Exit, leaving no footprints.

A few suggestions for President Obama’s first Supreme Court nomination:

Bill Ayers (thanks, Gasman);
His wife, the lovely and unrepentant domestic terrorist Bernadine Dohrn;
Squeaky Fromme (after a presidential pardon);
Some homeless guy who now forges signatures for ACORN.

The possibilities are endless, really. I’m putting my money on “a moderate Democrat with XX chromosomes.”

They say David Souter, the retiring justice, hates Washington and aches to get back to New Hampshire. “They” have to say it because, as usual, Souter says nothing. When he was nominated I recall a Mark Russell song about him, called “The Man Who Has No Footprints.” I know there are many people in this country who delight in court-watching, people who in another time would have made excellent Kremlinologists, spending months analyzing body language and position in the May Day photograph, but I’m not one of them. I think their proceedings should be on television, too. All it takes is one Clarence Thomas to queer you on the idea of the Gang of Nine as some sort of council of divine mandarins.

Souter must be insane. I can hardly blame him for hating Washington, but on his current work schedule he can enjoy his New Hampshire home four months of the year, the best four months (in New Hampshire, anyway). The guy must love winter, I guess. Once he’s retired he can go on leaving no footprints up there, year-round. Nothing like Vermont and New Hampshire for privacy protection. Solzhenitsyn found it a nice, cold, media-free simulacrum of Russia. You wonder why more of these camera-shunning Hollywood ninnies don’t buy houses up there — it’s certainly pretty enough. On my sole trip to Vermont, nearly oh-my-god 30 years ago, I recall: Hardly any freeways, every town a small one. (Montpelier is smaller than Grosse Pointe Woods.) Very scenic, general stores, the whole bit. New Hampshire, which we drove across to get to Vermont — much the same, plus an valued-out-of-proportion primary.

Well, godspeed, Justice Souter. The best job in the world, followed by the cushiest retirement. Enjoy it.

Good to see the outstanding Nina Totenberg broke the story. For some media outlets, covering the court is sort of like being on the court — a lifetime appointment. No one can say she hasn’t left big footprints, however. She’s going to be a hard act to follow.

From her report:

Rather than fly home, Souter preferred to drive. He also resisted other forms of contemporary technology and convenience, holding out against the cell phone and e-mail and continuing to write his opinions and dissents in longhand, using a fountain pen.

Another technological stick-in-the-mud! What is it about writing that makes people so loathe to change their ways? (I don’t know how anyone writes in longhand, anymore. My brain moves so much faster than my pen these days it would be like running a race with one foot in a bucket of cement. I can barely write a check anymore.) On the other hand, good for him for spurning e-mail. I watched “Rachel Getting Married” last week. My favorite line, from the addict Kim: “She never responded to my amends e-mail. I hate it when people won’t meet you halfway.” A couple years ago I told a friend her ex-husband had gotten a big job he’d been after for a while. “I’ll have to send him a congratulatory e-mail,” she said. I replied: “Yes, for when only the least you can do will do, the congratulatory e-mail.”

I’m sure you lawyer types will bat this subject around in the comments, so have at it. Please, ladies and gentleman, no hitting below the belt.

NPR had a a piece on Snowball the dancing cockatoo last night, which prompted me to look up his YouTube collection. This being NPR, the story was on research into whether animals really can coordinate movement to music, but me being me, I was mainly interested in the yuks. Snowball’s opening act was to a Backstreet Boys track, but I really prefer his interpretive routine to Stevie Nicks.

I’ve always liked birds like this, although I’d never own one. When Kate was a toddler I used to take her to a local pet store where they had about half a dozen parrots, macaws and cockatoos, none for sale, that talked and interacted with customers without fail. My favorite was Smoky, an African gray, who loved to make this sound: A descending whistle, a muffled explosion and then, “Bombs away!” It reminded me of a parrot in a Carl Hiaasen novel, who’d been liberated from a drug dealer’s home after its owner was shot to death. DEA agents taught it to say, “Duck, shithead!”

A little TGIF bloggage? OK:

Did you know the Keep Your Distance Bug Vacuum not only exists, but is a big seller? Now you do. SkyMall catalogs: The middle-class man’s Archie McPhee.

Finally, if you missed Coozledad’s most excellent description of a day on the farm yesterday, you missed something that prompted a writer with a national profile to e-mail and say, “I’d read a whole book of stories like that.” Me, too, but Coozledad says he lacks the motivation. As a consolation prize, he sends along a picture of the farm’s newest resident, Bodankey:

Bodankey

I can’t top this. Have a great weekend.

Posted at 10:06 am in Current events |
 

95 responses to “Exit, leaving no footprints.”

  1. Jolene said on May 1, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Awwwwwwwww. So cuuuuute.

  2. cconfoy said on May 1, 2009 at 10:30 am

    It’s strange that Justice Souter can’t abide cell phones and email. It must be that he has no time left after updating his Facebook profile and Twittering away the days.

  3. brian stouder said on May 1, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Agreed, Jolene!

    “I’d read a whole book of stories like that.”

    Really? I guess the great appeal of barnyard language (along with fine wines and operatic ballet) is simply lost on me, but whatever

  4. mark said on May 1, 2009 at 10:33 am

    I’ll tee off on the Supreme Court nominee.

    First, I think Presidents should get a lot of discretion on judicial appointments, so no filibuster unless it is Bill Ayres. Have a reasonable number of hearings, debate, etc., then vote.

    Second, I hope it is someone from within the federal judiciary. There are lots of brilliant thinkers with good judicial temperament there, many quite liberal. Please, no more Souters. And please no Senators. Although this could be an opportunuity to off-load Joe Biden to a more secure location. Give him a chance to proof-read his gaffes before he publishes them.

    Third, I don’t give a damn what their view is on abortion and I would give a lot to not have to hear the zealots on that issue gnash their teeth and make outrageous predictions. I’m generally pro-life, but I’m tired of the issue screwing up judicial appointments.

    Fourth, I wouldn’t mind seeing David Hamilton from Indiana, currently nominated to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, be considered. Great mind, excellent judge and writer. Probably won’t happen.

    And thanks for the shot of Bodankey at the bar.

  5. Randy said on May 1, 2009 at 10:36 am

    My boss is no technophobe, but she handwrites notes in nearly every meeting. She catalogues and retains them for a while, like a year or so, and refers back to them when necessary.

  6. moe99 said on May 1, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I hate to speculate on who the nominee will be. Big waste of time. I’d rather wait until the nomination is made. That is when the sparks should fly based upon past experience.

  7. jeff borden said on May 1, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Mark,

    Those are all excellent suggestions. Since President Obama has a strong legal background, he probably shares your belief that a seat on the Supreme Court should go to someone who has abjudicated cases at the federal level. I’d like to see someone seated who is not so in thrall to the power structure as Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito, but also someone with the intellectual heft to engage Scalia’s dyspeptic view of the world. Lots of liberals love to snark on Clarence Thomas, but it’s the sheer nastiness and pettiness of Nino that pushes my buttons. He’s clearly a brilliant guy, but a bully and a power worshipper.

    Anyhow, I hope the decision is a wise one. I suspect it will.

  8. Jolene said on May 1, 2009 at 10:44 am

    All the TV talkers, mark, are saying that the new justice will be a woman, a Hispanic, or, even better, a Hispanic woman. Lots of discussions online re distinguished candidates who fit in one or both or those categories–an appeals court judge, the current solicitor general, and so on and on.

  9. Gasman said on May 1, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Mazel tov, Bodankey! Welcome to the world.

    nancy,
    I, too heard the NPR story about Snowball and saw the YouTube clips. As someone who has had several cockatiels (smaller cousins of the cockatoo) I know firsthand that parrots definitely can understand important aspects of human music.

    Our male cockatiel Cory used to whistle the wordless refrain from the Queen of the Night’s Act I aria in Mozart’s Magic Flute. Over time, like any good jazz musician, he would fragment and vary the melody to suit his tastes. By the time he was finished with it few people would have recognized its origins. However, he lacked Snowball’s very physical sense of rhythm.

    I had actually seen Snowball on Letterman’s “Stupid Pet Tricks” from the recent past. He seemed to be spooked by the crowd (Snowball, not Letterman) and was off his game.

    My favorite Nina Totenberg incident was she was covering the Clarence Thomas nomination. It was Totenberg who broke the Anita Hill angle on NPR’s “Weekend Edition.” I remember hearing her story and her subsequent appearance with former Senator Alan Simpson on “Nightline.” Totenberg herself leads the following:

    “When I walked into the Capitol on Monday morning the place was erupting. The fax machines were vaporizing; the phones were jammed; I was almost as surprised as those male senators were. They could not push through a vote the next day as they had hoped,” Totenberg said. Days after the report aired, Totenberg found herself under attack. The report discredited Clarence Thomas’s supporters, who had promoted his character over his lackluster legal qualifications. It embroiled the Senate Judiciary Committee, as its members had largely downplayed or outright ignored Anita Hill’s claims. Individual senators were also quick to pounce on Totenberg for what they called “biased” reporting. A heated on-camera discussion between Totenberg and Republican Senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming on a Nightline episode devoted to Hill’s allegations turned into “a full-tilt, epithet-strewn melee” afterwards in the ABC parking lot, according to Vanity Fair’s Ann Bardach.

    The above is from a very good article on Totenberg from the Paley Center for Media. As the reporter who was blamed by the Republicans for exposing the whole Thomas/Hill affair, Totenberg was targeted by the fair minded seekers of justice that made up the Republican Party. Not much has changed, has it? As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, current Vice President Joe Biden figured prominently in those events.

    I admire any woman that could go toe to toe in an obscenity laden shouting match with Alan Simpson. That was something that I always wanted to do. She also pissed off J. Edgar Hoover with her story about him. Her facts were so meticulously documented that she easily fended off Hoover’s cries of a smear. Read the article above for the whole story.

  10. mark said on May 1, 2009 at 11:09 am

    jolene,

    Yes, I’d forgotten that we are overstocked on white men. Plenty of talent in every flavor, so why not vary the menu.

    Thank God I won’t have to witness another choice like Hariet Meiers. That was the final straw for me with Bush.

  11. brian stouder said on May 1, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Gasman – thanks very much for the link to that superb Totenberg article; very good stuff!

  12. Peter said on May 1, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Hariet Meiers – holy cow, I completely forgot about her. Now I have to gouge my eyes out.

    Speaking of birds, I was born in beautiful Aurora, Illinois (cue Wayne’s World..) and at the time they had a flamboyant mayor who loved to do stunts for the newsreels, one of which was appointing a talking parrot as police chief.

  13. LA Mary said on May 1, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Gasman, that was what solidified my admiration for Nina Totenberg. She was amazing during the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas mess. I was taking some grad classes at the time, and the teacher opened class one night with by saying, “tonight’s class will be dedicated to Nina Totenberg.”

  14. Gasman said on May 1, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Totenberg did good work exposing the Thomas/Hill connection, however, when she told Alan Simpson to, “Go fuck yourself,” her stock rose immeasurably in my eyes. Simpson always got under my skin. He reeked of an air of imperious diffidence. He tended to treat his opponents like they were something offensive he’d stepped in.

    As I recall their exchange on “Nightline,” I had the distinct impression that Totenberg was doing her best to hold back the torrent of obscenities that she so desperately wanted to direct at Simpson. Simpson unfairly accused her of liberal bias because she had the audacity to uncover some dirt on Thomas that the Judiciary Committee knew about, but had chosen to keep secret. Totenberg merely told us what they already knew.

    Simpson was one of the original modern Republican bullies. When he wanted to, he could be very mean.

  15. coozledad said on May 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Snowball is a hoot. I’ll have to play that for our cockatiel, Balto. He has similar moves, but you have to jump through a whole lot of hoops to get him to do them. The film of me and my wife lurching around the house with socks on our hands in order to get Balto to dance for thirty seconds might be of interest to behaviorists.

  16. Sue said on May 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    I worked for a man who didn’t write his original documents in longhand (he dictated), but he loved loved loved to revise and edit. We would get revisions back five or six times (the record was eleven; after awhile we started having contests to see who got the most), filled with hieroglyphs and arrows pointing everywhere, before they were done to his satisfaction. The revisions would come back with coffee rings and pieces of food on them (sticky orange bits were common). He had a computer and didn’t use it, obviously. I felt sorry for myself until I talked to one of his original secretaries who told me he used to do this even before the days of word processing. Now that’s some evil boss behavior. The year after he retired, one secretary was finally allowed to go back to her original department due to the reduced workload and our department’s paper use count went down by 87,000.

  17. Danny said on May 1, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Thank God I won’t have to witness another choice like Hariet Meiers. That was the final straw for me with Bush.

    C’mon, Mark. Didn’t you hear that she was a trail-blazer?

  18. Mindy said on May 1, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    My father-in-law spent many years repairing guitar amplifiers and electronic organs. Years ago he arrived ahead of schedule to work on an organ in a private residence. He knocked on the door and plainly heard a man say “Come on in, the door’s open!” The door was indeed open, so he went in. No one was there but a large parrot on a stand in the corner. He had the organ disassembled and was concentrating on the repair when a lady in a bathrobe with her hair in a towel came into the room and jumped at the sight of him. She shouted, “Oh, that damn bird! How does he always know when I forget to lock the door?”

  19. nancy said on May 1, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    One of my bosses had a cockatiel, Ozzie, that whistled the Andy Griffith theme song. It was funny and enchanting when he learned it, and my boss was pretty pissed when he saw a tape of another bird doing the same thing win $10K on “America’s Funniest Home Videos” one night. Anyway, like you said, Gasman, he played it like Coltrane — mixing the phrases up, repeating them over and over (he really liked that high-note passage in the middle). It’s how they learn, it turns out; they don’t do beginning-to-end composition, but a series of phrases.

    The other funny thing about him was his reaction to the opening credits of “Northern Exposure.” The theme started with the cry of an eagle, and it never failed to freak him out.

    Ozzie died when a neighbor’s cat came in through the dog door one night. Very sad.

  20. LA Mary said on May 1, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Mindy, that has to be the beginning of a dirty joke. Organ? Bird? Woman in bathrobe?

  21. beb said on May 1, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    if you missed Coozledad’s most excellent description of a day on the farm yesterday, you missed something that prompted a writer with a national profile to e-mail and say, “I’d read a whole book of stories like that.”

    What, you get e-mails from Mitch albom? (Just kidding)

    I don’t know if I’d read a whole book of stories like that but I wouldn’t mind the occasional column. The picture is cuter than kittens, and it’s pretty hard for anything to be cuter than kittens.

    For Supreme Court justice I’d like to see Jonathan Turley, the guy Olbermann has on all the time, the one that insists Obama is required by law to prosecute Cheney, et al, for war crimes. For John Dean, who may be a conservative but believes strongly in the rule of law. And is a strong voice for it. There are too many – Scalia, Roberts, Thomas so see essentially lawless.

  22. paddyo' said on May 1, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Nice words about Nina Totenberg, a joy to listen to whether the SCOTUS is in session or not …

    I met her once, early in 1983. As a young “loaner” to USA TODAY, I had been dispatched across the Potomac to the NPR newsroom to cover their big financial crisis (which resulted in restructuring, layoffs, etc. — gee kids, just like the news biz today!).

    I talked to several folks there, both on- and off-air voices, but it was Nina T. who was most generous with her time and willing to talk about NPR, which in those days was still a little bit invisible in the DC media-go-round (like the young McPaper was, too).

  23. Danny said on May 1, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Mindy, that has to be the beginning of a dirty joke. Organ? Bird? Woman in bathrobe

    Mary, and it already has the underpinnings of a “knock-knock” joke. It’s practically comedy gold!

  24. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 1, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Re: “Northern Exposure” opening — it’s a red tailed hawk call, and i can see why it would worry a bird.

    Happy May Day, y’all, and time for a song:

    Debout, les damnés de la terre
    Debout, les forçats de la faim
    La raison tonne en son cratère
    C’est l’éruption de la fin
    Du passé faisons table rase
    Foules, esclaves, debout, debout
    Le monde va changer de base
    Nous ne sommes rien, soyons tout
    C’est la lutte finale
    Groupons-nous, et demain
    L’Internationale
    Sera le genre humain

  25. Gasman said on May 1, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Composer Bruce Adolphe, who does the segment “Piano Puzzlers” on Performance Today has a parrot named Polly Rhythm. NPR did a segment about Polly several years ago. As Adolphe has lots of musicians in and out of his place for various rehearsals, Polly has been exposed to real musicians making music. As I recall, Polly loves to sing opera. She was quite good at mimicking the tone, vibrato and all, of a coloratura soprano. She would sing in the appropriate language, not just a whistled version, I believe. I don’t have time to research that story, but I’d be interested to hear it again.

  26. Jean S said on May 1, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    I’ve been whistling L’Internationale the last day or so. Oh for a cockatiel that knew it and could be given as a present to Ole Rush-bo.

  27. Joe Kobiela said on May 1, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Nancy,
    Isn’t it about time to launch the boat??
    Waiting for pictures and description of the annual discussion between you and your mate. Taking a charter out to put-in-bay tonight before I go to Ypsilanti and Cleveland I’ll look down and wave at you all.
    Pilot Joe

  28. brian stouder said on May 1, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Forget May Day – it’s game night, baby! (tonight I host, and I think we’re going to play a game called Pompeii, wherein players spend the first part of the game placing people into the city, and then the last part evacuating them out before they’re buried by ash…fun stuff!)

    This sentence stuck with me, as the habits of writers has come up a time or two, lately

    I don’t know how anyone writes in longhand, anymore. My brain moves so much faster than my pen these days it would be like running a race with one foot in a bucket of cement

    PJ O’Roarke was on 60 Minutes (I think) and showed the trusty IBM Selectric he writes on. He has a cache of five more, against the eventual failure of these things.

    Presumeably the main goal for PJ (and WFB with his ancient software) is comfort…but the Justice who insists on writing longhand, which Nance responded to, reminded me of Shelby Foote, who said he always wrote with a dippy quill pen; he said it slowed him down and made him think things over. But also, one assumes he just really wanted to BE an ink-stained wretch, and smell the work in process; he wanted to really and truly ‘get his hands dirty’ and experience the writing process.

    My nickle psycho-theory is that the never-married bachelor from NH also needed that personal involvement in the writing he was doing.

    But in any case, behind such people there are (no doubt) underpaid clerical people who word-process the words these writers produce

  29. Dexter said on May 1, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Sour grapes…it is May Day, but we had to call it “Law Day” when I was a high school kid…lawyers in the assembly-gym, telling us of the perils of evil-doing and giving us a workshop-lecture on how they prosecute even the most least-offensive misdemeanors.

    We were never told of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre, never told of the people that died fighting for the eight-hour day, never told of how the Chicago Anarchists were framed and executed.
    And while I discovered the whole, true story on my own, I’d bet most folks have forgotten 1886, or never heard of the events leading up the massacre. It’s an amazing, covered up, passed-over part of American history.

  30. brian stouder said on May 1, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    amazing, covered up, passed-over part of American history.

    Dexter, there’s a LOT of that! The Springfield, Illinois race riot back in 1908 (was it?) might properly be viewed as people acting on genocidal impulses.

    For that matter, think about how plutocrats acted in the late 19th and early 20th century, compared to now. Guys like Hershey and Pullman – and to some extent Ford, had some sort of an ideal society in mind, and then worked to bring them into being. Sort of off-putting, when you think about it – except NOW lots of plutocrats simply out-source the work, without much care at all…which raises the question of which is worse? An in-your-face, visionary molder-of-society, or a go-to-hell bottomline guy?

    This is why reflexive defense of abstractions like “the free markets” and genuflection to our ‘founding fathers’ never impresses me.

  31. moe99 said on May 1, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Talking about covered up history, here in Washington state, no one talks or teaches about the Wobblie uprising post WW1 and Russiand revolution, when one wobblie member, Wesley Everest, was castrated, tortured and then hung by the outraged business interests in Centralia, WA after provoking a violent confrontation with the Wobblies where Everest killed one man and wounded another in self defense. I first read of it in John DosPassos’ book, USA, right after we’d moved to Seattle in 1981 and it struck me that no one talks about this, no one reads about it in history books. Like the Armenian genocide, if we don’t say anything, maybe it will go away.

  32. Sue said on May 1, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Even when it’s a fairly-well-known part of history, we don’t make the connection. Lots of people are aware of the truth-based plot of Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle, which was written to call attention to labor abuses and instead caused an uproar about tainted food, leading to regulations put in place during a Republican administration. Today, in part due to weakening of regulations, we’ve been dealing with tainted food issues for a few years and there has not been an equivalent uproar. And labor practices in the food/ag industry? So much better than 100 years ago.

  33. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 1, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Albert Spies’ final statement to the court that convicted him — “I say, if death is the penalty for proclaiming truth, then I will proudly and defiantly pay the costly price! Truth crucified in Socrates, in Christ, in Giordano Bruno, in Huss, in Galileo still lives — they and others whose number is legion have preceded us on this path. We are ready to follow!”

    And his last words on the gallows — “The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today!”

    The Haymarket martyrs and John Peter Altgeld, the Illinois Governor (maybe the last one we had worth being proud of) are some of the most interesting unknown major figures of American history. Plus Harvey Wiley of Purdue University, the father of the FDA as Upton Sinclair is father of the Pure Food and Drug Act . . . ah, the Progressive Era! Is it with us again, version 2.0? I’d feel better about that prospect if it wasn’t for so much of the popular awfulness that went along with Progressive Era 1.0 (i.e., lynching and the Klan peaking in 1890-1930).

    Too bad the old canard is wrong about the Chinese characters for “crisis” being a combination of “danger” and “opportunity.” Another case of “too good to check out.”

  34. Old Lino Operator said on May 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    The Ludlow Massacre (1914) when the Colorado National Guard machinegunned two women and eleven children. A Google search for ludlow massacre is interesting reading just for the headings.

    On the opposite side of the ledger was George Jones and his Golden Rule Company. The book Holy Toledo says that the day of his funeral the only people not lining the funeral route were the prisoners in jail.

  35. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 1, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Lino, i think that’s the event lightly fictionalized in Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal Dreams.” Another good take on untold history that won’t go away.

  36. alex said on May 1, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    I think my first glimpse of labor history must have been many years ago touring the restored Glessner house on Chicago’s South Prairie Avenue. It was built as a fortress so that it couldn’t be attacked from the street side by disgruntled labor activists in the late nineteenth century. The interior was pretty amazing as well. To keep the servants invisible at all times, a network of narrow hallways surrounded every room of the house. Eventually the Glessners and the Potter Palmers and all the other gilded age barons moved up to Lake Forest, about a half day’s travel from Chicago at that time, out of fear of being massacred in their homes by anticipated labor uprisings.

  37. Gasman said on May 1, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Here’s one for the working stiffs! (Imagine me raising my glass of intoxicant now. Well, actually later, as I have a rehearsal to go to.) Three cheers for unions.

    Any other union members out there? Me; American Federation of Musicians, local 618.

  38. Cathy D. said on May 1, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Nina Totenberg reads the Supreme Court transcripts better than the originals produce them. Only reason I wouldn’t want the proceedings aired live.

  39. jeff borden said on May 1, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Another interesting bit of Illinois/Chicago labor lore can be gleaned during a guided tour of the Graceland Cemetery on Clark Street. Many of the most famous Chicagoans and Illinoisans are buried there, including a local plutocrat who made sure his burial site overlooked the place where his mistress would be buried.

    The most interesting story, however, is about the grave of George Pullman, the guy who built the famous Pullman sleeping cars in a factory surrounded by his own company town of the same name. When he died during very violent and brutal labor battles between Pinkertons and the workers, he was buried “somewhere” near the huge monument that marks his name. First, they poured concrete into the hole, then dropped in railroad ties, then the casket, then more railroad ties, and then more concrete. His family feared angry unionists would come into the cemetery after dark, dig up his corpse and mutilate it.

    They played for keeps in those days. I still think John Hughes’ “Matewan” is a pretty good primer for just how vicious were the battles between management and workers, even if it is a fictionalized account.

  40. Dexter said on May 1, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Local 164, UAW, retired. I entered the ranks when Leonard Woodcock was International President, then saw Doug Fraser, Owen Bieber, Stephen Yokich, and Ron Gettlefinger serve at the top.
    Ron Gettlefinger was our Region 3 Director for six years and he’d come to our plant sometimes; a good guy, I marched with him at a Veterans Day parade in Indianapolis a couple years before he became the really big cheese of the union.
    He was a chassis line repairman at the Ford Louisville plant since 1964 and still prefers that title.

  41. Dexter said on May 1, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    jeff borden: The Pullman story is true, of course, and the theory worked; no ghoulish laborers ever got to his bones. By the way, the Pullman family’s fears were well-founded, as George Pullman was the most-hated man of that century.

    Do you know why all Pullman porters were called “George” by train passengers?

  42. Dexter said on May 1, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I have a friend who is an amateur photog and he lives not far from Graceland Cemetery, which is very near Wrigley Field in Chicago.
    He recently emailed me how he likes to stroll around Graceland for a break from city life, and he has sent wonderful photos of the headstones and monuments.
    The Pullman Monument at the grave site:

    http://tinyurl.com/cztgws

  43. moe99 said on May 1, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Jeff B, I think Matewan was a John Sayles movie.

  44. jeff borden said on May 1, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Moe,

    Omigod. Of course. I have slurred a great artist by comparing him with a hack. My embarrassment knows no bounds.

    The cool thing about Sayles, as was true with John Cassavetes, was his ability to do mainstream stuff, even pop culture stuff like the script for “Alligator,” then use the proceeds to make his own movies including “Matewan.”

    I’m still struck by the classic line uttered in “Brother From Another Planet,” when Joe Morton as the mute black alien is seated next to another black man on a subway train. The alien’s seatmate notes that, in just a moment, all the white people will disappear. The conductor announces the next stop will be 125th and Lenox in Harlem as all the white folks pile out. This is exactly what happens when I take the L to Comiskey Park for a Sox game. All the white people get off at 35th Street while the black riders continue on to the virtually all-black South Side.

  45. MichaelG said on May 1, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Between the fabulous Nina T. on the radio and the ever wonderful Dahlia Lithwick on Slate we have excellent SCOTUS coverage.

    I’m a member of a State employees’ union. Professional Engineers in California Government – PECG. I’m not an engineer but I play one on TV. A lot of people in the union are not engineers. There are jobs that don’t require engineering degrees or licenses. Standing around job sites with one’s hands in one’s pockets is one of them.

  46. jeff borden said on May 1, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Okay, Dexter, why were all the porters called George?

  47. Dexter said on May 1, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    jeff:
    (being called George ) …it was a throw-back to slavery days…slaves often went by the name of their masters…”Lincoln freed the slaves, and Pullman hired them.”

  48. LA Mary said on May 1, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    This was on a resume we got here today:

    Major: nursing
    Grade Point Average: 3.8
    Degree Obtained: ass

  49. MichaelG said on May 1, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Yeah, but what degree of ass?

  50. Deborah said on May 1, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    I’ve been to Graceland Cemetary, walked there and back actually which is about 8 miles round trip. I love places like that. The architect Louis Sullivan is buried there.
    Also an architect friend of ours worked on the restoration of the Glessner house, Ben Weese, brother of the famous architect Harry Weese.

  51. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 1, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Matewan wasn’t hardly fiction at all; Blair Mountain and Sid Hatfield and Baldwin-Felts are all true stories — Sayles put very little ornament on the story. The stories in West Virginia are as close to the surface as a vein; not a vein of coal, but one right under the skin. People remember who bled, and who didn’t.

  52. Gena said on May 1, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    AFM since my 16th birthday when I drove the family station wagon to south St Louis to the union hall. Can still smell the cigar smoke.

  53. basset said on May 1, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    NABET here, for a couple of years in the late 70s up in Michigan. our local was worse than worthless, don’t get me started…

  54. Another Mary said on May 1, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    My first post here –

    Dexter, is it true that Ron Gettlefinger is the brother of Bishop Gerald Gettlefinger of the Evansville (IN) Roman Catholic diocese? That’s what I always heard. And, I’ve been reading here for a couple of months. I have no idea why this is the topic of my first post.

  55. Joe Kobiela said on May 1, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    Steelworkers local 903, retired
    Pilot Joe

  56. CrazyCatLady said on May 2, 2009 at 12:41 am

    I’ve been to Graceland, which has a cemetery area where Elvis is buried, along with his Mom, Dad, Grandma and Elvis’ twin who died at birth. talk about awesome! lol

  57. Dexter said on May 2, 2009 at 1:40 am

    I hope someone of Latino descent can help me with this. Up-thread I was ranting about how as a kid, I was kept ignorant of the greater meaning of May Day.
    Now I want to know: In Mexico or at least the Great American Southwest of the USA, was Cinco de Mayo a huge party day?
    In my younger days when I never missed a party, I never attended or heard about any Cinco de Mayo parties…now it seems all the breweries promote Cinco de Mayo as a huge beer drinking day.
    It’s a limited regional holiday in Mexico, is not Mexican independence day, and commemorates a battle fought against the French a hundred and forty-seven years ago.
    Why was this particular day and not the September calendar date which signifies Mexican independence been claimed as Mexican party day?
    I’m just sayin’…if it is indeed so important, why had so few heard of it until relatively recently? After all, Mexican Day and the parade in the Chicago Loop is still held in September.

  58. Dexter said on May 2, 2009 at 2:27 am

    well…lots of people remembered May Day, alright…
    http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2009/05/01/world/20090501-mayday-slideshow_13.html

    …and it’s Friesan Fire, my pick for The Derby…spozed t’be muddy, and my horse won big in the mud last time out…pray for rain!

  59. Gasman said on May 2, 2009 at 4:25 am

  60. Gasman said on May 2, 2009 at 4:35 am

    Dr. Condolezza Rice has claimed, as has George Bush previously, that Al Qaeda is the greatest threat that the United States has ever faced. At a meeting with students at Roble Hall, at Stanford University she made that startling statement. She also asserted that we never tortured anyone and effectively admitted to being part of a conspiracy to torture. I’d like to look at her claim concerning the Nazis and Al Qaeda.

    Let’s compare the two:

    Nazi Germany
    – had 18.2 million soldiers in uniform between 1935-1945
    – the combined military forces, the Wermacht, was made up of the Heer (army), the Luftwaffe (air force), the Kriegsmarine (navy), and the Waffen-SS (essentially an armed de facto fourth branch of government that answered only to top military command)
    – conquered most of Europe
    – had a system of over 15,000 concentration camps which imprisoned Jews, Roma, Poles, Soviet prisoners, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholic Clergy, and others they deemed undesirable
    – instituted a racial cleansing operation designed to rid Europe of Jews, Roma, homosexuals, and others
    – murdered millions in their infamous death camps
    – assembled what was the greatest concentration of armaments in history
    – had an actual, active nuclear weapons program
    – had an active intercontinental ballistic missile program
    – was directly responsible for more than 16,000,000 allied military deaths
    – was directly responsible for more than 45,000,000 allied civilian deaths

    Al Qeada
    – at its pre 9/11 peak, probably numbered in the low thousands at best
    – its greatest operational success involved utility knives, coordinating airline schedules and less than two dozen thugs willing to commit suicide as they murdered 3,000 people
    – lived in caves

    I can certainly see how Dr. Rice could think that Al Qaeda is a greater threat than the Nazis. They had utility knives! What Al Qaeda did was horrible, but there were many battles fought in WWII that had greater death tolls than 9/11.

    Her criteria for her statement? Al Qaeda trumps the Nazis because Hitler never attacked American soil. On that flimsy basis Al Qaeda is a greater threat?

    Some might think that the total number of deaths might be a greater measure of threat: 61,000,000 dead vs. 3,000 dead seems like a very significant difference. Al Qaeda’s death toll is but 1/20,333, or 0.005% that of the Nazis.

    So, if a van load of drunken Canadian Toronto Maple Leaf fans gets in a van and decides to attack Detroit, they constitute a greater threat than the Nazis simply by virtue of launching an attack on U. S. soil, no matter how little damage or death they cause? By extension of that logic, foreign born Sirhan Sirhan represented a greater threat to our country than did the Nazis because he killed a single American on U. S. soil. Dr. Rice’s contention is simply ludicrous.

    Find a single historian anywhere on the planet who will agree with her statement. Aside from defying credulity, it is insulting to the men and women who waged war against Hitler and his allies.

    By the way, Dr. Rice, Hitler’s prime ally did attack American soil, Pearl Harbor.

    Dr. Rice is not a stupid woman. For her to make such an insultingly moronic argument signifies a level of desperation that compels her to grasp at the merest of straws. She cannot possibly think that this argument can withstand any scrutiny.

  61. Linda said on May 2, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Yes, I’m union–Association of Public Library Employees, affiliated with the UAW.

  62. basset said on May 2, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Not only Pearl Harbor… the Japanese attacked Alaska in WWII as well, and occupied several islands for over a year:

    http://www.hlswilliwaw.com/aleutians/Aleutians/html/aleutians-wwii.htm

    they also shelled the Oregon, and I believe the Washington, coast a few times from submarines… and released explosive-carrying balloons which drifted across the Northwest on the wind, causing the only civilian deaths from direct enemy action on the mainland US during the war.

  63. coozledad said on May 2, 2009 at 10:35 am

    The Luftwaffe was developing a flying-wing type stealth bomber constructed of plywood with carbon adhesives to avoid radar detection. The payload range, 4000 lbs, suggests they originally planned to carry a fission weapon, but the most they could have managed by the time their forward bases were overrun would have been a primitive dirty bomb.
    It’s the thought that counts.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amerika_Bomber
    http://www.unmuseum.org/nbomb.htm

  64. Gasman said on May 2, 2009 at 11:06 am

    The point that I was trying to make was the absolute ludomicrosity of Rice’s assertion. A history savvy elementary schooler would be able to see through her implausible rationale.

    I have always thought that Dr. Rice was the smartest person in the Bush administration. She is now behaving like someone who is not very bright. For her to put forth such an extremely tortured excuse (pun intended) indicates the depth of her desperation. That she needs to forcefully make this case even to undergraduates is also rather pathetic.

    I also noticed that now she makes no efforts to carefully parse her lies. She just blurts them out.

  65. del said on May 2, 2009 at 11:44 am

    If you repeat lies enough, Gasman, and nobody objects, it’s truth by estoppel, right? Thanks.

    As for Supreme Court nominees, after reading Bob Woodward’s book, “The Brethren,” my working hypothesies is that a president would be wise to nominate someone with sense of humor. They wield more clout behind closed doors than the humorless, I think.

  66. Dexter said on May 2, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Getting close to Put-In Day over at the marina, eh, nance?

  67. brian stouder said on May 2, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    True about George Pullman’s grave with the cement and steel reinforcement.

    And this impressed Pullman’s right-hand man, Robert Lincoln, enough that in 1901 he had President Lincoln’s remains similarly entombed in cement and steel – so as to prevent any further attempts at snatching the remains of our greatest president.

  68. caliban said on May 2, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Any one of those people in Nancy’s first graf would be superior to the grotesque idealogue Scalia. A seated judge that claims to be strict constructionist but ignores the Federalist Papers on the subject of the Second Amendment, actually, any judge that held for W vs. Gore, has proven he couldn’t care less about individual rights and is willing to twist the Constitution to match reactionary personal beliefs, and the letter of the Constitution.

    There’s going to be an inane partisan tempest in a teapot no matter who Obama nominates. These mindless twits should just shut up. Roberts and Alito are fellow travelers of Republicans that don’t buy any part of the Bill of Tights other than their flawed, strangled interpretation of the Second Amendment, and they’re blights on the intentions of the Founding Fathers, who understood they couldn’t foresee assault weapons and gun manufacturers that make semi-auto weapons and conversion kits you can buy without actually identifyinng yourself.

    Consider the damage by mindless opposition to well-qualified Obama. appointees. The fact that corrupt Republican Senators like Vitters can hold up Sibelius Craig Fugate is outrageous. James Lee Witt knew what he was doing, and W needed a loyal Bushie that was entirely incompetent.

    So no matter who Obama chooses for the SC, nitwits like Boehner and our Senator Lindsay Graham (who has to be the most conflicted bastard in the history of the US Senate, and why doesn’t Lindsay just admit these bastards are torturers, he’d sleep better) will have phony reservations they claim are principled opposition. Fact is, Obama is not going to nominate anybody a reasonable person could object to.

    Concerning the judiciary, Republicans are hyper to the point of werewolfism about original intent, but they nominate plastic pocket protector tough guys like Scalia and Clarence Thomas. How does stopping a legitimate recount coincide with Constitutional principles? I guess if you go duck hunting with Cheney and he doesn’t blow your face off, KBR can electrocute all the soldiers it wants and that’s just fine.

    I’d like to see these bastards prosecuted. Everybody seems to have forgpotten about Cheney’s stovepipe. SERE said the torture would produce false positives. These bastards were trying to get detainees to implicate Saddam, and that is such a spectacular lie, it’s hard to comprehend.

    Gravitating back to 2004, we have the Swift-boaters. Cheney was hip-deep. Six questionable, actually ridiculous, deferments, but Kerry was such an opportunist he wounded himself? Outright slander. Everything that comes out of Cheney’s mouth is an outright lie. There’s no way of ascertaining why he was so keen on torture. It seems fairly obvious he thought somebody could be made to implicate Saddam in 9/11. Everybody was supposed to ignore the cash this jerk made off this grotesque lie.

    So, how does the nation progress? One way or another, Cheney must be prosecuted. Disbar every single asshole lawyer that had anything to do with this massive perjury. If there’s a path to follow, it’s the Stovepipe

    http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2007/06/cheney-stovepipes-climate-policy-christie-todd-witman-declares-herself-candidate-er-inn

    http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/060529/29addington.htm

    Cheney is Mr. Interlocutor for W. Cheney thought it was just fine for nuns to be raped and murdered in Salvador. There’s actually no excuse for this dickhead.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/01/people-vs-dick-cheney

    He’s a pissant excuse for a civil servant with no brains to muster but hindbrain. He fixated on the idea of imperial presidency, he appointed himself VP for the most lame dumbass ever appointed President, and now his criminal behavior and greedy disregard for human life has come back to haunt his ass.

  69. Deborah said on May 2, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Crazy Cat Lady,

    The Graceland I’m referring to is in Chicago, I have never been to the one where Elvis is buried, always wanted to go there though.

  70. caliban said on May 2, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Elvis is fascinating, and there’s no way to consider Elvis apart from ho weird he was. J. Edgar? Far as music is concerned, spectacular out of the gate, bloated and saccarine later. But “Suspicious Minds”, that’s brilliant. “In th Gnetto” is pretty good.

    If Steve Stills had just made “For What It’s Worth” and stroked out on the crapper He’s an icon and Neil’s buddy. Anybody knows the history of these guys knows both played best when they played off each other.

    So what did y’all thingk about Time’s most influential? Rush? Apotheosized by Glen Beck? Small number of people that claim some connection with sanity, That pompous windbag Bono, that never met snything he couldn’t steal from the Alarm?

  71. basset said on May 2, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    >>The Luftwaffe was developing a flying-wing type stealth bomber constructed of plywood with carbon adhesives to avoid radar detection.

    they developed, and actually flew against US bombers a very few times, a jet interceptor made largely of plywood… because they couldn’t get enough metal. this is a Wikipedia entry, but it appears to be accurate:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinkel_He_162

    Graceland… we stopped there in 1981 on a honeymoon trip to New Orleans and sent postcards home signed “Elvis and Priscilla.”

  72. brian stouder said on May 2, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Here’s a rockband for y’all

    http://scrapsoflife-pam.blogspot.com/

  73. coozledad said on May 2, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    basset: I was always stunned how many pilots the Germans got for the Messerschmitt Komet program, despite the problems with ruptured hydrogen peroxide hoses liquefying pilots on a bad day, and the spinal injuries most pilots suffered on a successful skid landing. It must really suck to be technologically advanced losers.

  74. caliban said on May 2, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    When I was in JSchool at the Grady School, there was a room where we could read the Sacbee and the Mercury, and the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, Louisville Courier-Journal, and other papers that actually meant something and carried editorial weight.

    Do people believe Twitter is news? Or thinking? I’m on board with technology, but if it’s going to mean everybody’s stupid, I’ll walk out into the Atlantic. Albert Einstein was only half as smart as Oppenheimer. Einstein said

    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.

    Relying on the net and letting newspapers die is proof. The net is 99 and 44/100 blatherhammers. Einstein also said

    A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty – it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.

    Thomas Jefferson said

    Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.

    And so, Teillhard said Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.

    Joy is discovering intellibence and compassion where you thought it couldn’t possibly exist.

  75. brian stouder said on May 3, 2009 at 12:20 am

    Jack Kemp, RIP.

    Whatever the Republican party ever was, or ever will be, he was the best of them; he cannot be replaced.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30540404/

    “Pro football gave me a good perspective,” he was quoted as saying. “When I entered the political arena, I had already been booed, cheered, cut, sold, traded, and hung in effigy.”

    PS – finally watched “No Country for Old Men” tonight. Maybe it just hit me wrong, or maybe I just have no stomache for such movies; indeed, it’s no movie for an old guy

  76. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 3, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Thanks, Brian. I loved that guy.

    Did you get the impression that the missing part of the movie was that Chiurgh came into room where the sheriff was, flipped his coin, and left him alive . . . and he just can’t face that?

  77. brian stouder said on May 3, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Jeff – well I gotta admit, THAT hadn’t occurred to me! The coin, as fate-decider and all-purpose screw driver, DID remind me of Batman’s nemesis, although in Batman we get to see what drove the coin-flipping maniac over the edge.

    The other movie that NCFOM rips off (in a major, major way) is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s orignal (1984) Terminator -which interestingly was made back near the time that NCFOM is set…I suppose the Coen brothers would affect a Texas accent and say this is an “Oh-mahzhhhh”.

    But Arnold’s cryptic, unstoppable and remorseless killing machine – with an intriguing foreign accent – has the intrinsic innocence (and raison d’être) of actually BEING a machine; whereas NCFOM’s cryptic, unstoppable and remorseless killing machine – with an intriguing foreign accent – seems to be a free-floating menace with no beginning nor end. (and by the way – what sort of bad-guy boss is bad enough and resourceful enough to hire killers, such as the psycho and then Woody Harrelson, but NOT bad enough and resourceful enough to have ANY security, at ALL, back at his headquarters?)

    Bleh

  78. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 3, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Brian — just picked this up off Twitter from Scott Simon of NPR, and again, i loved Jack Kemp: http://tinyurl.com/d25btr

    And i realize the part of Joe Biden i like is the part that reminds me of Kemp (may that part flourish!).

  79. brian stouder said on May 3, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Jeff – Thanks for that link; a truly marvelous article.

    Jack Kemp was the first national politician that I really, truly admired. It all seemed so clear for a shining moment, back there in the ate ’80’s. The Reagan administration had survived its second term scandal, and GHWB was going to run and win, and he’d pick Kemp for his VP, and finally – Jack Kemp would be the GOP’s visionary activist president somewhere in the late ’90’s…..but GHWB didn’t see it that way, and we got posturing instead of belief from the GOP, and the Democrats (improbably enough!) have all the ideas and the deep bench and the great president!

    My, oh my

  80. Dexter said on May 3, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Jeff..it was the gas station man, not the sheriff…he wasted that deputy at the outset of the movie…STARZ showed this movie a hundred times and I have watched it may thirty times, a little here, a little there, in full maybe a half dozen times.
    “It’s your lucky day…don’t put that quarter in your pocket, then it would become just another quarter, which it is.” Make any sense to you?
    Chigurh was one nasty hombre. “Hello Carson, let’s go to your room.” Uh-oh.

  81. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 3, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Dex, i mean when the sheriff was in the one hotel room, and it doesn’t seem possible that Chiurgh missed him, and there’s the closing monologue from Tommy Lee — it made me think that, sharing the sheriff’s pov, we’ve had that moment edited out, and it’s what we/he can’t face — that there are moments when even someone like him can do nothing, except wait for justice to fall in its own way, someday.

  82. LA Mary said on May 3, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Cinco de Mayo is not the same as Mexican Independence day and it’s a big deal here in LA. I understand it’s not that big a deal in Mexico. It celebrates a battle won over French forces.

  83. brian stouder said on May 3, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    “Hello Carson, let’s go to your room.” Uh-oh.

    Another stupid scene. Why would a sharp bounty hunter like Woody Harrelson’s character – who could find Josh Brolin (the cowboy) within three hours – allow the psycho to escort him from a crowded lobby to the certain death of a private room?

    Bleh!

  84. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 3, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    OK, so when someone eight, nine years older than me says “time for us old people to get out of the way of the bright young folk coming up” — http://www.newsweek.com/id/195657 — i can’t help but want to reply “you’re gonna have to come and get me, ya dirty copper!”

    So it’s a dated reference, but i meant it ironically. Or are we post-irony now?

  85. brian stouder said on May 3, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Say Jeff, this passage, about Andrew Mellon’s grandfather Thomas Mellon, made me think of you when I read it earlier today in the book “Mellon” (subtitled “An American Life”) by David Cannadine (and co-starring Dorothy’s Pittsburgh) (from page 14)

    He continued to work on the family farm for two more years, gaining firsthand knowledge of construction work by building houses and barns, and all the while brooding on how best he might set about acquiring that “knowledge and wealth and distinction” on which he was now so determinedly set. “Knowledge” would clearly come first, and in his limited spare time, he read yet more widely and acquired the rudiments of Latin. In 1832 he enrolled at the Rev. Jonathon Gill’s Tranquil Retreat Academy near Monroeville in Allegheny County to prepare for college. During the next two years, he mastered Murray’s Latin grammar, learning all seventy-six rules of syntax by heart; he read Ceasar, Virgil, and Ovid; and he made a good start at Greek. As he would later recall, with more pride than self pity,, he was “pursuing a course of classical study under difficulties.” This was partly because Gill was more than a touch eccentric – he was confident that the world would end in 1837 – and partly because Thomas was still working for his parents, who in 1833 moved from Poverty Point to a new and bigger farm at Monroeville.

    Anyway – it made me chuckle! And if the colorful 19th century Rev. Gill of Western PA is any relation, it just goes to show that it’s a small world

  86. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 3, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    “This was partly because Gill was more than a touch eccentric. . .”

    You just made my week, and it’s only Sunday night. My Gills were in the Pittsburgh area, but fled federal warrants (i’m so proud) after 1794 to the hinterlands of Clearfield County, due to some unpleasantness over whiskey and rebelliousness. So it would seem possible that they were related in some way, but i’ve got no Jonathan’s in my genealogical database, let alone clergy . . . i’m the first one in the family to add that offense to our proudly eccentric line (our forebearer came over to fight in the British Army, deserted at Saratoga and then joined the Continentals in time to spend the winter of 1777 at Valley Forge).

    But i’ll have to check up on Rev. Jonathan; grazie, Brian!

  87. Dexter said on May 4, 2009 at 2:06 am

    Well, fellas, it was on again Sunday night … I watched a bit of it, and of course what threw me was Jeff’s referral of Woody (Carson) as a sheriff, when he was a sort-of bounty hunter, as brian references above.
    A theme was indeed “ya can’t stop what’s comin’ ” as well as the beer-drinking woman who was trying to bed Lewelyn…Lewelyn says he he’s just looking for what’s coming next, and the woman says “yeah, but ya never see that comin’ “

  88. Elaine said on May 4, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Speaking of Pullman:

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20090503/NEWS01/305030047

  89. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 4, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Nope, i’m talking about the sheriff, and his despair at the end, and the mystery of how he survived “almost” being found by Chigurh. I’m wondering if the point is that, undepicted in the movie, in a sequence that is mostly the pov of Jones’ character, is Chigurh finding him, having him weaponless, flipping the cursed coin, and not killing him based on the outcome — leaving him to live, but having trouble coming to terms with the randomness of that fact.

    And not able, even, to say or recall how it is that he survived. It would be awful and well nigh impossible for a man like him to admit he was faced with a situation like that and could do nothing, other than stand there.

    It’s a thought, anyhow. But has nothing to do with dead meat Woody.

  90. brian stouder said on May 4, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Dex, it blew right past me – until you pointed it out – that indeed the sexy woman by the pool said “yeah, but ya never see that comin’“ (I was busy pondering the temptation that Luellen had deftly skirted) – and of course she ends up a floater.

    But Woody clearly ‘saw it comin’, or should have – since he was the one guy in the whole movie who had any concept of what Anton was…yet the movie makers have him leave a public space (where Woody has some small chance – judging by the trailer park lady who was saved by the toilet flush) and go to a private room, where there is no chance at all.

    After simmering for the past two days, I think the source of my anger at the movie is the way we (the audience) are lead into (what we will only in hindsight recognize as) a slaughter house, and introduced to many characters that we like and will root for, and then subjected to their slaughter.

    Bleh!

  91. nancy said on May 4, 2009 at 9:22 am

    You’re blaming an awful lot on the Coens, Brian. That movie is an almost page-for-page-faithful adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel, and trust me, he doesn’t rip off Terminator movies in search of plot twists. I think he was playing variations on the theme of Evil And Its Inevitability, personally, as that’s one that runs through all of his work that I’ve read, which is not a lot — he’s really not my grim cuppa tea. “The Road” was the one that made me put him aside once and for all. That movie is coming this fall, and will make “No Country” look like musical comedy, I’ll bet.

    (Just look at the character names: Baby Eater, Well-Fed Cannibal, Amputee Man #1 in Cellar, etc. I smell a Christmas movie!)

  92. brian stouder said on May 4, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Good point about Terminator; hell, Ahnuld (wasn’t that a Cameron movie?) probably ripped off McCarthy, come to think of it!

    The nihilism (literally pointless, for most of the murder victims) is strikingly similar in both movies.

    Here’s a parlor game question that occurred to me: leave aside the all the dead guys (but including the two suits that Anton kills there) at the desert site that Luellen finds – how many people get killed in the movie?

    I’m thinking the body count is north of 12, with several shown in excruciating detail.

    Excruciating enough that if the Coen brothers make the movie with “baby eater” in it, I’ll be sure to skip it!

  93. LA Mary said on May 4, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Blood Meridian is a tough read by McCarthy. A good book though. I like his stuff. The Crossing is a favorite.

  94. brian stouder said on May 4, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Mary, in my opinion this relentless, remorseless movie (or book) violence is like movie (or print) pornography. If the movie makers (or publishers) expend all their craftiness on immersing us in the experience itself, and not the ramifications and consequences and the right and the wrong; if it is devoid of any recognizeable humanity – then the whole effort strikes me as simply a prurient appeal to – what? – the savage within us?

    Given the choice between violence for its own sake, or reprodcutive activity (for example) for its own sake, I prefer naked brunettes wildly over-acting their orgasms as some mysterious and unstoppable fellow with a funny haircut and an odd tool goes tirelessly about his work (and even THAT gets old very quickly, but we digress!)

  95. LA Mary said on May 4, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I agree, Brian, but I think Cormac McCarthy does deal with consequences.