Hard to top this one. Nice going YouTube's barringer82.
A little something for everyone.
(HT: Mrs. Zaius)
Holy cow! Arlo Guthrie is a Republican!
Next time I'm down at Alice's Restaurant, I'll plan to have the home-made meatloaf. I understand it's actually a metaphor for capital gains tax cuts.
We've added some spambot countermeasures to Infinite Monkeys because, frankly, I'm tired of deleting crap from the comment approval queue. The upshot is, if you haven't registered, you really should. (I'm looking at you, Christian Toto!)
No, I think of Flight of the Conchords. I know, I know: The New Zealand folk power-duo's international super-hit single is all about robots vanquishing humans. But did you hear that the defunct HBO series and co-star Jemaine Clement have been nominated for Emmys? How great is that? The humans are very much alive -- and 30 Rock will almost certainly dominate -- but I still think the news calls for a binary solo...
John Mellencamp is all about speaking truth to power when a mean old economic royalist occupies the White House. But as Pam Meister at Big Hollywood observes, put his guy in charge and all of a sudden he turns into a Herbert Marcuse acolyte.
Here's Mellencamp in an interview with Country Music Television on the First Amendment-as-collective right:
"I don’t think people fought and gave their lives so that some guy can sit in his bedroom and be mean. I don’t think that’s what freedom of speech is,” he continued. “Freedom of speech is really about assembly — for us to collectively have an idea. We want to get our point of view out so we can assemble and I can appoint you to be the spokesman. That’s freedom of speech — to be able to collectively speak for a sector of people. But somehow it’s turned into ‘I can be an a****** whenever I feel like, say whatever I like, be disrespectful to people and not be courteous.’ It’s not good for our society. Not being courteous is not really freedom of speech. . . .
There is a lot of discourteous speech out there, no question about it. (As an aside, but sort of on point: As much as I love the reader comments on newspaper sites, I wonder if the Wall Street Journal's recent decision to open its Web pages to reader comments will hurt the brand in some way over the long term. Look upon the comments to Peggy Noonan's column and despair.)
John Mellencamp is, of course, is free to say the stupidest things about what freedom of speech should or should not be. What I find funny is the presumptuousness of it all. Mellencamp clearly considers himself one of those appointed spokesmen. Oh, I suppose he speaks for a certain segment of the population with a certain point of view. But, like Professor Marcuse, he seems to have little or no regard for people speaking for what he would consider the repressive "status quo."
(In the Salon story I linked to above, he says: " most people who are Republicans, they're not rich enough to be Republicans! I don't get it." No, he doesn't.)
Freedom is simply too messy... too inequitable. For Mellencamp, in a perverse way it's pink houses for me but not for thee. Well, he can keep his pink house and his goofy, collective ideal of freedom. That ain't my America.
Update: Julie Ponzi at NoLeftTurns expounds cleverly on my comments. Key paragraph:
In Mellencamp’s America, the "home of the free" with its little pink houses would be for a freedom of speech that is more a kind of General Will voiced by the anointed tongues of a select group of American royalty. Jack and Diane needn’t trouble their little heads with worrying about the big questions. They can busy themselves with Diane’s Bobbie Brooks slacks till it "hurts so good," make a public spectacle of themselves while they’re at it, call THAT freedom of speech, and content themselves with their imagined moral courage. But if they dare to voice vigorous opposition to something like Cap and Trade and, in the course of that expression, utter an ungracious opinion about the anointed--an opinion that according to Mellencamp qualifies Jack and Diane as "a-holes" THAT will be too much because, "[n]ot being courteous is not really freedom of speech" according to the scholars at the Mellencamp School of the First Amendment.
Julie also makes some thoughtful points about civility in the public discourse. Please read the whole thing.
I'm indulging the grand Monkey Server at this point. But when I was about 12 or 13 years old, I wanted to be a drummer. That's because I listened to my older brother's Genesis albums — more specifically, Abacab.
Anyway, your humble Jr. Dr. Zaius was so inspired by Phil Collins' percussive prowess that he started working on it. Ended up having the chops to play in the hard-to-qualify-for University of Pittsburgh Drumline — affectionately called "The Crew."
Monkey readers with kids: Teach your kids to drum. They won't regret it. At the very least they will learn rhythm and transfer their knowledge from the hands to the feet and not embarrass themselves at weddings.
Anyway, before I reached high school, I had learned many Rush songs, and had worshiped at the Church of Neal Peart. But I always felt that Phil Collins was great at tuning his percussion in a soulful way with Genesis (with as much soul as you could inject percussively in "prog rock"). And, yes, I studied the great drummers who took part in the Buddy Rich tribute concerts. Studio legend Gregg Bissonette (who drummed for David Lee Roth's Eat 'Em Up and Smile record) was always a favorite. And all who were called to pay tribute to Buddy Rich are without peer.
But the following "Drum Duet" with Phil Collins and Chester Thompson? I must have listened and jammed to it a thousand times before I reached high school. It also came in handy as a lesson on how to feel the groove and play drums with others — and since I wasn't the strongest reader of music (I could get by, though), it came in handy when matching up with several others in the Pitt Drumline.
Monkey Ben, as a fellow drummer, I'm sure he can relate.
And, come to think of it, Bissonette's work is good enough to embed. More than good enough, in fact. He wears his Big Hair mullet not well with his tux. But his bass work is just sick.
While we're at it, here's the master, Buddy Rich — who makes me feel confident about sticking to "traditional grip" drumming as opposed to "match grip." I'm so glad I learned those Haskell Harr fundamentals!
George Harrison. Jeff Lynne. Phil Collins (and, I think, his excellent horn section) ... and is that Elton John on keyboards?
Oh, and Ringo's helping Phil out on drums, too.
Just because ... everyone needs a bit of George once in a while. And just because Dr. Zaius wants to lighten it up a bit around here (yeah, go figure). And, well, we all could use some happy sunshine ....
I'm embarrassed to admit that until I saw this morning's interview in the Washington Post, I kind of just assumed that Bill Withers was dead. He's responsible for some of the greatest songs ever -- "Ain't No Sunshine" standing prominently atop the list. If he was still alive, wouldn't he be out there on the Golden Oldies circuit, getting Baby Boomers to pay top dollar to hear the songs of their youth one more time?
As it turns out, no.
Instead, it turns out that Withers is the Bo Jackson or Jim Brown of music. Those two men walked away from the game while they could still bring it, realizing there was more to life than football. Withers, it seems, has a similar perspective. I loved the Post's Q&A with him, particularly this:
So you have no interest in a comeback?
There's a time for everything. And at certain times in your life, when you're young enough for that kind of vanity, you draw attention to yourself. And some people can do that into their eighties. It depends on your personality and how you've been socialized. I wasn't socialized in the entertainment business. I was in the Navy for nine years, I had a life outside of this well into my thirties [Withers worked in the aeronautics industry even after "Ain't No Sunshine" became a hit]. You know, this whole music thing was something that came into my life after I was formed socially. So it was fun, it served its purpose, I still like it, but it's not my main focus. In fact, it hasn't been for a long time. There are other requirements. You're somebody's father, you're somebody's husband, you're somebody's friend. And for me, it was important that I not neglect those other requirements just to satisfy some personal need that I might have for approval or attention from people that I don't even know.
Joel Mathis and I take a break from politics to have a wide-ranging discussion about movies and film music with Washington Times critic/Denver film maven Christian Toto and Fistful of Soundtracks host, blogger and fledgling comics writer Jimmy J. Aquino.
Among the vexing subjects we tackle with our guests in this edition:
• Whether Drag Me to Hell is suitable for toddlers and why Sam Raimi should be admitted the Overrated Artiste Club.
• How the symphonic tradition up and moved to Hollywood and whether soundtracks deserve more respect than they get
• Why Ed Asner should be made into an action figure and Walter Matthau was a great if unlikely action hero
• Who deserved to get the Matthau role in the Taking of Pelham One Two Three remake
• Christian Toto's childhood in a Turkish prison
• Remedies for Joel's summer snobbery
• Why comic books may hold more promise as a story telling medium than film or TV
• "And much, much more!"
Alas, none of us had seen UP when we recorded this episode, but if we had, I might have confessed to bawling through half the movie. Because I'm a sap.
After you've listened to the podcast, visit What Would Toto Watch and A Fistful of Soundtracks. And graphic novel fans may want to check out Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology, which feature's Aquino's story, "Sampler."
Jim writes on his blog of the experience:
Ben and I are from opposite ends of the political spectrum, but there's one thing we agree on: the awesomeness of the scores of Yoko Kanno, Michael Giacchino, Jerry Goldsmith and Basil Poledouris. Many of the scores Ben and I like are ones that are listenable outside of the movie or TV show. During the chat, I admitted that some of the scores I enjoy and have chosen for airplay on A Fistful of Soundtracks are from movies I've never even seen, like the 1999 cannibal horror flick Ravenous. It's an interesting discussion about music in movies, and I got to talk about aspects of film music and AFOS I haven't even addressed on this blog yet!
I'm sure there's more than one thing we agree on. But he's right!
Music heard in this podcast:
• "High Anxiety Main Title," by Mel Brooks and John Morris (from "High Anxiety: Mel Brook's Greatest Hits Featuring The Fabulous Film Scores of John Morris")
• "Up with Titles," by Michael Giacchino (from "UP")
• "Enterprising Young Men," by Michael Giacchino (from "Star Trek")
• "Chase," by Giorgio Moroder (from "Midnight Express")
• "Making Time," by Creation (from "Rushmore")
• "Main Title," by David Shire (from "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three")
• "The Great Migration," by James Horner (from "The Land Before Time")
• "Brock Graveside," by J.G. Thirlwell (from "The Venture Brothers")
• "End Titles," by Vangelis (from "Blade Runner")
Unfortunately, I couldn't find a decent video of Belle and Sebastian's song "For the Price of a Cup of Tea" for this post after looking for about 38 seconds. So sue me ... for all the money I make posting at this site. You'll be the proud owner of zero cents.
The song, though, is apt for Wednesday's activities ... at least in the title. For the price of a cup of tea, an important statement is being made. It's my theme song for tomorrow ... though the lyrics are about bedding a young lass. (Like there will be no hook-ups to come from the rallies.)
Anyway, here you go ... my excuse to expose Infinite Monkeys readers to a fun, smart Scottish band.
What the heck is The Incomparable? It's a new Web site brought to you by the jackasses who published TeeVee.net for about 12 years until everyone got tired of it and could barely summon the energy to click on the bookmark link in their browsers.
Instead of being limited to just television, The Incomparable will discuss all kinds of pop culture crap -- movies, music, TV, books, comics, whatever.
Questions considered in this podcast, which is seasoned with the libertarian stylings of Monkey Robb:
• Is the AIG bonus scandal a distraction from fixing the financial system?
• Is the Obama presidency already endangered by his handling of the financial crisis?
• How much pain should society endure to allow the "creative destruction" of capitalism to occur unimpeded?
• Is the complexity of the financial system just a fancy way of masking a system-wide Ponzi scheme?
• Has Neko Case hit on a new method of selling albums in a failing music industry?
• Is her new album any good?
• What kind of musicians will thrive after the record industry collapses?
Music heard in this podcast:
• "Red Tide," Neko Case.
• "Don't Forget Me," Neko Case.
• "Marais la Nuit," Neko Case.
• "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth," Neko Case.
... but it's not that stupid.
As gay as the Bee Gees have become in popular culture (in both senses of the term), the brothers were genius at writing pop songs. And, if music critics are honest, their songs hold up — not just for the sake of kitsch, but for their enduring quality.
The Bee Gees actually recorded a video for "Stayin' Alive" before MTV was invented. I present it here. Don't hit "play" unless you have an open mind (or, at least, a sense of humor).
Full disclosure: Mrs. Zaius, as a 9-year-old, sent a fan letter to Barry Gibb — which her mother was wise enough to save for posterity and present to me a couple of years ago. Obviously, that did not become grounds for divorce (lucky for me, Barry did not write Jackie back. He's dreamy!).
Yahoo's Gadget Hound, Ben Patterson, likes the new iPod Shuffle: "Half the size of the last generation but with twice the capacity, the latest Shuffle boasts a novel way of letting you know what track you're listening to: It talks."
Yes, in order to compensate for the absence of an LCD display (where would you even put one?), the Shuffle will tell you the track name and artist you are listening to with the touch of a button on the device's earbuds. That's cool and annoying.
The newfangled earpiece is the one and only downside for Patterson: "Third-party earphones won't work all that well with the new Shuffle, or at least not until someone makes a pair with a compatible in-line remote."
Turns out, that's not really a problem. Macworld's Jim Dalrymple reports that Apple confirmed "third-party adapters will be available so you can use headphones other than the ones that come with the iPod."
But here's the real trouble with the new iPod Shuffle. Did I mention that it's really, really small? It's roughly half the size of the old model at 1.8 inches tall and just 0.3 inches thick. It's "a little smaller than a AA battery," Patterson writes.
In other words, it's about the size of the 2 gb USB thumb drive I misplaced about a month ago. Or a little larger than the Bluetooth headset I keep forgetting to recharge because it's always in my other pants. (At least I haven't washed it... yet.)
That's why I like my comparatively bulky, old 20 gb iPod. I can always find it after a panicked 20-minute search. It's always where I left it -- the last place I look.
I'm not in the market for a new MP3 player right now, but if I were, I might wait for the iPod Touch Gigantor that Apple supposedly has in the works. (Some reports are calling the rumored device a "netbook," but everyone knows that Steve Jobs don't make no junk.) With a 10-inch touch screen, there's no practically chance of me flushing that bad boy down the toilet!
Update: Good thing I didn't go with the small, smaller, smallest joke. Originally, I had mused about predicting the iPod iMplant as the next gen device, but it seemed too labored. I should have known it was also a cliché.
My friend Paul Eykamp pointed me to this old YouTube video advertising the iPod Flea. That, in turn, led me to the iPod iVisible ("technology so small, it doesn't exist!"), which led to the iPod Useless, which led (inevitably) to the iPod Human.
Dan Moren at Macworld has a righteously indignant piece about a silly decision by the faceless mandarins and arbiters of taste at Cupertino. Writes Moren:
Apple has struck a new level of bizarreness when it comes to approving submissions to the App Store. On Tuesday, Loren Brichter of atebits, developer of popular iPhone Twitter client Tweetie said via Twitter that Apple had rejected the latest update to the app because it contained an obscenity; he later confirmed that in an e-mail to Macworld.
Here’s the catch: the obscenity was in Tweetie’s Trends feature... which scans the social networking to find the most popular keywords that people are talking about (and no, the obscenity in question was not "Kindle," smartypants). If there’s a naughty word in that section, it’s not because Tweetie’s developers put it there, but because people on Twitter were talking about it. It’s akin to rejecting the app because somebody was posting swears to their Twitter feed.
The story is comical -- I'm sure the developer is laughing to keep from crying. But Moren raises (and re-raises) some valid questions about just how Apple approves the apps it allows for sale in the iTunes Store.
Got this tribute in
just under the wire
Cash ain't burning
in no ring of fire
Here's to an American Original and a giant of popular music. There will never be another like him.
As a way off-to-the-side note, when I played semi-pro baseball in Virginia in the mid-90s, the coach would often play "Ring of Fire" as we warmed up just before the game. Strange selection, I always thought. Now I always think of playing baseball when I hear this song.
Estelle Bennett, one of the original Ronettes, died last week of undetermined causes. The New York Times has a fascinating story about Bennett, who enjoyed a few brief years of fame followed by decades of "illness and squalor that were little known to many of the group’s biggest fans."
Bennett was Ronnie Spector's sister. Apparently, she suffered from mental illness for years. Her's was the quintessential story of fame and celebrity in America, told time and again.
“Estelle had such an extraordinary life,” Nedra Talley Ross, one of the other original Ronettes, told the Times. “To have the fame, and all that she had at an early age, and for it all to come to an end abruptly. Not everybody can let that go and then go on with life.”
And yet she did, for years and years. Bennett's daughter and her cousin told the Times they helped clean up Estelle for the Ronettes’ induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. They worried that the ceremony would be too much for her to take, so another backup singers performed in Bennett’s place.
But before the concert Ms. Bennett gave a brief acceptance speech. "I would just like to say thank you very much for giving us this award,” she said. “I’m Estelle of the Ronettes. Thank you.”
"We've never recorded the song we did at Live Earth [at Wembley Stadium in 2007], 'Warmer Than Hell,'" bassist Derek Smalls told the BBC. "We'll do a song called 'Gimme Some More Money,' probably with some dubious results." I wonder if Nigel Tufnel ever finished his musical trilogy in D minor? And I've always wanted to hear more than 41 seconds of Jazz Odyssey.
Smalls played with several other bands after Tap's various break-ups, including the Christian Metal ensemble Lambsblood. Of the new project, he says "I think they [Spinal Tap] are trying to revisit their old success."
No word yet on a drummer.
I wonder if a new Folksmen record can be far behind?
This video may not rise to an "Is that Sting? On a Lute" moment. But Solsbury Hill is one of the great songs of rock history. And it's even better when Peter Gabriel sings it while riding a bicycle around a circular stage. It's worth seeing Peter do a bit of theater expressing the joy of a child on a bike.
(WARNING: Peter and every male member of his band is bald, so brace yourself for the horror ... though many monkeys around here obviously have no problem with that).
Anyway. Here you go. Enjoy your weekend. You're welcome.
... and not in L.A. is because crazy stuff like this blows up on the Internet with a storyline that unfolds near where I live, and not in my neighborhood, thank God. Though, upon thought, I can't conceive of a situation where I head out to the corner store for a paper and a cup of coffee and end up in the middle of a spat between Courtney Love's "people" and Kim Kardashian's "people." Glad I don't have to contemplate the potential "brushed by semi-celebrity" danger — apparently lurking at every corner in West Hollywood.
Read the post from dlisted, if you dare. WARNING: It's full of profanity — mostly from Courtney Love's Chistmas Eve MySpace blog post on the club-crawl "incident" between Brody Jenner and one of her employees — but it's good for a giggle. I especially liked this part:
If you're hanging out with that douche Brody Jenner, you deserve to get fisted in the face. And I loved that she called herself a "woman of power!" It's almost better than "businesswoman."
Hard to argue with that. Brody Jenner is a douche. And this post would not be complete without an appropriate Courtney Love pic. Enjoy.
You're welcome. I took it easy on you this time. No promises pic-wise on updates.
I don't own and didn't care for any of the Billboard Top 25 singles this year. That, I'm sure, owes to my age and disdain for what passes for "music" that the kids listen to these days. But, I have to admit, this video mash-up is very, very good.
Many think this song is cheesy. I think it's fun. And a bit inspirational (the lyrics really speak to the Zaius family in many ways). Besides, this is a good way to groove into, and think about, the New Year.
Props to Dr. Zaius for the first post of 2009! This is the year of the angry monkey ... or at least the year to not Shock the Monkey.
Now, remember, I'm new to the instrument and the scene, so I can't nail down exactly which model it was (this-K, Style-that?). But it certainly looked A LOT like the models I've seen detailed online which date from around the 1910's to 1920's. The couple who own it believe it's a little older than that. Here's something similar:
A friend of mine collects old stringed instruments. Most he gets in pawn shops, thrift stores, and off eBay. But this one was inherited. He and his wife had no idea of the value until they lent it to one of the daughter's friends. He was looking for something other than guitar to play, and on his way to choosing mandolin, he spent some time carrying around that Martin. One day in a music shop, an employee offered to give it a free summary appraisal. They told him it was worth $2000.
My friend now has the soprano uke back home where it's kept in an antique violin case. When I was recently over for a Christmas party, they let me play it. His wife pulled down a vintage book of old Christmas songs (most I'd never heard before) and I got to accompany her singing.
I didn't know what to expect from the instrument. It wasn't fancy or ornate. I wondered if I would be swayed in my judgment by the esteem that I've perceived online and the high value of the appraisal estimate. So, I did my best to screw on my cynic hat and prepared to be disappointed.
What I found was a great ease of playing, especially in the formation of the chords near the nut. The intonation was spot on, all across the fretboard, and the action was consistent. It felt gentle. Rather, it invited me to be gentle, yet still rewarded me with lively performance. And I must admit that the tone did seem rich and warm, but what struck me was the sustain. It wasn't Spinal Tap guitar "haaaaahhhhhh" sustain, but it was noticeably and pleasantly pronounced. All in all, I was surprised that I wasn't disappointed. It was very fun to play, and I didn't want to put it back into the violin case.
Of course, I doubt my friend will be offering to lend me the Martin soprano, as they did to the teen, now that he and his wife know its value. But they have a recording studio in the house, and they are used to musicians dropping in to work on projects or just play. Their band, which regularly accepts guest musicians, and their studio, were why I made my first uke an electric. With any luck, I'll get more chances to enjoy a fine vintage instrument - maybe not at home - but at least in the company of good musicians and fine friends.
For those who only remember Earl Scruggs from The Beverly Hillbillies, there's oh so much more to find. This is just a delight, even though you might suspect that while Earl has perfect recollection of how to play the banjo, he might not remember who those guys around him are (even though he's related to most of them--his sons, I think). But if you like this, go to YouTube and see more. As Steve Martin once said, "The banjo is such a happy instrument--you can't play a sad song on the banjo - it always comes out so cheerful." And, yes, on YouTube, you'll find Steve playing with Earl on "Foggy Mountain Breakdown."
A favorite hang-out pastime of the Zaius clan is to play the "DJ game." We often play using iTunes, and we pick two songs in a row. The rule: Neither Mrs. Zaius nor I can pick a song that's been played on our iTunes in the last 30 days. It's great for mixing things up and re-discovering long-lost songs.
We've taken to shaking things up and thinking of a long-lost song and grabbing the video off YouTube, if it's available. Anyway, I thought it would be fun if we played that game here on Infinite Monkeys. I'll start (though, I kinda started below with Golden Earring).
The idea is to be organic. If a song makes you think of another song, you go with that. If you had something in mind, go with that. It's harder when it's not organic, but might still be cool. This is an experiment. Post your submissions in the comments.
Mrs. Zaius is going to start us off with her picks. She's feelin' an 80s Brit movement coming on. So here's some English Beat ...
... and The Clash doing "Radio Clash" in an appearance on Tom Snyder's Tomorrow Show in 1981. And Wikipedia says that The Clash's first public performance of this song is the what you see below, on Tom Snyder's show. So this is ultimate vintage.
Monkeys, monkey fans, trolls ... the floor is yours. The only rule: Be cool, or be campy ... but be spontaneous and be yourself. Oh, and make an effort to consume other people's videos.
... if it's an old-school rock party. Golden Earring, the best thing ever to come out of The Hague, really rocked it bizzarro in 1982 with "Twilight Zone." Hearing it even now, it's still hard to believe that the musicians and the singer are not American, but from The Netherlands. And it's also one of the most confusing songs that was ever played a ton, with lyrics still in dispute.
Behold, the greatest Dutch rock song of all time! I eagerly await the justified re-embracing of this great song in our culture. Some movie maven has got to put this in a soundtrack.
WARNING: This is the European version, so there is about 3 brief seconds of female topless nudity. Oh, and a creepy little girl staring into the camera. And women dancing in short-cropped cat-suits. And scenes of (implied) torture ... Joel ... LOOK AWAY!! LOOK AWAY!! ;-)
Man! I forgot how cool that video is. If I ever get shot, I want to fall on a comfy bed, too.
Mrs. Zaius and I were playing the "YouTube Music Game" tonight, which is a variation of the "iTunes game" — where we try to pick cool, often-unplayed songs for fun and the "ahhhh, I remember that" factor. Well ... after many windy roads, we came upon The Traveling Wilburys.
What a treasure it was that The Traveling Wilburys got together to re-introduce the greatness of Roy Orbison to another generation. And it's, frankly, heart-rending to hear George Harrison play some great music for his friends near the end of his life.
Enjoy ... a two-fer, the second video with a loving "almost-empty rocking chair" tribute to the then-deceased Orbison.
The Wilburys are right ... "It's alllllll right."
... that's a great idea.
Does Hollywood really think that they are immune from the economic hurt/boycott when it so openly mocks its audience, even in today's tough times?
I'm almost loath to post this little anti-Prop. 8 video, but, here it is. Hollywood liberals lecturing, tossing out insults, expressing their own brand of (culturally accepted) bigotry, and yes ... providing theological explanation ... in song.
From the Funny or Die website, again.
John C. Reilly sings about what happened on Election Day: "Look nobody's watching ..."
Really? I remember seeing an ad or two on TV here in California about this issue before the vote. What I also remember was a single state judge redefining marriage out of the blue. You know. When — in reality — no one was watching. And is it the fault of Christians that you guys didn't think of such a clever way to express your point of view before Election Day? C'mon.
Hey, Hollywood B-listers (mostly). Do you know who really has a problem with this issue, and is deadly serious about it? Hint: they don't pray to Jesus. And they enjoy stoning women, too. How about showing some real courage, huh?
By the way, where's the mockery of Elton John, the most famously gay Briton in history? He would seem ripe for this kind of treatment — perhaps more so, since he's a "traitor." That's right, Sir Elton is a supporter of the traditional definition of marriage, and thinks the opponents are going down the wrong track:
In December 2005, John and Furnish tied the knot in a civil partnership ceremony in Windsor, England. But, clarified the singer, "We're not married. Let's get that right. We have a civil partnership. What is wrong with Proposition 8 is that they went for marriage. Marriage is going to put a lot of people off, the word marriage."
John and Furnish, and their two cocker spaniels, Marilyn and Arthur, were in town for Tuesday's annual benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
"I don't want to be married. I'm very happy with a civil partnership. If gay people want to get married, or get together, they should have a civil partnership," John says. "The word 'marriage,' I think, puts a lot of people off.
"You get the same equal rights that we do when we have a civil partnership. Heterosexual people get married. We can have civil partnerships."
Elton John as a voice of reason. Who'd have thunk it?
My friend Sam Karnick at The American Culture highlighted Steven Colbert's Christmas Special on Comedy Central, which aired just a few days ago and is now out on DVD. In the comment section, Karnick has a pretty good back and forth with a commenter on theism, nihilism, atheism, and other big subjects. Yes, this clip from Colbert's special prompted such a deep discussion.
I share the comment I left on Karnick's site (as of this moment, awaiting publication):
I dare to call this a remarkable event in modern popular culture. Modern comedy, especially on Comedy Central, drips with cynicism. The network's biggest shows — South Park, The Daily Show, The Sarah Silverman Program and (perhaps to a lesser extent) the Colbert Report — take potshots at everything traditional in America. I find a good bit of that funny, but start to get tired of it after extended exposure. It's always been a mystery to me how a network that makes its bones by continually mocking (often in bad faith) the values of Middle America thrives. Perhaps the majority of America — the non-elites — are not as stupid as Jon Stewart seems to think we are, and we have the self-confidence to laugh at ourselves.
Yet, on Comedy Central no less, Colbert presents a little song that is sincere, respectful, honest and (gasp!) wholesome. Note that Colbert produced a "Christmas" special, not a "Holiday" special. The distinction is important, especially in today's climate.
Where else, except the classic Peanuts Christmas Special, does one hear any explicit and respectful reference to the Christian meaning of Christmas in mainstream culture? Imagine for a moment that the Peanuts special didn't already exist. Is there any chance that someone in Hollywood today would produce it — and it would be eagerly broadcast by a major American network? I think not. We'd end up with some bland "Sparkle Season Spectacular" devoid of any meaning. Ugh.
Also note, the first lines of the song take a swing at the "cynics" — the bread and butter of the Comedy Central audience. Yes, Costello's second lyric mentions Santa, but he first mentions (and honors) "believers," for whom Christmas is sacred and not just an excuse to buy stuff. And Costello sings later of many a "Christmas carol to be sung." That's quite a remarkable thing to hear — and I believe it was intended to poke at the bland "Happy Holidays" nonsense that has infected the modern Western obsession with multiculturalism. This is not a song that tries to hide that it's Christmas, nor apologize for it, but celebrates it.
Now, to get back into the weeds here, I come down on Mr. Karnick's side. It's hard to listen to that song and not think that there is at least a gentle indictment of those "who believe in nothin'." And Christians waiting for "judgment" from the Lord are of a bit more peaceful character than those engaged in jihad.
Merry Christmas, everyone.