Archive for February, 2011

Listening to Radiohead

Posted in Uncategorized on February 27, 2011 by a4synapse

For a Sunday afternoon.  I own five or six Radiohead albums, which makes me a stupid fan.  This is the first time I’ve placed everything I have onto one pure playlist and let it roll, in honor of ‘The King of Limbs”, released last week.  I caught this infection from Fred in France (Johnny-come-lately-me) and the fervor of it snuck up on me.  Listening puts me in a different head that stretches somehow to the horizon and encompasses all possibilities.  Is that dumb?  Yeah, but it works.

Sometimes, the emotion that flicks in and out catches me like the surprise of a knife sliding between the ribs (especially ‘House of Cards’).  Then there are moments when listening feels like flying (‘Jigsaw’).

The music requires that I go to it.


I only watch the first 66%

Posted in Uncategorized on February 20, 2011 by a4synapse

I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth.

somewhere in Hamlet (the Shakespeare version) and also in ‘Hair’.

Look it up if you must, but it is there.  It is disturbing to discover that in watching my favorite movies, I am only really entertained and interested by the first 2 acts (out of three).  ‘Casino Royale’?  I lose interest after that first real kiss, and find I cannot bear to watch the scenes in Venice.  ‘Iron Man’? I love the opening and am very fond of the scenes in the cave with Yinsen and the play of that nascent relationship.  Also love when he’s building the man.  ‘Avatar’?  After the ‘Tree of Wishes’ sentimentality, I’m gone.  The battles, the confrontations with villains, the exhortations and shouting and gritted teeth: just not interested.

Does this mean I’ve lost my zest for life?  Nuh unh.  It just means I’m no longer interested in denouement, or someone else’s notion of a good ending.  I am interested in discovery, development, that ineffable twist of fate.  (Wait, can a twist of fate BE ineffable?)  NO.  We only know it’s a twist of fate once we pinpoint it as such and then it’s completely effable.

Momentous Events Give Me Whiplash

Posted in Uncategorized on February 12, 2011 by a4synapse

Wow, just – WOW.

A person who’s awake is always a witness to history; there are only a few moments when a person realizes how big events can become.  Spent the last few days glued to multiple screens, trying to sort good information from bad, good sources from bad.  It is beyond clear that Al Jazeera needs to come to U.S. distribution outlets.  It can be found online, but it needs to be on cable and satellite.  Al Jazeera covers the world for easily one-third of the world’s population, but is very hard to find in the U.S., which imagines itself as the center of the universe.  It’s not.

Events in Egypt engender a volatile mix of awe and hope and apprehension.  I happened to see Admiral Mike Mullen on The Daily Show.  He discussed the close ties that exist between the U.S. military and the Egyptian military; decades of training, funding and commingling of the officer training corps.  I’m inclined to think that young officers seeing the U.S. up close and living, working and training with young officers here had to have had a large effect on their political thinking.  In retrospect, it was a very smart and fruitful strategy in the hearts and minds war.

No one knows where it goes from here.  It’s not even clear who the players will be.  We have only pledges; at least they’re making good noises.

After observing the good guys winning, I turn to my home.  What’s going on here?  Very substantive piece from Glenn Greenwald here.  His overarching point is that both parties are complicit in the erosion of civil liberties.  He singles out Senator Dianne Feinstein for her support of the Patriot Act: her husband owns part of a corporation (URS Corp. and here) that is winning contracts to ‘combat terrorism’.  He also talks about the remarkable inanity of persons who support only the civil liberties that they like for themselves.  The worm always turns.  And Charles M. Blow, writing for the New York Times has a depressing listing of what the laboratory of the state legislatures is cooking up here.

On another note, Republicans in Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska and Oregon are pushing legislation that would require drug testing of welfare recipients.

This despite the fact that, as the American Civil Liberties Union rightly pointed out, the policy is “scientifically, fiscally, and constitutionally unsound.” Other states have considered it but deemed it not feasible or impractical. In Michigan, the only state to implement it, only a tenth of those tested had positive results for drugs and only 3 percent had positive results for hard drugs, which the A.C.L.U. points out is “in line with the drug use rates of the general population.”

Most importantly, the Michigan law was struck down as unconstitutional, with the judge ruling that the rationale for testing people on welfare “could be used for testing the parents of all children who received Medicaid, State Emergency Relief, educational grants or loans, public education or any other benefit from that state.”

State legislatures are proposing laws that would restrict same-sex marriage, choice, prisoner’s rights, immigrant’s rights, and even the rights of same-sex couples to draft wills.  This is beyond stupid.  It is reactionary, selfish, and a futile attempt to hold back the tide of human rights.  Put these developments next to the tableau of Egypt.  A person may contribute to the American Civil Liberties Union here.

Lastly, Joe Nocera (also at the New York Times) here illustrates the incestuous relationship between the Pentagon, Wall Street and the big five military contractors: Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrup-Grumman and Raytheon.  Post Berlin Wall-Fall, the Clinton administration encouraged a wave of mergers, and then discovered that the concentration of business among these five meant that they had to support these firms.  (HA, HA, HA).  Because if the stock market felt that these companies did not have rosy prospects, these companies could not raise money and could not function well in expanding production and/or research.  Bad news for their only customer.  So now, the Pentagon’s buyers, the big five (and the supporting companies), and the largest investors all get together to figure out what they’re going to do next (BEHIND CLOSED DOORS).  This is mind-blowingly illegal, and yet it appears that someone is protecting it.

Now do you see why I have whiplash?

Oh, Beautiful for Spacious Skies makes me feel icky

Posted in Uncategorized on February 7, 2011 by a4synapse

I don’t watch the Super Bowl as a rule, but I like the Packers; the Steelers not so much.  However, both are old school football, and that counts.  What I like best about the Packers is that the team is owned by their town and it’s the smallest market in the NFL and that proves something.  I don’t like the reverse welfare system which turns team owners into (insert choice expletive here), who then feel perfectly justified in behaving badly (Redskins owners and various others) because they’re successful, and they think they got what they have on the strength of their own virtues.

Needless to say, I’m pleased that the Packers won and that they won gracefully, with heart and passion and skill.

Now on to the rest:

1. I liked the Volkswagen/Darth Vader commercial the best, and I hated the Groupon commercials.  The Go-Daddy commercials are ignorable and futile.

2. Lea Michele singing ‘America The Beautiful’ was mawkish in the extreme and ridiculously overproduced.   Singers feel compelled to add trills, runs and flips in this desperate age.  Just sing the damn song.  That said, I hate this song: it’s boring.  It’s also a stupid paeon to Americanism.  It makes me feel icky inside with its saccharine and bland goofiness.  I also hate the religistic stab in the back of it. (Yes, I made up the word.)

3. I like the national anthem.  In the national gut-check that the Super Bowl has become, this song is a reminder that the republic began in blood and fire and defiance.  The other thing I like about it is that it’s hard to sing and even harder to sing well.  It’s hard to organize all the flood of vituperation I feel for Christina Aguilera.  She was a tarted-up tween ghastly gross bucket of FAIL.  I’m all for female empowerment, but this was wrong on too many levels to count.  I could begin with the bleached blonde hair, continue on to the all-black mush of ensemble, include the lips (Ghaa!), and that’s the first phase.  Second phase: I don’t think she was singing as much as she was caterwhauling, and I’d sooner listen to cats howl and scream: she was dreadful.  And last, and this may be a cheap shot: Get the words right.  This was a national moment.  Yeah, and at the same time, that’s making too much of it.  It’s just a football game.  But get the words right.  I feel a basic sadness that this attention-hog of a person got her moment in the spotlight and was deeply unequal to the moment.  It’s tempting to turn this into symbolism.  It’s not, but I would still like to see Saturday Night Live make fun of her.

It was a great game.  I’m glad that dirtbag Roethlisberger lost.  I’m unhappy that public figures who have done terrible things have an opportunity to continue in the spotlight to ‘redeem’ themselves.  It’s creepy; he’s creepy.