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Christmas Commentary Uncategorized

Rudolph’s North Pole: Bastion of Oppression?

I keep threatening to come back here on a regular basis, and I don’t, but every once in a great while I’m reminded how the world suffers from my waning vigilance and gross inattention, and I’m ashamed to realize how bad things have gotten. And I’m not talking just about President Orangutrump and his bilious lackeys. Most of this I can swallow. I take a pill that helps. (No, not Xanax). But sometimes, things get too far and I need to step in.

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I found this little gem on Facebook this morning. You can read it on your own time, but the gist is that Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer has “triggered” a whole bunch of melodramatically over-sensitive little flowers and the only solution to their vexing, simmering itch is to light up Twitter with indignation–to delightfully entertaining ends.

First off, this isn’t new. Who above the age of seven has watched this heart-warming holiday tradition without chuckling over what a complete asshole Santa, Coach and Rudolph’s Dad are at the beginning of the movie. But come on, they’re no different than everyone else’s republican dad ever, their love submerged beneath a suffocating preoccupation with social status, a concern about what might be whispered behind their backs at church, or how the guys “down at the club” are going to give them a razzing, even if only to use pseudo-dominant behavior as a means to distract from their own senses of unfulfilled dreams and inadequacy. I mean: come on. Why is the patriarchy such a bunch of jerks? Because they’re miserable, and deep down they know it–perhaps not consciously, but certainly at a deeper, cellular level–with absolute certainty, just as they know they’ll never fill that dark, beckoning void in their souls. Has no one ever read Updike? Not that I’d encourage anyone to do such a thing.

The Tweet-storm at #RudolphTheRednosedReindeer has been impressive; much of it, fortunately, tongue in cheek. But there is not shortage of self-defined social reformers eager to protect us from the Scourge of Bitter Santa–just as they leapt to shout “date rape,” however belatedly, over that steamy holiday icon, “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” That essay, and its dirty-minded revisionism, will find it’s way around the interwebs any day now, as it does each year. But that’s another story. Or is it?

The theme here is outrage junkies leaping to (often self-aggrandizing) accusations or offense or inappropriateness without regard for context. The question is: why do we have to be so candy-assed about our grievances, regardless of substance? I poke at the leftists because they’re “my people” despite how little they want to do with me, but it’s the same on the conservative side of things, where knickers are forever twisted by all matters associated with veterans, guns, flags, and–worst of all–the Dixie Chicks. Thanks, Obama.

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Oh, no.

Maybe…just maybe…this show is about ignorance ceding to understanding and acceptance? But that doesn’t fit with the undercurrent of vindictiveness inherent in revisionist post-modernist extremism. The agitated and aggrieved (i.e. “triggered”) aren’t looking for tolerance and a better world so much as they’re salivating for revenge. They don’t want to propagate understanding and unity–they want things to burn, presumably because they were unhappy in high school. Some people get it:

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To me, and any rational, functional human, Rudolph is nothing less than a tale of the triumph of those who live outside orthodoxy, and to those who strive to shatter the concept of “normal” without name-calling and retaliatory reverse discrimination. But if we’re going to play these games, consider cool Cornelius; what’s he but an earth-raping prospector eager to strip mine the north the moment he finds a lick of treasure. Or the sweet little gay elf whose toxic self-loathing leads him to cripple the noble wild Bumble Beast by yanking out all his teeth and dooming the once proud king of the north to a lifetime of servitude in chains? Metaphor for conservative environmental policy? Cautionary tale on the tenuous nature of freedom and democracy 120 years after the supposed end of slavery? I think so. And what about these bigots branding Cornelius as a hipster? Because he’s got a beard and earmuffs and liked corn meal? Well, I can’t be the only bearded misanthrope out there who puts down his johnny cake to wave a hearty “fuck you” at those appearance-based presumptions.

I find the whole lot of you problematic.

 

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Christmas Uncategorized video

Tunesday: Weird Andy Williams

Nostalgic, but strange.  I remember my mother and grandmother both filled with anticipation for the annual Andy Williams Christmas Special variety show.

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Commentary Journal

Home Sweet? Home

DSCN1156
Early morning. Thermal features near the Artist’s Paint Pots in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

It’s been awhile: 23 days. 5974 Miles. 15 States. 10 National Parks. 2 Spectacular State Parks. 5 Motel Rooms. 7 Campgrounds. Temps 33 (Madison, Yellowstone National Park) to -99 degrees (Moab, Utah). 2 Jacuzzi nights.  About a dozen great old friends. A few new ones. A lot of new adventures.

Am I glad to be home? I’m still thinking about that one. I will say it is good to sleep in my own bed again, that it was nice to be indoors for two nights in a row, and that I missed my dog.  I guess I missed some people, too–a few here and a lot of you, there, gentle readers.

If I had it to do again, I’d take the laptop and blog from the road, even if it was only a an update now and then.  You’ll be hearing a lot of this trip–it was significant for me in many ways far and above simple nostalgia–but I’m certain a great deal of things that might have been amusing, or entertaining, or at the very least just a little bit droll, have fallen prey to my aged and distracted mind.

I didn’t write while I was gone.  Intentionally.  The object was to stoke the creative fires, build up a good appetite, and enjoy the trip viscerally rather than interpretively or expositionally, and I’m feeling some of that but, strangely, this is my third evening indoors and I had to overcome a bit of awkward reluctance to sit down and start–something I can best describe as shyness.

I met up with a group of old friends–former coworkers I met 25 years ago as a young, messed-up, kid who didn’t know the first thing about the world or himself–except that he wasn’t happy. It’s been 20 years since I saw most of them, and I was a little nervous going in: these people mean so much to me, but were we still the same people?  The sensation was disconcerting, to say the least–I’ve beaten as much of the hesitance and doubt from my soul as I could without breaking my hammer, and I’m unaccustomed to feeling awkward, but this was important. I’ve made very few friendships that move me as these people move me.

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Badlands National Park, South Dakota, with some innocents who have no idea I’m about to make them famous…. When you see these long narrow panorama pictures, give ’em a click…they get BIG.

And, of course, I had nothing to worry about. There was no question that the years had passed, but I fell right into the comfort of my friends’ company as naturally as if we’d been separated for a day or two–there were hugs, of course, a general marveling at how much we did/didn’t look as we once did, and a profound awe at meeting our respective children.  At least, I was awed.  Every kid I met was loaded down with coolness and cuteness and –because folks like us were drawn together for a reason–there was just a little devilry to be found in those youthful eyes.  I would remark over and over again how strange it was, to be in that place, among those people, knowing full well how much time has passed but at the same time feeling like it was nothing at all.  A blink.

How strange it was, then, to come home a few weeks later and feel estranged and awkward at my desk?  Some things I’ll never figure out–and I’m not going to waste more time talking about it.  I’ve got a ton of writing to do, both here and on The Novel, a lot of work in my day job, a lot of work around the house, and a host of other crap in front of me and, strangely enough, I feel motivated to take care of some business.  I also have over 3 weeks of my favorite bloggers to catch up with–so be patient.  I’ll be around, eventually.

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Uncategorized

David Keig: A Christmas Tree! A Christmas Tree!

A Christmas Tree!  A Christmas Tree!
by David Keig

A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
With dark green needled memories
Of childhood dreams and mysteries
Wrapped present-like in front of me.

A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
I glimpse a past wherein i see
The child that then grew into me
Not forward fast but haltingly.

A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
A time for being with family
A time that’s gone so fleetingly
Yet lives for always deep in me.

A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
When twelfth night comes whole hauntingly
One lingered look and then i see
No Christmas tree where it would be.

A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
With feelings now felt longingly
No corner in my house to see
The magic of that Christmas tree.

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Uncategorized

Rocky Horror Picture Show

In the velvet darkness, of the blackest night, burning bright….

1280x740xRocky-Horror-Picture-Show-the-rocky-horror-picture-show-236965_1280_1024.jpg.pagespeed.ic.buFO4SPeOQI recently stumbled into a rather dated blog post (link below) that read….

This weekend I went to see Rocky Horror Picture Show done by a group of players who ran the movie and simultaneously acted out the movie as a live play.  Staging and production-wise, I’d say don’t try this at home.  They were a cute bunch of kids in cute costumes and I think everyone had a pretty good time.  I felt very middle-aged throughout, especially considering that unlike me, most of the live cast and audience weren’t yet born in 1975 when “Rocky Horror” first came out.

I was much too young for “Rocky Horror” when it debuted and not much interested in the counter-culture that embraced it as I came of age.  My previous attempts to watch it (once at a party, once at a theater and once at

No toast...but they did serve Meat Loaf.
No toast…but they did serve Meat Loaf.

home on video) ended with dozing, falling asleep and general boredom.  It’s not that I didn’t get it.  It was that it was the cultural relic of a time that I didn’t belong to and didn’t idolize.  I understand the era it came from and had some passing familiarity with it, but it isn’t my thing. As much as the young Rocky party goers wish otherwise, it’s not really their thing either.

There’s nothing particularly outrageous in 2008 about going out in public in a corset.  Hell, they make them as outerwear these days.  While there is still a lot of anti-gay sentiment, most people of my acquaintance today know exactly what a transsexual is.  And for those of us who watched friends die of AIDs, a free-for-all sexual lifestyle looks more idiotic than liberating.  The sexual revolution that spawned Dr. Frankenfurter is as antique today as a Victorian opium den.  However fun and salacious the young people doing this production found it, they’re even less likely to actually understand Rocky than I am.  It was a profound realization in the middle of a very silly night.  Sadly, even with my previous mostly unconscious attendances of the past, I knew the cues for the stuff in the prop bags better than most of the avowed enthusiasts.

It took two days and a lot of scrubbing to get that “lip” stamp off my hand, too!

http://tlryder.wordpress.com/2008/06/09/rocky-horror-picture-show/#comment-177

RHPS-RW1C1-TransylvaniansLLiked the post because it gave me pause to think, and recall fondly–I was fifteen when some friends and I walked two miles to the theater for a midnight showing of Rocky Horror.  It was 1982, I had no idea what the show was about, only that it was a movie at midnight and was supposedly a lot of fun.  It was, though we arrived without makeup, costumes, squirt guns, or toast.  I could take or leave the idealized debauchery, and the counter-culture sex/gender-bending element non-plussed me even then (Dustin Hoffman’s Tootsie came out that same year). I had a crush on Columbia, which was strange, because the girl who’d head-over-heeled me in real life had a definite Magenta vibe.  But I digress: my pleasure from that night, and the dozen or so Rocky shows I’ve attended in the ensuring 30-some years, came from the joy of the crowd, not the dated ribaldry of the script.  Scenes like Rocky Horror are ultimately reliant upon rocky-horror-picture-show-13_610a group of (mostly) strangers mutually agreeing to indulge themselves in–not wildness, but the idea of wildness, and in this it occurs to me that Rocky Horror has more in common with a bunch of old folks doing the chicken dance at a polish wedding than it does with outmoded sexual exotica. After all, it’s just a jump to the left….

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Shakespeare and Rocky Horror?

http://shakespearesolved.blogspot.com/2012/08/rocky-horror-picture-show-shakespeare.html

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Journal Photo I Took

1984 Datsun/Nissan Sentra (or was it an 83?)

Nissan Sentra
Nissan Sentra

The old Datsun/Nissan–when, for a few years, the company couldn’t make up it’s mind what to call itself.  I traded a giant Oldsmobile Delta 88 with a 403 V-8 77olds62140-1that got 9-11 miles per gallon and had the biggest back seat in the history of drive-in movies for the comparatively thrifty  Sentra Hatchback, which took some adjusting but was one of the better cars I ever owned–I would drive it about 53,000 miles in the next 3 years, including across the country and back twice, and all over midwest and east coast, then straight into the ground.  It always started on the first turn, but when it developed a shimmy at 124,000 miles and I took it to the shop the guy looked at all the rust on the frame and suspension and shook his head.

Nissan Sentra
Montana, October 1990

“Well,” he said. “You’re looking at twice what its worth to fix it.”

“Any shortcuts we can take, to keep it going for another year?”

“Son,” he said, a thin whistle playing through the gap in his teeth as he inhaled. “People die in cars like this.”

I posted this because somebody from college asked me about it the other day and said he’d seen one just like it on the net here:

http://www.oldparkedcars.com/2012/02/1982-datsunnissan-sentra-hatchback.html

Mine was better. It had a sunroof.  Of course, it died in Spring, 1991, so there’s that…. Still, this was a nice trip down memory lane.  The Sentra was a fun little car, fairly peppy with the 5-speed and would cruise along the highway at 80 with no trouble.  It wasn’t a great hit at the Drive-In, alas, but by that time I had my own place, so….