Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why I'm Nervous About The GOP Candidates

The five guys in the first GOP debate...really.
As of today the frontrunners for the Republican nomination for President are a guy who was a moderate governor who installed universal healthcare, a 75 year old U.S. Rep who wants to get rid of the Department of...well, everything, Newt and a pizza magnate. 

Standing on the sidelines of the race, out of it for now, but possibly entering, is a Representative who said abolishing the minimum wage would help unemployment, a Bush, a less-than-half-term-Governor who’d run if he didn’t have more skeletons in his closet than Jame Gumb, and the most famous half-term Governor in U.S. history. 

There’s been much gloating from Democratic-leaning commentators and blogs. Comedians from David Letterman to Andy Borowitz have made jokes along the lines of “the Republican race to determine who loses to Obama.”

And at first glance it seems that there’s much to be hopeful about. The Republican Party has moved so far right that Mitt Romney is likely to face an organized Tea Party Revolt, which would lead to their endorsement of someone patently unelectable like Paul, Bachmann, Santorum or Cain. Roger Ailes is reportedly lamenting helping turn the right into a bunch of conspiracy-minded Palin/Beck worshippers (click that link and read the NY Mag article, it's amazing). And the Republicans in the Senate are doing their best to not win a majority next year by nearly unanimously voting to end Medicare, and likely voting to not investigate terrorists who buy guns.

The long primary battle between Obama and Clinton made the Democratic Party stronger across the country. They took the fight, and Democratic messaging to places that hadn’t seen real campaigning and organizing in years. Obama lost Montana to McCain by 3,000 votes, and performed better than any recent Democrat in a number of other states. 

Now we’re eighteen months away from the Presidential election, and the Republicans are flying so far under the radar they might as well be driving lawnmowers.

But why I am so nervous?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Other Stuff (not mine)

Rachel Zucker learns a thing or two about poetry from kids who can’t read or write (Poetry Foundation). Also, wondering if you’re a confessional poet? Zucker can help you figure it out

Does an online reviewer’s grammar matter? Or, would you buy anything that’s awsum? Michael Agger from Slate explores a troubling online trend.

A musical about a bookstore has one indie seller in Jacksonville singing. (The Florida Times-Union)

William Burroughs thought Scientology could be a great way to break free from the prison house of words…until he changed his mind. (via Io9 and Small Press Distribution)

And, finally, from the vaults we have a never-delivered Nixon speech commemorating a tragedy that never happened and Robert Stone’s “Art of Fiction #90” interview from the Winter 1985 Paris Review: “I know it’s all a world of words—what else could it be?”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thor's Misguided Lack of Diversity


Let's start with a note: there's a boycott of Thor being organized by racist and neo-nazi organizations. They're upset because the movie based on a comic book about made-up deities has cast a black man as one of the important made-up deities.  No, really, they're pissed off and organizing a boycott of the film.This post is not about that boycott or about Idris Elba--who is totally great in the movie. No, this post is about a different aspect of Thor's casting. 

 Thor is set in three equally fantastic realms—Asgard, where Anthony Hopkins and lots of dudes in armor live; Jotunheim, home to the very literally named Frost Giants; and a town in New Mexico that is completely devoid of Mexicans.

Marvel Studios built a fake town and named it “Puente Antiguo,” spanish for “Ancient Bridge.” They also filmed a bar scene in a Santa Fe stripclub (sans strippers) and other locations throughout the state. A look at the film crew's dozens of Spanish surnames shows there are enough people named Gonzalez, Flores, Martinez, Luna, etc that the filmmakers were at least aware of all the brown-skinned people that have been living in that area for the past few millennia. 

Go ahead, watch Thor, you should, it’s good, but keep your eyes peeled, watch the background. There’s a nurse who looks like she might be Latina, and one of the SHIELD agents is played by an actor of Honduran descent, but that’s it.

So, why is this a problem?