Collected Thoughts

My social commentary. Quotes from great literature.

Hunger Games Cliches

N and I saw Hunger Games last weekend.  We had a GroupOn that was about to expire, so we had to see something.  There really weren't any other films of interest.

Thirty minutes in, N and I can't take it anymore.  It's just so awful.  I take out my cellphone and start typing.

N: "What are you doing?"

Me: "Taking notes."

I promise to show her later.  Somehow we make it through the film.  Afterwards we had a laugh over my "review."

Hunger Games Cliches

Spoilers follow

  1. Future is a dystopia
  2. Mass rallies ala Nazi Nuremberg
  3. Countdowns over the P.A.  "Ten seconds until..."
  4. Androgyny
  5. Sterile white jumpsuits
  6. Hand held camera, quick cuts, too many closeups
  7. Reluctant hero is ashamed of her skills
  8. Evil character has angular features (crazy beard)
  9. Wise alchoholic
  10. Impossible love among rivals
  11. Cheesy one liners- "I'm not allowed to bet."
  12. Dramatic moment has silent audio
  13. Hero is in touch with nature
  14. Hero operates alone / is an outcast
  15. Tearful death scene
  16. White savior of likable but inept minority
  17. Thelma & Louise ending... maybe... 

The Difference Between A Child Seeing A Ghost And An Adult Hearing A Voice

Interviewer: Your basic objection to religion, however, seems less experiential than it is political. You object in this book not to individual belief, but to the politicization of belief.

Hitchens: Listen, if a child tells me he's seen a ghost, I'll say, "Well, I'm sure you did, but I don't think I'll be able to see it myself, and I don't think it's really there, though I do think you must have a very vivid imagination." However, if a grown-up says "I've just a heard a voice telling me what to do," what they really mean is "I can now tell you what to do." That's what I don't like. What I noticed when I was a kid wasn't just that what the headmaster was preaching at sermon time was rubbish (which was easy to see), it was also that it seemed very important that the headmaster be able to invest his otherwise rather feeble authority with religious authority. In other words, I could see already when I was eight that religion is used to say, "You better listen to what I say. My power is not just of this world. I have divine right." That's where you have to say, "Say that again and I'll burn your church." That's fascism. I loathe it. And I tend to loathe the people who believe it, because they are making a claim on me.

-Christopher Hitchens interviewed inThe Atlantic, Jan. 2005

Midnight Rambler

Q:  What is the best live performance of a rock & roll song that steadily builds to a crescendo?

A:  The Rolling Stones, Midnight Rambler, 1972.

Mick Taylor makes the slide guitar cry.  Keith Richards lays down a lurching, pulsating rhythm.  Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts slowly build the tension.  Mick Jagger calls.  The crowd responds, claps, yells for more.  Jagger leers, prowls, threatens.  A TOUR DE FORCE.

This song brings to mind a passage in Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, regarding the proximity of the sacred and the profane. 

"And some of them, by God, are not inferior to you in development, though you won’t believe it: they can contemplate such abysses of belief and disbelief at one and the same moment that, really, it sometimes seems that another hair’s breadth and a man would fall in."

This is art of the highest caliber- beautifully constructed, evocative, beyond reach of all but the most gifted musicians.  And yet it is one of the darkest, most brutal, evil songs I've ever heard.  Admit it, when it comes to music, the angels have nothing on the Devil's band.

Well you heard about the Boston...

Honey, it's not one of those.
Well, talking about the midnight...
Did you see me shut the bedroom door?
I'm called the hit-and-run raper in anger.
Or just a knife-sharpened tippie-toes.
Or just a shoot 'em dead, brainbell jangler.
Everybody got to go.

If you ever see the midnight rambler
Coming down your marble hall.
And he's pouncing like proud black panther.
Yeah, you can say I told you so.
Well, don't you listen for the midnight rambler.
Play it easy, easy as you go.
I'm gonna smash down all your plate glass windows.
Put my fist through your steel plate door.

Well I'm talking about the midnight rambler.
Everybody got to go.
Well I'm talking about the midnight rambler.
Did you see him slip inside the bedroom door?
And if you ever catch the midnight rambler...
I'll steal your mistress from under your nose.
I'll go easy with your cold fanged anger.
I'll stick my knife right down your throat. 

Why Doesn't President Obama Point To The Booming Economy of the 90s?


I am totally baffled by our President's political strategy regarding the debt and tax policy.  I don’t understand why the President is taking the “let’s work together” approach versus the “let’s do what works” approach.  He’s always talking about bi-partisan negotiations, compromise, working for the people, blah, blah, blah.

Why isn’t he reminding people of the balanced budgets, economic growth, and expanding middle class of the Clinton years?  Back when the upper tax bracket was 39% instead of 36%.  The sky didn’t fall.  Business was booming, jobs were a-plenty, the middle class was expanding.  He should be hammering this home day after day after day.  Remember the economic opportunity of the 90s?  You were employed, your family and friends were employed.  Let’s go back to those policies.  They worked!

Just hammer the Republicans on the irresponsibility of a tax cut during two wars- never in our nation’s history.  George W. Bush’s tax policy has failed.  Clinton’s tax policy was a success.  State it day after day after day.  Get the public on your side.  Get them thinking, “Yeah, what’s so important about tax cuts for oil companies and the rich?”

The Republicans smell weakness.  They’re not going to budge.  The President needs to get confrontational.  He needs to put his presidency on the line.  People respect that.  They don’t respect luke-warm.  Ugh.

Stones In Exile

From Stones in Exile, a documentary about the making of the Rolling Stones' classic album Exile on Main Street.  Recorded in the dank, musty basement of Nellcôte, a mansion Keith had rented in the South of France.

Keith, Mick, and Charlie discuss their love for black American music. The clips ends with Keith and Mick sitting around Nellcôte strumming guitar and singing the blues. So effortless and so, so good.

Interviewer: It's been said the Rolling Stones gave black music back to Americans.  What are the first black musicians that turned you on to black music?

Keith: Chuck Berry, Little Richard.  I guess Little Richard was the first one I heard that really knocked me out.  Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Slim Harpo... the list gets endless.  I guess the more you got into black music the more you followed it back to where it come from.  So eventually you're listening to Robert Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson, etc.  Everybody goes through it.

Charlie:  To me even now American players and singers always the best.  It is one of those things you have going.  It is for me... but then you know I'm a black American freak.  'Cause that's the music I like, primarily.  That's really the music I love.

Mick: It was a super eclectic band.  I was brought up in the '50s, you know.  I liked pop music.  I didn't just like blues.  I love blues but, you know, I love Elvis.  But I loved crap pop music.  I like acoustic blues music, country music, we like everything.  Plus you've got all these other people.  And you're kind of throwing this whole mishmash in.

[Keith and Mick strumming guitar at Nellcôte]

I don't want you when you have
Every man around this town.

You going to lose your reputation, baby.
Going with every man around this town.