Friday, November 14, 2008

Breakfast in America

I realise I should say more about my feelings on Obama's election and my "Hope" post. I'm happy that Obama was elected. I frankly don't know how I would've felt if Bob Barr had actually won, probably more personally arrogant for having had a hand in it than excited about the country's prospects under a Libertarian administration.

I was trying to say in my previous post on this topic that enthusiasm is to be expected and welcomed, but at some point he'll have to actually govern. I don't want to be swept up in Obamania before actually seeing what he does in office.

The South Park episode (I seldom disagree with their opinion on anything.) from the 5th of November proposes that McCain, Obama, Palin, and some others are all part of a diamond heist team that has been working for ten years to win the Presidency so that they can have access from the Oval Office to a tunnel that goes under the Hope diamond in the Smithsonian. The part of their plan that is applicable to my interest is that they tried to have a particularly divisive race so that after the election the nation would be distracted by their extreme reaction from the result. In the episode, the McCain supporters are fearing apocalypse because of Obama's incompetency leading them to either find fallout bunkers, or to attempt to take their own life. Obama supporters on the other hand are so paralyzed by partying in the streets that they are also distracted from anything.

And I my frustration with some of the black reaction is that the Obama victory is for the whole country, not just for blacks. Before Election Day, Chris Rock said that he was happy that Obama was running President and that he would not have the same amount of pride if Flava Flav were running for President. I feel that overemphasis of Obama's race (only half, by the by) detracts from any supposed civil rights victory, the civil rights victory would be when we are so excited because of his competence, and I get that feeling from all of my non-black friends who are excited about his election.

I hope this clears some things up.

1 Comments:

At November 15, 2008 12:17 AM, Blogger CëRïSë said...

Hmmm. But I am excited by his competence! Isn't it exciting to have an intellectual president? For me, the decision between Obama's skills, temperament, and leadership, and McCain's experience, was an easy one to make.

Anyway, I don't know about any "black reaction"; I just know that I'm proud of my country and the president-elect, and am looking forward to what his first term will bring.

 

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Real Movie Magic

Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner

Last week I watched a double feature of the 1932 and 1941 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from Netflix. The 1932 version has Fredric March in the title role, with Spencer Tracy in the same role in the 1941 version. The two films have the same plot (1941 executing its better), both differing from the original tale by adding a love rectangle with Dr. Jekyll and his fiancee, Mr. Hyde and his barmaid, and the barmaid and Dr. Jekyll.

1941 has the three actors from the top and they all share the screen only once, that I can recall. But do I ever enjoy recalling that moment. It takes place when Jekyll first tries his potion. After taking it, there is a dreamlike sequence of various images--waves, explosions, shots of his fiancee (Lana Turner) and the barmaid (Ingrid Bergman), then there's a shot of him whipping two horses, one white and one brown. It cuts to him again and when it cuts back to the "horses" it is the two women being whipped, presumably naked. I was quite taken by the scene, from surprise, and the willingess of the actors to partake.

In other news, my latest trip through the dictionary to find out why fritz is used in the phrase "on the fritz" to mean something isn't working (no explanation in the OED) surfaced the word frisesomorum, a mnemonic (I first typed pneum-) device used by those in Logic for a first-figure syllogism using i, e, and o to represent two minor positives and a major negative, or something along those lines.

A subsequent search for the history of cretin (Latin Christian) turned up another Logic mnemonic, darapti. My frustration is that I have the definition of these words, but no examples.

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3 Comments:

At November 12, 2008 6:19 PM, Blogger Wishydig said...

the sources to go to for such questions as the fritz mystery:
ben zimmer
jesse sheidlower
michael quinion
grant barrett
and the ADS-L archives.

a full string search plus those names brings up nothing satisfying. michael quinion probably has the best write-up on the following theories

some say that it could be echoic -- as the sound of a fuse blowing -- but the early occurrences aren't at all related to electric products. john ciardi liked the story. quinion rejects it.

another suggestion is a reference to the troublemaking katzenjammer kids: hans and fritz. maybe. but there's no good linking evidence.

another idea is the connection to german soldiers during wwii. but the phrase was around before that usage of 'fritz' came around. so not likely.

i think this one is so well hidden that the detectives aren't even talking about it anymore. it's a case gone ice cold.

 
At November 13, 2008 4:43 PM, Blogger CëRïSë said...

I don't know about you, but now I have "Puttin' on the Ritz" in my head.

 
At November 14, 2008 12:01 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Thanks, Michael. Part of the problem is that I'm computerless at home, but without the luxury of time and desk space for my etymological interests at work. So I have to write my queries down in my little notebook and then search during my lunch hour.

Ceri, my favorite version of Puttin' on the Ritz is from Young Frankenstein.

 

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Me Time.

Within the brackets is a post I started on August 28th. Without the brackets is new stuff.

[What I've Seen: Tropic Thunder, twice. Samurai Jack, first 33 episodes.

Tropic Thunder is very funny. I really enjoyed it, and the first time watching it, I noticed that not only was I laughing a lot, I was also finding it quite brilliant. Apparently an Orlando reviewer said this is the movie that will go on Ben Stiller's epitaph. Not too shabby.

Back when Cartoon Network was playing Samurai Jack, I would catch an episode or two, and I enjoyed it. So when it came up on my NetFlix recommendations, I swooped it up, and after watching the first two seasons, and the first disc of season three, I'm not regretting my decision. Genndy Tartakovsky, aside from having a really great name, is a gift to animation. The plot is that Samurai Jack has a special sword, and just before killing Aku, the shape-shifting demon that has spread his evil to the world, Aku sends him to the future. Now Jack must fight the evil of Aku while trying to find a time portal back to the past. This framework allows Tartakovsky two benefits, which he uses well. First, because it is in the future, the villians are more often than not robots. So instead of blood gushing everywhere, we just have sparks and wires, much more palatable for the Y-7 crowd the show is rated for. The second gem of the framework is that Jack is in a new culture/world/environment every episode. One episode he has to save a medieval type town from a dragon, another he learns how to jump really high from a group of ape type creatures in a jungle, another he is in a Roarin' 20s speakeasy working from the inside in a Capone type gang. But no matter the situation he is still Samurai Jack, which is what makes the format work so well. Even after he's been turned into a chicken by a curmudgeonly wizard, you can still tell he's Jack.

I mentioned before how Genndy is a gift to animation. Just as he keeps Jack consistent in any environ, he adapts the music and cinematography to match each genre. My television has been having issues and occasionally has a green wash, and I wait til it is done with its pouting before I watch another episode, because they are so beautiful to see.

What I've Read: The Hobbit by JRRR Tolkien] I read this because I heard that Guillermo del Toro is directing the film, and while it is a personal point of pride that I've yet to read a word of the LoTR trilogy, I figured this wouldn't be too bad. My assessment of the book is that it is fine. He has fun creatures doing a little quest thing. Nothing too complicated. Maybe if I were younger, I would have enjoyed it more, but I'm not, so I didn't.

What I'm Reading Now: The Watchmen by Alan Moore, illustrated by Dave Gibbons. This is another British book that is being made into a film. It's also a graphic novel that is on Time's top 100 of all-time list. I'm enjoying it. It is funny to me that after first seeing promo pics of the actors in their costumes and the trailer (I saw it in front of the Dark Knight.) that the characters that I was going to enjoy most aren't the same after reading the book. I thought Dr. Manhattan was going to be a really interesting omnipotent and omnicient being, but instead he's just an omni-tool. Rorschach was a character I didn't care for in the trailer and pictures, but whom I really like in the book. I also like how Moore frames his story with supplementary items at the end of chapters, like exerpts from an autobiography from one of the earlier masked heroes, or newspaper clippings, or an exerpt from a book by the scientist that was working at the facility where Dr. Manhattan had his accident, the file from the police department on Rorschach. It is an effective way of providing expository material that might be too dense for the graphic form. He also uses epigrams nicely, blocking a few choice words from a quote into the opening pages of a chapter before including the whole quote in context at the end.

What I'm Imbibing:
Scotch. The first time I had scotch whiskey was at Scrumpy Jack's in Lincoln. I had some Dewar's on the rocks. I didn't care for it. That was about three or four years ago. I recently watched Great Scotch Whiskeys from NetFlix and it did an excellent job of explaining the different regions of production and the different characteristics. Plus I'd since learned that bourbon barrels go to Scotland to age their whiskey after they're done in America. After learning about the differences of single malts, I was more open to them, because I appreciate a lot of different beers because of their provincial origins and characteristics.

So when the time came, I got a bottle of Bowmore, an Islay, which is an older variety and is a balance of some of the characteristics you can get from an Islay. I was happy to be drinking the liquid smoke, but I was even happier as the sea started coming through, just like the narrator said it would. I'll eventually work my way around to lowland and highlands, but I've got plenty to get through before that time.

Dry Soda. I've had the lemongrass and rhubarb, and I have the lavender sitting in my fridge now. I haven't seen the juniper berry or vanilla bean yet. The lemongrass is not that special and the taste and mouth feel is like those dry Clearly Canadian waters that were popular a while back. I really like the rhubarb, and while it isn't potent enough to be made into a sorbet like I was hoping, it is very solid. I'm guessing the lavender will taste like perfume, just like lavender and rose ice creams do. I'll keep you updated.

What I'm Going to be Making:
Russian Cheese Buttons. I finally got the recipe from my old assistant cafeteria lady at DAA, Delilah Treft. The recipe is a quart of dry curd cottage cheese, three beaten eggs, two cups of sour cream, three cups of flour and 1.5 tsp each of baking soda, baking powder, and salt. The tricky part was finding the dry curd cottage cheese in Lincoln.

On my way home from work last night I stopped at three grocery stores, Russ's on Hwy 2, Leon's Gourmet Foods, and Open Harvest. Once I got home I went to Guerrero's Mexican Grocery, then called three more stores, Russ's on 17th, Sunmart on South, and Super Saver on 48th. Still no luck. Then I went to 27th and Pine Lake Super Saver, before getting a really cool ice cream scoop from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. After there, I went to Super Target on 40th.

Finally, at the Super Saver on 56th, I found my dry curd cottage cheese.

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5 Comments:

At November 12, 2008 1:06 AM, Blogger Wishydig said...

is it anything like michigan (brand) cottage cheese? it's almost ricotta like in texture. and sooo much better than any other cottage cheese i've had.

 
At November 12, 2008 11:25 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

I did think repeatedly of your Michigan (brand) cottage cheese, but since the only brands available were Viva, Daisy, and Roberts, I can't compare. I was almost tempted to substitute ricotta, as each store had that, but I'm happy I held out.

 
At November 12, 2008 7:19 PM, Blogger Curly Sue said...

My grandma used to make cheese buttons. I remember them being exactly like you described. I hadn't thought of those in years.

 
At November 12, 2008 9:49 PM, Blogger Angela said...

I did not read your whole blog. It's past my bedtime and I just don't have the patience AND I just wanted to comment about Samurai Jack because Mat and I have been watching it here too. At least we were. It takes eons to download illegally so we cut Season 2 off. Sadly. It is lovely, and I enjoy the process of him defeating, "the evil that is Aku."

 
At November 14, 2008 12:04 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Angela, I'm glad you guys like Samurai Jack too.

I've tried the lavender Dry Soda now, and it doesn't taste like perfume, more like a flower.

 

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Movie Magic

So I rented two movies (Chaplin and Blood Simple) this last week from Blockbuster because they're not available on Netflix.

I liked both, but the best part is the commentary from Kenneth Loring of Forever Young Film Preservation Society on Blood Simple. It is quite comical. He describes the different processes necessary to make "movie magic." For example, in the opening scene where the "agreeable fellow" and the lead actress are driving in a car, the crew had to film the scene upside down and backwards to get the lights of the oncoming traffic to synch properly. This of course required considerable amounts of hair gel so that the actors' tresses would not give the technique away. He also supplements a side story that was cut out of the original film because a producer named Adrian Butts is a moron. This story involves the P.I. having a Bulgarian father who was part of the revolution with flash backs to the boy in Eastern Bloc school rooms. I don't know who Kenneth Loring is, but he adds quite a bit to the Coen Brothers' first film.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hope.

Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper.

So I went to bed last night hearing the tail end of Obama's speech on the radio, because my DirecTV is down right now because of some wiring issues. I didn't have a particular emotion or reaction to the result. Then this morning I had a sort of morose feeling and thought of my epigram.

The Democrat's House majority is the largest they've had in 15 years. They have control of the Senate too, with Biden's vote to break any ties. Until Mid-Term Elections in 2010, they have the mandate of the people and control of the Executive and Legislative branches of government. I hope for their and Obama's sake that they make hay while the sun is shining, because if they don't, they might not get another shot for a while.

I have friends that are staunch Democrats, and I have friends that are staunch Republicans (they still hold a grudge for when FDR let cattle die in the fields to boost beef prices.) My Republican friend tells me that in 2010 Bush's tax cuts expire. So the promise of no tax increases from Obama will be tested at that point, because he also promises $1 trillion in domestic spending in the first two years (more than the entire Iraq war has cost to this point), for the poor essentially. Another thing I never heard from McCain when talking about tax cuts for corporations and small businesses is that the government and the IRS receive their largest revenues after tax cuts. 2006 and 2007 were record revenue years after Bush's tax cuts. Apparently when people don't have as many taxes they are more willing to use their money to stimulate the economy especially if they are the corporate types that can have a large impact with their spending. I don't know if any of these things are true.

But I do know that after caucusing for Obama in February (Nebraska's first such event), I realized that people I really don't like at all wanted Obama to win. So for the sake of Schadenfreude, I wanted to see their reaction if he lost, plus the Democrats have a knack for messing up elections they should win, so it is fun to pile on them. I still couldn't vote for McCain because I don't like him (or Palin) or his policies in comparison to Obama, so the other alternative was Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root, the Libertarian ticket.

I voted Libertarian in the last Presidential election because I'm a usually a one issue man and my issue that year was the legalization of marijuana. But this year I actually went to their website and read their stance on the "issues." I really liked what they said. I knew that they were for small government, and with it smaller taxes, but I didn't know about their faith in Capitalism and the free market or their Ron Paul-like passion for the Constitution. I loved how they want to get out of Iraq, not for any moral reasons or because of the horrors of war, but because it costs too much and the longer we prop them up economically the longer it will take them to stand on their own. I once did a research paper about the financial burden of capital punishment, so that was right up my alley. They are kinda out there when it comes to the education system, but every platform needs some weak planks to give it some character. So they got my vote.

Back to that morose feeling. I think it comes from a couple places. One is that the people I wanted to see disappointed were overjoyed. Another is that I get the feeling that Black people think this is a victory for them, and that they feel they are better than others because they won. And maybe I'm upset because I'm racist at heart, and I realize that I'm racist, and that isn't a good thing to be. I hope not.

4 Comments:

At November 05, 2008 8:08 PM, Blogger CëRïSë said...

I hope you're not a racist, too. And I'm very curious about the people who you wanted to be disappointed, and why!

 
At November 06, 2008 6:33 AM, Blogger Angela said...

I'm happy to see you're blogging again, and I hope this continues. I also hope that your morose feelings abate. Unfortunately, from what I learned student teaching, you probably are racist because it's how you've been raised. The good news is that admitting it is the road to recovery. From what you wrote, and I do say this with love, you sound a bit bitter as well.

Daniel, my friend, it's time you left the country for a bit. See something new. Meet interesting people. European hostels could do a world of good, mentally and socially. I'm not going to suggest visiting us in Mexico, although our door is always, well, automatically locked, but we'll throw it on open should you knock, because you said you've never wanted to go to Mexico. Also, the pollution here leaves a little haze over my optimism. Still, do get out, my friend. Head for a clean place with good beer.

 
At November 06, 2008 12:21 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

It's good to be back. Ceri, I mainly have one person who I've butted heads with in the past in mind. Angela, I appreciate your advice, and I will see new things, just maybe not out of the country. Maybe my bitterness comes from a general loneliness and a jealousy of the throngs that are celebrating together.

 
At November 06, 2008 11:41 PM, Blogger Wishydig said...

Ok. We all have the weaknesses and insecurities that racism tries to hide. It's human. Racism isn't a single opinion or a single value. So let's not beat ourselves up for fleeting thoughts.

Re: libertarians:

I have some definite libertarian leanings. I believe in a government that leaves people alone when they don't need or desire involvement. I believe in a government that's socially liberal and financially responsible. I believe in states rights on many issues but not on others. But I'm not really saying that I believe in small government. I do think the government has a definite accountability. And there are some ways in which I'm happy to have a huge government.

Disaster relief. Moral military presence. Educational funding... and so on. (emphasis on "Moral" there...)

Regardless of some philosophical accord here are some reasons I couldn't bring myself to vote libertarian this time around:

Bush created a monster of the Republican party. He and Rove are responsible for adding strength to the nasty arm of the Religious Right. It has turned into a party that I really believe poses a great risk to our liberty from religious rule. Case in point -- Prop 8. The only reason issues like that pass is because of a view that homosexuality is immoral. A view based almost entirely on religion.

If we want to move as far away from Bush's legacy of constitutional dismantling I'm convinced that the two branches will have to work together with a certain amount of cooperation that I don't think Bob Barr would get. All his time would be spent trying to roll back programs that the congress likes. The train is so far off the tracks we need two branches that know how to pull together.

Here's the strangest thought I've had lately. The two party system is not great for politics. And I have to wonder if the best way to shake it up is to smash up one party and make the resulting heavy majority too big to stay intact. You get specialization in the bigger party and a Lord of the Flies revolution in the smaller. It's worth a try.

There is a risk with all of this. Part of Bush's horrible legacy has been the expansion of executive power. A president with a friendly and powerful congress is not exactly the best way to take that away. But I'm trusting that in order to do his work Obama will be able to trust the legislation enough to do its job and he won't have to wrest the power through unconstitutional means like Bush did. Perhaps a libertarian President would be a better way to limit the role of the executive branch. But I'm not sure that's such a necessary move right now. I do think Bush's abuse of power was mostly due to the neocon ideology and influence from his evil little minions.

 

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