When Your Online Acquaintances Find Jesus

Two of the people in my feedreader have recently returned to the church.  I have no knock against anyone returning to the church, but if you’re suddenly and abruptly going to refocus your blog on your newfound renewed love of Jesus, I think you owe your readers a slight explanation.

I know this stuff can be incredibly personal, so I’m not asking for much.

Just something like “You know, I’ve decided to go back to church.” or, in one of the cases, I suspect “You know, I quit blogging and someone else has taken up my domain and you didn’t notice, dumbass.”

The one rededication has been pretty major.  The blogger and Jesus seem to have struck up some deal, an important deal, the kind of deal that, if it doesn’t come through, would have major implications, but if it did come through, would have other types of major implications.  I read along really just to see what will happen.  Either thing will be compelling, if the person chooses to write about it.

But the other has been more subtle.  One minute, she was blogging about feminism and the next minute she was blogging about Jesus.  I personally don’t believe those two things are incompatable, but I’m really curious.  It’s almost as if she slipped right out of one belief system into another and the only kinds of people who do that are the profoundly fickle or the profoundly changed.  I can’t tell which she is.

But I’m curious.

And Her Autobiography Practically Plagiarizes “Annie,” Too, but No One Seems to Care about That

You’d think that a story involving two acts you don’t care about would somehow be even less interesting than each individual act alone, like how, if The Black Crows elicit a “-2” on the B.’s Scale of Interest and Gretchen Wilson is also a “-2,” that together, they must form a “-4” of interest from me, almost at the point where I am physically unable to actually pay attention to them.

And yet, thanks to the fine folks over at The 9513, I’ve spent my lunch hour trying to decide if the Black Crows have any grounds to sue Wilson.

Yes, I’ll admit that the songs sound the same.

See Black Crows here:

and Gretchen Wilson here:

But can’t we just agree that both songs kind of suck and that the best defense Wilson has is that, even though she, like me, surely heard “Jealous Again” eight million times fifteen years ago, when it was playing on every radio in every car in the land, it is actually so bland and nondescript as far as songs go that there’s no possible way it could have stuck in her head long enough for her to plagiarize it?

But the thing that cracks me up is how quick the Black Crows are to sue, as if they didn’t luck out that the Stones never made an issue of how closely their song resembles this:


Which reminds me that I keep meaning to force Supermousy to watch this video and this video back to back and tell me those aren’t the same song.


If You Wanted to Make an Analogy

So, yeah, I loved The Dark Knight.  As did everyone, it seems, I thought Ledger’s performance was amazing.  I think what’s most amazing about his performance is that he makes you feel as if the Joker is real, not just in the context of the movie, but really real.  Almost everybody else, from Batman to Harvey Dent (with the exception of Rachel Dawes), seemed real in the context of the movie, but they didn’t seem to me like they quite bled over into real life.  It was like the lot of them were constantly asking themselves “How would my character respond in this situation?”  And Ledger and Gyllenhall ask themselves, “If I were this person, what would I do?”

It’s a subtle difference and I’m not saying that one is worse than the other.  It’s just that, for me, one allows me as a viewer to feel a safe gap between me and the story and the other doesn’t. 

I’m especially thinking of the moment when Dawes realizes that she’s going to die and how Gyllenhall makes you, right at that moment, wish more than anything that, if it meant everyone else in the movie had to die, she would get to live.  It’s something about the breath she takes and the way she shifts her body so resolutely.  In a movie that doesn’t really flesh out much of Dawes as a character, Gyllenhall turns her into a person whose loss you take personally.

In a way, the same with Ledger.  I really probably don’t have anything to say that a million people haven’t said before, but I thought his performance was amazing.  I get what Kat says about wishing for some kind of backstory.  But I felt like we got a backstory to the Joker, at least as much of one as could be articulated without rendering him too sympathetic.

And you get that, not from anything the Joker says–because you can’t trust anything the Joker says as the truth–but from what Ledger gives the character.  We know he’s in pain, constantly, from the way Ledger held the Joker’s body.  We know that he thrives on the pain, that something about the jolt of it is important to him.  We know that some of it is self-inflicted–just from the way he is constantly toying with his own scars; they pain him and yet he’s constantly poking at them.  We know that there’s an almost child-like quality to him–and not in the innocent and sweet way, but in the amoral, chaos-inducing way, see how he holds himself when he comes out of the hospital.

And so we know enough, I felt, that the Joker might have always been troubled, but something happened to him when he was very young, something nightmarishly bad, and that the nightmare continued–because he’s never been in any system that Batman can find–until he became it.

I think it’s brilliant to so subtly give you the frame of the story in the carriage of the man while letting your imagination fill in the backstory, because, of course, like all the best horror movie makers know, it’s often what you don’t see that’s much scarier than you see.

As for a third Batman, am I the only person who would like to see them not devolve the franchise into an endless number of sequels, which slowly degrade into cheesiness?  I say, let a third one be a final one–do something Batman Beyond-ish and call it a day.

Edited to add:  I forgot the whole point of my post, which was to say, if you wanted to make an analogy between this movie and anything, I recommend you ponder the Joker as Loki.

Tell me you see it, too.

The Dark Knight

We went to see the new Batman movie tonight on the IMAX screen… in the IMAX format… um, it was a big screen.

It was amazing.

And anyone who thinks that it’s some easy analogy to the state of conservatism… well, first of all, that would make you a moron.  Second, even if you believed that it was some easy analogy to the state of conservatism, if you came away from that believing that it was some rah-rah love story justification of conservative tactics, you clearly need to rewatch the movie and think carefully about what you’re seeing.

Are We Being Poisoned?

It’s a simple enough question and one that seems like it’d be simple enough to answer, but I’ll be damned if I know.

Would it be wrong to start harassing the new editor of the Scene about this or would he think I’m a crackpot?

One of my many sources* sent me the press release and media information for the media conference BURNT and the NAACP had on Monday. I wish I’d have known about it ahead of time. I would have gone. No matter. I have this stuff to sort through and I bring you the juicy stuff.

Quoting from the press release:

On 28 July at 11 a.m. at the Nashville Branch of the NAACP, 1308 Jefferson Street, the NAACP joined with BURNT to release an Expert Opinion by Mark Quarles, Professional Geologist, documenting groundwater pollution and regulatory errors by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation at multiple Tennessee landfills including Middle Point Landfill in Murfreesboro, Dickson County Landfill, Southern Services Landfill in North Nashville, and other Tennessee Landfills. Quarles, P.G., written Expert Opinion documents extensive landfilling of heavy industrial waste at unlined Southern Services Construction and Demolition Landfill with no testing for VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds). Quarles also documents the failure of TDEC to force polluting companies to clean up the Dickson County Landfill prior to multiple bankruptcies which makes Dickson County and the City of Dickson responsible for the clean up. Quarles documents multiple errors by TDEC in placing landfills in karst geology [fissures and cracks which allow migration of pollution], landfills close to drinking water supplies, and the use of springs rather than wells to monitor pollution.

Whew, that was a long paragraph and not very clearly written, but let me boil it down to what I think is the important essence. One, as we know, the Dickson County Landfill is a terrible, poisonous mess (and yet, people are building new houses right along side it). Two, the Middle Point Landfill in Murfreesboro and the Southern Services Landfill are both filled with scary stuff**. Three, the Southern Services landfill is unlined, which means that any scary stuff in there is leaking into the ground. And four, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is doing a shit job of monitoring the groundwater near those sites.

I have a number of unresolved questions about the Dickson Landfill–1. Are its boundaries now as large as its historic boundaries? 2. If so, then why are there pipes to let out gas on the other side of the road? 3. Even if the newer parts of the dump are lined, are the old parts? 4. If the contaminated wells have been sealed off (now), is that an acknowledgment that the groundwater is still contaminated? 5. If the groundwater is contaminated, are people who live near the dump (especially the fools who share a backyard with it) in any danger when it rains, if they have, say leaky basements? In other words, is it possible for water to seep through the dump, through the ground, and into their basements? 6. Isn’t it true that Dickson stopped using the lake near the dump to supply water to the city in part because of concerns about contamination? 7. If so, why then are people allowed to now fish out of that lake? Shouldn’t that be a cause for concern?

But I’m curious about the landfill just up the road from our friends’ house in North Nashville. Is it true that this landfill is unlined? Is it also true that they take all kinds of construction waste? And is that not a problem with the landfill being only about a half a mile from the Cumberland?

I am but one woman, and I’m lazy. Can’t some media person investigate this and find out?

*I hope that’s clearly a joke.

**From TDEC’s own site, we learn that sitting in the Middle Point Landfill are such exciting things as treated sludge, regular sludge, zinc electroplating, oil and fuel contaminated soil and gravel, oil and grease solids, powder coating, stabilized wastewater treatment sludge, sludge, sludge, sludge, more sludge, solid ink sludge, coolant, lubricant, hot metal glue, glue ball, waste biosolids…

Mmm, makes you want to run out and take a dip in the Stones River, doesn’t it?


The Professor came by the office and we had salad with pears, some kind of cheese, walnuts, and my beloved dried cranberries.  Then we had the most delicious tamales in the history of tamales.  And then we had cupcakes.

We discussed injustice and bags.

And Dr. Phil.

In unrelated news, I’m considering taking up a collection to get the Professor cable.

If This is the Future of Pith, Color Me Delighted

Pith in the Wind, the blog by our local alternative newspaper–and lets be honest, folks, when the mainstream newspaper runs news items about potential closings because of snow in the middle of July, “alternative” doesn’t have to be any more radical than just “the paper that knows what season it is”–has always been a slightly odd thing.

It looked like a blog and had comments like a blog, but it never quite seemed to be a blog in that it never seemed like the people writing for Pith were reading other bloggers and thinking about what they were saying.  Oh, sure, on occassion, they would point you to a blogger who was saying something similar to what they were saying or something completely moronic.

But that thing that makes blogging really blogging–when you read something someone writes and it reminds you of something else you’ve read, even though they have very little in common, and you make something new and informative out of it for your readers?

Well, I don’t think Pith has had that.

Until today.

Today I’m reading along and it’s all “Sean Braisted says blah blah blah” and “Sean Braisted says blah blah blah” and “Sure, what Sean Braisted says here is interesting but [and, folks, watch it, because here’s where the magic happens] what’s interesting is how what he says has real implications for our discussion on blah blah blah.”


It’s like watching a kid you love continually cannon ball into a pool, like that’s the only way to get wet, and one day, he comes to the edge of the diving board and up, flip, turn, splooosh, right into the water with almost no splash.

You about want to yell “Ta Da!” when he’s done for him.

I Feel Alright Tonight

One of my favorite private pleasures is to lift my foot off the gas just as I get to the last gas station out of town so that my car rolls slowly to the edge of the ridge.  Sometimes, I’m not sure if I’m going to make it to the top of the crest without my car stopping.  But I never have, yet–stopped before the decline starts.

And it’s right then, when the car starts to roll down the hill of its own accord, gathering speed, that tickles me every time.

“Hate Crime” or Domestic Terrorism?

I have become more and more convinced that the whole “hate crime” debate has become so heated as to be ridiculous and meaningless and that, in the end, it’s not necessary to have a distinction of a crime as a “hate crime” because such crimes are already covered under the terrorism statute of the Federal code.

Pushing for “hate crime” legislation means we end up having to have these idiotic discussions about how all crime is based in “hate” and that punishing people for committing a hate crime is somehow tantamount to punishing them for their thoughts which is somehow different than any other case in which people pass judgment on why you commit a crime in order to figure out what you should be charged with. And frankly I’m tired of listening to the whining and the crying and the pissing and the moaning.

The Federal Statute dealing with terrorism says that domestic terrorism is

5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
And what do we know about Adkisson?
He was involved in acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of our criminal codes. He appears to have intended to intimidate a civilian population and hoped to affect the conduct of the government (he wanted to shoot liberal leaders, but since he couldn’t reach them, looked to the voters) and it occurred here.
I say the Feds should charge him as a domestic terrorist and forget about whether this was a “hate crime.”


In the comments to my last post, Rachel says:

Just another comment, because I feel kind of disjointed about this, too – going to veer slightly from your post here. I understand what people are saying about the hate spewed by those who authored books found in Adkisson’s home. As a librarian, it sort of troubles me for people to be looking at his bookshelf and saying, “See, see, what he was reading explains it.” I know, he did claim that it was about “liberals.” Something about it gives me the willies, though.

And I think I get what’s troubling her–that it’s not such a short walk from “see, that rap music is ruining kids everywhere” to “see, that conservative bullshit is ruining kids everywhere” and not such a short leap beyond either of those things to “so, let’s rid the world of that music or those books.”

But the other thing, to me anyway, is that I’d like folks to have the decency to admit that their ideas matter.  I mean, isn’t that why many of us blog?  Hoping, at the least, to find like-minded people to reaffirm our rightness in the world or people who disagree with us whose minds we can either change or who we can make fun of (again to reaffirm our rightness in the world)?

We know that words matter.

And yet we dance around the idea that words matter.

So, that is what it is.

I, for one, would just like folks to take a second to acknowledge that words do matter, that you can’t sit in your public life for a decade spouting off about how liberals are ruining America, how white guys would be getting what they’re “entitled” to if not for the liberals and the gays and the illegals stealing it from them, and then act shocked and surprised when your words resonate.

I mean, I’m torn.  Do I believe that, say, Bill O’Reilly is directly responsible for what happened in Knoxville?  No.  Adkisson clearly had issues and something out there would have given him a framework for his anger.  If not O’Reilly then, I don’t know, maybe listening to Toby Keith albums for 40 days straight might have done it.

We can’t, as a free society (or what’s left of one), run around trying to anticipate which forms of expression are going to set someone off and quash them.

But on the other hand, I also believe that, if there weren’t an ongoing national monologue about how liberals are ruining America, with our gay-loving, baby-killing multicultural pervert ways, it might have taken Adkisson a long, long time to give shape to his anger and to find a focus for it.

As Myca, over at Alas, a Blog, puts it, “See, it turns out that when you said all that shit . . . people were listening. Jim D. Adkisson was listening.”

But, if you read Katie’s post this morning or this post from Sadly, No!, you’ll see already how this is being explained away.  The Unitarians brought this on themselves or Adkisson wasn’t really conservative or sure, this was tragic, but it wasn’t really that tragic, or this wasn’t about killing liberals, that was just a cover for his true desire to kill Christians*.

And I mean, please, could we have just one break in the clouds?  One moment when the light shines through and people get it?  Just even for one second, that when you run around calling for liberals to be rounded up and shot or when you call us traitors or claim that we’re the greatest threat to America, it might cause some people to feel that we need to be rounded up and shot.

Your words matter.  They have weight.  They spur people to action.

And can you then, therefore, have the decency to stop advocating for people to kill us?

Because, you know what happens when you advocate for people to kill us?

They do.


*Though, as many have noted, there’s something darkly funny about how it’s now that the Unitarians get considered Christian.


There’s lots I keep thinking about what happened over in Knoxville, like of course he is an abusive asshole stalker of his ex-wife and of course if you were going to target good liberal folks, you’d find them at a UU church, and of course all the rhetorical hatred of gays and liberals we’ve seen would finally erupt into something like this–a man walking into a church intent on killing everyone in it, including the kids, and then being killed by the police.

Death, my friends, is too good for him.  I hope he lives a good long time, in a tiny cell with only his thoughts to keep him company.

But I also keep thinking about Greg McKendry, standing in his way, and it’s just one of those things that breaks your heart and makes you so proud all at the same time.  And then, the other guys, who came towards Adkisson, even after they saw McKendry fall, to subdue him and keep the situation from being much, much worse.

I imagine that, in a split second like that, that you’re not actually thinking “What should I do?”  That, instead, instinct kicks in and you just do what it is you’re going to do.

Sorry, this is all disjointed.  I work in a small office, in real life, and my co-worker came to us from Knoxville and this is the church her daughter and step-daughters grew up in, the place where she met her husband, and the home of many of her dear friends.

It’s one of the things I both really love and, at times like this, hate about Nashville and Tennessee in general, that it’s not that big a place, that even when something happens across the state, it’s not strange that it would affect someone right across the table from you.

Let Me Just Set the Scene

In other news, dinner tonight consisted of me, the Butcher, the tattooed friend, my mom, my dad, and Mack.

It turns out that some folks refuse to read the blog and others refuse to comment on it.  So, I could pretty much say whatever I wanted here about how it went, and there’d be no one to tell you differently.

But, it went fine.

I Hear Huntsville is Nice

I continue on my quest to get my parents to reconcider their plan to move to Georgia when my mom retires.  It’s a fool’s errand to try to tell people what to do with their lives, but an errand I’m on anyway.

What I said to my mom is that I’m afraid of what will happen if they go down there.  Yes, because I care about them and I don’t want do see them pissing their retirement away trying to save my brother from himself.  But moreso because I am afraid of the headache and heartache I have coming if they get to a point where they can’t take care of themselves, or even if they just need more help taking care of themselves, and they’re six hours away from me.

If they want my help when they get old, they’ve got to move close enough for me to give it.

Of course, they may not want my help when they get old.  That would suck, too, I guess.

Sometimes, when I hang out with Mack’s kids and their friends, it breaks my heart, I feel so much like I’m missing out on something important not having kids of my own.  And then other times I look at my family and I think it’s for the best.

It’s funny, the older I get the more sure I am that I never, ever want to get married.  No offense to the few of you I know who are happily making it work, but I’ve never seen a marriage that made me think, “Aw, rats, I’m missing out on that.”  I’ve seen loves like that, but never marriages.  I do, though, often feel that way about kids.

I don’t know.  I just don’t understand my brother.  Both his kids are so terrific, once they’ve let their guards down, once they feel okay and safe.  And they’re so cool and so much fun.  I just don’t understand how you could hang out with them all the time and not want to protect and provide for them.  I just don’t get that.

My one nephew almost didn’t pass last year and my mom was all “Well, you know, he had a rough start to the year.  His great grandpa died and he missed school for that whole week and…”  I forget, a couple of other things.

And I was like “And his dad was in jail?!”

Start out the year with that kind of shit on you and see how it goes for you, I say.

I’m afraid that my parents think they have no one they can count on.  Often, I’m afraid they might be right.  But, what can you do, you know?

All the time we were growing up, my dad would say to us OFST, which stood for “Our family sticks together.”  I’m such a dumbass; I totally believed that shit.  When, clearly, he said it all the time because it wasn’t true; he just wished it was.  I’m sorry I didn’t figure that all out a lot sooner.

Anyway, I wish they’d retire to Huntsville, not so close we’d have to see them all the time, but close enough that we could.

We See Now How Chris Wage Plans to Take Over the World

Since he took a picture of it, he knows where this place is.  If he has any inkling of how bad most of us want to utilize that place, he’s going to trade maps to there for wealth and power.

It does not surprise me to see that this place seems to be some place sketchy.  You know if they can do what they claim to do and the end result is comfortable and not sliding down your shoulders all day, you probably have to sell your soul to the Devil in order to get one, so no surprises that the place is on the outskirts of Hell.

Well, Apparently the EPA isn’t Monitoring My Blog

Because no one has showed up to locate the smell in my kitchen yet and I have made no progress towards even starting to discover it.  I have, however, spent the day listening to the litany of things the Mexicans in the tattooed friend’s shop tell him to say to each other.  One will say, “Oh, you want to tell Rene to come to lunch with you?  Here, say this” and then he’ll teach the tattooed friend to say “I want to suck your dick” in Spanish.  And the tattooed friend will go over and dutifully repeat what he’s been taught, which will, of course, crack the second guy up and he’ll say, “Yeah, yeah, of course.  But you tell him…” and so on.

This is, apparently, great fun for them and the tattooed friend said that it took him longer than he’d like to admit to figure out that that’s what was going on.

I tell this only to balance out the stories from yesterday.

My parents get here tomorrow for the end of their vacation.  So, that should be fun.

Or something.

I’m working on a prototype of the meta-bag.  That’s my excuse for not cleaning out the fridge.

Can’t You Smell that Smell?

Something in my kitchen smells so bad that I long for someone, anyone, to come to the door and say “Ma’am?  We’ve been sent by the EPA and we are here to clean up your kitchen.  Please put this gas mask on and show us where the fridge is.”

And my shoulders would slump in relief and…


and then I would run upstairs with a bag of squishy rotten grapes hidden under an armpit and I would deposit them around my bathroom and get the EPA to clean that up, too.

More Proof Mexicans are Ruining Our Culture

So, the tattooed friend has a job that involves putting things that “nothing runs like” together, not for farmers, but heavier equipment.  Like any good union man, he’s a Democrat.  There are quite a few Mexicans who work in his shop and I asked him how he felt about that.

He said that he liked and was good friends with the guys he worked with, that they work hard and are really nice, but that they have a really hard time with some of the other white guys there.

“Why?” I asked.  And the tattooed friend put down one cell phone and dug in his pocket for the other.  “You have two cell phones?”

“Yeah, one I use to call people and stuff and the other one…” he opens it up, flips a button, and turns it towards me.  There scrolls picture after picture of naked women doing everything from just innocently jiggling their boobs to doing some dude up the butt with a strap on “… is for all the porn the guys at work send me.”

“Holy shit.  Y’all spread that around at work?”

“Not the Mexican dudes, though.  That’s why some of the white guys don’t like them; they won’t swap porn with us.  I don’t give a shit, you know.  Do your job, be cool, that’s all I ask.  But these guys don’t even do drugs.  And they want to tell you all the time about their kids.”

It’s 14 Year Old Boyland Here

So, the boys are going to some wine tasting, which for some reason involved the tattooed friend running around with no shirt on while digging around in his bag for something.

He then stands up and proceeds to spray this god-awful aerosol crap in a low swinging arc.

“Are you spraying your crotch with that shit?” I ask, incredulous that he would think that such a smell would make any person with a nose come closer to him.

“It’s body spray, B. I was spraying it on my body.”

“You were spraying it on your crotch.”

“If he’d been spraying it on his crotch, he would have just dropped trou and sprayed it on his crotch.”

“Don’t get into this.  Doesn’t it burn your delicate bits when it touches them.  It smells like it’s nothing but rubbing alcohol and cheap cologne.”

“I, myself, like the feeling of rubbing alcohol on freshly shaven balls.”

“Yeah, it’s great.”

“Oh my god!  Now you’ve put the image of my brother’s hairless balls in my head.”

“Not totally hairless.  I’ve left myself a little testicle goatee.”

“Shut up!”

“Are you crying?”

“Well, I got your fucking crotch spray all in my eye.”

“Sorry about that.  Next time I’ll try to keep it in your mouth.”

The Tattooed Friend’s Visit

I have seen things I cannot unsee and I have heard the term “beef sleeve” more often than one person should be required to.

But my dog is delighted and it will be worth the flashbacks to the afore-mentioned un-unseeable things to have my dog happy.

She has been sitting in his lap, licking all on his neck, snuggling in between him and the back of the chair, showing him her tricks (sitting, catching dog food in the air, and… well, that’s it), and when he took her out, she tried to walk him down the street so she could show him off to the other dogs in the neighborhood.

Footloose, The Explicity v. the Implicit

So, I was thinking about it, what bugged me about Footloose, which I still think you should go see.  And again, I keep coming back to this thought that everyone involved in this production is better than the source material.  Especially when it comes to casting choices (though, I might have just gone ahead and let Hannah McGinley somehow turn Footloose into a one-woman show, because she’s a firecracker).

I mean, for a play being put on in a library up in Metro Center… well, it benefits from the truth of Nashville, which is that there’s no lack of extremely talented folks.  But whenever you stop the music to focus on the acting, you are inevitably wishing that the play gave these folks more to work with.  Cary Street, who played Ren’s mom, and Susan Taylor, who plays the Reverand’s wife, do a great job of conveying to the audience a lot of information about how conflicted and wound up and oppressed their characters are, but they have so little time in which to do it.  I already said how good Ed Amatrudo is at his part, when he finally has something more to do than just be the bad guy.

But the most brilliant/problematic casting decision was to cast Deonte Warren as Ren.  Don’t get me wrong–he’s great fun to watch and conveys that kind of pent-up youthful combination of rage and exuberance.

(And can I just say that the more I think about this, the more I do think that this show would be great fun to take Supermousey and a couple of her friends to, or Slarti’s kids?  There are some “shits” and a little sexual innuendo, but if your kids have ever watched MTV for longer than 3 seconds, they’ve seen much, much worse.)

Where were we?

Oh, yes, my point.

Warren as Ren.

It makes explicit what was, in the movie, and I imagine in renditions of the musical where the male lead is white, implicit–what being “from the big city” meant, for better or for worse, to those of us growing up in small towns in the 80s.  It was kind of a “holy shit, of course” moment for me, but in my defense, I haven’t seen or thought about Footloose in ages.

But there it is.  The kid from the city who listens to that music with drums and who has rhythm and can dance and who only has a mom and who’s pissed off and can’t be controlled and doesn’t respect authority.  Ren has always been “black.”  (And I put black in quotes deliberately because obviously Ren is not black, but I think, and so do most film critics, that movies give us a safe way to talk about the things we’re feeling anxious about, often without having to acknowledge that that’s what we’re up to.  See the Batman controversy, for further proof*.)

So, while Ren’s just implicitly *black*, the movie and the musical move forward under the conceit that there will be some way to reconcile Ren into the community–which is, of course, “white.”  The “white” folks can learn to loosen up and dance and enjoy music again and Ren can settle into the community on his own terms, finally figuring out how to shape it to meet his needs.

(Whew, you could have fun with a feminist critique of that plot, couldn’t you?  How all of the women are obviously miserable under the control of the town Patriarchs, but how they have no effective means to rebel on their own terms and can only hope that the new Patriarch, Ren in this case, puts in place a less stifling regime.)

Ren, when played by a white guy, is almost the opposite of the magical negro–in that he teaches white people to love black culture without having to actually like any individual black people.

But the second Ren is played by a black guy, like I said, all those things become explicit.

And that to me is both the genius and the problem.  I love that it makes you confront head-on that this is a story, in many ways, about race.  But there was a reason that, in 1984, they didn’t make the movie explicitly about race–in that it wouldn’t not have mattered that he was black.

So, on the one hand, it’s cool to see it played as if it’s no big deal that he’s black.

But on the other hand, seeing as how it makes explicit what the subtext of the story is, it seems really, really strange.


*I would argue that, while the Batman as George Bush theory is interesting, it’s bullshit.  Not because it’s not true.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but because at the level this shit works, it usually can only be understood in retrospect, like waking from a dream.  Like Ren has always been coded black, but you only notice it years later or how Top Gun is all about homosexual and homosocial desire–even the “woman’s” name in Charlie, folks, come on!–but you don’t see it at first.  Yes, surely there’s something going on with Batman which is speaking to a lot of folks on some level and maybe ten years from now it will be obvious that it was about finding some way to redeem George Bush, but I don’t know.  To me, it sounds like wishful thinking.


I took the Butcher to see Footloose tonight.  In revenge, he says that he hopes our tattooed friend fights with my friend at lunch tomorrow and then takes her into the bathroom and “knows” her so loudly that everyone in the restaurant stares.

That being said, I think he liked it.

I’ll say this for it.  It’s better than the movie.

So, yes, I thought the singing was great and the acting was good.  But the play is what it is.  I really about wanted to take the whole cast and stick them in something else, just to see what they could do, but maybe that’s not fair.  I mean, it’s based on the movie.

But I felt like the play itself was a little too sketchy.  LIke the mom might as well be matrix ex machina for all the time she gets on stage, but the actor did a great job with the character.  And the woman who played the preacher’s wife did a great job conveying that kind of stiffling “we must let the men be in control” crap from the 80s.  The preacher was really good once his character was given a little conflict.

And the men… oh they can sing.  It’s worth it to go just to hear “Mama Says.”

And the girl who played Rusty was really, really good.

So, this is disjointed, but I liked it and we had a good time.  I think that, if you’re one of those folks who loves the 80s, you’d have a really good time and I think it’d be a great thing to take your kids to.

Wedding Plans

My intern has the most beautiful handwriting in the whole world. I shit you not. And I was marveling over it today at work and accusing him of developing such beautiful handwriting so that he could game the system in school, where he could write something like “Just adding three parts hydrogen to two parts water will result in a plethora of frogs” and his professors would be all like “Oh, my god, it doesn’t seem true, but how can anything be false in such a factual looking handwriting?”

Anyway, I was all “Oh my god, I want you to write…”

And he said “Your wedding invitations?”

And I said, “Well, I’d have to find someone and get engaged all before you go back to school in the fall.”

And he said, “Not really. We could just pick a name and put it on there–like John R. Smith–and you just advertise on Craig’s list that you’ll only see dudes with that name. Then they’re ready to go whenever you find the right John R. Smith.”

To which I said “Bwah ha ha ha ha.”

But to which I was, of course, thinking “I have to blog about that.”