Saturday, January 17, 2009

No Pants Day Spreads

Good thing the 8th annual No Pants Day was held last weekend and not this weekend, as being pantless now would have surely been a glacially painful experience. I read at Alice's blog about the events of this January 10th No Pants Day, making a few realizations about this promotion of public goofiness via the organizers with the Improv Everywhere Group.

From Atlanta to NYC to Boston and Denver, Washington DC, Chicago all kinds of folks shed their pants as they brought smiles, concern, and visible knees and thighs into the public forums and workaday routines. (
nearly 2,500 people took off their pants on subways in 22 cities around the world.)

But here's what I realized - I think No Pants Day should be a new holiday. Though there may be some inherent goofy or silly attributes to any holiday, No Pants Day could just be a day to do something wacky, in public, to just be nonsensical and whimsical, a day to laugh at ourselves, to see our world in a new perspective. (Experts say that kind of thing is good for us. Just experts, OK? I don't know any names or actual scientific data. I'm only blogging here for pete's sake.)

And who knows, it could really catch on and assume those other qualities of holidays, like No Pants Day Dinners, No Pants Day Parties at work, No Pants Day decorations and cards, No Pants Day Parades, all to just really embrace the sheer silliness. Not that it should be made annoying or corporate-encoded, at least not for a few decades, so we could really just enjoy our lives.

If nothing else, we, as good, honest and decent American voters and citizens, should make No Pants Day fall every four years on the Inauguration weekends for our president. Just to say, you know, you may be the president, but we don't have to wear pants if we don't wanna.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Camera Obscura: The Age of Superhero Decadence

I had the chance to read through some of the posts at the much-hyped Big Hollywood web site, the creation of conservative writer/web mogul Andrew Breitbart (the man who helped launch both The Drudge Report and Huffington Post).

Conservatives like Breitbart have a history of decrying art and entertainment for not having a solid core of American conservative political belief and therefore are instead guilty of destroying the moral fiber of the nation. Yawn.

At least he's not calling for a return of congressional hearings into comic books (like that led by Tennessee Democrat Senator Estes Kefauver) and the movie industry -- not yet anyway, but I get the feeling some would love such a thing. Those events were dismal, dark days in our history, allowing for hysterical Inquisition-style theatrics which destroyed lives and celebrated ignorance.

I suppose this is a continuation of the so-called culture wars in America, as if the body politic needs to alter the creation and distribution of works of art and the imagination so that it conforms to a single perspective. Yeah, we so need an anti-imagination campaign. Because, well, conservative ideas are all mangled by art and media whose only goal is to express America-hating and commie-loving views. (Conservative political Myth Numero Uno.)

I stumbled into Big Hollywood after reading about a column by comic book writer Bill Willingham published there. Willingham is moaning that we are in the age of "superhero decadence" and longs for a return to the days when all comic book superheroes were ... well, just better:

Old fashioned ideals of courage and patriotism, backed by a deep virtue and unshakable code, seem to be… well, old fashioned."

Willingham adds:

It’s time to make public a decision I’ve already made in private. I’m going to shamelessly steal a line from Rush Limbaugh, who said, concerning a different matter, “Go ahead and have your recession if you insist, but you’ll have to pardon me if I choose not to participate.” And from now on that’s my position on superhero comics. Go ahead and have your Age of Superhero Decadence, if you insist, but you’ll have to pardon me if I no longer choose to participate.

No more superhero decadence for me. Period. From now on, when I write within the superhero genre I intend to do it right. And if I am ever again privileged to be allowed to write Superman, you can bet your sweet bootie that he’ll find the opportunity to bring back “and the American way,” to his famous credo."

Yeah. Wonder why Willingham's work isn't more successful since he guides his comic book writing by the light of Limbaugh's political views? Darn kids today just don't have much use for jingoistic tropes of nationalism in their durned heathen funny books.

Robot 6 has a good discussion of Willingham and his views on comic books.

But really, as a lifelong comic book fan, the superheroes usually were the least impressive creations. Basic storylines tend to follow a simple formula: Good Guy Encounters Bad Guy and Big Fight Follows. There are many, many instances in real life of just plain heroic - not superheroic - acts and individuals. Most recently, the pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III of the airliner which was forced to land in the middle of the Hudson River yesterday is a bona fide hero - maybe the only person in the world who could have landed that plane in a river without any fatalities.

And if Willingham feels he needs to inject conservative politics into his superhero fantasies, well that's fine by me. I wish him the best. But drama - good drama - requires some kind of conflict, and a character with flaws is more interesting than those without. Let's face it - a multi-millionaire Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, who decides to wear a mask and attack criminals is really just a vigilante who is making an end-run around the law and courts in order to exact immediate justice which only he defines.

I enjoy the movie "Dirty Harry" but in real life I do not want a policeman to act like Harry at all.

Reading through Big Hollywood all I found was a giant whine-festival - Hollywood is evil, media is evil, good moral values don't exist in art enough to satisfy me, etc etc etc.

I like some ambiguity in the fiction or movies or TV I see -- not everyone does, and with hundreds if not thousands of options available to us, we can all find something we like. And that ambiguity allows me a chance to ponder on the tale I am reading or watching - to react to it and weigh it and think about it. A work of the imagination is most often about the rejection of confinement.

Discussion and debate about the fictions of heroes and superheroes might best be started with Joseph Campbell's "Hero With A Thousand Faces" rather than the blather of conservative blogs. Your mileage may vary.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Offering Holy Oils for Obama

Some religious leaders got a congressman to allow them to anoint a doorway that President-elect Obama will step through on his way to the platform where he will be sworn in next week.

This "inaugural anointing" is the first time such has occurred in the U.S., though the same folks did anoint the seats and doors in a Senate chamber where confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees Roberts and Alito were held.

Video is here, as the Reverends Rob Schenck and Patrick J. Mahoney are joined by Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia in their ceremony. (Who knew there was already an Anointing Shoppe online?)

Broun told the press in November he thinks Obama is going to establish a new national Gestapo security force to help transform the U.S. into a Marxist state. The Rev. Schenck, a founding member of Operation Rescue, has had some run-ins with the law dating back to the 1990s:

Schenck was arrested a dozen times during protests outside women's health clinics and abortion doctors' homes, and was momentarily detained by Secret Service after shoving an aborted fetus in front of Bill Clinton outside the 1992 Democratic National Convention."

Broun has introduced one piece of legislation since being elected - banning images of naked women in magazines from the military - a bill which has never been approved for a vote.

Prayers aplenty are common at the Inauguration - I suppose any help is a good thing. I mean, if someone wants to pray and fast for three weeks to benefit me or you, well, I guess that's their choice.

But what if a congressmen brought in some folks to hold a Smudging Ceremony?

Maybe the Tennessee legislature, writhing and moaning over who will be or won't be holding the position of Speaker of the House need some of that holy oil, or a smudging or even an exorcism. Just something to clean out their chi or chakras, maybe they should all attend a cuddle party??

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Republicans Make Tennessee History and Hate It

The Republicans in the state's House of Representatives made history today and they are furious.

For the first time, all the Democrat members of the House of a Republican to be the Speaker of the House -- it just wasn't the Republican the GOP leaders had planned on and bragged about for the last few months. Republican Kent Williams of Carter County got the powerful post which the entire GOP (other than Williams) had planned for Jason Mumpower to get.

Also seems for the first time that Highway Patrol officers had to be summoned to surround and protect the newly elected speaker from his angry GOP colleagues.

Did Williams seek out the job? Or did Democrats seek out Williams?

Other than bloggers, pundits and the news media - few Tennesseans know or care one bit about the battle for control of the House chairman.

Longtime speaker, Democrat Jimmy Naifeh, just showed the entire GOP he knows more than they do about how to exert control over all events in the House, even appointing his replacement. I also find it most curious that the Republican leaders were totally unable to muster the support of a single Democrat to vote for their agenda. And Democrats rallied around one Republican to shatter the dreams of Mumpower and the entire state GOP.

NOTE: You can track the hijinks, the anger and the aftermath through a vast amount of posts from Post Politics. Also, readers respond at KnoxViews too.

Problems Grow for TVA's Ash Spill

Keeping up with the ongoing developments --

Gov. Bredesen says TVA must pay back the state for it's ongoing costs in clean-up and testing for the massive spill of toxic ash in Roane County - just as TVA is saying they are already laying out $1 million in their own costs for the clean-up.

I am committed to making sure this spill is cleaned up and doing everything we can to prevent any similar situation in the future," Gov. Phil Bredesen said in a statement. "I'm also committed to making sure Tennessee taxpayers don't foot the bill. This order requires TVA to reimburse the Department of Environment and Conservation for expenses incurred overseeing cleanup and further investigative activities."

WATE-TV is broadcasting an hour-long special tonight on the disaster and offers a chance for you to submit questions and hear some answers from TVA and other agencies. They also report seeing clean-up crews 6 miles away from the original site.

Sen. Boxer says new regulations are long overdue when it comes to controls for the ash ponds at coal plants and that reviews at all sites must take place now:

Boxer said her resolution also will request that the EPA immediately regulate coal ash once the agency has completed that review.

"This is the most neglected area," Boxer said. "I myself apologized for not getting on this sooner, so I'm going to be all over this."

Sen. Corker says TVA ratepayers will bear all the costs of cleanups, with no federal aid, even though TVA is a federally owned utility.

I hate it for the ratepayers of TVA, but this is their responsibility."

More info on the real-time problems and questions from one resident who is "trapped in a nightmare". "Sick and getting sicker," she writes.

The lawsuits continue.

Another video on the impact (via Southern Beale):

Get Paid To Blog About Your Island Lifestyle

Sign. Me. Up.

Applications are now being taken for a 6-month job as a caretaker on Hamilton Island - your duties will be to write about your experiences living in a three-bedroom villa, exploring the island and maybe cleaning the pool every now and then. Post your adventure in a weekly blog plus some video and photo blogging as you live in a tourist paradise.

Nope, it is not a joke.

UPDATE: A winner for this contest has been announced - see this post for details.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The New Uncle Sam Abroad, or Joe The Plumber's Self-Reflexive Truth-Search

Samuel Joseph "Call Me Joe" Wurzelbacher, hired to make video reports from Israel about the war with Hamas for Pajamas Media spends much of his time talking about himself and denigrating reporters on his "search for the truth" about the war.

No info on what the causes of this war are - heck he couldn't even name the people whose bombed out house he inspected. He did say the threat of missile attacks from the Hamas makes him angry.

But it's been his comments to the press about the press that has been generating coverage too:

I don't think journalists should be anywhere allowed war. I mean, you guys report where our troops are at. You report what's happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it's asinine. You know, I liked back in World War I and World War II when you'd go to the theater and you'd see your troops on, you know, the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for 'em. Now everyone's got an opinion and wants to downer, ah, down soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers.

I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you're gonna sit there and say, "Well look at this atrocity," well you don't know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it."

So, war coverage is bad - and that's why he is working as a war reporter?

His 10 days of work for PJTV is sure to help sell his new book, which is likely why his publicity agent told him to go after the PJTV exposure. Score this one Publicity 1, Truth 0.