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Thursday, July 31, 2003

Why I do love the Blue Angels


Every city has some sort of summer festival, from the Festival of States in St. Petersburg, Florida (which I never got the point of except that it’s an excuse for a parade) to some sort of beauty queen-cum-crop celebration in any farming village. Well, here in Seattle, we have Seafair and you can, if you’ve a mind, read all about it here.

There are apparently all kinds of Seafair events going on for weeks before THE week arrives and I have never paid the slightest attention to any of it. Many neighborhoods have their own Seafair parades and at the beginning of Seafair week, they have the Torchlight Parade downtown. (Since it’s the middle of summer, hotter than hell (for Seattle) and the sun stays up until at least 9:00, I always wonder where the torches come in but I’ve never been curious enough to find out.) In the middle of the week, the fleet comes in and downtown is overrun with sailors, most of whom look like kids to me. That is fun to watch even though I have only seen it from 20 floors up but the fire boat salutes the Navy ships with water cannon and everyone with a boat who can get out there gets out there.

And the big event is the unlimited hydroplane races. I have no idea what that means because I really truly cannot give a hoot about hardly any form of racing. I know what a hydroplane is (I think they used to race them on Lake Maggiore near St. Petersburg) and I think people watch the race to see if one will flip over and I believe they are usually obliged. Bo-riiiing

I think the highlight of Seafair is the appearance of the Navy’s precision flying team, the Blue Angels. Every year but one before this one, I have enjoyed them only from a distance, glimpses between the tall buildings downtown. One year they performed over Elliott Bay so we got a good look at them. But this year, I work on Mercer Island on the fourth floor of a building that has a great big west-facing patio on the fourth floor and the Blue Angels do their show over Lake Washington mostly between Mercer Island and south Seattle.

Today was practice and all I can say is “Oh my God.” It was amazing. They started the show by all six of them coming out of the east and screaming a few hundred feet over our office. You absolutely do not want to miss the opening act of their air ballet. I still can’t say exactly what it is about the earth-shattering noise and being able to read all the gold writing on the planes but you can feel it down to your toenails and it is a rush.

I discovered I get vertigo when the fly straight up into the sun doing a sort of vertical barrel roll and of course I have to watch them every second. I finally discovered that if I actually lean on something I don’t get as dizzy. The guy on the roof of our building fixing our air-conditioning kept ducking even though the planes weren’t that close. There is a pre-school next door to our building and those kids were having the time of their lives, hooting and hollering when they could actually see one of the planes. And I wanted to be hootin’ and hollerin’ and singing the Star-Spangled Banner and the Battle Hymn of the Republic all at the same time too.

I’m not about to pretend that their isn’t something terribly Freudian about the whole thing. And I’m not about to pretend that the pilots aren’t a bunch of hotties, but that’s not it. Pictures here and also you can read about how they work out all the time and how they can control the effects of changes in gravity with just their muscles (as opposed to wearing a gravity suit). Yummy. Plus, one year, when I was getting coffee at Starbucks across the street from the office, three or four of the pilots stopped for their morning caffeine, although how they could need any with their jobs, I’ll never know. Totally built, ramrod straight military posture, recruiting poster material, in or out of their planes, but short. Quite short, maybe not as tall as me.

Today was “getting the lay of the land” and a practice run. Tomorrow is a practice run and we are having a party at work, with clients and underwriters and beer and pizza and I can’t wait to see them again. Someday I am going to have to see them from the Seattle side of the lake, see the real show. Someday…

I love the noise. I love the feeling when the planes are really close. I love the look of them. I love knowing that these guys are representative of the pilots who are taking care of business in Iraq and Afghanistan. I love knowing that these guys are willing to do, and undoubtedly have done, exactly what the men in action are doing now. Standing out on the deck watching them do what they do so incredibly well, all I can think is of to say about them is: I love the Blue Angels.

posted by Carol on Thursday, July 31, 2003 | link

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Tuesday, July 29, 2003

What Passes for Humor


My coffee man, God bless him, told me a joke this afternoon while we were waiting for the beans to grind:

C-Man: You know there might be something to that business about famous people dying in threes.

Me: You mean Bob Hope? Katherine Hepburn, too…

C-Man: No, Bob Hope and Sadaam’s two sons. Uday, Qusay and Bob, forever linked…

Me: Only in the liberal mind.

Just a reminder, as if I needed another one in my desperately liberal neighborhood, that liberalism, as a world-view, precludes distinguishing between higher and lower levels of being.

posted by Robert on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 | link

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Monday, July 28, 2003

Hope Lives!

Bob Hope is not dead. I refuse to believe it. It’s not possible. There is no such thing as a world without Bob Hope. The Hope family has spirited him away to some undisclosed location to foster some Graceland-type myth centering on Old Ski Nose. Bob Hope is not dead. He cannot die. No, no, no. This is not an acceptable reality. I deny this with all the power of my being. No.

posted by Lee Ann on Monday, July 28, 2003 | link

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Thursday, July 24, 2003

America: “Hard to wake up, harder to put back to sleep.”

Steven Den Beste, commander of the USS Clueless , cuts to the chase today in an essay over at Opinion Journal regarding the Iraq phase in our war to eradicate Islamists: “We Won’t Back Down: The real reason we’re in Iraq—and why we’ll stay.” Just about everything in his piece is worth quoting, but here’s a taste:

“But the one thing we're not going to do is to surrender. We'll try to solve this as humanely as we can, but solve it we must, and I believe that this nation will do whatever it needs to in order to remove the danger facing it. If an American city gets nuked by a terrorist, things are going to get extremely ugly. So even America-haters in Europe had better hope that this works, because the alternative is much worse. (Which is a really good reason why they'd also better stop trying to make it fail.)”

One reason I’m flagging Den Beste’s essay is because the idiots’ gallery is again emailing the link to the misleadingly simplistic cost of war page. In response, to one and all, I’m sending this link , my small part reminding folks of the cost of not going to war against Islamists.

posted by Robert on Thursday, July 24, 2003 | link

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Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Yee-Haw!!!

Buy stock tomorrow. Why? Uday and Qusay Hussein got blown to Hell today, that’s why. The market will experience a “Boo-Yeah Bounce” in the morning and then maybe sell off in the afternoon. The long-suffering people of Iraq are no doubt partying hearty tonight. I’m trying very hard to suppress my cackles of glee. It couldn’t of happened to two more deserving guys.

posted by Lee Ann on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 | link

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Friday, July 18, 2003

School Board Moves to Protect Children; Parents Rejoice Now That They Don't Have To

You thought I was kidding, didn’t you? Of course not. There is no paternalistic depth to which the school board will not sink to protect the children. Here's another exciting article in the Seattle Times:

Soft-drink sales to middle-school students will be banned before and during school hours after a divided Seattle School Board voted last night to extend the district's contract with Coca-Cola, but with several stipulations.

Articles like this always put me in a frame of mind not unlike Florence King’s where children are concerned. I volunteer with children so that isn’t my natural state but, oy vey maria, can’t the school board just leave everyone alone?

My favorite graf:

The agreement struck last night came after weeks of debate, a lawsuit threat and complaints by many parents concerned that the sugar-laden drinks may contribute to childhood obesity and diabetes.

Why on earth aren’t the parents making sure their children exercise? Because they’re too damn busy being absorbed in their own narcissistic lives is my guess. But what do I know? I’m a spinster.

posted by Carol on Friday, July 18, 2003 | link

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Thursday, July 17, 2003

From the Seattle Times: Seattle brings home C+ in 'corporateering' ratings

The director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights gave Seattle a C+ for its protection of citizens from corporate power.

Well, gosh darn it, we aren’t getting good grades in corporateering. That’s OK, I don’t know what that is either. Mouseketeering? Musketeering? Privateering? Or, horror of horrors, profiteering?

In a news conference at the Labor Temple yesterday, Jamie Court, the head of the California-based organization

Do you even need to read the rest of that sentence? Yes, there really is such a place as the Labor Temple. I walked past it for years before I finally ran into someone leaving it and asked what on earth they do in there. Turns out to be woefully pedestrian: it’s full of labor union offices, which would certainly explain the many expensive cars in their parking lot.

And of course, this Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights being from California explains a lot. They’ve trashed their own economy so they are looking to branch out, I suppose.

Here are some of our grades:

Public Recourse: A- (Good score due to initiative, recall and referendum rights.)

I am sure that the Foundation for Silly Announcements is deeply and completely opposed to the movement to recall Grey Davis so I fully expect that next time around, they won’t think so highly of recall rights.

Legal Rights: B- (State does not allow victims to recover punitive damages from corporations.)

This prohibition of punitive damages is probably the only reason those of us who live here can still buy insurance. I don’t see why lawyers collecting obscene contingency fees makes for a better quality of life.

Commercialization of Schools: B (Bill restricting fast food in schools has lagged.)

Yes, it is poisoning young people to let them eat what they want. It is also a crime against humanity to have Coke machines that actually display the Coke logo. Really. There have been articles in the paper about how this shouldn’t be allowed. I’m sure the professional busy-bodies would really only be happy if the kids can’t buy Cokes at all, but they pretend they will be satisfied if just the advertising (meaning the easily identifiable logo that tells you what is behind each button so you don’t buy Mountain Dew instead of Coke entirely by accident) is eliminated.

Media independence: C- (Increasing media consolidation.)

Is Clear Channel Communications the Anti-Christ? I’ve gotten that impression from somewhere. And they don't like the Joint Operating Agreement between our two daily newspapers. I rather thought that was instituted because it was a do-or-die situation. So if there's no JOA, there's one less newspaper and how would that prevent media consolidation exactly?

And my personal favorite:

Protection of community space: D (Brand names run rampant — they're all over taxis, stadiums and performing-arts centers.)

Yes, those rat-bastard McCaws chipped in big for the remodel of the Opera House and so they have put their mother’s name on it. And Safeco paid money, perfectly good American money, to brand the baseball stadium – yes, it’s another Anti-Christ when I thought there was supposed to be only one. Does “Benaroya Hall” bother them? First, it’s one guy, Jack Benaroya, and he gave the largest single donation to build the hall. Seems like he ought to be recognized for it.

And someone please explain to me when the roofs and trunks of taxicabs became “community space”. I figured it belonged to the taxi companies but I guess since we get to look at it, it really belongs to us, like broadcast television or something. I would like to know why these bozos aren’t bitching about ads on the sides of buses. Undoubtedly because the buses are owned by the county, not some evil corporations.

I just can’t stand socialists:

According to Court, the term "corporateering" — which is also included in the title of his recently published book — is closely related to "profiteering, electioneering and racketeering" and is both a verb and a noun meant to describe corporations that care more about profits than about the common good.

In addition to learning to speak English, I really wish these people would open their minds to just once, only once, read “Atlas Shrugged.” I think that book explains in terms even these fools could understand why corporations do the most good when they care about profits and don’t give a damn about the common good. And who gets to decide which “good” is to be “common” anyway? I think I know who and it ain’t thee or me.

Go read the article and tell me if you are even the least little bit surprised at which cities we should be emulating to raise our grade.


posted by Carol on Thursday, July 17, 2003 | link

A Rabblement of Lemmings

Erin O’Connor posted a nice appreciation of Harold Bloom over at Critical Mass this morning, “one of the most prolific and controversial literary critics now living.” Controversial, not because of “the way he wields the latest methodological trends, but the way he eschews them.” O’Connor estimates Bloom as, and I agree, “a truly learned scholar who truly loves and knows literature and truly despises those who pretend to expertise by slinging around meaningless jargon and unearned judgment.”

Her post contains a link to the Atlantic magazine online interview with Bloom from which she quotes extensively. Says the prolific Bloom:

“I left the English department twenty-six years ago. I just divorced them and became, as I like to put it, Professor of Absolutely Nothing. To a rather considerable extent, literary studies have been replaced by that incredible absurdity called cultural studies which, as far as I can tell, are neither cultural nor are they studies. But there has always been an arrogance, I think, of the semi-learned.

“You know, the term "philology" originally meant indeed a love of learning—a love of the word, a love of literature. I think the more profoundly people love and understand literature, the less likely they are to be supercilious, to feel that somehow they know more than the poems, stories, novels, and epics actually know.

“And, of course, we have this nonsense called Theory with a capital T, mostly imported from the French and now having evilly taken root in the English-speaking world. And that, I suppose, also has encouraged absurd attitudes toward what we used to call imaginative literature.”

By now, Bloom needs neither accolades—nor slings and arrows—inhabiting, as he does at 73, a position both unassailable and isolated. O’Connor herself comes from an academic background of which she is relentlessly critical, but what sets her apart from the usual run is that she if first and foremost self-critical:

“I'm a bit of an oddball, having been trained by an intermediary generation of ideologues to be a theoretical clone (genus: cultural studies; species: body critic). Academically, I was raised to belong to the Rabblement of Lemmings [Bloom’s coinage--RB]. For a number of years, without fully realizing it, I rabbled along lemming-like, thinking that what I was doing was scholarly. I finally figured things out, but I would never have done so alone. I was lucky. I met someone with a shit detector and no fear. He let me know that academically, I was full of shit. I crapped on him for it for years. It was easier thus. But I eventually managed to put my considerable pride in a box where it belonged and began to undergo the humbling process of realizing just what a foolish parody of a scholar I was. No matter that this was what I had been trained to be and rewarded for being: you don't feel less a fool for realizing that everyone around you is one too.”

As a non-tenured poet teaching college English, I cannot speak with anything approaching the credibility of a Bloom—or even of an O’Connor—regarding the post-modern disarray of English scholarship. I can speak, however, about the Rabblement of Lemmings, Poetry Division—and have on several occasions. For examples of lemming-like poetry writing that displays nothing so much as automaticity in the service of ideology, sample 11,000 poets who are still riding the Poets Against the War bandwagon. Of them, I wonder how many have reconsidered their lockstep march to nowhere as ruthlessly as O’Connor reconsidered her own.


posted by Robert on Thursday, July 17, 2003 | link

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Wednesday, July 16, 2003

More Than One Way to Burn a Book

Would Orwell have recognized Politically Correct language as kin to the Newspeak he created for his novel 1984? Author Wendy McElroy, editor of ifeminists.com, believes he would. In a terrific article in the current Enter Stage Right, “The PCspeak of diversity," she makes a convincing case that PC language parallels Newspeak in important ways including “Embedding new terms,” “Reducing the number of words,” and “Eliminating ‘wrong’ words and, thus, wrong ideas.”

Among her examples is PC usage of the term “minority”:

“Again, ‘minority’ is a misleading word. Women are minorities despite being a statistical majority. Hispanics are a minority while those of Celtic descent, like me, are in the ‘majority.’ These two categories obliterate such subtleties and describe the entire span of oppressed to oppressor.”

A fine and sobering read.



posted by Robert on Wednesday, July 16, 2003 | link

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Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Hi There.

The news has been especially boring lately. Yet these new poems from Robert Bove are anything but boring. These are wild. Kung Fu poetry rules.

posted by Lee Ann on Tuesday, July 15, 2003 | link

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Monday, July 14, 2003

Frogstomp, Redux.

German general marches at head of Bastille Day parade. French government officials watch in horror as surging masses of Frenchmen surrender.

Last year I celebrated the annual Froggie Jamboree with a nice little Frogstomp. I thought I’d repost that classic and add a little to it. The Frogs have recently graced us with a few more lessons in Gallic sophistication.

Sexual Sangfroid. Mere sexual debaucheries give no pause to the Frog. They are unconstrained by such bourgeois morality. Such sophisticates as Roman Polanski flock to Paris to be rid of the mewling, puritanical Americans and their felony laws against raping and sodomizing pre-teen girls. Of course, there’s always the latest in sporting events, like Tournante, where teams of a dozen or more Muslims track, capture, and gang-rape young French girls. Double points for keeping your quarry more than 2 weeks.

Censor Races. See which government bureaucrat can suppress the free flow of ideas the fastest. Jailing a prominent novelist or journalist is no longer enough to win, so think big. The goal of this game is to prevent civilized France from descending into a loud, vulgar, unsophisticated clash of ideas. That would be too American.

Cosmopolitan Joi de Vivre. Oops, all their international amis just got Shock and Awed.

Frogstomp! Part Un. The time has come once again to celebrate the Froggy Jamboree, otherwise known as Bastille Day. Ah, the heady day when we get to reflect on all the ways the French disappoint us. Some take the easy route, yammering on about the French Revolution and its status as a marker of the decline of Western Civilization. Others point out that the French don’t bathe. I prefer to look at the big picture. Beyond their political failings, they have myriad cultural and intellectual failures. Let’s look at all the ways the Froggies have proved themselves deficient.

The French Revolution. I know, I know, I said I wouldn’t go into politics. I lied. I would here like to engage in a pointless rant against idiots in the academy (was that redundant?) who moon all on the Froggies and their “unprecedented” Revolution. They babble on and on about how the French Revolution was new and shocking and radical and nothing had like it had ever no not never before happened on the face of the earth. You know, great leap forward and all that crap. Well it’s a LIE! Hello!?! Ever hear of the American Revolution? You know, that little soiree the Frogs bankrolled about 13 years before they threw their little copycat affair? That little shindig the Marquis de Lafayette jammed at before heading to Paris to start the Etats Generale Tribute band? The obscure historical anomaly the Declaration of the Rights of Man was based on? The American Revolution that showed how tyranny could be overthrown and a free democracy established across the land? The Triumph of Freedom that the Froggies tried to base their own Revolution on, failed miserably, and decided to throw a bloodbath instead? Ever hear of it?

Art. Ah yes, the rarefied world of art. Take time now to reflect upon the wonders of modern French artistry. Can’t think of any French artists of recent vintage? Neither can I. Monet and Manet, but nobody of late. Did they just stop painting after Matisse died? Not even a second-rate shock artists like those Limey idiots from the Tate Gallery.

Literature. Read any good French books lately? The last Frog book I can recall off-hand is that Catharine Millet sex book. OK, one work of failed porn. Anything else? Seems the Japanese have rung in with Banana Yoshimoto and Haruki Murakami. The Portuguese had that blind guy, Saramago. Even the Poles have come out winging with Wislawa Szimborska. Yet not a worthwhile word from France.

Music. When was the last great French music star? Berlioz? Oh, wait! Maurice Chevalier, who sang to entertain the Germans in WWII! The only Gallic songbird I can think of is Celine Dion and she’s Canadian. Whither French music? Why careth?

Philosophy. Name one French philosopher since Descartes who is not an idiot. Sartre was a dull, pretentious coward who wrote dull book and duller plays. Would it be redundant to mention he was also a Nazi collaborator? There was the dweeb the Froggies sent over to Afghanistan as “support” for the war on terror. Whatever happened to him? Was he trying to surrender to OBL and we bombed him? French feminists? Parlez vous Utero-nazi? French literary theory? Derridimwits.

Food. Whither Haute Cuisine? Hold on while I have a snack before answering that. I once ate an haute cuisine dinner and almost died of starvation. OK, they reworked Escoffier using less flavor and less food. Pardon me for not being impressed. What major food trends have come out of France lately? Organic cuisine? Can we say Chez Panisse in California? Fusion? Hello New York! Fast Food? What a Kroc. Slow food? Ciao Italia. Vegans? They are straight from the bowels of Hell and France is only near the pancreas. Want more proof? Iron Chef French is Japanese.

Wine. Name one French vintage that has not been equaled or bettered by California.

Language. The universal tongue? The language of diplomacy? Parlez vous English? The language of love? Italiano. Espagnol will do in a pinch. Even German is more beautiful. The French language is too self-consciously pretty. Ick.

Ah, Froggie Jamboree, how do I loathe thee? Gleefully.


posted by Lee Ann on Monday, July 14, 2003 | link

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Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Oh Yeah

The Literarium has been updated.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 | link

Weekend Update.

It was a holiday and I celebrated by doing not much of anything. I did cook though. I made a decent gazpacho. It started out too garlicky but was fine after I added a couple more tomatoes. My Pasta Rustica was amazing. It always is. It’s like a lasagna, but easier. Mmm. If anyone wants the recipes let me know.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 | link

We Shall Overcome!

Think you know who the Greatest Generation is, man? No way, man! Is that greatness, man? Yeah, man. Turn it up, man.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 | link

Sowell Patrol.

So, why are wealthy elitists fighting to save a run-down racetrack? To keep out the blacks and other undesirables, of course! Let the Sowell Man explain.


posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 | link

Good Heavens!

The Missionaries of Charity are taking action to copyright Mother Teresa’s name, likeness, and the symbols of her order. I was shocked at first, thinking “how commercial.” But from this short article, it looks like a necessary step. It seems some people have been using Mother Teresa’s image for their own benefit. I mean, “The Mother Teresa Institute of Management”? It’s too bad such a step has to be taken. It reminds me of those “firemen’s” or “trooper’s” charities than scam people every couple of years. That’s so wrong.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 | link

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Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Get out of jail free – the sequel


According the county sheriffs, who were protesting our state’s charming early release law, some of the non-violent offenders who are getting out of state prison early to save the state money were indeed found guilty of assault. The state, in its infinite wisdom, has decreed that the affected degrees of assault are non-violent offenses. Yeah, right, that makes sense to me, along with “War is Peace” and “Freedom is Slavery”.

posted by Carol on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 | link

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Monday, July 07, 2003

Left Behind: the series that would not die

A writer friend once said that the two great literary joys in this world are a really good book and a really bad one. The "Left Behind" series has provided me with an apparently endless supply of the latter.

I started reading this series a few years ago and I no longer remember why. Probably curiosity got the better of me. I remember when I lived in Atlanta, the girl at the next desk was reading a book called “Raptured” and I thought it said “Raped” so I asked if I could borrow it. Anyway, it was an amazingly simplistic little story and, except for the scene of the heroine singing hymns while being burned at the stake (or was she torn to bits by wild animals?), I really don’t remember any of it.

So when I learned of the existence of these books, I had to check them out. I am going to make a huge point out of saying I haven’t bought any of them as that would be wrong. I’ve gotten every one of them from the library and you should see the way the library clerks look at me when I check one out: no smile, no greeting, just no expression at all. I think they are afraid I won’t leave without trying to convert them, or at least hand them little pamphlets.

Things start out wrong and just go downhill from there. I am going to have to get the first book out of the library again, just to verify this memory, but I would swear that in the very first chapter, when the believers are being snatched up, the authors completely screw up left and right, east and west. I believe Captain Rayford Steele (isn’t that name a hoot and a half?), airline pilot, is flying to Europe from Chicago. He is flying west to east, approaching sunrise. As I recall, it is dark when the believers disappear. When the disappearance is noticed, our hero decides to turn back to Chicago where, mirabile visu, it’s the middle of the day. I keep thinking I must have misunderstood something since no one else seems to have noticed this, but it would be in keeping with the entire series which never met a deus ex machina it didn’t like. The first book even ends with Rayford, Buck, Chloe, and Rayford’s girlfriend (his wife having been taken up already) walking arm in arm into the future. Very inspiring, although it suddenly occurs to me that if they think Rayford's wife is gone in the rapture, that means she is still alive, just relocated, and Rayford has no business messing around with other women. I think in a later book, he actually marries this woman. I guess somewhere he turned Mormon and the authors failed to notice.

I have read “Armageddon,” which is the 11th book in the series to page 27 and except for having gotten that it’s dark but the Christians can now see in the dark, or it’s not really dark for Christians, I can’t for the life of me tell you what’s going on. The characters are all made of cardboard and I can’t tell any of them apart, much less keep track of what they are doing.

The big fun in reading each book is to find the worst sentence or paragraph ever written. Each book has many to choose from and my only regret in reading these books is I haven’t kept track of them. On just page 2 I have a possible:

Rayford squinted. “Do we need an ILS approach?”

“Instrument landing system?” Abdullah said. “Don’t think so, Captain. I can see enough to fly.”


This is merely annoying. Both of the men are pilots and will not need to explain “ILS” to each other. Rayford should have asked something about using instruments to land, thereby avoiding any explanation. But then the authors wouldn’t have been able to sling some lingo to prove their savvy. They are so manly when they toss around insider stuff like that.

And

The teenage computer whiz’s humor and self-confidence were legendary. She seemed shy and self-conscious around adults until she got to know them; then she interacted like a peer. Rayford knew she had brought Abdullah up to speed in computer savvy, and she had been in nearly constant touch with Chang since the lights went out in New Babylon.

This second paragraph is contradictory, and silly, and stilted, and just generally awful. If her self-confidence is legendary, they where does the “shy and self-conscious” bit come from? How did she have time to teach Abdullah about computers and stay in nearly constant contact with the mole in New Babylon. “Interacted like a peer”????? What kind of horrible human-resources-department-speak is that? And I left out the whiz kid’s name: Naomi Tiberius. The authors do have one talent: making up horrible, ugly names for their characters.

Check these out: Buck Cameron, Tsion Ben-Judah, Ming Toy, Nicolae Carpathia, David Hassid. And this one: A female tattoo artist of Indian descent who the authors named Kashmir. Yes, that makes sense. Everyone knows that Indians name their children after provinces of their country.

The melodramatic names never stop coming and neither do the incredibly convenient abilities. Chloe Cameron, daughter of Rayford Steele and wife of Buck, is miraculously endowed with the ability, at the tender age of 22 or so, after dropping out of Stanford after the Rapture, to run a worldwide underground trading company which keeps the post-rapture believers fed, without anyone in the world government being the wiser. She has no qualifications for this, but someone had to do it and if the authors declare it to be Chloe then she must be able to do it. I don’t believe the authors ever spent any time figuring out how this would be done so no convincing detail is ever provided, but what the hey, it’s just a novel and they don't have to respect their target audience.

But this may be the prize-winner since it uses one of the cheapest clichés ever:

“Albie put the word on the street that he wanted an audience with Mainyu, and within two hours a note was slipped under his door with an address deep in the street markets on Abadan Island…”

The other person in this abortion of a sentence is named Mainyu Mazda and I think he is supposed to be an Arab of some flavor so I really don’t get why he was named after a Japanese car. No one “puts the word out on the street” any more, not even the worst cop shows on TV do that. It’s a cliché from “Starsky and Hutch” and you really have to wonder if these two guys have watched any TV since the 70s.

A runner-up on page 86: “…this had to be what Sodom and Gomorrah had been like before God torched them. Every form of sin and debauchery was displayed right on the street. What was once the seedy side of town now was the town. Row after row of bars, fortune-telling joints, bordellos, sex shops, and clubs pandering to every persuasion and perversion teemed with drunk and high patrons. Hashish permeated the air. Cocaine and heroin deals went down in plain sight.” I absolutely love the way that the first kinds of sin and debauchery they list are bars and fortune-tellers.

The good news is everybody died in the end, or at least all the characters who had been around since the beginning. It was a great relief, probably to the authors too. Not only do we not have to endure the excruciating torture of another book, the authors will not have to experience the unbearable tedium of writing it.

They didn’t tell us what the Glorious Re-appearing was like which is probably good. Given their literary skills, they would probably be sent to hell on the spot for botching it.

And let’s not overlook the anti-Catholic bias: in the first book, and my memory is hazy on this, either the Pope was not snatched up in the rapture because, well, those Catholics, they’re not really Christians, or the Pope was snatched up in spite of being Catholic because he had converted to some other flavor of Christian, something fundamentalist, no doubt. He just failed to mention that to the Curia. After all, because some funeral prayers mention what someone has done (acts) Catholics don’t believe in salvation through grace alone. (No kidding – I was trying to figure out why some fundies think Catholics aren’t Christians and that’s what I found on the web.)

Much later:

Somebody kill me now: according to the reviews at amazon, there is yet another book a-comin’. I thought I was done. And I know I won’t be able to ignore it. Sigh. It’s never going to stop is it? I guess the next period, when Christ reigns on earth, is supposed to last 1,000 years and I just don’t even want to think how many books they can get out of that.

posted by Carol on Monday, July 07, 2003 | link

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Sunday, July 06, 2003

Query

In a positive review of Lawrence Buell’s new biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson, National Review’s Jeffrey Hart makes several intriguing observations. (The review is only available in the July 14, 2003 paper version of the magazine.) Speaking of Emerson’s famous essay “Self-Reliance,” Hart says, “’Self-Reliance’ stands at the opposite pole from today’s nauseating ‘authenticity.’ Self-Reliance is achieved in—to indulge in some Freud-speak—super-ego rather than id. ‘Authenticity,’ in contrast, is gloppy. Emerson’s American Scholar shapes a self by, among other things, contemplating Great or ‘Representative’ Men, not just going with the flow.” I don’t like what Hart has to say here merely because I agree with him but because those three sentences might make, for this teacher of college English, a fine test of a student’s knowledge and vocabulary levels.

For example, all high school graduates should know the definitions of the psychoanalytic terms id, ego and superego. “Authenticity” will give many a hard time, though listing things they believe are authentic would be much easier. Maybe some will agree with R. D. Laing that “authenticity” is “to be true to oneself, to be what one is, to be genuine,” and therefore be able to provide examples of how one is true to oneself, etc. But how many high school graduates would be able to make sense when asked to comment on Hart’s three sentences? Would any even know that the educational milieu in which they’ve spent most of their young lives is steeped in the jargon of “Authenticity,” that that jargon is, in fact the air they’ve been breathing?

Last question for you all: Is the hegemony of ego and id, the celebrity culture, permanent? Sorry, one more question: What’s next?




posted by Robert on Sunday, July 06, 2003 | link

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Saturday, July 05, 2003

Sorry.

I’m not dead. I had to work overtime every night last week and was too tired to post. Overtime may be great for my wallet but it’s lousy for everything else.

posted by Lee Ann on Saturday, July 05, 2003 | link

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Tuesday, July 01, 2003

It’s Get Out of Jail Free Day in Washington. For the rest of us, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, and especially do not ever expect to see your property again.

From a story in today’s Seattle Times:

Law-enforcement officials warn of trouble ahead as prisons rush to meet a new state law that will let hundreds of low-risk inmates out of prison early as a way to save money, starting today. The Legislature passed Senate Bill 5990 just before adjournment in April as lawmakers wrestled with closing a $2.65 billion budget deficit. The law is expected to save the state about $40 million in the next two years by eliminating supervision for certain nonviolent offenders after they're released, and letting others out of prison early by increasing time off for good behavior.

To save a few bucks, the legislature is going to turn criminals loose on those of us who have to foot the bill, but don’t worry, it’s only mild-mannered criminals they are releasing, no one dangerous:

The new law allows certain inmates — mostly drug and property offenders — to earn more credit for good behavior in prison. Such convicts can cut their prison time in half. State law previously let prisoners reduce their sentences by about a third.

Would someone please explain to me why it’s OK to allow so-called property offenders out again? Why can’t anyone in government ever see that property offenders are no different from those who commit crimes against persons? Neither species has any respect for his fellow man at all and both are taking part of our lives. And does it not occur to the idiots in the legislature that it won't take much for criminals-against-property to escalate to crimes-against-persons? How about if we, I don't know, just reduce their punishment?

I don’t know about you, but I had to work some number of hours to pay for my car and my house and all of my other stuff (not to mention my insurance premiums) so when someone takes some of my property, they are taking part of my life. I will agree that the damage inflicted is not as bad as a crime against my person, but the psychological effects are the same. I’ve never yet met someone who was burglarized who didn’t say he felt violated.

By a lovely coincidence, this article appeared on NRO today. Go read it and then come back and please tell me where the outrage is because it certainly can’t be found walking the halls down the way in Olympia.



posted by Carol on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 | link

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Contact Spinster Lee Ann at calhounista_at_hotmail

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Two Babes and a Bob! Opinion, insight, commentary, sarcasm, scathing polemic, and wit by Lee Ann, Carol, and Robert. Featuring the spectral presence of Gena.
Contact the Spinsters at: brodskii@yahoo.com (Gena) calhounista@hotmail.com (Lee Ann)

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