extraordinary stranglehold the NRA has on gun control legislation—and even on CDC studies of gun violence. This tiny group of followers show up for every meeting, every hearing, every vote—while the other 97% of us quietly bemoan the problem as we stare at our TV screens.

But the gun control problem is just the worst-case example of how small groups of activists can jam up our legislative machinery. The other lobbyists do equally people-unfriendly things—giving breaks to corporations, cutting off compensation for those wronged by corporations, strangling important agencies of safety regulation, turning a blind eye to Wall Street excesses, closing women’s health care centers—the list is long and daunting. Rust never sleeps.

And yet for most of us, the issue of politics boils down to ‘getting out the vote’. I think it’s clear now—voting is the first baby step. Voting only has real power when it is the end of our involvement, not the sole locus of our contact with it. When Bernie Sanders told his followers recently to run for office, he was saying something similar—just being a voter isn’t enough. There are dark forces out there—and they are doing much more than just voting every four years—they’re working all the time.

Leadership is involvement—involvement is leadership. The old analog process of town hall meetings may be passé. The NRA and other corporate lobbyists may have deep war chests. But if the Tunisians or the Egyptians, with nothing but the internet and some cell phones, can overthrow their governments, then we can certainly have some influence over our government, too. The only difference is the level of involvement. And if you think we are any less faced with demagoguery as an alternative, you haven’t been paying attention.

Bach and Dr. Seuss (2016Jun20)


Monday, June 20, 2016                                            1:09 PM

Dr. Seuss on Gun Control

We are born and we live—we love and we give

We believe what we wish and we think sometimes too

Sometimes we are faithful and sometimes, untrue

When we are not peaceful we’re provocative

People are silly—just watch them and see

People get ugly—you know they can be

People like laughing—it’s such a relief

But then we like fighting—and that causes grief

People are silly—if I wasn’t one

I’d say let them all walk around with a gun

I wouldn’t even mind taking a bullet from one

If I didn’t have a wife, a daughter, and a son.

 

(please note: this poem is in the style of Dr. Seuss, not actually by him.)

It’s a lazy day. Happy summer. I recorded one of Bach’s French Suites. Ordinarily I wouldn’t bother posting it, but I want to forget about the troll that bugged me a few days ago, so I’m posting more classical music videos. This one is no better than that one, because I don’t play all that good—but I hereby declare that to be okay. Anyone that doesn’t like it—doesn’t have to watch it.

I also managed an improv. The set-to with the troll took my mind off my biggest problem, which has nothing to do with my playing bad classical music. I’ve always played classical music badly. I usually tell myself that it’s background research—I only play the classical for practice—to get ideas and improve my technique—for when I improvise. Because I’ve been pleased with my growth in that area—some of my improvs are quite listenable.

I know this because I burn CDs and listen to them while lying around or reading. I started doing that way back when I was still using a Sony cassette recorder and never posted anything. The idea was to hear myself in playback and see what I sounded like to another person. I learned a lot—enough so that, at some point, I actually began to enjoy listening to my own CDs. They still couldn’t stack up against store-bought music, but they were good enough that, when factoring in that I had made them myself, it was nice to listen to.

But lately I don’t know. I’ve always sounded kinda the same, but I was always trying new things. I think lately the problem is that I’ve accumulated a bunch of ‘tricks’ that I like, and I use them too much—it’s getting repetitive. So I’ve recorded some improvs lately that I didn’t think were good enough to share online because they’re just too much like stuff I’ve already posted. I don’t know, maybe it’s just getting old. I have been improvising for like thirty five years by now—maybe I’ve just reached my peak and I don’t have it in me to do any better.

Anyhow, for today’s recordings’ titles, I recycled my drawings from the last post—I’m not making many new drawings, so I have to make the most of what’s left in my old archives.

 

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