i am a pretentious hack.

       i'm not dead!

Monday, October 26, 2009

i just want to say one thing . . .

that's me, after seeing antichrist. just kidding. kind of.

in case you are thinking of seeing it, i will do what i can to keep overt spoilers to a minimum, but i feel obligated to warn you that antichrist is pretty awful. i want to be clear and honest about that. it's the blair witch project with slightly higher production values and an overenunciated moral, neither of which improves it. well, no, it is not really the blair witch project, because the blair witch project is quite good. ironically, even though blair witch had no true script, it is the better-written movie of the two. in fact, it is more than a little unfair for me to use the blair witch project for comparison, as it is in another, superior league entirely. it knows that it is a ghost story, it doesn't try to be anything else, and it succeeds beautifully. antichrist is lame both as the horror its director insists it be and as the psychological-philosophical-theological prod to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex he seems to want it to be. when it isn't making you sick, it isn't doing much of anything at all. its turning points are clunky and ham-fisted, it lacks momentum, the characters are stereotypes, the dialogue is flat. it does, sadly, have an ominous soundtrack refrain that kicks in whenever something SPOOKY is happening, just in case you weren't picking up on it. some people seem to think there is some innovative camerawork and art direction, but i must have been blinking or rolling my eyes or burying my face in my hands during those sequences, as i found none of it visually captivating. it left me feeling . . . well, damaged, and in no mood to defend lars von trier against any sort of attack, personal or professional, despite the beauty of some of his earlier films. but i do hate me some injustice, and i have to say that i think that reviewers of this movie who are up in arms over von trier's perceived misogyny are sort of missing the point. i shall defend my thesis forthwith, and in doing so i shall have to pull things from all over the work, including toward the end. just some fair warning there. *ahem*

briefest possible background synopsis: charlotte gainsbourg and willem dafoe are married and have no names. they have a son, a toddler, who does have a name. his name is nic. nic dies while his parents are gettin' it on. hilarity involving poorly animated woodland creatures and what may or may not be dream sequences ensues.

so. gainsbourg's character is a woman who has immersed herself in critical study of the centuries-long tendency to view sexual, unrepressed, free-thinking and -spirited women as wicked, in order to write a dissertation combating said view. but submerge yourself in mud and it's tough not to get dirty. when her own sexuality gets tangled up with a tragic loss, she blames herself and becomes a bit haunted by all those notions of women's innate evil, and she goes a little mad--with grief, with regret, with self-loathing, what have you. she believes the part of her nature that allows her to revel in wild sex is the same part that essentially killed her baby, and this tying-together, which underlies all of the witch hunting from this movie back to the dawn of civilization, makes her feel, you know, witchy. but we aren't meant to agree with her, or to assume her views are von trier's. the tragedy is that her husband, a cognitive-behavioral therapist who at least in his own mind is a paradigm of logic and understanding and clinical knowledge about human grief and madness, does start to think she might be on to something, and follows her right down that path to crazytown. granted, what she puts him through would bring anyone to the brink--and i'm sure that if you've heard anything about this movie, this putting-through is the bit you've heard about--but it's a METAPHOR. they represent the often losing war that civilized intellect wages against primitive nature. i'm not just tossing out pretentious yet baseless analysis here; there is a conversation sequence in the movie that all but reaches out of the screen and slaps you in the face with this point. dafoe, who is too confident in his scholarly understanding of gainsbourg's girly fragility and her mental state and processes to admit that he might not be the best person to treat his own wife (read: arrogant as all get-out and the textbook domineering patriarchal misogynist), allows her to retreat farther and farther into her own mania without ever waking up to what's happening. this makes him the villain, does it not? i think it does. a grieving woman can be, or become, a crazy woman, and a crazy woman will probably get even crazier if you drag her out into the middle of the woods and make her listen to acorns falling on a tin roof day in and day out, but odds are she isn't the devil. the devil doesn't have to be in the vicinity in order for you to catch that woman's crazy if you are also grieving and subject to incessant acorn plink-plink-plinks. if you are a trained mental health professional, you should know this, and if you decide to pretend that you don't know this, you are responsible for any resulting bloodshed. i think you are responsible even if you just forget, as it's your job to remember. it is easy to blame the devil, and probably the devil doesn't mind the finger-pointing, but i bet we all know what's really going down. and von trier knows it, too. the movie, i think, is warning us, in what i felt was a pretty obvious fashion, not to be so facile and primal and stupid, even though at our best we are basically just a gloppy mound of those traits with a schmear of secondary-schooled frosting. who's the REAL antichrist, oooOOOOooooo. or something.

whatever. the movie is dreck, no question, but when von trier says it is not woman-hating dreck, i am inclined to believe him. i wish i could recommend that you see it and decide for yourself, but . . . i can't. i just can't.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

david firth is strummin' my pain with his flash toons


Thursday, February 05, 2009

we have a remedy! we have!

our economy's cries can be heard all around the world--even in the condé nast building, which is usually a fortress invulnerable to such woes, safeguarded by all manner of magic enchantments against the plight of the common, un-prada-clad citizen. but no more! apparently, when the financial sector screws itself, tragedy ensues for advance publications:

Condé Nast Publications named a new publisher for The New Yorker on Thursday and put the magazine’s previous publisher in charge of Internet ad sales for the entire company. The move is part of a continuing reorganization as the company grapples with the magazine industry’s plunging ad revenue. . . .

Lisa Hughes, The New Yorker’s new vice president and publisher . . . takes over a magazine clearly in need of help. The New Yorker’s ad pages dropped 26.8 percent in 2008, far more than other Condé Nast titles, and more than double the industrywide decline of 11.7 percent. Financial services ads, a New Yorker mainstay, were among the hardest-hit categories last year.

The New Yorker was operating in the black in early 2008, but not by the end of the year, according to company executives who were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss finances.

welcome, lisa hughes! may you do my favorite weekly proud. and as a concerned citizen and devoted reader of your foundering publication, i would very much like to do my part to assist in the rescue effort. in that spirit, a suggestion:


come on, lisa. come on. you know it's true. how can anyone who trash-talks pavement for their lyrical obscurity, and indie music in general for its disinterest in prominent rhythm and musical tradition, one week and then raves about animal collective for their penchant for chaos and near-total absence of linguistic sense, rhythm, or melody the next ever expect to be taken seriously? did he think we wouldn't notice? well, here's what i think: every once in a while when sasha tries to skeev on some sweet young thing at webster hall, said thing gives him a once-over, rolls its eyes, and says, "whatevs, old man." this causes a knee-jerk wholesale rejection of youth and indie culture for being ridiculous and inscrutable, followed by a renewed effort to convince said culture that he is still in the game. but it's all crap. CRAP. and we know it's crap—that's right, we're on to you, you fraud!—because he is at least a year behind the curve on profiling anyone of interest. by march of 2008 everyone in america knew who amy winehouse was and what kind of shape her liver was in. no, there was not anything surprising about her being awarded five grammys; nor was there anything surprising in sasha's profile of her, which he very gamely admitted came out about a billion years after her album exploded and her notoriety became fodder for leno and letterman. what would be surprising is if he ever, EVER reviewed ANY album or act before it was old hat, or said anything in that review that wasn't an uninspired, slightly snootier regurgitation of things that were already generally known, even by me, when i am so far from hip that i still rhapsodize about the golden era of radio (i.e., 1991–1997) and occasionally wake up craving counting crows' recovering the satellites. even i can tell, sasha, that everyone at the new yorker ought to be telling you to piss up a rope. i would draw on some of your more recent articles for evidence, but i more or less gave up reading them some time ago. i bet i'm not alone.

that's approximately two pages of every issue, lisa, that you are practically throwing away. two whole pages. with a circulation of between one and two million, i mean, that really adds up. and it's not like he's going to change. the pattern is proven. you have to cut him loose. you just have to. really, it isn't about me; it's about the new yorker. it is an eighty-four-year-old institution, and i know you don't want it failing on your watch. it survived the depression, for christ's sake.

just, do the right thing, lisa. we're all counting on you now. it's in your hands.

p.s. while you are doing right things, perhaps you should take this opportunity to reconsider nancy franklin's tenure. it could be that i don't watch enough television, but i'm pretty sure it's that she's unbearable.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

well, shit.

i know death comes to us all, but . . . even john updike? really? somehow i had thought he might actually find a way out of it.

i'm sorry now, john, that i never left that present at your door. we had our spats, like anyone will, but i always loved you at least a little, and usually more than that. no more lead weights for you, i guess. so more for us.


Monday, September 15, 2008

all your burning lights in the fog shone bright lit our missteps and we saw them and we saw

Thursday, May 08, 2008

vacation week at the new yorker zoology fact-checking desk

may 12, 2008, p. 59:

In his living room, Myhrvold has a life-size T. rex skeleton, surrounded by all manner of other dinosaur artifacts. One of those is a cast of a nest of oviraptor eggs, each the size of an eggplant. You'd think a bird that big would have one egg, or maybe two. That's the general rule: the larger the animal, the lower the fecundity. But it didn't. For Myhrvold, it was one of the many ways in which dinosaurs could teach us about ourselves. "You know how many eggs were in that nest?" Myhrvold asked. "Thirty-two."

and you know how many birds are in a room with thirty-two ovulating oviraptors? none, because oviraptors are reptiles, like just about all the other freaking dinosaurs, and they were relatively small dinosaurs in their time and environment, and larger animals have lower fecundity because they have longer gestation periods, but reptiles and other animals that lay eggs don't really have to worry about that (on average, an ostrich—an actual bird that is actually large—lays just over one egg a week, and each egg takes about forty days to hatch, so at any given moment during breeding season there might be five or six eggs from one bird in any nest [but ostriches share nests, so there would probably be more like twenty or thirty eggs total in any one nest, and there might be as many as sixty]), and reptiles tend to lay eggs in large clutches rather than one or two at a time, although most paleontologists are pretty sure that oviraptors, being bird-like, but not birds, formed and laid two eggs at a time and laid multiple pairs sequentially in a single nest, and yes, i am furrowing my nerdy brow at malcolm gladwell, and it pains me greatly, but, damn it, you can't start an article talking about a quantum physicist who goes on dinosaur hunts and get my heart all in an uproar and then do something like this and expect to just get away with it, especially not when i've waited five bloody months for you to do it, gladwell, you weenie. you could have left out this entire paragraph and made your point just as well, if not better, and i wouldn't want to swat you with a rolled-up magazine. sometimes you get so greedy for a higher-resonance close that i think i'll have to start calling you mcfuzz.

she was a bird, by the way. ask your myhrvold about that.

postscript, may 8, 1:59 PM: i had to distance myself from this article for an hour or so, to regain my objectivity, but i have come back and finished it, and it, you know, it's fine. it's a very good point, really, that people have a hard time distinguishing scientific innovation from artistic creation, and they should be distinguished: scientific advancement builds on preexisting knowledge, and in that sense every invention is a collaboration. but while artists typically have myriad influences, imagination can function in a near-vacuum. so while it might be art for someone who's never seen a telephone to think, "wouldn't it be neat if there were some kind of machine that allowed me to talk to someone far away," that visionary won't get anywhere without the aid of some other person, or several people, who knows how sounds and machines work, and there is decidedly less "art" in the construction. i think the degree of genius in either case is about equal, though (i know that i, regardless of my era or company, would never, over the course of an entire lifetime, either think up a telephone or manage to build one from its unassembled parts), and if someone has a brilliant idea independently, it shouldn't be considered any less brilliant if it turns out someone else had it, too. this is the problem with equating all invention with art: the originality factor, which doesn't apply equally in both realms, can get in the way of people's recognition of truly impressive accomplishments. it's also the problem with patents; if you come up with an idea and patent it just for the sake of planting a flag, of saying "i made this" even when you haven't actually made anything, and someone else later comes up with the same idea and has the support and means to take it further than you have, or has already gone further, do you really deserve more credit? surely you don't deserve sole credit, if you aren't capable of turning your idea into a practical reality without the knowledge and assistance of others. if you and some other person independently come up with the same idea before anyone has built anything, does either of you deserve more credit than the other? there's often so much emphasis on timing, but that really isn't relevant at all when it comes to gauging the merit of the notion or relative input into an invention. and yet we are taught that every new thing has one source, that it was one person sitting under a tree or on a hill or in a bathtub who all alone saw the answer that no one else could see. i wish we could be more communal. i know i always come back to the ants, but the truth is they're tops when it comes to societal paradigms. which ant decided to build a hill? who the hell cares? now all the ants have hills,* and it's awesome. people, you know, they're sort of silly animals. some of them even think that anything with feathers that lays eggs must be a bird. but they can't all be natural scientists; some of them have to be writers, and that's good, too. it would be better if they devoted more than one column out of twenty-four to their very good point, but i have a feeling that there are a lot more pages where these came from.

* i know that not all ants live in hills, but i had to wrap this thing up. it isn't like i don't know how writers fall into these traps.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

joon can read!

paperback; © 2007 by melville house publishing

i'm poor, and libraries have strange, inconvenient hours, so sometimes i read books in sporadic one-hour installments during trips to the union square barnes & noble. the barnes & noble has four floors. on the second or third floor, there's a café with a big sign at its entrance prohibiting patrons from bringing in food from outside vendors, but on the fourth floor, where the fiction is, i can sit on the floor or in a folding chair in the section where readings are held and eat anything i want. that’s not true; technically, i'm not allowed to eat in these places, but no one has ever stopped me. once i brought in a sandwich and a beer and sat on the small stage in the front of the room, because i liked the way the light was coming in through the window over it. it’s as if by acting with enough confidence and nonchalance, i can persuade the people around me that i know more about the rules than they do. but all i know is that sometimes, even though there are people everywhere who might object to it, i want to be the way i would be if no one else were around.

is that more? or is the rule that i should be trying to act as if other people are around even when i'm alone? when i act like no one can see me, does it become self-fulfilling?

anyway, i have decided that this is the only way to read this book—in erratic and unannounced bursts, alone in a place that is not my home, in flagrant and yet utterly unchecked violation of the rules of social conduct, surrounded by strangers who are having hushed and incredibly serious conversations about things that strike me as wholly meaningless. really, i think it’s the only way to understand this book.

in eeeee eee eeee’s two hundred or so pages, characters drift in and out, with little or no fuss made over their entrances or exits. some of them have extensive back stories; some of them seem to have no history whatsoever. some of them play main roles for a chapter or two, dominating the entire plot, and then vanish and are never mentioned again. some of them are children. some of them are bears. some of them are so unspeakably isolated and untethered that they can’t visualize their own thoughts or desires clearly enough in their own minds to devote an action to them and instead wander numbly from one stationary object to another, looking, turning away, seeing nothing, responding to nothing. this is a lot like the reading room of a popular manhattan book store, and every public space is a microcosm representative of the broader, surrounding population. so eeeee eee eeee is about twenty-something-year-old pizza-deliverymen who have ironic and seemingly purposeless conversations with their friends, and it is about dolphins who live in an underground city and sometimes bludgeon celebrities, and it is about hamsters trying to explain the underground city to strangers in a park. but through these things, through their randomness and disconnectedness and the flatness with which the characters in the novel receive them, it becomes a spot-on telling of the state of society. it may be my generation's catcher in the rye.

we think we’re bored, but maybe we aren’t, and either way we aren’t sure how to fix it. we try things that don’t work, but we think they should have worked, so we don’t admit that they didn’t; then we are bored and depressed, and we can’t admit that either. we don’t know what to say instead, and we aren’t sure who to talk to, but we’re afraid to stop talking. sometimes we do terrible things and don’t know why; we regret them, we cry about them, and we do them again. sometimes the only way you can think of to tell your sister that you love her and you’re lonely and you want to be her friend is to sit on her head. sometimes people die and no one talks about it at all, and it feels incredibly strange, to know that someone has died and no one is talking about it, and you want to ask everyone why they aren’t talking about it, but you know that you will never ask and that no one will ever explain it, and it makes you desperate. it makes you so desperate that you cover a moose’s head with a blanket and punch it in the face, and when it says, “thank you,” you want to give it a cookie and kill it and drown, you love it and envy it so much.

eeeee eee eeee is about an invisible person in the center of a crowd of millions of people listening to one person nearby saying, “i’m so tired today. every time i try to think about something, i forget and think about something else,” and wondering, “am i tired? is that what’s wrong?” and writing, “i’m so tired today,” and knowing it isn’t the answer, and thinking about someone who isn't there, and moving to a different seat. that person disappears for two weeks and then comes back, and no one mentions it. someone stands on a chair and throws a bottle, and someone starts to cry, and other people look up and think, “i wonder if that would make me happy,” and then go back to their books.

you, all alone in the corner, with the untied sneaker and the hat hair—this book made me want to offer you my sandwich. i wanted to give you a hug. but you never looked up.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

a note to my admirers

i have had enough of this responsible-adult-with-a-full-time-job nonsense. it is not benefiting me either financially or psychologically, and so i can see no point in carrying on with it. i should like very much to instead become a lady of leisure and/or letters, and i will happily accept donations enabling such a transition. if you have an opening for a kept woman and/or a well-positioned apartment* in which to keep a woman, please consider me as an applicant. i am an excellent cook and tend to smell nice, and when i laugh at your attempted witticisms it will be with thoroughly convincing sincerity. i'm not prone to clinginess; in fact, if you never stop by at all, i won't complain. i don't even care for jewelry, really, so you'll save a bit there. you will have to be kind to my cat. that is not a euphemism.

invitation not extended to: men who have slept with or plan to sleep with my sister, anyone who has followed me onto or off of a subway train, people who think nancy franklin is funny, dennis miller.

* minimum requirements: roof access or terrace, oven, dependable hot water, at least one window.

Monday, March 03, 2008

broken-doll blogging

one day a girl began to feel that something was not right

"something is not right," she said, and for a moment things felt more right, because she had said that, and she wondered if she was mistaken. but she was not.

this girl had a brazen and improper heart which would dance and whoop at inopportune moments. the girl tried hard to muffle it, had tried even harder to retrain it, to break it of its egregiously bad habits, but it did as it pleased and shamed her in public whenever it wanted. the girl checked it now to make sure it wasn't dancing on a table or wearing a ridiculous hat, but it was in its cavity where it belonged, talking quietly to itself, and didn't look up. "that seems right," she thought, but she was still uncomfortable. she looked away and then back, quickly, to catch it. but it only drummed its fingers on a rib, innocent and bored. "that must be right," the girl thought, and looked for something else.

she checked her coat pocket to see if she had her keys. she checked her bag to make sure she had not dropped her wallet. she touched her fingertips to her earlobes and felt for an earring on each. she made sure she had remembered to put on clean socks and underwear, quickly and discreetly sniffed her left armpit. she checked her watch against the local time. all of these things were right.

she looked out the window and saw people moving about on the streets and sidewalks below her. it was daylight and it was supposed to be. the sky was not cloudy and nothing was falling from it. the girl could not see smoke or hear sirens, there was no shouting or crying. while she stood near the window she felt better, she felt that things were more right than they had been, and she sat back down. but as soon as she was in her chair she knew that something was not right after all.

she checked her accounts for overdue bills. she reviewed her calendar for missed appointments. she searched her desk and drawers for not-quite-empty food containers or coffee cups. all of these things were right. "i am forgetting something," she thought, and grew optimistic, but could not think of what she was forgetting, and so could not make it right. this cancelled out the optimism, which she immediately missed.

"i will retrace my steps," she said--she had heard of people having great success with such a method on various occasions--and set about it.

she walked down into the lobby of her office and out the door that she had gone in through, across the street and around the corner to the subway station she had come aboveground at, onto her train which took her back to her neighborhood. she walked from the train to her apartment, looking at the ground for things she might have dropped, listening for someone who might be calling for her to stop. she went through her building's front door, up the staircase, into her apartment, and still she felt that something was amiss, and still she could not say what it was.

"i will retrace my steps farther," she said, because she didn't know what else to do. she liked saying this, but she knew that not saying it was not what had not been right.

she went back outside and got into her car and drove to the last place she had lived in, but everything seemed right there. so she drove to the place she had lived in before that, and before that, and even before that, all the way back and back to a place she barely remembered, to the first place she'd ever been a person in. "there are only a few steps left," she thought, and was suddenly very nervous. but something was not right, and so she went on.

this first place had a porch in front, and on the porch was a small pruny woman rocking in a small creaky chair. "oh," the woman said as the girl stepped onto the porch, "it's you!"

"is it?" the girl asked.

the woman leaned forward, squinting, judging, and then sat back. "no," she said. "not really. something is not right."

the girl's heart rattled and flopped and banged a drum and waved a flag and made a general spectacle of itself, and the girl rushed both of her hands up to her chest and covered it, to keep the woman from noticing. "what?" she asked in what she hoped was a very calm voice. "what is not right?"

"well, that," the woman said, and pointed at the girl's hands. they both stared down at the place where the girl's small palms were spread and pressed over the rippling, thrumming, flashing patch below her collar bone. yes, the girl thought, yes, this is not right. but why is this not right?

"why is this not right?" she asked. her heart lit three red flares and launched them toward the porch, but the girl crossed both her arms in front of her, and the torches rebounded and sputtered under her sleeves.

"a girl lived here once, a long time ago. she lived upstairs, and i lived down," the woman said. she rose from her creaky chair, and her creaky legs tottered her slowly across the creaky porch. she stood very close to the girl and extended one creaky arm up to the girl's wrists, crossed tight and hard over her noisy, embarrassing heart. the old woman closed her crinkled fingers about the wrists and tugged, but the girl pulled her arms tighter to her and took a step back. "that is the wrong direction," she thought, but didn't undo her move. the woman lowered her hand to her side, frowned gently, shook her head. she made her creaky way back to her creaky chair and lowered herself into it.

"the girl i thought you were," she murmured, "would never have done that."

the girl let her eyes fall to the wall she had built to keep her heart in its place, her two mortified hands leaning hard against the clanging and whistling and jigging, the colored lights and firecrackers, her crazy clown of a heart covered in bells and spangles, its unicycle careering into the barricade over and over and over again. "of course," she said, and smiled, and was relieved, and had great hope, and lifted her hands up into the air over her head.

her heart, with all its momentum, accustomed to having to use a great deal of force, hit the wall once more and shot right through and out, and disappeared, leaving a trail of rainbow glitter in the sky like a pixie-powered jet, a wild, flying mardi gras party favor. the girl and the old woman watched it until it wasn't so much as a speck among the clouds.

the woman sat back in her chair, satisfied. "that's you, then, after all."

"it is," the girl answered, dropping her arms. "it is, and it's right."

and then she died.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

tuesday is super

my apologies for the blog coma, kids; think of it as my token contribution to the writers' strike. but i'm alive and reasonably well (not injured or afflicted by flu or other ailments, warm and sleeping through the night, yadda yadda), and i'm rooting for hillary. if you haven't done so, go out and vote, already. it actually matters this year, a lot, and who knows when that'll happen again. in fact, this year the primary election may have more influence over the fate of the country over the next several years than the presidential election. you count! so be counted.

yes, i watched bush's final (FINAL!) state of the union address. yes, i was underwhelmed, but no more so than usual. yes, i found the speaker to be self-righteous and out of touch and in endless search of applause and approval, but no more so than usual. and i was not surprised at the turn in public commentary following the speech. bush, lame as lame can be and out of favor with everyone except maybe his mom, is no longer someone to pay attention to, and all around this great nation pundits and average citizens alike have shaken their heads and blinked awake from the dream, like jennifer connelly rising up and giving david bowie the linguistic finger in the final scenes of labyrinth. "earmarks? terror? what about the human-animal hybrids and the switchgrass? no, you know what, forget it--you have no power over me."

and yet, i am still disappointed, that it took so long and that there is no sign that the masses will withstand similarly hypnotic antispeeches in the future. here is today's guest speaker, h. l. mencken, with a few words on the strange thrall in which politicians seem to hold their prey--er, public:

It is difficult to believe that even idiots ever succumbed to such transparent contradictions, to such gaudy processions of mere counter-words, to so vast and obvious a nonsensicality. . . . When [the president] got upon his legs in those days he seems to have gone into a sort of trance, with all the peculiar illusions and delusions that belong to a pedagogue gone mashugga. He heard words giving three cheers; he saw them race across a blackboard like Marxians pursued by the Polizei; he felt them rush up and kiss him. The result was the grand series of moral, political, sociological and theological maxims which now lodges imperishably in the cultural heritage of the American people . . . . The important thing is not that a public orator should have uttered such vaporous and preposterous phrases, but that they should have been gravely received, for weary years, by a whole race of men, some of them intelligent. Here is a matter that deserves the sober inquiry of competent psychologists.

he's talking about woodrow wilson, but the message can certainly be applied universally. people are all politicians, but some more and some less, and they will all tell you the thing they think you ought to hear instead of the thing that is true, but some more and some less. we'll get the liars and fools until we decide that what we really want to hear are straight and sensible facts. i don't want to be cheered up by my president, i don't want to be coddled or played. and change, yes, yes, we all want change, we want it by the busload, but "change" could be anything. "change" could mean that all interstate highways will now be paved with yellow brick. "change" could mean that everyone making less than $100,000 a year will be paid in pennies and nickels. i've no use for the vague and the starry-eyed. the people like big, baseless promises, they like charisma and grandiosity, they like being told that they can have all the social and civil services they need and enjoy with no money down, but the people . . . well, we've seen where their fickle, passionate wisdom can get us. silly rabbits.

here are a few of the things i've heard people say while discussing their preference in presidential nominees:

"i'm voting for obama, because the gospels say that women shouldn't be in positions, you know, that women shouldn't have a lot of power, so if hillary clinton were president, that wouldn't be right."

"all i want in a president is someone who's righteous, and it seems like obama will bring that."

"obama's really inspiring, and right now the country needs to be inspired." (doesn't it need to be inspired to do something more than be inspired, though? telling me to have hope is not a reassurance that my hopes will be fulfilled, and telling me that partisanship is bad will not change the day-to-day functioning of congress, the media, or american towns and cities. it really won't. i've been listening and listening and listening, and i know who obama is, and i know what he likes, and i know why people think he can win, but i can't figure out what he intends to do, or how any of his intentions might make him unique. but, you know, i'm a little cynical, generally.)

"we're not voting because one is a woman, we're not voting because one is black. when i go to vote, i'm just trusting that the lord will guide me to the right choice, that he'll lead my hand."

"he speaks with such authority."

interesting to see people citing righteousness and gospels as reasons for electing a liberal democrat--at least in my neck of the woods. also interesting that i have not heard anyone discuss voting for a republican nominee, for any reason. but that's not the point. the point is that you go out into the world and voice an opinion that you have formed with your head, not one that commercials or photographs or your friends and family (and i'm very sorry, but as far as i'm concerned that includes matthew, mark, luke, and john) have formed for you. don't be scared. today* is a super special day; own it.

* unless your state's primary falls on some other day between february 9 and july 12, in which case you should wait a bit and then own that.

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