Are you guys still waiting around for a post today? Sorry. I got distracted. The basement floor drain is glugging, but fortunately, I speak fluent Floor Drain. It is saying: Don’t you dare do any laundry today. Also, I’m investigating the Amazon Associates program site again, trying to figure out a non-obnoxious, non-intrusive way to mildly monetize NN.C. I’m sending out seven million e-mails relating to my other site, which is no longer entirely mine and is going to need some major attention if our plans for its relaunch are to come to anything other than a spinning buttfall. There’s a film festival we’d like to enter “The Cemetery Precincts” in, which requires attention and more e-mails. And there’s the fact it’s Friday, Jan. 2, which feels like something other than a weekday but not quite a weekend, so I’m discombobulated.
Also, I overslept, if oversleeping means clear ’til 8:20 a.m. after retiring at 1:20 a.m.
How about a little hors d’oeuvre tray of bloggage, then:
Republicans flee D.C. on the eve of the Obama inaugurations. Stay gone an extra week, folks.
I agree with TBogg, who said that whenever he’s asked what three historical figures he’d like to have dinner with, he replies, “I’d rather have three dinners with Kathy Griffin.”
Finally, I took Kate to see “Gran Torino” on New Year’s Eve, on the grounds it was shot in and around our new hometown, including the Grosse Pointe Shores home of one of her friend’s cousins. I subjected my tender baby’s ears to a virtual barrage of profanity and racial slurs in the hope she might get a valuable takeaway message from it, and this is what she took away: “Where are the black people? I thought this movie was about Detroit.” Anyway, a big disappointment. If you’re torn between, say, Manohla Dargis’ review in the NYT or David Edelstein’s in New York magazine, take it from me: Edelstein speaks the truth. Alas.
Have a good weekend.
Colleen said on January 2, 2009 at 1:05 pm
Didja see the Salon article that said some conservatives are trying to spin it that FDR’s programs actually prolonged the Depression? Interesting. And not so much true.
Kirk said on January 2, 2009 at 1:50 pm
Christopher Columbus caused the Earth to stay flat longer, too.
Danny said on January 2, 2009 at 2:11 pm
We went to see Frost/Nixon last night and Gran Torino was one of the previews we sat through. Just from that short exposure I had the same reaction as Kate and had guessed the same conclusions as Edelstein. Sometimes you know everything you need to know about a film from the preview. There used to be a website called 20 second film review that did this.
Frost/Nixon was great. It didn’t pull any punches, but was not without a reasonably sympathetic portrayal of all characters. We really enjoyed it.
nancy said on January 2, 2009 at 3:10 pm
I met an author a few years ago who said the right-wing reinvention of FDR was dreamed up in the think tanks and put into action with strategic funding of several compliant authors. Trickle, trickle, trickle and a few years later you have James Lileks on “Annie”:
It’s a seventies view of the 30s, with all the usual tropes – Hoover caused the Depression, FDR saved us with the New Deal.
Don’t know how good his info is, but when you see this with your own eyes, it’s hard not to say hmm.
Julie Robinson said on January 2, 2009 at 4:46 pm
Thanks for the Dave Barry linkage. His column and yours used to be the two reasons to get the NS. Now you are both gone, and reading it takes 10 minutes only because there are a few good comics. To steal a line from the DH, not even Dave Barry could make 2008 funny.
We have been on a movie binge and have seen Doubt, Yes Man, and Australia. We went to Yes Man because Australia was sold out but it was better than expected. Doubt was great, of course, although I’m sure Cherry Jones would’ve liked to repeat the role after her Broadway triumph. And we both liked Australia despite some bad reviews. As always with Luhrman it was referencing other movies and music constantly. Interesting use of Bach’s Sheep May Safely Graze and Elgar’s Enigma Variations. Of course since our daughter spent half a year there we are looking forward to discussing it with her, especially the aboriginal themes and characters.
Deborah said on January 2, 2009 at 6:40 pm
Spinning buttfall, classic, going to remember that one.
Went to see Frost/Nixon a couple of weeks ago in Chicago. while there viewed the trailer to Gran Torino, my husband wants to see it badly, he’s a big Eastwood fan. I could take it or leave it.
I have a right wing-nut sister, who’s also a small (very, very small) town journalist in rural Minnesota. She just makes shit up, which drives me insane. She spins that crap about FDR, and is falling all over herself trying to rewrite history about GWB. I can’t even be civil anymore.
caliban said on January 2, 2009 at 7:05 pm
Once upon a time, Thom McGauene wrote The Sporting Club. Absurrdly great first novel. Perfect hero, perfect anti-hero. Then he wrote The Bushwhacked Piano, which was just as good and had brilliant title. Now, he lives inthe Missouri breaks somewhere and lives off his royalties.
Tom McGuane is a better writer than most Americans considered good writers. He wrote novels with few words. William Gibson ism’t verbose. He might be Hemingwayesque, if Hemingway possessed imadination, and with the exception of the Old Man, he didn’t.
We like what we like when we read it. Most times, the editor gets in the way of the good stuff. Thomas Wolfe was prolix, supposedly, and had a great editor, Maxwell Perkins, a pretty fine writer.
To many words? For fiction, shut your trap, and try to do better. I’d point out Thomas Pynchon. Read Gravity’s Rainbow. Verbose? Only what he obviously thought was necessary.
A classic case is The Stand. Did the editor or the author know which was the better book? Well, the author did, and this is post-apocatalyptic as good as almost anything. Yeah, it isnt as perfect as The Road, or as imafinative as Oryx and Crake. Or as sorrowful as The Pesthouse.
None of those prize-winners could touch John Crowley’s books, Little,Big nor mpst especially Engine Summer.
I think you pile words up, you make an impression. I think it could be political.
So, happy new year. I’m eschewing the too many words. I’m voting for every one means something. You know how everybody seems to think it means something to say that’s just you’re opinion? That’s why I said it, asshole.
brian stouder said on January 2, 2009 at 7:14 pm
Paging Jolene!! Paging Jolene!! – for an example of one of life’s little ‘6 degrees of seperation’-type moments, we submit the following for your consideration.
Remember the other day when I stole…err…borrowed Laura Lippman’s one-word New Year’s resolution idea? And you shared the word “bake” with us? That one struck me as funny, so I stole…err..shared that one back there again, and a New York Times article gave Ms Lippman’s site a shout-out, and your one-word resolution made the NYT list!
For the past year or so, the writer Laura Lippman (whose addictive serial here in the New York Times Magazine every Sunday, The Girl in the Green Raincoat, is about solving a murder while on bed rest with your first baby…) chooses a one word resolution and asks her blog readers to do the same.
For 2009 hers is “venture”. Others offered up on her blog are:
In that spirit, I offer you mine.
What are yours?
Edit: btw – we really, really enjoyed Mamma Mia; a very pleasant movie with some great bonus features on the dvd.
Also watched Hancock – which held me through to almost the end, but not quite. Other than that, it was Lifetime movies and the occasional dip into news or Book TV, until the remote got wrestled away from me again
caliban said on January 2, 2009 at 7:34 pm
brian stouder said on January 2, 2009 at 7:39 pm
RIP Donald Westlake.
I thought the obit was somewhat funny, in that the writer’s use of a manual typewriter was noteworthy (reminded me about how Shelby Foote always wrote with a dippy pen)
caliban said on January 2, 2009 at 7:52 pm
There are words too ecxellent. N’est. se pas? What do you think is the best book you ever read? Most of you tjhink it was something Jphn Grisham wrote. I’d say charles dickens,but who knows
brian stouder said on January 2, 2009 at 8:24 pm
Can’t say as there IS such a thing as a best book.
A book about the campaign that ended in the battle at Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland was bewitching (to me), and I have snapped up every Stephen Sears book since then, without disappointment.
Jean Baker’s book about Mary Lincoln is wonderful stuff – a very good innoculation against (almost exclusively male) historical smear-jobs against her. (In fact, Michael Burlingame has a 2000 page 2-volume magnum opus titled Abraham Lincoln; A Life which I am somewhat eagerly anticpating – despite that he apparently trashes Mary without let-up)
but this remark, near the end of the article, made me laugh out loud! (with emphasis added by me)
There also will be an online version of Abraham Lincoln: A Life, which will contain all the footnotes in it; there wasn’t enough space in the printed edition for them. Also, when corrections need to be made or new information comes to light, it can be added.
Not enough space??!! In 2,024 pages across two volumes???!!
Anyway – I thought that was worth a chuckle.
I guess if I was honest, the first real book I ever got sucked into (so to speak) and had to read to the finish was a ‘dirty book’. Couldn’t tell you what the name was (it was probably something like Hot Pants Summer); I was probably 9 or 10, and read it between the couch and the front window. My mom has always had dozens (or hundreds) of such paperbacks around, and I found the book titillating and enthralling. As I recall, the plot – and the book was actually (we won’t say ‘stiffly’) plotted – revolved around an independent minded sexy woman who (at length) tires of her noncomittal lover, and breaks his heart by dumping him for a lesser man (!) who commits to her.
Anyway – it was an eye-opener as to what books had to offer. Seems to me that a similar thing happens in one of those ‘troubled big city school’ movies (lSidney Portier? Sandy Dennis? dunno), which was an “aha” moment for me, too!
del said on January 2, 2009 at 9:46 pm
I recall Sandy Dennis from Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean. Excellent movie.
All this FDR revisionist stuff must be playing in Limbaugh land. On Christmas Day a relative’s in-law lambasted FDR as the worst president ever. I had to do some research afterwards to comfrim that virtually every historians’ survey in recent decades, including the WSJ’s, puts him in the top 3. Fox News and the echo chamber . . . bah humbug.
brian stouder said on January 2, 2009 at 9:56 pm
Del – over the holiday, a sister-in-law indicated (with much unction) that since Obama insists on being known as an African American – instead of just an American – she cannot respect the man.
You may be asking “Huh? Wha?” at this point; I certainly was thinking that. But my lovely wife picked up the ball and ran with it! As I meekly sat sipping my icy cold Diet soda, she argued the point to a standstill, and drew the support of several sisters.
Aside from the fact that I’ve never heard President-elect Obama make that point in particular – leaving aside actually being ‘insistent’ about it – what made this story mildly interesting to Pam and I was that the EXACT same bogus complaint was made just days earlier by a friend of hers, when the 4 of them (longtime friends) were on the way to a restaurant (their annual holiday get together).
We figured it was a hate-radio talking point
basset said on January 2, 2009 at 11:10 pm
So what happened to the Farms resident who went gambling in Mississippi and “did well”?
Hate radio… early voting started today here on a special election with two issues: should all city business be conducted in English, and should the number of signatures required to call a referendum be reduced from ten percent of registered voters to one percent?
This is costing the county something like $300,000 to put on. Right-wing spin is that the liberals in local government are wasting taxpayers’ money by not putting the issues on the November ballot, never mind that it would have violated local election law.
If that sounds reasonable to you, keep it to yourself. I mean it. Don’t start. Just… don’t start.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 2, 2009 at 11:10 pm
FDR got some things right, lucked out on a few others, and many of his most revered programs were a net null response, economy wise. The idea that he did much damage is not one i read on many conservative websites, just the argument that he did not “end the Depression.” Stuff like the CCC and WPA Writers Project and “The Cradle Will Rock” are sacred texts on the left, but the fact is that Roosevelt took a shot at restoring confidence, did a great thing with deposit insurance/FDIC (idea started under Hoover, though), and largely extended the weaknessess of the economy by fiddling with gold prices and trying to control wages and prices of consumer goods with no real consistency of application. Ending Prohibition was about the most clear and consistent thing FDR did on coming into office, and probably did the most to help stabilize the economy (no joke).
The end of the Great Depression, sadly, was Dec. 7, 1941. Supplying England and Russia before that for two years began to mitigate the worst of manufacturing and supply chain collapse. Let’s all agree that war is a less than ideal way to end an economic crisis, and FDR did not gin up Yamamoto’s attack on Pearl Harbor to boost the economy and get us into the European War (i’d say both those things, anyhow), and yet Joe Kennedy wasn’t interested in seeing either Hitler undermined or England supported, and thought further wage/price controls were a good idea, as long as it wasn’t applied to spirits.
No think tank has paid me or even influenced me to say that, and i’m happy to hear counter arguments. I think FDR got much more consistent and focused in the face of the Hitler/Tojo threat, and he largely left the economy alone after the war started, other than to manage the fairly necessary rationing to support the war effort in rubber and some metals. His intention to fight “fear” was sincere are largely well done, but his economic policies were a mess, and as Amity Shlaes has written (probably with a grant from a conservative think tank, but who else would have heard her out?) in “The Forgotten Man,” his economic advisers probably extended some of the impacts of the Depression for five years and more beyond when they might have eased on their own.
(And, after posting, i see Bassett’s note — i have the heiney scars from having my butt chewed by “English Only” right wingers when i disagree with ’em in public. There’s a fair discussion to be had about how much you’re actually encouraging people to not learn English by making accomodation required in all settings, but requiring that no gov’t entity use anything but English is stupid, unproductive, and immoral. We use interpreters for AmeSLan and Braille all the time in the courts — is that gonna be illegal? Learn some conversational Espanol and get over it.)
caliban said on January 2, 2009 at 11:58 pm
Of course there’s no such thing as best book, or best album. Referees cheat, like claiming that O receiver wasn’t juggingl going out vs. Clemson and he was out of bounds anyway. He jugglled the ball that was no catch. Horrible call.
Referees change games and if you care about football, they steal games, Most obviously, Drew Pearson threw Bobby Bryant to the turf. He greabbedthe guys jersey’and everybody in the world saw saw it. Guy just cheated. But everybody in the world saw what really happened on the immaculate reception, too. Dead ball.
I dont really care, but people that couldn’t play making bad calls is really not acceptabable
wade said on January 3, 2009 at 2:58 am
FDR? Check this out… it appears to be a widespread problem.
nancy said on January 3, 2009 at 10:07 am
Splitting the difference between Jeff’s line and those in the Salon piece Wade links to is probably the best way to so. (Source: My gut. Go fuck yourself, everybody else’s gut.) I think conservatives are too la-de-da about what the country faced when FDR took office — 25 percent unemployment is no laughing matter, and the consequences went far beyond deprivation, even hunger. I’ve heard more middle-of-the-road scholars say you can quibble with details of FDR’s plan, and to be sure, there were missteps. But you really can’t stand against the psychological effects of federal spending programs, the confidence that comes from having a job and a paycheck, even one from [putting on Fox News prose filter] some bullshit make-work program. And the results stand today — in federal lands improved for public recreation and other public works. I tend to trust the old geezers of the CCC over Amity Shlaes, the ones who slept in public campgrounds because and planted trees in part because it took a hungry adolescent mouth to feed out of their parents’ houses for a while.
I also trust Studs Terkel. Ira Glass played some of his oral-history interviews on “TAL” a few weeks ago; they were chilling.
You are right, Jeff, that WWII was the real and true end to the big D, but FDR deserves all the credit history gives him.
del said on January 3, 2009 at 10:15 am
Thanks wade. The article distills the problem to its essence. A Fox News anchor will make an astonishingly false statement and then have the temerity to say that “most historians agree” about it. An honest guest is rightly left bewildered, like “a deer in the headlights.” And guests who engage in public dialogue about such matters take the bait and advance specious arguments. Mr. Obama, to his enormous credit, boycotted Fox News for the longest time.
Of course there’s a place for such dialogue, in academia and even here. But to emphasize such improbable claims to millions on public airwaves? To cause guests to extemporaneously rebut claims about highly complex economic and historical matters? In a 30 second sound-byte? Uh . . . No. And JTMM makes some interesting points about FDR, but hell, I’m no historian or economist. I’ve gotta go with the surveys of their views.
basset said on January 3, 2009 at 10:37 am
Our whole family’s about to head for the election commission office & early-vote on English Only.
coozledad said on January 3, 2009 at 10:55 am
What sickens me most is the offspring of lumpenproles dissing Roosevelt. As though they’d even exist if it hadn’t been for the offer of government assistance as mundane as soil reclamation and water impoundment projects. You’d think the bastards were dislodged from their ancestral home in the Hamptons by the CCC from the way they talk.
One of Roosevelt’s greatest gifts to the nation was ultimately limiting the exodus of Okie inbreds to the coasts, where in a few short years they’d have converted the urban centers into vast pig-fucking carnivals.
If it hadn’t been for Roosevelt, the few Haves among us at the time would have been looking down: a) the long barrel of a brutal, Stalinist style dictatorship, b) an alliance with Hitler, which we now know elements of the prewar high command were jizzing their drawers for.
Deborah said on January 3, 2009 at 11:26 am
Still here in remote northern New Mexico, back to Chicago on Sunday. It’s always amazing to me when out here how many traces of the CCC still exist on the surrounding land. Our property backs up to Carson National Forest, where there are all kinds of earth workings that were done back then. Probably busy work, but how wonderful that it gave people a sense of purpose and food in their stomachs. Evidence of the WPA art programs abound, photography, sculpture and such. It was an opportunity for artists to earn a bit of income and continue their important creative endeavors. The fact that artist were included seems mind boggling when you compare how the outgoing administration has just about killed arts education completely.
del said on January 3, 2009 at 11:42 am
Learn something here at NN.c every day. I found Cooz’s term lumpenprole defined, in part:
In the Eighteenth Brumaire, Marx describes the lumpenproletariat as a ‘class fraction’ that constituted the political power base for Louis Bonaparte of France in 1848. In this sense, Marx argued that Bonaparte was able to place himself above the two main classes, the proletariat and bourgeoisie, by resorting to the ‘lumpenproletariat’ as an apparently independent base of power, while in fact advancing the material interests of the bourgeoisie.
brian stouder said on January 3, 2009 at 3:43 pm
But you really can’t stand against the psychological effects of federal spending programs, the confidence that comes from having a job and a paycheck, even one from [putting on Fox News prose filter] some bullshit make-work program.
My dad used to say (as a general piece of advice): Do SOMEthing – even if it turns out to be a mistake.
I think that was an echo of his generation. To him, the most inexcuseable mistake would be to do nothing, whether through confusion as to what to do, or (worse) because taking some action – despite that it could improve things – would violate some esoteric faith in ‘the way things ought to be done’
Nowadays, you hear some of these rightwing lip-flappers on the radio, and the very distinct impression one gets is that they view “the market” as an inscrutable and infallible god; if things go wrong, it is because we – the unworthy and unbelieving – interfered in some way; most usually with unnatural and godless guhvmint “interference”.
And when things go wrong, their solution is? – to summarily dismiss the idea that they should even have any solutions!
That attitude won’t warm any hearths, nor feed any babies.
That attitude is the Bernie Maddoff/Otter solution: “Sorry folks – you f*cked up! You trusted me!”
Julie Robinson said on January 3, 2009 at 4:20 pm
My father in law would have agreed with your father, Brian. He worked for the CCC and it had a huge impact on his life. For one thing, he was fed well! Never underestimate that.
Danny said on January 3, 2009 at 4:36 pm
Man, some of youz guyz apparently settled on the I’m-going-to-be really-serious New Year’s resolution this year. I’m still in an Aloha-induced mellow haze.
Maybe when I get back to work, Monday, I’ll catch up.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 3, 2009 at 5:15 pm
I’ll give y’all mellow haze — just took my son for the first time to the Billy Goat Tavern (the real one, down under Michigan Ave. near Chicago’s legendary Wacker Drive), where we (sniff) got yelled at! Then he got a fry cook hat from the fry cook, and we of course had cheeborgers, two chips, one no chip, Coke no Pepsi. Mike Royko glowered down on us from on high, behind an 8×10 frame, as did Studs Terkel, and myriad other forgotten refugees from the Sun-Times/Daily News bldg., now lost beneath the new Trump monstrosity.
And the Lovely Wife learned they must be teaching something in fifth grade; after making the obligatory lap of Nighthawks and American Gothic at the Art Institute of Chicago, we came upon “Sunday in the Park” where she started ‘splainin’, and the Little Guy waves his ten year old hand wearily and says “Yeah, pointillism.”
Time to conduct a wedding; but i agree FDR did mostly what a president should do in the mess he encountered — the dispute is “did FDR end the Depression with his policies,” and that’s a bit more problematic. I readily agree that he held the country together through the Depression, which is Job1 for a prez; agreeing that his policies ended the economic disruption implies we can look to that era for ideas now, and that’s a bit more up in the air. BTW, Roosevelt did not like the FDIC, didn’t want to pass the FDIC, and was forced into it by Congress. That’s the one economic development that probably did the most for the nation in 1933-1939, and FDR was forced into it . . . granted, by Dems and Repubs in concert. But that was when Congress actually made, presented, and passed long-range national policy through carefully crafted compromise legislation, instead of . . . whatever it is they do now.
Me, i say “cheeborgers for all” and there’s nothing we need fear (other than cardiac trouble).
ps — getting yelled at at the Billy Goat is a good thing. In case some didn’t know.
Dorothy said on January 3, 2009 at 6:18 pm
WRT movies seen this holiday season: We liked “Burn After Reading” a lot – saw it on DVD. Brad Pitt was a gas as the personal trainer who had such a limited vocabulary. Greatly disliked the new Indiana Jones movie (what a waste of time that was!!), Perseopolis was just too much of a downer, and could not get through Tropical Thunder. At the theater we loved “Slumdog Millionaire.” Now we keep pronouncing it the way the Indian “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” host pronounced the word MILLIONAIRE did: mill-on-air”. The actress who played the grown up Latika was simply stunning.
Julie Robinson said on January 3, 2009 at 8:21 pm
Another movie that disappointed was “Sleuth” with Michael Caine and Jude Law. Maybe Pinter doesn’t adapt well. We laughed through “Charlie Bartlett” and laughed and cried through “Young at Heart”, a documentary about a choir whose average age is 80. The lyrics to Purple Haze, I Want to be Sedated, and Stayin’ Alive take on whole new meanings.
Yes indeed, it has been a six movie holiday weekend for us!
Jolene said on January 3, 2009 at 9:29 pm
Thanks for the shout out re one-word resolutions, Brian. I’m sure my mother’s friend would be delighted to know that she’s been cited in the New York Times.
On the question of how successful New Deal programs were in overcoming the Great Depression, you might want to check out this piece by Paul Krugman. It’s a straight-on assessment of what Roosevelt accomplished and what we can learn from it. He argues that, to the extent the New Deal was unsuccessful, the problems were a result of thinking small rather than throwing money at problems inefficiently and of ill-timed state and federal tax increases. It’s short, a quick read.
beb said on January 3, 2009 at 9:34 pm
What Jolene said. The reason FDR did pull the country out of the Depression before WWII was because he didn’t spend enough money.
JPK said on January 3, 2009 at 10:44 pm
…the dispute is “did FDR end the Depression with his policies,” …
Actually, I thought the dispute was “did FDR’s policies prolong the Depression.” That’s the recent Republican talking point. But recasting it your way is a pretty neat pivot to tip the scales. It’s always been conventional wisdom, as long as I can remember, that WWII is what ended the Depression. But it’s never been conventional wisdom that FDR and his policies actually prolonged it. I’m pretty sure that’s the new wrinkle.
On the other hand, I think it’s fair enough (if reductionist) to say that FDR’s policies amounted to government spending designed to spur the economy. And also that WWII was a de facto massive government spending project. So it’s probably closer to accurate to say that FDR’s policies ended the Depression than that they prolonged it.
Happy new year, all. Long-time lurker poking a head out.
Gasman said on January 5, 2009 at 1:38 am
I’ve always been somewhat mystified as to why conservatives have had such a visceral loathing of FDR and Clinton. I’ve come to the conclusion that it was because both were such skilled politicians. Not that they necessarily always did what was best, but that they knew how to work the system to great effect. They envied their success.
Now, we’ve been served up this load of tripe about FDR prolonging the Depression. Come on! That is utter crap.
True, he had not solved it by the outset of WW II – which surely obliterated any vestiges of the Depression – but, to say he prolonged it is nonsense. To those who make this contention, what economic data can you cite? I believe that any available economic data from the period indicates that the economy had demonstrably improved under FDR’s policies. Unless you can cite hard data that indicates either no improvement or a worsening of the economy under FDR, you are making a pathetic Orwellian attempt to rewrite history.
Conservatives hate the successes of liberal leaders, because it stands in stark contrast to the unbroken record of failure – especially economically – under conservative leadership. Aside from a blind devotion to lassez faire policies, dripping sanctimony, arrogance, and an absolute unwillingness to accept responsibility for anything they do, what are the lasting achievements of conservatism? Anyone?
Spare us this ridiculous pablum about FDR prolonging the Depression. Next you’ll be telling us that poor blacks are responsible for the current economic conditions – oh, wait; you’ve already done that.