Sumer Is Icumen In

Lhude sing cuccu!

Actually, this is one of those pre-summer weekends where Summer comes up, grabs you by the lapels, slaps you across the sweat glands and reminds you that you’re his bitch.

Mid-to-high 90s both days, and still over 70 degrees, even though it’s 1AM here. (The only thing that saves you in the So Cal summer is the nights getting cold.) During last summer’s heat wave, I used to watch the temperature slowly drop from 100 to 90 overnight.

Global coldening can’t come soon enough. (Sorry, Canada!)

Blog Rush

I put the Blog Rush widget in (it’s on the right, scroll down) at the urging of Kelly. So far it’s gotten me about one hit. She said it just kicked in for her, so maybe in a day or two I’ll see something from it.

It’s the pointy breasts, though. Apparently, that’s what life is all about.

Actually, more seriously, it’s the peculiar combination of words that gets hits. I also get hits off of “oil milkshake”, for example. From my recent mention of MST3K, I get hits off of “Normal view”.

I also get a lot of hits on “male full frontal nudity”, but don’t expect me to start putting penises on this page.

The weirdest one I get is “canine spinal tap malpractice” someone with a page that mentioned “canine malpractice” linked to a post of mine referencing “Spinal Tap”.

It’s not likely I’ll be putting dog surgery pix up any time soon.

More like than penises, still.

The Perils of Lampooning the Successful

I don’t show it much here but there are some people in Hollywood who strike me as complete hacks. I don’t know how they made it and their continued success confounds me.

Here’s a good example of why I don’t write about it much.

You end up looking like a whiny little bitch suckin’ on sour grapes.

I don’t know if his appraisal of how Apatow and his crew makes movies is accurate–i.e., I don’t know if they’re largely improvised–but most of his gripes seem to concern the sort of details that you would care about if you were a student at a film school, and especially if you were unsuccessful in real life. (Not saying that’s true, just saying that’s what it sounds like.)

Well, that and that Apatow uses the same people in his movies, probably people he’s friendly with.

Duh.

You know, like Kevin Smith, Orson Welles, Frank Capra…

That’s the thing, you could deconstruct just about any filmmaker–any artist this way. I could do it with Frank Capra. Vivaldi was accused of writing the same concerto 500 times. Etc.

Kelly takes on John Adams

My pal Kelly has a nice entry on John Adams up, comparing the book and the movie, looking at historical accuracy, etc.

Check it out! I’m going over there now to comment myself.

Loaded Questions is what you call an “up and coming” blog. She’s got a nice niche interviewing authors, and she’ll turn it into a major hot spot in no time.

The Maelstrom, on the other hand, is more of a swamp blog. The only thing buoying it are the occasional pairs of pointy breasts.

Trooper York Brilliance

In this Althouse thread you’ll find Trooper York riffing on the election as only he can. It’s that blend of The E! True Hollywood Story, politics and Saturday morning cartoons that somehow captures things perfectly:

Now the time has finally arrived for Tigger to run for king of the jungle. His only competition was Penelope who was a very ordinary pussycat who was only popular because of her husband Pepe Le Pew. And he wasn’t even a cat, he was a skunk. His sexual misadventures were infamous, but he still was very popular in the jungle. Tigger had a lot of energy and he knew if he just offered change he could get a lot of votes especially from the young people. I mean why would they vote for his two rivals. An ordinary pussycat who never did anything in her life but cling to her husbands skunktail or the other party’s nominee, the octogenarian Old Deuteronomy who was only famous for being tortured by Marlon Perkins during the fourth season of Wild Kingdom. The election was his to lose.
(The Tigger of the Narcissus, Joe Conrad Klein)

You’ll probably want to skip all the political nonsense and, uh, fecal obsession of one poster.

This Island Faith

The old MST3K movie, based on This Island Earth has been on cable lately. It stars the lovely Faith Domergue at her pointiest:


(What can I say? The pointy breasts, they drive my traffic! And Faith was not well-endowed, but that didn’t stop them from trying to mold them into flesh torpedoes.)

Anyway, the movie was made after MST3K had passed its prime, with Joel having left at the beginning of the previous season, and TV’s Frank leaving before the movie was shot. And the show had just been canceled off Comedy Central, and not yet picked up on Sci-Fi.

It doesn’t use the wonderfully concise expository theme song and Dr. Forrester looks horribly lonely all by himself without a minion to abuse. (Trace Beaulieu would leave at the end of the following season, I believe.) Tom Servo swears a few times and answers the vital question: Would the show be funnier if it didn’t have to adhere to TV language and content rules? (Answer: No.)

At the time, it seemed like a moderately good episode. Not great.

It holds up very well, however. The only really severely dated stuff is a reference to John Sununu. It features some classic lines, which will probably make you smile if you’ve ever seen it, and scratch your head if you haven’t:

Crow: Somebody sneezed on the credits!

Crow: The earth is exactly as we left it: With the USA in charge!

All: Normal view! Normal VIEW! NORMAL VIEW! NORMAL VIEEEEEWWW!!

Crow: Industry, Science and Technology!
Tom Servo: Big men sticking screw drivers into things, turning them and adjusting them.
Crow T. Robot: Build your very own Atom Storage Box!
Mike: Bringing you state-of-the-art in soft-serve technology!
Crow T. Robot: Removes lids off bottles and jars of all sizes – and it really, really works.

It’s also got solid sketches, with Crow trying to tunnel to earth, Mike crashing the satellite into the Hubble (“I’m fully rated for Microsoft Flight Simulator”) and the Interositer service call (“Are you in Europe? Do you need an adapter?”).

This sort of humor is often very dated, with a shelf life akin to buttermilk. But this one seems better over time.

That may be because the latest Cinematic Titanic shows were delayed by the writer’s strike. Nah, it’s still gold. I gotta be honest: When I first saw MST3K, I liked the riffs and thought the whole puppet show was sorta stupid. As time passed, though, I realized that, besides being funny, the sketches gave a greater sense of character to the proceedings.

I hope they can manage something like that with CT.

Terrorism and Indoctrination vs. Education

Althouse touched off a vortex with her post on Obama and his association with terrorist Bill Ayers, about which she is rather blasé. I suppose I am, too, though Ayers is appalling, and even worse is the idea that he has a job that’s normally associated with some prestige. He escaped persecution on a technicality and continues to operate while being completely unrepentant. It’d be like ESPN hiring O.J. Simpson, even as Simpson confirms periodically on the air that not only did he kill his wife, she deserved it and he wishes he could’ve finished off her family.

But it’s a fact of life that such people run around the far left and far right extremes of society, and a fact that leftists are not punished for their associations with such people the way rightists would be (and are for much less). One effect of that fact is that left-leaning politicians are going to have connections with them without thinking much about it.

But it brings up an interesting point that comes up a lot, and which is illustrated by a clip that Hector posted on his site a while back (and references in the comments at Althouse): We are still fighting the USSR. Joe McCarthy may have been a paranoid freak, but he was right about a lot of stuff. In particular, the Soviets ran an anti-America campaign that poisons thought against the US even as we approach 20th anniversary of their fall.

The areas that the KGB infiltrated most successfully were education, politics and entertainment. This is why you see so much anti-American stuff in these corners. The last two issues are interesting in and of themselves, but the education issue came up a lot in this thread. In particular, education versus indoctrination.

There can be no doubt that US schools indoctrinate. And that they indoctrinate in environmentalism is no more coincidental than Earth Day being on Lenin’s birthday.

But does education have to be indoctrination?

I had a fight once with a friend over this. (I thought I had blogged about it here but I can’t find the previous entry.) My argument was that you give kids the facts and let them come to their own conclusions. She was outraged because, well, What if they come to the wrong conclusions?

Yes. What if? I love this argument because it presupposes that you know what the wrong conclusions are. But we’re never aware of our own blind spots.

It’s been a blast teaching the boy history because, well, I don’t really teach him history. I tell him to research certain topics and write about them. This pays off pretty well, and has the advantage that I can ask him what he thinks about the topic, and he’s willing to defend his point-of-view because it’s his point-of-view and not mine!

Do I find it a little disturbing that he’s a gun-totin’, hippie-hatin’, America-lovin’ right winger? Sure, sometimes.

I’ll be more disturbed if The Flower stays with her flower-lovin’, earth-saving left wing ways–which are pretty normal for a 6-7 year-old girl–if she keeps them into her teens and they continue to be based on what the Disney channel tells her. (It’s fine with me if she turns out to be The Boy’s polar opposite, but I want that to be a result of her own reason.)

Now, what about manners, morals and other social matters? Don’t they need to be indoctrinated into children? Not at all. It’s very much like any other form of education. Let me elaborate:

The boy studies US History, math, literature and grammar, penmanship, various sciences, music and computer programming. That’s apart from more hobby-ish subjects like chess and karate.

Why these subjects? Well, he wants to program games, so that’s why he does that. Science holds some interest him, so that’s his motivation here. And he’s begun to find history compelling. But the rest? Well, for one thing he doesn’t want to look like a moron.

Educational pressure is totally inverted in school. To be cool is to not care about learning things. The student is ostracized for doing well in many cases. The Boy looks around and sees his peers and is somewhat embarrassed. I think this is probably a healthy reaction: Most of us have a combination of naive energy and ignorance as teens, and we’re not smart enough to be embarrassed about it until we’re older.

But part and parcel of not looking like a moron is simply recognizing what our culture considers important. And the same thing goes for manners, morals, ethics, traditions, etc.

That’s why, when you eat, you don’t make a pig of yourself, why you don’t fart in polite company, why you’re polite, and so on. It’s a mistake to put this in as indoctrination: As education it becomes a tool for success, something you can adapt if your circumstances change without being offended.

Oddly enough, while we never much dwelled on it, the children are startlingly polite in public. It’s startling because in the relaxed atmosphere of home, flouting manners or even rational conversation is a game they occasionally play. But out in the world, they’re all “please” and “thank you” and “you’re welcome”, and have been since they first learned to speak.

An Author Reads A Review

Hey, this is kind of cool.

Debra Hamel stumbled across my review of her book and blogged about it. (Ego-surfing, Ms. Hamel, are we? Actually, it’s sort of embarrassing, since she found my review the day after I did it and I’m just now finding her link back.)

Makes me wish I hadn’t made hash of that review.

It’s funny. I’ve written, literally, millions of words. And I’m not talking about online, either. I wrote a thousand words a day, every day for probably 15 years. Mostly fiction. In the past fifteen years, I’ve written a ton of non-fiction, including three published books and countless articles.

Yet when I write for the blog, I feel like I’m trying to find my voice anew. Something casual but not completely scatterbrained. Yet it comes out like the ADHD special. Well, I’m new to this form, I guess. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.