Thursday, December 24, 2009

Seasons Greetings To All Republicans Everywhere

Shortly after the news aired that the Republican Party had re-animated the corpse ("using blood from psychotic rabbits") of Reagan and made him party leader, The Onion also reported that Mitt Romney made a leadership challenge against Reagan by eating a small child live on TV.

Robert Downey Jr. As Sherlock Holmes

"[Holmes] had no breakfast for himself, for it was one of his peculiarities that in his more intense moments he would permit himself no food, and I have known him to presume upon his iron strength until he has fainted from pure inanition."
-- from The Adventure of the Norwood Builder, in The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

Robert Downey Jr. playing Sherlock Holmes in the eponymous movie, which opens on Christmas Day, above.

I know that a movie about Holmes made today would have to be 'relevant' and more appealing to a mass audience, but the appeal of Sherlock Holmes was that he was not a muscular stud, he was more nerd or weirdo, a man who always appeared to be made entirely of tweed.

Do I disapprove of Downey Jr. doing a Holmes who struts and punches and bleeds like a man (!) -- like Brad Pitt in Fight Club? Of course not, but he is not the always-odd, remote, detached and cerebral, Victorian, Sherlock Holmes whom I grew up reading.

Holmes' appeal in part was because you were aware that he existed as a successful and accepted eccentric against the grey world of Victorian London. He was an outsider, the Other, in a tacit sense he might well have been gay. I guess (and I say this having not even seen the movie!) it's another example of the book-to-movie transfer that rarely seems to please those who know the characters from the book first.

Chic, Ago

Granta's summer 2009 edition was about Chicago.

Incidentally, I am feeling especially anti-Christmas this year. Yes, Christmas, I hate you! It's a train wreck with glitter.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Queer Old Dean

That stooped lady in striking peach is Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. The photo was taken by my friend Nick, from his window at King's College, Cambridge, as the Queen arrived for an event. That is of course her husband, Prince Philip, waiting for her to walk forward. Someone is bowing deeply to her in the doorway.

I am struck by what she symbolizes, even in this quick snap. In her name and the name of her antecedents, evil and dreadful deeds have been done with vigor by men who thought that their love of country and of her, was moral purpose enough. They should have looked deeper within themselves.

When in radical mode during the 17th century, the English Parliament decided to execute King Charles I, and did so on January 30th, 1649, it was not until the morning of the King's execution that the Parliamentarians remembered to pass a law banning any of his heirs from succeeding him: as soon as his head was off, his eldest son would become King under the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings.

Monday, December 21, 2009

And On And On They Bang On Their Empty Drum

Robert P. George with fellow pillar of the Church, George P. Dush
"With friends like these, who needs enemies?" muttered Almighty God as the photo was taken.
The Times profiles another vitally-important Conservative Concerned Christian Christly Conservative, Robert P. George. He's Very Important, the piece tells us. It seems that having ruled the nation with Bush in the White House for nearly a decade, the Christian Right continues to rule the attention of the New York Times.

Perhaps a posse of Elmer Gantrys catched a hold of them worldly, wine-bibbing Times' editors in a dark, sinful, lust-strewn alleyway or back street and whispered words of warning and Godly concern in their ears: "Without SALVATION AND CHRIST and decent press coverage for our backward, feudalistic mumbo-jumbo, you're going to BURN in HELL for ALL-CAPITALIZED ETERNITY, SINNERS!"

Because it is mumbo-jumbo. In the profile of George, the writer ably assists his subject in dressing up 'conservative' opinion as modern yet philosophically-grounded thinking, and relevant to these times. A central plank of George's raison d'etre is his opposition to same-sex marriage. On that, more than continuing the losing fight against a woman's right to choose whether she may abort a foetus or not, George says the Christian Right must take its stand. As its predecessors took their stand... against women voting, interracial marriage, civil rights for blacks... Against gravity. Against Galileo.

But same sex marriage will not bring about the end of the world, it will not cause Western civilization to collapse, it is not some wild, crazy, sheep-and-dog-fuck-circus moving in as your next door neighbors. It is about civil rights, and a very modest extension of them. It is not even close to (for example) the 'insanity' opposed by the Christian Right's forefathers, such as permitting women or black people to vote. In another decade, same sex marriage will be another boring norm, and your neighbors, if gay, will be a conventional pair of dullards who met at the office party. They'll water your plants when you go away. And you'll keep an eye on their cats when they are weekending out of town.

And Robert P. George and his pals will be banging another big empty drum about something else. Because we let them. If they claim to be the followers of Jesus and God, how come they are always slinking along so close to money and riches that you can hear the coins' clink among rustle of dollars? Jesus warns often of the dangers of wealth, riches, of money and the love of it; it is primary, at the core of the Christian message. If you object to my saying this, just skim the New York Times article on George. Opening sentence:
On a September afternoon, about 60 prominent Christians assembled in the library of the Metropolitan Club on the east side of Central Park. It was a gathering of unusual diversity and power...
I would like to ask this, however: the Christian Right is made up of a rainbow spectrum of boneheads, from deeply weird Catholics (like George) through to bible-thumpin' hicks of the lowest-of-low church Protestants. I cannot see how such a crowd can long hang together. Like trying to blend Evensong and Old Spice!

Sunday, December 20, 2009