A Grief Interlude

It seems so strange to interrupt an ongoing tribute to a now deceased famous person who affected my life significantly…to talk about recent deaths of similarly significant celebrities. And yet here I am, writing this post rather than writing one of my Cravenous reviews as I continue to make my way (very slowly) through Wes Craven’s oeuvre.

There have been several deaths recently within the celebrity circuit. It’s rather alarming, actually, how many famous people have departed the realm in the past month or so—and not celebrities who we might have anticipated leaving us. It’s one thing when someone tips the scales into the upper 80s or even 90s and then leaves us still wanting more but grateful that they were there to inspire and entertain us for as long as they were.

No. These have been wholly unexpected (at least by the general public) and wholly depressing. These have been the deaths of people still active in their crafts, be it music or acting or writing or art. These were early deaths. Painful deaths from an illness far too prevalent among us all. For me personally, I find that the recent deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman have been almost as upsetting as Craven’s unexpected death in August of last year. Both were 69 years old. Both succumbed after lengthy yet quiet battles against cancer.

For Bowie, I confess that I didn’t start actively getting into his music until a few years ago. To me, he was first Jareth the Goblin King.

jareth

I’ve already written about the significance of Jim Henson and his Muppets to my early years. Make no mistake that I consider Bowie to be a crucial part of that significance. His performance as the Goblin King to Jennifer Connelly’s Sarah is what made Labyrinth as captivating and memorable as it was. Plus, Bowie wrote all the music for the movie, which he of course performed.

It was his appearance as Jareth that I found most compelling, with the whimsical (though slightly lewd) costumes, the magnificent hair, and the most stunning makeup, made all the more ethereal by his one eye with the forever-dilated pupil. He was beautiful. It wasn’t until later that I realized that it wasn’t just Jareth who was beautiful. It was Bowie himself. Androgynous, feather-light, stick-thin, snaggle-toothed, and stunning. Whether as Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke, any of his movie roles (several of which are standouts among my beloved genre fiction, such as The Hunger or The Man Who Fell to Earth, which seems as though it was written with Bowie in mind), or simply Bowie, he was always gorgeous.

David Bowie (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
David Bowie (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

(Also, from the look of this photo, Tilda Swinton owes him significantly as well…do you think she knows? Oh. Yeah, I think she does.)

As I learned more about his career, I realized that Bowie also was one of the most influential artists within the rock world to which I was first introduced. Even when I didn’t realize his impact, I was feeling it. Every time I turned on a Culture Club video and swooned at the sight of Boy George in all his early gorgeous glory or fell under the spell of similarly androgy-gorgeous Eurythmics-era Annie Lennox, I was reaping the benefit of Bowie’s influence. Any time I fell in love with an artist for being unabashedly, defiantly unique, what I was really falling in love with was how Bowie burst through the doors that continued to remain open for all these subsequent acts who fell within the purview of my growing attention to music. Bowie showed that it was all right to be different. It was okay to be flamboyant, to be a “Space Oddity” and not fit in. He showed the way for so many artists who walked the peculiar path whose bricks Bowie helped lay.

Even when I had no idea who or what Ziggy Stardust was, I was enjoying his short existence that continued to benefit all of us who were, just as he was, delightfully left of left of center. And even in my nascent naivete toward music and musicians, I was grooving to songs laid down by the Thin White Duke. I didn’t know who sang the songs (I predate the ease of holding up a smartphone to a radio and having the ghost in the machine tell me what I’m listening to), but I knew I liked them.

I liked David Bowie. His creativity was immense (almost as immense as Jareth’s cod piece) and left an indelible mark upon the creative spaces of sound and image. His influence shaped the musical landscape to which I arrived in all my unknowing glory and continues to enthrall and influence even now.

Many of these same sentiments can extend to how I feel about Alan Rickman’s equally unexpected passing. Rickman, with that striking singular voice. That voice will always, to me, be the Voice of the One True God (beware, NSFW for language):

Whether he was telling you to “shoot ze glass” or threatening to carve your heart out with a spoon or trying to teach you a new spell to protect you from the Dark Lord, Rickman’s dulcet timbre was always captivating and instantly recognizable. His performances were always satisfying, his range always astounding. By Grabthar’s hammer, he could bring gravitas and pathos to any character he played. He also breathed life into some of the most momentous genre fiction characters we’ve had the pleasure to meet on screen, be they Metatron, Dr. Lazarus, the Sheriff of Nottingham, or that most infamous Death Eater of all, Professor Severus Snape.

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For me, while it was all about these larger-than-life roles (of which, I do believe the Metatron was my favorite) to some degree, I think I loved Rickman most of all in a couple of his quieter, lesser-known roles: Dr. Alfred Blalock in Something the Lord Made and Alex in Snow Cake, which paired him once more with Sigourney Weaver.

Regardless of his role, Rickman was always watchable (or listenable, if it were one of his voice-only roles). His talent made many a movie more enjoyable and it will be sorely missed. He will be sorely missed as well, for his humor, his kindness, his depth of care and compassion for other actors. From what I have gleaned from recent words of kindness spoken of him and Bowie, both men were exceptionally generous with their time, attention, and advice. They were solid, solicitous souls who brought light to all they did. Both he and Bowie have left irreparable holes in the fabric of creativity as well as in the hearts of many a fan, including this humble and sorrowful wolf.

Photo Fun Friday: Lucille Blanchett

If you’re lucky enough (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it) to follow me other places online, you have already seen an iteration of this image. I’ve tweaked it little by little every day since that original posting. I think I’m finally pleased with the end result. You know me, though. I’m sure I’ll probably swing back around and replace this image a few times. Not that I’ve ever done that here with any of my other Photo Fun Friday posts.

Hmm.

Anywho. This is to mark the announcement that Cate Blanchett will be playing Lucille Ball in a biopic written by Aaron Sorkin and produced by Ball’s children.

To be honest, I’m actually more excited by the fact that Aaron Sorkin has been tapped to write the screenplay. I like Cate Blanchett, but I might be the only person on the planet who was not impressed by her attempt at Katharine Hepburn. However, I thought her portrayal of Veronica Guerin was exceptional (far more Oscar-worthy than her Hepburn performance), so she’s 1 and 1 with me for her portrayals of real people.

And now that I’ve dropped that bit of cinematic sacrilege on you all, here is my latest mistresspiece. Ha. What I did there. I see it.

lucilleblanchett

The Man of My Dreams

It would have to take something big to finally pull me out of the morass of work in which I’ve been trapped all summer. Something bigger than book reviews or navel gazing or even the insanity of the current political landscape (a landscape I’m already tired of looking at, and we’ve still got more than a year to go).

No, it had to be larger than that. It had to be something personally moving…something so important to me that, no matter how many evenings and stolen moments throughout the days that I have stockpile to write this, it will be done. It’s the least I can do for the man who played such an integral role in my conversion to the tried-and-true horror apostle I am today.

True, I credit Poltergeist as being the first modern horror film I ever saw all the way through. That was my gateway film, so to speak. But if I were credit one genre director as being most responsible for completely converting me to the Church of Horror, it would have to be Wes Craven.

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I give John Carpenter full dues for the brilliance that is Halloween. And I attribute the state of the horror genre as I knew and loved it growing up to a particular set of directors/writers who ruled the horror landscape throughout the 80s: Craven, Carpenter, Sam Raimi, Tobe Hooper, and Sean Cunningham (with honorable mention to Clive Barker for the glory that is Pinhead).

These men understood the visceral nature of fear and they harnessed that to full unadulterated effect through some of the genre’s most unsettling movies. They were the fathers of evisceration and unrest, pushing the boundaries of, at the time, a mostly staid genre into territories that even they found too disturbing to explore…which is what pushed them to explore them in the first place. Craven himself stated that The Last House on the Left was one of his movies that he could never go back and re-watch because of how horrific it was to him.

And then came Freddy Krueger. As much as I love Michael Myers and Pinhead and Jason, Freddy was my first horror villain. I actually first met him through the fourth Elm Street movie The Dream Master, which was not one of Craven’s films. However, I loved Freddy from the very first flick of his silver-knived hand right down to his inimitably painful puns. He was horror kitsch of the killer variety, compelling and charismatic and amusingly unique even among the high-caliber villainous company he was keeping at the time. I needed to know everything about him.

I was not anticipating the Freddy Krueger I met in the first film. Craven’s original 1984 movie was disturbing in the ugliest of realistic ways (strange to say of a killer who is himself dead and offs his victims in their nightmares). This character came from the mind of someone who understood that true fear resided in the deepest, darkest, most depraved corners of ourselves. We create the worst fears, whether through our own thoughts or our own deeds. No matter how much I love the campy, “lovable” Freddy of later films, my allegiance will always rest in the gloved hand of that original Krueger. He was only on screen for 7 minutes that first movie…less time than even the Wicked Witch of the West got in The Wizard of Oz…but oh, those 7 minutes.

Thankfully, Craven did return for The New Nightmare, one of my other favorite Freddy films. Additionally, New Nightmare was one of the earliest examples, that I can remember, of that meta take on film-making that blurs reality and fiction into a tasty melange of horror savoriness that I clearly find addictive.

And then there’s Scream. True, Craven didn’t write it and he almost didn’t direct it. But thank the horror deities that he did. Talk about meta savoriness. I have written about this film and franchise many times here at the lair. Two of my Ladies of Horror May-hem come from this film (two other Ladies come from Elm Street). The original film works so well in part because of its clear respect for and indebtedness to the time during which Craven and that previously mentioned collection of amazingly demented directors ruled the horror genre. And while the series holistically was never as solid as the first film, Craven did his best to make it as solidly scary as he could with what Williamson gave him.

Of course, these are only the movies that often rise to the top of any discussion of Craven’s contributions to the horror genre. Let’s not forget, he also gave us The Hills Have Eyes; Deadly Friend, which includes one of my all-time favorite character deaths ever; Shocker (I still refer to Mitch Pileggi as “Horace Pinker”); The People Under the Stairs, which gave me a whole new outlook on Twin Peaks and turned so many traditional horror tropes upside down and inside out in ways that I don’t think many appreciated at the time; Red Eye (sure, I’d like to find flying even more traumatizing!); and The Serpent and the Rainbow, which ranks still as one of my favorite “zombie” movies.

Craven was sharp, well-read, curious, creative, kind, and witty, and he made my horror-loving adolescence ironically brighter from all the darkness he brought to the genre. I have mourned his death every day since I learned he was with us no more. He left behind a brilliant legacy, but his time with us was still far too short.

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Welcome Home, Discovery

Something extraordinary just happened, denizens. I’ve been driving people crazy all morning about it. The Space Shuttle Discovery has come to her new home.

She left Kennedy Space Center early this morning; I heard her departure during my commute into work. I had wanted to take the morning off, join the rest of my geek peepz down at the Udvar-Hazy to watch her arrival, but I’ve got too much going on at work right now for that to be feasible.

Welcome to the Digital Age.

I still got to watch her arrival, thanks to a streaming video provided by NASA. Here are some screen captures, in case you missed the video:

Even better? My cousin was able to snap this shot of Discovery on her fly-by up the Potomac River:

Want better still? I got to see her on her fly-by. Totally unexpected. I didn’t think that my office would be anywhere near her flight plan. As I was waiting for the coverage video to start back up, I heard a group of my coworkers running around the corner toward our conference room. I swiveled around in my chair…and there she was, gliding across the cloud-dappled sky on the back of her chaperone.

AMAZING.

I have no photo of this moment…she was there for but a moment before streaking off into the ether…but I can still see it, replaying in my mind.

Silly as it might sound, this has made my morning.

Such bittersweet emotions right now. She shouldn’t be moth-balled for museum fodder, but I’m so thankful that I live in an area lucky enough to have been selected to give one of these beautiful shuttles a new home. I can’t wait for Udvar-Hazy to reveal her glorious debut. I’ll miss the Enterprise, but now it’s time for others to enjoy her.

Welcome home, Discovery.

Commemorative poster designed for Smithsonion National Air & Space Museum

“You Don’t Know What I’m Capable Of.”

I know a little bit about what she’s capable of. She’s been the head coach of the University of Tennessee’s Lady Vols since 1974. During this time, her coaching skills have brought UT 1,037 victories; her teams have only been defeated 196 times. She’s led the Lady Vols to the Final Four 18 times—more times than any other men’s or women’s college basketball coach—brought home championship wins from 8. She coached the U.S. women’s basketball team to a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics…one notch better than the silver medal she won as a member of the team during the 1976 Olympics. Many of her girls have gone on to walk in her footsteps as coaches in their own right. Some have carried her lessons inside them through their own trips to Olympic victories. Some continue to wield the skills she helped them hone, onto WNBA courts across the country. More importantly? Every one of the eligible athletes who played for her went on to graduate with a degree. She’s made certain of that.

And these are just the “big” stats. There’s lots more to her beyond what I carry around in my weird noggin.

You know me, denizens. I’m not much for sports or stats. But Pat Summitt has always amazed, inspired, and humbled me. She is a remarkable role model and, pardon my feminist streak for a moment, if she was a man in charge of a men’s college or NBA team, with the same set of stats that I just quoted, her name would be synonymous with the game itself, on the lips of every basketball fan from the Bay of Fundy to the Gulf of California.

Regardless of this lack of deserved ubiquity, the facts cannot be disputed. Summitt holds the record for the most wins of any college basketball coach, man or woman. She’s brought home more NCAA championships than any other women’s basketball coach. She was part of the inaugural inductees to the women’s basketball hall of fame, she’s in the basketball hall of fame, she’s received the ESPY award for coach of the year, she’s got roads, gyms, and courts named after her…

…and now she’s announced that she has the early stages of Alzheimer’s. She’s 59 years old.

My heart hasn’t stopped breaking ever since I first heard this news.

I know what this disease is capable of. I know how cruel, how unrelenting, how unmerciful it is. How it can rob the grace and intelligence of even the strongest wills. I’ve also already had my heart broken once before, with NC State’s Coach Jimmy V. I hate to link Valvano and Summitt, since I think that Summitt has many, many more years ahead of her…perhaps even enough time that doctors will finally find the key to stopping or slowing this disease. I only mention Valvano here because of one of his most memorable quotes: “Don’t give up…don’t ever give up!”

I hope Coach Summitt fights this with every ounce of the resolve that she carries in ample supply. I hope she never gives up. And I hope that every girl who has donned the orange of the Lady Vols, who has been pushed to their limits and beyond, who has been brought to tears and finally to triumph, and who has left the University of Tennessee that much more remarkable as an athlete and as a woman never forgets that it was Summitt’s fire that helped to forge them.

Bajoran Down!

As some of you might have heard, we had a bit of a rumble in our area today. Okay, so not so much a “bit.” It was enough that my work building jiggled like a Jell-O mold for the better part of a minute. Fun for Jell-O. Not so fun for brick, steel, and glass, I can assure you. To be on the safe side, building maintenance evacuated us to the streets, where we stood about like disconnected drones for 20 minutes, holding our cell phones skyward, as though bringing our gizmo gods that much closer to their mother signal would somehow miraculously make them work. Then we went back in and carried on with our day.

No harm, no foul.

Until I got home. And found the body.

Poor Colonel Kira. Apparently, things rattled enough in our house that she took a tumble from my action figure shelf, her weapon nearly lost to the detritus of the shredder basket. I have to admit, I had a bit of a CSI moment when I pulled out my digital camera and started to “photo-document the scene.” I felt like I needed those numbered evidence markers to lay out, or at the very least some latex gloves.

And then there was Xena…

Rather than flipping over the edge and following Kira, she slipped backward…into Captain Picard’s crotch. While Dr. Crusher watched. Not the wisest decision made by the Warrior Princess, to be sure. She does, however, have many skills. Perhaps eluding a territorial CMO with a hypo full of poison is one them. Or maybe she’s convinced Batwoman to have her back. I doubt Ro would come to her rescue; she looks quite apathetic to the whole thing.

And there you go. Obviously, all is once more stable in the lair (or as stable as possible for me). I’m geeking as normal. Maybe even hyper-geeking: I would like to point out that in one short post, I have mentioned Trek, CSI, Xena, and Batwoman. All I need to do is point out that you can see Wonder Woman’s shield in the corner of the Xena pic and Starbuck’s flight helmet near Xena’s feet and I’m set with most of my major fandoms.

Xena’s not the only one with many skills…

Let The Auctioning of America Begin

The Senate is expected to sign the debt ceiling increase into effect today. Thanks to the TEA bagger representatives in the House, the agreement is more budget cuts, no tax increases. Thank goodness that someone was looking out for rich people and corporations (and jaded assholes like me think that no one cares about minorities in this country!).

Part of the deal is more than a trillion more in cuts by the end of the year. If Congress can’t come up with enough social welfare programs to decimate by then, they’ll start focusing on Medicare and defense spending. Yeah, right. Republicans are going to cut defense spending. This pretty much means that the Pentagon won’t be able to keep buying that fancy extra soft Charmin, while Aunt Gertie will have to go back to working that stripper pole to earn enough money for her scrips.

And, really, no one wins in this scenario. No one.

What’s done is done, I suppose. So rather than crying over the massive unemployment rates that are looming ever closer or rearranging the deck chairs on the sinking U.S. economy (but we don’t need no stinking government intervention!), why not come up with a solution?

So I did.

We all know there are several within the entertainment industry who love a good “cause.” Well, it’s your lucky day, Celebrity Samaritans! Your back yard is now teeming with causes! Come on, Brangelina! Wouldn’t you like to pony up some money to put back into place some of these “useless” social welfare programs that the TEA baggers targeted for termination? I and several thousand others would be most appreciative. So appreciative, in fact, that I’m sure we could work out a term agreement in which all projects undertaken by any funding you’ve provided must include “Brangelina” in the name. Brangelina Day Care. Brangelina Community Center. Brangelina Housing Rehabilitation. Brangelina Boulevard. Your portmanteau could become synonymous with community improvement and advancement programs from Maine to California!

Or what about NASA? How about it, Trek actors? Each of you chip in a million or two and the space race will once more be on like Donkey Kong! Thinkaboutit…Bill. Wouldn’tyoulike…a starshipnamed…Shatner? Doesn’t the ISS Sirtis have a sibilant sauciness to it?

[Okay, maybe not so much on that one. Troi did crash the Enterprise. Twice. Maybe we’ll name a rover after her…]

Madonna! Madge! Lady Ciccone. I know, you like to pretend that you’re English now. Truth is, though, you’re a Michigan girl. Home of Detroit, the Motor City. Wouldn’t you like to pitch in some dough to help the American automobile industry get back on its feet? Invest enough and you could even make an impact on all these ongoing debates about fuel economy. You could demand that the automakers move away from these lumbering gas guzzlers to more sensible, efficient designs. You could pave the way for the industry to start seriously embracing alternative fuel research. Think about it, Madge: You could get workers back into the factories AND get America on a more responsible energy diet, thus reducing our detrimental impact on the environment and freeing us from our dependence on foreign oil. The car companies would be so grateful, they’d name a whole fleet of cars after you. Then everyone would get the chance to ride inside…um. Never mind.

And Hilary! You’re a double Oscar winner! And you played Amelia Earhart! Wouldn’t you like to help out the FAA? Maybe throw in a buck or two to help the airline industry in general? We coach jockeys would appreciate a little alleviation on ticket prices…and the best part? Part of your deal with the airline industry could be that they can only play your movies on flights! A whole nation of flyers, all tuning in to Million Dollar Baby, Boys Don’t Cry, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, P.S. I Love You, The Core, The Reaping

Ooh, maybe we should rethink this one…

Hey, Leo! You played Howard Hughes! Wanna invest in airplanes? (Sorry, Hilary…)

Dis-Honor(s)

I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around the news pertaining to Captain Owen Honors and his special “morale-boosting” videos that he made for his crew back in 2006-07. The videos are quick little vignettes designed for maximum puerility and, I guess, maximum laughs. Scattered throughout are epithets, sexual overkill, profanity, and general lewd behavior.

I get that the military is not where you go if you have the delicate sensibilities of a nun or a monk. There’s a reason why we have sayings like “She curses like a drunken sailor.” Hell, I curse like a drunken sailor sometimes. I am the granddaughter of two Navy veterans after all. And I am immensely proud of this fact.

Would I be as proud if there was video of my grandfather eating something supposedly pulled from a toilet and fashioned to look like a piece of shit? Or if my grandmother was in a segment called “Chicks in Showers”? I’m going to have to say no, not so much. Of course, my grandparents served this country during World War II, which was long before the YouTube Generation took control. It was also long before it was acceptable to behave in the ways that Captain Honors and his crew behaved in these videos. I suspect there would have been little tolerance for this kind of behavior from soldiers back then.

I also know that crews need to blow off steam, especially in times of war. This is a reality of war. You cannot ask people to be under that kind of immense stress and fear and not expect them to need some sort of irreverent release. And, for the most part, that’s what is in these videos: a ridiculously puerile level of humor designed to cull the basest of laughter.

What, then, is the problem? I don’t know, fag SWO boy, what do you think?

See, that’s the problem. Owen Honors, who was the XO of the U.S.S. Enterprise at the time these videos were made, was the second highest ranking officer on board. As such, it was his duty to set standards and tone for the 6,000 crew on board the Enterprise. And the tone he set was one of anal probes, “chicks in showers,” men lathering each other up, and unrepentant use of epithets like “fag.”

True, lack of good taste (or, for that matter, higher brain function) is not a punishable offense. At the time these videos were made, being gay in the military was. I can’t help but question what Captain Honors’ actions would have been had he found any of his crew actually in any of the “humorous” sexual situations that he posed in his videos. If he’d walked in on two men or two women sharing a shower or a bunk, would he have walked away? Turned a blind eye? Maybe gone and “saluted his little XO” as he so humorously did in the videos? Or would he have brought them before a committee, had them discharged under the order of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”? I’d love it if Captain Honors would answer that question.

More importantly, were there any homosexuals serving among that crew of 6,000? What must have gone through their minds at watching those videos, performed by their commanding officer? Hearing him sling about the epithets he used, watching him make a mockery of what they were desperately guarding, for fear that its revelation could ruin their military careers? Did any of them wish to take issue with what Honors was doing, but perhaps feared that, in doing so, the questions would have been turned back onto them? Silence does not equal consent. Subsequently, being told to “hug yourself for 20 minutes” is also not a suitable response to complaints that may have actually been levied against Honors and his performances.

The bottom line is that this was not the type of tone that a commanding officer should have been setting aboard a military vessel. Yes, letting off steam is a reasonable “unspoken law” for these men and women. Levying crude and hurtful humor at a minority you know can’t speak up? That’s just cowardly. And not funny at all.

Restoring Sanity

There’s definitely something rotten in Denmark, denizens. But don’t say that to these TEA baggers. They’ll start lecturing you about how Denmark is one of those evil Socialist countries. And Socialism starts with an S…just like Satan. Who is obviously Obama, because he is trying to turn America into a Socialist country by wanting things like universal health care so that American families don’t go through the horrors like my family has gone through at the hands of Capitalist doctors who, when they no longer saw the profit in treating my mother, sent her home with the instructions to my father that he should “let nature take its course.”

Obviously, this is a touchy subject for me. But I think it should be a touchy subject for anyone possessing even a shred of reason. Think about what happened here in D.C., denizens. On the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, we witnessed what could quite possibly be considered a nail in the coffin of that dream. And I’m speaking about both rallies, which were each divisive in their own ways. Beck and his predominantly White followers versus Al Sharpton and his slightly more diverse but still predominantly Black opposing rally (and neither side seeming to get the sad irony of the situation at all). How could anyone look at these events and for an instant believe that King’s dream could be anything but close to DOA at the feet of Abraham Lincoln’s monument? His vision was for a blending of colors, a coming together of beliefs, opinions, ideas. Judge me on the content of my character, not the color of my skin.

Somewhere along the way, we became incredibly derailed.

Beyond the issues of race, however, is the offensiveness of the wording of Beck’s clarion call to his brainwashed masses. Restore America. Restore Honor. Turn America back toward God.

What does all of this mean? Making certain that you’re allowed to continue to make second-class citizens of fellow Americans for the “crime” of not conforming to the questionably translated beliefs of your unproven god? Or that you be allowed to deny something as basic and deserved as good health to those who cannot afford it…not because they’re not trying but because they can’t find the work they need to give them access to health care. And why is that? Because politicians have unilaterally, and in many instances bipartisanly, sold out the American blue-collar worker by allowing corporations to outsource jobs to the lowest bidder. Whatever it takes to make sure they win the most at playing this Capitalist game, full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes. Damn the blue-collar workers as well.

So stand around like little sheep, spewing your Beck-prepared and Palin-approved jingo dingo lingo while wearing your Communist Chinese-made American flag shirts and hats and fanny packs, waving your Communist Chinese-made American flags, sitting in your Communist Chinese-made American flag folding chairs (but keep damning Cuba for its evil, evil Communist ways!). Wrap yourself in Old Glory and hide your true purpose behind the stacks of dead soldiers you conjure in your liturgy, never once mentioning the erroneous and debatably felonious war (started by your last president to hold office…you know, the same president that drop-kicked us into the middle of this ever-widening sea of debt with his “fiscal conservative” spending sprees and his unending wars) for which they were killed. Stand up and spout the Pledge of Allegiance when the lemming call comes for you to do so.

Never mind that the pledge was written by a self-acclaimed Christian Socialist. See? There’s that evil “S” word again. The pledge’s author, Francis Bellamy, believed that the tenets of Christianity and Socialism were interrelated philosophies. I wonder how long Bellamy could have stood on stage at yesterday’s rally before Dreck’s…sorry, I mean Beck’s bleating hordes booed him off.

I bet they would be more forgiving of Bellamy, however, if they were allowed to do his original salute for the pledge. The original salute wasn’t placing your hand over your heart. It was instead quite similar to what would soon enough become famous as the Nazi salute. Ironic, isn’t it? Okay, probably not. It’s all good, though, just as long as you slap in “under God” thanks to all that jingoistic McCarthy panic of the 1950s. And click your heels together while you say it. Then you’ll be back home in your Communist Chinese-made Republican utopia.

I wish I could give this more thought. Wait. No, I don’t. I still don’t quite understand what has happened to us as a country. But I must admit that I am losing a great deal of respect and hope for us all. And it has nothing to do with restoring honor, whatever on earth that is code for this time. It’s about my continued wish for restoring intelligence, reason, and integrity, traits that have become almost completely extinct on both sides of the fence, both among the politicians and the people.

It’s been a very long time since I felt anything more than apathetic disdain toward the downward spiral of stupidity being propagated in this country. I have to say, though, that this rally has sparked within me a great deal of anger and disgust. And fear. Fear that we are locked into goose-stepping toward utter brainless chaos, led to the slaughter by our emotions since it’s obvious that we sacrificed our intelligence a long, long time ago. Does anyone else feel the same as I do? Could there possibly be as many people as me, as equally upset and afraid at how easily we as a country can be manipulated by those who have motives far more sinister and ulterior than the patriotic pabulum that they spoon-feed their followers? What if we all got together and rallied in Washington? Could we make a difference?

The Face of Modern Sedition

SEDITION: Incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority.

During a recent visit to see my father, we had an interesting conversation concerning politics (as we are wont to do; I don’t think I’ve ever had a prolonged conversation with him in which politics didn’t become part of the discussion). He pointed out something concerning recent attitudes within the Republican party, especially these darned TEA baggers, that he believes is cause for concern. It’s one of those “those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it” scenarios that he believes isn’t being taken as seriously as it should be taken, especially by the politicians in power right now.

He reminded me about my own country’s history (which I admittedly don’t pay as much attention to as I should) by pointing out that one of the leading instigators behind the American Civil War was Abraham Lincoln’s election as president. Before Lincoln was even sworn in, 11 Southern states declared they were seceding from the Union to form the Confederate States of America. Outgoing president James Buchanan and Lincoln both declared this secession to be a rebellion.

Sedition.

That moment in our history led to the pitting of American against American, and ended with more than 600,000 dead and more than 400,000 wounded. Hard to believe that fewer than 200 years ago, we were “refreshing the tree of liberty” with the blood of our own.

Ah, there’s a frightening quote being bantered about by Republicans. Back in 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

[Loba Tangent: I wonder how these “Moral Majority” Christian conservatives within the Republican party feel about Jefferson’s stance on religion. He is, after all, the same person who wrote things like, “Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear,” and “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.” Ooh, or how about this one: “If anything pass in a religious meeting seditiously and contrary to the public peace, let it be punished in the same manner and no otherwise than as if it had happened in a fair or market.”]

So we have people like William Kostric, the gentleman pictured to the right. In 2009, he attended a protest outside a town hall meeting on health care reform in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He carried a sign that read “It is time to water the tree of liberty.” In the center of this sign is visible the snake graphic from the Gadsden flag, which stated beneath the snake, “Don’t Tread On Me.” Kostric had a loaded 9mm gun visibly strapped to his leg. President Obama was in attendance at this meeting.

When interviewed by Chris Matthews, Kostric didn’t think it was “a relevant question” to be asked why he brought a loaded gun to a presidential meeting. I’m not going to post a link to this interview, because I honestly found Matthews’ combative interviewing style to be appalling, but I do find Kostric’s response disturbing. As a former student of literary analysis, I was taught to look for meaning in many forms, including symbolism. And I have to say, there is pretty clear meaning in the image of someone strapped with weaponry holding a sign about watering the tree of liberty (especially knowing how that quote ends in bloodshed), standing outside a location where the President of the United States is in attendance.

Regardless of what I think of Obama as President, I find this kind of behavior frightening. I find the feigned innocence, like Kostric’s comment that Matthews was asking irrelevant questions about his gun-toting antics, to be even more frightening.

Especially when similar sentiments surface in the speeches of people running for political positions. People like Sharron Angle. I’ve been keeping tabs on her for a while. She is a TEA Bagger currently trying to unseat Harry Reid as one of Nevada’s U.S. Senators. She’s said some pretty…interesting things throughout her run for Reid’s seat.

Things like she’d like to see the complete elimination of the U.S. Department of Education. Or that the separation of church and state is unconstitutional. Or that unemployment benefits have spoiled Americans from wanting to go and find real work (although she’s also on record as stating that it would not be her responsibility as a U.S. Senator to bring jobs to Nevada, which currently is the state with the highest unemployment rate, at more than 14 percent).

However, it’s her stance on the Second Amendment of the Constitution that worries me the most. During an interview with Lars Larson, Angle is quoted as saying the following:

Our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. In fact, Thomas Jefferson said it’s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years. I hope that’s not where we’re going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.

Second Amendment remedies? It’s time to water the tree of liberty?

I don’t care how much Angle backpedals regarding her Second Amendment remedies. I don’t care how irrelevant Kostric thinks Matthews’ questions about him toting a loaded weapon outside a presidential town hall meeting might be. Both of these people have put forward imagery and ideas that translate to one thing: armed uprising against the government. Bloodshed.

Sedition.

Am I reading too much into these instances? I don’t think so. I think these things were said or performed in the hopes that people would analyze them and find meaning in the inferences. Do I think there are enough people in this country willing to answer the call for an uprising? I honestly don’t know anymore. I recently read a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center on a group that calls itself the “Sovereign Citizens.” Begun back in the 1970s, now more than 300,000 people claim to be members. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Sovereign Citizens movement is:

…a loosely organized collection of groups and individuals who have adopted a right-wing anarchist ideology originating in the theories of a group called the Posse Comitatus in the 1970s. Its adherents believe that virtually all existing government in the United States is illegitimate and they seek to “restore” an idealized, minimalist government that never actually existed. To this end, sovereign citizens wage war against the government and other forms of authority using “paper terrorism” harassment and intimidation tactics, and occasionally resorting to violence.

“Occasionally resorting to violence.” Such as when father and son Sovereign Citizens killed two police officers during a traffic stop in May of this year.

Perhaps this is the ultimate way to destroy America. Terrorists need do nothing more than sit back and watch us destroy ourselves. Seems like we’re already on the way there. I can only hope that reason is still strong enough to prevail. Admittedly, though, I’m really beginning to wonder…