Saturday, April 30, 2011

New Bern and Back

Same Tacoma, Okemah OK, 2002

We ran down to New Bern yesterday and played a contra dance, driving a rented Ford Escape rather than our usual ride, the '99 Tacoma with the 213K miles and dead air conditioner.  Boy was it fun.  We decided to come back late last night after the dance just to enjoy more time in the Escape.  The Escape is an escape, in other words.  Plus, they've completed a new road between Garner and Goldsboro now, which loses about 20 minutes of the trip.  We stopped for late burgers and a Cheerwine Float in Goldsboro on the way back and still got to the rental car place in Siler in under the Mapquest projected time of trip.

On the way back I was thinking of writing something about Glenn Beck's latest non-stop ravings.  He's on the case about some song in a grammar school in Tennessee that they had the kids sing for Earth Day.  While encouraging recycling, the song in the second verse also uses two verbotten words: "boycott" and "petition."  Beck had the outraged mother on board, and spent quite a bit of time on how this was just like Hitler Youth.  I had to think the obvious: this rancid three hours in hell Beck spews out daily is just like Goebbels.  The kid who sang the song said, when questioned, that she didn't know what the song meant.  That's kinda too bad.  There used to be something about a right to petition in the Constitution, didn't there?

Anyways, Beck is sort of like a soft ball on a tee.  So I'd rather quote the money shot in World'O'Crap's musings re the Atlas Shrugged movie.  I hope the World'Os won't mind--their site is always worth a visit, so hopefully the brilliance of this small paragraph will instill in you a burning desire to read more:

But even though I probably won't pay to see the Atlas Shrugs, waiting till it makes its way to Netfix, I think it deserves to be seen -- or at least evaluated as possible fodder for the sequel to Better Living Through Bad Movies.  Because the question is bigger than the weekly box office totals.  Can Objectivist philosophy, embodied on page and screen, overturn the current social and political order, driven only by the power of one, small, unpleasant, somewhat kinky and nicotine-stained woman's ideas, and the inexhaustible energy of a static electricity-fueled perpetual moment machine that defies all known laws of physics, and which only requires followers who have enough faith to wear heavy woolen socks and scuff their feet on the shag carpet all day?

That's just fine!  And although it is possible that "perpetual moment machine" might be a typo, I think not.  Indeed, living in the perpetual moment is one of our fundamental problems.  As the Daily Howler points out in its usual elegant argumentative style [],  the entire "long-form" whirlwind, in its attempted reporting by the paper of record, the New York Times, fails to take account of the most fundamental fact--that Mr. Obama had already released the only legal document regarding his birth, the so-called "short birth certificate," in 2008.  That is to say, there is no story at all, no secret "more legal" birth certificate, no nothing, just the hot air of manufactured angst swirling with ever increasing speed in the utter void.  

In other words, apparently there are zombies in heavy woolen socks shuffling in other unseen dimensions, and more than might be imagined in your mundane world of ipods and igloos.  Meanwhile, real mysteries remain unattended.  Kyle Busch did not run in last night's Nationwide Race in Richmond.  WTF is that all about?

Sunday Morning Update:  18 Rules, mystery solved.  Rested and rarin' to go, Kyle won Richmond last night in decisive style.  Congrats to Jimmie Johnson, who managed an 8th place finish in a sow's ears to silk purses manner.  We also appreciated his tweet to Mr. Harvick, who had asked if his tweet followers would vote for Donald Trump.  "No" responded Mr. Jimmie.  You can't always get what you want.   

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Library & Other Points of Note

1. Something to think about--particularly if you're one of those folks who believes that there's no such thing as the "common good."

Next time you hear Rand Paul or Scott Walker talking about getting the government out of everything but providing subsidies to private security forces, and about how the "founders" wanted nothing to do with social projects, remember the Library of Congress.  Interesting, isn't it, that the Brits burned it down when they sacked Washington in the War of 1812.

2This is so absolutely spot on you just have to read it a few times:

For further readings on this matter, see Hazel Dickens' wonderful song, "Don't Put Her Down, You Helped Put Her There."  

3Finally, cudos to Lawrence O'Donnell for sticking Jesus right back into Rush Limbaugh's face, after Limbaugh had utterly reversed the teachings of Jesus in yesterday's show.  For Limbaugh, Jesus turns out to be a predecessor of Gordon Gekko.  Mr. O'Donnell easily found the appropriate scripture.  He had earlier attempted to raise the same points with Billy Graham's fraud of a boy, Frank.  Being a skilled preacher, Frank was able to filibuster until time ran out.  

And to just close the circle here--Jerry Falwell once asserted that one of his goals was to destroy the public school system in the United States.  Challenged on that assertion, he denied it.  It is nontheless in print--in a book he wrote. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hazel Dickens

Hazel Dickens

Hazel Dickens died today at the age of 75.  I had the privilege and opportunity to play behind her singing on a few scattered occasions.  It was an honor most rare.  Her music on Harlan County, USA is superb.  There are many albums.  She spoke for the Appalachians, and the Appalachian people, and for working people. And for women.  Her interpretation of "Poor Ellen Smith" is simply breathtaking.  Libby said, "well, she's gone over to the other side to work on the union problem."  I hope so.  Working people need her, now more than ever.  I hope Scott Walker and the rest are just a little afraid.  Now Hazel is on the case.

Rest in peace, dear lady.  You will never be forgotten.

Update: this was posted a week before Hazel died of pheumonia:


Joseph Cotton and Teresa Wright, from Shadow of a Doubt
I used to get into these long discussions with the geezer with the deKalb hat down at the Texaco.  Back when Bush was running the country into the ground, deKalb was pretty happy, and seemed to enjoy a fairly civilized banter with someone like me who was at once more or less of his generation, but of a different political and cultural view.  But old deKalb never conceded a single point, and eventually I just decided that both him and his ilk had no interest at all in the proposition that, through discourse, one could move closer to the truth of things--which I guess would be the Socratic view of talkee-talkee.  Of course it may be that deKalb and myself had actually just encountered that rare but always possible moment when two totally polar opposites encounter each other.  That's science fiction for ya. Anyways, I'm writing this because I realized today that the moment where that realization I had--that deKalb was entirely beyond open-minded discourse--that place should have occurred way back before it actually did, on a day when "we were talking" (to use an inaccurate shorthand for what was actually happening) about life in the inner cities and the general atmosphere of racism in the US, and I mentioned the best piece of filmic art to have been produced in the last decade or two.  That would be the series "The Wire."  Hands down. 

I won't get into talking about The Wire.  If you've seen it you've seen it.  But what old deKalb did was to ridicule the specific reference to the Wire that I'd made (whatever it was, I don't really remember the details of the discussion) on the very general grounds that nothing in "the movies" has anything to do with real life--movies were just entertainment, pretty lies.  Anyone who thought to use anything in a movie to help understand life was just some dizzy romantic.  Or something.  At any rate, obviously not serious. 

That's exactly where I should have headed out into the sunset.  Eventually it was something else equally obsidian that did the trick.  I think maybe it was the time deKalb attacked George Soros for being complicit in the Holocaust because, as a teenager, Soros survived the Nazis in Hungary by pretending to be a Christian and working with a Christian family who was hiding him in their work of confiscating Jewish property.  We argued that one for a long time--so long I was an hour late for work (which wasn't much of a problem back in the halcyon days when I worked for myself, back before Bush ran the US into the ground and all the masonry jobs disappeared).  He was just a kid trying to survive the Nazis I said to deKalb.  Think about it, I said--he was 14.  The Nazis shot people including children on sight when they felt like it.  They were gassing millions of people.  They even beheaded people for christsake. 

Old deKalb didn't budge an inch.  I think the deal was, for deKalb George Soros was this evil rich guy who gave a lot of money to Democrats, and so there was just nothing deKalb wouldn't do to undermine the guy.  If I'd thought of it, I'd have mentioned the book Survivor (I think that's the name of it), about the soccer team that crashed in the Andes, and how some of them survived by eating the dead.  We have to understand what survival means.  It's a human trait, a fundamental thing as deep as a heart beat or a breath.  I had an aunt who ended up losing all her will to live when she had to leave the home place at 86 and move to a rest home.  She always said she wouldn't leave the home place.  At the rest home she stopped eating, and after a few weeks had to be hospitalized.  In the hospital the doctors said there's nothing really wrong with her, but she's given up, and we won't force feed her if you don't want us too.  She died, but it took her a week.  Her heart kept beating.  She kept breathing, each breath a little harder, a little more work.  But her body didn't quit.  Not for a very long time.  That's survival.  Old deKalb could shrug that off.  And so that was finally the moment I realized there was no dialog with this guy, none at all.  But the way he shrugged off The Wire, which is also about survival, that might have been the moment, and I would have saved a year at least of talkee-talkee.  So hopefully I won't miss that year some day, huh. 

Trump's like deKalb, by the way.  His justification for the "birther" tack he's taking isn't that it's true.  He just says it's a hot line for the base.  Which means Trump is just an entertainer, to the core.  He's in a movie, a real life one.  Republicans have been up for actors at least since Reagan.  They want a front man, and then they'll be fine with doing the real work behind the scenes, in the quiet and dark.  Mr. Ryan's little adventure with sunlight was probably a bit of a shock, but he'll learn.  Bush hand picked his audiences pretty much, and people with questionable tee-shirts were "detained" until he was back on the plane. 

The movie I watched after "Since You Were Away" was "Shadow of a Doubt."  It's set in 1943, a year or so after "Since You Were Away."  There's no mention of the war at all, but there are only older men and lots of women in view, and the family at the center of Shadow isn't that different from the one headed by Colbert.   Thornton Wilder co-wrote Shadow, and Hitchcock believed it was his best movie.  I've looked around some at the critical literature, and I've not found something that seems obvious to me at least--that the relationship between Uncle Charlie and his niece Charlie is very close to a child molestation situation in its hidden context, in the way the two have a subterranean language that is occurring while the rest of the world is oblivious, and in the way Uncle Charlie uses shame and fear to keep his niece under his thumb.  The crucial moment in the movie occurs when niece Charlie descends the stairs wearing the ring, and Uncle Charlie sees the ring.  For every one else, it's a ring--for Uncle Charlie it's a message and a threat--and a threat in the face of the fact that he's already tried to murder his niece twice, and she knows it.  Both movies excel in the subtle.  One of the fine touches in Shadow occurs near the end, with our glimpse of the widow on the train smiling at Uncle Charlie.  In Since You Went Away, one of my favorite moments (aside from the 100% taxes line I mentioned in an earlier post) is the kitchen scene at Christmas, when Colbert smokes a cigarette.  Come to think of it, Joseph Cotton is in that scene too. 

A nice pairing with either of these two movies might be Melville's Army of Shadows.  There's a domestic quality to Army of Shadows, a restraint which allows the viewer to feel.  Seems like that idea gets left out of too many movies these days.  But Army of Shadows is about a real world, it's not just an entertainment.  That's what deKalb refused, or pretended, not to get.  And the distinction between refused and pretended--that's kinda like what they say about Limbaugh, isn't it?  Is he a racist, or does he just play one on the teevee?  That's who's leading the GOP Presidential field right now.  One of those. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Assorted Quick Things

Great Review:

I mean as a review, but it does get at the fundamental problem--what to do when you try to make a good movie of a bad book.  There's a logical connundrum problem.

In other reviews, this week Mr. Trump said that Obama's first book was written by a Hemingway, his second by a highschool graduate.  The argument was that Obama didn't write either book I guess.  But what bothers me even more is Trump's utter ignorance of Hemingway.  Ain't no way Obama's book reads like Hemingway.  There are Hemingway-style writing contests every year.  Go look at the results.  Or.  Read one of Hemingway's books.  The earlier ones.  Particularly.  Sun Also Rises.  Or Farewell to Arms. 

Yesterday Mr. Gingrich said, on Hannity, that we should "block grant Medicaid and we could save a trillion dollars."  I don't really know what that means, except that it surely means that the poorest, most ravaged citizens, most of them old and in rest homes, many of them suffering bed sores and theft from their attenders, will surely get less care.  Hannity didn't persue Gingrich's proposal.  His mouth was full. 

While Paul Ryan seemed somewhat nonplussed by the resistance he encountered yesterday, it's going to take a whole lot more resistance to do any real damage to his determination--and that of the Republicans--to actually destroy the social safety net such as it is--rotten and rendered already.  Mr. Schultz and Ms Maddow were very excited to see any resistance, as indeed they should be.  But let's remember what resistance actually looks like--it's when the same people at the Ryan meeting are in Tea Party rage about the Health Care bill.  The question is whether the aim to destroy Medicare and Medicaid will be obvious enough to overcome the need to listen to authority above all else--a psychological trait which dominates the Republican base and leaves them vulnerable to the likes of Hannity, Beck, and Limbaugh.  They still are listening to that Big Lie every live long day.  Ryan only shows up in the flesh every now and then. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Our National Credit Rating

Arabic Bible from the 1850s, from

No, I don't have a clue whether S&P is playing politics or not.  I think having Ms Harris-Perry on O'Donnell last night as an economics expert was a bit of a mistake, as much as I like her general intelligence.  While she can make good conversation on any subject, the fundamental credit-worthiness of the United States is an arcane affair.  The United States, that is to say, is not your "family" budget, no matter how much Republicans want to use that metaphor whenever it suits their deeper purposes. 

The more interesting fact gracing the past twenty-four hours is that Tea Party rallies all across the nation were extremely weak affairs even when big Tea Party Stars turned out, as Ms. Bachmann did in South Carolina--a whole Tea Party State fer Christ's sake.  She drew hundreds, who no doubt watched with rapt attention her usual bizarro hand movements.  I'm convinced she's sending coded signals.  Check it out the next time she's on the teevee.  So, could it be that even Tea Party Faithful are actually realizing that maybe we'd better raise taxes?  That's certainly the obvious implication of all the debt crisis talk, after all--and why the Congressional TPers didn't realize that from the get-go I certainly don't know.  It's a Rube Goldberg machine to try to fix the budgetary situation the way Ryan proposes.  Just drop the Bush Tax Cuts, which is what they should have done back in December.  (And it's an interesting fact to me that they are still the "Bush Tax Cuts."  There was a lot of predicting about how now they were the Obama Tax Cuts--it doesn't seem to have "taken.")

The thing to remember, always, is that Republicans are always lying.  Here's a brief piece from Sadly No to illustrate the point.  If the general public would just learn to suspect a trick when they see the next shiny object, we'd all be a lot better off going down the road.

It may turn out that the S&P credit rating announcement of yesterday is about as solid as the assertion that the United States is burning Bibles.  Wanna bet?  A better tack for the right wing lying machine might have been the shocking headline that Bibles are being translated into Pastun--a sure sign of shariafication to follow.  Meanwhile, the Right to Lifers are the primary imposers of Sharia Law in the United States.  They even kill doctors now and again.  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Since You Were Away

Yesterday the House of the United States Congress passed the so-called Ryan Budget Bill, which among other things destroys Medicare for persons now under 55 years old.  For any readers under 55 at the moment, I can report that damn if you don't get to be 60 a hell of a lot faster than a span of 5 years would suggest at earlier moments in your life.  In other words, this Bill, passed by one half of Congress, i.e., one half of our Legislative Branch of Government, has major effects in store for you--effects that you will not really understand for a tiny few years, but effects that will probably hugely affect your life.

Of course various liberal pundits believe that this "plays into the Democratic Party's hands."  Could be.  But the Democratic Party passed a terrific health care reform two years ago, and what they got was a non-stop propaganda campaign complete with people in the street, and the Democratic Party was unable to respond to this in any meaningful way, and the result was the election of enough--here I have to pause to figure out what to call these people--lets just say of them, to get this Ryan bill voted in.

So in 2012 the stakes are certainly higher.  Maybe this truly amazing, remarkable vote will be the thing that wakes people up.  Polls clearly indicate that the American People do not want to end Medicare.  But then the soldiers in the Tea Party literally said things like "keep your government out of my Medicare."  We'll just see, as we do in general.  One never knows, do one.  Fats was absolute right on with that comment.

I just want to note that these folks, representatives of the know-nothing America who indeed are voting for their constituents, have it half way to law.  This is, in a historical sense, breathtaking.  If these people actually do gain power next year, it will be the full force of harsh reality that will eventually break their grip on the wheel--a harsh reality that will do enormous damage to all of us "ordinary" folks who are just attempting to live our lives with some semblance of integrity and quality.

It might be a lucky thing if these people actually do mess with the debt ceiling next month.  That will bring a taste of harsh reality to bear before it gets down to electing a President, and possibly that awful lesson will do the trick when a vote such as yesterday's can and will be forgotten and ignored within a week.  America is buried in illusion.  The Japanese nuclear problem is almost forgotten even as it gets worse.  We have become "atomized," all of us absorbed in trivia and in just the ole day to day.  It happened quite a while back, about the time they created an all-volunteer military and then privatized big parts of that.

This week on Turner they played "Since You Went Away" one afternoon as I arrived home from work.  There's a scene in a train or bus station, about half way through the movie, where someone at a table in the background says "I'd pay 100% in taxes."  We've just seen an elderly lady tell Ms Colbert that her daughter is in the service, and last she heard was at Corigador.  That would be understood by all.  And of course even in 1942 there was no doubt a certain number of people who thought Roosevelt was a socialist, that we should stay neutral even after Pearl Harbor, that Pearl Harbor was itself a setup job, etc. etc. etc.  There is never ever 100 percent agreement.  But.  That little toss away line was something that had a context then, and it would mean something very different today.  That context is a sense of "common good," or "community."

The Republicans these days--them--play to a different set of values, to a world where every person had better grab what's his and kick the closest clutching hand to the gutter.  As someone wrote this week on a blog, if a Randite goes on a movie date, that pretty hand reaching into the popcorn will be met with "hey, looter, get your own."  In a democracy, we even get to vote on this.  But sometimes such a vote does not get a repeat.  Instead, history just moves on, to some place considerably different.  One never knows, do one.  Since you were away one House of Congress repealed Medicare.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Put My Little Shoes Away

This picture is how things were for many Americans back when the song, "Put My Little Shoes Away," was first written and recorded.  The song depicted American reality, the facts of life as it were.

It's a beautiful song.  It's been recorded many times, mostly back in the '30s and '40s, by a range of artists.  I have an early version by the Chuck Wagon Gang.  It was a staple in Bill Monroe's repertoire, and many versions have picked up that swing lilt that bluegrass tends to impart to ballads.  As times got better, that lilt was a way to counter the tragedy many of the old songs confront head on.  Bluegrass started in the '30s, before it even had a name, but it flowered in the '50s.  Times were some better by then, although there was still a common awareness of things like polio.  Although Roosevelt had been dead a decade before polio began to be conquered, there's a kind of poetic justice in his association with the March of Dimes (his face was on the dime)--which helped to defeat a disease which might have been what was killing the little voice in Put My Little Shoes Away.

Of course there were many possibilities back when the song was written.  And of course most of these possibilities are still quite with us.  Mumps, measles, tuberculosis, all the rest (except maybe polio), they're just as "natural" as anything else in this world, and they wait, patiently.  Time, to a killing childhood disease, is measured in the same increments that measure the epochs of the universe.  It is only us humans who think that time is measured in the microscopic units that fit our relatvely microscopic lifespans.  We keep nature at bay with great effort.  It's just that much of the effort is so constant that it's like our ability to manage with gravity.

If the Tea Party really has it's way we will before long see how much effort it really takes to live a modern, reasonably safe, life.  Many people, of course, already know this truth in full measure.  Quite a few--millions--live here in the richest country on the planet.  Millions more live in more "interesting" places.

A few years back my daughter was saved by a visit to Planned Parenthood.  It was just one of those lucky things.  It had nothing to do at all with abortion, and that's all I'll say about it.  But if Planned Parenthood is destroyed by the fanatics who seem to be taking over Congress, many many women will lose their only link to medical attention they can afford.  People frequently "make do."  They always have.  People lived through the worst of times--the ones that survived I mean.  Then they wrote songs about their grief.  Here's what the Tea Party's vision of the future amounts to:

Mr. Ryan and the rest of these fanatics are as protected as possible from death and grief.  As members of Congress, they have the best health care on the planet.  So do their patrons, the corporate billionaires who are driving these draconian policy proposals.  They're all one big happy family.  And basically, they're killing Planned Parenthood so that David Koch can have an even bigger tax cut.  That's really the equation.

We may perhaps recall that just last December Mr. Obama went along with the Republican idea of keeping the "Bush Tax Cuts" in place instead of letting them expire, as was intended.  This decision created an even bigger deficit problem than existed before.  Yet it was only after this decision that Republicans in the new Congress began to rant about a crisis to end all crises--to talk of even shutting the government down if they didn't get their way.  And yet the sticking point of the moment seems to be the funding of Planned Parenthood--which everyone admits is literally a drop in the ocean of the budget.

So listen to the song a few times.  Because this is the world the Tea Party wants to bring back to life.  And why the Democratic Party won't stand up to this absurdity is really beyond me. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

In the Fog

drop Beck, add Harris-Perry, that's the ticket

From Mr. Riley today:

"Let's cut everything but our ever-burgeoning War Department and let Ayn Rand sort it out" is not a serious proposal. It's a religious slogan. The fact that some people are serious about Dead Carpenters, UFOs, or two-bit novelists has nothing to do with whether the ideas themselves are serious. It's like being forced into having a never-ending debate about the real powers of vampires.

"Under threat of government shutdown?" What's the threat? If we avert the threat by enacting the Brave Ryan budget the government shuts down anyway, except for the IRS and the War Department. (Look, Teabaggers: stupid's fun, an' all, but those of you who aren't in on the gag might want to consider just when government officials, even those government officials you love, are going to stop picking your pocket to line their own.)

There's much more on his blog of course.  But why isn't this obvious statement of fact being shouted from the roof-tops of the general media?  Instead we get endless loops of Ryan looking Young Republican Serious, and Ms Bachmann with her airline attendant bizarro hand gestures--and as Mr. Riley points out--Ms Bachmann is ON THE GOVERNMENT PAYROLL!

Sometimes, however, reality does poke it's nose under the tent.  The election in Wisconsin just past would suggest that the general population is actually somewhat aware of what the hell is going on--namely, a state-by-state putsch designed by the Kochs and other plutocrats who seem to think this is their decisive moment to act.  We all owe Wisconsin voters a debt of gratitude, and we all had better get ourselves to the polls while such an exercise still remains an option in the US.  There will be elections for a while yet, and that means there's time to return to some measure of sanity.  That would include raising taxes to get the budget more in order, and winding down our military diplomacy to some degree.  But we have to elect sane people to do anything sane--that's where things are at.

And I have to say, a second "victory" might be the end of the Glenn Beck teevee show.  What that means isn't clear.  Since he was failing as a Fox cash generator, that might be the whole deal there.  One would hope the fact that he was spewing reckless apocalyptic nonsense every live long day also played a small part in the decision-making process.

Maybe Mrs Harris-Perry will get her shot on the teevee.  She's got some very interesting things to say.  Till then you can catch bits of her thinking on Maddow.

Update: While I agree with Laurie in the comments that it should have been a landslide in Wisconsin, it's also true that Prosser was way way ahead, and an eleven-year incumbent who had no thought of losing until Governor Walker's big union-busting moves.  Also, the voter turnout in Wisconsin set records.  So... I'd say on the whole there was at least a wake-up call given to politicians supporting this extreme right-wing agenda. It's also very early, and we are in a very deep hole.
Update the Second (Friday morning): Obviously we're all running along behind the news at this point--the fog is much thicker that we thought.  The strange discovery of 14 thousand ballots transforms Wisconsin into Florida circa 2000.  How very sad.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Searching for Jennifer Jo

A moment when the best car was leading

Well we got to Martinsville in time for the Sprint Cup qualifying and then watched the truck race, shivering to some extent when the sun went behind the clouds.  My man, Kyle Busch, led much of the race but was overtaken by Sauter (who had a great truck) very near the end.  Whereas last year Rowdy tended to give people a little tap on the rear quarter panel when they pushed him too hard, something has mellowed the lad--possibly marriage, or possibly that return of service David Ruitimann gave him last fall, which destroyed all of his hopes to win the chase.  There's also the odd fact that even if Kyle should win every truck race, he will not win the championship of the truck series, because NASCAR has so deemed.  Perhaps as an owner he actually will adjust things to fit the reality NASCAR has fashioned, rather than embarass the France family by making the official champions of Truck and Nationwide look silly.  We'll see--just a meta-subplot at any event.  Missing from the Truck race and Martinsville was Jennifer Jo Cobb, who I'd decided to buy a hat from.  She had a disagreement with her owner a few weeks back--refused to start'n'park as he'd ordered.  Since then there's not been much evidence of her, and the prominent female this past weekend was Johanna Long (see, who scored a decent finish in the race.  Maybe there's some JJC gear available on line.  NASCAR pundits theorize that Ms Long being 18, where as JJC is 38, might have some relevance somehow.  Another meta-plot of no small import in NASCAR is marketing marketing marketing.  The fans believe in they stuff.

Sunday's Sprint Cup race was wonderful.  Kyle had the best car, as he said afterwards.  The crowd booed that statement, but all it meant was, the driver didn't win with the best car, and the driver had better figure out why that is.  Kyle did lead a significant percentage of the 500 laps, and was rarely below 4th at any time.  The winner, Kevin Harvick, has an uncanny ability to stay in contention but fairly invisible until it counts, then come on to win.  He's done that two weeks running now, on very different race tracks.  He's starting to look to me like a very serious contender for the title this year.  At Martinsville Mr. Harvick overtook the crowd favorite, Dale Earnhardt, Junior, with a very few laps remaining, after Junior had passed Kyle for the lead.  Junior had an opportunity to send Harvick to the wall but drove like a gentleman.  It seems that at the moment Mr. Earnhardt's spirits are seriously damaged.  He's been a very long time without a win, and having the lead for a few laps, then having it pulled from his grasp, was a difficult thing to stomach.  He may feel his last best chance is gone.  And he may be right.

There was also a bit of funny business with Jimmie Johnson's pit speeding penalty just at the end, when Johnson might well have been contending for the lead rather than Harvick.  The method of determining pit speed is arcane and somewhat mysterious, which does not help NASCAR's argument. A lot of fans have the idea the Jimmie has won too much.  Some theorize that NASCAR believes this to be true as well, and worries about the product becoming stale. 

If you've never gone to a race, it's actually pretty difficult to explain why it's interesting.  For one thing, there's an aural aspect impossible to capture anywhere but live.  To actually listen to the race without ear protection is akin to looking directly at the sun or a welding torch.  There is nothing like the sound, even when the ears are well protected.  The other thing is, the race is a fundamentally dynamic event, like a river.  I take snapshots every time, and every time they have nothing to do with the race.  This dynamic quality is probably more easily appreciated at Martinsville, a tiny track where even the far turn is visible from a given location, than at big tracks where what's happening across the track is a mile or more distant.  It may be that even the less terrific speeds which Martinsville requires only make the race more comprehensible.  If we get down to Charlotte some race, I'll let you know about that.  What I mean by the dynamic quality is, the way to see the race is to watch a driver's position in the flow.  It's what commentators mean when they talk about a driver "going backwards."  It's why Kyle was probably right about his "best car" comment--his car was 4th or better all day (he started 11th or so).

Martinsville is also "southern culture," just like the Mount Airy Fiddler's Convention, if perhaps somewhat less acoustic.  Lots of country music wafts through the air in the parking areas--which are nothing but grassy meadows.  As the weather was perfect, there were lots of folks with tee-shirts, beer, hot dogs, ribs, tattoos, whoops and yahoos.  We actually heard the Dukes of Hazzard song, and Willie's "On the Road Again."

No one but me, probably, noted Jennifer Jo's absence.  But then no one really noticed that Joe Nemachek pitted after a couple of laps at the end of the field, in his usual 43rd position, or that Mike Skinner, missing entirely from the Trucks, started the Sprint race and also ran a couple of laps.  The doings "back there" are pretty much invisible.

Friday, April 1, 2011

If You Haven't Seen This...

the heroic pose

Huckabee is the current "front runner" in the 2012 Republican presidential field.

We're going to Martinsville for the zip around the clip.  I'll try to take a picture worth posting here, along with some droll, mildly ironic commentary.  I also plan to purchase a Jennifer Jo Cobb ball cap.