Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chris Matthews: Still an Idiot

I'm watching Chris Matthews question some Illinois state legislators about the Blagojevich ouster. It's amazing such an utter fuckup is on a national cable network.

Matthews apparently can't compute what quid pro quo means. I realize he'll say he's playing devil's advocate, but he's not elucidating anything himself nor is he allowing others to elucidate. He repeats the same question to guest after guest for the whole program and never tries to understand the distinctions that each guest makes repeatedly. He listens then repeats the same question to a guest later, again ignoring any distinctions and not even trying to think through what they are saying. It's obvious he doesn't know what he's talking about and doesn't really care: the contempt for the viewer is pretty palpable ("The rubes will eat this "pox on pols" grandstanding!")

He interrupts constantly without adding anything, just to hear his own voice it seems. Interrupting is bad enough but it's even worse when it's done with remote interviewees, as Matthews does routinely. Chris, you friggin' idiot, people you are interviewing via satellite-- especially standing in an boomy government lobby of some sort--can't process your time-shifted echoe crosstalk as one can in person. I'm astounded people will appear via remote on Matthew's program, so incompetent is he.

Matthews does that kind of mechanical time-wasting shit CONSTANTLY, after years of broadcasting. Many episodes he wastes five or ten minutes of airtime with sloppiness an average community-college communications major would iron out in the first 2 video lab sessions. Matthews: don't interrupt people every second sentence, especially during a remote! (If they're filibustering that's one thing, but usually these people can't even finish a friggin' sentence.) If you occasionally have to interrupt, don't just rephrase your lame question du jour for the umpteenth time.

Clinically, Matthews is an idiot. He doesn't know the current politics of this country. He relies on his seriously out-of-date gut for analysis that was tiredly erroneous decades ago. He views politics almost solely as theater. He's incompetent as a broadcaster. He is lazy, apparently doing zero preparation for his shows, sometimes stumbling over the intros that others have written for him. (Calling your friends for gossip and chat you can't repeat on air is not preparation for a show-- it's just calling your coffee klatch for a pick-me-up.) He's politically juvenile. He's a puerile little twit.

Anyone who watches Matthews comes away knowing less about politics and policy than they did before.

Please, MSNBC, get rid of this guy. BBC America is stealing eyeballs from you with their national news broadcast because they don't radiate contempt for their viewers.

This is another in an ongoing series of screams about how awful Chris Matthews is.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Two "Lesser" Inaugural Songs

1) At Last (the song to which the Obamas performed their "first dance" at various balls.

Written in 1941 for a mostly forgotten musical "Orchestra Wives" and performed by Glenn Miller's Orchestra.

The version that strikes me as the version is Nat "King" Cole's 1957 recording. It was another time where Obama reminded me that the "mainstream" has long included African-American performers. But I recall, as maybe Obama does but probably most don't, that Cole was a very good straight-jazz pianist before he became known as the great singer we know him as now.

It's great that he's reminded me of not only Sam Cooke and Charlie Parker, but Louis Armstrong and now Nat "King" Cole.

Thanks, Obama.

2) In his inaugural address, Obama said: "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."

And that reminded me of a very old song I associate mainly with happy white-bread Depression-era tunesmiths: Start All Over Again.

To quote from the lyrics:
Nothing's impossible I have found,
For when my chin is on the ground,
I pick myself up,
Dust myself off
Start All over again.

It's one of those keep your chin up Depression-era songs like "Pennies from Heaven," or "We're In the Money," or "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries."

If Obama were an old-style Democratic politician, he might have referred to "Happy Days are Here Again." A good song in context, but there are other contexts to attend to.

I realize that some black performers have recorded "Start All Over Again," but to me, as a white guy who was born far past the Great Depression,that song is a mainstream white USA tune that speaks to the essence of what Obama is talking about:
  • the current situation is as serious as a heart attack.
  • We will have to perservere.
  • We will have to try a few approaches before one ultimately works
  • we have to recognize that common people are resilient but we are not a stepping stool for the well-heeled.

Much like his embedded and unheralded inaugural allusions to Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr. and countless others, the songs he chooses say something about this country and about this western world.

And this tune is not a "white-bread American tune." It's merely an American song. An American tune.

These songs are good tunes. But they are not just good tunes-- they're more than that.

Welcome President Barack Obama. Godspeed to you and to us all.

Friday, January 16, 2009

George W Bush: Republican. Good Riddance.

Initially I thought I'd write a post detailing similarities between Count Arthur Strong and George W. Bush (believe me, there are plenty: hubridity, vainglory, near-Tourette's, utter lack of insight, meanness, idiocy, and more). But I like Count Arthur and do not want to sully him with the taint of Bush.

Instead, it's time to not only celebrate Bush leaving the Presidency, but to point out how much will not be leaving us: modern Republicanism. Bush is the distilled essence of Republicanism. (Even more than sainted Ronnie: Reagan raised taxes, for instance, and Bush held firm to his Republican roots and didn't.)

Bush will be soon be gone, thankfully. Republicans will blame him and not their philosopy for the stench he left over the country. But, in reality, he did mostly what they wanted, and got the country that we get from doing mostly what Republicans want.
  • Shovel money to the rich.
  • Do nothing to increase middle- and lower-class incomes.
  • Continue to lower taxes even when the deficit explodes.
  • Only worry about the deficit when the entire economy is on the line and we need to spend money to dig us out of the hole.
  • Don't think through foreign crises with the brain: instead apply shibboleths about "toughness."
  • Find some trivial culture war bullshit to yell about so you can whip up the base.
  • Call a stupid person's stupidity "authenticity." Elevate that "authenticity" to a homespun instinct for dealing with big issues. (The fact that so many Republicans still revere Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber shows how deep this strain runs).
We will be rid of Bush very soon, thank God. We will have to deal with Republicanism for years to come. It's a pox on our country and I doubt we'll eliminate it. There's a good chance we won't even survive it.

Good riddance to bad rubbish, Bush. Republicanism: same tomorrow as it ever was.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Count Arthur Returns!

I must note that BBC Radio 4 has begun a new series of Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show!

There are few things better.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

When My Daughter Loved Me

In searching for a video of Randy Newman's song "When She Loved Me" from Toy Story 2, I found that someone had put together a youtube video of unrelated fuzzy-good images over the audio of the song. The youtube version didn't do much for me, especially since the person who put it up called it a "love song," which largely misses the point of the tune, especially in the flow of the movie.

But at least one commenter, motherseer, didn't forget the song's power in context of the movie.
Thank you for posting this beautiful video. My daughter and I saw Toy Story 2 together when she was little. It made both of us cry then, so sad for the little doll in the movie. Now that she's a teenager, this song still makes us both cry, for the loss of those little girl days. I've stayed the same, but she's moved on. And even though she loves me it's not the same total, uncritical, unconditional love; and oh, how I miss that sweet little girl. :o(

The multi-faceted pathos in that comment reflects in an Escherian way the song itself as part of the movie.

Thanks motherseer. And thanks, Randy Newman.
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