Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Democrats = creepy

Maybe it's just Halloween weekend, but does anybody else besides me feel more than usually creeped out by our President, our most recent Democrat Past President, the current Democrat administration, Democrats in office around the land, and leftists in general?

Does anybody else feel it's really icky for a sitting President to be non-stop campaigning in such a partisan fashion as Obama is doing now instead of staying home and governing Presidentially from the Oval Office where he belongs? Something about this campaigning seems so anti-Presidential and over-the-top inappropriate.

And the performance of Bill Clinton on the campaign trail is utterly shameful and without excuse. He has spit in the face of our country's tradition of past Presidents maintaining self-respecting and respectful non-partisan roles in private life following their Presidencies. But spitting in the face of tradition and what's appropriate to the office of President is Bill Clinton's schtick, after all. He lives up to it beautifully. Always surprising, that man, in how low he'll go.

But that's indicative of Democrats and leftists in general. You just can't keep up with all the creative ways they are willing to break rules, screw things up, cheat, lie, and steal. I can't imagine why anybody still wants to self-identify with that brand.

Evidently more men than women are getting that message and dropping their support for the Dems right now. Yet women are a force in driving the tea parties and the conservative branch of the GOP as well, along with minorities. I am glad to see that.

UPDATE: Not really related, but just too funny! -- Negative attack ads circa 1800 (via Ace of Spades HQ).

UPDATE: An Appeal to Black Voters!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

The results are in!

I took the test and I am a Social Liberal (63% permissive) and an Economic Conservative (83% permissive). I am a "LIBERTARIAN." Funny, though, I do think of myself as more of a Conservative (because I support the War on Terror beyond our borders and I am not into drugs and think children need special protections), but I suppose most Conservatives are more traditionally stodgy about the free will of the individual than I am.

Take the test yourself here. (Hat tip to Ace of Spades HQ)

I also guessed right 87% of the time on who's gay in the Gaydar Test. Where'd that skill come from??

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Monday, October 25, 2010

The 1960s revisited

Yesterday felt sort of empty since there was no new "Mad Men" episode to watch at the end of the day--the fourth season of 13 episodes each just ended last week. I have become a semi-reluctant, conflicted watcher of "Mad Men" after being sucked into the earlier seasons of the show on DVDs by my son and husband. I say conflicted because even while I admire the writing, the acting, and the production quality, and even though I look forward to finding out what would happen next in the plot ("Mad Men" is nothing if not a high-quality soap opera), almost all of the characters are--let's say--less than admirable people and it is hard for me to--let's say--psychologically "root for" anybody on that show. It also frequently makes me feel uncomfortable with its graphic sex scenes. It is definitely not a family or feel-good show. It is, however, a remarkable (and often startling, disturbing, and nostalgic) depiction of certain aspects of the early 1960s.

My husband and my daughter and I are also currently watching via Netflix a definitely family-friendly and feel-good show of the genuine early 1960s--"The Dick Van Dyke Show" (also available at Hulu). This comedy was a fixture in reruns of my youth, and I must have seen almost all of the episodes at one time or another, many years back. Now, watching them again as an adult, in proper sequence, is a revelation and a real pleasure. My daughter, who has not seen these episodes before, and I are frequently howling with laughter at the humorous writing and the amazing physical comedy of Dick Van Dyke (acolyte of Buster Keaton and Stan Laurel). What a talent he was! The cast worked like a well-oiled machine, the writing was stellar, and it boggles the mind to realize that Carl Reiner, Sheldon Leonard, and the rest of the company turned out over 30 weekly episodes for five years, of such consistent high quality and originality. Best of all, it is so likeable.

What a contrast in television fare--and in zeitgeist--between then and now. "The Dick Van Dyke Show" provides an antidote and a counterpoint to "Mad Men," on lots of levels--including my personal favorite: in Laura Petrie I find a very favorable and positive take on a realistic, attractive, happily traditional housewife in a loving, affectionate and successful marriage. There's a role model I can root for! Plus, I like her Sixties "flip" hairdo (the word we used back then before "hairstyle" came in with Farrah Fawcett). There wouldn't be a Peggy Olson if there hadn't been a Laura Petrie.

I also enjoy watching these early guest appearances of celebrities like Danny Thomas, Richard Dawson, Robert Vaughn, J.C. Flippen, and Jerry Van Dyke. And it's funny to realize now that in writing the character of little Richie, Carl Reiner was writing from life about his own son, the future "Meathead" (Speaking of Meathead--it's definitely not the Sixties anymore).

To top things off, I am also in the process of scanning and digitizing the snapshots from my mother's old family photo albums. For some reason I seem to be fated to steep in the Sixties right now--a time when cars had no seatbelts and little girls wore frilly dresses to slide down slides:

My memories of the early Sixties were more Rob and Laura Petrie than Don and Betty Draper. But then, we didn't live anywhere near Madison Avenue or Hollywood back then.

The late Sixties, after 1968--that's a whole n'other story, isn't it.

BONUS: My husband found this 2.5-hour interview of Dick Van Dyke at the Archive of American Television, a pretty sweet website. Poke around there and you can learn a lot of good backstories.

UPDATE: Alex Anderson, the creator of Rocky and Bullwinkle, just died. (Hat tip to the Stodgy Geezer.) Those cartoon characters I remember well were another icon of the early 1960s.

UPDATE: Is "Mad Men" TV's most feminist show? I'd call it TV's most high-quality theoretical feminist historical dream of "how it was"--perhaps a slice of life for some--but not necessarily how it really was.

RELATED: A nice look back at Barbara Billingsly and June Cleaver.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

15 Books in 15 Minutes (I cheated)

There's been a blogger/Facebook meme going around about making a list of 15 books in 15 minutes--books you've read that have "stuck with" you over your life. Here's my list, in the order in which they occurred to me. The top four are on my all-time list of hands-down most "sticky," influential books in my own life:

1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

2. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

3/4. Atlas Shrugged and We the Living by Ayn Rand (also her other novels and writings)

5. My Brother's Keeper by Marcia Davenport (also her other novels, her biography of Mozart, and her autobiography)

6/7. 1776 and John Adams by David McCullough

8. We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

9/12. Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, King Lear by William Shakespeare (and his other work)

13/15. From Bauhaus to Our House, The Painted Word, and Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (and his other work)

16/17. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (and his other work)

18. Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon (I liked him better than Jack Kerouac)

19. Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut (I'm dating myself here)

20. Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris

21. Our Town by Thornton Wilder

22. Ethnic America, a History by Thomas Sowell (also his other books and autobiography)

23. I Passed as a Teenager by Lyn Tornabene

24. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer

25. Queen Victoria by Lytton Strachey

26. The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone

27. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Quite a jumble. This exercise brings to mind very pleasant memories of years of reading binges in my long-distant past, including also the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Ray Bradbury, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, James Michener, J.D. Salinger, John Steinbeck, Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Theodore Dreiser, Henry James, Homer (in the Fitzgerald translation) and Dr. Seuss. In fact, there have been so many favorite authors and favorite books in my long life that I am sure I have now forgotten the bulk of the individual titles. This exercise is just a poor, momentary effort made to beat the clock. But on reflection: what a fantastic heritage I've been able to enjoy!

(The links to books above are informational only, not an endorsement of specific individual purchases at I am very keen on Amazon as a satisfied customer of several years. I have received no subsidies from anyone to say this and in fact receive no subsidies whatsoever as a blogger, not counting my husband's paying the electricity and computer bills.)

Next: 15 Films in 15 Minutes

UPDATE: I keep wondering if schools still turn out "English majors" (do they even call them that anymore?) who read works by "dead white men" as I did--or am I a dying breed? (I am sure that somewhere the ghost of a 19th-century scholar is lamenting that I didn't read enough Virgil and Cicero in the original Latin.) I just hope the California taxpayers who paid my way to college in the 1970s feel that they got their money's worth. And what, if anything, do I owe them in return?