Monday, July 31, 2006

M. Night Shyamalan and Mel Gibson

Ross Douthat has two articles out defending the two of my favorite movie makers, M. Night Shyamalan and Mel Gibson. The first is prompted by M. N. S.'s new flick, Lady in the Water. The second by Gibson's drunken and bigoted outburst about Jews. First on Mel:
"Those who endorsed his previous obscene blockbuster (The Passion of the Christ - of course Hitchens hates even Mother Theresa so his views on the Passion narrative are suspect.- Taleena) are obliged to say something now or be ignored ever after," Christopher Hitchens writes today. Well, I endorsed it (for whatever my endorsement might be worth), and I'd endorse it again today, even if Mel Gibson were caught playing poker with David Irving in a library stocked entirely with copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and back issues of the Völkischer Beobachter. Separating your feelings about an artist's politics from your feelings about his art is a hard thing to do (just ask Hollywood's conservative critics!), especially when the artist in question is raving about the Jews on the Pacific Coast Highway. But if you can't manage it, then you have no business doing criticism in the first place.

Well, I liked the movie even if it was uncomfortable and discomforting. It wasn't supposed to make you comfortable it was supposed to make you think. Mr. Douthat says of the Passion:
As for The Passion itself, I don't think the case for or against its anti-Semitism is as open and shut as everyone else - Gibson's defenders and detractors alike - seemed to think when the movie opened. On the one hand, the film as a whole offers one of the most sustained depictions of Jesus and his disciples as Jews - inhabiting a distinctly Jewish civilization, speaking Aramaic, and so forth - that Hollywood, or anyone for that matter, has ever produced, and by extension offers a rebuke to the long-running anti-Semitic project of severing Christianity from its origins in Judaism.

What you think about this will depend, ultimately, on what you think about the movie's artistic value. If you think that Gibson made a sadomasochistic, pornographic snuff flick that reflects both his own twisted take on Christianity and the perverse medievalism of the American "Christianists" who flocked to see it, then the hints of anti-Semitism are just the icing on the cake. On the other hand, if you think, as I do, that it's an uneven but powerful film, and one of the most interesting and original experiments in religious art that we've seen in decades - well, then you're more likely to point out that distinctive works of art contain touches of bigotry all the time, and that a movie can be impressive and worth applauding even if you can sometimes see the director's private demons peeking out from the wings.

That's about right, although I'd omit the word "uneven". The seeming unevenness - the transitions between Jesus as a child or young man and the Passion narrative, are what give the violence it's weightyness. It's a study in contrasts; if anything there were too few flashbacks, but I think anymore would have brought the crucifixion to an unbearable pitch, the movie is just this side of emotionally intolerable as it was. The Passion stands on it's own, whatever the frailties of it's director. Onto the less weighty charges of narcissim leveled at M. Night. Shyamalan.

Peter Suderman (whose normal insight has an unaccountable blindspot towards Shyamalan's brilliance) and Mr. Douthat disagree on the deleterious effect Michael Mann's obsession with the uber-cool has on the new Miami Vice movie. Douthat says:
I like Mann, really I do, but I would like him a lot more if his movies were just narrative and atmosphere. But alas, Mann does have an idea, and that idea is the celebration of masculine cool - and, by extension, men who take their own coolness way, way too seriously. Mann worships the cool people; he can barely be bothered with everyone else.

To which Mr. Suderman replies:
But, pardon me for being dense when I ask: how is Douthat's comment a criticism? Mann’s deification of manly cool is precisely what makes him such a directorial badass. Where so many directors are content to half heartedly throw some cool-associated clichĂ©s on screen shades indoors, a cadre of hot girls, fast cars and rippling biceps, Mann’s films exude cool. They eat, sleep, breathe, walk, talk and live the stuff—they’re cool incarnate. Miami Vice is probably his most focused study on abstract cool yet, and that’s exactly its appeal. Don't the movies deserve a director who doesn't just show us cool, but makes us feel it as well?

Alright Mr. Suderman, cool should enhance the plot (see Daniel Day Lewis in Last of the Mohicans) not be the plot, as apparently it is in Miami Vice. What has this to do with Shyamalan? Mr. Suderman digs on Douthat's defense of him:
What I want to know is how Douthat can knock Mann while defending Shamalamadingdong.
What I want to know Mr. Suderman is: if it's OK for Mann to build his movies around an abstract concept, cool, why isn't it OK for Shyamalan (redemption (6th Sense), identity (Unbreakable), faith (Signs), and sacrifice (The Villiage))? Douthat defends Shyamalan's movies with ease:
In The Village, as in all his films, Shyamalan seems to be aiming for something, amid our summers of high-grossing superhero movies and our winters of little-seen Oscar-bait projects, that's increasingly rare these days: a marriage of entertainment and art, of mass-market tastes and elite sensibilities. This is a hard combination to pull off, as his stumbles have demonstrated, but it's precisely the goal that the film industry, home to our last mass art form, ought to be aspiring to. So, Shyamalan deserves credit, despite his vanity and his missteps—not because he's succeeding, necessarily, but because he's willing to keep trying and unwilling to take his place with those timid, highly compensated directors who know neither victory nor defeat.


I sit at on my computer, reading the daily news. The Muralist looks at some books, silently hunting for hidden mermaids and fairys. The Shrieker babbles softly to herself as she plays with some blocks.

From the back of the house a door slams open. *Thump, thump, thump* The Verbalist bursts into the living room.

"Why??!!" asks he in a deafening tone, "is it soooo quiet?"

"Maybe it is because not everyone likes to talk as much as you?" I mutter sotto voce. Louder I say, "Quiet is OK, sometimes preferable."

"No," continues the Vrebalist in that same loud tone. "We need noise. Lots of noise. Let's make some noise."

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Cool promo for a cool series. There is some confusion about it's release dates: this summer or this winter. It's always good when the author is happy:

Producers of SCI FI Channel's upcoming original seriesThe Dresden Files told reporters that the show, based on Jim Butcher's best-selling books, will take stories from the series—and that Butcher himself likes the series. "Well, let me say that Jim Butcher is very happy," said Hans Beimler, a writer and executive producer of the series, at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Pasadena, Calif. "Jim came to the set, and ... he really enjoyed himself. And he's been very complimentary."

Check out Jim Butcher's site.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Children of Men

I just saw the trailer for Children of Men, the film adaptation of PD James' superb dystopian examination of life, hope, sacrifice and faith. I am uneasy. They have cast superb actors - the lead is Clive Owen. It is helmed by a capable director, Alphonso Cuaron. I am not thrilled with the look of the movie. The trailer shows a society that is violently falling apart with cities trashed and burning. The book, by contrast, had England sliding into death in a cocoon of Socialized denial with forced euthanasia and a "Warden" who ruthlessly stamped out the rights of the individual. Nature reclaimed cities with a slow peaceful creep; the insidious lethargy of hopelessness as dangerous as any of the sociopathic youths of the last feted generation.

I fear that Cuaron has echewed the subtle. Owen does not portray a historian whose only solace is Evensong at the local Anglican chapel, but a former activist. Julian (Julianne Moore) is not the devout but sinning Catholic whose birth defect has enabled her to hide her pregnancy from the fertility examiners, but is an activist hiding the pregnant mother. Instead of tackling the tricky ground of unassimilated immigrants as an unacknowleged underclass, it seems glossed over. I still hope for a good movie but am girding myself for disappointment.

On the other hand I have high hopes for Chris Nolan's new flick about magicians.; as well as Hugh Jackman's latest foray as leading man.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rocket Car

I am off to a camping trip but want to leave you with a fun read. A few years ago Wired magazine had a great article about the urban legend of the Rocket car. They prefaced the article with this editor's note:
Editor's note: Wired found the following tale posted on the Web, originally at a site called According to its author, the story has garnered thousands of emails, some filled with praise, others with doubt, delight, sympathy, or suspicion. After a series of cagey communications with the writer, we reprint the piece here in the spirit of "all of the above."
And here's the introduction to the article:


he first thing you should know about the Legend of the Rocket Car is that it's been around longer than most people think. It started years ago, as a vague rumor passed from one guy to the next by word of mouth, usually in bars or during lunch-break bullshit sessions. The kind of story someone hears from a friend who read it in a magazine a long time ago. It's a story that comes out of nowhere, gets passed around for a while, then dies out. And whenever it flickers back to life, it seems to spread like a grass fire. I used to think it was funny how it managed to spread so fast purely by word of mouth, but now that it's become a subject of Internet interest, its popularity is downright spooky.

If you've never heard the legend before, here are the bare bones of it: Once upon a time, in some out-of-the-way part of the country (take your pick of locations), a maniac took a rocket of some sort and mounted it on the back of a car (make and model depend on the automotive trends when the story is told). The maniac then sped down a deserted stretch of highway, and when he reached an appropriate spot, lit the rocket (which was either a JATO bottle, a surplus ICBM engine, or an experimental shuttle booster). The car reached an incredible speed in a matter of seconds (somewhere between 150 miles per hour and warp 9) at which point the brakes and steering became ... ineffective. This development would've been bad enough on a straightaway, but through some error in planning or navigation, the maniac found himself hurtling toward a sharp curve. When the car hit the curve, pilot and car flew like an arrow (for a distance limited only by the imagination of the person telling the story), before crashing into an inconveniently placed mountainside.


I'm sure this sounds pretty ridiculous if it's the first time you've heard the Legend of the Rocket Car, but that's because I didn't go out of my way to make it sound good. Most people try to make the story convincing, embellishing it with all sorts of facts and details to make it easier to swallow. I've personally heard a dozen versions over the past 20 years, and I'm amazed at how the story grows, shrinks, and generally mutates with each retelling.

I'm sure I notice these changes more than most people. I'm not a car expert or an aerospace engineer or anything, and I really don't have much interest in urban legends. Even if I did, from an intellectual point of view, this story isn't as entertaining as some of the others that have come and gone. The one about McDonald's shoveling worms into the grinders that produce Big Macs, for instance, beats it by a mile. I only pay attention to the rocket car legend because I'm 99 percent sure that I started the whole thing in the spring of 1978.

As they say read the whole thing.

Presidential Veto

I am happy he vetoed the stem cell bill. Didn't think that President Bush would veto anything and I am glad he made it count. For the defense, here's Tony Snow:

MR. SNOW: And I'll tell you what, it's worth pointing out one thing — actually several things on stem cells. Number one, the President is the first ever to have financed research using embryonic stem cell lines. Number two, there is a bit of demagoguery in the House of Representatives. Representative Castle was circulating talking points about a measure that the House ended up killing that would have provided for research into promising areas that would give us access to what he wants, which are pluripotent cells. But rather than using embryos, it could use adult cells and other cells, and using techniques that are now being pioneered here in the United States provide exactly what he wants. And instead what he did is, is he circulated a series of misleading and fallacious talking points. And on that particular matter, the President is disappointed in the House of Representatives.

Let me just give you a couple of examples. One of the things that Representative Castle was saying is that "it mandates the National Institutes of Health to support highly speculative research, some of which has been deemed unethical by the President's own bioethics council." Wrong, false, 100 percent wrong.

As a matter of fact, what the bioethics council said is that this precise kind of research, because it does not place in jeopardy the life of a human being — which is what many people think that the embryo is, and that is what the President believes — you do not engage in morally controversial research when you find ways to back-engineer adult or blood cord cells.

Second point, he says, "it takes the focus away from advancing cures through federal funded embryonic stem cell research." Again, the most promising research to date — and, granted, a lot of the embryonic stem cell research is itself relatively young, has been in some of these areas that we're talking about.

So the President is disappointed in the House of Representatives for actually seeming to try to create a false choice, which is to say, either you do embryonic stem cells, which raise the specter in many people's minds of killing another human being, or you don't support anything at all, a "my-way-or-the-highway" approach. What the President has done is he has provided access to previously existing embryonic stem cell lines, which are responsible for the vast bulk of research in the entire world, and also pioneering other methods which would get people to exactly the promised land they seek, which is to take a look at pluripotent cells, but getting there through a morally non-controversial means. And apparently that's not good enough for some members of the House.

Q But it often appears in some of the reporting and some of the discussion out there that the President is holding back scientific progress.

MR. SNOW: Wrong.

Q How do you —

MR. SNOW: You're just flat wrong. Just flat wrong. I mean, that is basically an attempt to substitute an insult for an argument. I've given you the argument and I've rebutted the insult.

Q Can I follow up on that?

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q I mean, you got a lot off your chest there, but he asked you a political question, and that is, you know, Democrats clearly feel that there's support in the country for this bill, so therefore why won't it hurt Republicans in the fall?

MR. SNOW: I just don't think it will. I think a President acting on conscience — a President who, again — Bill Clinton, as President, didn't authorize any of these lines. This is a President who's spent more money on embryonic stem cell research and stem cell research generally than any President in American history. He's got the track record. What's happening now is that people are trying to politicize it by accusing him of standing in the way of science, when he's the guy who's made it possible to open up the way to science.

Furthermore — getting me warmed up here — for those who are engaged in embryonic stem cell research, there's no legal prohibition against their doing it. What they don't have access to is federal funding. And so the idea that the President is standing in the way of science seems to indicate that the only way you do it is through a federal grant. And there is a burgeoning business — as you know, a lot of people getting rich already — in this kind of medical research. So I would argue that the President is the recipient of a bum rap, and for that reason people, when they do get a chance to judge the facts, are going to draw the same conclusion.

I understand people who support embryonic stem cell research because they do not have the same ethical views that I do; I hate how ethical reservations on embryonic research is characterized as anti-science.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Interesting Review

Of A Scanner Darkly, the movie based on a Phillip K. Dick story. Quote:

Like Dick’s book, the film unfolds with anarchic fitfulness. Arctor (a vacant, melancholy Keanu Reeves) is narcotics agent who works undercover as a dealer of Substance D, a street drug that has the unfortunate side effect of splitting its user’s hemispheres into separately functioning parts, each unaware of the other’s existence. Problematically, Arctor’s primary target of investigation is himself, meaning that much of the movie consists of watching a scramble-suited Arctor watch surveillance tapes of himself and his tweaked-out druggie pals, Barris and Luckman. Played by Robert Downey, Jr. and Woody Harrelson, Barris and Luckman are druggie’s druggies — twitchy, fried minds that alternate between conspiratorial theorizing and dim-bulb buffoonery. Downey and Harrelson, two well-known real-life heads, give these scenes both a jittery comedic flavor and a buzz of authenticity. Take note: This is your brain on drugs.

Current Events

Alot of eyes are watching the Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Iran right now. I do not wish to minimize the events there but I am confident in Israel's moral right and ability and resolve to accomplish their aims. Cliff May at National Review describes those aims:

More and more, it appears that Israel has determined that its goal is to cripple Hezbollah. If that trick can be managed, it will deliver a blow not only to Hezbollah but also to Syria and Iran and the entire Militant Islamist movement.

It also would produce a huge benefit for the vast majority of Lebanese who do not want their country run by Hezbollah/Syria/Iran and who do know that the Israelis have no wish to remain.

Since disarming Hezbollah is what is called for by the “international community” in UN Security Council Resolution 1559, it is hard to see how even the French could call such an action disproportionate.”

Oh well, the UN also passed resolutions agaist Saddam Hussein but condemned the US led coalition in Iraq, so I am not so sanguine as Cliff that the international community wont begin to moan about Israel's actions. Still the nation of Israel has a founding notion of "Never Again" and the ability to turn places into smoking craters. No, I am not so terribly worried about Israel.

What has really grabbed my attention is North Korea. North Korea has well and truely screwed themselves by alienating China. North Korea has grabbed Chinese trains and not given them back. They have launched 7 missiles. The question becomes what damage can they do before there are no more people alive in North Korea? Ed Driscoll digs up a old Christopher Hitchens piece on North Korea:

North Korea broke down in the 1990s and lost an unguessable number of people to sheer starvation. The survivors, especially the children, have been stunted and malformed. Even on a tightly controlled tour of the place—North Korea is almost as hard to visit as it is to leave—my robotic guides couldn't prevent me from seeing people drinking from sewers and picking up individual grains of food from barren fields. (I was reduced to eating a dog, and I was a privileged "guest.") Film shot from over the Chinese border shows whole towns ruined and abandoned, with their few factories idle and cannibalized. It seems that the mines in the north of the country have been flooded beyond repair. In consequence of this, and for the first time since the founding of Kim Il Sung's state, large numbers of people have begun to take the appalling risk of running away. If they make it, they make it across the river into China, where there is a Korean-speaking area in the remote adjoining province.


Kim Jong-il and his fellow slave masters are trying to dictate the pace of events by setting a timetable of nuclearization, based on a crash program wrung from their human property. But why should it be assumed that their failed state and society are permanent? Another timeline, oriented to liberation and regime change, is what the dynasty most fears.

Now here is John Bolton, US ambassator to the United Nations:
This Resolution also demands action. It sends an unequivocal, unambiguous and unanimous message to Pyongyang: suspend your ballistic missile program; stop your procurement of materials related to weapons of mass destruction, and implement your September, 2005 commitment to verifiably dismantle your nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs. It is not just Pyongyang, though, that must act. It also "requires" Member States to do what they can to prevent the transfer of resources to the DPRK missile program or the procurement of missile-related items from the DPRK. The United States expects that the DPRK and all other UN Member States will immediately act in accordance with the requirements of this resolution passed by the Security Council.

This is the first UNSC resolution on North Korea since 1993, reflecting the gravity of this situation and the unity and determination of the Council. We hope this Resolution will demonstrate to North Korea that the best way to improve the livelihood of its people and end its international isolation is to stop playing games of brinkmanship and restore its missile moratorium, return to the Six-Party Talks and implement the terms of the Joint Statement from the last round of those talks.

We look forward to North Korea's full, unconditional and immediate compliance with this Security Council Resolution. We hope that North Korea makes the strategic decision that the pursuit of WMD programs and threatening acts like these missile launches, make it less, not more secure. We need to be prepared, though, that North Korea might choose a different path. This is why it is important that if the DPRK does not comply with the requirements of this Resolution, the United States and other Member States have the opportunity at any point to return to the Council for further action.

I think it likely that Kim Jong-Il is more like to make a last Ahab-ian gasp with what is in his possession:
". . . from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee."
Be sure and look at North Korea from night.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Quick Hits

The Verbalist, denied other options, cut his own hair. Afterwards he was terrified of being bald when the styalist evened it out.

The Muralist has a new invisible friend, a giant turtle which likes to jump rope. This is noteworthy because the Muralist doesn't have the plethora of imaginary friends that the Verbalist does - and hers tend to be rather prosaic. I am not calling the Muralist unimaginative but she tends to be less fantastic than her brother.

The Shrieker has been test driving new words lately in the burble bubble talk most comprehended by doting parents. Every now and then a word is spoken with clarity and force which is a great relief to this author who was beginning to think Shreaking would be the sole form of communication. To date: "Mama, Dad (no dada, straight Dad), Cookie, Bites, NO!, yeah, Book and DOG! Priorities are good to have.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

8 explosions in Bombay

Good news round up at Pajamas Media.

Counterterrorism Blog has a good map explaination of what happened.

Don't Run With them Either.

Back at the beginning of June the Verbalist went into the pre-Kindergarten skills test at the elementary school. The tests examine not only academics, but social skills, coordination, ect. We walked away from the tests with the examiners encouraging the Verbalist to hone his skill with scissors and to know when he needs to listen instead of talk.

I purchased a new pair of kid scissors and we have been having sutting sessions. First, we started with basic shapes but the Verbalist wanted to move onto to bigger and better things: the Batman logo.

For a good part of the day yesterday and this morning, he has been doggedly cutting a whole stack of bats. The Muralist, respecting that he has a skill he must master before Heading to School (you can hear the capitalization in her voice) has stuck to practicing her letter writing and making abstract art. (She can draw people and whatnot but she explained the other day that scribbling on a blank peice of paper was satisfying. You can see what you want in scribbles she earnestly informed me. One of these days I will show her this site.)

They were working quietly so I slipped off to the other room for a minute. The quiet was not to last. A minute later the Muralist came trotting into the room, her face sober. Taking a deep breath she said, "Mom, I don't want my hair cut."

"Ok," say I, not making the connection. "You don't have too."

"Good!" she says emphatically. She executes an abrupt about face and marches into the other room. "Mom says NO!" she nearly shouts.

"NO HAIR CUTTING!!!" I shout as I run in on the Muralist's heels. "Why," I quiz, "do you want to cut your sister's hair?"

"Well," drawled the Verbalist in mulish consideration, "I didn't want to cut mine but it seems interesting."

"Don't. Cut. Her. Hair."

He eyes me and determines I'm in deadly earnest. He begins cutting away at Batman again and I turn to walk away. The Verbalist calls the Dog in a stage whisper.

"No haircutting at all - not even the Dog." I say, not even turning around.

"Yes Mom." drones the Verbalist clearly upset there are no loopholes to exploit.

The Dog rolls her golden eyes my way, a silent Thank You.


I am having one of those difficult days where I can't wake up. I have been up since 630 and been battling the brain the whole time. My early bird kids got me up. The brain assesed the day and said: "Meh, you can do this one without me."

"But Brain, I need you. I've got stuff to write, children to wrangle, laundry...Ok I grant you the laundry. No one actually needs to think while doing laundry."

Brain pauses for a minute. "Copy and paste, tell them to ride bikes, problem solved; I'm going back to bed."

"NOOO!!! Kaaahhhnnnnn!"

So here I am writing brainless content and eating warm coffecake. Maybe I can persuade Brain to lightly exercize later.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Home Depot

I went into Home Depot yesterday and talked with the resident "guy". You know the one. He has a homing device for people helpless in the face of so many different sizes and types of nuts and bolts. I showed him what I had, he took me to what I wanted straight off and spoke with a New Jersy accent. I swear he said, "I need to ax youse how many youse wanted."

GI Joe

Bowing to the refrain of: "Can you get your dollies down?" I finally did. I hoisted down the box of (Hank Hill) Barbies and Barbie accessories. (/Hank Hill). The Muralist wanted to play tea party and house. The Verbalist, well, the Verbalist's GI Joes need companionship. Then, horror of horrors, the wheel came off GI Joe's pick up truck.

I had weeded through the Barbie box, book shelves and closets so donations in hand we set out to the thrift store. We found a jeep of correct proportions amid the jumble. Triumphantly we left the thrift store goal accomplished.

The Verbalist clutched the jeep in his arms, crooning all the way to the car: "Just wait for GI Joe to see you." GI Joe was happy.

Verbalist: "Look at this new Jeep I bought you Joe. You can drive it anywhere, even..." pause whilst the brain serches for an exotic destination, "Florida! You'll like Florida that's where Buzz Lightyear is...and Mickey Mouse."

GIJOE: "Cool car thanks! Now I have a place for my guns and dog."

Verbalist as Barbie 1 (high pitched squeaky voice): "Cool car GI Joe."

Joe: "Yes, it's and H-B-06 Noc class super Jeep. Lasers shoot out of the headlights."

V as Barbie 2 (still high pitched but breathy): "Oh Joe can I ride in your cool car?"

Joe: "Uh sure, but you have to ride in the back, the dog's in the front. You can man the gun though -we've got bad guys to shoot."

Muralist (from the back seat): "GI Joe, would you like Princess ice cream? I've made a whole lot!"

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Life Imitates...

...James Lileks. James on Junes 29th:
It seems like the New York Times is revealing all our national security secrets, but relax: they have their limits. If the Times learned that US troops were force-feeding Gitmo detainees with Coca-cola, they wouldn’t publish Coke’s secret formula. They might get sued. If there’s a CIA program that uses offensive cartoons of Mohammed to communicate with agents, they’ll keep mum, lest they have to publish the images. They might get stabbed. But secret law-enforcement-type programs as classified as the access code to the Times top-floor elevator? Fair game. You’ve the right to know.

Williams, 41, of Norcross, Ga., and 30-year-old Ibrahim Dimson of New York and 43-year-old Edmund Duhaney of Decatur, Ga., were arrested on charges of wire fraud and unlawfully stealing and selling Coke trade secrets, federal prosecutors said.


You got to wonder: what scent combination? From the WaPo:

Shortly before Christmas 2004, King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan gave Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld an "aromatherapy gift set" valued at $380.

I am guessing gunpowder, napalm and sandalwood.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fireworks and Aaron Copland

Well, I could blog about Independance Day. We blew stuff up (take that George III!). We ate (Carmel apple, mmmmmm /homer>). I sang the national anthem at the top of my lungs, three verses - from memory (I only got a bit screetchy at the end).

I have a rhetorical question. Why does someone attend a patriotic celebration, sponsered by an evangelical church if they like neither patriotic songs (God Bless America, America the Beautiful, Star Spangled Banner) nor public prayer?

I sat next to a couple women who seemed angry at the whole spectacle. They cringed and sneered at the multiple church choir singing anthems. They were snide and blasphemous during the prayer for our nation, leaders and troops. They derided the community as bourgeois and tacky.

At last as the fireworks display began they began to quiet only to chortle at the musical accompaniment. The first selection of music, Fanfare for the Common Man, was not recognized but was trivialized as the theme from Star Wars , proving that they did not recognize Aaron Copland or John Williams. So it went wearily along, the ignorance astounding.

By funny coincidence, the second piece of music played by the orchestra for the fireworks display run by the local station was - Theme from Star Wars. I laughed at that.

From the Wiki on Copland:

Copland, in his autobiography, wrote of the request: "Eugene Goossens, conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, had written to me at the end of August about an idea he wanted to put into action for the 1942-43 concert season. During World War I he had asked British composers for a fanfare to begin each orchestral concert. It had been so successful that he thought to repeat the procedure in World War II with American composers". A total of eighteen fanfares [1] were written at Goossens' behest, but Copland's is the only one which remains in the standard repertoire.

Goosens had suggested titles such as Fanfare for Soldiers, or sailors or airmen, and he wrote that "[i]t is my idea to make these fanfares stirring and significant contributions to the war effort...." Copland considered several titles including Fanfare for a Solemn Ceremony and Fanfare for Four Freedoms; to Goossens' surprise, however, Copland titled the piece Fanfare for the Common Man. Goossen wrote "Its title is as original as its music, and I think it is so telling that it deserves a special occasion for its performance. If it is agreeable to you, we will premiere it 12 March 1943 at income tax time". Copland's reply was "I [am] all for honoring the common man at income tax time".

The fanfare was also used as the main theme of the fourth movement of Copland's Third Symphony.

Monday, July 03, 2006

On a Petty Note...

Hugh! What are you doing? The word Revolution on a red background evoke images of communism. That's wrong, so wrong. Throw a little blue on the screen, please.

We the People of the United States

in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. . .

Amendment I - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II - Right to Bear Arms. Ratified 12/15/1791.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III - Quartering of Soldiers. Ratified 12/15/1791.

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV - Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V - Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings. Ratified 12/15/1791.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI - Right to Speedy Trial, Confrontation of Witnesses. Ratified 12/15/1791.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII - Trial by Jury in Civil Cases. Ratified 12/15/1791.

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII - Cruel and Unusual Punishment. Ratified 12/15/1791.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX - Construction of Constitution.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X - Powers of the States and People. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

When In the Course of Human Events

... it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton